Previous Next

Table of Contents

Chapter VII

versions, comments, and imitations of the ‘pilgrim’.

The earliest poetical attempts to promote the circulation of the ‘Pilgrim’ is of the First Part, done into verse by Francis Hoffman, printed by R. Tookey, 1706. Not only is the prose versified, but he has, according to his taste, versified Bunyan’s verse. Thus, the long controversy as to the propriety of publishing the work, in Hoffman’s verses, is—

‘One Part said, Print it; others it decry’d;

Some said, it would do good, which some denied:

I, seeing them divided to Extreams,

Could from them hope no Favour but the Flames;

Resolving, since Two Parties could not do’t,

Being Third my-self, to give the casting Vote.

And have it printed.’

It has a smart hit at occasional conformity. Thus Apollyon says—

‘’T is with professors, now in Fashion grown,

T’ espouse his cause a while to serve their own;

Come, with me go occasionally back,

Rather than a preferment lose, or lack.’‌189

Judging from these and other specimens, it is not surprising that the work was never republished. It has some woodcuts, and is very rare.‌190‌ Many attempts have been made to render Bunyan’s ‘Pilgrim’ a popular work in poetry, but all have failed. The most respectable is by J. S. Dodd, M. D., 8vo, Dublin, 1795. This is in blank verse, and with good engravings; it has also an index, and all the passages of Scripture given at length; not only those that are directly referred to, but also a number of others which might have suggested ideas to the author that he embodied in his work. The notes are well written, and short. They were reprinted, without acknowledgment, in an edition of the ‘Pilgrim,’ in three parts, published by Macgowan; London, 1822.

George Burder, the well-known author of the Village Sermons, published, in 1804, Bunyan’s ‘Pilgrim’s Progress,’ Part the First, versified, which passed through several large editions, and was much used in Sunday-schools; it has wood-cuts. A very handsome edition of this has been lately published, with the Second Part, by the author of Scripture Truths in Verse, and is profusely ornamented with woodcuts. T. Dibdin also published Bunyan’s ‘Pilgrim’s Progress,’ metrically condensed, in six cantos. This embraces only the First Part. The author claims having kept the simplicity of the original, and a rigid observance of every doctrine enforcing the certainty of the one only road to safety and salvation.‌191‌ The late Isaac Taylor, of Ongar, published Bunyan Explained to a Child, being pictures and Poems founded upon the ‘Pilgrim’s Progress;’ two very neat and interesting little volumes, each containing fifty cuts.‌192

Dr. Adam Clarke considered that our Pilgrim might be more read by a certain class if published as an epic poem.

‘The whole body of the dialogue and description might be preserved perfect and entire; and the task would not be difficult, as the work has the complete form of an epic poem, the versification alone excepted. But a poet, and a poet only, can do this work, and such a poet, too, as is experimentally acquainted with the work of God on his own soul. I subscribe to the opinion of Mr. Addison, that, had J. Bunyan lived in the time of the primitive fathers, he would have been as great a father as any of them.’‌193

A lady who wrote under the initials, C. C. V. G., has recently made the attempt, and she does not appear to have been aware that Dr. Dodd had gone over the same ground. It is a highly respectable production, divided into six cantos, but includes only the First Part.

The Pilgrim’s Progress Versified. By the Rev. W. E. Hume, B. A. 2 vols. fep. 8vo. 1844–5.

In this poetic attempt, each part is divided into six cantos. At the first glance, it appeared more like a parody than a serious effort to convey the sense; but the author seems to be in earnest. A very few lines will show the poetic talent which is displayed. The pilgrim about to start:

‘Trembling he was, and tears I well could track,

Till broke he forth, and cried, “What shall I do, alack!”,

On Ignorance arriving at the gates of the Celestial City,

‘They told the King, but down he would not run.

The first part ends thus:

‘The way to hell, from gate of heaven, was there,

E’en as from Ruin’s town. I woke—had dream’d, declare.’

A Free Poetic Version of the First Part of the Pilgrim’s Progress. In Ten Books. By J. B. Drayton. With a Memoir, and Notes selected and abridged from, the Rev. T. Scott 12mo, Cheltenham. No date.

This first appeared under the title of Poetic Sketches from Bunyan, fep. 8vo, 1821. ‘To tempt those who slight the original as a coarse and illiterate production to give it a perusal, and they will find that its merits are of the highest order—conceived in the true spirit of poetry—like a rude but luxuriant wilderness.’ The Christian’s burden is called ‘a sordid pest.’ His description of the Interpreter will give an idea of Mr Drayton’s style:

‘Meek was his mein,

Yet fiery keen,

The ordeal inquest of his eye,

And blent with hoary majesty,

A stately wand he bore;

But, ere he taught his mystic lore,

He asked the Pilgrim’s late abode,

His errand, and his destined road.’

When Christian met the men running from the Valley of the Shadow of Death, his inquiry is anything but poetic—

‘Hold! What’s the Damage?’

Little interest has been excited by these endeavours to versify the ‘Pilgrim.’ All the attempts to improve Bunyan are miserable failures; it is like holding up a rushlight to increase the beauty of the moon when in its full radiance. His fine old vernacular colloquial English. may be modernized and spoiled, but cannot be improved. The expression used to denote how hard the last lock in Doubting Castle ‘went,’ may grate upon a polite ear, but it has a deep meaning that should warn us of entering by-path meadows.

Bunyan’s poetry, interspersed throughout the ‘Pilgrim’s Progress,’ displays the perpetual bent of the writer’s mind. No show, no attempt at parade, all his object is to fix truth upon the conscience; and some of his homely rhymes ought never to be forgotten. The impression made in childhood ‘sticks like burs.’ Who that has once read the lay of the Shepherd’s boy, will ever forget the useful lesson?

‘He that is down need fear no fall,

He that is low no pride;

He that is humble ever shall

Have God to be his guide.’

Mr. Burder of Coventry divided the ‘Pilgrim’s Progress,’ Part I. into twenty, and Part II. into fifteen chapters, with short notes at the end of each;‌194‌ it has been several times republished; but this innovation was not well received.

Numerous have been the editions with notes, to illustrate the author’s meaning, by men of some eminence; but Montgomery’s beautiful description at once shows that, doctrinally or experimentally considered, they are not needed. ‘Bunyan’s allegory is so perfect, that, like the light, whilst revealing through its colourless and undistorting medium every object, yet is itself concealed.’

A Key to the Pilgrim’s Progress; designed to assist the admirers of that excellent book to read it with understanding and profit, as well as pleasing entertainment. By Andronicus.

This contains some useful information; it passed through two editions in 1797.

A Course of Lectures Illustrative of the Pilgrim’s Progress, delivered at the Tabernacle, Haverford West. By Daniel Warr. 8vo, 1825.

These lectures, twenty in number, embrace only the First Part. They proved acceptable to those who heard them, and were published by subscription. Nine hundred and twenty-eight copies were subscribed for at 8s. each.

Lectures on the Pilgrim’s Progress, and on the Life and Times of Bunyan. By Rev. George B. Cheever, D. D., of New York.

This is the work of one of Bunyan’s kindred spirits. If there was any foundation for the Chinese theory of the transmigration of souls, one might imagine that Bunyan had been again permitted to visit the church on earth, in the person of Dr. Cheever. The numerous editions of these lectures which have been sold on both sides of the Atlantic has proved how acceptable a work it is; to give its beauties would be to copy the whole; they that have read it will read it again and again with renewed pleasure. They who have not read it may safely anticipate a choice literary treat.

Attempts to explain the spiritual meaning of such a writer have sometimes deserved the reproof contained in the following anecdote:—‘A late eminent and venerated clergyman,‌195‌ published an edition of Bunyan’s Pilgrim,‌196‌ which he accompanied with expository notes. A copy of this work he benevolently presented to one of his poor parishioners. Some time afterwards the poor man was met by the clergyman, who inquired, “Well, have you read the Pilgrim’s Progress?” the reply was, “Yes, sir.” It was further asked, “Do you think you understand it?” “O, yes, sir,” was the answer, with this somewhat unexpected addition, “And I hope before long I shall understand the notes !” ’‌197‌ Still there can be no doubt but that notes from other of Bunyan’s treatises, and from eminent authors, must be highly illustrative and interesting.

The ‘Pilgrim’s Progress’ has also been abridged. One of the early publications of the Tract Society was the ‘Pilgrim’s Progress, Part the First,’ divided upon Mr. Burder’s plan, into twenty chapters. It is in eight Parts, at 1¼d. each, with a recommendation that the children should find the texts referred to, and repeat them when convenient; it has a woodcut to each Part.

An Extract of the Pilgrim’s Progress, Two Parts, divided into chapters, 12mo, Dublin. For the Methodist Book-room, 1810. Price 3s. 3d.

This contains nearly the whole; Giants Pagan and Pope are excluded, so also are the fiend’s whispering evil thoughts into the Pilgrim’s ears. Christiana speaks of her old husband instead of her good husband. The narrative is injured by the omissions and alterations.

The Pilgrim’s Progress. By John Bunyan; abridged for the use of schools. By J. Townsend. With a Sketch of the Author’s Life.

This little book was extensively circulated, especially in Sunday Schools.

The Pilgrim’s progress. By John Bunyan.

A miniature abridgment, with cuts, title printed in gold on a blue-glazed paper, the edges gilt, has been lately selling in the streets of London for 1d. each !

A strange attempt was made by Joshua Gilpin, rector of Wrockwardine, Shropshire, in 1811, to fit Bunyan with a modern and fashionable suit of clothes, and under the tuition of a petit maitre, train him for elegant drawing-room company. How odd an idea to dress Bunyan à-la-mode, place him in an elegant party, chill him with ices. and torment his soul with the badinage of a Mrs. Perkin’s Ball. It was entitled, ‘Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress; in which the phraseology of the author is somewhat improved, some of his obscurities elucidated, and some of his redundancies done away.’ A handsome 8vo volume, 1811. Mr. Gilpin complains that the Pilgrim’s defects are conspicuous and offensive, but gives no specimens of them. Instead of Faithful telling Christian the common feeling against Pliable, in plain English, ‘O, they say, Hang him, he is a turn-coat; he was not true to his profession;’ Mr. Gilpin prefers, ‘They tauntingly say, that he was not true to his profession.’ And as to the unfashionably pointed remarks by the Interpreter, that a Christian profession, without regeneration, is like a tree whose leaves are fair, but their heart good for nothing but to be tinder for the devil’s tinderbox,‌198‌ this is too bad to be mended, and is, therefore, struck out altogether. The public did not encourage Mr. Gilpin’s metamorphoses, and the book is forgotten. In the following year Mr. Gilpin published, anonymously, The pilgrimage of Theophilus to the City of God. It was intended for the instruction of his children. It is free from sectarianism and slander; being the adventures of two young Pilgrims, who become ministers. The whole of the plot is taken from Bunyan; is a pious imitation, but, like many others, it is even now forgotten.

It would be impossible to enumerate all the attempts which have been made to copy Bunyan’s allegory. A few of them deserve notice. One of these was an impudent forgery. It was under the title of

The Progress of the Pilgrim, in Two Parts. Written by way of a Dream. Adorned with several new pictures. Ho. 12:10. I have used similitudes. London, by J. Blare, at the Looking Glass, on London Bridge, 1705.

In this, which is published as an original work, Evangelist is called Good-news; Worldly-wiseman, Mr. Politic Worldly; Legality, Mr. Law-do; The Interpreter, Director; The Palace Beautiful, Grace’s Hall; Giant Desperation of Diffident Castle; Mr. Despondency and his danghter Much-afraid are called, One Much-cast-down, and his kinsman, Almost Overcome. Whoever was employed in stealing this literary property, and disguising the stolen goods, appears to have been a Roman Catholic; he omits Giant Pope; and Faithful, called Fidelius, is hanged, drawn, and quartered, that being the punishment inflicted on the Roman Catholics by Elizabeth and James I.

Bugg’s Pilgrim’s Progress from Quakerism to Christianity. 4to, and 8vo, 1698.

The author had been a Quaker, but conformed, and attacked his old friends with great vituperation. It is not allegorical.

Desiderius; or, the Original Pilgrim. By L. Howell, M. A.

This was written in Spanish, and has been published in Latin, Italian, French, Dutch, and German. Mr. Howell says in the preface, ‘I am assured that Mr. Royston, the bookseller, very well knew that Dr. Patrick took his pilgrim from it.’ It is the mode by which a gentleman curbed his passions, and became a good church-going man, and qualified himself (p. 124) to trust in God. It was not published in English until 1717.

The Young Man’s Guide through the wilderness of this world to the heavenly Canaan: showing him how to carry himself Christian-like, the whole course of his life. By Thomas Gouge. 1719; small 8vo.

This is a valuable work, but not allegorical.

The Statesman’s Progress, or a Pilgrimage to Greatness; delivered under the similitude of a dream, wherein are discovered, The manner of his setting out, his dangerous journey, and safe arrival at the desired country; with the manner of his acting when he came there. By John Bunyan. With a Latin quotation from Horace. London, printed, and Dublin reprinted in the year 1741. 8vo.

This is a shrewd attack upon Sir Robert Walpole, one of the most corrupt of English statesmen, just before his final fall. It was he that said ‘every man had his price,’ and who attacked Mr. Pitt, afterwards Earl of Chatham, on his youth; exciting a reply which must be admired to the latest age. This Pilgrimage represents Walpole under the name of Badman, on his course to Greatness Hall, where grew the golden pippins. He is introduced to Queen Vice, behind whose throne stood Death with ropes, axes, and daggers in his hand. Badman attains his object, has possession of the golden fruit, and by its aid exercises absolute sway. The allegory is kept up with great spirit.

Our readers need not be reminded that Bunyan’s name was used because he was the prince of allegorists, in the same way that Homer’s name would have been used if it had been a poem, or Juvenal, had it been a satire in verse. It is of great rarity; the account is taken from a copy in the Editor’s library.

The celebrity of Bunyan led to another impudent forgery, in a pamphlet entitled, The advantages and disadvantages of the Marriage State, as entered into with religious or irreligious persons, delivered under the similitude of a dream. With notes explanatory and improving. By J. B * * * * N, Minister of the Gospel. The sixth edition, with addition of new cuts. Bosworth; Printed by Robert Grinley, for the author, 1775. The frontispiece is the Sleeping Portrait on the Lion’s Den, with skull and cross bones; above are the Pilgrim with his burden, and the Wicket Gate; under this is inscribed John Bunyan of Bedford. It was impudent enough to publish this for the author in 1775, Bunyan having died in 1688.

The Spanish Pilgrim; or an admirable discovery of a Romish Catholic.‌199

A tract to show the easiest way to invade Spain.

The Pilgrim; or, a Picture of Life. By a Chinese Philosopher, 2 vols. by Johnston.‌200

A caricature, exhibiting English manners, in the reign of George III., through a distorted medium.

The New Pilgrims; or, the Pious Indian Convert, containing a faithful account of Flattain Gelashenin, a heathen who was baptized into the Christian Faith by the name of George James, and by that means brought from the darkness of Paganism to the light of the Gospel, of which he afterwards became an able and worthy minister; and the wonderful things which he saw in a vision. London, 12mo, 1748.

A Voyage through Hell, by the Invincible Man of War, Captain Single-Eye. 8vo, 1770.

This is a very curious allegory; part of the crew demur to signing the articles because they are Unitarian. The mob who see the ship sail, abuse the Captain. After many adventures, she arrives in hell, and the crew and officers are tried; all the Unitarians are acquitted, and sail on to heaven, but all the Trinitarians enter into eternal torment. This volume is very rare. It is the only book that I have seen in which Unitarians avow such diabolical sentiments.

Shrubsole’s Christian Memoirs; or, New Pilgrimage to the Heavenly Jerusalem. 1777; republished 1799, and in 1807.

This was supposed to contain allusions to certain persons of some note, and was for a time a popular book.

The Female Pilgrim; or the travels of Hephzibah, a description of her Native Country, with the State of the Inhabitants thereof. By John Mitchell.

This contains some account of the religious state of this country in the latter end of the reign of George III.; it has plates, and passed through several editions. The author states, that he has not been influenced by malice to those persons whose characters he has drawn as odious!

A second Pilgrim’s Progress from the town of Deceit to the kingdom of Glory. By Philalethes. 8vo, 1790.

This is an allegory, but not a dream. It is the adventures of Wake-heart, who gets to glory.

The Progress of the Pilgrim, Good Intent, in Jacob-inical Times. By Miss Anne Burgess, of the Vale of Honiton.

This was, for a time, very popular, and went through as many as seven editions at least, in the years 1800 and 1801: it arose out of the French Revolution, and was intended to counteract republican principles, and free inquiries into practices called religious. It has some witty passages, and a tender attachment to the crown and mitre. It represents philosophy as having for its father Lucifer; and its mother Nonsense ! ‌201‌ That the mitre assumes no control. Lawful government and church establishents are venerable, and to be admired and supported; that the rights of man teach plunder and robbery; that those who oppose the church, as by law established, seek to promote atheism. The authoress invents a she-devil, called Mental Energy, who invites men to destruction, by thinking for themselves.

It must have required the aid of some church wealth and influence to have pushed this book into circulation; it is now nearly forgotten.‌202

The Sailor Pilgrim; in Two Parts. By R. Hawker, D. D. 1806.

This passed through several editions, and was a valuable means of awakening seafaring men to the importance of religion. It abounds with interesting anecdotes.

Zion’s Pilgrim. 1808.

This, and Zion’s Warrior, by the same author, are full of anecdotes, useful in their day. They are not allegorical.

The Travels of Humanias in search of the Temple of Happiness. An allegory. By William Lucas. 12mo, 1809.

The Prodigal’s Pilgrimage into a far Country, and back to his Father’s House; in fourteen stages. By Thomas Jones. Curate of Creaton. 1825.

This is the adventures and return of the prodigal, founded on the parable in Lu. 15., but is not allegorical.‌203

The Sojourn of a Sceptic in the Land of Darkness, to the City of Strongholds, in the Similitude of a Dream. Edinburgh, 1847.

The prose and poetry in this volume are equally contemptible;

‘Who follow lies they love (that walk or crawl),

A lie, at last, to ruin may pursue;

Who swallow greasy camels, hump and all,

A gnat may scandalize, and strangle too.’‌204

This is one of those books which, in the words of Porson, ‘will be read when Homer and Virgil are forgotten, but—not till then.’

The Great Journey, a Pilgrimage through the Valley of Tears to Mount Zion, the City of the living God.

This is an unassuming little book, which the author calls, a borrowed ray from the ‘Pilgrim’s Progress.’ It is neatly ornamented with cuts. A desirable present to the young.

The most beautiful ray from the ‘Pilgrim’s Progress,’ which has reached us, is from the pen of that elegant writer, Dr. Cheever of New York. It is The Hill Difficulty, or The Jewish Pilgrim’s Progress, The Plains of Ease, and other allegories. It has, in addition, some extremely interesting papers. Unfortunately it has not been reprinted in England, but what is worse is, that parts of the volume leaving out the most beautiful, and selecting those that suited a certain purpose, have been printed under the title of Dr. Cheever’s Hill Difficulty—a forgery exceedingly vexatious to an author of such high repute. It is hoped that some honest publisher will favour us with an accurate and cheap reprint of this instructive allegory. A part left out in the first chapter of the London edition refers to a controversy which has for some time agitated this country, even to the calling forth of a decision in the House of Lords. It is an attempt to get over the Hill Difficulty without trouble; it is thus narrated:

‘There has been constructed there a great balloon, to avoid climbing, named Baptismal Regeneration, in which, by an ingenious chemical use of a little font of water, a very subtle light gas was manufactured to fill the balloon; and then the adventurers, having been made to inhale the same gas, stepped into a car to which the balloon was attached, and were carried along quite swiftly. These adventurers all lost their lives in the end, unless they got out of the car, and took to the real pilgrimage. Still the patentees insisted upon this being the only way to salvation.’ He goes on with great humour to show that the Pope was the original patentee.