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I wrote not this of any ostentation ;
John Bunyan. A passage* has already been quoted from his account of a dream, which evidently contains the germ of the Pilgrim's Progress. The same obvious allegory had been rendered familiar to his mind by the letter of the Italian Martyr Pomponius Algerius.“ In this world,” says that high-minded and triumphant Witness for the Truth, “ there is no mansion firm to me; and therefore I will travel up to the New Jerusalem, which is in Heaven, and which offereth itself to me, without paying any fine or income. Behold I have entered already on my journey, where my house standeth for me prepared, and where I shall have riches, kinsfolks, delights, honours never failing."
But original as Bunyan believed his own work to be, and as in the main undoubtedly it is, the same allegory had often been treated before him, so often indeed that to notice all preceding works of this kind would far exceed all reasonable limits here. Some of these may have fallen in Bunyan's way, and modified his own conception when he was not aware of any such influence. Mr. Montgomery in his very able introductory Essay to the Pilgrim's Progress, observes, “ that a Poem entitled the Pilgrimage, in Whitney's Emblems, and the emblem which accompanies it, may have suggested to him the first idea of his story; indeed, he says, if he had had Whitney's picture before him he could not more accurately have copied it in words,” than in the passage where Evangelist directs Christian to the Wicket-Gate.
* There is another in his Heavenly Footman, but I know not whether this treatise was written before or after the Pilgrim's Progress. “ Though the Way to Heaven be but one, yet there are many crooked lanes and by-paths shoot down upon it, as I may say. And notwithstanding the Kingdom of Heaven be the biggest city, yet usually those by-paths are the most beaten : most travellers go those ways, and therefore the way to Heaven is hard to be found and as hard to be kept in, because of these."
Another book in which a general resemblance to the Pilgrim's Progress has been observed is the Voyage of the Wandering Knight, of which a translation from the French of the Carmelite, Jean de Carthenay, was printed in the reign of Elizabeth, the Carmelite himself having (as Mr. Douce has kindly informed me), imitated a French poem (once very popular) composed A. D. 1310, by Guill. de Guilleville, a monk of Chanliz, and entitled the Pelerin de la Vie Humaine.
There is a vague general resemblance in the subject of this work, and some occasional resemblance in the details ; but the coincidences are such as the subject would naturally lead to, and the Pilgrim's Progress might have been exactly what it is, whether Bunyan had ever seen this book or not. But he had* certainly seen Bernard's “ Isle of Man, or the Legal
* Bunyan had evidently the following lively passage in his mind when he wrote the verses introductory to his Second Part.
“Well, I have clothed this Book as it is. It may be some humour took me, as once it did old Jacob, who apparelled Joseph differently from all the rest of his brethren in a party-coloured coat. It may also be that I look (as Jacob did on his Joseph) with more delight on this lad, than on twenty other of his brethren born before him, or on a younger Benjamin brought forth soon after him.-When I thus apparelled him, I intended to send him forth to his brethren, hoping thereby to procure him the more acceptance, where be happily should come: and my expectation hath not failed : deceived altogether I am not, as was Jacob in sending his Joseph among his envious brethren ; for not only hundreds, but some thousands have welcomed him to their houses. They say they like his countenance, his habit, and manner of speaking well enough; though others, too nice, be not so well pleased therewith."
“ But who can please all ? or how can any one so write or speak, as to content every man? If any mistake me, and abuse him in their too carnal apprehension, without the truly intended spiritual use, let them blame themselves, and neither me nor him : for their fault is their own, which I wish them to amend. You that like him, I pray you still accept of him, for whose sake, to further your spiritual meditation, I have sent him out with these Contents, and more marginal notes. His habit is no whit altered, which he is constrained by me to wear, not only on working days, but even upon holydays and Sundays too, if he go abroad. A fitter garment I have not now for him; and if I should send out the poor lad naked, I know it would not please you. This his coat, though not altered in the fashion, yet it is made somewhat longer. For though from his first birth into the world it be near a year, yet he is grown a little bigger. But I think him to be
The book in question (to which without reference to this supposed plagiarism, Mr. Douce with his wonted knowledge, had previously directed my attention), I have had an opportunity of perusing, through the kindness of its possessor Mr. Offor. A person looking (like Bunyan's accuser) at the prints, and not understanding the language in which the book is written, might have supposed that hints had been taken from them for the adventures at the Slough of Despond, and at Vanity Fair ; but that the Pilgrim's Progress was not a translation from the work he must have known, for the Pilgrims in the prints are women; and it required no knowledge of Dutch to perceive that the book is written not as a narrative, but in a series of Dialogues.
Bolswert the engraver is the author of this book, which is entitled the *Pilgrimage of Dovekin and Willekin to their Beloved in Jerusalem. The author was a true lover of his mother tongue, and more than once laments over the fashion of corrupting it with words borrowed from other languages; all the examples which he adduces of such adulterations are French. The book though totally neglected now, was once very popular; my venerable friend Bilderdijk tells me “ that it was one of the delights of his childhood.” I am obliged to Mr. Major for a Frencht translation of it, in which some intermediate possessor has drawn his pen through the name of Rousseau, that name appearing, upon comparing it with a fac-simile in Rees's Cyclopædia, and with an autograph also, to be in the hand-writing of Jean Jacques. The French translator, as might be expected, has carefully got rid of every thing which relates to Flemish manners and feelings, and the raciness of the original is completely lost in his version.
* Duyfkens ende Willemynkens Pelgrimagie tot haren beminden binnen Jerusalem ; haerlieder teghenspoet, belet ende eynde. Beschreven ende met sin-spelende beelden wtghegheven door Boetius a Bolswert. T Antwerpen, by Hieronimus Verdussen, Ao. 1627.
+ Voyage de Deux Sæurs : Colombelle et Volontairette, vers leur Bien-Aimé en la Cité de Jerusalem : contenant plusieurs incidens arrivez pendant leur voyage. Par Boece de Bolswert, Nouvelle Edition corrigée et chatiée selon le stile du tems, et enrichie de figures en taille douce, A Liege, 1734.
The two sisters Dovekin and Willekin are invited in a dream by the Beloved, in the language of the Canticles to arise and come away. Willekin who is for a little more sleep, a little more slumber, is not inclined to accept the invitation, and disparages her lover, saying that he is no better than Joseph the Carpenter and Peter the Fisherman, with whom he used to keep company. Dovekin, however, persuades her to rise, and set off upon their pilgrimage to him; it is but a day's journey: they wash at their outset in a river of clear water which has its source in Rome, and taking the Netherlands in its way) flows to Jerusalem ; and by this river they are to keep, or they will lose themselves. They gather flowers also at the beginning of their journey for the purpose of presenting them to the Bridegroom and his mother, whose favour Dovekin says it is of the utmost importance to obtain, and who, she assures her sister, dearly loves the Netherlanders. The wilful sister collects her flowers without any choice or care, loses them, over-eats herself, and is obliged to go to the river to wash herself after eating; she then finds her flowers again and they proceed till they come to a village, where it happens to be fair time, and Willekin will not be dissuaded by her prudent sister from stopping to look at some Mountebanks. The print annexed is what was supposed to represent Vanity Fair, whereas the story relates merely to a Flemish Kermes, and the only adventure which befalls the idle sister there is, that she brings away from it certain living and loathsome parasites of humanity, who pass under a generic appellation in the French version, but in the honest Dutch original are called by their own name.
Going out of her way to admire a peacock Willekin steps in the dirt. Presently she must go see some calves at play, a cow bemires her with a whisk of its tail, and she must repair to the river and cleanse herself there again ; thank God for this river! says Dovekin. Poor thoughtless incorrigible Willekin thus goes on from one mishap to another, and taking a bye-path falls into a ditch, which the detector of Bunyan's plagiarism immediately supposed to be his Slough of Despond. She goes on committing follies at every occasion, and some crimes; and the end (for it must be needless to pursue the story) is that when they come within sight of Jerusalem, she climbs a steep and dangerous place, notwithstanding her sister's entreaties, in order to obtain a better prospect; the wind blows her down, she falls into a deep pit full of noxious creatures, where no help can be given her, and there she is left with broken bones, to her fate. Dovekin proceeds, reaches the suburbs of Jerusalem, undergoes a purification in a tub, then makes a triumphant entrance into the City of Jerusalem in a lofty chariot, and is there with all honour and solemnity espoused to the Bridegroom. And this is the book from which Bunyan was said to have stolen the Pilgrim's Progress! If ever there was a work which carried with it the stamp of originality in all its parts, it is that of John Bunyan's !
Mr. D'Israeli, from whose works the best-informed reader may learn much, and who in the temper of his writings as well as in the research which they display, may be a useful model for succeeding authors, calls Bunyan " the Spenser of the people.” He is indeed the Prince of all allegorists in prose. The allegory is never lost sight of in the first part: in the second it is not so uniformly preserved; parties who begin their pilgrimage in childhood, grow up upon the way, pass through the stage of courtship, marry and are given in marriage, have children and dispose of their children. Yet to most readers this second part is as delightful as the first; and Bunyan had perhaps more pleasure in composing it, not only because he was chewing the cud of his old inventions, but because there can be no doubt that he complimented the friends whom he delighted to honour, by giving them a place among the persons of his tale. We may be sure that Mr. Valiant-for-the-Truth, Old Honest of the Town of Stupidity, Mr. Despondency and his daughter Much-afraid, and their companions, were well known in “Bishop Bunyan’s” diocese: and if no real characters, were designed by him in those who are less favourably introduced as turning back on