was bunyan assisted in the composition of his pilgrim?
To this question take his own reply—
‘Some say the Pilgrim’s Progress is not mine,
Insinuating as if I would Shine
In name and fame by the worth of another,
Like some made rich by robbing of their brother.
Or that so fond I am of being sire,
I’ll father bastards: or, if need require,
I’ll tell a lie in print to get applause.
I scorn it; John such dirt-heap never was,
Since God converted him. Let this suffice
To show why I my Pilgrim patronize.
‘It came from mine own heart, so to my head,
And thence into my fingers trickled;
Then to my pen, from whence immediately
On paper I did dribble it daintily.
‘Manner and matter too was all mine own,
Nor was it unto any mortal known,
’Till I had done it. Nor did any then,
By books, by wits, by tongues, or hand, or pen,
Add five words to it, or wrote half a line
Thereof: the whole, and ev’ry whit is mine.
‘Also for this72 thine eye is now upon,
The matter in this manner came from none,
But the same heart and head, fingers and pen,
As did the other. Witness all good men;
For none in all the world without a lie,
Can say that this is mine, excepting I.
I write not this of any ostentation,
Nor’ cause I seek of men their commendation;
I do it to keep them from such surmise,
As tempt them will my name to scandalize.
Witness my name, if anagram’d to thee,
The letters make, Nu honey in a B.
‘I dare not presume to say, that I know I have hit right in everything; but this I can say, I have endeavoured so to do. True, I have not for these things fished in other men’s waters; my Bible and Concordance are my only library in my writings.’73
He who doubts the word of John Bunyan, knows nothing of the character and soul of a man who suffered nearly thirteen years’ imprisonment in Bedford jail, rather than utter a falsehood or use the slightest simulation. Such objectors deserve chastisement in Doubting Castle, and should be flogged with the royal garter—Honi soit qui mal y pense. But such there have been from 1678 to a late period; and the same feeling which led the Scribes and Pharisees to reject the Messiah, because he appeared as the son of a carpenter, probably has led authors of great repute to express their doubts as to the originality of the ‘Pilgrim’s Progress,’ because the author was an unlettered man—the reason why, as his pastor says, ‘the archers shot so sorely at him.’
Dr. Dibdin, in his Typographical Antiquities, describing Caxton’s Pilgrimage of the Soul, says—‘This extraordinary production, rather than Bernard’s Isle of Man, laid the foundation of John Bunyan’s “Pilgrim’s Progress.” ’74 The late Dr. Adam Clarke, in a Postscript to a Life of Bunyan, observes that ‘his whole plan being so very similar to Bernard’s religious allegory, called the Isle of Man, or, Proceedings in Manshire; and also to that most beautiful allegorical poem, by Mr. Edmund Spenser, oddly called the Faëry Queen, there is much reason to believe that one or other, if not both, gave birth to the “Pilgrim’s Progress.” ’75
Mr. Montgomery, a devoted admirer of Bunyan’s genius, considers that the print and the verses entitled The Pilgrim, in Whitney’s Emblems, dedicated to the Earl of Leicester, in 1585, might, perhaps, have inspired the first idea of this extraordinary work.76
Southey, who investigated this subject with great ability, came to a very pointed conclusion: ‘It would, indeed, be as impossible for me to believe that Bunyan did not write the “Pilgrim’s Progress,” as that Porson did write a certain copy of verses entitled the Devil’s Thoughts.’ Now, as these verses were doubtless written by Southey himself, he had arrived at a conviction that Bunyan was fully entitled to all the honour of conceiving and writing his great allegory. Still, he says, ‘the same allegory had often been treated before him. Some of these may have fallen in Bunyan’s way, and modified his own conceptions when he was not aware of any such influence.’77 It is high time that these questions were fully investigated, and set at rest.
It must be kept in mind that Bunyan knew no language but his own; and that all his characters, as well as the trial by jury, are purely English. When he used five common Latin words in Dr. Skill’s prescription, Ex carne et sanguine Christi, this perfectly unassuming author tells his readers, in a marginal note, ‘The Latine I borrow.’ It is absurd to suppose that learned men read to him old monkish manuscripts, or the allegories of a previous age; for his design was unknown, he had formed no plan, nor had he any intention to have written such a book, until it came upon him suddenly. His first idea was inspired from one of his own works while composing it, and then the whole story flowed into his mind as quick as he could write it. Every attempt has been made to tarnish his fair fame; the great and learned, the elegant poet and the pious divine, have asserted, but without foundation in fact, or even in probability, that some of his ideas were derived from the works of previous writers.
Every assertion or suggestion of this kind that came to my knowledge, has been investigated, and the works referred to have been analyzed. And beyond this, every allegorical work that could be found previous to the eighteenth century, has been examined in all the European languages; and the result is a perfect demonstration of the complete originality of Bunyan. ‘It came from his own heart.’ The plot, the characters, the faithful dealing, are all his own. And what is more, there has not been found a single phrase or sentence borrowed from any other book, except the quotations from the Bible, and the use of common proverbs. To arrive at this conclusion has occupied much time and labour, at intervals, during the last forty years. The works read and analyzed commence with our monkish manuscripts, and continue through the printed books published prior to the Reformation, when the church, having no competition in the cure of souls, spoke out without disguise; and from that time to 1678, when our Pilgrim appeared. Many, if not all the works so examined, contain useful information; and some of them show what was taught by the Church of England when she refused the Bible to the laity, and was unreformed. And, as my readers ought to judge for themselves, while, in most cases, these rare volumes are beyond their reach, it may prove useful to print these analyses, and then every reader can form his own opinion as to the probability, or rather the impossibility, of Bunyan’s having gained any idea, or phrase, or name, from any source but his own prolific imagination. My determination in all these researches has been to report the whole truth; and had it been discovered that some hints might have been given by previous writers, it would not have been any serious reflection upon the originality of a work which has no prototype. This idea is well represented by Mr. Montgomery: ‘If the Nile could be traced to a thousand springs, it would still be the Nile; and so far undishonoured by its obligations, that it would repay them a thousand-fold, by reflecting upon the nameless streams, the glory of being allied to the most renowned of rivers.’78 But there has been no discovery of any tributary spring; no borrowed phrases; no more hints, even, than such as naturally arise from the open treasury or storehouse of Holy Writ.
The greatest characteristic of original genius is its spontaneous exertion—the evidence of having written without labour and without the consciousness of doing anything remarkable, or the ambitious aim of doing a great work. The greatest efforts of genius flow as naturally as it is for common men to breathe. In this view, Bunyan’s work comes nearer to the inspired poetry of the Hebrews in its character than any other human composition. He wrote from the impulse of his genius, sanctified and illuminated by a heavenly influence; as if, indeed, he had exerted no voluntary supervision over its exercise. Everything is as natural and unconstrained as if it had not been intended for public inspection. There has not been found any model with which it can even be compared.79 It is a beautiful transparency, seen as the heavenly light shines through—the renewed spirit alone enjoys the picture in its perfection, with all its chaste but glowing colours. It can be fully appreciated only by him who possesses that spiritual light without which the things of God and heaven cannot be discerned.
Bunyan’s works furnish ample proof that his mind was preparing, for many years, the plan and incidents which render this allegory so striking. This may easily be traced in his works, although it was not known to himself; for, however he was all his spiritual life employed in unintentionally preparing the material, the design struck him suddenly. Twenty years before his great work appeared, he published a most pungent work, called ‘Sighs from Hell.’ The preface to this book alludes to a pilgrimage; and in it is found some similar ideas to those which occur in the conversation between Christian and Pliable. It thus commences: ‘Friend, because it is a dangerous thing to be walking towards a place of darkness, the journey that most of the poor souls in the world are taking with delight, I have thought it my duty to tell thee what sad success those souls have had, and are like to have, by persevering therein. Why, friend, hast thou thy back to heaven and thy face to hell; and art thou running full hastily that way? I beseech thee, stop thy earnest race, and look what entertainment thou art like to have. Hark! dost thou hear the bitter cries of those who have gone before; shall not these mournful groans pierce thy flinty heart ? O ! sinner, sinner, there are better things than hell to be had, and a thousand times cheaper. O ! there is no comparison; there is heaven, there is God, there is Christ, there is communion with an innumerable company of saints and angels.’ How do these ideas remind us of Christian’s encouraging words to Pliable !
In examining the following accounts of allegories composed by learned doctors, bishops, and divines, the simple Christian will rejoice and triumph in the amazing superiority of a poor unlettered preaching mechanic, guided only by his Bible. Sanctified learning is exceedingly valuable; yet the productions of an unlettered man, wholly influenced by the Holy Oracles, shines resplendently over the laboured, murky productions of lettered men, who, forsaking the simplicity of the gospel, are trammelled with creeds, confessions, canons, articles, decretals, fathers, and, we may almost add, grandfathers.
The first work, in the order of time, that claims our notice, has never been printed. It is called.
This ancient poem, a manuscript on vellum, illustrated with drawings, but very much damaged, is in the Cottonian Collection in the British Museum; probably translated in the fifteenth century from the first of the Three Pilgrimages, a French manuscript. It is in the form of a dream, and it concludes by fixing the pilgrim as a monk in a Cistercian monastery. Soon after setting out, he is tempted by a golden image, but is driven from it by the appearance of a dead corpse. He then encounters an armed man, who endeavours to entice him to turn aside to see his mistress, and uses a magic circle and incantations. They hold a long conversation, in which is narrated the case of a Duke Fryse, who had consented to be baptized; he is represented with a girdle about his middle, otherwise naked, except his crown; but when he had got into the baptistery, he becomes alarmed by a voice which informs him that it is an unlucky day:—
‘For hym thought he herde a cry
That affermed certeyuly
For synne and for lnyquyte
How mo folk schulde dampned be
At the day of Jugemente
Gon to helle there to be brent,
Ye mo as in comparisoun
Thanne folk for ther savacyon
Scholde that day receyued be
To dwelle in heuene that fayre cyte.’
The duke, although a bishop has got him by one hand, with one of his legs in the baptistery, gets his liberty, and runs away. Had sprinkling been the practice in those days, the bishop might readily have managed the ceremony with a handful of water. The pilgrim then has a very long adventure with Heresy, who strives earnestly to draw him aside. She is engaged with a pair of scissors, cutting strips from Pelagians, Arians, and other ‘Sectys founde false and vntrewe.’ These she puts together, to form a new system of divinity. He becomes sadly puzzled; she had laid her nets so artfully, ‘In lond, on water, and in the hayr.’ He sees many attempt to pass, but all are entangled; at length by fasting and by great penance, he slips through the nets.
He is then assaulted by Satan, who tells him that he has devoured thousands of Christ’s flock, and has so many arts that he cannot escape him. The devil, to terrify the pilgrim, narrates a recent adventure by which he had succeeded in destroying a holy hermit. He had transformed himself into an angel of light, and went to the hermit, warning him that Satan would soon overcome him if he was not courageous to resist; that he would appear to him in the shape of his father, and if he parleyed with the fiend, he must be lost; and exhorted him to smite the fiend at once with sword or knife. Soon after this, his father really came to visit him, when the deluded hermit plunged a dagger to his heart, and thus fell into the jaws of the fiend. The pilgrim, much terrified, kept crossing himself, at which Satan drew back; and by continuing to make the sign of the cross, he makes his escape. He is then stopped by Fortune and her Wheel, and by Idolatry, but evades them. A fortune-teller wishes him to have his nativity cast, but as he knows that many men are born at the same moment, some to fortune and many to misery, he knows that there can be no virtue in such consultations of the stars. He is then profited by images in churches, to remind us of the holy lives of saints:—
‘And vn to folkes many on [a one]
Ful greet proffyte also they don.’
Sorcery endeavours to catch him with her crooked hook; and he is assailed by Worldly-gladness, but escapes. At length Grace Dieu visits him in a stately ship, having a palace and castle on deck. He embarks, and is shown a large baptistery, filled with tears from an eye in a rock. This bath is replenished with tears of repentance, by works of supererogation. Its virtues are thus described:—
‘For it re-cureth euery wounde
Call this Baptym the secunde
That dothe away alle greuance
With which water Dame penaunce
Makyth a lye80 I the ensure
To wasche away al ordure,
In whiche bath in certayne
The hooly womman Mawdelyne
I washen was tak heed her to
The Apostle Peter eke also
And many mo than I may telle
Were Iwaschen in this welle
And so schalt thou by reed of me
Yeue thou lyste to Purged be.’
Grace Dieu fills up the bath, and the pilgrim, naked, enters the baptistery to his middle, and is bathed and washed. She then tells him he may make his choice of monastic orders—Cisterees, Clunys, Charterhous, or Preechers Minours: he chooses to enter the Cistercian order. The porter, ‘Drede of God,’ at first refuses him; but Charity receives and shows him over the establishment: he is shown many books. The librarian says:—
‘And my name zene thou lyste be
Is called Agyographe,
Which is to seyne I the ensure
Of holy wrytynge the Scripture,
And at feyres and at feestis
I reste in skynnes off dede bestis.’
She expresses a clear notion of the Old Testament as enlightened by the New:—
‘I mene as thus in sentement,
That the oolde testament
Were derke and cloudy off his syght
Zeue that it ne took his lyght
Claryfyed by entendement
Off the newe testament,
Whos Schynynge in conclusyoun
Is cause off our Salvacyoun.’
He is Shown a mirror, which exhibits the sins of the person who looks in it; he is also Shown one of Flattery’s mirrors, which exhibits the most defiled, as angels of purity. He is at length introduced to the chief prior, Obedience, and sits down to dinner:—
‘And also as I dyde obserue,
Noon other folke at mete serve
But folkes deede euere more
Where off I was abaschyd sore.’
Abstinence is the freytourer and butler; the servants were the skeletons of those who had founded and endowed the abbey. wilful Poverty, in a state of nudity, sings a song, ending with—
‘I slepe in Joye and sekerness
For theues may not robbe me.’
Unwilling Poverty sits grumbling and murmuring. Dame Chastity at last introduces the pilgrim to Prayer, who makes him welcome in these lines:—
‘Wherefore callyd I am Prayere
Whiche that am the messagere
That flee to heuene with whynges lyght,
Fer aboue the sterres bryght
To fore the lord to present
Prayer made in good entente.’
He then speaks to the pilgrim about the servants, who were the spectres of the founders:—
‘And eche wyght for his good dede
Is worthi to resscyne his made
Lyke his meryte off equyte
These deede folk which thou dost se.’
Grace Dieu, obedience, Latrya, and Prayer, then give him instructions for his future conduct in the monastery, where he remains until death strikes him, and he awakes from his sleep.
There is an ancient pilgrimage noticed in Skelton’s Ryght Delectable Treatyse upon a Goodly Garlande or Chapelet of Laurell. The author recounts his literary labours; inter alia—
‘Of my ladys grace at the contemplacyoun
Owt of frenshe in to englysshe prose
Of mannes lyfe the peregrynacioun
He did translate, enterprete and disclose.’
No copy of this pilgrimage has been discovered and identified as his; and very high authority connects the second line with the ‘peregrynatioun.’ If so, it is in prose; but if the first two lines refer to the Contemplation on the virgin Mary’s Grace, a prose work, and Skelton being a poet, it would lead us to infer that the pilgrimage was in verse. The poem last described may prove to be the translation referred to by Skelton. Be that as it may, Bunyan never gained a hint from John Skelton, the satirist.
The Abbey of the Holy Ghost.
This curious allegory was written by John A1cocke, the founder of Jesus College, Cambridge, a learned and abstemious English bishop, in the reign of Henry VII.
The author represents the fall and recovery of mankind under the simile of art Abbey, the inmates of which are perfect in holiness and happiness. The abbess is Charity; the prioress, Wisdom; the sub-prioress, Mekenesse; and the nuns, Poverty, Cleanness, Temperance, Soberness, Penance, Buxomness, Confession, Righteousness, Predication, Strength, Pacience, Simplicity, Mercy, Largeness, Reason Pity, Meditation, Orison, Devocion, Contemplation, Chastity, Jubilation, Honesty, Curtesy, Fear, and Jealousy. This abbey was conveyed by the Almighty to Adam, Eve, and their heirs for ever, upon condition that he withstood the temptation of the fiend and that of his wife. The deed is witnessed by angels and man, heaven and earth, sun and moon, stars, and all creatures. Geven at Paradise, the first day that man was made; in the year of the reigning of Almighty God, King of Kings, whose kingdom never began nor never shall have end. No persons were to be admitted until Conscience had cleansed the soul with grace of the Holy Ghost. Two maidens, called Love and Righteousness, shall east away from Conscience all manner of filth; Meekness and Poverty shall keep them poor in spirit.
The abbey was situated upon the waters of repentance. Joy and Mercy built the walls and strengthened them with alms. Patience and Strength are the pillars and buttresses. The nuns have each her place; Contemplation is the doctor; Devotion the butler [the bishop remarks, ‘Alas! if I durst say, full many be in religion (nuns), but few be religious’]; Oryson shall be chanter. St. Bernard saith, When we pray in good life, our good Angel danseth and maketh thereof a present to the Father of heaven. The abbey being so well furnished, a tyrant came, and in an evil hour, while the portress was absent, he put in his four daughters, who were all of shrewd manners; the fiend father of them all. Their names were Pride, Envy, False Judgment, and Lust; and these destroyed the abbey, and dispersed the inmates. The punishment of man was the loss of Paradise, to spend his days in sorrow, to eat grass that groweth on the earth, and never to come to bliss until the abbey was restored. When Adam and Eve died, their souls went to hell; and not only they, but all those that of them came for four thousand six hundred years; to hell they went, every one. Then some of the nuns prayed the Holy Ghost for assistance. David, Isaiah, and others, endeavoured to re-edify the abbey; but in vain. At length Christ came, and sought out the abbess and her company for thirty-three years; and at last brought them together by hanging on the cross; after which he led them with him into hell,81 and took out Adam and Eve his wife, and all his friends, and replaced them in the Abbey of the Holy Ghost in Paradise.
From this curious and very rare little volume, Bunyan could not have gained any idea; but in it are some translations of passages of Scripture made fifty years before any version of the Bible was published in English, which prove the great liberties the church took with the Scriptures; and the extent to which they misled the people, while the Holy Oracles were locked up in a foreign language. Matt. 3:2: ‘Shrive ye and do ye penance, and be ye of good belief; the kingdom of heaven nigheth fast.’ John 8:6: ‘He stooped down and wrote on the ground with his finger all their sins, so that each of them might se how sinfull other was.’ Matt. 26:38: ‘I have, he said, full much dread against that I shall die. Sit ye down, he said, and wake ye, and bid your beads till I come again to you.’82
The Pylgremage of the Sowle. Printed by William Caxton. 1483. Small Folio.83
Dr. Dibdin having, in his account of this very rare volume, stated that ‘this extraordinary production, which, perhaps, rather than Bernard’s Isle of Man, laid the foundation of John Bunyan’s “Pilgrim’s Progress,” ’ I shall make no apology to the reader for the following specimens of its poetry and prose. Not daring to trust to the doctor’s specimens, which occupy eight folio pages, my analysis is drawn from a careful perusal of the original edition by Caxton, compared with the manuscript written in 1413; the result is, to establish honest John’s originality, and to excite great surprise that the learned doctor could have published so unfounded an insinuation.
As I laye in a seynt laurence nyght, slepyug in my bedde, me bifelle a full merueylous dreme.
Haying finished my pilgrimage and laid aside my fleshly carrion, it appeared loathsome and dame Miscricord buried it. The fowle horrible Satan cruelly menaced me and told me I was his prisoner—a youngling of full huge beauty appeared, and defends the soul of the pilgrim, who is taken to judgement. He is brought before Michael, while his good angel pleads for him Satan cries loudly against him. The devils complain that as soon as a pilgrim is born and washed in the salt lye (christened) Grace Dieu assigns them a guardian angel—we are ill used, let us cry a row so loud that in spite of them they shall hear our complaint. Peter the porter of heaven is called to testify whether the pilgrims have done penance—Call St. George for the Gentiles, for clerks St. Nicholas, for hermits St. Anthony, St. Benet for monks, for wedded folk St. Paul—not that he was ever married, but he taught the duties of marriage—for widows St. Anne, for maids St. Katherine. The Pilgrim is placed before the tribunal, and his guardian angel pleads that he had kept his belief, never lost his scrip, nor his burden,84 and having persevered to the end, he ought to be safe. The cursed Satan acknowledged that the Pilgrim passed the water and was therein washed and fully cleansed of all rather fylthe,85 but as soon as he knew good and evil he set little by that washing, but cast himself like a swine in ordure and fylthe. He was washed at a tender age unwillingly, and although by this laver the foul spot of sin original was utterly avoided, yet he has not kept the vow, and is more spotted with deadly sin than he was before he was washed; and as all heathen men that have never received this laver belong to our company because they have it not, much more those that have received these gifts of Grace de Dieu and despised them must be ours. The soul pleads in verse, he appeals to Jesus. Some of the lines are striking:
‘For though there ran a river from thy side,
That all the world doth fully overflow,
Thy grace is whole, as every man may know.’
He then appeals to Mary—
‘Now be my help a blissful heaven’s Quene
Let somewhat of the grace on me be seen
I am be-knowen that I have done amiss
Eternal death deserved with my deed
But gracious Lady Queen of Heaven’s bliss
Thou be my help and comfort in this nede
I am that same that highly have mis-wrought
Against thy child Jesus and eke thee
Yet know I well that Lion is he not
Nor thou nor might no Lioness be
In thou there is no malice nor cruelty
Though that I have thy son and the agrieved
By thee is all my trust to be relieved.’86
He calls upon Michael—John Baptist, apostles and martyrs, and all saints.
Justice pleads against him, and will allow none to speak on his behalf. He then answers for himself, and accuses Satan of being a liar; but the fiend calls the worm of conscience87 to bear witness against him, and he relates all his wickedness that was not purged with penance, and as he spoke, Satan wrote it all down in a great paper. The soul defends himself by having at all times borne his burdon and scrip,88 by his natural frailty and the temptations of Satan and allurements of the world. Mercy pleads for him that he had been contrite, and made amends for sin, and had confessed; but when his good and bad deeds were weighed, the evil was heaviest. Then Mercy flew to heaven and brought back a pardon from Jesus, which is given in verse; inter alia:—
‘At instance of mine own mother sweet
To whom I may no manner of thing deny
And mercy also may I not forget
Unto their good89 myself I will apply
This grace I grant them of my royalty
That I shall them receive unto my peace
Of hell pain I grant them full release.’
Christ balances the wicked works of this sinner with—
‘Of the treasure of my bitter passion
And of the merit of my mother dear
To whom none other hath comparison
With merit of my saints all in fear
That to my bidding full obedient were
Of plenty and of superabundance
A forest90 full which putteth in balance.’
The balance is in favour of the soul, and his sentence is to bear all his sins as a burden into purgatory, and abide in the fire until all are burned and ‘thou, clean purged of all thy foul sins, shall then be pardoned.’ At this sentence Satan is sore annoyed, and has great anguish.
He meets a number of pilgrims from purgatory, who sing to the Trinity and to Mary a song of praise for their deliverance. The angels join in a song without comparison more lusty than he had heard before. Then came one pilgrim, conducted by a huge number of angels, each having in his hand some lusty instrument, as harp, organs, &c., some of which he could not scribe. It was a soul who, by extraordinary penance, had suffered his purgatory on earth. He then sees a number of pilgrims condemned to ‘brenne withynne the fyre of helle, neuer to be releued.’ An ugly company of devils seized them, saying, ‘Goo we fast in to helle; there shall we fynde a warm duellynge place.’ Our poor pilgrim is taken to purgatory, where, in three days, he imagines that he has suffered a thousand years’ indescribable tortures. His guardian angel is with him in the fire, but being a pure spirit, suffereth not. In his torments, he is told that naught can help him but masses and the good ‘dedes of hooly chirche.’ He asks, What is the use of the pardons and indulgences granted by the church? His angel tells him that they abridge the time of punishment and pain; that for every deadly sin he must suffer seven years’ purgation, and the thousand years that he had suffered was but as a moment, for his fardel of sins seemed to be as huge as ever, although the fire was so fierce, that if the great sea fell therein, it would be dried in a moment. At length, Grace Dieu sends from the church a quantity of prayers, masses, and good works, to comfort the pilgrims in purgatory—a packet to each prisoner, with the names of those who had purchased the masses for their relief. Every soul answered the summons, and greedily took the relief, all swimming in hot fire: it was ointment that relieved their horrid pains, and decreased their burden of sins. He then discovers the place in which Adam and the Fathers, to John the Baptist, were confined, till Christ descended into hell and released them. The prison also in which the souls of infants who had died without being christened—a dark and doleful place, where they will be shut up for ever. He inquires how it is possible for the God of love thus to condemn the innocent? His angel refers him to the words of Christ to Nicodemus: ‘As seynt John recordeth, he seith, that an innocent deyng without baptym is dampned withouted ende.’91 And they lay in endless darkness, and never know joy; and this pain shall be extended to all the most innocent souls not baptized. All these places of punishment are within enclosed all round by the earth. He is then led by his angel to the surface of the earth, the fire still burning within him, to every place in which he had committed sin; the punishment was according to the nature of his crime—sometimes shut up in thick ice, the pain being more intolerable than fire. This was for having used baths and steues92 for easement of his body. One soul who had been purged, could not escape, because his executors had neglected to pay his debts. He finds that one day’s penance upon earth cleanseth from sins more than years of purgatory. In the journey he finds his bones, and has a long conversation with them, in which they mutually criminate each other.
His guardian angel then takes him into the very depth of the earth, to hell, the stink of which nearly caused his soul to burst. The unbaptized innocents he saw in a place: ‘Hit was wonder merueylous blacke and derke ynowe:’ ever flying about seeking, but never finding, a hole to escape. He then came to a darker place of ‘fire horrible and wonder hideous.’ There saw he the cursed fiends; some blew the fire; some, with iron forks, righted the brands; some, with sharp hooks, dressed the wretched souls into divers pains. Lucifer sat in a red-hot iron chair, chained with red-hot chains. The devils torment each other. The punishment of Pride is that a devil sits upon her head, and befouls her as much as he can. Hypocrites are trodden perpetually under foot by devils, ingulfed in fire and stink. The envious and backbiters were hung by red-hot iron hooks through their tongues over eternal flames. Judas thus hung, but as his mouth had kissed the king, his lips shined like gold; and his tongue was drawn out through his neck, and he hung in hottest flames. Traitors were broken upon wheels, fixed by hooks turning swiftly round; the same punishment was inflicted upon lawyers, proctors, and counsel, who, to fill their purses, had pleaded for the guilty against the innocent. Upon seeing a number of souls being devoured by wolves, but never eaten; others having molten brass poured down their throats, he swooned, but is revived by his angel. These were the punishments of extortioners. Angry people were tied up in bundles, and pitched into fiery furnaces; drunkards were laid upon burning coals, with sulphur, their throats slit, and tongues drawn through the slit; the lechours were laid upon beds of burning thorns, full of venomous and huge toads and worms, for ever biting and gnawing them. The boiling caldron and pit of hell was boiling full of heretics; and when our Lord shall renew the world, all their burning and stinking and horrible pains shall be renewed, and all the filth that may be found in every other place, shall be cast thereto. He then ascends to the earth, and sees the tree from which Eve plucked the apple, and which, after process of time, formed the cross on which the Saviour suffered. Then follows a number of dialogues between the Trinity, regarding the scheme of mercy. His purgation being finished, and sins consumed, his angel took him by the hand, and began to mount towards heaven. The angel shows him many mausions; tells him how saints’ days are to be kept. In the feast of the Purification, the cherubims sing this song:—
‘Heryed93 be thou blysfull heuen quene
And worshyped mote94 thou be in euery place
That moder art and very mayden clene
Of god our lord thou geten hast that grace
Thou cause of ioyes arte, and of solace
By meryte of thy great humylyte
And by the floure of thy vyrgynyte
Honoured be thou, blessyd lady bright
By thy person embelysshed is nature
Of heven blysse augmented is the lyght
By presence of so fayre a creature
Thy worthynesse passeth al mesure
For vnto thyn estate Imperyall
No preysynge is that may be peregal.’95
In the feast of Ascension the father honoured the sone; and at the feast of Assumption, the Son honoured and worshipped his mother.
Song of angels on Easter day, to the Saviour, is—
‘When thou were dead, to hell thou descended
And fetched them out that lay there in pain.’
The angel illustrates to him the doctrine of the Trinity, by the world being round, without beginning or end; having breadth, length, and depth, which three, by unity in measure, comprises one world. So in a body is matter, form, and substance; if one of these be missing, it is imperfect. So the matter is likened to the Father, the form to the Son, and the substance to the Holy Ghost. So to every perfect work, there must be might, cunning, and will. He then asks, that as these three are one, how came it that one was separated and became incarnate alone? This is accounted for, as a sunbeam does not leave the sun, but enliveneth the earth; so the Son illuminated the world, being clothed with man’s flesh in the blessed maiden, and yet departed he not from his Father’s presence. When properly prepared, the angel went to clear his way to heaven, and as he looked after him, a ‘wonder huge light’ descended from the high heaven, smiting on his eye, and awoke him from his sleep; whereof he was full sorry, after having seemed to live so many thousand years; the clock struck twelve, and the bell tolled midnight, and he remembered that he had not slept three hours while all these adventures had passed. Now Jesus give us grace to come to this bliss! Translated in 1413, and printed by W. Caxton, June 6, 1483.
There is, in the British Museum,96 a very fine and curious MS. copy of this very singular work, illustrated with rude illuminated drawings. It finishes with, ‘Here endith the dreem of the pilgrimage of the soule, translated owt of the Frensch in to Englysche. The yere of our Lord m.cccc.xiii.’ The translator craves indulgence, if ‘in som places ther it be ouer fantastyk nought grounded nor foundable in Holy Scripture, ne in docteors wordes, for I myght not go fro myn auctor.’
The original work was written in verse by Guillaume de Guillonville, prior of Chaalis, about 1330.
The Booke of the Pylgrymage of Man. 4to, 26 leaves. Woodcut of Pilgrim, with staff and cockle-shell, and clasped book in his left hand.97
Here begynneth a boke, in Frenche called, le pelerynage de L’homme (in latyn, peregrinatio humani generis), and in oure Maternal tunge, the pylgrymage of mankynd, of late drawen and in compendionce prose cōpoūded by the reuerent father in god dane William98 hendred Prioure of the honourable place and pryory of Leomynstre: and now newly, at the specyal commaundemente of the same Father reuerent, I haue compyled the tenure of the same in Metre comprehended in xxvi. chaptours as ensuynge appereth.
First, the prologe, with the exposyon and enterpretacyon of the name of their sayd reuerent father in God.
Item how man was made of viij partyes. Capitulo primo.
Item how almyghty god put adam into paradyee, and of his first age. Ca.
Item the secounde age of mankynde, and howe ye sonnes of noe Bylded the Toure of Babylon. Cap.
Item how man procedyd his thirde age, and of the synkynge of cyties. Ca.
Item howe Moyses receyuyd ij tables of the lawe in the iiij age of man. Ca.
Item howe kyng Salamon byldyd the temple of god in the Cytie of Jerusalem. Ca.
Item howe the vj age euduryd telle che commynge of oure sauyoure. Ca.
Item how mankynde endured and of the nombre of yeres from the begynnynge of the worlde to the byrthe of criste. Ca.
Item howe almyghty God was pylgrym for iij causes and howe he gaue mankynde ensample to do his pylgrymage. Ca.
Item which iij synguler poyntys apperteyne to a pylgryme. Ca.
Item howe mankynde entereth the londe of June at the age of lx. Ca.
Item an exposicion autorysed by Scripture of ye concepcion of seynt Johñ Baptyst. Ca.
Item howe mankynde entereth into a kyngdome namyd the londe of July and parte of the marterdome of seynt Thomas of cauntorbury. Ca.
Item a parable of auctorytie of the hooly order of seynt Benet. Ca.
Item how mankynde enteryth the empyre of august and of the aboundaunte welth that there is. Ca.
Item howe mankynde enteryth and goeth thorowe the dukedome of September. Ca.
Item howe mankynde enteryth into the londe of October at the age of a C. yere. Ca.
Item how mankyude enteryth the barury of Nouembre. Ca.
Item howe mankyude enteryth the lordshyp of December. Ca.
Item howe mankynde goth thorowe the londe of January and of the strastye that coste. Ca.
Item howe mankynde enteryth the londe of February. Ca.
Item howe man procedyth his pylgrymage in and thorowe the londe of Marche. Ca.
Item howe Batayle was mayntaynd bytwene sol Justice and pluto duke o tenebris. Ca.
Item howe vyse toke the fowarde on his party, and howe sol Justicie fled. Ca.
Item howe sol justicie turned agayne and dyscumfyte vyce and wanne the feld. Ca.
Item the conclucyon of this boke. Ca.
Here endeth the table.
‘We hym folowynge a full good spede.
Shortly anone the skrymysche beganne.
And so sure for matter in dede.
Uyce with his felysshyp faste layed on
That voce mea was agast soone.
Thenne oure capteyne Sol iusticie.
With In manus tuas away dyd flye.
In to a darke vale that was nygh by.
But yet at the desyre and specyall request.
Of a gracyouse man callyd domine exaudi.
He came agayne and shortly in haste.
To ayde us there came one hyeng faste.
Whiche is callyd with all and some.
Benedictus qui venit ad prelium.’
So he sets out with Beatus vir for a guide, and enters the land of June—a royal land, full of pleasures and fruits, of which he eat plenteously in every lane; then came to a place held by the ‘Pope of June,’ where was the cleanest castell in Xtendom, called, ‘castell of corpus xti:’—
‘Of whiche indulgence by auctorytye
The founder is called by naturall sext
Of the romaynes romanus pontifex,’
where man could be healed from worldly wretchedness and sinful sore.
His guide then led him to dominus illuminatio for a safe-conduct in all the lands they should visit:—
‘So for to purchas a parfyte wryte.
To soule justicie we toke our way.
Sealed to haue oure saffe condyte.
And he shortly sayde not nay.
But also haue us of his lyuery.
A fencyble garment Joyntly compyled.
With fayth and hope that we exiled.’
They then come to a monastery, &c.
Emprynted at London by me Richard Faques, dwellyng in Poulys churche yerde at the sygue of the Maydynhed.
The informacym for pylgrymes unto the holy lande, That is to wyt to Rome, to Jherusalem and to Many Other Holy Places. Imprinted by Wynkin de Worde. 1524.99
This rare volume is a hand-book for pilgrims; gives the routes, coin, conveyances, fees, and other instructions to those who were going on any distant pilgrimage. It also contains the narrative of a pilgrim in his journey to the Holy Land. Sixty-six pilgrims sailed from Venice in one ship; they visit Jerusalem and other places in the Holy Land. He gives the pronunciation of useful words to enable future visitors to ask for bread, wine, &c. It is a very rare tract, but there is nothing allegorical about the narrative, which is simply of the facts as they took place.
The next allegorical work in chronological order, representing life as a pilgrimage, is
The Historie of Graunde Amoure and la bell Pucel; called the Pastime of Pleasure, containing the Knowledge of the Seven Sciences, and the Course of Man’s Life in this Worlde. Invented by Stephen Hawes, Grome of King Henry the Seuenth his Chamber. Printed by John Waylande, 1554. Small 4to.
Such is the rarity of this volume, that, although it wants six leaves, it bears this inscription on the fly-leaf, ‘I bought this Volume at Mr. Bindley’s sale, January 21st, 1813, for the inordinate sum of forty guineas. James Bosewell’ (Author of the Life of Dr. Johnson).
Mr. Hallam, in his Literature of Europe, gives a good account of this poem:— ‘From the title we might hardly expect a learned allegory, in which the seven sciences of the trivium and quadrivium, besides a host of abstract virtues and qualities, play their parts in living personality. It is rude, obscure, full of pedantic Latinisms, but learned and philosophical. The best, though probably an unexpected, parallel for Hawes, is John Bunyan; their inventions are of the same class, various and novel; their characters, though abstract in name, have a personal truth about them; they render the general allegory subservient to inculcating a system, the one of philosophy, the other of religion. I do not mean that the Pastime of Pleasure is equal in merit, as it certainly has not been in success, to the “Pilgrim’s Progress.” Bunyan is powerful and picturesque, from his concise simplicity; Hawes has the common failings of our old writers—a tedious and languid diffuseness, an expatiating on themes of pedantry in which the reader takes no interest, a weakening of every feature and every reflection, by ignorance of the touches that give effect. Hawes was educated at Oxford, and travelled much on the Continent, and held an office in the Court of Henry VII. He was the earliest of our learned and accomplished gentlemen.’
Hawes’s work was the result of a learned education, great connections, an extensive knowledge of the world, and singular ability; still bar. Hallam justly admits that the ‘Pilgrim’s Progress’ is greatly superior as a work of genius, although Bunyan was not blessed even with the rudiments of education, no literary connections, and his travels extended not beyond his neighbouring villages. How extensive and prolific must have been the natural powers of Bunyan’s mind! But compare the moral tendency of those two allegories: Hawes’s inspiration is from beneath, strongly tinged with the smoke of the infernal pit; Bunyan is inspired by heaven, his whole course is illuminated from the celestial city. His pilgrims breathe a heavenly atmosphere; every line of his narrative has a holy, and, consequently, a happy tendency. Hawes derived his knowledge from worldly philosophers, Bunyan from the Bible.
The Pastime of Pleasure is a narrative of the adventures of a love-sick knight, in search of a lady named La Bell Pucel. He is directed to the Tower of Doctrine, where he is told that he must become proficient in the seven liberal sciences, in order to win his lady.
Walking in a gay meadow, he finds a statue, whose hands point to two paths, one of contemplative life:—
‘And in the other hande, ryght fayre wrytten was
This is the waye, of worldly dignitye
Of the actine lyfe, who wyll in it passe
Unto the tower, of fayre dame beautye
Fame shall tell him, of the way in certaintye
Unto la bell pacell, the fayre lady excellent
Aboue all other, in cleare beauty splendent.’
In pursuit of this beautiful virgin he chooses the path of active life, and sets out:—
‘Thus all alone, I began to trauayle
Forthe on my waye, by long, continuaunce
But often times, I had great maruayle
Of the by pathes, so full of pleasaunce
Whiche for to take, I had great doubtance
But enermore, as nere as I myght
I toke the waye, whiche went before me right.’
On his journey he falls asleep, and is awaked by the sound of a horn. A lovely lady, on horseback, rides swiftly up to him, accompanied by two greyhounds, with their names set in diamonds upon their collars—Grace and Governaunce. The lady proves to be Fame; she presents to him the two greyhounds, praises La Bell Pueell, and instructs him how to attain her in the Tower of Music, and she informs him that he will have great labour, and must pass throngh hard adventures before he will attain his object:—
‘For by the waye, there lye in waite
Gyantes great, disfigured of nature
That all denoureth, by their euil coneeite
Against whose strength, there may no man endure
They are so huge, and strong out of measure
With many serpentes, foule and odious
In sundry likenesse, blacke and tedious
But beyond them, a great sea there is
Beyonde whiche sea, there is a goodly land
Most full of fruite, replete with joye and bliss
Of right fine golde, appeareth all the sande
In this faire realme, where the tower doth stand
Made all of golde, enameled about
With noble stories, whiche do appeare without.’
He at length arrives at the castle, when the portresse thus questions him:—
‘Tyll that I came to a royall gate
Where I sawe, standyug the goodly portres
Whiche axed me, from whence I came alate
To whom I gan, in every thing expresse
All myne aduenture, chaunce and busines
And eke my name, I tolde her euery dell
When she hearde thys, she liked me ryght well.’
The portress, whose name was Countenaunce, introduced him into the castle, and in the Fair Hall, upon the arras, is portrayed the perils he will have to encounter; that Folly will beset his path, but that Correction will follow:—
‘And in her hande, a strong knotted whippe
At every iarte she made him for to skippe.’
He finds that he will have to destroy a giant with three heads, another more fierce with four heads, and a third still more terrible with seven heads, and at length he will win and wed La Bell Pucell. The principal officers in the castle are thus named:—
‘The marshall, yelipped was dame Reason
And the yeures, also observaunce
The panter Pleasaunce, at euery season
The good Butler, curteys continuaunce
And the chiefe coke, was called temperaunce
The lady chamberlayne, named fidelitye
And the hye stewarde, Liberalitye.’
He is then sent in succession to Grammar, Logic, Rhetoric, and at length to Music. In the Temple of Music, he sees and falls deeply in love with La Bell Pucell. She returns his love, but informs him that he will have to brave many desperate adventures before they can be united. He promises to fit himself for all that may happen, and goes to Chivalry—he is taught by Minerva—harnessed and knighted:—
‘For first good hope, his legge harneys should be
His habergion, of perfect righteousnes
Gyrde fast, wyth the girdle of chastitie
His rich placarde,100 should be good busines
Brodered with almes, so full of larges101
The helmet mekenes, and the shelde good fayeth,
His swerde Gods worde, as S. Paule sayeth.’
Fortitude, Consuetude,102 Justice, Misericorde, Sapience, Curtesye, Concord, and dame Minerva see him on his road, and bid him farewell. His first adventure is with a Kentish man, Godfrey Gobilion, who gives an account of his parentage in these lines:—
‘Ich am a gentilman, of much noble kynne
Though Iche be cladde, in a knaues skyane
For there was one, called Peter Pratefast
That in all his life, spake no worde in waste
He weddid a wife, that was called Maude
I trow quod I, she was a gorgious boude
Thou liest, quod he, she was gentle and good
She gaue her husbande, many a furde hode
And at his meales, without any misse
She would him serue, in clenly wise iwys
God loue her soule, as she loued clenlines
And kept her dishes, from all foulenes
When she lacked clowtes, without any fayle
She wyped her dishes, with her dogges tayle.’
The conversation that ensues between these worthies, on the misfortunes of lovers, exceeds for gross indelicacy the tales of Chaucer. Grand Amour continues his journey, and becomes a regular Jack the Giant-killer. His first adventure was with a monster twelve feet high, with three heads. These he decapitated; and is then attacked by a second and more formidable giant, fifteen feet high, with seven heads, named, Dissimulation, Delay, Discomfort, Variaunce, Envy, Detraction, and Doubleness; all these he cuts off, and is then received and entertained by seven fine ladies. His next fierce encounter is with demons. Pallas instructs him how to fight with them. He attacks and slays the great dragon—wins La Bell Pucell, and is married to her, and enjoys great happiness, until he is quietly removed by death to purgatory, where, having been purified, he goes to heaven.
In vain have I endeavoured to discover the intention of the author in this allegory. His editor says, that it was to stimulate young men to study the seven liberal sciences! Its natural effect would be to stimulate them to licentiousness. These were the class of books given to the people by the church, in preference to the Bible.
We now come to a very rare pilgrimage, written in Italian, and entitled Libro del Peregrino, by J. Cauice, dedicated to Lucresse Borgie.
The edition in my library is ‘El nouamente stampato et hystoriato, small 8vo, with woodcuts, Venice, 1524.’ I have also a translation into French, by T. Dassy, Secretary of State to the King of Navarre; it is called Le Peregrin: traictant de L’honneste et Pudique amour, par pure et sincere vertu. It is elegantly printed in black letter, with woodcuts, small 4to, Lyons, 1528, and from it the following analysis was made:—
The pilgrim, a native of Ferrara, at the age of twenty-two years on May-day, attended to hear a Dominican Friar preach. Divine love lay its ambush, and the eloquence of the preacher pierced his heart. He passed a restless night—speaks in silence, and at length cries out, O life more miserable than death! his thoughts wound him and he is wretched. Under the character of a lady named Geneure, the daughter of Angiolo (the Virgin Mary, queen of angels), to that time unknown to him, is personated that which alone can cure his wounded spirit. This lady is very wise and modest, young, but ancient in prudence, and very difficult to obtain. He becomes very desirous of obtaining her, and his pilgrimage is made with this object. Through the aid of Geneure’s nurse, Violante, he corresponded with her, and sought an interview, He is directed to a subterraneous passage, by which he hopes secretly to reach her house in the night; but mistakes the chamber, and enters that of another young lady, named Lyonore (the lioness), the daughter of Petruccio (the flurty), and mistook her for Geneure. This sad adventure with Lyonore involves him in great trouble. It came to the knowledge of Geneure, and she weeps for her pilgrim’s treason; but is comforted by her mother (the blessed Virgin), who tells her that it is natural to man to go astray. Geneure threatens to enter a nunnery, and submits to her mother that the vows of obedience and poverty are of sovereign virtue. The pilgrim, before Geneure entered upon her noviciate, met her accidentally at church, and proposes marriage, his faults are forgiven, they become united, and pass their time in great happiness, until death separated them.
If Bunyan had been able to have read this quaint old Italian or French story, he would never have devoted his valuable time to such a mass of rubbish; and if he had, not the slightest idea could have suggested itself to have assisted him in composing the adventures of his Pilgrim. In fact, he dared not to have spent an hour over a book, which, under the title of The Pilgrim, contains all the looseness of an Italian love-story.
This book was for some time very popular. I have two Venice editions, in 8vo, printed in italics, 1524 and 1527. I have seen also a similar edition not dated, and one of 1538. There is also a very handsome one of the French translation, printed by Gallist, Du Pres, Paris, 1528, and another in 1540. Niceron thus accounts for its popularity, ‘Ce livre faisait en France, au commencement du regne de François I., les délices de la jeunesse, et donnait lieu aux prédicateurs d’on blamer fortement la lecture comme dangereuse.’103
It is a matter of great regret that those who write and publish for the millions, too frequently circulate opinions and supposed facts without personal investigation. Mr. Chambers, the popular publisher at Edinburgh, whose works find readers as far as the English language is known, has joined those who appear to detract from Bunyan, by charging him with plagiarism.
In his Encyclopedia of Literature,104 speaking of Gawin Donglas, the Bishop of Dunkeld, a celebrated Scottish poet, he observes, ‘The principal original composition of Douglas is a long poem, entitled, The Palace of Honour. It was designed as an epilogne for the conduct of a king, and therefore addressed to James IV. The poet represents himself as seeing, in a vision, a large company travelling towards the Palace of Honour. He joins them, and narrates the particulars of the pilgrimage. The well-known “Pilgrim’s Progress” bears so strong a resemblance to this poem, that Bunyan could scarcely have been ignorant of it.’
With some trouble I found a copy of this very rare tract by Douglas. It is a short poem, but being in the ancient Scottish dialect, it is quite long enough to weary an Englishman’s patience. Had it been Douglas’s long poem, a translation of Virgil, it would have defied any attempt of mine to read it; but, by the aid of a good modern glossary, I read it through, and, to my extreme surprise, found that it has not, either in the plot or detail, the slightest similarity whatever to the ‘Pilgrim’s Progress,’ and that it is written in terms that a poor unlettered minister could not have understood.
The principal character in the story is represented as being in a desert, when, hearing the noise of an approaching cavalcade, he gets into a stock [a hollow tree], and sees them pass. He then follows them to the Palace of Honour, and gives a description of what took place. Had Bunyan seen and read the following stanza, and understood it, how indignant would he have felt at the author’s notion of baptismal regeneration:—
‘Ze bene all borne the sonnis of Ire I ges
Sine throw Baptisme gettis grace and faithfulnes.
Than in zone Carwell surclie ze remane,
Oft stormested with this warldis brukilnes
Quhill that ze fall in sin and wretchitness
Than schip brokin sall ze drown in eudles pane
Except be faith ze find the plank agane
Be Christ, wirking gude warkis I vnderstund
Remaine thairwith, thir sall zow bring to land.’105
Surely Mr. Chambers could not have imagined that the representation of a large party going up a hill of polished marble, and on the summit seeing the infernal regions as narrated in the following verses, could have aided Bunyan in his solemn aooount of the Christian’s feeling in the Valley of the Shadow of Death:—
‘As we approchit neir the hilles heid
Ane terribill sewch birnand in flammis reid
Abhominabill, and how as hell to se
All full of brintstane, Pick and bulling Leid,
Quhair mony wretchit creature lay deid.
And miserabill catiues zelland loude on hie
I saw, quhilk den micht weill compairit be
Till Xanthus the flude of Troy sa schill
Birnand at Venus hest contrair Achill.
Amid our passage lay this viglie sicht
Nocht braid bot sa horribill to eueric wicht
That all the warld to pas it suld haue dreid.
Weill I considderit na vppermair I micht
And to discend sa hiddeous was the hicht
l durst not auenture for this cird on dreid.
Trimbland I stude wt teith chatterand gude speid
My Nymphe beheld my cheir and said let be
Thow sall nocht aill, and lo the caus (quod sche)
To me thou art commit, &c.’
There may be as much poetic beauty in these lines as there is melody in the drone of the bagpipe, but there is not the slightest similarity, nor even any idea in the whole poem, that could by possibility have aided the author of the ‘Pilgrim’s Progress.’
The Pryke of Conscience.106
A very curious old English poem; it is theological and descriptive, but not allegorical.
The Myrrour of Lyfe, by William of Nassyngton, 1418.107
An ancient English poetical treatise on religion; excepting the title, it has no pretence to allegory.
Castellum Amoris. Le Chateau D’Amour, by Robert Grosteste.
A fine copy of this curious poem, in Norman French, is in the British Museum.108 It narrates the creation and fall of man; the four daughters of God, Mercy, Truth, Patience, and Peace, unite to devise the means of man’s restoration. The divisions are—I. The Prophets predict. II. The Saviour is born in the great Palace of Love. III. The Palace is described with its keepers. IV. Satan attempts to overcome the keepers. It is a very curious poem, and is called at the end, scala Cœli. I venture to give a specimen of this singular composition, and have selected the following, because it treats upon the subject of baptismal regeneration, which at present occupies so much of the public attention. The author was evidently of that party who pretend to believe that the God of love will send a poor babe to everlasting misery, if its parents neglect or refuse to have it christened!! As the French is old and contracted, a translation is added:—
‘O baptize treslour fussent Et nomi Deu pater et Deo fiz. Et du saynt espiritz Kar qi baptize ne serra Ca en eel ne entera, Mes ci creaut ey baptize Serront mys a sanunte.’
‘They were then baptized In the names of God the Father and of the Son And of the Holy Ghost For whoever is not baptized He in heaven shall not enter But those created in this baptism Shall be put into salvation.’
Scala Perfeccionis Englyshed. The Ladder of Perfeccion, written by Walter Hilton, about 1380.
This was one of the most popular of the monkish writings, and so much esteemed in the reign of James II., as to have been published by the court to promote the influence of popery in these realms; it was then very much altered, and not improved.
The only allegory in it is the Ladder, placed upon the earth to ascend by steps to heaven. It was intended for monks and nuns, to guide them in devotional exercises, so that their affections might be gradually raised from earthly things. It is the most scriptural of all the monkish manuscripts, but the evangelical truths are omitted in the more modern printed editions. Thus he says, if we were only infected by original sin, and had escaped the pollution of actual transgression, we must have perished but for the sufferings of Christ.109 To speak for thy profit and my own, ‘say I thus that thou neuer so moche a wreche, hadest thou done neuer so moche syn, for sake thi self and al thi werkes gode and bad, cry mercy and aske oneli saluacion be vertue of the precious passion mekeli and trusteli and with outyen doute thou schalt haue it, and fro this original syn and al other that thou have done thou sal be saf.’109 Dr. Dibdin considers this a wild and dangerous exposition of the consoling doctrines of the Christian religion made by an enthusiastic writer!110 Hilton gives a faithful warning against placing dependence upon happy feelings, unless they arise from a living faith. ‘I had rather feel, and have a stedfast desire and a pure spiritual union with my Lord Jesus, though I cannot see him with my ghostly eye, than to have without this desire the fruit of all the bodily penance of all living men, or all the visions and revelations of angels’ songs and sounds.’ ‘Jesus leadeth the soul into itself. The secret voice of Jesus is fully true, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they know me.” There is no feigning in it, nor fantasy, nor pride, nor hypocrisy; but softness, meekness, peace, love, and charity. And it is full of life, love, and grace; and, therefore, when it soundeth in the soul, it is sometime of so great might, that the soul suddenly layeth off hand all that there is, praying, speaking, reading, or thinking, and all manner of bodily work, and listeneth thereto, fully hearing and perceiving, in rest and in love, the sweet stenen111 of this spiritual voice, as it were ravished from the mind of all earthly things. Sometimes Jesus showeth himself as a master, sometimes as a father, and sometimes as a lovely spouse; and it keepeth the soul in a wondering reverence, and a lovely beholding of him, that the soul liketh never so well as then.’112
It is delightful to meet with such beams of the Sun of righteousness in a dark age, like the dayspring from on high, breaking through a dismal night with its cheering rays.113
The Pilgrimage of Perfection; supposed to be writen by William Bond. 4to, printed by Pynson, 1526.
A fine copy of this rare book is in the extensive and valuable library of my kind friend, the Rev. J. H. M. Luxmoore, rector of Mareweil, near Wrexham, by whose permission the following analysis was made:—
This work is more particularly intended for the monastic orders, to promote what, in those days, were called pious feelings; by which it was intended to treat the gifts of providence, the comforts, and even necessaries of life, with contempt; to abstain from reasonable enjoyments; to retire into solitudes where no relative duties could be performed; lacerating the body; submitting the soul, with blind obedience, to the will of men; a looking forward with dread to the future; contemplating the God of love, not as the forgiver, but as the avenger of sin; and to which may be added, that climax of pride, fanaticism, and folly, in which Jews, Mahometans, and all antichrist glory—that there is no salvation out of the pale of their own sect.
The volume commences with the tree of grace and the tree of vice; under the branch of avarice, a nun is told to Note pt a pin or a nedell kept contrary to de commaunoement of their soucraine it is dampnable.
It is divided into two parts: first, ‘sheweth howe the lyfe of euery cristian is as a pilgremage: second, the iourney of religion—man is never contented in the cage of this world; wherfore it appereth that ther is an hyer cage and another place for his full contentation.’—‘As the iewes spoyled Egipt of their richesse, so the christians have spoyled both iewes and philosophers of the noble veritees of philosophy;’
‘In heuen euery man and woman shalbe as an emperour and empresse.’
The journey begins with the sacrament of baptism, professing by it to be pilgrims; openly forsaking the devil, pomps, mortal sins, honours, riches, and pleasures; for daily sustenance, is given the blessed body of our Lord in the sacrament, by which these pilgrims are raised above nature to immortal glory. Jn. 6:53 is thus translated:—‘Except ye eat the flesh of the son of the virgin, and drink his blood, ye cannot have life in you;’ but it is silent as to the cup being denied to the laity. 1 Pe. 2:2, 3, is thus translated:—‘As infants and young children: whom our mother, holy church, hath brought forth, by the regeneration of baptism in the faith of Christ Jesus.’
Then follow very extensive instructions to the pilgrims, without any attempt at allegory. Many portions of Scripture are given, but they are strangely translated. The Lord’s prayer:—‘O father in heuen delyuer vs frõ all euyll of peyne and synne. Suffre vs nat to be ouerthrowen in temptacion. Forgyue vs our offences as we forgyne them that hath offended vs. Gyne vs our dayly sustenaunce and necessaryes. Thy wyll be fulfylled in erthe, as it is in heuen. Thy kyngdome come to vs. Thy holy name be santifyed.’ 1 Co. 3:13:—‘But yet (as saynt Poule sayth) the fyer of purgatory must proue his workes.’ When suffering pain from fasting, he adviseth that such pain be allayed by using these words:—‘Ah, caryon carion and wormes meate: what vauntage shalte thou haue, ever to stuffe and fyll the greedy gutte of thy bely with delicate meetes and drinkes which damn the soule.’ Praying to our blessed Lady and to the saints is ordered, because Job was commanded to ‘call to some of the sayntes of heuen, and they wil answere,’ Job 5:1. In the ten commandments, the second is omitted, and the tenth is divided into two, to make up the number. The Virgin Mary can obtain blessings for us, because ‘The mother of God, sheweth to her son her pappes and brestes, with the which she gaue hym sucke!! therefore make supplication to her, to have mercy on this present churche militant, releue, socoure, and helpe it.’ The heavenly anthem is translated:— ‘Glory be to god in heuyn, and peace in erthe to man or woman, that hathe a good wyll,’ Lu. 2:11. The pilgrimage is divided into seven days, and on the seventh the soul approaches to perfection; and here the feelings or experience of the pilgrims strongly remind us of some modern sects, such as the Irvingites—‘Some in this vnwont ioye haue been compelled to syng, some to wepe, some coude nothinge speke; but Jesu, Jesu, Jesu. Some coude nat saye so moche, but onely expresse suche voyces, that be nat in use to signifye any thyng: one Masseus in such ioye coude speke nothing but v v v.’ With the Quakers, ‘Some other in such jubile, trymbled or quaked in all the ioyntes of their bodyes.’ Like the Ranters, ‘Some were constrayned to leape and daunce for ioye, and some to clappe their handes.’ Some have arrived at so high a state of mortification, that if asked ‘whether they coude be contented, for the love and pleasure of god, and to fulfyll his wyll, to lye for euermore in the paynes of hell, without remedy, they wolde answere: ye with all their hertes.’ In such a state was St. Bernard, who was ravished before the cross when the body ‘losed itselfe from the crosse, and halsed114and kyssed hym most swetely;’ the holy Brigit was lifted up in the aire, and her face was made to shyne brighter than the sonne!!!
The reader need not be told that Bunyan could have had no help from this impure source.
The Pype, or Tonne of the lyfe of perfection. 4to, 1532.
This is an allegorical work for the instruction of nuns, written by the old wretch of Sion;115 and although it is not a pilgrimage or a dream, it is a guide to female pilgrims. Under the idea of wine being kept in a pipe or tun, is represented:—1. The life of perfection, as the wine; 2. Religion, the pipe; 3. Essential vows, obedience, wilful poverty, and chastity, the slaves; 4. Holy rules, the hoops; 5. Ceremonies, the wickers, by which the hoops are made fast. If these wickers fail, the hoops open, the cask falls to pieces, and the wine is lost; all depends upon the ceremonies. This curious book was published to prevent the spread of heresy ‘by newe fangle persones,’ aided by the New Testament, which had then been about six years in circulation in England; for ‘Luther, with all his discyples, depraue all maner of religyons, except onely (as they call hit) the religyon of Christe. Wherefore I thought it necessary to answer the perilous poison of such blaterers.’ The work is divided into three parts: ‘Of Obedience,’ ‘Wylfull Pouertie,’ and ‘Chastite;’ being the three great vows made by the nuns to whom it is addressed. 1. Of Obedience. Without implicit obedience, there is not the slightest hope of salvation. This related, not only to the obedience due by nuns to the pope, the priest, and the abbess, but also to the obedience due by a wife to her husband. If married ladies acted in the same spirit then as they do now, might not the sorrowful inquiry have been made, ‘Lord, are there [even a] few that be saved?’ ‘Kynges as sone as they were connerted and baptized, left their dyademes and were subjects unto the clergie, and under theyr obedience;’ a peculiar kind of antinomianism reigned in the church; ‘I say, that no temporall lawe maye bynde any spirituall persone. This have we said vnto Tyndale that arche heretike.’ Some of the rules and examples show that nuns were sad women, who could ‘braule and chide; eat and drynke to excess’— ‘they be in right great jeoperty of nawfrage116 and wracke of chastite.’ Obedience in ecclesiastical payments is enforced by a very odd translation of Nu. 18:22; —‘Those persones that wolde nat be obedient duely to pay theyr tythes, were judged by our Lord vnto deth;’ and whether God, or the viear of God, gave any manner of commandment, it is all one, and by like reverence to be performed; ‘our lorde god, in maner makyng the prelates and soucreynes equall with hymselfe.’ The extent of obedience is thus illustrated:—‘that man that in obedience to his souereyne dyd caste his owne chylde quicke into a hole flamynge ouen has now laude, prayse, thanke, and grace, because he was obedient as he would have had indignation of god and vengeaunce if he had not obeyed.’ 2. Of Wylfull Pouertie. This vow was so strict that no monk or nun was to consider their clothes their own, but the property of the establishment; and, to terrify the poor votaries, a story is told, fol. ce., of a monk that did appear after his death to one of his companious, showing that he was in marvellous great pains, ‘for bycause he gaue a payre of olde showes vnto a pore body without leaue.’ All the efforts and threats to prevent the monks from getting money was in vain; and our unhappy author laments that there are few monasteries in England but where the monks lend and borrow; play for money at al: manner of games; dice, cards, bowls, and sometimes at worse or more inconvenient things; while the nuns enjoy their gains, make good cheer, sing and laugh, play and sport, and be as merry as lay people. We close our account of this singular volume by extracting a curious version of Ps. 137:9:— ‘Blessed be that person that doth hold and restrain his children, and that doth thrust and crush their head unto the stone, that is unto Christ antd his passion and death.’
No one can for a moment suppose that Bunyan could have gained a hint from this volume.
Viaggio Spirituale, nel quale, facendosi passaggio da questa vita mortale, si ascende alla celeste. Del R. P. Cornelio Bellanda, di Verona, 4to, with the Aldine mark. Venetia, 1578.
This spiritual pilgrimage, from mortal life to the celestial, has nothing in it allegorical, but in ten chapters treats of penance, confession, the judgment, heavenly blessedness, &c. It is a very rare volume, elegantly printed by Aldus, jun.117
The Vision of Pierce Plowman.
‘I am inclined to think,’ says Mr. D’Israeli, in his Amenities of Literature, ‘that we owe to Piers Ploughman, an allegorical work of the same wild invention from that other creative mind, the author of “Pilgrim’s Progress.” How can we think of the one, without being reminded of the other? Some distant relationship seems to exist between the Ploughman’s Dowell and Dobet, and Dobest, Friar Flatterer, Grace, the Portress of the magnificent Tower of Truth, viewed at a distance, and by its side the dungeon of Care, Natural Understanding, and his lean and stern wife Study, and all the rest of this numerous company, and the shadowy pilgrimage of the “Immortal Dreamer” to the “Celestial City.” Yet I would mistrust my own feeling, when so many able critics, in their various researches after a prototype of that singular production, have hitherto not suggested what seems to me obvious.’ Such a notice by so popular a writer, led me very closely to examine this severe satire. It is written in language that to Bunyan would have been almost as impenetrable as Hebrew or Greek. It is a very curious poem, composed about the time of Wieliff, by one of the Lollards, said to be by Robert Langland. In a poetical vision or dream, he exposes and reproves vice, and extols Christian virtue. ‘The printer [R. Crowley, 1550] states, that it was written in the time of Edward III., when it pleased God to open the eyes of many to see his truth, giving them boldness of heart to open their mouths, and cry out against the works of darkness. This writer feigneth himself in dreams most Christianly to instruct the weak, and sharply rebuke the obstinate blind. He godlily, learnedly, and wittily rebuked vice in all classes.’ There is nothing in this very interesting book that could, in the slightest degree, have aided Bunyan, if he had been able to read it. It presents a melancholy picture of the state of the clergy, and of society generally, at that time; and, according to his account, pilgrims were very sad story-tellers.
‘Pilgrames and Palmers plyght hem together
For to seke S. James and sayntes at Rome
They went forth theyr way, wyth many wyse tales,
And had leaue to lye all hyr lyfe after.’
The hermits appear to have had a still worse propensity—
‘Hermets on a heape wyth hoked staues
Wenten to Walsingham, and her wenches after.’
Mr. D’Israeli must have been dreaming when he imagined the slightest resemblance between Piers Plowman’s Vision and the ‘Pilgrim’s Progress,’ either in the plan, or in any of the details of this curious poem.
Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales
Were told on a pilgrimage to the shrine of Thomas-à-Becket; and it is evident that these pretended holy journeys were full of vice and profligacy.
Erasmus, On the Religious Pilgrimages.
The very droll colloquy of Erasmus, called the Religious Pilgrimage, is preceded by an account of a shipwreck, when all the passengers and crew are calling each on his patron saint, promising pilgrimages and offerings. Among them—‘one vowed to St. Christopher, in the great church at Paris, “as loud as he could bawl,” that he might be sure to be heard, a wax candle, as big as himself, and he was rather a mountain than a statue: a friend gave him a touch. Have a care what you promise, says he, for if you should sell yourself to your shirt, you are not able to purchase such a candle. Hold your tongue, you fool, says t’other, softly, for fear the saint should hear him; let me set foot a land once, and he has good luck if he get so much as a tallow candle of me!!’ This pilgrimage has a long letter from the Virgin Mary, written by one of her secretaries, in droll terms, complaining that it is of no use that hundreds should pray to her at once, for she could only hear one at a time, and had no power to assist her worshippers.
No one can suppose that Bunyan gained any hint front such satirical works as these.
Spenser’s Faëry Queen.
To this work Dr. Adam Clarke considered Bunyan to have been indebted for some ideas in his ‘Pilgrim,’ or ‘Holy War.’ It must require no ordinary degree of penetration to discover that which is, to many, perfectly concealed.
This is a very long but elegant allegorical poem, composed of seven legends: 1. The Knight of the Red Cross, or Holiness. This gallant knight, properly caparisoned and accoutred, rides forth with Truth, represented as a fair lady; his first adventure is with a monstrous dragon called Error, who is slain. They take refuge in the cell of an aged sire, who acted the part of a holy henuit, but proved to be a most unholy enchauter; he calls spirits from the vasty deep, and transforms them into a gallant knight and a beautiful woman. He kindles a flame of jealousy in the breast of the red cross knight, so that he abruptly quits his fair companion, and in his journey meets with a knight called ‘Saus Foy;’ they fight, and Sans Foy is killed, and a lovely lady, his companion, is taken captive; she proves to be ‘Falsehood.’ He is taken prisoner by the contrivance of Falsehood, and is thrown into a dungeon in the castle of Giant Orgoglio, where he lies in despair for three months. Truth induces Prince Arthur to attack the Giant, whose body disappears when he is slain after a fearful combat; he relieves the red cross knight from a cell—
‘Where entred in, his feet could find no floor,
But all a deep descent, as dark as hell,
That breathed ever forth a filthy banefull smell.’
He is then led to a house of holiness, and is taught repentance. Our knight then seeks and fights the old dragon fiend for three successive days, and kills him. He visits the infernal realms; sees what the classic poets have described; meets again with his lady Truth, and his adventures close with their marriage. The next legend is that of Temperance narrating the exploits of Sir Guyon. He attacks and overcomes Furor, Incontinence, and Mammon. He recounts from a friar’s book ‘a chronicle of Briton’s Kings.’ His startling description of our forefathers is a good specimen of his versification and stanzas:—
‘But far in land a salvage nation dwelt
Of hideous giaunts, and halfe-beastly men,
That never tasted grace, nor goodness felt;
But wild like beastes lurking in loathsome den,
And flying fast as roebucke through the fen;
All naked without shame or care of cold,
By hunting and by spoiling liveden;
Of stature huge, and eke of corage bold,
That sonnes of men amazed their sterness to behold.’
Temperance is besieged, but relieved by Prince Arthur. Then follows the legends of Britomartis, or Chastity: all the chapters are headed with poetical contents; as—
‘The witches sonne loves Florimell,
She flyes; he faines to dy.
Satyrene saves the squyre of Dames
From Gyauntes tyranny.’
The other legends are of friendship, justice, courtesy, constancy, and mutability. The first legend of Holiness is the only one that bears the slightest resemblance to any part of the ‘Pilgrim’ or ‘Holy War.’ In this we have a battle with the old dragon fiend, a desecut into hell, and being a prisoner in a giant’s castle. It is not at all likely that Buuyan could have found time, even had he the inclination, to have read the Faëry Queen. His poetry is from the school of Francis Quarles, and not of Spenser. The knightly hero seeks the old dragon fiend; the pilgrim is sought by Apollyon. Apostolic injnnctious would naturally lead our allegorist Bunyan to portray the dreadful combat. ‘The devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour,’ whom resist. Clothed in the armour described in the Epistle to the Ephesians, and wielding the sword of the Spirit, his final success was certain—‘resist the devil, and he will flee from you.’ Such texts, with his own experience of the saint’s conflict with the powers of darkness, naturally suggested the fight with Apollyon, without the aid of any uninspired author.
All Spenser’s imagery of the Infernal Regions is taken from Ovid, Virgil, and Dante. But the pilgrims’ fears, while passing through the Valley of the Shadow of Death, depict the author’s personal feelings, and the experience of David. ‘The sorrows of death compassed me, and the pains of hell gat hold upon me: I found trouble and sorrow.’ Ps. 116:3. The strong language of Job (ch. 15.), ‘A dreadful sound is in his ears; he believeth not that he shall return out of darkness;’ and the emotions of the psalmist, ‘an horrible pit and the miry clay,’ led to an intensity of feeling, under doubts and fears, which knightly poetry, however elegant, could never have engendered. Spenser was a philosopher well acquainted with heathen literature, from which his images are drawn. While Bunyan, shut out of the enticing treasures of human learning, possessed in that Inspired Volume, which wad his daily solace under severe privations, the most noble model for his allegorical imagery, he neither wanted, nor could he have gained, the slightest hint from Spenser.
Le Voyage du Chevalier Errant. Par. F. J. de Cartheny. Written about the year 1311. 8vo, Anvers, 1557. Published in English under the title of The Voyage of the Wandering Knight. Showing the whole course of Man’s Life; how apt he is to follow Vanity, and how hard it is for him to attain to Virtue. Devised by John Cartheny, a Frenchman; and Translated out of French into English by W[illiam] G[oodycare] of Southampton, Merchant; a work worthy the reading, and dedicated to Sir. F. Drake, Knt. London, Printed by Thos. Snodham, 4to. No date, but about 1611. (See Herbert, p. 1022.)
The knight determines to seek the palace of true felicity, and first tries riches, pleasure, and honours; but he adds, ‘I was as very a fool in this as he who hoped to catch fish by angling in the air, or hunt the hare with hounds in the open sea.’ Under the guidance of Folly, he obtained from an armorer named Evil-will, a shirt of lasciviousness, a doublet of lewd desires, hosen118 of vain pleasures, armour of ignorance, a corslet of inconstancy, vambraces119 of arrogancy, gauntlets of idleness, a gorget of licentiousness, a helmet of lightness, a buckler of shamelessness, a gilt-cap of vain-glory, a girdle of intemperance, a sword of rebellion, and a lance, named Hope of Longlife. ‘Then Pride prepared me a galloping horse, called Temerity. At last Folly apparelled herself lightly with a cloak of feathers, and mounted upon a jenet; and opening her feathers and wings with the wind, away she flew; and I also, at a wild adventure, set spurs to my horse, and away we went both.’
During their ride, Folly tells him her triumphs in such gross terms, that the knight found fault with this insatiable empress, and calls her some very unpolite names; but not having received God’s grace, he was unable to forsake her. They come to two paths, one a goodly green meadow; the other rocky, narrow, and full of mountains; and here met with two elegant ladies, on chargers richly caparisoned. Lady Voluptuousness pictures to him the pleasures of idleness, with all worldly delights; and Lady Felicity, the advantages of industry and virtue. As the husbandman could expect no corn unless he prepared the ground and sowed the seed; so that man is marvellously misinformed who thinketh to achieve true blessedness unless he prepares his way by virtue and good deeds. But while Reason preferred the good advice of Felicity, Folly prevailed, and led him to the palace of Voluptuousness. The palace is minutely described, with all its wanton and luxurious enjoyments. After leading a beastly life eleven days, he goes out hunting, accompanied by his gay ladies; when suddenly the palace sinks into the earth, yielding such an air of brimstone, that the like hath not been felt. The knight ‘sunk into a beastly bog up to his saddle,’ and his companions changed into serpents, snakes, toads, and venomous worms. He fell into despair, howled, and scratched his face; he tried in vain to get out, and found ‘that after a man be once sunk in sin, he will not be able to recover himself unless he have the help of God’s grace.’ After bitter repentance, he prays; and a splendid lady, called God’s-Grace, relieved him, and he left Temerity his horse, and Folly his governess, in the bog to fish for frogs. ‘Thus you see that God’s grace draweth us from sins without any merit of ours; howbeit not without an inward heart-grief and sorrow for sin, which is a special gift of God’s grace.’ His new guide showed him the ruins of the palace of worldly Felicity converted into a great bed of iron, red hot, upon which his late companions were tormented. He is then led to the school of repentance, which is surrounded with a moat, called Humility. Here all his follies are brought to his remembrance; he sees what torments he had deserved for them, and was half in despair. Portions of Scripture are exhibited, which comfort and convert him. Understanding, now preaches him a sermon on the history of Mary Magdalene. The knight then receives the communion, and is carried to the palace of Virtue. The third part of the voyage describes the happiness whih his felt in company with Lady Virtue. At length Faith, from the top of a tower, shows him the city of heaven. It concludes with a prayer, the creed, and ten commandments, and an exhortation to perseverance until the knight shall attain the glorious city of paradise.
Although this work was doubtless intended for good, yet such is the indelicacy of many of its scenes, that it was more calculated to excite evil passions than to lead an inquirer to happiness. The way of salvation is confined to moral observances, without that spring of virtue which flows from faith in Jesus Christ, and its consequent evangelical obedience. There is no similarity between this Voyage and the ‘Pilgrim’s Progress,’ except it be the foresight of the heavenly paradise, which has been, and is, one of the enjoyments of the real Christian from the Revelations of John to the present time.120 There is no ground for supposing that the persecuted Bunyan ever saw this Chevalier Errant.
Whitney’s Emblems. 4to, Leyden, 1586; pp. 179. The cut over one of the emblems represents a man swimming, with a pack upon his back.
‘Desire to haue, dothe make vs muche indure,
In trauayle, toile, and labour voide of reste:
The marchant-man is caried with this lure,
Throughe scorching heate, to regions of the Easte:
Oh thirste of goulde, what not? but thou canst do:
And make mens hartes for to consent thereto.
‘The trauailer poore, when shippe doth suffer wracke,
Who hopes to swimme vnto the wished lande,
Dothe venture life, with fardle on his backe,
That if he scape, the same in steede maye stande.
Thus, hope of life, and loue vuto his goods,
Houldes vp his chinne, with burthen in the floods.’
Another emblem has a cut, representing a pilgrim with his staff leaving a globe [the world] behind him, p. 225. Peregrinus Christianus loquitur.
Adve121 deceiptfull worlde, thy pleasures I detest:
Nowe, others with thy showes delude; my hope in heaven doth rest.
Inlarged as followeth:—
‘Even as a flower, or like vnto the grasse,
Which now dothe stande, and straight with sithe dothe fall,
So is our state: now here, now hence wee passe:
For, time attendes with shredding sithe for all.
And deathe at lengthe, both oulde, and yonge, doth strike:
And into dust dothe turne vs all alike.
‘Yet, if we marke how swifte our race dothe ronne,
And waighe the cause, why wee created bee:
Then shall we know, when that this life is donne,
Wee shall bee sure our countrie right to see.
For, here wee are but straungers, that must flitte:
The nearer home, the nearer to the pitte.
O happie they, that pondering this arighte,
Before that here their pilgrimage bee past,
Resigne this world: and marche with all their mighte
Within that pathe, that leades where ioyes shall last.
And whilst they may, there, treasure vp their store,
Where, without rust, it lastes for euermore.
This worlde must chaunge: That worlde, shall still indure.
Here, pleasures fade: There, shall they endlesse bee.
Here, man doth sinne: And there, hee shalbee pure,
Here, deathe hee tastes: And there, shall neuer die.
Here, hathe hee griefe: And there shall ioyes possesse.
As none hath seene, nor anie harte can gesse.’
These are the poems from which Mr. Montgomery conceives Bunyan might perhaps have inspired his first idea!
The other of Whitney’s Emblems upon pilgrimage, is under a cut representing Mercury and two men travelling upon a road.
‘The trauaylinge man, vncerlaine where to goe,
When diuers wayes before his face did lie,
Mercurins then, the perfect pathe did showe,
Which when he tooke, he neuer went awrie,
But to his wishes, his iorneys ende did gaine
In happie howre, by his direction plaine.
‘This trauailinge man: doth tell our wandringe state,
Before whose face, and eeke on euery side,
Bypathes, and wayes, appeare amidd our gate,
That if the Lorde bee not our onlie guide:
We stumble, fall, and dailie goe astraye,
Then happie those, whome God doth shew the waye.’
The Pilgrimage to Paradise. Compiled for the Direction, Comfort, and Resolution of God’s poore distressed Children in passing through this irksome Wildernesse of Temptation and Tryall. By Leonard Wright. 4to, London, 1591.
Full of sound instruction, but not allegorical.
Benoist (Father-Confessor to Mary Queen of Scots), le Chevalier Chrestien.
This is a dialogue between a Christian knight and an infidel, whom he attempts to instruct in the knowledge of God and the Romish faith. It has cuts representing the knight’s horse, and the various parts of his armour and habiliments, which are spiritualized. Some of these instructions to an infidel are curious, ‘Comme l’Eglise, second Paradis, à esté plantée et est contenue en la Vierge, monde mystique.’122 ‘De la descente de Jesus Christ en enfer, on il a remporté encore une autre victoire sur Satan, brisant ses prisons, et deliverant les Peres qu’il y tenoit captif.’123 This is the true meaning of the descent into hell in what is called the Apostles’ Creed. Among other curious discoveries which the author makes is, that if Adam had not been persuaded to sin by his wife, his posterity would not have been corrupt.124
The Pilgrimage of Princes. By L. Lloid, one of Queen Elizabeth’s Sergeants-at-Arms.
There is nothing allegorical in this entertaining volume. It is a pilgrimage to the characters and works of princes, which are curiously exhibited. A few are in poetry, such as that of King Herod:
‘When Herod reigned in Juda king
His life so loathsome led,
On sucking babes and infants blood,
This cruel tyrant fed.
To seek our Saviour Christ, he kill’d
The Babes of Juda land;
And thought our God could not escape
His fomie bloody hand.
Of worms this Herod was devoured,
Of vermin loe, and mice:
His bones, his flesh, was all consumed
And eaten up of Lice.’
The Plaine Man’s Path-way to Heaven. By Arth. Dent. 1601.
There is a rare tract under this title in black letter, with a woodcut of the author, 12 leaves: but the book that was made a blessing to Bunyan is a small octavo volume. This little book made a considerable part of the worldly goods which Bunyan’s first wife brought as her portion, and it became one of the means by which he was awakened from the dreary sleep of sin, and therefore an invaluable portion. It is singular that no one has charged him with taking any hints front this book, which is one of the very few which he is known to have read prior to his public profession of faith and holiness in baptism.
The author, in his epistle, calls it a ‘controversie with Satan and Sinne.’ It is a dialogue between ‘a Divine, an Honest Man, an Ignorant Man, and a Caviller.’ They commence about buying a good cow, then worth four pounds, and are drawn into religious conversation. The author is so high a Calvinist, that, speaking of infants, he says, ‘some, no doubt, are saved through the election of grace.’ He commences with the new birth: arguments are adduced to show why good and worthy men are lost, because they esteem a preacher no more than a shoemaker, nor the Scriptures than their old shoes. He places lying among the principal sins, which he calls the Beelzebubs of the world. He introduces very familiar illustrations and well-known proverbs. Speaking against pride, he says, ‘How proud many (especially women) be of baubles. For when they have spent a good part of the day in tricking and trimming, pricking and pinning, pranking and pouncing, girding and lacing, and braving up themselves in most exquisite manner, out they come into the streets with their pedlar’s shop upon their backs and take themselves to be little Angels—they are one lump of pride—the time will come when they and all their gay clouts will be buried in a gave—what will all this profit them when their bodies are buried in the dust and their souls in hell-fire? what then will they say of these doubled and redoubled ruffs, strutting fardingales, long locks, fore tufts, shag haire and new fashions?” He complains of two marks being paid for a pair of stockings [£1, 6s. 8d.]! ‘What say you to our artificial women, which will be better than God hath made them? they like not his handy work, they will mend it—they will have other complections, other hair, other bones, and other … than God made them.’ Modern refinement prevents one of these words from being copied; but the monstrons deformity shown by some ladies of our day, appears then to have been in fashion. Dent calls such ladies pictures, puppets, and peacocks. Had Bunyan been a plagiarist, how readily might he have borrowed an idea from Dent of the Muck-rake. ‘The gripple muck-rakers had as leve part with their blood as their goods. They will pinch their own backs and bellies to get their god into their chest.’ But Bunyan’s Muck-rake is all his own. ‘Mony lazie lozels and luskish youths do nothing but walk the streets, sit on stalls, and frequent Ale houses. Many rich women do ordinarily lie in bed till nine of the clock, and then forsooth rise, and make themselves ready to goe to dinner. And after they have well dined, they spend the rest of the day, and a good part of the night also, in playing, prattling, babbling, cackling, prating, and gossipping. Fie on this idle life.’125
The enmity of the natural man against those who bear the image of Christ is thus expressed: ‘It is a wonder to consider how deadly the wicked hate the righteous, and almost in every Thing oppose themselves against them: and that in most virulent and spiteful manner. They raile and slander, scoffe and scorne, mocke and mowe at them, as though they were not worthy to live upon the earth. They esteeme every pelting Rascall, and prefer euery vile Varlet before them. And though they have their liues and liberty, their breath and safety, and all that they haue else by them [for their sakes], yet for all that, they could be content to eate their heart with garlicke: so great, so fiery, so burning and hissing-hot is their fury and malice against them. They may be compared to a man that standeth upon a bough in the top of a tree, and with an axe choppeth it off, and therewithall falleth down with it, and breaketh his necke.’126 Dent, speaking of the entrance by the strait gate, says: ‘It must be done by great strife against the world, the flesh, and the Diuell—none can enter in without vehement crowding and almost breaking their shoulderbones—many which seek shall out bee able to enter.’ How different to Bunyan’s description: ‘Knock, and it shall be opened unto you.’ Yet both are right: one places his obstacles long before the pilgrim arrives at the gate; then, having overcome the world and the flesh, the devil shoots at him; the other reserves all the Christian’s opposition to the time when entering the gate. Dent’s language is picturesque: ‘We haue all the Diuels in hell against vs, with all their horns, heads, marvellous strength, infinite wiles, cunning devices, deepe slights, and methodical temptations. Here runs a sore streame against vs. Then haue we this present cuill world against us, with her innumerable baits, snares, netts, gins and grins to catch vs, fetter vs and entangle vs. Here haue wee profittes and pleasures, riches and honour, wealth and preferment, ambition and couetousnesse. Here comes in a Camp-royall of spiritual and inuisible enemies. Lastly we haue our flesh, that is, our corrupted nature against vs: wee haue our-selues against ourselues.’ This book was written fifty years after the Reformation; but so slow were the clergy to teach, or the people to learn, that when a farmer is asked, ‘What is the end of receiving the sacrament?’ he answered, ‘To receive my maker.’ And when asked how many sacraments there were, his answer was, ‘Two, Bread and Wine!’ Bunyan must have felt the force of such language as the following: ‘Every sin that a man committeth is as a thorn thrust deep into the soul; which will not be got out again but with many a sigh, and many a sorrowful Oh! Oh! Every sin is written with a pen of iron and the point of a diamond upon the conscience, which, if not felt in this life, then with woe, and alas! when it is too late.’ The farmer being deeply affected with a sense of his danger, Atheist advises him to read ‘The Court of Venus, The Palace of Pleasure, Bevis of Southampton, Ellen of Rummin, The Merry Jest of the Friar and the Boy, The Pleasant Story of Clem of the Clough, Adam Bell, and William of Cloudesley, The Odd Tale of William, Richard, and Humphrey, The Pretty Conceit of John Splinter’s Last Will—excellent books against heart qualms and dumpishness.’ To which the zealous minister replied: ‘They are good to kindle a fire—they were devised by the devil, seen and allowed by the Pope, printed in Hell, bound by Hobgoblins, and published in Rome, Italy, and Spain.’127
This volume must have been exactly suited to the warm imagination of Bunyan. It had proved invaluable to him as a means of conversion; but, after a careful and delightful perusal, no trace can be found of any phrase or sentence having been introduced into the ‘Pilgrim’s Progress.’
The copy which the Editor has used in extracting the above account is the nineteenth impression, 1625, and has the name of M. Bunyonn written on the bottom of the title; probably the very volume which his wife brought him as her dowry.128
The result of long, anxious, and expensive inquiries is, that, from the first idea to the completion of his ‘Pilgrim’s Progress,’ it entirely flowed from Bunyan’s own soul. Well might he say—
‘Manner and matter too was all mine own.’
Sir Walter Raleigh’s Pilgrimage. Written by himself, and published in his remains.
‘Give me my scalop shell of quiet,
My staff of faith to walk upon,
My scrip of joy, immortal diet;
My bottle of salvation.
My gown of glory, hope’s true gage,129
And thus I’ll take my pilgrimage.
Blood must be my body’s only balmer,
No other balm will there be given;
Whilst my soul, like a quiet Palmer,130
Travelleth towards the land of Heaven.
Over the silver mountains,
Where springs the nectar fountains,
There will I kiss the bowl of bliss;
And drink mine everlasting fill
Upon every milken hill.
My soul will be a dry before,
But after it will thirst no more.
I’ll take them first to quench my thirst,
And taste of nectar’s suckets,
At those clear wells, where sweetness dwells,
Drawn up by saints in chrystal buckets.
Then by that happy blestfull day,
More peaceful pilgrims I shall see,
That have cast off their rags of clay,
And walk apparelled fresh like me;
And when our bottles and all we
Are fill’d with immortality,
Then the blest parts we’ll travel;
Strowed with rubies thick as gravel.
Ceilings of diamonds, sapphire flowers,
High walls of coral, and pearly bowers.
From thence to Heaven’s bribeless hall,
Where no corrupted vices brawl;
No conscience molten into gold,
No forg’d accuser bought or sold,
No cause deferr’d, no vain-spent journey,
For there Christ is the king’s attorney;
Who pleads for all without degrees,
And he hath Angels,131 but no fees;
And when the twelve grand million jury
Of our sins, with direful fury,
‘Gainst our souls, black verdicts give,
Christ pleads his death and then we live.
Be thou my speaker (taintless pleader,
Unblotted Lawyer, true proceeder)
Thou would’st salvation e’en for alms,
Not with a bribed lawyer’s palms.
And this is my eternal plea
To him that made heaven, earth and sea,
That since my flesh must die so soon,
And want a head to dine next noon,
Just at the stroke, when my veins start and spread,
Set on my soul an everlasting head.
Then am I ready, like a Palmer, fit
To tread those blest paths which before I writ,
Of Death and Judgement, Heaven, and Hell,
Who oft doth think, must needs die well.’
The Plain Man’s Pilgrimage, or Journey towards Heaven, wherein if he walke carefully he may attain to everlasting life. By W. W[ebster]. 18mo, 1613.
First, To set out on the journey, we must get rid of covetousness. Second, For speed, we must begin young—give God the heart, and number our days. We have a long journey to go in a short space of time—a day. A short life is like a winter’s day; a long life like a day in summer. One of his similes is far beyond ordinary comprehension. ‘For as the windows of the temple were large within and narrow without; so they which are within the church have greater light than they which are without.’ Another extract will show the doctrinal views of the author. ‘We must put on his (Christ’s) righteousness, which is as strange a vesture to us, as our flesh was to him; it requires great cunning to wear it cleanly and comely, from foyling132 and rending it, lest it should be taken from us again.’
The author gives much good advice as to searching the Scriptures and prayer, but there is nothing allegorical in this rare little volume.
This old comedy, by Beaumont and Fletcher, could afford no hint to Bunyan, and it is very probable that he never wasted one of his precious minutes over a play.
To a late period, and even to the present day, in Roman Catholic countries, the word pilgrim is only understood as relating to a meritorious pilgrimage to the shrine of some saint. In the Glossographia Anglicana, 1719, the meaning of the word pilgrim is ‘one that travels upon account of religion, to visit holy places; to pay his devotion to the relics of dead saints.’ The principal places were Rome, Loretto, Jerusalem, Compostella, and the local shrines with which every country in Europe abounded. In former times it was a duty inculcated upon all classes, from the king to the peasant, from the archbishop to the humblest clerk, all bent beneath the custom of the times; and two visits to a neighbouring shrine were considered equivalent to one at double the distance. Such as were unable to go in person, gave money to have the duty performed by proxy. A dream or vision, a penance ordered, or a vow made in the hour of danger, were frequently the prelude to a pilgrimage, and the belief was general, that if they were not made during life, they might, with greater trouble, be performed after death.
‘Some went for payment of a vow
In time of trouble made,
And some who found that pilgrimage
Was a pleasant sort of trade.’133
Frequently two hundred thousand pilgrims were at Loretto at one time. They formed processions round the palace of our Lady, on their bare knees, five, seven, nine, or twelve times. We can scarcely credit the accounts of the number of devotees who practised all sorts of vices, going and returning, to secure the pardon of sin, by visiting the shrine, and invoking the aid of the saint—so besotted and intoxicated were mankind made by the Church. In six months, from January to June, 1435, the King of England granted licenses to two thousand eight hundred and fifty pilgrims, to Compostella alone; and it is impossible to give any idea of the myriads of Europeans who perished on pilgrimages, especially to the Holy Land. The church constantly prayed for these votaries, as the Church of England now prays for those who travel by land or by water.
The Rev. W. Acworth, at a meeting of the Bible Society, related an anecdote, which may be useful to travellers in popish countries:134 ‘A gentleman who had travelled before me from Rome, had with him some Bibles, Testaments and tracts, on the top of which he had placed good old John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress. When the package was opened, the Douanniers examined this book, and not being very good English scholars, they knew not what to make of the title, Bun—Bun—Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress! “What is that?” said one; “Oh,” replied the other, “’tis some work on the advantage of pilgrimages;” and consequently the whole were immediately allowed. Now, I had my regular passport; but I venture to say, that good John Bunyan’s Pilgrim was a better passport for the Bible than any other which could have been found on that occasion.’
The Pilgrim’s Practice, containing many Godly Prayers. By Robert Bruen. 8vo, Lond. 1621.
The Pilgrim’s Profession.—This is accompanied by The Pearl of the Gospel; with a glass for Gentlemen to dress themselves by. By Thomas Taylor, D.D. 8vo, 1624.
There is nothing allegorical in these volumes.
The Pilgrim of Casteele; written in Spanish, translated into English; 4to, 1623; and republished many times.
This is a romance, probably invented in English. It represents a lover in the disguise of a pilgrim. He suffers ship-wreck, and is picked up by some fishermen, who mistook him, when covered with weeds and mud, for a fardel of cloth; but found it to be the pilgrim in a trance. They restore him to strength, and he enters upon some very extraordinary adventures. In his journey, he gives a good illustration of the then popular faith in haunted houses. Being benighted, he found a lodging in a hospital, deserted ‘in regard of a strange noyse which every night was there heard, which hath happened ever since the death of a stranger who came thither to lodge, nobody hath dwelt there.’ The pilgrim having made the sign of the cross, laid down to sleep, but in the deep silence he awoke, for ‘his bed did move as a ship or a horse, which did carry him; he opened his eyes, and saw horsemen enter by two and two into the chamber, who, lighting torches which they held in their hands at the candle which he had left burning, cast them against the ceiling of the chamber, where they stuck fast with their bottoms upward, which dropt down burning flames upon his bed and upon his clothes. He covereth himself as well as possibly he could, leaving a little hole to look out at, that he might see whether his bed did burn or no; when as instantly he saw the flames out, and that upon a table which was in a corner of the chamber, four of them were at primero, they passed, discarded, and set up money, as if they had truly played. At length they, debating upou a difference, fell into a quarrel in the chamber, which made such a noise with clashing of swords, that the miserable pilgrim called for help upon our lady of Gadalupe; when the clattering of swords, and all other noise ceased, and he was all of a sweat with fear. Presently he felt that the bed and the clothes were pulled away from him by the uttermost corners, and he saw a man come in with a lighted torch in his hand, followed by two others, the one with a great brazen bason, and the other sharpening a little knife. Then began he to tremble, and all his hair to stand on end; he would have spoken, but was not able, when they were near him, the torch was put out; and the pilgrim, thinking that they would kill him, put his hands forth against the knife, when he felt that they laid hold on him, he gave a great cry, and the torch instantly kindled again, and he saw himself between two mastiff dogs, who held aim fast in their teeth. Jesus, cried out the pilgrim; at which name all those fantastic illusious vanished away, leaving him so weary and so affrighted that he could stay there no longer. He then went to a holy hermit, who had a stone for his pillow, his staff for a companion, and a death’s head for his looking-glass; who learnedly attributed all these midnight revels to ‘angels fallen from the lowest quire, who suffer less pains than other, as having not so much sinned, but do take pleasure to displease men with frightings, noises, rumours, subtilties, and such like things, which they do in the night in houses, which thereby they make altogether unhabitable, not being able otherwise to hurt but by these foolish and ridiculous efforts, limited and bound by the Almighty.’
It appears by numerous stories in this book, that the Pilgrim’s habit was frequently assumed by runaway lovers, of whom this volume contains many romantic accounts. It contains nothing allegorical, but professes to be a relation of matter-of-fact adventures.
The most curious book which has fallen under my notice, upon these painful pilgrimages, is
The Pilgrim of Loretto performing his Vow made to the Glorious Virgin Mary, Mother of God. By L. Richeome. 4to, Paris, 1630. Dedicated to Mary, Queen of Charles I.
This work is intended to show the merits and advantages of pilgrimages to holy places; because the Jews were pilgrims to Jerusalem three times a year. The kings, or sages, made their pilgrimage, guided to the star of the world. Our Lord was a pilgrim in Egypt, and he has left many places to which Christians should undertake holy pilgrimages, and obtain the fruits of his graces; among these, Loretto is the most famous. This chapel is forty feet long, twenty wide, and twenty-five high, built of ordinary small stones, hard and squared long, of the colour of brick; the walls adorned with paintings of sacred stories, a stone altar—‘breathing as it were something divine.’ The image of the Blessed Virgin, crowned with precious stones; her gown of cloth of gold, with a sky-coloured mantle. On her left arm the little child Jesus, having a countenance full of grace and majesty. In the year 1291, the 9th of May, this house was at night carried by angels from Galilee into Sclavonia, and remained there four years. On the night of the 19th of November, 1294, it was removed, first into the Mark of Ancona, to a forest, the property of a lady named Loretto; but the forest being infested with thieves, it was removed to a hill hard by. In less than a month, it was again removed to Reccanata, and there remains. Dr. Franklin says that three removes are as bad as a fire; but this house, with all its contents, was bodily removed, without injury, four times; and to prevent scepticism, the author recounts some wonders performed by angels—‘we know by their naturall force, they roule about the huge frames of the celestiall Bodys, from East to West with an admirable swiftness and constancy now these six thousand yeares togeather, without any paine or difficulty: a work without comparison more difficult, than to carry a house once or twice, from one country to another, although it be miraculous, and admirable for the rarenes.’ He adds the testimony of Francis Prior, which, if true, decides the fact—‘he had often heard of his grandfather, that he did see the house of the blessed Virgin, when being carried in the air it lighted in the forest;’ besides which, it was honoured with innumerable miracles. The result was, that emperors, popes, and princes presented gifts to the Virgin, until the massive gold and silver plate, diamonds, and baubles accumulated to an incredible value; it has been thought that millions of pounds sterling would not have paid for them, at a fair valuation.135
This pilgrimage is completed in forty days; thrice seven going, being the number of penance and purgation; nine to spend at Loretto, for the orders of angels, the intellectual light; and ten to return, it being the number of perfection. The pilgrim is to use his rosary of sixty-three beads, the age of the Virgin when she died; saying upon the small beads an Ave Maria, and upon the larger, every tenth, a Paternoster. Having confessed and communicated, three pilgrims commence the pilgrimage; and the first day’s meditation was on the condition of man, as a pilgrim and stranger upon earth. It closes with a canticle, of which this is the last stanza:—
‘Merrily then, let’s march apace
Unto this blessed Virgin’s Hall,
There shall we see the heaven’s grace
Inclosed in a Chappel small:
And learne to be of this mayde-wife
Perfect Pilgrimes all our life.’
Similar instructions are given for each day’s meditation. After the ten commandments follow the five, which were forgotten or omitted in the decalogue, and are called the Commandments of the Church. 1. To keep the feasts. 2. To hear mass. 3. To fast Lent, &c. 4. To confess. 5. To take the sacrament at Easter: to which are added, 6. Not to marry in times forbidden; and 7. To pay tithes.
When they had arrived at Loretto, themes were given for this nine days’ meditation, during his sojourn there: as, a meditation upon the holy eucharist; on the conception of the blessed Virgin; on her ancestors; presentation; espousal of Joseph and Mary, both being virgins to the time of their death; the incarnation; nativity, &c. Before leaving Loretto, they pray to the Virgin; the close of this prayer is—‘to stirre us up to yield honour, praise, and immortal thanks to the Sonne and the Mother, who with their honour have made thee so honourable.’
On their return, these pilgrims were mistaken for thieves, and narrowly escaped death. Many miracles are talked over; and among them, one narrated by Fisher, Bishop of Rochester, in 1526, in his book against Œcolampadius, of a priest who lived many months without food or hunger, and in the midst of snow, without feeling cold, by licking a stone.
The best sentence in the volume is in the thirty-fifth day. The meditation is upon the preaching of John: ‘he that in his preaching maketh himselfe admired, and not Jesus Christ, and draweth the harts of his hearers after himselfe, and not after Jesus Christ, is a thiefe, employing his Maisters money and guiftes to his owne uses, and not to his Maisters honour.’ The three pilgrims being benighted, climbed an oak to pass the night. One of them said, ‘If it rains, what shall we do?’ ‘We will doe,’ answered another, ‘as they do in Normandy.’ ‘And what do they there?’ replied he. ‘They let it rain,’ quoth the other. At eleven o’clock at night, they are alarmed by a horrible spectacle. A monstrous old goat, with a black candle burning blue between his horns, read in a book, making a circle, when sixty-six sorcerers and witches came riding through the air, to this devil’s ball. As they arrived, they did the old goat homage, by kissing under his tail, and commenced dancing. Upon a bank they made an altar, and parodied the sacrifice of the mass. At length, the old goat caught sight of the pilgrims; in a moment the dance was dashed; three of them were turned into fierce wolves, who mounted the tree to devour the pilgrims; but they made the sign of the cross, and said, ‘Jesus Maria;’ the wolves fell down like sacks of corn, and the assembly vanished, leaving a most horrible stench behind them;136 as if the plague had there burnt all the rags of her infection. All this is narrated, not as an allegory, but as a matter of fact. When such abominable stories were believed, we can hardly wonder at the brutal severity of our laws against poor old women, called witches.
In the morning, among gobbets of flesh and other foul matters, they found a piece of turnip, cut to resemble a host,137 with a silver chalice and paten; these they carried to the nearest monastery, from which they had beea stolen.
A merchant, who had befriended the pilgrims, when in the most imminent danger of being murdered, vowed to devote himself to religion, and was instantly carried, by invisible agency, through the air, for many miles to a monastery, where he took the vows.
The pilgrims meet some beset with pretended reformation, and recover them to holy church, by narrating some miracles; among others, one of a priest who was captured by the Turks, and on his refusing to turn Mahometan, they took out his bowels and heart, and put them into his hands, leaving him to be devoured by wild beasts. But in fulfilment of a vow that he had made to the blessed Virgin, he got up and walked to Loretto, with his heart and bowels in his hands; recounted to the officers of the church what had happened, showed them his empty body and his life in his hand, and fulfilled his vow! A painting of this miracle is preserved in the chapel. The pilgrims, on the fortieth day, return in safety, and become monks. This carious and rare volume ends with the Litany, Rosary, and Corone of the blessed Virgin, in English: being the official prayers to Mary, as sanctioned by the church. These illustrate the dispute as to whether or not she is an object of worship with the Romish Church. The following is ‘The Oblation of the Assumption:’—
‘O Soueraigne Lady and Virgin, the honour of mankind, and beauty of the heavens, I humbly offer unto thee 10. Aves and one Pater-noster, to the glorious mystery of thy Assumption; when by the B. Sonne, thou wert called to his euerlasting glory, & deseruedst at thy happy passage to hane present the holy Apostles thy seruants, & wast receiued body and soule into the heauenly habitations of the celestiall spirits, as Queene of the Augels & mother of their Lord & maister.’
The lady who, with considerable talent and great humility, published Bunyan in epic poetry, under the signature of C. C. V. G., in a note to a Key, says, ‘It is a certain fact, and one not very generally known, that a complete design of a Pilgrim’s Progress is to be found in Lucian’s “Hermotimus; it is not to be imagined that Bunyan could have seen it there, from the limited educational advantages he possessed; yet, the obvious allegory occurred to his mind, unschooled as it was, in a similar arrangement with that suggested by Lueian.” ’138
Mr. Tooke thus translates the passage:139 ‘Hermotimus, of Cladomena, of whom it is related, that his soul often quitted him, and after having wandered a long while about the world by itself, returned again into its body, and that Hermotimus was several times taken for dead, and always rose again.’ To this Mr. Wieland adds a note: ‘It was a singular gift that he had of being able to leave his body, and come into it again; and as a proof that his soul, while its body lay for dead, was actually out of it, he knew, not only to give account of the remotest places, and of what he had there seen and heard, with accuracy, and in conformity to truth, but also foretold sundry future events, as earthquakes and other calamities, which actually came to pass. And this he carried on so long, that his faithful wife was induced to deliver up his body to his enemies, during one of these emigrations of the soul, who immediately burnt it; and thus for ever stopped all re-entrance to the poor soul. The learned Bishop Huet directly pronounces this beautiful story to be an old wife’s tale.’ Where the poor burnt-out soul obtained another habitation, we are not told. This notion of the soul wandering about without the body has been lately revived, among other absurdities called Mesmerism; but what idea Bunyan could get from this absurd story, is far beyond my comprehension.
Bernard’s Isle of Man; or, the Legal Proceedings in Manshire against Sin.
This interesting little volume was very popular. The author, a Puritan member of the Church of England, who, profiting by the personal respect felt for him by his bishop, escaped punishment, and was permitted to enjoy his living of Batcomb. The purity of his life; his zeal for the conversion of perishing sinners; and his obedience to the dictates of his own conscience, would, but for such protection, have subjected him to persecution. The late Dr. Adam Clarke140 considered that there was much reason to believe that The Isle of Man, or Spenser’s Faëry Queen, gave birth to the ‘Pilgrim’s Progress’ and ‘Holy War.’ Dr. Southey141 imagines that Bunyan had seen this book, because his verses introductory to the Second Part have some similarity to Bernard’s Apology for his Allegory, which closes the volume. Such authorities induced me to a careful re-perusal of a book which had given me much pleasure in bygone days.
Sin is the Thief and Robber; he stealeth our graces; spoileth us of every blessing; utterly undoeth us, and maketh miserable both body and soul. He is a murderer; spares no person, sex, or age; a strong thief; no human power can bind him; a subtle thief; he beguiled Adam, David, yea, even Paul. The only watchman to spy him out is Godly-Jealousy. His resort is in Soul’s Town, lodging in the heart. Sin is to be sought in the by-lanes, and in Sense, Thought, Word, and Deed Streets. The hue and cry is after fellows called Outside, who nod or sleep at church, and, if awake, have their mind wandering; Sir Worldly-wise, a self-conceited earth-worm; Sir Luke-warm, a Jack-on-both-sides; Sir Plansible Civil; Master Machiavel; a licentious fellow named Libertine; a snappish fellow, one Scrupulosity; and one Babbling-Babylonian; these conceal the villain Sin. To escape, he pretends to be an honest man; calls vices by virtuous names; his relations, Ignorance, Error, Opinion, Idolatry, Subtilty, Custom. Forefathers, Sir Power, Sir Sampler, Sir Most-do, Sir Silly; Vain Hope, Presumption, Wilful and Saint-like, all shelter and hide him. The Justice, Lord Jesus, issues his warrant, God’s Word; to the Constable, Mr. Illuminated-Understanding, dwelling in Regeneration, aided by his wife Grace, his sons Will and Obedience, and his daughters, Faith, Hope, and Charity, with his men Humility and Self-Denial, and his maids Temperance and Patience. Having got his warrant, he calls to aid his next neighbour Godly Sorrow, with his seven sons Care, Clearing, Indignation, Fear, Vehement Desire, Zeal, and Revenge; these are capable of apprehending the sturdiest thief. He goes to the common inn, an harlot’s house called Mistress Heart, a receptacle for all villains and thieves, no dishonest person being denied house-room, Mistress Heart married her own father, one Old-man, keeping riot night and day, to prevent any godly motion from lodging there. The house has five doors, Hearing, Seeing, Tasting, Smelling, and Feeling. Eleven maids, impudent harlots, wait upon the guests, Love, Hatred, Desire, Detestation, Vain-hope, Despair, Fear, Audacity, Joy, Sorrow, and Anger, and a man-servant Will. The Dishes are the lusts of the flesh, served in the platter of pleasure; the lust of the eyes in the plate of profit; and the pride of life. The drink is the pleasures of sin; their bed-room is natural corruption. ‘In this room lyeth Mistress Heart, all her maids, her man, and all her guests together, like wild Irish.’ The bed is impenitency, and the coverings carnal security; when the constable enters, he attaches them all with apprehensions of God’s wrath, and carries them before the judge, who examines the prisoners, and imprisons them until the assizes, in the custody of the jailer, New-man. ‘If any prisoner breaks out, the sheriff Religion must bear the blame; saying, This is your religion, is it?’ The keepers and fetters, as vows, fasting, prayer, &c., are described with the prison.
The second part is the trial of the prisoner, and judgment without appeal; the commission is Conscience; the circuit the Soul; the counsel for the king are Divine Reason and Quick-sightedness; the clerk Memory; the witness Godly Sorrow; the grand Jury Holy Men, the inspired authors; the traverse jury Faith, Love of God, Fear of God, Charity, Sincerity, Unity, Patience, Innocency, Chastity, Equity, Verity, and Contentation; all these are challenges by the prisoners, who would be tried by Nature, Doubting, Careless, &c., all free-holders of great means. This the judge overrules; Old-man is put on his trial first, and David, Job, Isaiah, and Paul, are witnesses against him. He pleads, ‘There is no such thing as Original Corruptions; Pelagius, a learned man, and all those now that are called Anabaptists, have hitherto, and yet do maintain that sin cometh by imitation, and not by inbred pravity.142 Good, my lord, cast not away so old a man, for I am at this day 5569 years old.’ He is found guilty, and his sentence is—‘Thou shalt be carried back to the place of execution, and there be cast off, with all thy deeds, and all thy members daily mortified and crucified with all thy lusts, of every one that hath truly put on Christ.’ Mistress Heart is then tried; Moses (Gen. 8:21), Jeremiah (17:9), Ezekiel, Matthew (15:9), and others, give evidence, and she is convicted, and sentenced to perpetual imprisonment under the jailer, Mr. New-man. All the rest of the prisouers are tried; the juries called in due order; prisoners plead; witnesses are called; defence heard, verdict given, and sentence passed. One among the prisoners, named Papistry, has a long trial with numerous scriptures brought to testify against him: his sentence closes the book—‘That thou, the Master of Iniquity, with the Old Serpent called the Devil, or Satan thy father, with thy lewd mother that great whore, drunk with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus, which sitteth upon a scarlet-coloured beast; as also with that false prophet, the son of perdition, thy guide and governor, shall be cast alive where the dragon is, into the lake of fire burning with brimstone, there to be tormented with all the marked ones in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb; without rest day and night, the smoke of which torment shall ascend up for ever and for ever, without mercy or hope of redemption.’ The contents form a key to the allegory.
There is not the slightest similarity between this and the ‘Pilgrim’s Progress,’ and the only resemblance it bears to the ‘Holy War,’ is making the senses the means of communication with the heart or soul—an idea usual and universal in every age, the use of which cannot subject a writer to the charge of plagiarism. A correspondent in the Gentleman’s Magazine143 imagines the following strange genealogy or descent: Bunyan from Bernard; from Fletcher’s Purple Island; from Spenser’s Faëry Queen; from Gawin Douglas’s King Hart; from the Old Mysteries and Moralities. He might have added, from the dreams of the Fathers!!!
Scudder’s Christian’s Daily Walk, 1625.
This excellent book was much read by the Puritans and nonconformists, and was strongly recommended by Dr. Owen and R. Baxter.
The sum of it is a Christian’s directions to walk with God. The moral actions of man’s life are aptly resembled by the metaphor of walking; no man while he liveth here is at home. There are two contrary homes to which every man is always going, either to heaven or to hell. Every action of man is one pace or step whereby he goeth to the one place or the other; so that God’s own children, while they live in this world as pilgrims and strangers, are but in the way, not in the country which they seek.
The book that has been most noticed as likely to have been seen by Bunyan, is
Bolswert’s Pilgrimage of Duyfkens and Willemynkens, 8vo, Antwerp, 1627.144
It was translated into French, and became somewhat popular. This book was noticed by two gentlemen from Yorkshire, who called to see my extensive collection of early English Bibles and books, about twenty-four years ago. Among other books they noticed a very fine copy of this rare volume of Bolswert’s, the prints in which reminded them of Bunyan’s ‘Pilgrim,’ and on their return to the north, a paragraph was inserted in a provincial paper stating that our ‘Pilgrim’s Progress’ was a translation. The falsehood of such a statement has been fully proved by Mr. Southey, to whom the identical volume was lent, for the purpose of fully entering into the question, and there appears not to be the slightest similarity in the two stories.
The cuts which struck my visitors were—A man sleeping, and a pilgrim leaning over the bed; through the open door two pilgrims are seen walking; they stoop on the bank of a river, at the head of which, in the distance, the sun is setting. Another cut represents the pilgrims with fools’ caps on their heads, driven by a mob, and one of them before a man sitting with his secretary at a table; a third shows the alarmed pilgrim in a circle of lighted candles, while a necromancer produces goblins and sprites from an overhanging hill; a fourth shows the two pilgrims going up a steep mountain, when one of them falls over the brink. The story is, that Dovekin goes to Willemynken to awake her, and she sets out; they wash in a river which has its source in Rome, and, taking the Netherlands in its way, flows on to Jerusalem. They are infested with vermin at a kermes;145 go through a number of ridiculous adventures, until one is blown from a rock, and is lost; the other arrives at Jerusalem, and is married.
This short analysis is by Mr. Southey; but a translation of this pilgrimage into French lately fell into my hands, and on an attentive perusal of it, the object of the writer becomes perfectly apparent.
Dovekin—Colombelle, the dove—is one who, without inquiry, obeys the church. Willemynken—Volontairette, self-willed, or without restraint—will not submit without inquiry. These two sisters set out on pilgrimage: Colombelle is happy in every adventure, until blessed with a splendid husband and great wealth; while Volontairette gets into perpetual dangers and difficulties, until she meets a violent death.
The whole object is to prevent inquiry; to keep the mind enslaved to priestcraft; to obstruct that research into scriptural truth which the Holy Ghost enjoins, ‘Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.’ 1 Th. 5:21. ‘Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.’ 1 Jn. 4:1. It is almost a wonder that a tale so suited to the same popish puseyite sect in this country, has not been published in English.
We now come to a similar class of books published during Bunyan’s life.
Wholesome Repast for the Soule in her Pilgrimage towards Jerusalem which is above. By John Hodges. A pocket volume, 1638.
This is a series of meditations on passages of Holy Writ, arranged in the order of the alphabet.
The Soule’s Progresse to the Celestiall Canaan, or Heavenly Jerusalem. By way of godly meditations and holy contemplations. Accompanied with divers learned exhortations and pithy perswasions, tending to Christianity and Humanity. In two parts. First, on the Nature of God, and second, on the sum of the Gospel. By John Wells, small 4to, 1639.
True Inventory of the Goods and Chattels of Superstition, late of the parish of Ignorance, in the County of Blind Devotion. 4to, 1642.
The Last Will and Testament of Sir J. Presbyter; with his admonitions to legions of perjured friends. 4to, 1647.
The two last belong to a series of satirical attacks upon Episcopacy.
A Spiritual Duel between a Christian and Satan. By H. J., 1646; with a frontispiece representing a Saint armed, supported by Faith, Hope, and Charity, fighting Diabolus, attended by Mundus and Caro. Flame is proceeding from the mouth of Diabolus.
This is a long and dreary conference between a sinner and Satan, with soliloquies and prayers extending over 425 pages, not relieved by anything allegorical.
The Christian Pilgrim in his Conflict and Conquest. By John Castaniza. Printed in Paris, 1652.
A curious, but not allegorical volume of popish instructions, with fine plates.
The Pilgrim, from Quarles’s Emblems.
‘O that my ways were directed to keep thy statutes’.—Ps. 119:5.
‘Thus I, the object of the world’s disdain,
With pilgrim face surround the weary earth:
I only relish what the world counts vain;
Her mirth’s my grief; her sullen grief my mirth;
Her light my darkness; and her truth my error:
Her freedom is my goal; and her delight my terror.
‘Fond earth! proportion not my seeming love
To my long stay; let not thy thoughts deceive thee;
Thou art my prison, and my home’s above;
My life’s a preparation but to leave thee;
Like one that seeks a door, I walk about thee;
With thee I cannot live; I cannot live without thee.
‘The world’s a lab’rinth whose anfractuous146 ways
Are all compos’d of rubs and crooked meanders;
No resting here; he’s hurry’d back that stays
A thought; and he that goes unguided, wanders;
Her way is dark, her path untrod, unev’n;
So hard’s the way from Earth; so hard’s the way to Heaven!
‘This gyring147 lab’rinth is betrench’d about
On either hand with streams of sulph’rous fire
Streams closely148 sliding, erring in and out,
But seeming pleasant to the fond descrier;
Where, if his footsteps trust their own invention,
He falls without redress, and sinks without dimension.
‘Where shall I seek a guide? where shall I meet
Some lucky hand to lead my trembling paces?
What trusty lantern will direct my feet
To ’scape the danger of those dang’rous places?
What hopes have I to pass without a guide?
Where one gets safely through, a thousand fall beside.
‘An unexpected star did gently slide
Before the wise men, to a greater light;
Backsliding Isra’l found a double guide;
A pillar and a cloud—by day, by night;
Yet in my desp’rate dangers, which be far
More great than theirs, I have no pillar, cloud, nor star.
‘O that the pinions of a clipping149 dove
Would cut my passage through the empty air;
Mine eyes being seal’d, how would I mount above
The reach of danger, and forgotten care!
My backward eyes should near commit that fault,
Whose lasting guilt should build a monument of salt.
‘Great God, that art the flowing spring of light
Enrich mine eyes with thy refulgent ray:
Thou art my path, direct my steps aright;
I have no other light, no other way:
I’ll trust my God, and him alone pursue;
His law shall be my path, his heavenly light my clue.’
‘S. August Soliloq. Cap. iv.
‘O Lord, who art the light, the way, the truth, the life; in whom there is no darkness, error, vanity, nor death: the light, without which there is darkness; the way, without which there is wandering; the truth, without which there is error; the life, without which there is death. Say, Lord, Let there be light, and I shall see light, and eschew darkness; I shall see the way, and avoid wandering; I shall see the truth, and shun error; I shall see life, and escape death. Illuminate, O Illuminate my blind soul, which sitteth in darkness, and the shadow of death: and direct my feet in the way of peace.’
‘Pilgrim, trudge on, what makes thy soul complain,
Crowns thy complaint; the way to rest is pain:
The road to resolution lies by doubt:
The next way home’s the farthest way about’.
Under the Commonwealth, a great effort was made to purify the Church, by an examination of all those clergymen who, either from profane conduct, ignorance, or want of talent, were a scandal to their profession; or whose violent attachment to monarchy led them to foment rebellion against the Government, and who were unfit for the work of the ministry; all such were ejected from their livings; and pluralists were strictly limited to one living, the selection being left to themselves. These triers and judges are all named in an ordinance of the Lords and Commons, October 20, 1645, and September 26, 1646. The description of characters they were to try, is thus given:—
‘All persons that shall blasphemously speak or write any thing of God, his holy word, or Sacraments. An incestuous person. An adulterer. A fornicator. A drunkard. A profane swearer or curser. One that hath taken away the life of any person maliciously. All worshippers of images, Crosses, Crucifixes, or Reliques; all that shall make any images of the Trinity, or of any Person thereof. All religious worshippers of Saints, Angels, or any mere creature. Any person that shall profess himself not to be in charity with his neighbour. Any person that shall challenge any other person by word, message, or writing to fight, or that shall accept such challenge and agree thereto. Any person that shall knowingly carry any such challenge by word, message, or writing. Any person that shall upon the Lord’s day use any dancing, playing at dice, or cards, or any other game; Masking, Wake, Shooting, Bowling, playing at foot-ball, or stool-ball, Wrestling, or that shall make, or resort unto any plays, interludes, fencing, Bull-baiting or Bear-baiting, or that shall use hawking, hunting or coursing, fishing or fowling, or that shall publickly expose any wares to sale, otherwise than as is provided by an ordinance of parliament. Any person that shall travel on the Lord’s Day without reasonable cause. Any person that keepeth a known stewes or brothel house, or that shall solicit the chastity of any person for himself or any other. Any person, father or mother, that shall consent to the marriage of their child to a papist, or any person that shall marry a papist. Any person that shall repair for any advice unto any witch, wizard, or fortune teller. Any person that shall assault his parents, or any magistrate, Minister, or Elder in the execution of his office. Any person that shall be legally attainted of Burretry, Forgery, Extortion, or Bribery. And the severall and respective Elderships shall have power likewise to suspend from the sacrament of the Lords Supper all ministers that shall be duly proved to be guilty of any of the crimes aforesaid, from giving or receiving the Sacrement of the Lords Supper.’ With power to appeal to the provincial Asscembly, to the Nationall, and from thence to the Parliament.150
The commissioners, called triers, ejected many from their livings who had been a disgrace to their calling. The character of the clergy was at a very low standard. Bunyan called them proud, wanton, drunkards, covetous, riding after tithe-cocks and handfuls of barley.151 And the exclusion of such from their livings, has been since called the sufferings of the clergy! To ridicule the efforts of these triers, and, at the same time, some of the Calvinistic doctrines, a small volume was published, entitled The Examination of Tilenus in Utopia, London, 1658; said to have been written by Bishop Womack;152 and merely because the names of the supposed triers are Dr. Absolute, Mr. Fatality, Mr. Fri-babe, Dr. Damn-man, Mr. Take o’ Trust, Mr. Narrow Grace [Philip Rye], Mr. Know-little [Hugh Peters]. Dr. Dubious [R. Baxter], &c., therefore it has been asserted153 that Bunyan must have read and profited by this book, in composing his allegorical works.
It is neither a ‘Pilgrim’s Progress,’ a ‘Holy War,’ nor a ‘Heavenly Footman;’ and to imagine that Bunyan was assisted by this book, merely because the triers are named after some doctrinal or practical bias, is as absurd as to suppose that the boys in a grammar-school were aided by Bunyan, because they nick-named their master, ‘Dr. Flog’em,’ for his unmanly and absurd attempts to drive Latin by force into his pupils.
In the Journal of George Fox, one of the founders of the Society of Friends, under the year 1659, is the copy of a long letter sent by him to these triers. In this he calls upon them to dismiss all ministers who are ‘evil beasts, slow bellies, given to wine and filthy lucre, proud, and that have fallen into the condemnation of the devil.’ He instances one Ralph Hollingworth, priest of Phillingham, whose parishioner, Thomas Bromby, a thatcher, having refused to pay a sum under six shillings for tithe-dues, instead of preaching the glad tidings of salvation to him, and his wife and family, sent him to jail, and had then kept him there eight and thirty weeks.
We now come to a short Pilgrimage, which has in it one feature similar to the perseverance of Christian. It is one of the delightful poems of George Herbert’s, in his pocket volume called The Temple, entitled,154
‘I travel on, seeing the hill, where lay
A long it was and weary way
The gloomy cave of Desperation
I left on the one, and on the other side
The rock of Pride.
‘And so I came to Phansies meadows strewed
With many a flower;
Fain would I here have made abode,
But I was quicken’d by my hour.
So to cares cops I came, and there got through
With much ado.
‘That led me to the wild of Passion; which
Some call the world;
A wasted place, but sometimes rich,
Here I was robb’d of all my gold,
Save one good Angel,155 which a friend had ti’d
Close to my side.
‘At length I got unto the gladsom hill,
Where lay my hope,
Where lay my heart; and climbing still,
When I had gain’d the brow and top,
A lake of brackish waters on the ground
Was all I found.
‘With that abash’d and struck with many a sting,
Of swarming fears,
I fell, and cry’d, Alas my King!
Can both the way and end be tears?
Yet taking heart, I rose, and then perceiv’d
I was deceived.
‘My hill was further: So I slung away,
Yet heard a cry
Just as I went, None goes that way
And lives: If that be all, said I,
After so foul a Journey death is fair,
And but a chair.’
The only similarity is that Christian goes up the hill Difficulty; he hears the cry of Timorous and Mistrust:—‘Just before us lie a couple of lions; if we came within reach, they would presently pull us in pieces.’ Christian’s reply was—‘If I go back, I shall perish. If I can get to the celestial city, I am sure to be in safety there. I must venture.’
A Dialogue between Life and Death. Very requisite for the contemplation of all transitory Pilgrims, and pious-minded Christians. 1657.
This little book consists of only twenty-four leaves, and might have been seen by Bunyan as a religious tract previous to his writing the ‘Pilgrim’s Progress.’ It contains nothing allegorical as to pilgrimages, nor any idea that could have assisted our author in composing his great work.
It is a Dance of Death, illustrated with very rude cuts, and printed with a homely rhyme to each.
A Spiritual Journey of a young man towards the Land of Peace to live essentially in God, who met in his journey with three sorts of dispute. With some proverbs or sentences, which the old age spake to the young man. Also a Spiritual Dialogue, whereunto is annexed a round or chorus dance, whereunto the vain heathenish lusts, with their wicked confused loose minds and thoughts (as well in confusion as in a show of holiness), assemble from all corners of the earth, and dancing hand in hand, skip and jump to Hell. Translated out of Dutch. London, printed by J. Macock, 1659. Small 4to.
There is nothing allegorical in this volume; it consists of disputations, proverbs, and dialogues, the whole intent of which is to show that an illuminated uniform spirit must be sought, not from the Bible, but from inward light, and that to seek knowledge from the Scripures without that spirit is like journeying by night with a lantern in which there is no light—fighting with a scabbard without a sword—quenching thirst with a vessel in which is no wine, or being contented, when hungry, with a cupboard or bin without bread.
Reading’s Guide to the Holy City; or, Directions and Helps to an Holy Life. 4to, Oxford, 1657.
The Pilgrim’s Pass to the New Jerusalem. By M. R. Gent, London, 1659, small 8vo.
This volume contains a series of meditations on passages of Scripture, intended to convey the consolations of a good hope, through faith in the Redeemer, to his pilgrims. It contains nothing allegorical.
Pordage’s Mundorum Explicatio, or the Explanation of an Hieroglyphical Figure; wherein are couched the mysteries of the Eternal, Internal, and External Worlds, showing the true progress of a Soul from the Court of Babylon to the City of Jerusalem; from the Adamical fallen state, to the regenerate and Angelical. A Sacred Poem. 8vo, 1661.
There is nothing allegorical in these volumes.
Jesus, Maria, Joseph; or, The devout Pilgrim to the ever blessed Virgin Mary. 12mo, Amsterdam, 1663.
This is a mere guide to devotees, in their approaches to the Virgin Mary.
Philothea’s Pilgrimage to Perfection. Described in a Practice of Ten Days’ Solitude. By Brother John of the Holy Cross, Frier Minour. Small 8vo, Bruges, 1668.156
A rare volume, published during the time that Bunyan was writing his ‘Pilgrim’s Progress;’ and it is not at all probable that he saw this Roman Catholic production; but if he had seen and read it, he could not have gleaned a hint to use in his wondrous ‘Dream.’ It is dedicated to the Countess Dowager of Sussex.
In this, Brother John Cross has made a wonderful discovery—that countesses, being the more refined images of God, above the vulgar, have, by their noble descent, a clearer aptness to sublime thoughts and actions! What could such a man have thought of the son of a carpenter, of fishermen, of publicans, of tent-makers, or of tinkers? The pilgrim’s name is ‘Philothea;’ she enters on her pilgrimage with the author’s good wishes, expressed in the language of Holy Toby: ‘Walk well, God be in thy way, and his holy Angell accompany Thee.’ The journey is divided into ten days’ solitary employment, that the pilgrim might be ravished into the heavenly paradise, to hear and see what we are loath to leave and cannot utter. To attain, this, very minute directions are given as to time, place, posture of body, method, choice of a guide, &c. The guide he describes as ‘a medicine of life and immortality.’ ‘Woe be to him that is alone,’ says Brother John, probably feeling under his state of celibacy. His qualification is knowledge, charity, and discretion; he will securely lead thee to rest and peace. Her exercises are to be vocal prayer, reading spiritual books, corporal mortifications, and manual labour; use only one meal a day; to this, add a hair cloth next the skin, and occasional floggings. These are general instructions, which are followed by objects for meditation on each day’s journey, so as to arrive at perfection in ten days; solitude, humility and austerity, patience and charity, vileness by sin, the sacrament, mortification, flight from earth, spiritual life, God speaking to man, love’s ascents and descents, the soul’s repose in God, union with Christ, and ending with meditations upon the Passions.
An Hue and Cry after Conscience; or, The Pilgrim’s Progress by Candle-Light, in Search after Honesty and Plain Dealing. Represented under the Similitude of a DREAM. Wherein is discovered the The Pritty manner of his setting out. His Pleasant Humours on his Journey. The Disappointment he met with after all his Search. Together with his flight at last into another Country, where he is still on his Rambles. Written by John Dunton. 1685, 18mo.
The advertisement to the reader says, that, as the author’s previous work was of the pilgrim’s journey to an heavenly country, so now of all sorts of wicked pilgrims, of either sex, that are either posting directly to hell, or madly dancing and frolicking upon the brink of destruction. Progressing by candle-light, all manner of vice and roguery is painted to the life, in its proper colours; and then brought to light as a fatal spectacle to the thinking and gazing part of mankind, together with the most eminent cheats of all trades and professions.
This is a display of vice, villany, and deceit of every description, without any continuous plot; and it adds one to a thousand proofs of the degraded and debauched state of society in the reign of Charles II., and of our happy exemption from such scenes. Morality and purity have extended, as voluntary efforts to spread Divine truth increased; awful was the state of society when, none but state-paid priests were permitted to teach the glad tidings of salvation.157
Bishop Patrick’s Parable of the Pilgrim. 4to, 1687.
Whoever has patience to wade through ten pages of Bishop Patrick’s Parable, must be fully convinced that his Lordship’s limping and unwieldy Pilgrim will never be able, with all his hobbling, to overtake, or even to get within sight of John Bunyan by many a thousand miles—a striking proof that exquisite natural ability casts a brighter and more captivating lustre, than the deepest acquired parts. The bishop’s Pilgrim has only one description which has the slightest similarity to Bunyan’s style.
A gentleman rides up to the pilgrims, ‘very civil and inviting,’ but they observed that he had a sword by his side, and a pair of pistols before him, together with another instrument hanging at his belt, which was formed for pulling out of eyes. They told him—‘We are strongly possessed against those who would make us believe we cannot see our way unless we let them pull out our eyes, and who are not content to labour by reason to bring them to their bent, but shoot them to death if they stiffly refuse, as if they were but rogues and thieves.’ The learned bishop does not approve of the Roman Catholics using force, pulling out of eyes, or shooting churchmen; while, at that very time, his own church, if dissenters refused, to use his own phrase, to have their eyes pulled out, sent them to prison, tormented them, and, in some cases, they hung, drew, and quartered them! On getting rid of him, another man, more sad and melancholy, crossed their way, with a dagger by his side and a pistol peeping out of his pocket—he represents the Presbyterians or Independents; and to him the Episcopalian says, ‘I retain my own eyes, but use also those of “the Conductors of Souls; and am glad with all mine heart that I have met with one both to teach and to watch over me.” Your dagger will soon grow to a sword; you pretend to liberty, and will give none.’ How true is the saying, “with what judgment ye judge ye shall be judged.” ’
The very crime which the learned bishop imputes to others, was most prominently his own; for at that time no Church was more hostile to the Christian’s duty of seeing with his own eyes, or judging for himself from a personal examination of the Sacred Scriptures. The bishop exclaims against those who persecuted his Church, but veils the infamous Protestant persecutions by which that same Church was spotted as with a leprosy.
After all, Patrick, with some excellencies, is but a sorry pedlar, dealing in damaged wares; for, instead of Christian experience formed from Scripture, we find scraps from the philosophers and heathen mythology. Patrick and Bunyan were writing their pilgrims about the same time: they do not appear to have anything in common. Patrick was a learned man, and his elaborate work requires the pains to read it which he took in its composition; while Bunyan’s story flowed freely from his rich imagination, and the reader enjoys it with the same flowing pleasure.
The sixth edition of the Parable of the Pilgrim has a finely executed frontispiece, representing a pilgrim leaving a city, and going a roundabout way to the New Jerusalem, which shines forth in the clouds.158
Patrick’s Pilgrim, slightly abridged, was published in the Englishman’s Library; and still more abridged, in a neat pocket volume, at Oxford, by Parker.