A RELIGIOUS impulse accomplished what commercial enterprise, commanding money and court favor, had attempted without success. Civilized New England is the child of English Puritanism.
The spirit of Puritanism was no creation of the sixteenth century. It is as old as the truth and manliness of England. Among the thoughtful and earnest islanders the dramatic religion of the Popes had never struck so deep root as in Continental soil. 1 They had been coerced into unquestioning conformity as often as the state of public affairs had made it necessary for the Crown to court the Church; but the government of princes strong in the goodness of their title and in the popular regard had often been illustrated by manifestations of discontent with the spiritual despotism which had overspread Western Europe.
A succession of Saxon versions of the Bible, from almost the beginning of the Heptarchy to the Norman Conquest, attests the demand of the times for Scriptural knowledge; and, in the Anglo-Saxon ritual of the Mass, the Gospel and the Epistle were read in the vernacular tongue. 2 Under the early princes of the
Free spirit of the early English Church.