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thoughts flew from him, as has been beautifully said of Dr. Payson's conversation, in every possible variety of beauty and harmony, like birds from a South American forest. His vivid imagination filled his lonely cell with these realities; and it would appear that only when he was alone did his genius brood over this sacred work; in secrecy and silence did he pursue it; it was a joy of his heart, with which heaven itself mingled, and lent its own blessedness, but with which no stranger could intermeddle.
That this was the manner of the suggestion and production of this great work of genius, is clear from Bunyan's own amusing and instructive preface; and it is one of the most curious things in all the history of literature, to be admitted thus into the secret developments of spontaneous genius in a great writers mind, on a work, the subject of which possesses the writer as with the power of an angel, instead of being possessed by him; carries him away with its sweetness, bears him up upon its wings, as a child in a dream, and moves him swiftly through the luminous air, gazing at the divinely colored pictures painted upon it. So was Bunyan borne upward as on eagles' wings, both by the Spirit of God, and by the power of that natural genius, which was the gift of God; and I may add, by the exciting celestial beauty of a subject, which kindles the heart of the simplest Christian with enthusiasm, and shapes, for the time being, a poet in the plainest mind. All this, without difficulty, you may read under cover of Bunyan's rude rhymes, which are good, unadulterate Saxon, and
full of genuine simplicity and humor, though he scorned attempting to make them more elegant.
When at the first I took my pen in hand,
And thus it was: I writing of the way
Well, so I did ; but yet I did not think
Neither did I but vacant seasons spend
Thus I set pen to paper with delight,
Well, when I thus had put my ends together,
Now I was in a strait, and did not see
And how could it have been decided otherwise ? Bunyan proceeds with an ingenious and amusing
apology and justification for using similitudes. Gold, pearls, and precious stones worth digging for, he thought might fitly be put into an allegory ; and truth, even in swaddling clothes, as a sweet laughing babe, might win upon the mind, inform the judgment, make the will submissive, and fill the memory with things pleasant to the imagination. There is refreshing water in dark clouds, when there is none at all in bright ones; and when their silver drops descend, then the earth yieldeth her ripe harvest. A fisherman goes patiently up and down the river-side, and engages all his wits to catch a few nibbles, with snares, lines, angles, hooks and nets; all stratagems he uses for the silly fish. So doth the fowler for the birds ; one can scarce name the variety of his means, his gun, , his nets, his line-twigs, light and bell; one can scarce tell the variety of his postures; he creeps, he goes,
he stands, he pipes and whistles. So shall he, who wisely seeks to catch men, speak dialogue-wise, parable-wise, in prose and poetry, in figures, metaphors, and meaning fables ; in cunning cabinets and mantles he shall enclose truth's golden beams; he shall set his apples of gold in pictures of silver.
Yea, let Truth be free
So Bunyan thought, and would not check the varity of his fancies, though some would-be critics laughed at their simplicity, and some were offended at their novelty. Yet he knew he might write in such a method, and not miss his end, which was
the good of his readers ; and so he wrote, and so he published, committing all to God. The close of his preface is very beautiful, and would to God that every man who reads, might, according to Bunyan's directions, lay the book, the head, and the heart together, and so follow the pilgrim from the City of Destruction to the City of Immanuel !
This book will make a traveller of thee,
Art thou for something rare and profitable ?
Wouldst thou divert thyself from melancholy ?
A great characteristic of original genius, perhaps its greatest proof, and one which Bunyan possessed in common with Shakspeare, is its spontaneous exertion ; the evidence of having written without labor, and without the consciousness of doing any thing remarkable, or the ambitious aim of perform
ing a great work. The thought, “ How will this please ?” has little or no power as a motive, nor is it suggested to such minds : the greatest efforts of genius seem as natural to it, 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; and its movements were as artless as the movements of a little child left to play upon the green by itself; as if, indeed, he had exerted no voluntary supervision whatever over its exercise. Every thing is as natural and unconstrained, as if there had been no other breather in this world but himself, no being, to whose inspection the work he was producing could ever possibly be exhibited, and no rule or model, with which it could ever be compared.
We can imagine this suffering Christian and unconscious Poet in the gloom of his prison, solacing his mind with his own visions, as they came in, one after another, like heavenly pictures, to his imagination. They were so pleasant, that he could not but give them reality, and when he found how they accumulated, the first did the IDEAL of the Pilgrim's Progress rise before his view. Then did he, with the pervading, informing, and transfusing power of genius, melt the materials and mould them into shape. He put the pictures into one grand allegory, with the meaning of heaven shining over the whole, and a separate interest and beauty in every separate part. It is an allegory conducted with