« AnteriorContinuar »
SOUTHEY'S EDITION OF THE PILGRIM'S PROGRESS.
131 of the fancies which passed through the mind every tinker that ever lived has been a blackof an illiterate man, whose affections were guard. Indeed Mr. Southey acknowledges this warm, whose nerves were irritable; whose "Such he might have been expected to be by imagination was ungovernable, and who was his birth, breeding, and vocation. Scarcely under the influence of the strongest religious indeed, by possibility, could he have been excitement. In whatever age Bunyan had otherwise." A man, whose manners and sen. lived, the history of his feelings would, in all timents are decidedly below those of his class, probability, have been very curious. But the deserves to be called a blackguard. But it is time in which his lot was cast was the time surely unfair to apply so strong a word of reof a great stirring of the human mind. A proach to one who is only what the great mass tremendous burst of public feeling, produced of every community must inevitably be. by the tyranny of the hierarchy, menaced the Those horrible internal conflicts which Bunold ecclesiastical institutions with destruction. yan has described with so much power of To the gloomy regularity of one intolerant language prove, not that he was a worse man church had succeeded the license of innume- than his neighbours, but that his mind was rable sects, drunk with the sweet and heady constantly occupied by religious considera. j; 'st of their new liberty. Fanaticism, en- tions, that his fervour exceeded his knowledge,
dered by persecution, and destined to en- and that his imagination exercised despotic nder fresh persecution in turn, spread rapid- power over his body and mind. He heard ly through society. Even the strongest and voices from heaven : he saw strange visions most commanding minds were not proof against of distant hills, pleasant and sunny as his own this strange taint. Any time might have pro- Delectable Mountains; from those seats he was duced George Fox and James Naylor. But to shut out, and placed in a dark and horrible one time alone belong the frantic delusions wilderness, where he wandered through ice of such a statesman as Vane, and the hyste- and snow, striving to make his way into the rical tears of such a soldier as Cromwell. happy region of light. At one time he was
The history of Bunyan is the history of a seized with an inclination to work miracles. most excitable mind in an age of excitement. At another time he thought himself actually By most of his biographers he has been treated possessed by the devil. He could distinguish with gross injustice. They have understood the blasphemous whispers. He felt his infer. in a popular sense all those strong terms of nal enemy pulling at his clothes behind him. self-condemnation which he employed in a He spurned with his feet, and struck with his theological sense. They have, therefore, re- hands, at the destroyer. Sometimes he was presented him as an abandoned wretch, re- tempted to sell his part in the salvation of manclaimed by means almost miraculous; or, to kind. Sometimes a violent impulse urged him use their favourite metaphor, “as a brand to start up from his food, to fall on his knees, plucked from the burning.” Mr. Ivimey calls and break forth into prayer. At length he him the depraved Bunyan, and the wicked fancied that he had committed the unpardon. tinker of Elstow. Surely Mr. Ivimey ought able sin. His agony convulsed his robust to have been too familiar with the bitter accu- frame. He was, he says, as if his breastbone sations which the most pious people are in the would split; and this he took for a sign that habit of bringing against themselves, to under- he was destined to burst asunder like Judas. stand literally all the strong expressions which The agitation of his nerves made all his moveare to be found in the Grace Abounding. It is ments tremulous; and this trembling, he supquite clear, as Mr. Southey most justly re- posed, was a visible mark of his reprobation, marks, that Mr. Bunyan never was a vicious like that which had been set on Cain. At one man. He married very early; and he solemn- time, indeed, an encouraging voice seemed ly declares that he was strictly faithful to his to rush in at the window, like the noise of wife. He does not appear to have been a wind, but very pleasant, and commanded, as drunkard. He owns, indeed, that when a boy, he says, a great calm in his soul. At another he never spoke without an oath. But a single time, a word of comfort “was spoke loud admonition cured him of this bad habit for life; unto him ; it showed a great word; it seemed and the cure must have been wrought early: to be writ in great letters.” But these intervals for at eighteen he was in the army of the Par- of ease were short. His state, during two liament; and if he had carried the vice of years and a half, was generally the most horriprofaneness into that service, he would doubt- ble that the human mind can imagine. “I less have received something more than an walked,” says he, with his own peculiar eloadmonition from Sergeant Bind-their-kings-in- quence, “to a neighbouring town; and sat chains, or Captain Hew-Agag-in-pieces-before-down upon a settle in the street, and fell into the Lord. Bell-ringing, and playing at hockey a very deep pause about the most fearful state on Sundays, seem to have been the worst my sin had brought me to; and, aiter long Fices of this depraved tinker. They would musing, I lifted up my head; but methought I have passed for virtues with Archbishop Laud. saw as if the sun that shineth in the heavens li is quite clear that, from a very early age, did grudge to give me light; and as if the very Bunyan was a man of a strict life and of a stones in the streets and tiles upon the houses tender conscience. “He had been,” says Mr. did band themselves against me. Methough Southey, “a blackguard.” Even this we think that they all combined together to banish me too hard a censure. Bunyan was not, we ad- out of the world! I was abhurred of them. anu
Inii, sa fine a gentleman as Lord Digby; yet unfit to dwell among them, because I had sira k: was a blackguard no otherwise than as ned against the Saviour. Oh, how happy nos
was every creature over I! for they stood fast, I of Isaiah to the household and guests of Gaius; and kept their station. But I was gone and and then sallies out to allack Slaygood, who lost." Scarcely any madhouse could produce was of the nature of flesh-eaters, in his den. an instance of delusion so strong, or of misery These are inconsistencies; but they are incon.
sistencies which add, we think, to the interest It was through this Valley of the Shadow of of the narrative. We have not the least doubt Death, overhung by darkness, peopled with that Bunyan had in view some stour old Greare devils, resounding with blasphemy and lamen- heart of Naseby and Worcester, who prayed lation, and passing amidst quagmires, snares, with his men before he drilled them; who and pitfalls, close by the very mouth of hell, knew the spiritual state of every dragoon in that Bunyan journeyed to that bright and his troop; and who, with the praises of God in fruiisul land of Beulah, in which he sojourned his mouth, and a two-edged sword in his hand, during the latter days of his pilgrimage. The had turned to flight, on many fields of baule, only trace which his cruel sufferings and the swearing, drunken bravoes of Rupert and temptations seem to have left behind them, was Lunsford. an affectionate compassion for those who were Every age produces such men as By-ends. suill in the state in which he had once been. But the middle of the seventeenth century was Religion has scarcely ever worn a form so eminently prolific of such men. Mr. Southey calm and soothing as in his allegory. The feel thinks that the satire was aimed at some par. ing which predominates through the whole ticular individual; and this seems by no means book is a feeling of tenderness for weak, timid, improbable. At all events, Bunyan must have and harassed minds. The character of Mr. known many of those hypocrites who followed Fearing, of Mr. Feeble-Mind, of Mr. Despond- religion only when religion walked in silver ency and his daughter Miss Muchafraid; the slippers, when the sun shone, and when the account of poor Littlefaith, who was robbed people applauded. Indeed, he might have by the three thieves of his spending.money; easily found all the kindred or By-ends among the description of Christian's terror in the the public men of his time. He might have dungeons of Giant Despair, and in his passage found among the peers, my Lord Turn-aboui, through the river, all clearly show how strong my Lord Time-server, and my Lord Fair. a sympathy Bunyan felt, after his own mind speech; in the House of Commons, Mr. had become clear and cheerful, for persons Smooth-man, Mr. Anything, and Mr. Facing. alllicted with religious melancholy.
both-ways; nor would “the parson of the Mr. Southey, who has no love for the Cal. parish, Mr. Two-longues,” have been wanting. vinists, admits that, if Calvinism had never The town of Bedford probably contained more worn a blacker appearance than in Bunyan's than one politician, who, after contriving to works, it would never have become a term of raise an estate by seeking the Lord during the reproach. In fact, those works of Bunyan reign of the saints, contrived to keep what he with which we are acquainted, are by no had got by persecuting the saints during the means more Calvinistic than the homilies of reign of the strumpets; and more than one the Church of England. The moderation of priest who, during repeated changes in the his opinions on the subject of predestination, discipline and doctrines of the church, had gave offence to some zealous persons. We remained constant to nothing but his benehave scen an absurd allegory, the heroine of fice. which is named Hephzibah, written by some One of the most remarkable passages in the raving supralapsarian preacher, who was dis. Pilgrim's Progress, is that in which the prosatisfied with the mild theology of the Pilgrim's ceedings against Faithful are described. It is Progress. In this foolish book, if we recollect impossible to doubt that Bunyan intended to righ:ly, the Interpreter is called the Enlight-satirize the mode in which state trials were ener, and the House Beautiful is Castle conducted under Charles the Second. The Strength. Mr. Southey tells us that the Ca- license given to the witnesses for the prosecu. tholics had also their Pilgrim's Progress with- tion, the shameless partiality and ferocious in. out a Giant Pope, in which the Interpreter is solence of the judge, the precipitancy and the the Director, and the House Beautiful Grace's blind rancour of the jury, remind us of those Hall. It is surely a remarkable proof of the odious mummeries which, from the Restoration power of Bunyan's genius, that two religious to the Revolution, were merely forms prelimiparties, both of which regarded his opinions as nary to hanging, drawing, and quartering. heterodox, should have had recourse to him for Lord Hategood performs the office of counsel assistance.
for the prisoners as well as Scroggs himself There are, we think, some characters and could have performed it. scenes in the Pilgrim's Progress, which can be “JUDGE. Thou runagate, heretic, and traitor, ully comprehended and enjoyed only by per- hast thou heard what these honest gentlemen sans familiar with the history of the times have witnessed against thee? through which Bunyan lived. The character “Faithful. May I speak a few words in my uf Mr. Greatheart, the guide, is an example. own defence ? llis fighting is, of course, allegoricul; but the “ JUDGE. Sirrah, Sirrah! thou deservest to allegory is not strictly preserved. He delivers live no longer, but to be slain immediately d sermon on impuled rightevusness to his com- upon the place; yet, that all men may see our panions; an, soon after, he gives baitle to gentleness to thee, let us hear what thou, vile Gian: Grim, who had taken upon him to back runagate, hast to say." the linns. He expounds the fifty-third chapier ! No person wibo knows the state trials can be
SOUTHEY'S EDITION OF THE PILGRIM'S PROGRESS.
at a loss for parallel cases. Indced, write what divine, this homely dialect, the dialect of plain Bunyan would, the baseness and cruelty of the workingmen, was perfectly sufficient. There lawyers of those times. “ sinned up to it still,” is no book in our literature on which we could ind even went beyond it. The imaginary trial so readily stake the fame of the old unpolluted of Faithful before a jury composed of personi- English language; no book which shows so hed vices, was just and merciful, when com- well how rich that language is in its own propared with the real trial of Lady Alice Lisle per wealth, and how little it has been improved before that tribunal where all the vices sat in by all that it has borrowed. person of Jeffries.
Cowper said, forty or fifty years ago, thai lie The style of Bunyan is delightful to every dared not name John Bunyan in his verse, for reader, and invaluable as a study to every per- fear of moving a sneer. To our refined fore. son who wishes to obtain a wide command fathers, we suppose, Lord Roscommun's Essay over the English language. The vocabulary on Translated Verse, and the Duke of Bucks is the vocabulary of the common people. inghamshire's Essay on Poetry, appeared to There is not an expression, if we except a few be compositions infinitely superior to the alle iechnical terms of theology, which would puz- gory of the preaching tinker. We live in zie the radest peasant. We have observed better times; and we are not afraid to say several pages which do not contain a single that, though there were many clever men in word of more than two syllables. Yet no wri- England during the latter half of the seven. ter has said more exactly what he meant to teenth century, there were only two grear say. For magnificence, for pathos, for vehe- creative minds. One of those minds pro mént exhortation, for subtle disquisition, for duced the Paradise Losi, the other the Pul every purpose of the poet, the orator, and the grim's Progress.
BOSWELL'S LIFE OF JOHNSON.
CROKER'S EDITION OF BOSWELL'S LIFE (
[EDINBURGH Review, 1831.]
The tribute to his Minstrel's shade;
This work has greatly disappointed us. Beattie, died in 1816. A Sir William Forbes
“Scarce had lamented Forbes paid
Ere the narrator's heart was cold-
seventy-first year of his age. If the latter much as the ignorance or carelessness of Mr. in or about 1713. Croker with respect to facts and dates. Many of his blunders are such as we should be sur commencement of the intimacy between Dr.
In one place, Mr. Croker says, that at the prised to hear any well-educated gentleman Johnson and Mrs. Thrale, in 1765, the lady commit
, even in conversation. The notes ab- was twenty-five years old. In other places solutely swarm with misstatements, into which he says, that Mrs. Thrale's thirty-fifth year cothe editor never would have fallen, if he had incided with Johnson's seventieth. Johnson taken the slightest pains to investigate the was born in 1709. If, therefore, Mrs. Thrale's truth of his assertions, or if he had even been thirty-fifth year coincided with Johnson's sewell acquainted with the very book on which ventieth, she could have been only twenty-one he undertook to comment. We will give a few
years old in 1765. This is not all. Mr. instances. Mr. Croker tells us, in a note, that Derrick, 1777 as the date of the complimentary lines
Croker, in another place, assigns the year who was master of the ceremonies at Bath, which Johnson made on Mrs. Thrale's thirtydied very poor, in 1760. We read on; and, a fifth birthday. If this date be correct, Mrs. few pages later, we find Dr. Johnson and Bos- Thrale must have been born in 1742, and could well talking of the same Derrick as still living have been only twenty-three when her acand reigning, as having retrieved his character, quaintance with Johnson commenced. Two as possessing so much power over his subjects of Mr. Croker's three statements must be false. at Bath, that his opposition might be fatal to We will not decide between them; we will Sheridan's lectures on oratory. And all this only say, that the reasons which he gives for in 1763. The fact is, that Derrick died in thinking that Mrs. Thrale was exactly thirty1769.
five years old when Johnson was seventy, ap. In one note we read, that Sir Herbert Croft, the author of that pompous and foolish account
pear to us utterly frivolous.
Again, Mr. Croker informs his readers that of Young, which appears among the Lives of “Lord Mansfield survived Johnson full ieri the Poets, died in 1805. Another note in the
Lord Mansfield sarvived Dr. John
Johnson found in the library of a French
lady, whom he visited during his short visit to Forbes of Pitsligo, the author of the life of
great disdain. “I looked,” says he, “into the
books in the lady's closet, and, in conteinpt * The Life of Sumuel Johnson, LL.D.; including a showed them to Mr. Thrale-Prince Titi; Bi. Journal of a four to the
Hebrides. By James Boswell, blothèque des Fées, and other books.”tt “The
I I. 394.
+ IV. 105. I V. 281. 1.510. W IV. 321. IV. 428.
ll IV. 271, 322. | 111. 463. ** 11. 151. It III 271
. 11. 262.
vols. 8vo. London. 1831.
+ V. 184.