On this page
- Text (2)
such mockery . But I trouble you no further . *? May every benediction , be with yo u * I should be very happy to see you here . 4 € I am , dear Sir , " Your ? affectionately , l « R . ROBINSON /'
The Character of Christian , in Bunyan s Pilgrim $ Progress . ( By the late Rev . T . Howe . ) Sir , Bridpori . AMONG the various productions in the English lauguage of a fertile imagination , united with a
piouslydisposed mind , none has been more generally read and admired than Bunyan * s Pilgrim ' s Progress . Many persons distinguished for their taste and literary acquirements , have borne testimony to its ingenuity , and ranked its author for invention in the class of
Homer and Shakspeare . Granger in his History of England , speaking of the writings of John Bunyan , says , "His master-piece is his Pilgrim ' s Progress , one of the most popular , and , I may add , one of the most ingenious books in the English language /*
Touimin ' s Hist , of the Prot . Dissent . p . 340 . He confines this encomium to the first part , to which also the following observations are to be limited . A person of an enlightened and sound judgment cannot fail of discerning many faults in it ; he will
not , however , be hereby prevented from perceiving its beauties , the ingenuity of the allegory , and the general consistency of language and conduct , which is preserved in the characters introduced . My attention has been lately directed to this book , by the
perusal of Dunlop ' s interesting History of Fiction . His critique ou this celebrated work , does not convey a very favourable idea of Christian , the hero or leading character of the piece . The charge brought against him is thus exhibited by Mr . Duniop : charge brought against him is thus exhibited by Mr . Duniop :
" It was , perhaps , ill-judged in the author to represent Christian as having a wife and family , since whatever be the spiritual lesson intended to be conveyed b y his leaving them , one cannot hel p being impressed with a certain notion of selfishness and
hard-heartedness in rtie hero . ' Now he had not run fur from his own house , * says the author , * but his wife and children per-
ceiving it , began to cry after him to return ; but the man put his fingers in his ears , and ran on crying ^ life ! lift I eternal life ! So he looked not behind
him , but fled towards the middle of the plain . This does not impress us : with a very favourable / idea of . the digposition of the hero , and , in fact , with the exception of faith and persever-, ance , he is a mere negative character without one good quality to recommend him . There is little or no
display : of charity , beneficence , or even benevolence , during the whole course of his pilgrimage . The sentiments of Christian are narrow and illiberal , and his struggles and exertions wholly selfish /*—Duniop s History of Fiction . III . 66 .
On reading these remarks , in order to determine their propriety , I endeavoured to call to my recollection those scenes of his pilgrimage , which in younger life were very familiar to me , and also gave the book another perusal . The result is a thorough conviction that the character of Christian is placed ,
by this respectable critic , in a lower class than justice requires . The impression unfavourable to the natural affection and tender feelings of Christian , which Mr . Duniop thinks his quotation tends to produce on the reader , would probably be prevented by perusing the previous account given of his exertions to save his wife and
children from supposed impending destruction , and of the harsh and ungenerous treatment he received from them . He addressed them in the tenderest manner , and earnestly remonstrated with them on the urgent necessity of their seeking the means of safety . In vain , however , were all his intreaties . Thev considered him as
seized < c with some phrenzy distemper . Sometimes they would deride , sometimes they would chide , and sometimes they would quite neglect him . " This gave occasion to * . the exercise of his Forbearance and compassion . " Wherefore he began to retire himself to his chamber to pray for and pity them /* Of this he gives a particular and
affecting account on his conversation with Charity , in the stately palace of Beautiful , which I think it proper to quote , as a favourable specimen of the author's mode of writing , and a $ throwing ^ some light on the character of Christian .
J 6 The Character of Christian * in Bunyan s Pilgrim * Progress ,
Monthly Repository (1806-1838) and Unitarian Chronicle (1832-1833), Jan. 2, 1821, page 16, in the Nineteenth-Century Serials Edition (2008; 2018) ncse.ac.uk/periodicals/mruc/issues/vm2-ncseproduct2496/page/16/