The Epistle to the Reader
'Tis strange to me, that they that love to tell
Things done of old, yea, and that do excel
Their equals in historiology,
Speak not of Mansoul's wars, but let them lie
Dead, like old fables, or such worthless things,
That to the reader no advantage brings:
When men, let them make what they will their own,
Till they know this, are to themselves unknown.
Of stories I well know there's divers sorts,
Some foreign, some domestic; and reports
Are thereof made, as fancy leads the writers;
By books a man may guess at the inditers.
Some will again of that which never was,
Nor will be, feign, and that without a cause,
Such matter, raise such mountains, tell such things
Of men, of laws, of countries, and of kings:
And in their story seem to be so sage,
And with such gravity clothe ev'ry page,
That though their frontispiece say all is vain,
Yet to their way disciples they obtain
But, readers, I have somewhat else to do,
Than with vain stories thus to trouble you;
What here I say, some men do know so well,
They can with tears and joy the story tell.
The town of Mansoul is well known to many,
Nor are her troubles doubted of by any
That are acquainted with those histories
That Mansoul, and her wars, anatomize.
Then lend thine ear to what I do relate
Touching the town of Mansoul and her state,
How she was lost, took captive, made a slave;
And how against him set, that should her save.
Yea, how by hostile ways, she did oppose
Her Lord, and with his enemy did close.
For they are true; he that will them deny
Must needs the best of records vilify.
For my part, I (myself) was in the town,
Both when 'twas set up, and when pulling down,
I saw Diabolus in his possession,
And Mansoul also under his oppression.
Yea, I was there when she own'd him for Lord,
And to him did submit with one accord.
When Mansoul trampled upon things Divine,
And wallowed in filth as doth a swine;
When she betook herself unto her arms,
Fought her Emmanuel, despis'd his charms,
Then I was there, and did rejoice to see
Diabolus and Mansoul so agree.
Let no men, then, count me a fable-maker,
Nor make my name or credit a partaker
Of their derision; what is here in view,
Of mine own knowledge, I dare say is true.
I saw the prince's armed men come down,
By troops, by thousands, to besiege the town.
I saw the captains, heard the trumpets sound,
And how his forces cover'd all the ground.
Yea, how they set themselves in battle-ray,
I shall remember to my dying day.
I saw the colours waving in the wind,
And they within to mischief how combin'd,
To ruin Mansoul, and to make away
Her primum mobile without delay.
I saw the mounts cast up against the town,
And how the slings were placed to beat it down.
I heard the stones fly whizzing by mine ears,
What longer kept in mind than got in fears,
I heard them fall, and saw what work they made,
And how old Mors did cover with his shade
The face of Mansoul; and I heard her cry,
Woe worth the day, in dying I shall die!
I saw the battering rams, and how they play'd,
To beat ope Ear-gate, and I was afraid
Not only Ear-gate, but the very town,
Would by those battering rams be beaten down.
I saw the fights, and heard the captains shout,
And each in battle saw who faced about;
I saw who wounded were, and who were slain;
And who, when dead, would come to life again.
I heard the cries of those that wounded were,
While others fought like men bereft of fear,
And while the cry, Kill, kill, was in mine ears,
The gutters ran, not so with blood as tears.
Indeed, the captains did not always fight,
But then they would molest us day and night;
Their cry, Up, fall on, let us take the town,
Kept us from sleeping, or from lying down.
I was there when the gates were broken ope,
And saw how Mansoul then was stript of hope.
I saw the captains march into the town,
How there they fought, and did their foes cut down.
I heard the prince bid Boanerges go
Up to the castle, and there seize his foe,
And saw him and his fellows bring him down
In chains of great contempt quite through the town.
I saw Emmanuel when he possest
His town of Mansoul, and how greatly blest
A town, his gallant town of Mansoul was,
When she received his pardon, lived his laws!
When the Diabolonians were caught,
When tried, and when to execution brought,
Then I was there; yea, I was standing by
When Mansoul did the rebels crucify.
I also saw Mansoul clad all in white,
And heard her prince call her his heart's delight.
I saw him put upon her chains of gold,
And rings, and bracelets, goodly to behold.
What shall I say?—I heard the people's cries,
And saw the prince wipe tears from Mansoul's eyes.
I heard the groans, and saw the joy of many:
Tell you of all, I neither will, nor can I.
But by what here I say, you well may see
That Mansoul's matchless wars no fables be.
Mansoul! the desire of both princes was,
One keep his gain would, t'other gain his loss;
Diabolus would cry, The town is mine;
Emmanuel would plead a right Divine
Unto his Mansoul; then to blows they go,
And Mansoul cries, These wars will me undo.
Mansoul! her wars seem'd endless in her eyes,
She's lost by one, becomes another's prize.
And he again that lost her last would swear,
Have her I will, or her in pieces tear.
Mansoul, it was the very seat of war,
Wherefore her troubles greater were by far,
Than only where the noise of war is heard,
Or where the shaking of a sword is fear'd,
Or only where small skirmishes are fought,
Or where the fancy fighteth with a thought.
She saw the swords of fighting men made red,
And heard the cries of those with them wounded;
Must not her frights then be much more by far,
Than theirs that to such doings strangers are?
Or theirs that hear the beating of a drum,
But not made fly for fear from house and home?
Mansoul not only heard the trumpet sound,
But saw her gallants gasping on the ground;
Wherefore, we must not think that she could rest
With them, whose greatest earnest is but jest:
Or where the blust'ring threat'ning of great wars
Do end in parleys, or in wording jars.
Mansoul, her mighty wars, they did portend
Her weal or woe, and that world without end;
Wherefore she must be more concerned than they
Whose fears begin and end the self-same day:
Or where none other harm doth come to him
That is engaged, but loss of life or limb,
As all must needs confess that now do dwell
In Universe, and can this story tell.
Count me not then with them that to amaze
The people, set them on the stars to gaze,
Insinuating with much confidence,
That each of them is now the residence
Of some brave creatures; yea, a world they will
Have in each star, though it be past their skill
To make it manifest to any man,
That reason hath, or tell his fingers can.
But I have too long held thee in the porch,
And kept thee from the sunshine with a torch.
Well, now go forward, step within the door,
And there behold five hundred times much more
Of all sorts of such inward rarities
As please the mind will, and will feed the eyes
With those, which if a Christian, thou wilt see
Not small, but things of greatest moment be.
Nor do thou go to work without my key
(In mysteries men soon do lose their way),
And also turn it right if thou wouldst know
My riddle, and wouldst with my heifer plough.
It lies there in the window, fare thee well,
My next may be to ring thy passing-bell.
[ Content ]
Footnotes6. Very few persons can imagine what trumpery trash was circulated by hawkers and chapment in Bunyan's time, and even to the period when the Tract Society was established. Lying wonders and lewd stories were eagerly read, to the destruction of millions. Thanks to the piety of Sunday- school teachers, their supplications were heard, and our youth, when taught to read, are now supplied with nutritious literary food, by the aid of that invaluable society.—Ed. Back
7. Bunyan, in his Grace Abounding, No. 4, thus records that awful period of his experience—'It was my delight to be taken captive by the devil at his will.' In 1752, and even in Burder's edition, the line is strangely altered to—
'Then I was there, and grieved for to see.'—Ed. Back
8. Terms much used by writers in Bunyan's time, meaning, as stated in the margin, 'her soul.'—Ed. Back
9. 'The battering rams' are the books of Holy Scripture.—Ed. Back
10. 'I felt such a clogging and heat at my stomach, by reason of my terrors, that I was, especially at some times, as if my breast-bone would split asunder.'—Grace Abounding, No. 164. Back
11. The death of the body, or loss of a limb, is as nothing compared with the eternal loss of a never-dying soul.—Ed. Back
12. This line, in the first edition, is at the bottom of a page. In many copies, viz., in that of 1752, printed both at London and at Glasgow; that with Mason's notes, 1782; and that with Adam's notes, 1795, &c., this line is omitted, and one inserted to make up the rhyme—
'They are the only men that have science.' Back
13. It is not surprising that Bunyan wondered at the confidence with which these speculations were published. His knowledge of invisible things was drawn exclusively from the Bible, which is silent upon the subject of a plurality of worlds. He does not say there is no such thing, but that it cannot be demonstrated.—Ed. Back
14. Bunyan intended his marginal notes as a key to the text. How strikingly does this illustrate the first page of his 'Pilgrim'—'I lighted on a certain place where was a den'; the margin is a key to show that it was written in 'the jail.' So, in the latter part of the 'Holy War,' the Diabolonians dashed young children in pieces; the margin explains this to mean 'good and tender thoughts.'—Ed. Back