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society, at the beginning of the twelfth century, in a state more miserable than the state in which the most degraded nations of the East now are. We see it subjected to the tyranny of a handful of armed foreigners. We see a strong distinction of caste separating the victorious Norman from the vanquished Saxon. We see the great body of the population in a state of personal slavery. We see the most debasing and cruel superstition exercising boundless dominion over the most elevated and benevolent minds. We see the inultitude sunk in brutal ignorance, and the studious few engaged in acquiring what did not deserve the name of knowledge.
In the course of seven centuries the wretched and degraded race have become the greatest and most highly civilized people that ever the world saw, — have spread their dominion over every quarter of the globe, -- have scattered the seeds of mighty empires and republics over vast continents of which no dim intimation had ever reached Ptolemy or Strabo, † -- have created a maritiine power which would annihilate in a quarter of an hour the navies of Tyre, Athens, Carthage, Venice, and Genoa together, — have carried the science of healing, the means of locomotion and correspondence, every mechanical art, every manufacture, everything that promotes the convenience of life, to a perfection which our ancestors would have thought magical, have produced a literature which may boast of works not inferior to the noblest which Greece has bequeathed to us, — have discovered the l:ws which regulate the motions of the heavenly bodies, — have speculated with exquisite subtilty on the operations of the human mind, have been the acknowledged leaders of the human race in the career of political improvement.
The history of England is the history of this great change in the moral, intellectual, and physical state of the inhabitants of our own island. There is much amusing and instructive episodical matter, but this is the main action. To us, we will own, nothing is so interesting and delightful as to contemplate the steps by which the England of the Domesday Book, the England of the Curfew and the Forest Laws, the England of crusaders, monks, schoolmen, astrologers, serfs, outlaws, became the England which we know and love, the classic ground of liberty and philosophy, the school of all knowledge, the mart of all trade.
* Ptolemy. The founder of the Greek dynasty of kings of Egypt. He was a friend of Alexander the Great, and like him was a great warrior ; he was noted also for political wisdom. Died 283 B. c.
† STRABO. An eminent Greek geographer, born about 60 B. C.
BUNYAN'S PILGRIM'S PROGRESS.
The characteristic peculiarity of the Pilgrim's Progress is, that it is the only work of its kind which possesses a strong human interest. Other allegories only amuse the fancy. The allegory of Bunyan has been read by many thousands with tears. There are some good allegories in Johnson's works, and some of still higher merit by Addison. In these performances there is, perhaps, as much wit and ingenuity as in the Pilgrim's Progress. But the pleasure which is produced by the Vision of Mirza, the Vision of Theodore, the Genealogy of Wit, or the Contest between Rest and Labor, is exactly similar to the pleasure which we derive from one of Cowley's odes or from a canto of Hudibras. It is a pleasure which belongs wholly to the understanding, and in which the feelings have no part whatever.
It is not so with the Pilgrim's Progress. That wonderful book, while it obtains admiration from the most fastidious critics, is loved by those who are too simple to admire it. Doctor Johnson, all whose studies were desultory, and who hated, as he said, to read books through, made an exception in favor of the Pilgrim's Progress. That work, he said, was one of the two or three works which he wished longer. In the wildest parts of Scotland the Pilgrim's Progress is the delight of the peasantry. In every nursery the Pilgrim's Progress is a greater favorite than Jack the Giant-Killer. Every reader knows the strait and narrow path as well as he knows a road in which he has gone backward and forward a hundred times. This is the highest miracle of genius, - that things which are not should be as though they were; that the imaginations of one mind should become the personal recollections of another. And this miracle the tinker * has wrought.
There is no ascent, no declivity, no resting-place, no turnstile, with which we are not perfectly acquainted. The wicket-gate, and the desolate swamp which separates it from the City of Destruction ; the long line of road, as straight as a rule can make it; the Interpreter's house and all its fair shows; all the stages of the journey, all the forms which cross or overtake the pilgrims, giants and hobgoblins, illfavored ones and shining ones; the tall, comely, swarthy Madam Bubble, with her great purse by her side, and her fingers playing with the money; the black man in the bright vesture; Mr. Worldly Wiseman
* Bunyan was a tinker.
- all are
my Lord Hategood, Mr. Talkative and Mrs. Timorous ; actually existing beings to us. We follow the travelers through their allegorical progress with interest not inferior to that with which we follow Elizabeth from Siberia to Moscow, or Jeanie Deans from Edinburgh to London.
Bunyan is almost the only writer that ever gave to the abstract the interest of the concrete. In the works of many celebrated authors men are mere personifications. We have not an Othello, but jealousy; not an Iago, but perfidy; not a Brutus, but patriotism. The mind of Bunyan, on the contrary, was so imaginative that personifications, when he dealt with them, became men. A dialogue between two qualities, in his dream, has more dramatic effect than a dialogue butween two hunan beings in most plays.
The style of Bunyan is delightful to every reader, and invaluable as a study to every person who wishes to obtain a wide command over the English language. The vocabulary is the vocabulary of the common people. There is not an expression, if we except a few technical terms of theology, which would puzzle the rudest peasant. We have observed several pages which do not contain a single word of more than two syllables. Yet no writer has said more exactly what he meant to say.
For magnificence, for pathos, for vehement exhortation, for subtile disquisition, for every purpose of the poet, the orator, and the divine, this homely dialect, the dialect of plain workingmen, was perfectly sufficient. There is no book in our literature on which we would so readily stake the fame of the old unpolluted English language; no book which shows so well how rich that language is, in its own proper wealth, and how little it has been improved by all that it has borrowed.
Cowper said, fifty or sixty years ago, that he dared not name John Bunyan in his verse, for fear of moving a sneer. We live in better times; and we are not afraid to say, that though there were many clever men in England during the latter half of the seventeenth century, there were only two great creative minds. One of these produced the PARADISE Lost, the other the PILGRIM's PROGRESS.
GEORGE BANCROFT was born in Worcester, Massachusetts, in 1800. He recently returned from Berlin, where for several years he discharged, with honor to himself and his country, the duties of United States Minister. In 1817 he graduated at Harvard, bearing off, despite his tender age, the second lionors of his class. The next year he went to Germany, where he studied under the direction of Heeren and Schlosser, and other eminent scholars. He prepared himself for a clerical life; but his love of literature was stronger than his “ drawing ” to the pulpit, and he soon abandoned the idea of adopting tlie sacred profession. In 1823 he made his first public literary essay in a volume of poenis, and, in the next following year, put forth a translation of Heeren's Reflections on the Politics of Ancient Greece. About this time he associated himself with the late Dr. Joseph G. Cogswell in the establishment of the Round Hill School at Northampton. The duties of a pedagogue, however, proved uncongenial to him, and, although the school enjoyed a fair degree of prosperity, he found its management irksome, and turned luis attention to politics. In 1838 he was appointed Collector of the Port of Boston ; was an unsuccessful candidate for Governor of Massachusetts in 1814, and in 1815 was made Secretary of the Navy. This office le held about one year, displaying marked ability in the discharge of its duties, and effecting many important reformis in the department. In 1846 he was appointed Minister to England, and remained abroad till 1849. From that time till the date of his appointment as Minister to Berlin by President Grant, he devo cu limsoli ass:Quously to the writing of his History of the United States, which is now completed. The first volume of this work was published in 1834, and the succeeding volumes, down to the tenth, which is just ready, lave followed at long intervals. It is safe to say that Mr. Bancroft's History is unrivaled as a record of the origin and growth of the United States. In its preparation, or at least in that of those rolumes which treat of the years immediately preceding the Revolution, he had the use of a vast number of manuscripts to which no earlier historian had access. His natural qualifications, reinforced by wide reading, for the historian's work are exceptionally great. It has been charged by some English critics that his democratic prejudices are too manifest in his History; but this allegation has had little weight with those who are most competent to form a judgment in the case, – his own countrymen; and his judicial candor is generally reckoned among the most admirable components of his intellectual equipment. His style has received warm and universal praise ; it is eniinently scholarly, yet not pedantic, brilliant, yet not flashy, in narrative animated and picturesque, and in philosophical passages massive and majestic. This history is one of the proudest monuments of American scholarship.
INDIAN MASSACRES OF THE EARLY SETTLERS.
BETWEEN the Indians and the English there had been quarrels, but no wars. From the first landing of colonists in Virginia, the power of the natives was despised : their strongest weapons were such arrows as they could shape without the use of iron, such hatchets as could be made from stone; and an English mastiff seemed to them a terrible adversary. Nor were their numbers considerable. Within sixty miles of Jamestown,* it is computed, there were no more than five thousand souls, or about fifteen hundred warriors. The whole
* JAMESTOWN. A town in Virginia, on the James River, now in ruins. The first English settlement in the United States was made here in 1608.
territory of the clans which listened to Powhatan * as their leader or their conqueror comprehended about eight thousand square miles, thirty tribes, and twenty-four hundred warriors ; so that the Indian population amounted to about one inhabitant to a square mile. The natives, naked and feeble compared with the Europeans, were nowhere concentrated in considerable villages; but dwelt dispersed in hainlets, with froin forty to sixty in each company. Few places had more than two hundred, and many had less. It was also unusual for any large portion of these tribes to be assembled together. An idle tale of an ambuscade of three or four thousand is perhaps an error for three or four hundred ; otherwise it is an extravagant fiction, wholly unworthy of belief. Smith once inet a party, that seemed to amount to seven hundred ; and so complete was the superiority conferred by the use of fire-arms, that with fifteen men he was able to withstand them all.
The suvages were therefore regarded with contempt or compassion. No uniform care had been taken to conciliate their good-will, although their condition had been improved by some of the arts of civilized life. The degree of their advancement may be judged by the intelligence of their chieftain. A house having been built for Opechancanough after the English fashion, he took such delight in the lock and key, that he would lock and unlock the door a hundred times a day, and thought the device incomparable. When Wyatt arrived, the natives expressed a fear lest his intentions should be hostile ; he assured them of his wish to preserve inviolable peace, and the emigrants had no use for fire-arms except against a deer or a fowl. Confidence so far increased that the old law which made death the penalty for teaching the Indians to use the musket was forgotten ; and they were now employed as fowlers and huntsmen. The plantations of the English were widely extended, in unsuspecting confidence, along the James River and towards the Potomac, wherever rich grounds invited to the culture of tobacco; nor were solitary places, remote from neighbors, avoided ; since there would there be less competition for the ownership of the soil.
Powhatan, the father of Pocahontas, remained, after the marriage of his daughter, the firm friend of the English. He died in 1618; and his
younger brother was now the heir to his influence. Should the
* POWHATAN. An Indian chief, father of Pocahontas. The familiar story of the heroism of Pocahontas in saving the life of Captain John Smith is now generally considered a myth. She married Jolin Rolfe, an Englishman, and died in 1617.