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LIST OF EMBELLISHMENTS,
FROM ORIGINAL DESIGNS, BY CHAPMAN, HARVEY, AND OTHERS.
ENGRAVED BY ADAMS.
III. The Author, Dreaming......
IV. Evangelist directing Christian....
V. Christian running from his Wife and Children.............
VIII. Interpreter showing Christian the Fire of Grace.....................................
X. Christian Weeping in the Arbour......
XI. Christian passing the Lions..
XIV. Christian in the Valley of the Shadow of Death.
XXIII. The Perspective Glass.....
XXV. Christian and Hopeful passing through the River........
XLIV. Elstow Church and Belfry, Bedfordshire......
WHEN Cowper composed his Satires, he hid the name of Whitefield "beneath well-sounding Greek ;" and abstained from mentioning Bunyan while he panegyrized him, "lest so despised a name should move a sneer." In Bunyan's case this could hardly have been needful forty years ago; for though a just appreciation of our elder and better writers was at that time far less general than it appears to be at present, the author of the Pilgrim's Progress was even then in high repute. His fame may literally be said to have risen; beginning among the people it had made its way up to those who are called the public. In most instances the many receive gradually and slowly the opinions of the few respecting literary merit; and sometimes in assentation to such authority profess with their lips an admiration of they know not what, they know not why. But here the opinion of the multitude had been ratified by the judicious. The people knew what they admired. It is a book which makes its way through the fancy to the understanding and the heart: the child peruses it with wonder and delight; in youth we discover the genius which it displays; its worth is apprehended as we advance in years, and we perceive its merits feelingly in declining age.
John Bunyan has faithfully recorded his own spiritual history. Had he dreamed of being "for ever known," and taking his place among those who may be called the immortals of the earth, he would probably have introduced more details of his temporal circumstances and the events of his life. But glorious dreamer as he was, this never entered into his imaginations; less concerning him than might have been expected has been preserved by those of his own sect, and it is now not likely that any thing more should be recovered from oblivion. The village of Elstow, which is within a mile of Bedford, was his birthplace, 1628, the year of his birth; and his descent, to use his own words, "of a low inconsiderable generation, my father's house," he says, "being of that rank that is meanest and most despised of all the families in the land." It is stated in a history of Bedfordshire that he was bred to the business of a brazier, and worked as a journeyman in Bedford: but the braziers' company would not deem itself more honoured now if it could show the name of John Bunyan upon its rolls, than it would have felt disparaged then by any such fellowship; for he was as his own statement implies, of a generation of tinkers, born and bred to that calling as his father had been before him. Wherefore this should have been so mean and despised a calling is not however apparent, when it was not followed as a vagabond employment, but, as in this case, exercised by one who had a settled habitation, and who, mean as his condition was, was nevertheless able to put his son to school, in an age when very few of the poor were taught to read and write. The boy learned both, "according to the rate of other poor men's children," but soon lost what little he had been taught, "even," he says, "almost utterly."
Some pains also, may be presumed, his parents took in impressing him with the sense of his religious duties; otherwise, when in his boyhood he became a proficient in cursing and swearing above his fellows, he would not have been visited by such dreams and such compunctious feelings as he has described. "Often," he says, "after I had spent this and the other day in sin, I have in my bed been greatly afflicted, while asleep, with the apprehensions of devils, and wicked spirits, who still, as I then thought, laboured to draw me away with them." His waking reflections were not less terrible than these fearful visions of the night; and these, he says, "when I was but a child, but nine or ten years old, did so distress my soul, that then in the midst of my many sports and childish vanities, amidst my vain companions, I was often much cast down, and afflicted in my mind therewith: yet could I not let go my sins. Yea, I was also then so overcome with despair of life and heaven, that I should often wish, either that there had been no hell, or that I had been a devil, supposing they were only tormentors; that if it must needs be that I went thither, I might be rather a tormentor, than be tormented myself."
These feelings when he approached towards manhood, recurred as might be expected less frequently and with less force; but though he represents himself as having been what he calls a town-sinner, he was never so given over to a reprobate mind, as to be wholly free from them. For though he became so far hardened in profligacy that he could "take pleasure in the vileness of his companions," yet the sense of right and wrong was not extinguished