The Pilgrim's Progress (1909)/Book 2/Chapter 8

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CHAPTER VIII.


THE DELECTABLE MOUNTAINS AND THE SHEPHERDS.


I saw now that they went on till they came at the river that was on this side of the Delectable Mountains; to the river where the fine trees grow on both sides, and whose leaves, if taken inwardly, are good against sickness; where the meadows are green all the year long, and where they might lie down safely.

By this river-side, in the meadow, there were cotes and folds for sheep, a house built for the nourishing and bringing up of those lambs, the babes of those women that go on pilgrimage. Also there was here One that was entrusted with them, who could have pity, and that could gather these lambs with His arm, and carry them in His bosom, and that could gently lead those that were with young.

Now, to the care of this Man Christiana admonished her four daughters to commit their little ones, that by these waters they might be housed, cared for, helped and nourished, and that none of them might be lacking in time to come. This Man, if any of them go astray or be lost, He will bring them again; He will also bind up that which was broken, and will strengthen them that are sick. Here they will never want food and drink and clothing; here they will be kept from thieves and robbers; for this Man will die before one of those committed to His trust shall be lost. Besides, here they shall be sure to have good nurture and training, and shall be taught to walk in right paths; and that, you know, is a favor of no small account. Also here, as you see, are delicate waters, pleasant meadows, dainty flowers, variety of trees, and such as bear wholesome fruit—fruit not like that that Matthew ate of, that fell over the wall out of Beelzebub's garden; but fruit that giveth health where there is none, and that continueth and increaseth it where it is. So they were content to commit their little ones to Him; and that which was also an encouragement to them so to do, was, for that all this was to be at the charge of the King, and so was as an hospital for young children and orphans.

Now they went on. And, when they were come to By-path Meadow, to the stile over which Christian went with his fellow Hopeful, when they were taken by Giant Despair and put into Doubting Castle, they sat down, and consulted what was best to be done; to wit, now they were so strong, and had got such a man as Mr. Great-heart for their conductor, whether they had not best make an attempt upon the giant, demolish his castle, and if there were any pilgrims in it, to set them at liberty, before they went any farther. So one said one thing, and another said the contrary. One questioned if it were lawful to go upon ground that was not the King's; another said they might providing their end was good; but Mr. Great-heart said, "Though that reason given last cannot be always true, yet I have a commandment to resist sin, to overcome evil, to fight the good fight of faith; and, I pray, with whom should I fight this good fight, if not with Giant Despair? I will therefore attempt the taking away of his life and the demolishing of Doubting Castle." Then said he, "Who will go with me?" Then said old Honest, "I will." "And so will we, too," said Christiana's four sons, Matthew, Samuel, Joseph, and James; for they were young men and strong. So they left the women in the road, and with them Mr. Feeble-mind and Mr. Ready-to-halt, with his crutches, to be their guard until they came back; for, in that place, though Giant Despair dwelt so near, they keeping in the road, "a little child might lead them."

So Mr. Great-heart, old Honest, and the four young men went to go up to Doubting Castle, to look for Giant Despair. When they came at the castle gate, they knocked for entrance with an unusual noise. At that, the old giant comes to the gate, and Diffidence his wife follows. Then said he, "Who and what is he that is so hardy as after this manner to disturb the Giant Despair?"

Mr. Great-heart replied, "It is I, Great-heart, one of the King of the Celestial Country's conductors of pilgrims to their place; and I demand of thee that thou open thy gates for my entrance; prepare thyself also to fight, for I am come to take away thy head, and to demolish Doubting Castle."

Now, Giant Despair, because he was a giant, thought no man could overcome him; and again thought he, "Since heretofore I have made a conquest of angels, shall Great-heart make me afraid?" So he harnessed himself with his armor, and went out. He had a cap of steel upon his head, a breast-plate of fire girded to him, and he came out in iron shoes, with a great club in his hand. Then these six men made up to him, and beset him behind and before; also when Diffidence, the giantess, came up to help him, old Mr. Honest cut her down at one blow. Then they fought for their lives, and Giant Despair was brought down to the ground, but was very loath to die. He struggled hard, and had, as they say, as many lives as a cat; but Great-heart was his death, for he left him not till he had severed his head from his shoulders.

Then they fell to demolishing Doubting Castle, and that, you know, might with ease be done, since Giant Despair was dead. They were seven days in destroying of that; and in it of pilgrims, they found one Mr. Despondency, almost starved to death, and one Much-afraid, his daughter: these two they saved alive. But it would have made you wonder to have seen the dead bodies that lay here and there in the castle-yard, and how full of dead men's bones the dungeon was.

When Mr. Great-heart and his companions had performed this great work they took Mr. Despondency and his daughter Much-afraid into their care; for they were honest people, though they were prisoners in Doubting Castle to that tyrant Giant Despair.

They therefore, I say, took with them the head of the giant (for his body they had buried under a heap of stones), and down to the road and to their companions they came, and showed them what they had done. Now, when Feeble-mind and Ready-to-halt saw that it was the head of Giant Despair indeed, they were very jocund and merry. Now, Christiana, if need was, could play upon the viol, and her daughter Mercy upon the lute; so, since they were so merry disposed, she played them a lesson, and Ready-to-halt would dance. So he took Despondency's daughter Much-afraid by the hand, and to dancing they went in the road. True, he could not dance without one crutch in his hand; but I promise you he footed it well; also the girl was to be commended, for she answered the music handsomely.

As for Mr. Despondency, the music was not so much to him; he was for feeding rather than dancing, for that he was almost starved. So Christiana gave him some of her bottle of spirits for present relief, and then prepared him something to eat; and in a little time the old gentleman came to himself, and began to be finely revived.

Now, I saw in my dream, when all these things were finished, Mr. Great-heart took the head of Giant Despair, and set it upon a pole by the highway-side, right over against the pillar that Christian erected for a caution to pilgrims that came after to take heed of entering into his grounds. Then he writ under it, upon a marble stone, these verses following:

"This is the head of him whose name only
In former times did pilgrims terrify;
His castle's down, and Diffidence his wife
Brave Mr. Great-heart has bereft of life.
Despondency, his daughter Much-afraid,
Great-heart for them also the man has played.
Who hereof doubts, if he'll but cast his eye
Up hither, may his scruples satisfy.
This head also, when doubting cripples dance,
Doth show from fears they have deliverance."

When these men had thus bravely showed themselves against Doubting Castle, and had slain Giant Despair, they went forward, and went on till they came to the Delectable Mountains, where Christian and Hopeful refreshed themselves with the varieties of the place. They also acquainted themselves with the shepherds there, who welcomed them, as they had done Christian before, unto the Delectable Mountains.

Now, the shepherds seeing so great a train follow Mr. Great-heart (for with him they were well acquainted), they said unto him, "Good sir, you have got a goodly company here; pray, where did you find all these?"

Then Mr. Great-heart replied:

"First, here is Christiana and her train,
Her sons, and her sons' wives, who, like the wain,
Keep by the pole, and do by compass steer
From sin to grace; else they had not been here.
Next, here's old Honest come on pilgrimage,
Ready-to-halt too, who I dare engage
True-hearted is, and so is Feeble-mind,
Who willing was not to be left behind.
Despondency, good man, is coming after
And so also is Much-afraid his daughter.
May we have entertainment here, or must
We farther go? Let's know whereon to trust."

Then said the shepherds, "This is a comfortable company. You are welcome to us, for we have care for the feeble, as well as for the strong. Our Prince has an eye to what is done, to the least of these; therefore weakness must not be a block to our entertainment." So they had them to the palace door, and then said unto them, "Come in, Mr. Feeble-mind; come in, Mr. Ready-to-halt; come in, Mr. Despondency and Mrs. Much-afraid, his daughter. These, Mr. Great-heart," said the shepherds to the guide, "we call in by name, for that they are most subject to draw back; but as for you and the rest that are strong, we leave you to your wonted liberty."

Then said Mr. Great-heart, "This day I see that grace doth shine in your faces, and that you are my Lord's shepherds indeed; for that you have not pushed these helpless ones neither with side nor shoulder, but have rather strewed their way into the palace with flowers, as you should."

So the feeble and weak went in, and Mr. Great-heart and the rest did follow. When they were also sat down, the shepherds said to those of the weaker sort, "What is it that you would have? for," said they, "all things must be managed here for the supporting of the weak, as well as the warning of the unruly." So they made them a feast of things easy of digestion, and that were pleasant to the palate, and nourishing; the which when they had received, they went to their rest, each one separately unto his proper place.

When morning was come, because the mountains were nigh and the day clear, and because it was the custom of the shepherds to show the pilgrims before their departure some rarities; therefore, after they were ready and had refreshed themselves, the shepherds took them out into the fields, and showed them first what they had showed to Christian before.

Then they had them to some new places. The first was to Mount Marvel, where they looked, and beheld a man at a distance that tumbled the hills about with words. Then they asked the shepherds what that should mean. So they told them that that man was the son of Mr. Great-grace of whom you read in the first part of the records of the Pilgrim's Progress; and he is set down there to teach the pilgrims how to believe, or to tumble out of their ways what difficulties they should meet with, by faith. Then said Mr. Great-heart, "I know him; he is a man above many."

Then they had them to another place, called Mount Innocent; and there they saw a man clothed all in white, and two men. Prejudice and Ill-will, continually casting dirt upon them. Now, behold, the dirt, whatsoever they cast at him, would in a little time fall off again, and his garment would look as clear as if no dirt had been cast thereat. Then said the pilgrims, "What means this?"

The shepherds answered, "This man is named Godly-man, and this garment is to show the innocency of his life. Now, those that throw dirt at him are such as hate his well-doing; but, as you see, the dirt will not stick upon his clothes: so it shall be with him that liveth truly innocently in the world. Whoever they be that would make such men dirty, they labor all in vain; for God, by that a little time is spent, will cause that their innocence shall break forth as the light, and their righteousness as the noon-day."

Then they took them, and had them to Mount Charity, where they showed them a man that had a bundle of cloth lying before him, out of which he cut coats and garments for the poor that stood about him; yet his bundle or roll of cloth was never the less.

Then said they, "What should this be?"

"This is," said the shepherds, "to show you that he who has a heart to give of his labor to the poor, shall never want wherewithal. He that watereth shall be watered himself. And the cake that the widow gave to the prophet did not cause that she had ever the less in her barrel."

They had them also to a place where they saw one Fool, and one Want-wit, washing of an Ethiopian, with intention to make him white; but the more they washed him the blacker he was. Then they asked the shepherds what that should mean. So they told them, saying, "Thus shall it be with the vile person: all means used to get such an one a good name, shall, in the end tend but to make him more abominable. Thus it was with the Pharisees, and so shall it be with all pertenders to religion."

Then said Mercy, the wife of Matthew, to Christiana her mother, "Mother, I would, if it might be, see the hole in the hill, or that commonly called the By-way to Hell." So her mother brake her mind to the shepherds. Then they went to the door: it was in the side of a hill; and they opened it, and bid Mercy hearken awhile. So she hearkened, and heard one saying, "Cursed be my father for holding of my feet back from the way of peace and life." And another said, "Oh that I had been torn in pieces before I had, to save my life, lost my soul!" And another said, "If I were to live again, how would I deny myself rather than come to this place!" Then there was as if the very earth groaned and quaked under the feet of this young woman for fear; so she looked white, and came trembling away, saying, "Blessed be he and she that are delivered from this place."

Now, when the shepherds had shown them all these things, then they had them back to the palace, and entertained them with what the house would afford. But Mercy longed for something that she saw there, but was ashamed to ask. Her mother-in-law then asked her what she ailed, for she looked as one not well. Then said Mercy, "There is a looking-glass hangs up in the dining-room, off of which I cannot take my mind; if, therefore, I have it not, I think I shall be unhappy." Then said her mother, "I will mention thy wants to the shepherds, and they will not deny it thee." But she said, "I am ashamed that these men should know that I longed." "Nay, my daughter," said she, "it is no shame, but a virtue, to long for such a thing as that." So Mercy said, "Then, mother, if you please, ask the shepherds if they are willing to sell it."

Now, the glass was one of a thousand. It would present a man, one way, with his own features exactly; and, turn it but another way, and it would show one the very face and likeness of the Prince of pilgrims Himself. Yea, I have talked with them that can tell, and they have said that they have seen the very crown of thorns upon His head, by looking in that glass; they have therein also seen the holes in His hands, in His feet, and in His side. Yea, such an excellency is there in this glass, that it will show Him to one where they have a mind to see Him, whether living or dead, whether in earth or in heaven, whether in a state of lowhness or in His kingliness, whether coming to suffer or coming to reign.

Christiana, therefore went to the shepherds apart—(now, the names of the shepherds were Knowledge, Experience, Watchful, and Sincere), —and said unto them, "There is one of my daughters, that I think doth long for something that she hath seen in this house, and she thinks that she shall be unhappy if she should by you be denied."

Experience. Call her, call her; she shall assuredly have what we can help her to. So they called her, and said to her, "Mercy, what is that thing thou wouldst have?" Then she blushed, and said, "The great glass that hangs up in the dining-room." So Sincere ran and fetched it; and with a joyful consent it was given her. Then she bowed her head, and gave thanks, and said, "By this I know that I have obtained favor in your eyes."

They also gave to the other young women such things as they desired, and to their husbands great praise for that they joined with Great-heart to the slaying of Giant Despair and the destroying of Doubting Castle.

About Christiana's neck the shepherds put a necklace, and so they did about the necks of her four daughters; also they put earrings in their ears, and jewels on their foreheads.

Pilgrim's Progress 1909 ed. p374.jpg

Turn-away Resisting Evangelist.

Page 357

When they were minded to go hence, they let them go in peace, but gave not to them those certain cautions which before were given to Christian and his companion. The reason was, for that these had Great-heart to be their guide, who was one that was well acquainted with things, and so could give them their cautions more seasonably; that is, even then when the danger was nigh the approaching. What cautions Christian and his companion had received of the shepherds, they had also lost by that the time was come that they had need to put them in practice. Wherefore, here was the advantage that this company had over the other.

From hence they went on singing, and they said:

"Behold, how fitly are the stages set,
For their relief that pilgrims are become,
And how they us receive without one let[1]
That make the other life our mark and home!

"What novelties they have, to us they give,
That we, though pilgrims, joyful lives may live;
They do upon us, too, such things bestow,
That show we pilgrims are, where'er we go."

When they were gone from the shepherds, they quickly came to the place where Christian met with one Turn-away, that dwelt in the town of Apostasy. Wherefore of him Mr. Great-heart, their guide, did now put them in mind, saying, "This is the place where Christian met with one Turn-away, who carried with him the character of his rebellion at his back. And this I have to say concerning this man: he would hearken to no counsel, but, once falling, persuasion could not stop him. When he came to the place where the Cross and the sepulchre were, he did meet with one that bid him look there; but he gnashed with his teeth, and stamped, and said he was resolved to go back to his own town. Before he came to the gate, he met with Evangelist, who offered to lay hands on him, to turn him into the way again. But this Turn-away resisted him; and having done much harm unto him, he got away over the wall, and so escaped his hand."

Then they went on; and just at the place where Little-Faith formerly was robbed, there stood a man with his sword drawn, and his face all bloody. Then said Mr. Great-heart, "Who art thou?" The man made answer, saying, "I am one whose name is Valiant-for-truth. I am a pilgrim, and am going to the Celestial City. Now, as I was in my way, there were three men did beset me, and propounded unto me these three things: 1. Whether I would become one of them? 2. Or go back to the place from whence I came? 3. Or die upon the place? To the first I answered, I had been a true man a long season, and therefore it could not be expected that I should now cast in my lot with thieves. Then they demanded what I should say to the second. So I told them that the place from whence I came, had I not found it unsatisfactory I had not forsaken at all; but, finding it altogether unsuitable to me, and very unprofitable for me, I forsook it for this way. Then they asked me what I said to the third. And I told them my life cost more dear far than that I should lightly give it away. Besides you have nothing to do thus to put things to my choice, wherefore at your peril be it if you meddle. Then these three, to wit, Wild-head, Inconsiderate, and Pragmatic, drew their weapons upon me, and I also drew upon them. So we fell to it, one against three, for the space of above three hours. They have left upon me, as you see, some of the marks of their valor, and have also carried away with them some of mine. They are but just now gone: I suppose they might, as the saying is, hear your horse dash, and so they betook them to flight."

Great. But here was great odds, three against one.

Valiant. 'Tis true; but little or more are nothing to him that has the truth on his side. "Though an host should encamp against me," said one, "my heart shall not fear: though war should rise against me, in this will I be confident. Besides," said he, "I have read in some records that one man has fought an army; and how many did Samson slay with the jaw-bone of an ass?"

Great. Then said the guide, "Why did you not cry out, that some might have come in for your succor?"

Valiant. So I did, to my King, who, I knew, could hear me, and afford invisible help; and that was sufficient for me.

Great. Then said Great-heart to Mr. Valiant-for-truth, "Thou hast worthily behaved thyself. Let me see thy sword." So he showed it him. When he had taken it in his hand, and looked thereon a while, he said, "Ha! it is a right Jerusalem blade."

Valiant. It is so. Let a man have one of these blades, with a hand to wield it and skill to use it, and he may venture upon an angel with it. He need not fear its holding, if he can but tell how to lay on. Its edges will never blunt. It will cut flesh and bones, and soul and spirit, and all.

Great. But you fought a great while. I wonder you were not weary.

Valiant. I fought till my sword did cleave to my hand; and when they were joined together, as if a sword grew out of my arm, and when the blood ran through my fingers, then I fought with most courage.

Great. Thou hast done well; thou hast resisted unto blood, striving against sin. Thou shalt abide by us, come in and go out with us, for we are thy companions.

Then they took him, washed his wounds, and gave him of what they had, to refresh him; and so they went on together.

Now, as they went on, because Mr. Great-heart was delighted in him (for he loved one greatly that he found to be a man of his own sort), and because there were in company them that were feeble and weak, therefore he questioned with him about many things; as, first, what countryman he was.

Valiant. I am of Dark-land; for there I was born, and there my father and mother are still.

Great. "Dark-land!" said the guide; "doth not that lie upon the same coast with the City of Destruction?"

Valiant. Yes, it doth. Now, that which caused me to come on pilgrimage was this. We had one Mr. Tell-true come into our parts, and he told it about what Christian had done, that went from the City of Destruction; namely, how he had forsaken his wife and children, and had betaken himself to a pilgrim's life. It was also reported, and believed, how he had killed a serpent that did come out to resist him in his journey; and how he got through to whither he intended. It was also told what welcome he had at all his Lord's lodgings, specially when he came to the gates of the Celestial City; "For there," said the man, "he was received with sound of trumpet by a company of Shining Ones." He told also how all the bells in the City did ring for joy at his entering in, and what golden garments he was clothed with; with many other things that now I shall forbear to relate. In a word, that man so told the story of Christian and his travels, that my heart fell into a burning haste to be gone after him; nor could father or mother stay me. So I got from them, and am come thus far on my way.

Great. You came in at the gate, did you not?

Valiant. Yes, yes; for the same man also told us, that all would be nothing if we did not begin to enter this way at the gate.

Great. "Look you," said the guide to Christiana, "the pilgrimage of your husband, with what he has gotten thereby, is spread abroad far and near."

Valiant. Why, is this Christian's wife?

Great. Yes, that it is, and these also are his four sons.

Valiant. What! and going on pilgrimage too?

Great. Yes, verily, they are following after.

Valiant. It glads me at heart. Good man, how joyful will he be when he shall see them that would not go with him, yet to enter after him in at the gates into the City!

Great. Without doubt it will be a comfort to him; for, next to the joy of seeing himself there, it will be a joy to meet there his wife and children.

Valiant. But, now you are upon that, pray let me hear your opinion about it. Some make a question whether we shall know one another when we are there.

Great. Do they think they shall know themselves, then? or that they shall rejoice to see themselves in that happiness? And if they think they shall know and do this, why not know others, and rejoice in their welfare also? Again, since relations are our second self, though that state will cease there, yet why may it not be wisely concluded that we shall be more glad to see them there than to see they are wanting?

Valiant. Well, I perceive whereabouts you are as to this. Have you any more things to ask me about my beginning to come on pilgrimage?

Great. Yes. Were your father and mother willing that you should become a pilgrim?

Valiant. Oh, no; they used all means imaginable to persuade me to stay at home.

Great. Why, what could they say against it?

Valiant. They said it was an idle life; and, if I myself were not inclined to sloth and laziness, I would never favor a pilgrim's condition.

Great. And what did they say else?

Valiant. Why, they told me that it was a dangerous way: "Yea, the most dangerous way in the world," said they, "is that which the pilgrims go."

Great. Did they show you wherein this way is so dangerous?

Valiant. Yes; and that in many particulars.

Great. Name some of them.

Valiant. They told me of the Slough of Despond, where Christian was well-nigh smothered. They told me that there were archers standing ready in Beelzebub's castle to shoot them who should knock at the wicket-gate for entrance. They told me also of the wood and dark mountains of the Hill Difficulty; of the lions; and also of the three giants, Bloody-man, Maul, and Slay-good. They said moreover that there was a foul fiend haunted the Valley of Humiliation, and that Christian was by him almost bereft of life. "Besides," said they, "you must go over the Valley of the Shadow of Death, where the hobgoblins are, where the light is darkness, where the way is full of snares, pits, traps, and gins." They told me also of Giant Despair, of Doubting Castle, and of the ruin that the pilgrims met with there. Further, they said I must go over the Enchanted Ground, which was dangerous; and that, after all this, I should find a river, over which I should find no bridge, and that that river did lie betwixt me and the Celestial Country.

Great. And was this all?

Valiant. No. They also told me that this way was full of deceivers, and of persons that laid wait there to turn good men out of the path.

Great. But how did they make that out?

Valiant. They told me that Mr. Worldly Wise-man did there lie in wait to deceive. They also said that there were Formality and Hypocrisy continually on the road. They said also that By-ends, Talkative, or Demas would go near to gather me up; that the Flatterer would catch me in his net; or that, with green-headed Ignorance, I would presume to go on to the gate, from whence he was sent back to the hole that was in the side of the hill, and made to go the by-way to hell.

Great. I promise you, this was enough to discourage you; but did they make an end here?

Valiant. No stay, They told me also of many that had tried that way of old, and that had gone a great way therein, to see if they could find something of the glory there that so many had so much talked of from time to time; and how they came back again, and befooled themselves for setting a foot out of doors in that path, to the satisfaction of all the country. And they named several that did so, as Obstinate and Pliable, Mistrust and Timorous, Turn-away and old Atheist; with several more, who, they said, had some of them gone far to see what they could find, but not one of them found so much advantage by going as amounted to the weight of a feather.

Great. Said they anything more to discourage you?

Valiant. Yes; they told me of one Mr. Fearing, who was a pilgrim, and how he found this way so solitary, that he never had a comfortable hour therein; also that Mr. Despondency had like to have been starved therein; yea, and also (which I had almost forgot) that Christian himself, about whom there had been such a noise, after all his ventures for a celestial crown, was certainly drowned in the Black River, and never went a foot farther, however it was smothered up.

Great. And did none of these things discourage you?

Valiant. No; they seemed but as so many nothings to me.

Great. How came that about?

Valiant. Why, I still believed what Mr. Tell-truth had said; and that carried me beyond them all.

Great. Then this was your victory, even your faith.

Valiant. It was so. I believed, and therefore came out, got into the way, fought all that set themselves against me, and, by believing, am come to this place.

"Who would true valor see,
Let him come hither;
One here will constant be,
Come wind, come weather;
There's no discouragement
Shall make him once relent
His first avowed intent
To be a pilgrim.

"Whoso beset him round
With dismal stories,
Do but themselves confound—
His strength the more is.
No lion can him fright;
He'll with a giant fight,
But he will have a right
To be a pilgrim.

"Hobgoblin nor foul fiend
Can daunt his spirit;
He knows he at the end
Shall life inherit.
Then, fancies fly away,
He'll fear not what men say;
He'll labor night and day
To be a pilgrim."

  1. The word "let" here means "hindrance."