Puritanism

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Puritanism originated as a Protestant response to Anglicanism and Roman Catholicism. The word now generally denotes strict religious discipline and opposition to social pleasures.

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  • The fact is, there were all kinds of Puritans. There were dismal precisians, like William Prynne, illiberal and vulgar fanatics, the Tribulation Wholesomes, Hope-on-high Bombys, and Zeal-of-the-land Busys, whose absurdities were the stock in trade of contemporary satirists from Johnson to Butler. But there were also gentlemen and scholars, like Fairfax, Marvell, Colonel Hutchinson, Vane, whose Puritanism was consistent with all elegant tastes and accomplishments. Was Milton’s Puritanism hurtful to his art? No and yes. It was in many ways an inspiration; it gave him zeal, a Puritan word much ridiculed by the Royalists; it gave refinement, distinction, selectness, elevation to his picture of the world. But it would be uncritical to deny that it also gave a certain narrowness and rigidity to his view of human life.
    • Henry A. Beers "Milton’s Tercentenary", in The Connecticut Wits and Other Essays (1920), p. 230.
  • The Puritan hated bear-baiting, not because it gave pain to the bear, but because it gave pleasure to the spectators.
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