We have come to use the word “Puritan” to mean what should rather be called “rigorist” or “ascetic,” and we tend to assume that the sixteenth-century Puritans were “puritanical” in this sense. Calvin’s rigorist theocracy at Geneva lends colour to the error. But there is no understanding the period of the Reformation in England until we have grasped the fact that the quarrel between the Puritans and the Papists was not primarily a quarrel between rigorism and indulgence, and that, in so far as it was, the rigorism was on the Roman side. [. . .] The idea that a Puritan was a repressed and repressive person would have astonished Sir Thomas More and Luther about equally. [. . .] Puritan theology, so far from being grim and gloomy, seemed to More to err in the direction of fantastic optimism.

- Selected Literary Essays
Nearly every association which now clings to the word puritan has to be eliminated when we are thinking of the early Protestants. Whatever they were, they were not sour, gloomy, or severe; nor did their enemies bring any such charge against them. [. . .] For More, a Protestant was one “dronke of the new must of lewd lightnes of minde and vayne gladnesse of harte.” [. . .] Luther, he said, had made converts precisely because “he spiced al the poison” with “libertee.” [. . .] Protestantism was not too grim, but too glad, to be true.

- English Literature in the Sixteenth Century