The allegories of the Interpreter and of the Shepherds of the Delectable Mountains are all actually performed, like stage-plays, before the pilgrims. The son of Mr. Great-grace visibly 'tumbles hills about with his words.' Adam the First has his condemnation written visibly on his forehead, so that Faithful reads it. At the very instant the net closes round the pilgrims, 'the white robe falls from the black man's body.' Despair 'getteth him a grievous crab-tree cudgel'; it was in 'sunshiny weather' that he had his fits; and the birds in the grove about the House Beautiful, 'our country birds,' only sing their little pious verses 'at the spring, when the flowers appear and the sun shines warm.' 'I often,' says Piety, 'go out to hear them; we also ofttimes keep them tame on our house.' The post between Beulah and the Celestial City sounds his horn, as you may yet hear in country places. Madam Bubble, that 'tall, comely dame, something of a swarthy complexion, in very pleasant attire, but old,' 'gives you a smile at the end of each sentence'--a real woman she; we all know her. Christiana dying 'gave Mr. Stand-fast a ring,' for no possible reason in the allegory, merely because the touch was human and affecting. Look at Great-heart, with his soldierly ways, garrison ways, as I had almost called them; with his taste in weapons; his delight in any that 'he found to be a man of his hands'; his chivalrous point of honour, letting Giant Maul get up again when he was down, a thing fairly flying in the teeth of the moral; above all, with his language in the inimitable tale of Mr. Fearing: 'I thought I should have lost my man'--'chicken-hearted'--'at last he came in, and I will say that for my lord, he carried it wonderful lovingly to him.' This is no Independent minister; this is a stout, honest, big-busted ancient, adjusting his shoulder-belts, twirling his long moustaches as he speaks. Last and most remarkable, 'My sword,' says the dying Valiant-for-Truth, he in whom Great-heart delighted, 'my sword I give to him that shall succeed me in my pilgrimage, AND MY COURAGE AND SKILL TO HIM THAT CAN GET IT.' And after this boast, more arrogantly unorthodox than was ever dreamed of by the rejected Ignorance, we are told that 'all the trumpets sounded for him on the other side.'

In every page the book is stamped with the same energy of vision and the same energy of belief. The quality is equally and indifferently displayed in the spirit of the fighting, the tenderness of the pathos, the startling vigour and strangeness of the incidents, the natural strain of the conversations, and the humanity and charm of the characters. Trivial talk over a meal, the dying words of heroes, the delights of Beulah or the Celestial City, Apollyon and my Lord Hate-good, Great-heart, and Mr. Worldly- Wiseman, all have been imagined with the same clearness, all written of with equal gusto and precision, all created in the same mixed element, of simplicity that is almost comical, and art that, for its purpose, is faultless.

It was in much the same spirit that our artist sat down to his drawings. He is by nature a Bunyan of the pencil. He, too, will draw anything, from a butcher at work on a dead sheep, up to the courts of Heaven. 'A Lamb for Supper' is the name of one of his designs, 'Their Glorious Entry' of another. He has the same disregard for the ridiculous, and enjoys somewhat of the same privilege of style, so that we are pleased even when we laugh the most. He is literal to the verge of folly. If dust is to be raised from the unswept parlour, you may be sure it will 'fly abundantly' in the picture. If Faithful is to lie 'as dead' before Moses, dead he shall lie with a warrant--dead and stiff like granite; nay (and here the artist must enhance upon the symbolism of the author), it is with the identical stone tables of the law that Moses fells the sinner. Good and bad people, whom we at once distinguish in the text by their names, Hopeful, Honest, and Valiant-for-Truth, on the one hand, as against By-ends, Sir Having Greedy, and the Lord Old-man on the other, are in these drawings as simply distinguished by their costume.

Lay Morals and Other Papers Page 66

Robert Louis Stevenson

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Robert Louis Stevenson
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