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INTRODUCTION TO VOLUME V
AUTOBIOGRAPHERS OF THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY
THE two vast outstanding events of the middle and later part of the seventeenth century were the social upheaval in Great Britain which is commonly called the Puritan Revolution, and the rise of the old French monarchy to the height of its power and splendor and European dominance under King Louis XIV, the “Magnificent Monarch.” The autobiographers who appear in the present volume dwelt under one or the other of these two regimes; some of them were deeply influenced by both.
The impulse to autobiography was by this time become more common, and was spreading to people of lesser prominence. In our preceding volume we could offer only the narratives of lords and ladies of highest rank; even Saint Teresa was a thorough aristocrat. Now however we find the life story of a clever astrologist, William Lilly, scarcely more than a peasant by birth; of a gossiping Samuel Pepys, a member of the merchant class; of John Bunyan, that remarkable drunken tinker who turned preacher and teacher to all the world; and of George Fox, founder of the Quaker sect, a shepherd, another mere peasant, whom religious earnestness converted into an inspired preacher.
All four of these were Englishmen; for it was in England that the lower classes first really “found themselves," that Democracy, albeit in somewhat stumbling fashion, found its first modern voice. Clearly, however, such Englishmen as Fox and Bunyan were not the direct inheritors from those English nobles who had written just before them, Lord Herbert and Sir Kenelm Digby. From such nobles came the English "cavalier” party, the men who upheld their king, Charles I, in his war against his Parliament. The foppishness, the pose