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A few words may be allowed by way of Preface to this edition of the PILGRIM, and its Illustrations by the late DAVID SCOTT.
With respect to the Text; the errors which have gradually crept into this, the most frequently reprinted perhaps of any uninspired book in the English tongue, have been carefully corrected by collation with the most approved editions.
Of late years, the number of artists who have been employed on the work of Bunyan has been just equal to the number of editions: the singular vividness and richness of the narrative having fitted it in a peculiar manner for artistic embodiment. And yet there are few works of fiction presenting greater difficulties; inasmuch as the preservation of æsthetic harmony between the author and his illustrator requires a rare firmness and distinctness of conception, great simplicity, and a kind of familiar sublimity, with all which the current and technical graces of ordinary art are incompatible. The author himself knows nothing of style, and never attempts to adorn merely for decoration.
We may speak freely of the works of the dead even on their first publication: the intervening months or years have placed an infinite barrier between critic and criticised: the sum of the artist's life is completed: he cannot now do anything either to overleap or to derogate from the verdict. The late DAVID Scott was peculiarly qualified for the illustration of the allegory of John BUNYAN. The most austere of modern painters fittingly associated himself with the preacher of Bedford; and it is these before-mentioned qualifications of strong distinct conception, great simplicity, and a deep yet familiar sublimity, we find astonishingly evidenced in the Forty noble Designs now published.
LIFE OF JOHN BUNYAN.
John BUNYAN was born in 1628, at the village of Elstow, within a mile of Bedford. His ancestors probably were gipsies, and certainly were not ordinary Englishmen. “My descent," says he," was of a low, inconsiderable generation; my father's house being of that rank that is meanest and most despised of all the families in the land." The rank was tinker-craft,-no lower in itself than the calling of a cobbler, a jobbing-carpenter, or any other inferior artificer,—but rendered infamous to all time by the wandering and profligate habits of the gipsy race who practised it. Bunyan's father, however, had a settled residence at Elstow, and bore a decent character among his neighbours, and seems to have been as intelligent as the best class of English artisans in his day.
Young Bunyan was early sent to school. The majority of poor children in his time never learned so much as the alphabet; but he learned both to read and to write, and most probably was no laggard at his lessons. He says, indeed, "I did soon lose that little I learned, even almost utterly, and that long before the Lord did work his gracious work of conversion on my soul.” But he manifestly had all along a warm imagination, a powerful memory, and a vigorous understanding; and therefore he was hardly the kind of boy to content himself with "little,” or to let any go to loss. Had he grown up in a wilderness, he might have invented an initial literature for himself; and had he encountered an hundredfold more evils than any which actually befel him, he could scarcely have failed, sooner or later, to turn every article of his stock of knowledge to brilliant practical account. The probability is that his attainments at school were small, not at all as compared with the length of time he was there or with his station in life, but only as compared with the mighty responsibilities which eventually devolved upon him,—and that he soon lost them, not by forgetting the ideas and arts which they embodied, but by ceasing to relish and pursue them, and especially by starting into a career of folly and vice which, as long as it lasted, threw them into abeyance, and deprived them of all practical value. Bunyan's mind must ever have been an active
The Life of John Bunyan.
one even if it had got no human training whatever; and it obviously acquired increase to its power and economy in its working by the exercises which it went through at school.
He was brought up to his father's calling; and he soon became a tinker fully more in infamy than by trade. He was a jackanapes, a never-do-well, a scapegrace, a scamp,-in one word, a blackguard. “It was my delight,” says he, " to be taken captive by the devil at his will; being filled with all unrighteousness; the which did also so strongly work, and put forth itself, both in my heart and life, and that from a child, that I had but few equals, (especially considering my years, which were tender, being few,) both for cursing, swearing, lying, and blaspheming the holy name of God. Yea, so settled and rooted was I in these things, that they became as a second nature to me. Until I came to the state of marriage, I was the very ringleader of all the youth that kept me in company, in all manner of vice and wickedness. Yea, such prevalency had the lusts and fruits of the flesh on this poor soul of mine, that had not a miracle of precious grace prevented, I had not only perished by the stroke of eternal justice, but had also laid myself open even to the stroke of those laws which bring some to disgrace and open shame before the face of the world."
But he never became a felon or a debauchee. He was wildly irreligious, awfully ungodly, and grossly depraved, yet neither criminal nor obstreperously vicious. He rioted foully in thought and feeling, but did not riot seriously in action. He never committed theft or ragamuffinry when a boy, or fell into drunkenness or unchastity when a lad. His accounts of his wickedness, therefore, must be understood rather as the record of a holy mind bewailing its long course of enmity against the all-loving God, than as the critique of an impartial autobiographer coolly setting down an estimate of his own character. Hence, he indignantly vindicates himself against a calumny which some persons set afloat, alleging that he had been unchaste; and he also narrates how, amid the very whirl and foam of his follies, he had many compunctions, many solemn reflections, many terrific heavings of conscience, and how he ever retained a horror at the sight of sin when practically exhibited to him in circumstances fitted to set off its hideousness. Often both by night and by day was he agitated by terrible apprehensions of the consequences of his sins ; and “these things,” says he, “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.” And he adds, in regard to a much later period, when he had struggled to extinguish his alarms and to harden himself in vice, “I well remember that, though I could myself sin with the greatest delight and ease, and also take pleasure in the vileness of my companions, yet,