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of the fancies which passed through the mind of an illiterate man, whose affections were warm, whose nerves were irritable, whose imagination was ungovernable, and who was under the influence of the strongest religious excitement In whatever age Bunyan had lived, the history of his feelings would, in all probability, have been very curious. But the lime in which his lot was cast was the time of a great stirring of the human mind. A tremendous burst of public feeling, produced by the tyranny of the hierarchy, menaced the old ecclesiastical institutions with destruction. To the gloomy regularity of one intolerant church had succeeded the license of innumerable sects, drunk with the sweet and heady B ist of their new liberty. Fanaticism, eng idered by persecution, and destined to engmder fresh persecution in turn, spread rapidly through society. Even the strongest and most commanding minds were not proof against this strange taint. Any time might have produced George Fox and James Naylor. But to one time alone belong the frantic delusions of such a statesman as Vane, and the.hysterical tears of such a soldier as Cromwell.
The history of Bunyan is the history of a most excitable mind in an age of excitement By most of his biographers he has been treated with gross injustice. They have understood in a popular sense all those strong terms of self-condemnation which he employed in a theological sense. They have, therefore, represented him as an abandoned wretch, reclaimed by means almost miraculous; or, to use their favourite metaphor, "as a brand plucked from the burning. Mr. Ivimey calls him the depraved Bunyan, and the wicked tinker of Elstow. Surely Mr. Ivimey ought to have been too familiar with the bitter accusations which the most pious people are in the habit of bringing against themselves, to understand literally all the strong expressions which are to be found in the Grace Abounding. It is quite clear, as Mr. Southey most justly remarks, that Mr. Bunyan never was a vicious man. He married very early; and he solemnly declSres that he was strictly faithful to his wife. He does not appear to have been a drunkard. He owns, indeed, that when a boy, he never spoke without an oath. But a single admonition cured him of this bad habit for life; and the cure must have been wrought early: for at eighteen he was in the army of the Parliament; and if he had carried the vice of profaneness into that service, he would doubtless have received something more than an admonition from 8ergeant Bind-their-kings-inchains, or Captain Hew-Agag-in-pieces-beforethe-Lord. Bell-ringing, and playing at hockey on Sundays, seem to have been the worst vices of this depraved tinker. They would have passed for virtues with Archbishop Laud. It is quite clear that, from a very early age, Bunyan was a man of a strict life and of a tender conscience. "He had been," says Mr. Southey, "a blackguard." Even this we think loo hard a censure. Bunyan was not, we admit, so fine a gentleman as Lord Digby; yet a blackguard no otherwise than as
every tinker that ever lived has been a blackguard. Indeed Mr. Southey acknowledges this "Such he might have been expected to be by his birth, breeding, and vocation. Scarcely indeed, by possibility, could he have been otherwise." A man, whose manners and sentiments are decidedly below those of his class, deserves to be called a blackguard. But it is surely unfair to apply so strong a word of reproach to one who is only what the great mass of every community must inevitably be.
Those horrible internal conflicts which Bunyan has described with so much power of language prove, not that he was a worse man than his neighbours, but that his mind wa* constantly occupied by religious considerations, that his fervour exceeded his knowledge, and that his imagination exercised despotic power over his body and mind. He heard voices from heaven: he saw strange visions of distant hills, pleasant and sunny as his own Delectable Mountains; from those seats he was shut out, and placed in a dark and horrible wilderness, where he wandered through ice and snow, striving to make his way into the happy region- of light At one time he was seized with an inclination to work miracles. At another time he thought himself actually possessed by the devil. He could distinguish the blasphemous whispers. He felt his infernal enemy pulling at his clothes behind him. He spurned with his feet, and struck with hi* hands, at the destroyer. Sometimes he was tempted to sell his part in the salvation of mankind. Sometimes a violent impulse tinned him to start up from his food, to fall on his knees, and break forth into praver. At length he fancied that he had committed the unpardonable sin. His agony convulsed his robust frame. He was, he says, as if his breastbone would split; and this he took for a sign thai he was destined to burst asunder like Judas. The agitation of his nerves made all his movements tremulous; and this trembling, he supposed, was a visible mark of his. reprobation. like that which had been set on Cain. At one time, indeed, an encouraging voice seemed to rush in at the window, like the noise of wind, but very pleasant, and commanded, as he says, a great calm in his soul. At another time, a word of comfort "was spoke loud unto him; it showed a great word; it seemed to be writ in great letters." But these intervals of ease were short His state, during two years and a half, was generally the most horrible that the human mind can imagine. "I walked," says he, with his own peculiar eloquence, "to a neighbouring town; and sal down upon a settle in the street and fell into a very deep pause about the most (earful state my sin had brought me to; and. after lona musing, I lifted up my head; but methnught I saw as if the 3un that shineth in the heaven:, did grudge to give me light; and as if the ver) stones in the streets and tiles upon the house* did band themselves against me. Mcthought that they all combined together to banish me out of the world! I was abhorred of them, and unfit to dwell among them, because I had sinned against the Saviour. Oh, how happy no»
was every creature over I! for they stood fast, anil kepi their sliuion. Bui I was gone and lost." Bcarcely any madhouse could produce an instance of delusion so strong, or of misery so acute.
It was through this Valley of the Shadow of Death, overhung by darkness, peopled with devils, resounding with blasphemy and lamentation, and passing amidst quagmires, snares, and pitfalls, close by the very mouth of hell, that Bunyan journeyed to that bright and fruitful land of Beulah, in which he sojourned during the latter days of his pilgrimage. The only trace which his cruel sufferings and temptations seem to have left behind them, was an affectionate compassion for those who were Mill in the state in which he had once been. Religion has scarcely ever worn a form so calm and soothing as in his allegory. The feeling which predominates through the whole book is a feeling of tendertiess for weak, timid, and harassed minds. The character of Mr. Fearing, of Mr. Feeble-Mind, of Mr. Despondency and his daughter Miss Muchafraid; the account of poor Littlefailh, who was robbed by the three thieves of his spending-money; the description of Christian's terror in the dungeons of Giant Despair, and in his passage through the river, all clearly show how strong a sympathy Bunyan felt, after his own mind had become clear and cheerful, for persons afflicted with religious melancholy.
Mr. Soulhey, who has no love for the Calvinists, admits that, if Calvinism had never worn a blacker appearance than in Bun)'an's works, it would never have become a term of reproach. In fact, those works of Bunyan with which we are acquainted, are by no means more Calvinistic than the homilies of the Church of England. The moderation of his opinions on the subject of predestination, gave offence to some zealous persons. We have seen an absurd allegory, the heroine of which is named Hephzibah, written by some raving supralapsarian preacher, who was dissatisfied with the mild theology of the Pilgrim's Progress. In this foolish book, if we recollect rightly, the Interpreter is called the Enlightener, and the House Beautiful is Castle Strength. Mr. Southey tells us that the Catholics had also their Pilgrim's Progress without a Giant Pope, in which the Interpreter is the Director, and the House Beautiful Grace's Hall. It is surely a remarkable proof of the power of Bunyan's genius, that two religious parties, both of which regarded his opinions as |ieterodox, should have had recourse to him for assistance.
There are, we think, some characters and scenes in the Pilgrim's Progress, which can be ully comprehended and enjoyed only by persons familiar with the history of the times through which Bunyan lived. The character of Mr. Greatheart, the guide, is an example. His fighting is, of course, allegorical; but the allegory is not strictly preserved. He delivers A sermon on imputed righteousness to his companions; and, soon after, he gives battle to Gtan* Grim, who had taken upon him to back the lions He expounds the fifty-third chapter
I of Isaiah to the household and guests of Gains; | and then sallies oui to attack Slaygnml, who was of the nature of flesh-eaters, in his den. The.-e are inconsistencies; but they are inconsistencies which add, we think, to the interest of the narrative. We have not the least doubt that Bunyan had in view some stout old Greatheart of Naseby and Worcester, who prayed with his men before he drilled them; who knew the spiritual state of ever)' dragoon in his troop; and who, with the praises of God in his mouth, and a two-edged sword in his hand, had turned to flight, on many fields of battle, the swearing, drunken bravoes of Rupert and Lunsford.
Every age produces such, men as By-ends. But the middle of the seventeenth century was eminently prolific of such men. Mr. Souihey thinks that the satire was aimed at some particular individual; and this seems by no means improbable. At all events, Bunyan must have known many of those hypocrites who followed religion only when religion walked in silver slippers, when the sun shone, and when the people applauded. Indeed, he might have easily found all the kindred of By-ends among the public men of his time. He might have found among the peers, my Lord Turn-about, my Lord Time-server, and my Lord Fairspeech; in the House of Commons, Mr. Smooth-man, Mr. Anything, and Mr. Facingboth-ways; nor would "the parson of the parish, Mr. Two-tongues," have been wanting. The town of Bedford probably contained more than one politician, who, after contriving to raise an estate by seeking the Lord during the reign of the saints, contrived to keep what he had got by persecuting the saints during the reign of the strumpets; and more than one priest who, during repeated changes in the discipline and doctrines of the church, had remained constant to nothing but his benefice.
One of the most remarkable passages in the Pilgrim's Progress, is that in which the proceedings against Faithful are described. II is impossible to doubt that Bunyan intended to satirize the mode in which slate trials were conducted under Charles the Second. The license given to the witnesses for the prosecution, the shameless partiality and ferocious insolence of the judge, the precipitancy and the blind rancour of the jury, remind us of those odious mummeries which, from the Restoration to the Revolution, were merely forms preliminary to hanging, drawing, and quartering. Lord Hategood performs the office of counsel for the prisoners as well as Scroggs himself eould have performed it.
"Juiiok. Thou runagate, heretic, and traitor, hast thou heard what these honest gentlemen have witnessed against thee!
"faithful. May I speak a few words in my own defence 1
"juiiuk. Sirrah, Sirrah! thou deservest lo live no longer, but to be slain immediately upon the place; yet, that all men may see our gentleness lo thee, let us hear what thou, vile runagate, hast to say." No person who knows the state trials can b
at a loss for parallel cases. Indeed, write what Hun van would, the baseness and cruelly of the lawyers of those times "sinned up to it still," ind even went beyond it, The imaginary trial »f Faithful before a jury composed of personified vices, was just and merciful, when compared with the real trial of Lady Alice Lisle before that tribunal where all the vices sat in the person of Jeffries.
The style of Bunyan is delightful to every reader, and invaluable as* a study to every person who wishes to obtain a wide command over the English language. The vocabulary is the vocabulary of the common people. There is not an expression, if we except a few technical terms of theology, which would puzzle the rudest peasant. We have observed several pages which do not contain a single word of more than two syllables. Yet no writer has said more exactly what he meant to say. For magnificence, for pathos, for vehement exhortation, for subtle disquisition, for every purpose of the poet, the orator, and the
divine, this homely dialect, the dialect of plain workingmen, was perfectly sufficient. There is no book in our literature on which we could so readily state the fame of the old unpolluted English language; no book which shows" so well how rich that language is in its own proper wealth, and how little it has been improved by all that it has borrowed.
Cowper said, forty or fifty years ago, that he dared not name John Bunyan in his verse, for fear of moving a sneer. To our refined forefathers, we suppose, Lord Roscommon's fssay on Translated Verse, and the Duke of Buckinghamshire's Essay on Poetry, appeared to be compositions infinitely superior to the alle gory of the preaching tinker. We'live in better times; and we are not afraid to say that, though there were many clever men in England during the latter half of the seventeenth century, there were only two ereat creative minds. One of those minds pro duced the Paradise Lost, the other the I'll grim's Progress.
END OF VOL. L
CHOKER'S EDITION OF BOSWELL'S LIFE OF
[edinburoh Review, 1831.]
T«n work has greatly disappointed us. Whatever faults we may have been prepared to find in it, we fully expected that it would be a valuable addition to English literature, that it would contain many curious facts and many judicious remarks; that the style of the notes would be neat, clear, and precise; and that the typographical execution would be, as in new editions of classical works it ought to be, almost faultless. We are sorry to be obliged to say, that the merits of Mr. Croker's performance are on a par with those of a certain leg of mutton on which Dr. Johnson dined, while travelling from London to Oxford, and which he, with characteristic energy, pronounced to be, "as bad as bad could be; ill-fed, ill-killed, ill-kept, and ill-dressed."+ That part of the volumes before us, for which the editor is responsible, is ill-compiled, ill-arranged, ill-expressed, and ill-printed.
Nothing in the work had astonished us so much as the ignorance or carelessness of Mr. Croker with respect to facts and dates. Many of his Blunders are such as we should be surprised to hear any well-educated gentleman commit, even in conversation. The notes absolutely swarm with misstatements, into which the editor never would have fallen, if he had taken the slightest pains to investigate the truth of his assertions, or if he had even been well acquainted with the very book on which he undertook to comment. We will give a few instances.
Mr. Croker tells us, in a note, that Derrick, who was master of the ceremonies at Bath, died very poor, in 17804 We read on; and, a few pages later, we find Dr. Johnson and Boswell talking of the same Derrick as still living and reigning, as having retrieved his character, as possessing so much power over his subjects at Bath, that his opposition might be fatal to Sheridan's lectures on oratory.$ And all this in 1763. The fact is, that Derrick died in 1769.
In one note we read, that Sir Herbert Croft, the author of that pompous and foolish account of Young, which appears among the Lives of the Poets, died in 1805.| Another note in the same volume states, that this same Sir Herbert Croft died at Paris, after residing abroad for fifteen years, on the 27th of April, 1816.1
Mr. Croker informs us, that Sir William Forbes of Pitsligo, the author of the life of
Beattie, died in 1816.* A Sir William Forbes undoubtedly died in that year; but no) the Sir William Forbes in question, whose death' took place in 1806. It is notorious, indeed, that the biographer of Beattie lived just long enough to complete the history of his friend. Eight or nine years before the date which Mr. Croker has assigned for 8ir William's death. Sir Walter Scott lamented that event, in the introduction, we think, to the fourth canto of Marmion. Every school-girl knows the lines:
"Scarce had lamented Forbes paid
In one place, we are told, that Allan Ramsay the painter, was born in 1709, and died in 1784 ;f in another, that he died in 1784, in the seventy-first year of his age.* If the latter statement be correct, he must have been born in or about 1713.
In one place, Mr. Croker says, that at the commencement of the intimacy between Dr. Johnson and Mrs. Thrale, in 1765, the lady was twenty-five years old.§ In other places he says, that Mrs. Thfale's thirty-fifth year coincided with Johnson's seventieth.! Johnson was born in 1709. If, therefore, Mrs. Thrale'i thirty-filth year coincided with Johnson's seventieth, she could have been only twenty-one years old in 1765. This is not all. Mr. Croker, in another place, assigns the year 1777 as the date of the complimentary lines which Johnson made on Mrs. Thrale's thirtyfifth birthday.*j If this date be correct, Mrs. Thrale must have been born in 1743, and could have been only twenty-three when her acquaintance with Johnson commenced. Two of Mr. Croker's three statements must be false. We will not decide between them; we will only say, that the reasons which he gives for thinking that Mrs. Thrale was exactly thirtyfive years old when Johnson was seventy, appear to us utterly frivolous.
Again, Mr. Croker informs his readers that "Lord Mansfield survived Johnson full ten years."* • Lord Mansfield sarvived Dr. John son just eight years and a quarter.
Johnson found in the library of a French lady, whom he visited during his short visit to Paris, some works which he regarded with great disdain. "I looked," says he, "into the books in the lady's closet, and, in contempt, showed them to Mr. Thrale—Prince Titi; Hiblotheque des Fees, and other books."ft "The