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FROM THIS WORLD TO THAT WHICH IS TO COME.
BY THE LATE
Charles . Bennett.
BRADBURY, EVANS, & Co., 11, BOUVERIE ST.
141. l. 24.
A SERIES of illustrations worthy of the great Puritan mystery has been as yet a desideratum. The eighteenth century could not be expected to produce one. The nineteenth has not produced one as yet, in spite of the great advance in the art of rendering thought into form, which is due to the influence of German designers. The reasons of this want are simple enough. The Puritan bodies, to whom John Bunyan belongs, have not sufficiently lost their hereditary dislike of the fine arts, to produce from their own ranks artists capable of so great a work. The religious artists of the Church of England have employed their pencils rather on Scriptural and Mediæval subjects. Whether the author of these designs, by trying to imagine for himself Bunyan's thoughts, rather from a simply human, than from a sectarian point of view, has done aught to supply the want, the Public must judge. If he has in some things
failed, sensible persons at least will find excuses for him in the great difficulty of the undertaking.
To be a faithful illustrator of any book is no light task. For no illustration can be considered true which does not project on paper the very image which was projected upon the author's brain. Every poet (and Bunyan was a poet) thinks in pictures to guess what each picture was, and set it down, is the whole of the illustrator's duty. But this requires a dramatic faculty, a power of standing in another man's place, and seeing with his eyes, which falls to the lot of few; and which in the case of Bunyan, whose strength lies in his knowledge of human character, to the lot of very few indeed. men and women are living persons, no two of them alike; not mere abstractions of a vice or a virtue, but Englishmen and women of his own time, whose natural peculiarities of countenance, language, gesture, have been moulded in the course of years, by obedience to some one overruling defect or virtue. I say of one; for of those complexities and contradictions of the human heart, which we are now so fond of trying to unravel, Bunyan takes little note. The distinction between the children of light and those of darkness was too strongly marked, both in his religious system, and (as he believed)
in the two English parties of the day, for him to conceive those double characters which Shakspeare, from a wider and clearer point of view, saw round him, and drew so well. Was the man regenerate or unregenerate? A child of God or of the Devil? A good man and true, or a bad man and false? is his only criterion. In his regenerate characters, indeed, such as Christian and Hopeful, he introduces this self-contradiction, the image of that inward conflict between "the spirit and the flesh," which he had felt in himself: but in the unregenerate ones he allows of no such conflict. They are selfcontentedly "dead in trespasses and sins," the slaves of some one bad habit, which has moulded gradually their whole personality. In this conception, narrow as it seems at first sight, he is not altogether wrong. It is a patent fact, that in proportion as any man is shut up in self, and insensible of the higher aims of life, his character narrows to one overruling idea, and becomes. absorbed by one overruling passion, till, like the madman, he becomes unconscious of the whole universe, save at the one fixed point at which it seems to touch his own selfish nature. Shakspeare, when he draws (as he very seldom does) thoroughly bad men, finds it necessary to narrow their sphere of thought and feeling, till they would become (under less skilful hands than his) mere