Sidor som bilder
PDF
ePub

came from his own heart. The plot, the characters, the faithful dealing, are all his own.” (p. lxxi.) Amongst these, the most interesting is Dent's “ Plain Man's Pathway to Heaven,” 1601 ; a copy of which, it will be remembered, Bunyan's wife inherited from her father; and this, with another book, “ The Practice of Piety," was all she had “for her part,” or marriage portion. Justly does Mr. Offor remark, “ It is singular that no one has charged him with taking any hints from this book, which is one of the very few books which he is known to have read prior to his public profession of faith and holiness, in baptism.” After a careful analysis of this little work, our author says, “This volume must have been exactly suited to the warm imagination of Bunyan. It had proved invaluable to him as a means of conversion ; but after a careful and delightful perusal, no trace can be found of any phrase or sentence having been copied into the Pilgrim's Progress.” This is unquestionably true as regards the great work of Bunyan; but he seems to have imbibed from it something of his distaste for the gentler sex. “How proud,” says Dent, “many, (especially women) be of baubles. For when they have spent a good part of the day in tricking and trimming, pricking and pinning, pranking and pouncing, girding and lacing, and braving np themselves in most exquisite manner, out they come into the streets with their pedler's shop upon their backs, and take themselves to be little angels—they are one lump of pride."

Some of the typographical errors in the earlier editions of the Pilgrim's Progress are curious. Where Bunyan says, “the brute in his kind serves God better than he,” (Talkative), the printer, has strangely altered the word brute, for brewer! “ Some editor, not acquainted with Heman, and not troubling himself to find who he was, changed the name to one more common and familiar, and called him Haman. More recent editors, including Mr. Southey and the Art Union, probably conceiving that Haman, however exalted he was as a sinner, was not one of the Lord's champions in his day, changed the name to that of Mordecai.”

The following anecdote is worthy the special remark of all commentators :-"A late eminent and venerated clergyman, published an edition of Bunyan's Pilgrim, which he accompanied with expository notes. A copy of this work he benevolently presented to one of his poor parishioners. Some time afterwards the poor man was met by the clergyman, who enquired, 'Well, have you read the Pilgrim's Progress ?' The reply was, “Yes, sir.' It was further asked, 'Do you think you understand it?' 'O yes, sir,' was the answer, with this somewhat unexpected addition; and I hope, before long, I shall understand the notes.'The attempt to explain Bunyan, reminds one of the worthy lexicographer's definition of the term “purse —“any thing reticulated or decussated with interstices between the intersections."

Amongst other documents connected with Bunyan still preserved at Bedford, are his agreement for the ground on which the old meeting stood, and his last will and testament. His copy of the Book of Martyrs, with many marginal notes in Bunyan's own hand, and his name upon the title, is also in the Bedford Library. The conveyance first referred to, is dated 10th November, 1681, and certifies that Samuel Fenn, of Bedford, haberdasher, has sold to John Bunyan, of the same town, brazier, and certain others, "All that edifice or barn, situate, and being in the parish of St. Paul and St. Cuthbert,* or one of them, in the said town of Bedford, with a piece of ground thereunto adjoining, together with all appurtenances whatsoever, to the said premises belonging."

Bunyan's will, which is written throughout in his own hand, is dated 23rd December, 1685. By it he bequeaths to Elizabeth Bunyan, his well-beloved wife, all his goods, chattels, moveable and immoveable, debts, ready money, plate and rings.Is this a mere legal fiction, or was Bunyan really so rich in the articles last mentioned as to make them the subject of a testamentary conveyance ? I am not aware that his very successful adventure in the publication of the Pilgrim's Progress has ever been viewed in relation to any pecuniary emolument he may have derived from it. Published originally, as it appears to have been, at eighteen-pence, the hundred thousand copies stated to have been circulated before his death, would have produced seven thousand five hundred pounds; and estimating the expences at two-thirds

• 8. S. Paul and Cuthbert may think themselves highly honored by the prefix indicating their saintship, as the Puritans usually withheld this distinction, 8t. Ewins, was melted down into Tewins, and then into Ewins; and even the towers of St. Neots and St. Ives, when referred to in the church book at Bedford, are designated Neots and Ives.

of this amount, there must have been, spread over a period of a few years, a profit to somebody of two thousand five hundred, from this work alone.

The creed of Bunyan's church appears to have been sound, short, and scriptural; the only confession required, being thus beautifully stated in the minutes—“ Faith in Christ, and holiness of life.” Yet the discipline appears to have been severe. Many candidates for church fellowship were again and again remanded previous to full admission ; and members, in some cases, were severely censured for worshipping, not only with the Church of England, but with other dissenters. A bull of excommunication was thundered forth in 1671 ayainst Robert Nelson, because, “in a great assembly of the Church of England he was openly and profanely bishopt.” The meaning of this term, a marginal note explains, of Confirmation. Another was denounced because he had, “in the face of the Canaanites, that dwell in the land, presented his person” at an ordinary church service; and a third, the proverbial weakness of whose sex in such cases should have prevailed with her reprovers, was severely admonished for wearing too many ribbons in her bonnet !

S. T.

STUDIES IN THE SUNSHINE. The saying, that we are least impressed by gratitude for our most common mercies, has been so often repeated that it has become almost trite; yet it is nevertheless most true, and deserving of attentive consideration. Why should it be, that just because the most constant and unfailing gifts of God are so, they are least observed.

Many persons who never fail to return thanks for daily food, are apt to forget, till attention is called to the subject, that the air they breathe, and the water so freely and abundantly provided for their use, are equally necessary for their being, and alike bestowed by one beneficent hand. But ask the prisoner in a noisome dungeon, or the inhabitant of one of our city purlieus, how valuable is the pure air of heaven ; and let the weary traveller over the sandy desert, declare at what price he would purchase a draught of clear water?

Another of the every-day blessings of our heavenly Father, too

often little regarded by those to whom it is most familiar, is sunshine. By this, of course, is to be understood, that the atmos. phere over our heads shall be cloudless enough to permit the rays from the centre of our system, so to pierce its density, as that the light and heat shall be penetrating while diffusive. Truly the light is sweet, and a pleasant thing it is for the eyes to behold the sun." Eccl. xi. 7.)

Although our great poet makes the enemy of God and man apostrophize the sun in terms only of glowing hate, as though the glad radiance of his beams mocked the dark hell of fierce passions which is Satan's own deserved doom, yet we know that none of the human race fails to feel the solar rays as cheering and invigorating. We remember when the Polar navigators had, for three months, experienced how dreary were our world without the sun, though they were surrounded by all the novel and evervarying, brilliance of the Aurora Borealis, how anxious was the watch at the mast head for the first faint dawn of day; how joyful was the welcome the long absent luminary received.

The Greenlander too, when his long winter night has passed, issues from his snow-buried hut with exulting songs, to greet the equally long summer day the sun brings him.

So far, indeed, has this feeling misled numbers of our fellow men, that the sun has been regularly worshipped by many, as the fittest emblem which heathen darkness could conceive of the Supreme Being, if not indeed the very emanation of His glory. (Ezekiel viii. 16.) But to come nearer home : when walking abroad on a spring morning, amidst all the beauty of sylvan scenery, is it the trees, rich in early blossom, or the flowers with their grateful fragrance ; is it the soft vernal air, or the smooth velvet turf, or the tuneful murmuring brook, or the extent and variety of the landscape, which awakes that elasticity of spirit; that almost unconscious joyfulness most persons have experienced, causing us “ to feel that we are happier than we know.” Or rather, have not the same objects often appeared tame and uninteresting under a dull and cloudy sky? Even the joyful song, of the lively birds, and the busy hum of those happiest of nature's denizens, the insect tribes, prove how susceptible are all other terrestrial beings, of the same magic influence that animates ourselves — even the brilliant halo of the unclouded sunshine. For these creatures are comparatively inert and mute in dark, cloudy weather. How the lark soars in the sunshine, “rising and singing," as Bishop Taylor says, as if she had learnt music and motion from some angel, passing through the air on his ministries here below," till as we gaze we can feel her exstacy become sympathetic, and in vain would our dazzled eyes seek to penetrate to where she disappears in the cloudless ether

O'er fell and fountain sheen,

O'er moor and mountain green,
O'er the red streamer that heralds the day,

Over the cloudlet dim,

Over the rainbow's rim,

Musical cherub, thus soar thou away! We have lived in various localities of the British Isles : in the South of England, where it is mostly equable and serene; in Ireland, with its smiles and tears; one day all tearful rain, the next all smiling sunshine; in Edinburgh, clear and breezy; in Glasgow, which lies low, and is besides infested with the smoke of numerous factories, we have been three weeks without seeing more than a few hours of sunshine ; and from this cause we believe many persons feel ill and low spirited there, who have been accustomed to the clear air of other places in the Shetland Islands (where this is written) the damp heaviness of the atmosphere is still more severely felt, especially by those who are not natives. Though so much farther north than London, the cold is not nearly so intense here in winter : this arises chiefly from our insular position. In summer the air is cooler, but for the most part of the year the sky is darkened by fogs, or surcharged with vapour, wafted by frequent high winds from the surface of the circumjacent seas, so that we often do not see the sun's disc or catch one of his bright enlivening rays for weeks together. The well known French philosopher, Biot, during a nine month's sojourn in Shetland, engaged in scientific observations, was delighted with our profound retirement and repose ; with the primitive simplicity of manners, and with the ever-varying aspect of the restless ocean ; and he often said, “Shetland only wants sunshine to be a paradise."

“Ah! but then," we would reply,“ had we the sun, we should have many other things we want ; fertile soil, majestic trees,

« FöregåendeFortsätt »