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dream may, indeed, be a compound of many of his own; but it is all his own, and evidently selected from distinct recollec. tions of his own midnight visions in youth: it belongs, there. fore, to his life, as much as to his allegory; and is the first grand disclosure of the real power of both his mind and con. science, in boyhood. He himself did not write it for this
purpose, nor think, perhaps, that it would ever reveal the original elements of his gecius. That, however, is no reason why we should not view it in that light. Modesty as much binds us to say, that the boy Bunyan dreamt, as it bound him to say, “the man rising out of bed, in a chamber," said, “ This night, as I was in my sleep, I dreamed, and behold, the heavens grew exceeding black; also it thundered and lightened in such fearful wise, that it put me in an agony. So I looked up in my dream, and saw the clouds rack at an unusual rate: upon which I heard a great sound of a trumpet, and saw also a man sit upon a cloud, attended with thousands of heaven. They were all in flaming fire ; also the heavens were in a burning flame. I heard then a voice saying, "Arise, ye dead, and come to judgment.' And with that, the rocks rent, the graves opened, and the dead that were therein came forth. Some of them were exceeding glad, and looked upward ; and some sought to hide themselves under the mountains.
“ Then I saw the man that sat on the cloud, open the book, and bid the world draw near. Yet there was, by reason of the fierce fiame which issued out, and came before him, a convenient distance betwixt him and them, as betwixt the judge and the prisoners at the bar. I heard it also proclaimed to them that attended on the man that sat on the cloud, • Gather together the tares, the chaff, and the stubble, and cast them into the burning lake.' And with that, the bottomless pit opened, just whereabout I stood ; out of the mouth of which there came, in an abundant manner, smoke and coals of fire, with hideous noises.
“ It was also said to the same persons, «Gather my wheat into the garner !' And with that, I saw many catched up and carried away in the clouds ; but I was left behind! I also sought to hide myself, but I could not; for the man upon the cloud still kept his eye upon me. My sins also came into my mind, and my conscience did accuse me on every side; for, as I thought, the Judge had always his eye upon me, showing in. dignation in his countenance. But what affrighted me most was, that the angels gathered up several, and left me behind :
also, the pit of hell opened her mouth just where I stood.”— Pilgrim.
Splendid as this painting is, there is not a feature of it, which was not shadowed out in his own first dreams. It only embodied fully, and emblazons a little, what disturbed the sleep of the lisping blasphemer of Elstow, when neither the fatigue nor the excitement of daring sports could put down the energies of his mind or conscience.
These energies, however, are not seen in all their early strength, in the current versions of his young dreams. I therefore subjoin another version of them, from the sketch of his Life, in the British Museum :
“ He has often, since his conversion, confest with horror and detestation of himself, that when he was but a child, or at least a stripling youth, he had but few equals for lying, swearing, and blaspheming God's holy name, which became then to him as a second nature ; not considering that he must die, and one day give an account before the dread tribunal of the God of all the earth ; living, as it were, without God in the world ; the thoughts of which, when, by the light of di. vine
grace, he came to understand his dangerous condition, drew many showers of tears from his sorrowful eyes, and sighs from his groaning heart.
“ The first thing that sensibly touched him in this his un. regenerate state, were fearful dreams, and visions of the night, which often made him cry out in his sleep, and alarm the house, as if somebody had been about to murder him; and being waked, he would start, and stare about him with such a wildness, as if some real apparition had yet remained ; and generally these dreams were about evil spirits, in monstrous shapes and forms, that presented themselves to him in threat. ening postures, as if they would have taken him away, or torn him in pieces : at sometimes they seemed to belch flame, at other times a contagious smoke, with horrible noises and roaring.
“ This continued for some time, and there came others somewhat of another nature, seemingly more pleasing and ał.. luring to entice those sweet darling sins that so much bewitch the world, and carry men away to the pit of destruction, as carnal concupiscential desires, thirst after rich and unlawful gain, vain-glory, and pomp, with many others of the same black stamp; yet, when he began somewhat seriously to consider, even these wrought darkness and confusion in his soul,
and took him with unaccountable melancholy. Once he dreamt he saw the face of the heavens, as it were, all on fire, the firmament crackling and shivering as with the noise of mighty thunders, and an archangel flew in the midst of beav. en sounding a trumpet, and a glorious throne was seated in the east, whereon sat one in brightness like the morning star; upon which he, thinking it was the end of the world, fell upon his knees, and, with uplifted hands towards heaven, cried, • 0 Lord God, have mercy upon me! what shall I do! the day of judgment is come, and I am not prepared !' when immediately he heard a voice behind him exceedingly loud, saying, Re. pent;' and upon this he awoke, and found it but a dream. Yet, as he said, upon this he grew more serious, and it remain. ed in his mind a considerable time.
“ At another time he dreamed that he was in a pleasant place, jovial and rioting, banqueting and feasting his senses, when immediately a mighty earthquake rent the earth, and made a wide gap, out of which came bloody flames, and the figures of men tossed up in globes of fire, and falling down again with horrible cries, shrieks, and execrations, whilst some devils that were mingled with them laughed aloud at their torment; and whilst he stood trembling at this sight, he thought the earth sunk under him, and a circle of flame inclosed him; but when he fancied he was just at the point to
perish, one in white shining raiment descended and plucked • him out of that dreadful place, whilst devils cried after him to
leave him with them, to take the just punishment his sins had deserved ; yet he escaped the danger, and leaped for joy when he awoke and found it but a dream. Many others, somewhat to the same purpose, I might mention, as he at sundry times related them ; but, not to be tedious, these for a taste may suffice.”
Under such circumstances, and in spite of such feelings, Bunyan grew up into a reckless lad; for, although wicked. ness of any kind in professors of religion would shock him even then, he himself was not afraid of sin: indeed, he feared nothing, when he could forget his dreams. He mentions one remarkable instance of fool-hardiness.“ Being in the fields,”
says, “ with one of my companions, it chanced that an adder passed over the highway: so I, having a stick in my hand, struck her over the back ; and having stunned her, I forced open her mouth with my stick, and plucked her tongue out with my fingers ; by which act, had not God been merciful to
me, I might, by my desperateness, have brought myself to my end." Dr. Southey says,
• If this were indeed an adder, and not a harmless snake, his escape from the fangs was more remarkable than he himself was aware of.” No one, however, was more likely to know an adder from a snake than Bunyan; for no one was more amongst the hedges and bosky banks : and although he was never, perhaps, fully aware of all the ve. nom of an adder’s fangs, he has certainly made his escape appear as remarkable as if it had been a miracle ; for, what more could any one say of it than he did ?
That a young man of Bunyan’s roistering habits and reck. less spirit should have enlisted as a soldier, is only what might be expected; but it is somewhat strange (if true) that he should have preferred the Parliamentary to the Royal army. True; he seems never to have been a drunkard; and it is certain he never was licentious ; but still, as he himself could not only “ sin with delight and ease,” in his own way, but also take "pleasure in the vileness of his companions," the Royalists were most suited to his moral tastes. His blasphemy and blackguardism would have pleased them, and their profligacy would not have offended him. He joined, however, the Par. liamentary troops; and, whatever cant or hypocrisy, vulgari. ty or vice, was prevalent amongst them, it was not of Bun. yan's kind, nor of the cavalier order and style. There were both sleek and sly villains in Cromwell's army; and some of them men of no mean rank. Bunyan says, that he himself overheard one of them tempting virtue “in Oliver's days,” by proposing to ascribe the fruit of shame to a miracle. “I heard him say this and greatly afflicted me. I had a mind to have him accused before some magistrate; but he was a great man, and I was poor, so I let it alone ; but it troubled me very much.”—Badman's Life.
This revolting at crime, although an anomaly in Bunyan's character, was not a new thing with him, when the criminal professed godliness. Years before he entered the army such in. consistencies shocked him. “ I well remember,” he says, “ that even when I could take pleasure in the vileness of my compa. nions, wicked things by those who professed goodness, would make my spirit tremble. As once, above all the rest, when I was at the height of my vanity, yet hearing one swear that was reckoned godly, it had so great a stroke upon my spirit, that it made my heart ache.”
He was not, of course, often shocked by swearing whilst amongst the Roundheads, whatever vices he may have de.