The Comfort of Water: A River Pilgrimage

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John Bunyan

Part I was published in and Part II in The second part deals with the spiritual journey of Christian's wife and sons, as they follow in his footsteps. With its elements of the folktale tradition, The Pilgrim's Progress became popular immediately. Well into the nineteenth century it was a book known to almost every reader in England and New England, second in importance only to the Bible.

So great was the book's influence that it even plays a major role in Little Woman by Louisa May Alcott. Such expressions as "the slough of despond" and "vanity fair" have become part of the English language. Bunyan's other works include The Life and Death of Mr. Badman and The Holy War. He also wrote A Book for Boys and Girls, verses on religious faith for children. Bunyan died in London on August 31, So she asked him what they were, whence they came, and whither they were bound; and he told her.

Then she counselled him that when he arose in the morning he should beat them without any mercy. So when he arose he getteth him a grievous Crabtree Cudgel, and goes down into the Dungeon to them, and there first falls to rating of them, as if they were dogs, although they gave him never a word of distaste.

Then he falls upon them, and beats them fearfully, in such sort, that they were not able to help themselves, or to turn them upon the floor. This done, he withdraws and leaves them, there to condole their misery, and to mourn under their distress: so all that day they spent the time in nothing but sighs and bitter lamentations.

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The next night she talking with her Husband about them further, and understanding that they were yet alive, did advise him to counsel them to make away themselves. So when morning was come, he goes to them in a surly manner as before, and perceiving them to be very sore with the stripes that he had given them the day before, he told them, that since they were never like to come out of that place, their only way would be forthwith to make an end of themselves, either with Knife, Halter, or Poison; For why, said he, should you chuse life, seeing it is attended with so much bitterness?

But they desired him to let them go. With that he looked ugly upon them, and rushing to them had doubtless made an end of them himself, but that he fell into one of his Fits, for he sometimes in Sun-shine weather fell into Fits and lost for a time the use of his hand wherefore he withdrew, and left them as before, to consider what to do. Brother, said Christian, what shall we do?

Pilgrim Bar

The life that we now live is miserable: for my part I know not whether is best, to live thus, or to die out of hand. My soul chuseth strangling rather than life, and the Grave is more easy for me than this Dungeon. Shall we be ruled by the Giant? Christian crushed. Besides, he that kills another can but commit murder upon his body; but for one to kill himself is to kill body and soul at once. And moreover, my Brother, thou talkest of ease in the Grave, but hast thou forgotten the Hell, whither for certain the murderers go?

And let us consider again, that all the Law is not in the hand of Giant Despair. Others, so far as I can understand, have been taken by him as well as we, and yet have escaped out of his hand. Who knows but that God that made the world may cause that Giant Despair may die? With these words Hopeful at present did moderate the mind of his Brother; so they continued together in the dark that day, in their sad and doleful condition.

Hopeful comforts him. Well, towards evening the Giant goes down into the Dungeon again, to see if his prisoners had taken his counsel; but when he came there he found them alive, and truly, alive was all; for now, what for want of Bread and Water, and by reason of the Wounds they received when he beat them, they could do little but breathe: But, I say, he found them alive; at which he fell into a grievous rage, and told them that seeing they disobeyed his counsel, it should be worse with them than if they had never been born.

Now Christian again seemed to be for doing it, but Hopeful made his second reply as followeth:. Christian still dejected. My Brother, said he, rememberest thou not how valiant thou hast been heretofore? Apollyon could not crush thee, nor could all that thou didst hear, or see, or feel in the Valley of the Shadow of Death. What hardship, terror, and amazement hast thou already gone through, and art thou now nothing but fear? Thou seest that I am in the Dungeon with thee, a far weaker man by nature than thou art; also this Giant has wounded me as well as thee, and hath also cut off the Bread and Water from my mouth; and with thee I mourn without the light.

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Hopeful comforts him again, by calling former things to remembrance. Now night being come again, and the Giant and his Wife being in bed, she asked him concerning the Prisoners, and if they had taken his counsel: To which he replied, They are sturdy Rogues, they chuse rather to bear all hardship, than to make away themselves. So when the morning was come, the Giant goes to them again, and takes them into the Castle-yard and shews them as his Wife had bidden him.

These, said he, were Pilgrims as you are, once, and they trespassed in my grounds, as you have done; and when I thought fit, I tore them in pieces, and so within ten days I will do you. Go get you down to your Den again; and with that he beat them all the way thither. They lay therefore all day on Saturday in a lamentable case, as before.

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  • Now when night was come, and when Mrs Diffidence and her Husband the Giant were got to bed, they began to renew their discourse of their Prisoners; and withal the old Giant wondered, that he could neither by his blows nor counsel bring them to an end. And with that his Wife replied, I fear, said she, that they live in hope that some will come to relieve them, or that they have pick-locks about them, by the means of which they hope to escape.

    And sayest thou so, my dear? On Saturday, the Giant threatened that shortly he would pull them in pieces. Well on Saturday about midnight they began to pray, and continued in Prayer till almost break of day. Now a little before it was day, good Christian, as one half amazed, brake out in passionate speech: What a fool, quoth he, am I, thus to lie in a stinking Dungeon, when l may as well walk at liberty.

    Then Christian pulled it out of his bosom, and began to try at the Dungeon door, whose bolt as he turned the Key gave back, and the door flew open with ease, and Christian and Hopeful both came out. Then he went to the outward door that leads into the Castle-yard, and with his Key opened that door also.

    After he went to the iron Gate, for that must be opened too, but that Lock went damnable hard, yet the Key did open it. Then they thrust open the Gate to make their escape with speed; but that Gate as it opened made such a creaking, that it waked Giant Despair, who hastily rising to pursue his Prisoners, felt his limbs to fail, for his Fits took him again, so that he could by no means go after them. Now when they were gone over the Stile, they began to contrive with themselves what they should do at that Stile, to prevent those that should come after from falling into the hands of Giant Despair.

    So they consented to erect there a Pillar, and to engrave upon the side thereof this sentence, Over this Stile is the way to Doubting Castle, which is kept by Giant Despair, who despiseth the King of the Coe lestial Country, and seeks to destroy his holy Pilgrims. Many therefore that followed after read what was written, and escaped the danger.

    This done, they sang as follows:. A pillar erected by Christian and his fellow. They went then till they came to the Delectable Mountains, which Mountains belong to the Lord of that Hill of which we have spoken before; so they went up to the Mountains, to behold the Gardens and Orchards, the Vineyards and Fountains of water; where also they drank, and washed themselves, and did freely eat of the Vineyards.

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    Now there were on the tops of these Mountains Shepherds feeding their flocks, and they stood by the High-way side. The Pilgrims therefore went to them, and leaning upon their staves as is common with weary Pilgrims, when they stand to talk with any by the way they asked, Whose Delectable Mountains are these?

    And whose be the sheep that feed upon them? Safe for those for whom it is to be safe, but transgressors shall fall therein. Is there in this place any relief for Pilgrims that are weary and faint in the way? The Lord of these Mountains hath given us a charge not to be forgotten to entertain strangers; therefore the good of the place is before you. I saw also in my Dream, that when the Shepherds perceived that they were way-faring men, they also put questions to them to which they made answer as in other places as, Whence came you?

    For but few of them that begin to come hither do shew their face on these Mountains. But when the Shepherds heard their answers, being pleased therewith, they looked very lovingly upon them, and said, Welcome to the Delectable Mountains. The Shepherds welcome them. The Shepherds, I say, whose names were Knowledge, Experience, Watchful, and Sincere, took them by the hand, and had them to their Tents, and made them partake of that which was ready at present.

    They said moreover, We would that ye should stay here a while, to be acquainted with us; and yet more to solace yourselves with the good of these Delectable Mountains. They then told them, that they were content to stay; and so they went to their rest that night, because it was very late.


    The names of the Shepherds. Then I saw in my Dream, that in the morning the Shepherds called up Christian and Hopeful to walk with them upon the Mountains; so they went forth with them, and walked a while, having a pleasant prospect on every side. Then said the Shepherds one to another, Shall we shew these Pilgrims some wonders? So when they had concluded to do it, they had them first to the top of a Hill called Error, which was very steep on the furthest side, and bid them look down to the bottom.

    So Christian and Hopeful looked down, and saw at the bottom several men dashed all to pieces by a fall, that they had from the top. Then said Christian, What meaneth this? The Shepherds answered, Have you not heard of them that were made to err, by hearkening to Hymeneus and Philetus, as concerning the Faith of the Resurrection of the Body? They answered, Yes. Then said the Shepherds, 1 Those that you see lie dashed in pieces at the bottom of this Mountain are they; and they have continued to this day unburied as you see for an example to others to take heed how they clamber too high, or how they come too near the brink of this Mountain.

    Then I saw that they had them to the top of another Mountain, and the name of that is Caution, and bid them look afar off; which when they did, they perceived, as they thought, several men walking up and down among the Tombs that were there; and they perceived that the men were blind, because they stumbled sometimes upon the Tombs, and because they could not get out from among them.

    Then said Christian, What means this? Mount Caution. The Shepherds then answered, Did you not see a little below these Mountains a Stile, that led into a Meadow, on the left hand of this way?

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    Then said the Shepherds, From that Stile there goes a path that leads directly to Doubting Castle, which is kept by Giant Despair; and these men pointing to them among the Tombs came once on Pilgrimage, as you do now, even till they came to that same Stile; and because the right way was rough in that place, they chose to go out of it into that Meadow, and there were taken by Giant Despair, and cast into Doubting Castle; where, after they had been awhile kept in the Dungeon, he at last did put out their eyes, and led them among those Tombs, where he has left them to wander to this very day, that the saying of the Wise Man might be fulfilled, He that wandereth out of the way of understanding, shall remain in the congregation of the dead.

    Then Christian and Hopeful looked upon one another, with tears gushing out, but yet said nothing to the Shepherds. Then I saw in my Dream, that the Shepherds had them to another place, in a bottom, where was a door in the side of a Hill, and they opened the door, and bid them look in. They looked in therefore, and saw that within it was very dark and smoky; they also thought that they heard there a rumbling noise as of Fire, and a cry of some tormented, and that they smelt the scent of Brimstone.

    The Comfort of Water

    The Shepherds told them, This is a by-way to Hell, a way that Hypocrites go in at; namely, such as sell their Birth-right, with Esau; such as sell their Master, as Judas; such as blaspheme the Gospel, with Alexander; and that lie and dissemble, with Ananias and Sapphira his Wife. Then said Hopeful to the Shepherds, I perceive that these had on them, even everyone, a shew of Pilgrimage, as we have now; had they not?

    A by-way to hell. How far might they go on in Pilgrimage in their day, since they notwithstanding were thus miserably cast away? By this time the Pilgrims had a desire to go forwards, and the Shepherds a desire they should; so they walked together towards the end of the Mountains. The Pilgrims The Hill then lovingly accepted the motion; so they had them to Clear the top of a high Hill, called Clear, and gave them their Glass to look.

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