The Transit of Civilization from England to America in the Seventeenth Century

The Transit of Civilization from England to America in the Seventeenth Century

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The Transit of Civilization from England to America in the Seventeenth Century

The Transit of Civilization from England to America in the Seventeenth Century

Read FREE!

Excerpt

In seeking to give a history of the civilization of the seventeenth century there was little help in anything American, and, to my surprise, I found long ago that I could not count on anything English. There were many books on Shakespeare, more or less good when they were not bad, and there was Masson's ponderous Life and Times of John Milton in six octavo volumes. These afforded something, but the civilization of the century was not told in any of them. It became necessary to build a description from the ground. The complex states of knowing and thinking, of feeling and passion, must be explained. The little world as seen by the man of the seventeenth century must be understood. Its sun, moon, and planets were flames of fire without gravity, revolved about the earth by countless angels; its God governed this one little world with mock majesty. Its heaven, its horrible hell of material fire blown by the mouth of God, its chained demons whose fetters might be loosed, its damnation of infants were to be appreciated and expounded. The inhumanity of punishments and of sport in that day, the mixture made of religion and revenge--these and a hundred other things went to make up the traits of the century. To explain the things in this other age in which I found myself it was necessary to go to England. To understand England one must understand the Continent; to make this out one must often thread his way to antiquity. The use of Latin by nearly all scholars made the world's knowledge more . . .

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