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Bunyan
Bunyan
281

Fear of God’ in 1679, The next year gave to the world one of Bunyan’s most characteristic works, ‘The Life and Death of Mr. Badman,’ which, though now almost forgotten, and too disagreeable in its subject and its boldly drawn details to be altogether wholesome reading, displays Bunyan's inventive genius as powerfully as the universally popular ‘Pilgrim,' of which, as Bunyan intended it to be, it is the strongly drawn contrast and foil. The one gives a picture of a man ‘in the rank of English life with which Bunyan was most familiar,' to quote Mr. Froude, ‘a vulgar, middle-class, unprincipled scoundrel,' ‘travelling along the primrose path to the everlasting bonfire,' while the other sets before us a man essentially of the same social rank, fleeing from the wrath to come, and making his painful way ‘to Emmanuel’s Land through the Slough of Despond and the Valle of the Shadow of Death.' As a portrait of rough English country-town life in the days of Charles II, the later book is unapproached, save by the unsavoury tales of Defoe. ‘The Life and Death of Mr. Badman’ was followed, after a two years' interval, by Bunyan’s second great work, ‘The Holy War made by Shaddai upon Diabolus,' of which Macaulay has said, with somewhat exaggerated eulogy, that ‘if there had been no “Pilgrim's Progress,” the “Holy War" would have been the first of religious allegories.' There is a necessary unreality about the whole narrative as compared with Bunyan’s former allegory. The characters are shadowy abstractions by the side of the ‘representative realities ’ of the other work. With a truer estimate of the relative value of the two Works, Mr. Froude says : '“The Holy War ” would have entitled Bunyan to a place among the masters of English literature. It would never have made his name a household word in every English speaking family in the globe.' Other works, notably the ‘Barren Fig Tree’ and ‘The Pharisee and the Publican,’ were given to the world in 1682 and the four succeeding ears. In 1684 appeared the second part of the ‘Pilgrim's Progress,’ completing the history of Christian's pilgrimage with that of his wife Christiana an her children, and her companion, the young maiden Mercy. Like most second parts of popular works, this shows a decided falling off. It is ‘but a feeble reverberation of the first part. Christiana and her children are tolerated for the pilgrim’s sake to whom they belong? But it bears the stamp of Bunyan’s genius, and not a few of the characters, Old Honest, Mr. Valiant-for-the-Truth, Mr. Despondency and his daughter Miss Much-afraid, and the ‘young woman whose name was Dull,' have a vitality that can never decay.

There is little more to notice in Bunyan’s life, His activity was ceaseless, but ‘the only glimpses we get of him during this time are from the church records, and these were but scantily kept,' and are quite devoid of public interest, chiefly dealing with the internal discipline of the body. Troublous times fell upon nonconformists. The Declaration of Indulgence was withdrawn the same year it was issued. The Test Act became law the next year (1673). In 1675 the acts against nonconformists were put in force. Bunyan’s preaching journeys were not always free from risk. There is a tradition that he visited Reading disguised as a wagoner, with a long whip in his and, to escape detection. But he continued free from active molestation, with the exception of the somewhat hazy imprisonment placed by Mr. Brown in 1675. In Mr. Froudes words, ‘he abstained, as he had done steadily throughout his life, from all interference with politics, and the government in turn never meddled with him.’ He frequently visited London to preach, always getting large congregations. Twelve hundred would come together to hear him at seven o’clock on a weekday morning in winter. When he reached on a Sunday, the meetinghouse would not contain the throng, half being obliged to go away. A sermon delivered by him at Pinners’ Hall in Old Broad Street was the basis of one of his theological works. He was on intimate terms with Dr. John Owen, who, when Charles II expressed his astonishment that so learned a divine could listen to an illiterate tinker, is recorded to have relied that he would gladly give up all his learning for the tinker’s power of reaching the heart. In the year of his death he was chaplain, though perhaps unofficially, to Sir John Shorter, then lord mayor of London. He did not escape temptation to leave Bedford for posts of greater influence and dignity; but all such offers he steadily refused, as he did any opportunities of pecuniary gain for himself and his family, quietly staying at his post through all ‘changes of ministry, popish plots, and Monmouth rebellions, while the terror of a restoration of popery was bringing on the revolution, careless of kings and cabinets ’ (Froude, p. 174). When James II was endeavouring to remodel the corporations, Bunyan was pointed out as a likely instrument for carrying out the royal purpose in the corporation of Bedford. It seems that some place under government was offered as the price of his consent; but he declined all such overtures, and refused to see the bringer of them, though by no means un-