John Bunyan, The Pilgrim's Progress. From this World to which is to come. (1678)

Title page of First Part

Title page for Second Part

The Author's Apology for his BOOK
Pages 41-48 in 1811 Edition

(1) When at the first I took my Pen in hand
Thus for to write; I did not understand;
That I at all should make a little Book
In such a Mode: Nay, I had undertook
To make another; which when almost done,
Before I was aware, I this begun;

And thus it was: I was writing of the Way
And Race of Saints in this our Gospel-Day,
Fell suddenly into an Allegory
About their Journey, and the way to Glory,
In more than Twenty things, which I set down:
This done, I twenty more had in my Crown;
And they again began to multiply,
Like sparks that from the coals of fire do fly.

Nay, then, thought I, if that you breed so fast,
I'll put you by yourselves, lest you at last
Should prove ad infinitum, and eat out
The Book that I already am about.
Well, so I did; but yet I did not think
To shew to all the World my Pen and ink
In such a mode; I only thought to make
I knew not what; nor did I undertake
Thereby to please my Neighbour: no, not I;
I did it my own self to Gratify.


(5)'Well, yet I am not fully satisfied,
That this your Book will stand, when soundly tried.'
Why, what's the matter? 'It is dark.' What though?
'But it is feigned.' What of that? I trow?
Some men, by feigned words, as dark as mine,
Make truth to spangle and its Rays to shine.
'But they want solidness.' Speak, man, thy mind.
'They drown the weak; metaphors make us blind.'

Solidity, indeed, becomes the Pen
Of him that writeth things Divine to Men;
But must I needs want solidness, because
By Metaphors I speak? Were not God's Laws,
His Gospel-laws, in olden times held forth
By Types, Shadows, and Metaphors? Yet loth
Will any sober Man be to find fault
With them, lest he be found for to assault
The highest Wisdom. No, he rather stoops,
And seeks to find out what by Pins and Loops,
By Calves and Sheep, by Heifers and by Rams,
By Birds and Herbs, and by the blood of Lambs,
God speaketh to him; and happy is he
That finds the Light and Grace that in them be.

Be not too forward, therefore, to conclude
That I want solidness--that I am rude;
All things solid in Show not solid be;
All things in Parables despise not we;
Lest things most hurtful lightly we receive,
And things that good are, of our Souls bereave.

My dark and cloudy words, they do but hold
The truth, as Cabinets enclose the Gold.

The prophets used much by Metaphors
To set forth Truth; Yea, who so considers
Christ his apostles too, shall plainly see,
That Truths to this day in such Mantles be.

Am I afraid to say, that Holy Writ,
Which for its style and phrase puts down all wit,
Is everywhere so full of all these things,
(Dark figures, Allegories) Yet there springs
From that same Book that lustre, and those rays
Of light, that turn our darkest nights to days.


I find that men (as high as Trees) will write
Dialogue-wise; yet no man doth them slight
For writing so: Indeed, if they abuse
Truth, cursed be they, and the craft they use
To that intent; but yet let Truth be free
To make her Sallies upon Thee and Me,
Which way it pleases God; for who knows how,
Better than he that taught us first to Plough,
To Guide our Mind and Pens for his Design?
And he makes base things usher in Divine.


[...] This book is writ in such a Dialect
As may the minds of listless Men affect:
It seems a Novelty, and yet contains
Nothing but sound and honest Gospel strains.
Wouldst thou divert thyself from Melancholy?
Wouldst thou be pleasant, yet be far from folly?
Wouldst thou read Riddles, and their Explanation?
Or else be drowned in thy Contemplation?
Dost thou love picking meat? Or wouldst thou see
A Man i'th'Clouds, and hear him speak to thee?
Wouldst thou be in a Dream, and yet not sleep?
Or wouldst thou in a moment laugh and weep?
Wouldest thou lose thyself and catch no harm,
And find thyself again without a charm?
Wouldst read thyself, and read thou knowest not what,
And yet know whether thou art blest or not,
By reading the same Lines? Oh, then come hither,
And lay my Book, thy Head, and Heart together.


The Conclusion

Now Reader I have told my Dream to thee;
See if thou canst interpret me.
Or to thy self, or Neighbours, but take heed
Of mis-interpreting: for that, instead,
Of doing good, will but thy self abuse
By Mis-interpreting, evil ensues.
Take heed also, that thou be not extreme,
In playing with the out-side of my dream:
Nor let my figure, or similitude,
Put thee into a laughter, or a feud,
Leave this for Boys or Fools; but as for thee,
Do thou the substance of my matter see.

Put by the curtains; look within my Veil;
Turn up my Metaphors, and do not fail,
There, if thou seekest them such things to find,
As will be helpful to an honest mind.

What of my Dross thou findest there, be bold
To throw away, but yet preserve the Gold,
What if my Gold be wrapped up in Ore?
None throws away the Apple for the Core.
But if thou shalt cast all away in Vain,
I know not but 'twill make me dream again.

The End

Two Plans for Pilgrim's Progress

1821 Illustration for The Pilgrim's Progress John Bunyan, The Pilgrim's Progress from This World to That Which Is to Come: Delivered Under the Similitude of a Dream, Wherein Is Discovered the Manner of His Setting Out, His Dangerous Journey, and Safe Arrival at the Desired Country (1821)
Persuasive Maps: PJ Mode Collection, Cornell University
and larger
1850 Illustration for The Pilgrim's Progress From John Bunyan, The Pilgrim's Progress; Most Carefully Collated with the Edition Containing the Author's Last Additions and Corrections, and a Life of the Author
London: George Virtue, 1850.
Persuasive Maps: PJ Mode Collection, Cornell University
and larger

Illustrations from Fifteenth Edition (1682)
New York Public Library Digital Collections:
Illustrations for
Pilgrim's Progress from this World, to that which is to Come: Delivered under the Similitude of a Dream. Where in Discovered, the Manner of his Setting Out, His Dangerous Journey, and Safe Arrival at the Desired Countrey, (London: Printed for N. Ponder, 1682).

Robert McCrum, "The 100 Best Novels," The Guardian, 23 September 2013

William Blake (1757-1827), Illustrations (1824-27) for Pilgrim's Progress

William Chalmers Burns, Tian lu li cheng (1856)
Curiosity Collections, Harvard University

The Wizard of Oz (Victor Fleming, 1939)

Revival: Oral Roberts "Everything God Has Is Yours" (Salem, Oregon; 1957)

John Wayne and "Pilgrim" in The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (John Ford, 1962)

John Wayne, McLintock! (Andrew V. McLaglen, 1963)

Page Created 4 January 2019