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AUTHOR'S A POLOGY FOR HIS BOOK.
When at the first I took my pen in hand,
Thus for to write, I did not understand
That I at all should make a little book
In such a mode: nay, I had undertook
To make another; which when almost done,
Before I was aware, I this begun.
And thus it was: I, writing of the way
And race of saints in this our gospel-day,
Fell suddenly into an allegory
About their journey, and the way to glory,
In more than twenty things, which I set down:
This done, I twenty more had in my crown;
And they again began to multiply,
Like sparks that from the coals of fire do fly.
Nay then, thought I, if that you breed so fast,
I'll put you by yourselves, lest you at last
Should prove ad infinitum, and eat out
The book that I already am about.
Well, so I did; but yet I did not think
To show to all the world my pen and ink
In such a mode; I only thought to make
I knew not what; nor did I undertake
Thereby to please my neighbour; no, not I;
I did it mine own self to gratify.
Neither did I but vacant seasons spend
In this my scribble; nor did I intend
But to divert myself, in doing this,
From worser thoughts, which make me do amiss.
Thus I set pen to paper with delight,
And quickly had my thoughts in black and white.
For having now my method by the end,
Still as I pull’d, it came; and so I penn'd
It down; until at last it came to be,
For length and breadth, the bigness which you see.
Well, when I had thus put my ends together,
I show'd them others, that I might see whether
They would condemn them, or them justify;
And some said, Let them live; some, Let them die;
Some said, John, print it; others said, Not so:
Some said, It might do good; others said, No.
Now was I in a strait, and did not see
Which was the best thing to be done by me:
At last I thought, since you are thus divided,
I print it will, and so the case decided.
For, thought I, some I see would have it done,
Though others in that channel do not run;
To prove, then, who advised for the best,
Thus I thought fit to put it to the test.
I further thought, if now I did deny
Those that would have it thus to gratify,
I did not know but hinder them I might
Of that which would to them be great delight;
For those which were not for its coming forth,
I said to them, Offend you I am loath;
Yet, since your brethren pleased with it be,
Forbear to judge, till you do further see.
If that thou wilt not read, let it alone;
Some love the meat, some love to pick the bone;
Yea, that I might them better moderate,
I did too with them thus expostulate:
May I not write in such a style as this?
In such a method too, and yet not miss
My end, thy good? Why may it not be done?
Dark clouds bring water, when the bright bring none.
Yea, dark or bright, if they their silver drops
Cause to descend, the earth, by yielding crops,
Gives praise to both, and carpeth not at either,
But treasures up the fruit they yield together:
Yea, so commixes both, that in their fruit
None can distinguish this from that; they suit
Her well when hungry; but, if she be full,
She spews out both, and makes their blessing null.
You see the way the fisherman doth take
To catch the fish; what engines doth he make?
Behold! how he engageth all his wits;
Also his snares, lines, angles, hooks, and nets:
Yet fish there be, that neither hook nor line,
Nor snare, nor net, nor engine, can make thine:
They must be grop'd for, and be tickled too,
Or they will not be catch’d, whate'er you do.
How does the fowler seek to catch his game?
By divers means, all which one cannot name:
His guns, his nets, his lime-twigs, light, and bell:
He creeps, he goes, he stands; yea, who can tell
Of all his postures? Yet there's none of these
Will make him master of what fowls he please.
Yea, he must pipe and whistle to catch this,
Yet if he does so, that bird he will miss.
If that a pearl may in a toad's head dwell,
And may be found too in an oyster shell:
If things that promise nothing do contain
What better is than gold, who will disdain,
That have an inkling of it, there to look,
That they may find it! Now, my little book
(Though void of all these paintings, that may make
It with this or the other man to take)
Is not without those things that do excel
What do in brave but empty notions dwell.
Well, yet I am not fully satisfy'd,
That this your book will stand, when soundly try'd. .
Why, what's the matter? It is dark! what though?
But it is feigned. What of that I trow?
Some men, by feigned words, as dark as mine,
Make truth to spangle, and its rays to shine!
But they want solidness. Speak, man, thy mind!
They drown the weak; metaphors make us blind.
Solidity, indeed, becomes the pen
Of him that writeth things divine to men:
But must I needs want solidness, because
By metaphors I speak? Were not God's laws,
His gospel laws, in olden time held forth
By shadows, types, and metaphors? Yet loath
Will any sober man be to find fault
With them, lest he be found for to assault
The Highest Wisdom: No; he rather stoops,
And seeks to find out what by pins and loops,
By calves and sheep, by heifers and by rams,
By birds and herbs, and by the blood of lambs,
God speaketh to him; and happy is he
That finds the light and grace that in them be.
Be not too forward, therefore, to conclude
That I want solidness, that I am rude:
All things solid in show, not solid be;
All things in parable despise not we,
Lest things most hurtful lightly we receive,
And things that good are, of our souls bereave.
My dark and cloudy words, they do but hold
The truth, as cabinets enclose the gold.
The prophets used much by metaphors
To set forth truth; yea, whoso considers
Christ, his apostles too, shall plainly see
That truths to this day in such mantles be.
Am I afraid to say that holy writ,
Which for its style and phrase puts down all wit,
Is every where so full of all these things,
(Dark figures, allegories,) yet there springs,
From that same book, that lustre, and those rays
Of light, that turn our darkest nights to day.
Come, let my carper to his life now look,
And find there darker lines than in my book
He findeth any: yea, and let him know,
That in his best things there are worse lines too.
May we but stand before impartial men,
To his poor one I dare adventure ten,
That they will take my meaning in these lines
Far better than his lies in silver shrines.
Come, Truth, although in swaddling-clouts I find,
Informs the judgment, rectifies the mind;
Pleases the understanding, makes the will
Submit; the memory too it doth fill
With what doth our imagination please;
Likewise it tends our troubles to appease.
Sound words, I know, Timothy is to use,
And old wives' fables he is to refuse;
But yet grave Paul him nowhere did forbid
The use of parables, in which lay hid