Bunyan Characters (1st Series) eBook

Alexander Whyte
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 283 pages of information about Bunyan Characters (1st Series).
to drain and dry up.  For ages and ages the royal surveyors have been laying out all their skill on this slough.  More cartloads than you could count of the best material for filling up a slough have been shot into it, and yet you would never know that so much as a single labourer had emptied his barrow here.  True, excellent stepping-stones have been laid across the slough by skilful engineers, but they are always so slippery with the scum and slime of the slough, that it is only now and then that a traveller can keep his feet upon them.  Altogether, our author’s picture of the Slough of Despond is such a picture that no one who has seen it can ever forget it.  But better than reading the best description of the slough is to see certain well-known pilgrims trying to cross it.  Mr. Fearing at the Slough of Despond was a tale often told at the tavern suppers of that country.  Never pilgrim attempted the perilous journey with such a chicken-heart in his bosom as this Mr. Fearing.  He lay above a month on the bank of the slough, and would not even attempt the steps.  Some kind Pilgrims, though they had enough to do to keep the steps themselves, offered him a hand; but no.  And after they were safely over it made them almost weep to hear the man still roaring in his horror at the other side.  Some bade him go home if he would not take the steps, but he said that he would rather make his grave in the slough than go back one hairsbreadth.  Till, one sunshiny morning,—­no one knew how, and he never knew how himself—­the steps were so high and dry, and the scum and slime were so low, that this hare-hearted man made a venture, and so got over.  But, then, as an unkind friend of his said, this pitiful pilgrim had a slough of despond in his own mind which he carried always and everywhere about with him, and made him the proverb of despondency that he was and is.  Only, that sunshiny morning he got over both the slough inside of him and outside of him, and was heard by Help and his family singing this song on the hither side of the slough:  ’He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings.’

Our pilgrim did not have such a good crossing as Mr. Fearing.  Whether it was that the discharge from the city was deeper and fouler, or that the day was darker, or what, we are not told, but both Christian and Pliable were in a moment out of sight in the slough.  They both wallowed, says their plain-spoken historian, in the slough, only the one of the two who had the burden on his back at every wallow went deeper into the mire; when his neighbour, who had no such burden, instead of coming to his assistance, got out of the slough at the same side as he had entered it, and made with all his might for his own house.  But the man called Christian made what way he could, and still tumbled on to the side of the slough that was farthest from his own house, till a man called Help

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Bunyan Characters (1st Series) from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.