Pilgrim's Progress: Part One, Section I.
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The Pilgrim's Progress, In The Similitude Of A Dream
As I walk'd through the wilderness of this world, I lighted on a certain
place where was a Den, and I laid me down in that place to sleep; and as I
slept, I dreamed a Dream. I dreamed, and behold I saw a Man cloathed with
Rags, standing in a certain place, with his face from his own house, a Book in
his hand, and a great Burden upon his back. I looked, and saw him open the
Book, and read therein; and as he read, he wept and trembled; and not being
able longer to contain, he brake out with a lamentable cry, saying What shall
In this plight therefore he went home, and refrained himself as long as
he could, that his Wife and Children should not perceive his distress, but he
could not be silent long, because that his trouble increased: Wherefore at
length he brake his mind to his Wife and Children; and thus he began to talk
to them: O my dear Wife, said he, and you the Children of my bowels, I your
dear friend, am in myself undone by reason of a Burden that lieth hard upon
me; moreover, I am for certain informed that this our City will be burned with
fire from Heaven; in which fearful overthrow, both myself, with thee my Wife,
and you my sweet Babes, shall miserably come to ruin, except (the which yet I
see not) some way of escape can be found, whereby we may be delivered. At this
his Relations were sore amazed; not for that they believed that what he had
said to them was true, but because they thought that some frenzy distemper had
got into his head; therefore, it drawing towards night, and they hoping that
sleep might settle his brains, with all haste they got him to bed: But the
night was as troublesome to him as the day; wherefore, instead of sleeping, he
spent it in sighs and tears. So, when the morning was come, they would know
how he did; He told them Worse and worse: he also set to talking to them
again, but they began to be hardened: they also thought to drive away his
distemper by harsh and surly carriages to him; sometimes they would deride,
sometimes they would chide, and sometimes they would quite neglect him:
Wherefore he began to retire himself to his chamber, to pray for and pity
them, and also to condole his own misery; he would also walk solitarily in the
fields, sometimes reading, and sometimes praying: and thus for some days he
spent his time.
Now, I saw upon a time, when he was walking in the fields, that he was,
as he was wont, reading in his Book, and greatly distressed in his mind; and
as he read, he burst out, as he had done before, crying, What shall I do to be
I saw also that he looked this way and that way, as if he would run; yet
he stood still, because, as I perceived, he could not tell which way to go. I
looked then, and saw a man named Evangelist, coming to him, and asked,
Wherefore dost thou cry?
He answered, Sir, I perceive by the Book in my hand, that I am condemned
to die, and after that to come to Judgment, and I find that I am not willing
to do the first, nor able to do the second.
Christian no sooner leaves the World but meets
Evangelist, who lovingly him greets
With tidings of another: and doth shew
Him how to mount to that from this below.
Then said Evangelist, Why not willing to die, since this life is attended
with so many evils? The Man answered, Because I fear that this burden that is
upon my back will sink me lower than the Grave, and I shall fall into Tophet.
And, Sir, if I be not fit to go to Prison, I am not fit to go to Judgment, and
from thence to Execution; and the thoughts of these things make me cry.
Then said Evangelist, If this be thy condition, why standest thou still?
He answered, Because I know not whither to go. Then he gave him a Parchment -
roll, and there was written within, Fly from the wrath to come.
The Man therefore read it, and looking upon Evangelist very carefully,
said, Whither must I fly? Then said Evangelist, pointing with his finger over
a very wide field, Do you see yonder Wicket-gate? The Man said, No. Then
said the other, Do you see yonder shining Light? He said, I think I do. Then
said Evangelist, Keep that Light in your eye, and go up directly thereto: so
shalt thou see the Gate; at which, when thou knockest, it shall be told thee
what thou shalt do.
So I saw in my Dream that the Man began to run.
Now he had not run far from his own door, but his Wife and Children,
perceiving it, began to cry after him to return; but the Man out his fingers
in his ears, and ran on, crying Life! Life! Eternal Life! So he looked not
behind him, but fled towards the middle of the Plain.
The Neighbors also came out to see him run; and as he ran, some mocked,
others threatened, and some cried after him to return; and among those that
did so, there were two that resolved to fetch him back by force. The name of
the one was Obstinate, and the name of the other Pliable. Now by this time the
Man was got a good distance from them; but however they were resolved to
pursue him, which they did, and in a little time they overtook him. Then said
the Man, Neighbors, wherefore are you come? They said, To persuade you to go
back with us. But he said, That can by no means be; you dwell, said he, in the
City of Destruction, the place also where I was born, I see it to be so; and
dying there, sooner or later, you will sink lower than the Grave, into a place
that burns with Fire and Brimstone: be content, good Neighbors, and go along
Obst. What, said Obstinate, and leave our friends and our comforts behind
Chr. Yes, said Christian, for that was his name, because that all which
you shall forsake is not worthy to be compared with a little of that that I am
seeking to enjoy; and if you will go along with me and hold it, you shall fare
as I myself; for there where I go, is enough and to spare: Come away, and
prove my words.
Obst. What are the things you seek, since you leave all the world to find
Chr. I seek an Inheritance incorruptible, undefiled, and that fadeth not
away, and it is laid up in Heaven, and safe there, to be bestowed at the time
appointed, on them that diligently seek it. Read it so, if you will, in my
Obst. Tush, said Obstinate, away with your Book; will you go back with us
Chr. No, not I, said the other, because I have laid my hand to the Plow.
Obst. Come then, Neighbor Pliable, let us turn again, and go home without
him; there is a company of these craz'd-headed coxcombs, that, when they
take a fancy by the end, are wiser in their own eyes than seven men that can
render a reason.
Pli. Then said Pliable, Don't revile; if what the good Christian says is
true, the things he looks after are better than ours; my heart inclines to go
with my Neighbor.
Obst. What! more fools still? Be ruled by me, and go back; who knows
whither such a brain-sick fellow will lead you? Go back, go back, and be
Chr. Come with me, Neighbor Pliable; there are such things to be had
which I spoke of, and many more Glories besides. If you believe not me, read
here in this Book; and for the truth of what is exprest therein, behold, all
is confirmed by the blood of Him that made it.
Pli. Well, Neighbor Obstinate, said Pliable, I begin to come to a point:
I intend to go along with this good man, and to cast in my lot with him: but,
my good companion, do you know the way to this desired place?
Chr. I am directed by a man, whose name is Evangelist, to speed me to a
little Gate that is before us, where we shall receive instructions about the
Pli. Come then, good Neighbor, let us be going. Then they went both
Obst. And I will go back to my place, said Obstinate; I will be no
companion of such mis-led, fantastical fellows.
Now I saw in my Dream, that when Obstinate was gone back, Christian and
Pliable went talking over the Plain; and thus they began their discourse.
Chr. Come Neighbor Pliable, how do you do? I am glad you are persuaded to
go along with me: Had even Obstinate himself but felt what I have felt of the
powers and terrors of what is yet unseen, he would not thus lightly have given
us the back.
Pli. Come, Neighbor Christian, since there are none but us two here, tell
me now further what the things are, and how to be enjoyed, whither we are
Chr. I can better conceive of them with my Mind, than speak of them with
my Tongue: but yet, since you are desirous to know, I will read of them in my
Pli. And do you think that the words of your Book are certainly true?
Chr. Yes, verily; for it was made by him that cannot lye.
Pli. Well said; what things are they?
Chr. There is an endless Kingdom to be inhabited, and everlasting Life to
be given us, that may inhabit that Kingdom for ever.
Pli. Well said; and what else?
Chr. There are Crowns of glory to be given us, and Garments that will
make us shine like the Sun in the firmament of Heaven.
Pli. This is excellent; and what else?
Chr. There shall be no more crying, nor sorrow, for He that is owner of
the place will wipe all tears from our eyes.
Pli. And what company shall we have there?
Chr. There we shall be with Seraphims and Cherubins, creatures that will
dazzle your eyes to look on them: There also you shall meet with thousands and
ten thousands that have gone before us to that place; none of them are
hurtful, but loving and holy; every one walking in the sight of God, and
standing in his presence with acceptance for ever. In a word, there we shall
see the Elders with their golden Crowns, there we shall see the Holy Virgins
with their golden Harps, there we shall see men that by the World were cut in
pieces, burnt in flames, eaten of beasts, drowned in the seas, for the love
that they bare to the Lord of the place, all well, and cloathed with
Immortality as with a garment.
Pli. The hearing of this is enough to ravish one's heart; but are these
things to be enjoyed? How shall we get to be sharers hereof?
Chr. The Lord, the Governor of the country, hath recorded that in this
Book; the substance of which is, If we be truly willing to have it, he will
bestow it upon us freely.
Pli. Well, my good companion, glad am I to hear of these things; come on,
let us mend our pace.
Chr. I cannot go so fast as I would, by reason of this Burden that is
upon my back.
Now I saw in my Dream, that just as they had ended this talk, they drew
near to a very miry Slough, that was in the midst of the plain; and they,
being heedless, did both fall suddenly into the bog. The name of the slough
was Dispond. Here therefore they wallowed for a time, being grievously
bedaubed with the dirt; and Christian, because of the Burden that was on his
back, began to sink in the mire.
Pli. Then said Pliable, Ah Neighbor Christian, where are you now?
Chr. Truly, said Christian, I do not know.
Pli. At that Pliable began to be offended, and angerly said to his
fellow, Is this the happiness you have told me all this while of? If we have
such ill speed at our first setting out, what may we expect 'twixt this and
our Journey's end? May I get out again with my life, you shall possess the
brave Country alone for me. And with that he gave a desperate struggle or two,
and got out of the mire on that side of the Slough which was next to his own
house: so away he went, and Christian saw him no more.
Wherefore Christian was left to tumble in the Slough of Dispond alone;
but still he endeavoured to struggle to that side of the Slough that was still
further from his own house, and next to the Wicket-gate; the which he did,
but could not get out, because of the Burden that was upon his back: But I
beheld in my Dream, that a man came to him, whose name was Help, and asked
him, What he did there?
Chr. Sir, said Christian, I was bid go this way by a man called
Evangelist, who directed me also to yonder Gate, that I might escape the wrath
to come; and as I was going thither, I fell in here.
Help. But why did you not look for the steps?
Chr. Fear followed me so hard, that I fled the next way, and fell in.
Help. Then said he, Give me thy hand: so he gave him his hand, and he
drew him out, and set him upon sound ground, and bid him go on his way.
Then I stepped to him that pluckt him out, and said, Sir, wherefore,
since over this place is the way from the City of Destruction to yonder Gate,
is it that this plat is not mended, that poor travellers might go thither with
more security? And he said unto me, This miry Slough is such a place as cannot
be mended; it is the descent whither the scum and filth that attends
conviction for sin doth continually run, and therefore it is called the Slough
of Dispond; for still as the sinner is awakened about his lost condition,
there ariseth in his soul many fears and doubts, and discouraging
apprehensions, which all of them get together, and settle in this place: And
this is the reason of the badness of this ground.
It is not the pleasure of the King that this place should remain so bad.
His labourers also have, by the direction of His Majesties Surveyors, been for
above these sixteen hundred years employed about this patch of ground, if
perhaps it might have been mended: yea, and to my knowledge, said he, here
hath been swallowed up at least twenty thousand cart-loads, yea, millions of
wholesome instructions, that have at all seasons been brought from all places
of the King's dominions (and they that can tell say they are the best
materials to make good ground of the place), if so be it might have been
mended, but it is the Slough of Dispond still, and so will be when they have
done what they can.
True, there are by the direction of the Lawgiver, certain good and
substantial steps, placed even through the very midst of this Slough; but at
such time as this place doth much spue out its filth, as it doth against
change of weather, these steps are hardly seen; or if they be, men through the
dizziness of their heads, step besides; and then they are bemired to purpose,
notwithstanding the steps be there; but the ground is good when they are once
got in at the Gate.
Now I saw in my Dream, that by this time Pliable was got home to his
house again. So his Neighbors came to visit him: and some of them called him
wise man for coming back, and some called him fool for hazarding himself with
Christian: others again did mock at his cowardliness; saying, Surely since you
began to venture, I would not have been so base to have given out for a few
difficulties. So Pliable sat sneaking among them. But at last he got more
confidence, and then they all turned their tales, and began to deride poor
Christian behind his back. And thus much concerning Pliable.
Now as Christian was walking solitary by himself, he espied one afar off
come crossing over the field to meet him; and their hap was to meet just as
they were crossing the way of each other. The gentleman's name that met him
was Mr Worldly Wiseman: he dwelt in the Town of Carnal Policy, a very great
Town, and also hard by from whence Christian came. This man then meeting with
Christian, and having some inkling of him, - for Christian's setting forth
from the City of Destruction was much noised abroad, not only in the Town
where he dwelt, but also it began to be the town-talk in some other places,
- Master Worldly Wiseman therefore, having some guess of him, by beholding his
laborious going, by observing his sighs and groans, and the like, began thus
to enter into some talk with Christian.
World. How now, good fellow, whither away after this burdened manner?
Chr. A burdened manner indeed, as ever I think poor creature had. And
whereas you ask me, Whither away? I tell you, Sir, I am going to yonder Wicket
- gate before me; for there, as I am informed, I shall be put into a way to be
rid of my heavy Burden.
World. Hast thou a Wife and Children?
Chr. Yes, but I am so laden with this Burden, that I cannot take that
pleasure in them as formerly; methinks I am as if I had none.
World. Wilt thou hearken to me if I give thee counsel?
Chr. If it be good, I will; for I stand in need of good counsel.
World. I would advise thee then, that thou with all speed get thyself rid
of thy Burden; for thou wilt never be settled in thy mind till then; nor canst
thou enjoy the benefits of the blessing which God hath bestowed upon thee till
Chr. That is that which I seek for, even to be rid of this heavy Burden;
but get it off myself, I cannot; nor is there any man in our country that can
take it off my shoulders; therefore am I going this way, as I told you, that I
may be rid of my Burden.
World. Who bid thee go this way to be rid of thy Burden?
Chr. A man that appeared to me to be a very great and honorable person;
his name as I remember is Evangelist.
World. I beshrew him for his counsel; there is not a more dangerous and
troublesome way in the world than is that unto which he hath directed thee;
and that thou shalt find, if thou wilt be ruled by his counsel. Thou hast met
with something (as I perceive) already; for I see the dirt of the Slough of
Dispond is upon thee; but that Slough is the beginning of the sorrows that do
attend those that go on in that way: Hear me, I am older than thou; thou art
like to meet with, in the way which thou goest, Wearisomeness, Painfulness,
Hunger, Perils, Nakedness, Sword, Lions, Dragons, Darkness, and in a word,
Death, and what not! These things are certainly true, having been confirmed by
many testimonies. And why should a man so carelessly cast away himself, by
giving heed to a stranger?
Chr. Why, Sir, this Burden upon my back is more terrible to me than are
all these things which you have mentioned; nay, methinks I care not what I
meet with in the way, so be I can also meet with deliverance from my Burden.
World. How camest thou by the Burden at first?
Chr. By reading this Book in my hand.
World. I thought so; and it is happened unto thee as to other weak men,
who meddling with things too high for them, do suddenly fall into thy
distractions; which distractions do not only unman men (as thine I perceive
has done thee), but they run them upon desperate ventures, to obtain they know
Chr. I know what I would obtain; it is ease for my heavy burden.
World. But why wilt thou seek for ease this way, seeing so many dangers
attend it? Especially, since (hadst thou but patience to hear me) I could
direct thee to the obtaining of what thou desirest, without the dangers that
thou in this way wilt run thyself into; yea, and the remedy is at hand.
Besides, I will add, that instead of those dangers, thou shalt meet with much
safety, friendship, and content.
Chr. Pray Sir, open this secret to me.
World. Why in yonder Village (the village is named Morality) there dwells
a Gentleman whose name is Legality, a very judicious man, and a man of very
good name, that has skill to help men off with such burdens as thine are from
their shoulders: yea, to my knowledge he hath done a great deal of good this
way; ay, and besides, he hath skill to cure those that are somewhat crazed in
their wits with their burdens. To him, as I said, thou mayest go, and be
helped presently. His house is not quite a mile from this place, and if he
should not be at home himself, he hath a pretty young man to his Son, whose
name is Civility, that can do it (to speak on) as well as the old Gentleman
himself; there, I say, thou mayest be eased of thy Burden; and if thou art not
minded to go back to thy former habitation, as indeed I would not wish thee,
thou mayest send for thy Wife and Children to thee to this village, where
there are houses now stand empty, one of which thou mayest have at reasonable
rates; Provision is there also cheap and good; and that which will make thy
life the more happy is, to be sure there thou shalt live by honest Neighbors,
in credit and good fashion.
Now was Christian somewhat at a stand, but presently he concluded, If
this be true which this Gentleman hath said, my wisest course is to take his
advice; and with that he thus farther spoke.
Chr. Sir, which is my way to this honest man's house?
World. Do you see yonder high Hill?
Chr. Yes, very well.
World. By that Hill you must go, and the first house you come at is his.
So Christian turned out of his way to go to Mr Legality's house for help;
but behold, when he was got now hard by the Hill, it seemed so high, and also
that side of it that was next the wayside, did hang so much over, that
Christian was afraid to venture further, lest the Hill should fall on his
head; wherefore there he stood still, and he wot not what to do. Also his
Burden now seemed heavier to him than while he was in his way. There came also
flashes of fire out of the Hill, that made Christian afraid that he should be
burned. Here therefore he sweat and did quake for fear.
When Christians unto Carnal Men give ear,
Out of their way they go, and pay for 't dear;
For Master Worldly Wiseman can but shew
A Saint the way to Bondage and to Wo.
And now he began to be sorry that he had taken Mr Worldly Wiseman's
counsel. And with that he saw Evangelist coming to meet him; at the sight also
of whom he began to blush for shame. So Evangelist drew nearer and nearer; and
coming up to him, he looked upon him with a severe and dreadful countenance,
and thus began to reason with Christian.
Evan. What doest thou here, Christian? said he: at which words Christian
knew not what to answer; wherefore at present he stood speechless before him.
Then said Evangelist farther, Art not thou the man that I found crying without
the walls of the City of Destruction?
Chr. Yes, dear Sir, I am the man.
Evan. Did not I direct thee the way to the little Wicketgate?
Chr. Yes, dear Sir, said Christian.
Evan. How is it then that thou art so quickly turned aside? for thou art
now out of the way.
Chr. I met winh a Gentleman so soon as I had got over the Slough of
Dispond, who persuaded me that I might, in the village before me, find a man
that could take off my Burden.
Evan. What was he?
Chr. He looked like a Gentleman, and talked much to me, and got me at
last to yield; so I came hither: but when I beheld this Hill, and how it hangs
over the way, I suddenly made a stand, lest it should fall on my head.
Evan. What said that Gentleman to you?
Chr. Why, he asked me whither I was going; and I told him.
Evan. And what said he then?
Chr. He asked me if I had a family; and I told him. But, said I, I am so
loaden with the Burden that is on my back, that I cannot take pleasure in them
Evan. And what said he then?
Chr. He bid me with speed get rid of my Burden; and I told him 'twas ease
that I sought. And, said I, I am therefore going to yonder Gate, to receive
further direction how I may get to the place of deliverance. So he said that
he would shew me a better way, and short, not so attended with difficulties as
the way, Sir, that you set me; which way, said he, will direct you to a
Gentleman's house that hath skill to take off these Burdens: So I believed
him, and turned out of that way into this, if haply I might be soon eased of
my Burden. But when I came to this place, and beheld things as they are, I
stopped for fear (as I said) of danger: but I now know not what to do.
Evan. Then, said Evangelist, stand still a little, that I may shew thee
the words of God. So he stood trembling. Then said Evangelist, See that ye
refuse not him that speaketh; for if they escaped not who refused him that
spake on Earth, much more shall not we escape, if we turn away from him that
speaketh from Heaven. He said moreover, Now the just shall live by faith: but
if any man draws back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him. He also did thus
apply them, Thou art the man that art running into this misery, thou hast
begun to reject the counsel of the Most High, and to draw back thy foot from
the way of peace, even almost to the hazarding of thy perdition.