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is so delightful in the Pilgrim's Progress. Here is a ballad of the child with the bird on the bush, and as a child's ballad, it is one of the sweetest, most natural things in the language.
My little bird, how canst thou sit
And sing amidst so many thorns ?
My love with honor thee adorns.
Five farthings none will give for thee :
Thou of more value art to me.
To-morrow, birds will have a storm ;
My bosom then shall keep thee warm.
When darkness is thy covering;
How canst thou then sit there and sing?
'Tis worms and trash which thou dost eat,
Come, I'll provide thee better meat.
And sugar-plums, if thou them crave;
That from the cold I may thee save.
Yea, in it thou shalt sit and sing ;
The whole year round shall be thy spring.
Unthought-of music thou shalt play,
Shall praise thee for it every day.
No manner o'harm shall come to thee;
My bosom shall thy cabin be.
These charmings would not make her yield;
The bird flies yonder o'er the field.
The child of Christ an emblem is;
The bird to sinners I compare;
Which do surround them every where.
Are emblems of those foolish toys,
The fruit of worldly, empty joys.
The arguments this child doth choose
To draw to him a bird thus wild,
To make the sinner reconciled.
To speed her from him after all,
Much better than the heavenly call.
Now if this ballad had been found among the poems of Wordsworth, with one or two touches of his peculiar coloring, it would have been regarded as one of his happiest examples of the artless simplicity and truth of nature. But with Bunyan these things were thrown off without any elaborate effort, in such language as he might naturally command, not with studied simplicity, but in such simplicity of style, matter and language as his childlike musings naturally fell into. And this constitutes their charm. He says himself that he could have written in higher strains, but he would not attempt it; and well for the poetry it was that he did not ; instead of the childlike carelessness and naturalness, which pleases older minds as well as children, he might have fallen into a stiffness and affected elegance, that would have pleased none. As it is, there is great genius and beauty in these hymns for infant minds. In the introduction, to the courteous reader, Bunyan says, in a vein of vigorous and well directed satire,
The title page will show, if thou wilt look,
Then do not blame me, since I thus describe 'em,
Our ministers long time by word and pen
I repeat it, that this is pleasant, good natured, and instructive satíre ; its vein of strong sense and native humor may remind us of our elder, early poets, whom, indeed, Bunyan in his poetry resembles not a little, and with whom he would have taken the highest rank as a poet, had Divine Providence directed bis native gifts to be developed that way. Bunyan apologizes for seeming to play the fool, that he might, like Paul, by all means, gain some, and he hopes that even men of graver fancies may possibly be taken by his homely rhymes.
Some, I persuade me, will be finding fault,
Should all be forced to lay their brains aside,
I could, were I so pleased, use higher strains,
As for the inconsiderableness
This was ever Bunyan's disinterestedness and forgetfulness of self. So he might glorify God, it was no matter what became of his own reputation, his own will. Human applause he sought not, and while writing the most original work of genius produced in his age, he wrote with an absolute unconsciousness of fame, and a disregard of it, such as marked the character of no other writer of the period. Baxter was an eminently holy man, and his mind wrought under holy influences, but never with such unconsciousness of greatness, such forgetfulness of self. Yet the maxim of both was, To God alone be the glory!
These Divine Emblems, of which I have spoken, are much in the manner of Quarles, whose poetry Bunyan may have been acquainted with, as the
Puritans were fond of it, and who died while Bunyan was in prison. Some of them remind us of the significant things seen by Christian in the house of the Interpreter. It was thus that Bunyan filled up his vacant seasons, and with various sweetness recreated himself in prison. While he was musing, the fire burned. When he began his Pilgrim's Progress, he was surprised into it, for he was writing another book, which he had nearly finished, but as he was penning some things concerning the race of the saints in the day of the gospel, his thoughts fell suddenly into the form of an allegory in a number of particulars, which he put down; these grew into more, and again continued to multiply, as he was attracted from fancy to fancy, and still he wrote them down, till he said within himself, If I go on at this rate, it will be ad infinitum, and I shall never finish the book I am already about. Wherefore
Wherefore my thick-coming fancies I'll put you by yourselves, and when I have leisure from the work I have undertaken, then I will return to you.
Thus his work so produced, came to be the pure, artless, spontaneous creation of piety and genius. There was scarcely a conscious effort in the writing of it ; nay, rather a restraint of its exquisite sweetness, till such moments as he could attend to and take down the lovely images, the fervent thoughts, that were crowding one another in his mind, and seeking for utterance. It was but for him to say the word, to say to himself, Now my favorite meditations I release you; and suddenly as songsters from a cage, his