Page images


of Scripture.' Its chief blemish, the somewhat prosaic and self-seeking character of its piety, harmonized entirely with the current teaching of the pulpit, and offered no stumblingblock to a generation which had not so much as heard of other-worldliness.' Its popularity soon received the usual attestation of piracies, spurious continuations, and imitations in all languages. The question whether Bunyan was indebted for his allegory to any predecessor is hardly worth discussing. Some general resemblance must necessarily exist between books treating of pilgrimages, and here the resemblance is no more than general. The second part was published in 1684. Its inferiority to the first part is universally admitted, but is less than is usually entailed by the endeavour to append an artificial supplement to an inspired book. Many passages are fully worthy of the first part, and as a whole it abounds with life and variety.

Three only of Bunyan's numerous publications, besides Pilgrim's Progress, claim a place in literature : The Holy War (1682); The Life and Death of Mr. Badman (1680); Grace Abounding (1665). Of these The Holy War is the most important, and affords a highly instructive contrast with Pilgrim's Progress. It is the peculiar virtue of the latter, while full of wisdom and profitableness, to be in no way professedly didactic. Bunyan himself tells us that he did not sit down to compose it; the thoughts came spontaneously into his mind; he wrote it because he could not help himself. There was thus no need for laboriously instilling lessons which inhered in the original conception, and came forward of themselves as the story flowed along. The elaborate construction of The Holy War precludes belief in a like inspiration. There can, in fact, be little doubt that the idea is consciously derived from Paradise Lost. In both the banished fiends cast about for some means of retaliating upon their omnipotent foe; in Milton their


attack is levelled against the Garden of Eden, in Bunyan against the soul of man. All human attributes, virtuous or vicious, are allegorized with graphic liveliness, but at length one wearies of the crowd of abstractions; and where strength was most necessary, Bunyan is weak. Emanuel is not godlike, and Diabolus is not terrible. The book i perhaps chiefly interesting as an index to the great progress effected since Bunyan's time in spirituality as regards men’s religious conceptions, and in freedom and enlightenment as concerns the things of earth. No one would now depict the offended majesty of Heaven as so like the offended majesty of the Stuarts; or deem that the revolters' offence could be mitigated by the abjectness of their submission; or try criminals with such unfairness; or lecture them upon conviction with such lack of judicial decorum. Bunyan's own spirit seems narrower than of old; among the traitors upon whom Emanuel's ministers execute justice he includes not only Notruth and Pitiless, but also Election-doubter and Vocation-doubter, who represent the majority of the members of the Church of England. The whole tone, in truth, is such as might be expected from one nurtured upon the Old rather than the New Testament, and who had never conceived any doubts of the justice of the Israelites' dealings with the Canaanites. The literary power, nevertheless, is unabated; much ingenuity is shown in keeping up the interest of the story; and there is the old gift of vitalizing abstractions by uncompromising realism of treatment. The following passage is a remarkable instance of the dependence of Bunyan's style upon his inward mind. Seldom have joy and elation of spirit elevated homely diction into so near an approach to magnificence:

*Well, I told you before, how the prisoners were entertained


by the noble Prince Emmanuel, and how they behaved themselves before him, and how he sent them away to their home with pipe and tabor going before them. And now you must think, that those of the town that had all this while waited to hear of their death, could not but be exercised with sadness of mind, and with thoughts that pricked like thorns. Nor could their 'houghts be kept to one point; the wind blew with them all this while at great uncertainties, yea, their hearts were like a balance that had been disquieted with shaking hand. But at last as they, with many a long look, looked over the wall of Mansoul, they thought that they saw some returning to the town; and thought again, who should they be? At last they discerned that they were the prisoners. But can you imagine, how their hearts were surprised with wonder! Especially when they perceived also in what equipage, and with what honour they were sent home. They went down to the camp in black, but they came back to the town in white; they went down to the camp in ropes, they came back in chains of gold; they went down to the

camp with their feet in tatters, but they came back with their steps enlarged under them; they went also to the camp looking for death, but they came back from thence with assurance of life; they went down to the camp with heavy hearts, but came back again with pipe and tabor playing before them. So, so soon as they were come to Eye-gate, the poor and tottering town of Mansoul adventured to give a shont; and they gave such a shout, as made the captains in the Prince's army leap at the sound thereof. Alas! for them, poor hearts, who could blame them, since their dead friends were come to life again! For it was to them as life from the dead, to see the ancients of the town of Mansoul to shine in such splendour. They looked for nothing but the axe and the block; but behold! joy and gladness, comfort and consolation, and such melodious notes attending of them, that was sufficient to make a sick man well. So when they came up, they saluted each other with Welcome, welcome, and blessed be he that spared you. They added also, we see it is well with you, but how must it go with the town of Mansoul, and will it go well with the town of Mansoul, said they? Then answered them the Recorder, and my lord Mayor, Oh! tidings ! glad tidings! good tidings of good; and of great


joy to




Mansoul ! Then they gave another shout, that made the earth to ring again. After this, they enquired yet more par. ticularly, how things went in the camp, and what message they had from Emmanuel to the town. So they told them all passages that had happened to them at the camp, and every thing that the Prince did to them. This made Mansoul wonder at the wisdom and grace of the Prince Emmanuel; then they told them what they had received at his hands, for the whole town of Mansoul; and the Recorder delivered it in these words, Pardon, Pardon, Pardon for Mansoul; and this shall Mansoul know to

Then he commanded, and they went and summoned Mansoul to meet together in the market-place to-morrow, there to hear their general pardon read.

* But who can think what a turn, what a change, what an alteration this hint of things did make in the countenance of the town of Mansoul; no man of Mansoul could sleep that night for joy; in every house there was joy and music, singing and making merry, telling and hearing of Mansoul's happiness was then all that Mansoul had to do; and this was the burden of all their song, “ Oh! more of this at the rising of the sun! more of this to-morrow! Who thought yesterday, would one say, that this day would have been such a day to us? And who thought, that saw our prisoners go down in irons, that they would have returned in chains of gold! Yea, they that judged themselves as they went to be judged of their judge, were, by his mouth, acquitted, not for that they were innocent, but of the Prince's mercy, and sent home with pipe and tabor.”'

The Life and Death of Mr. Badman is a piece of prose indeed, and its realism is, perhaps, the more effective from being wholly devoid of the least particle of imagination. The genesis and purpose of the book are thus stated by the author: 'As I was considering with myself what I had written concerning the progress of the Pilgrim from this world to glory, and how it had been acceptable to many in this nation, it came again into my mind to write, as then of him that was going to heaven, so now of the life and death of the ungodly, and of their travel from this world to

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]


hell.' Had this conception been strictly carried out, the narrative must have been a failure from the want of admixture of light and shade. The Christian of the Pilgrim's Progress is a mixed character, and though we are scarcely in doubt as to the ultimate success of his adventure, this is sufficiently chequered with peril and hardship to keep our interest alert. This evidently cannot be the case with Mr. Badman, whose career is not only a monotony, but a monotony of sordid evil; and who only excites a flickering sort of interest in virtue of the sympathy naturally felt for the victim of the animosity of his creator. Bunyan, however, has not been faithful to his original plan, and has in a measure redeemed one fault in art by committing another. As a rule, nothing is more reprehensible in a fiction than inordinate digression; but here it is the greatest relief to be turned away from the repulsive career of Mr. Badman to the running commentary in which Bunyan opens his mind on a variety of subjects, spiritual and secular, ranging from earnest rebukes of the maxim to be anon formulated as 'buy in the cheapest market and sell in the dearest,' to foolish stories of the deaths of persecutors, quite in the vein of the Methodist anecdotes satirized by Sydney Smith. This garrulity is greatly promoted by the inartistic character of the machinery employed, a dialogue between Mr. Wiseman and Mr. Attentive, which allows the writer to say whatever he pleases. It is evident that he has real persons and actual transactions continually in his mind, and it would not be surprising to learn that his book made no inconsiderable commotion in the town of Bedford.

Grace Abounding resembles thousands of similar narratives in essentials, differing principally in the vigour with which a terrifying religious experience is portrayed. It does not, as some seem to have taken for granted, termi


« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »