We must not suffer it to lead us into rhetoric about the deadness and the darkness of the middle ages, or hamper our inquiry with preconceived assumptions that the re-birth in question was in any true sense a return to the irrecoverable pagan past.
The early years of the 18th century were a time of deadness as regards preaching.
In the nation at large, the late violent ferment had been followed by as remarkable a deadness and vapidity, and Burke himself had to admit a year or two later that any remarkable robbery at Hounslow Heath would make more conversation than all the disturbances of America.
Impressed by the formalism and deadness of contemporary Christianity (of which there is much evidence in the confessions of the Puritan writers themselves) he emphasized the importance of repentance and personal striving after the truth.
Where Willarski saw deadness Pierre saw an extraordinary strength and vitality--the strength which in that vast space amid the snows maintained the life of this original, peculiar, and unique people.