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impersonations of some special vice.
and Iago have that horrible consistency of aim, that concentration of mind and heart upon one paltry purpose, which Bunyan has extended to the whole "unregenerate" world. The vast middle mass (as yet unclassified in any system) which lies between "saints" and "sinners," and in which our modern poet, dramatist, novelist, work as their proper sphere of subject matter, he simply could not see. That there were even among saints self-contradictory characters in plenty, like By-ends and Demas, his knowledge of fact taught him; but his system commanded him to pronounce them, too, "unregenerate" and "false brethren," not to be numbered among the elect.
Fettered by so narrow and partial a conception of humanity, Bunyan's genius must indeed have been great to enable him to represent each personage in his book as a separate individual, differing, even in the minutiae of manner and language, each from the other; and yet having those very minutiæ tinged by the ruling passion and all the more difficult must be the task of the illustrator, who undertakes to reproduce the very human faces which Bunyan saw in his vision-which he had seen, perhaps, in the church and
in the market-place, and studied by such instincts or rules of physiognomy as he had, before he transferred them to his story.
For that Bunyan drew mostly from life there can be little doubt. He may have been now and then, like all true poets, an idealiser, out of several personages compounding one. But the very narrowness of his characters, when considered together with their strong individuality, makes it more probable that he accepted certain persons whom he actually knew in life, as fair types of the fault which he was exposing.
On this method, therefore, Mr. Bennett has constructed the great majority of his ideal portraits. Believing that the ideal is best seen in the actual, the universal in the particular, he has boldly drawn, as far as he could, from life. I say boldly; for to do this is to do no less than to run his knowledge of human nature against Bunyan's. But by no other method, surely, was success attainable; and if he has fallen short, he has fallen short on the right road. For Bunyan's men are not merely life-portraits, but English portraits; men of the solid, practical, unimpassioned midland race. In no other country in Europe did Puritanism develop itself in
a form of which "The Pilgrim's Progress" would have
been the true exponent. strong in Germany, is altogether wanting; and the calmness of its tone, conceived as it was amid war and persecution, contrasts-and most favourably-with the virulence and ferocity which stained both Scotch and French Puritanism. Midland English John Bunyan is wholly; and seeing that the character of midland men seems to have changed, since his time, as little as their surnames, the truest types of his creations are still to be looked for in the country where he wrote.
The mystic element, always so
All attempts to ennoble the subject by introducing a Classic or Scriptural type of feature and figure, as some have done, is absurd. The book represents the lifethoughts not of Greeks, nor of Jews, but of English yeomen and tradesmen; and as such should its personages be drawn. Half-naked figures in violent postures were not in John Bunyan's brain as he wrote; but quiet folk going about Bedford town in slop-breeches, bands, and steeple hats; and even the "three shining ones who meet Christian at the foot of the cross, are, perhaps, none other than the three poor women who sat at a door in the sun in Bedford town, and talked with him of heavenly things, ere he had yet learnt the "way
to heaven." To him it would have been blasphemy to
It is thus that in every age, intense and true faith expresses itself in the most everyday and the most modern forms; while in ages of half belief and of dying creeds, the artist and the public alike try to keep up in their own minds the tradition of a sacredness which they feel is vanishing away, by thrusting their conceptions back into the grand mist of past ages, and dressing up the ghosts of their heroes in the guise of mediæval saints or eastern Jews. It is "reverent," it is "ecclesiastical;" or it is "sacred," and "scriptural :" but to the observant eye it means this—that men see a gulf between their own hearts and those of the men of old time, which requires a proper difference in their speech, gesture, dress, when they are to be depicted: a gulf of which Bunyan was not aware; for to him By-ends and Talkative his neighbour were in intimate relation to the same devil as were Hymenæus and Philetus; and he himself, as Christian, was as surely guided by the Eternal God as Abraham when he left his father's house.
To render Bunyan, then, honestly, the dress, the very fashion, of his day, ought to be carefully followed; and all representations of the undraped human figure, even of those attitudes which display it theatrically, should be