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it; Bunyan's book having been translated into those languages, (and current in them,) in one of which, according to him, the original, and in the others, earlier versions of that original than the “ English Pilgrim's Progress” were existing! But there must have been a more grievous want of fidelity in his assertions. If he had been able to read the book which he saw, this gross accusation could never have been brought against John Bunyan.
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 French † translation of it, in which some intermediate possessor has drawn his pen through the name of Rousseau, that name
* 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, A0, 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, en enrichie de figures en taille douce, A Liege, 1734.
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.
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 by-path falls into a ditch, which the detecter 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 wer, designed by him in
those who are less favourably introduced as turning back on their journey, striking into by-paths, or slumbering by the way, likenesses would be discovered where none were intended.
None but those who have acquired the ill habit of always reading critically, can wish the Second Part had not been written, or feel it as a clog upon the rst. There is a pleasure in travelling with another company over the same ground, a pleasure of reminiscence, neither inferior in kind nor in degree to that which is derived from a first impression. The author evidently felt this, and we are indebted to it for some beautiful passages of repose, such as that in the Valley of Humiliation. The manner in which Christian's battle is referred to, and the traces of it pointed out, reminds me of what is perhaps the best imagined scene in Palmerin of England, where Palmerin enters a chapel, and is shewn the tombs of some of the knights of King Lisuarte's court.
Bunyan concludes with something like a promise of a Third Part. There appeared one after his death, by some unknown hand, and it has had the fortune to be included in
editions of the original work. It is impossible to state through how many editions that work has past; probably no other book in the English language has obtained so constant and so wide a sale. The prints which have been engraved to illustrate it, would form a collection, not so extensive indeed, but almost as curious, as that which Mr. Duppa saw at Vallumbrosa, where a monk had got together about eight thousand different engravings of the Virgin Mary. The worst specimens, both in wood and copper, would be found among them; as now some of the best are to be added. When the reader has seen Giant Slaygood with Mr. Feeblemind in his hand, he will I think agree with me, that if a nation of Anakim existed at this day, the artist by whom that print was designed and executed, would deserve to be appointed historical painter to his Highness the Prince of the Giants.
The Pilgrim's Progress has more than once been “ done into verse,” but I have seen only one version, and that of only the First Part. It was printed by R. Tookey, and to be sold by the booksellers of London and Westminster ; but if there be a date
to this version, it has been torn off with the corner of the title page, from this well-thumbed and well-worn copy, for the use of which (as of other rare books that have been most useful on the present occasion) I am obliged to Mr. Alexander Chalmers. The versification is in the lowest Witherish strain, one degree only above Bunyan's own; yet here and there with indications of more power than the writer has thought proper to put forth. In general the version keeps close to the original. In one place a stroke of satire is put into Apollyon's mouth, against the occasional conformists
“Come go with me occasionally back,
Rather than a preferment lose or lack." And after the Pilgrims have crossed the river, this singular illustration occurs
“Then on all sides the heavenly hosts enclose,
As if they had drawn up the curtain of the skies.” Though the story certainly is not improved by versifying it, it is less injured than might have been supposed in the process ; and perhaps most readers would read it with as much interest in the one dress as in the other.
A stranger experiment was tried upon the Pilgrim's Progress, in translating it into other words, altering the names, and publishing it under the title of the Progress of the Pilgrim,* without any intimation that this version is not an original work. Evangelist is here called Good-news; Worldly Wiseman, Mr. Politic Worldly; Legality, Mr. Law-do; the Interpreter, Direct
“In two parts compleat. Part I. His Pilgrimage from the present World to the World to come; discovering the difficulties of his setting forth, the hazards of his journey, and his safe arrival at the Heavenly Canaan. Part II. The Pilgrimage of Christiana, the wife of Christianus, with her four children ; describing their dangerous journey, and safe arrival at the Land of the Blessed, written by way of dream. Adorned with several new Pictures. Hos. xii. 10. I have used similitudes." London : printed by W. O. for J. Blare, at the Looking Glass, on Lon. don-Bridge, 1705.