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Orrery. Parthenissa, which was not his only literary attempt, was published, in six parts, shortly after the Restoration, and was collected into one large folio volume in 1676. It is a romance after a new fashion, which had come into being in France, and perhaps in other parts of Europe, later than the Pastoral and the Romance of Chivalry. Although still ideal in its nature, it was ideal after a much more artificial style than the older Heroic or Pastoral. Its peculiarity consisted in this, that the scene was laid in the ancient world, and that the characters were actual or supposed personages of classical or ancient history, but were made to speak and act like high-flown gentlemen and ladies of the seventeenth century. This style of Classic-Heroic fiction, in which modern ideas of courage, courtesy, fidelity in love, and universal human perfection, were embodied in stories of ancient Greeks and Romans, Egyptians and Babylonians, Phrygians and Persians, had obtained immense popularity in France, in consequence chiefly of the achievements in it of three nearly contemporary writers-Gomberville, Calprenède, and Mademoiselle de Scuderi. "Gomberville," says Mr. Hallam, "led the way in his Polexandre, first published in 1632, and reaching, in later editions, to about 6,000 pages." Calpre
nède's Cassandra appeared in 1642, and his Cleopatra was completed in 1646--both enormously prolix. Mademoiselle de Scuderi, after beginning in her Ibrahim in 1635, wrote her Grand Cyrus and her Clelie, each in ten volumes. As this form of fiction was of French origin, so it seemed to suit the French taste better than that of any other nation. While it was yet popular in France, however, the Earl of Orrery seems to have made an attempt, in his Parthenissa, to naturalize it among his countrymen. "The sun was already so far declined," thus the romance opens, "that his heat was not oppressive, "when a stranger, richly attired and proportionately "blessed with all the gifts of nature and education,
alighted at the temple of Hierapolis in Syria, where "the Queen of Love had settled an Oracle as famous
as the Deity to whom it was consecrated." You must not suppose that I have gone many pages into the Romance beyond this introductory sentence; but, turning over the leaves of the large folio, and swooping down on the text here and there, I perceived that there were Romans, Carthaginians, Armenians, and Parthians in it, and that, besides Artabanes the Parthian, who is the gentleman that alighted at the temple, and Parthenissa, the daughter of a Parthian general, with whom that gentleman appeared to be
in love, the story, somehow or other, brought in Hannibal, Massinissa, Mithridates, Spartacus, and other persons equally well known in the vicinity of the ancient Mediterranean. How they came into the story, or what the story is, I cannot tell you; nor will any mortal know, any more than I do, between this and doomsday; but there they all are, lively though invisible, like carp in a pond.
Nothing as yet in British prose fiction, save, perhaps, old Malory's compilation of the Mort d'Arthur, and the rough, strongly-seasoned chap-books, that could seize the national heart, as distinct from the fancies of the educated, or imprint itself lastingly on the national memory! But such a work was coming! While Boyle's Parthenissa was finding its leisurely readers, there was living in Bedford Jail, where he had been confined, with brief intervals, ever since the Restoration, a tall, strong-boned, ruddy-faced, reddish-haired man, already known to the Justices of that district as John Bunyan, an obstinate Baptist preacher. He was comparatively illiterate; the Bible and Foxe's Martyrs were the books he chiefly read-on his preserved copy of the last of which may be still seen marginal comments in his hand in ill-spelt doggrel; and he had probably never read a romance in his life, except, in his
unregenerate days, the old chap-book of Bevis of Southampton. But he was a man of natural genius, with a wit none of the weakest, and an imagination about the most fervid in England; and in the events of his previous life-his boyhood and youth among English villagers, his campaign as a soldier in the Parliamentary army, and, above all, his inward experience and his mental agonies and aberrations until he had settled in the peace of his Christian belief-he had had an education very thorough in its kind, if not quite the same as was given at Cambridge or Oxford. In Bedford Jail he occupied himself in preaching to the prisoners; and, to while away what remained of his time, he thought of writing a book. What the intended book was, he does not say; for, before he had gone far in it, he had fallen upon another :—
"And thus it was: I, writing of the way
About their journey and the way to glory,
In more than twenty things which I set down.
Like sparks that from the coals of fire do fly.
'Nay, then,' thought I, 'if that you breed so fast,
And so, out of that old notion of the Christian life as a pilgrimage, which had existed in hundreds of minds before till it had become a commonplace, there grew and grew in Bunyan's mind the whole visual allegory of his book-from the Wicket-gate seen afar over the fields under the Shining Light, on, by the straight undeviating road itself, with all its sights and perils, and through the Enchanted Ground and the pleasant land of Beulah, to the black and bridgeless river by whose waters is the passage to the glimmering realms, and the brightness of the Heavenly City.
It was after Bunyan's release from prison in 1672, and when he was over forty-four years of age, that the book was finished; and, when he consulted his friends as to printing it, there were great differences of opinion.
"Some said, 'John, print it;' others said, 'Not so!'
Those who objected did so on the ground that Fiction was an unlawful method of inculcating truth, a method already prostituted to the service of pleasure and the Devil. This matter Bunyan discussed for himself. Was not God's own Book, nay His moral government as shown in the history of the Hebrews,