The Pilgrim's Progress

by John Bunyan

Previous Chapter Next Chapter

Part II - Chapter V - The Palace Beautiful


Now, then, they were within sight of the Porter's lodge, and they soon came up unto it; but they made the more haste after this to go thither, because it is dangerous travelling there in the night. So, when they were come to the gate, the guide knocked, and the Porter cried, "Who is there?" But as soon as the guide had said "It is I," he knew his voice, and came down, for the guide had oft before that come thither as a conductor of pilgrims. When he was come down he opened the gate; and, seeing the guide stand just before it (for he saw not the women, for they were behind him), he said unto him, "How now, Mr. Great-heart! what is your business here so late to-night?"

"I have brought," said he, "some pilgrims hither, where, by my Lord's commandment, they must lodge. I had been here some time ago, had I not been opposed by the giant that did use to back the lions; but I, after a long and tedious combat with him, have cut him off, and have brought the pilgrims hither in safety."

Port. Will you not go in, and stay till morning?

Great. No, I will return to my Lord to-night.

Chr. Oh, sir, I know not how to be willing you[266] should leave us in our pilgrimage: you have been so faithful and so loving to us, you have fought so stoutly for us, you have been so hearty in counselling of us, that I shall never forget your favor towards us.

Mer. Then said Mercy, "Oh that we might have thy company to our journey's end! How can such poor women as we hold out in a way so full of troubles as this way is, without a friend and defender?"

James. Then said James, the youngest of the boys, "Pray, sir, be persuaded to go with us, and help us, because we are so weak, and the way so dangerous as it is."

Great. I am at my Lord's commandment. If he shall allot me to be your guide quite through, I will willingly wait upon you. But here you failed at first; for when he bid me come thus far with you, then you should have begged me of him to have gone quite through with you, and he would have granted your request. However, at present I must withdraw; and so, good Christiana, Mercy, and my brave children, adieu.

Then the Porter, Mr. Watchful, asked Christiana of her country and of her kindred. And she said, "I come from the City of Destruction. I am a widow woman, and my husband is dead: his name was Christian, the pilgrim."

"How!" said the Porter, "was he your husband?"

A JOYFUL RECEPTION "Yes," said she, "and these are his children,[267] and this" (pointing to Mercy) "is one of my townswomen."

Then the Porter rang his bell, as at such times he is wont, and there came to the door one of the maids, whose name was Humble-mind; and to her the Porter said, "Go, tell it within that Christiana, the wife of Christian, and her children, are come hither on pilgrimage."

She went in, therefore, and told it. But oh, what a noise for gladness was there within when the maid did but drop that word out of her mouth!

So they came with haste to the Porter, for Christiana stood still at the door. Then some of those within said unto her, "Come in, Christiana, come in, thou wife of that good man; come in, thou blessed woman; come in, with all that are with thee."

So she went in, and they followed her that were her children and her companions. Now, when they were gone in, they were had into a very large room, where they were bidden to sit down. So they sat down, and the chief of the house were called to see and welcome the guests. Then they came in and understanding who they were did salute each other with a kiss, and said, "Welcome, ye that bear the grace of God; welcome to us, your friends!"

Now, because it was somewhat late, and because the pilgrims were weary with their journey, and also made faint with the sight of the fight, and of the terrible lions, therefore they desired, as soon as might be, to prepare to go to rest. "Nay,"[268] said those of the family, "refresh yourselves first with a morsel of meat;" for they had prepared for them a lamb, with the accustomed sauce belonging thereto, for the Porter had heard before of their coming, and had told it to them within. So, when they had supped, and ended their prayer with a psalm, they desired they might go to rest.

"But let us," said Christiana, "if we may be so bold as to choose, be in that chamber that was my husband's when he was here."

So they had them up thither, and they lay all in a room. When they were at rest, Christiana and Mercy entered into discourse about things that were convenient.

Chr. Little did I think once, when my husband went on pilgrimage, that I should ever have followed.

Mer. And you as little thought of lying in his bed, and in his chamber to rest, as you do now.

Chr. And much less did I ever think of seeing his face with comfort, and of worshipping the Lord the King with him; and yet now I believe I shall.

Mer. Hark! don't you hear a noise?

Chr. Yes, it is, as I believe, a noise of music, for joy that we are here.

Mer. Wonderful! Music in the house, music in the heart, and music also in heaven, for joy that we are here!

MERCY'S DREAM Thus they talked a while, and then betook themselves to sleep. So in the morning, when[269] they were awake, Christiana said to Mercy, "What was the matter, that you did laugh in your sleep to-night? I suppose you were in a dream."

Mer. So I was, and a sweet dream it was; but are you sure I laughed?

Chr. Yes, you laughed heartily; but, prithee, Mercy, tell me thy dream.

Mer. I was dreaming that I sat all alone in a solitary place, and was bemoaning of the hardness of my heart. Now, I had not sat there long, but methought many were gathered about me to see me, and to hear what it was that I said. So they hearkened, and I went on bemoaning the hardness of my heart. At this, some of them laughed at me, some called me fool, and some thrust me about. With that, methought I looked up, and saw one coming with wings towards me. So he came directly to me, and said, "Mercy, what aileth thee?" Now, when he had heard me make my complaint, he said, "Peace be to thee;" he also wiped mine eyes with his handkerchief, and clad me in silver and gold. He put a chain about my neck, and ear-rings in mine ears, and a beautiful crown upon my head. Then he took me by the hand, and said, "Mercy, come after me." So he went up, and I followed, till we came to a golden gate. Then he knocked; and when they within opened, the man went in, and I followed him up to a throne upon which One sat; and He said to me, "Welcome, daughter!" The place looked bright and twinkling,[270] like the stars, or rather like the sun; and I thought that I saw your husband there. So I awoke from my dream. But did I laugh?

Chr. Laugh! ay, and well you might, to see yourself so well. For you must give me leave to tell you, that I believe it was a good dream; and that, as you have begun to find the first part true, so you shall find the second at last. "God speaks once, yea, twice, yet man perceiveth it not; in a dream, in a vision of the night, when deep sleep falleth upon men, in slumberings upon the bed." We need not, when abed, to lie awake to talk with God: He can visit us while we sleep, and cause us then to hear His voice. Our heart oftentimes wakes when we sleep; and God can speak to that, either by words, by proverbs, or by signs and similitudes, as well as if one was awake.

Mer. Well, I am glad of my dream; for I hope ere long to see it fulfilled, to the making of me laugh again.

Chr. I think it is now high time to rise, and to know what we must do.

Mer. Pray, if they invite us to stay, a while, let us willingly accept of the proffer. I am the willinger to stay a while here, to grow better acquainted with these maids. Methinks Prudence, Piety, and Charity have very lovely and sober countenances.

Chr. We shall see what they will do.

So, when they were up and ready, they came[271] down; and they asked one another of their rest, and if it was comfortable or not.

Mer. "Very good," said Mercy; "it was one of the best nights' lodging that ever I had in my life."

Then said Prudence and Piety, "If you will be persuaded to stay here a while, you shall have what the house will afford."

Char. "Ay, and that with a very good will," said Charity.

So they consented, and stayed there about a month, or above, and became very profitable one to another.

MR. BRISK VISITS MERCY Now, by that these pilgrims had been at this place a week, Mercy had a visitor that pretended some good-will unto her; and his name was Mr. Brisk; a man of some breeding, and that pretended to religion, but a man that stuck very close to the world. So he came once or twice, or more, to Mercy, and offered love unto her. Now, Mercy was a fair countenance, and therefore the more alluring.

Her mind also was, to be always busying of herself in doing; for, when she had nothing to do for herself, she would be making of hose and garments for others, and would bestow them upon them that had need. And Mr. Brisk, not knowing where or how she disposed of what she made, seemed to be greatly taken, for that he found her never idle. "I will warrant her a good housewife," quoth he to himself.

Mercy then told the matter to the maidens that were of the house, and inquired of them concerning him; for they did know him better than she. So they told her that he was a very busy young man, and one who pretended to serve the Lord, but was, as they feared, a stranger to the power of that which is good.

"Nay, then," said Mercy, "I will look no more on him; for I purpose never to have a clog to my soul."

Prudence then replied that "There needed no great matter of discouragement to be given to him; her continuing so as she had begun to do for the poor would quickly cool his courage."

So, the next time he comes, he finds her at her old work, a-making of things for the poor. Then said he, "What! always at it?"

"Yes," said she, "either for myself or for others."

"And what canst thou earn a day?" quoth he.

"I do these things," said she, "that I may be rich in good works, laying up in store for myself a good foundation against the time to come, that I may lay hold on eternal life."

"Why, prithee, what doest thou with them?" said he.

"Clothe the naked," said she.

With that, his countenance fell. So he forbore to come at her again. And when he was asked the reason why, he said that "Mercy was a pretty lass, but troubled with too much working for others."

MERCY REJECTS THE SUITOR When he had left her, Prudence said, "Did I not tell thee that Mr. Brisk would soon forsake thee? yea, he will raise up an ill report of thee; for, notwithstanding his pretence to serve bad and his seeming love to Mercy, yet Mercy and he are of tempers so different, that I believe they will never come together."

Mer. I might have had husbands afore now, though I spake not of it to any; but they were such as did not like my ways, though never did any of them find fault with my person. So they and I could not agree.

Prud. Mercy in our days is little set by, any further than as to its name: the practice, which is set forth by thy works, there are but few that can abide.

Mer. "Well," said Mercy, "if nobody will have me, I will die a maid, or my works shall be to me as a husband; for I cannot change my nature; and to have one that lies cross to me in this, that I purpose never to admit of as long as I live. I had a sister, named Bountiful, that was married to one of these selfish people; but he and she could never agree; but, because my sister was resolved to do as she had begun, that is, to show kindness to the poor, therefore her husband first cried her down in public, and then turned her out of his doors."

Prud. And yet he was a church-member, I warrant you?

Mer. Yes, such a one as he was; and of such[274] as he the world is now full; but I am for none of them at all.

MATTHEW FALLS SICK Now Matthew, the eldest son of Christiana, fell sick, and his sickness was sore upon him for he was much pained in his bowels; so that he was with it, at times, pulled as it were both ends together.

There dwelt also not far from thence one Mr. Skill, an ancient and well-approved physician. So Christiana desired it and they sent for him, and he came. When he was entered the room, and had a little observed the boy, he concluded that he was sick of the gripes. Then he said to his mother, "What diet has Matthew of late fed upon?"

"Diet!" said Christiana, "nothing but that which is wholesome."

The physician answered, "This boy has been tampering with something that lies in his stomach undigested, and that will not away without means. And I tell you he must be purged, or else he will die."

Sam. Then said Samuel, "Mother, what was that which my brother did gather up and eat, so soon as we were come from the gate that is at the head of this way? You know that there was an orchard on the left hand, on the other side of the wall, and some of the trees hung over the wall, and my brother did pull down the branches and did eat."

Chr. "True, my child," said Christiana, "he[275] did take thereof and did eat; naughty boy as he was, I did chide him, and yet he would eat thereof."

Skill. I knew he had eaten something that was not wholesome food; and that food, to wit, that fruit, is even the most hurtful of all. It is the fruit of Beelzebub's orchard. I do marvel that none did warn you of it: many have died thereof.

Chr. Then Christiana began to cry, and she said, "Oh, naughty boy! and oh, careless mother! What shall I do for my son?"

Skill. Come, do not be too much dejected; the boy may do well again, but he must purge and vomit.

Chr. Pray, sir, try the utmost of your skill with him, whatever it costs.

Skill. Nay, I hope I shall be reasonable.

DOCTOR SKILL PRESCRIBES So he made him a purge, but it was too weak; it was said, it was made of the blood of a goat, the ashes of an heifer, and with some of the juice of hyssop, etc. When Mr. Skill had seen that that purge was too weak, he made him one to the purpose. It was made [the name was written in Latin] ex carne et sanguine Christi;[8] (you know physicians give strange medicines to their patients)—and it was made up into pills, with a promise or two, and a proportionable quantity of salt. Now, he was to take them three at a time, fasting, in half a quarter of a pint of the tears of sorrow.

[276]When this potion was prepared and brought to the boy, he was loth to take it, though torn with the gripes as if he should be pulled in pieces.

"Come, come," said the physician, "you must take it."

"It goes against my stomach," said the boy.

"I must have you take it," said his mother.

"I shall vomit it up again," said the boy.

"Pray, sir," said Christiana to Mr. Skill, "how does it taste?"

"It has no ill taste," said the doctor; and with that she touched one of the pills with the tip of her tongue.

"O Matthew," said she, "this potion is sweeter than honey. If thou lovest thy mother, if thou lovest thy brothers, if thou lovest Mercy, if thou lovest thy life, take it."

So, with much ado, after a short prayer for the blessing of God upon it, he took it, and it wrought kindly with him. It caused him to purge, it caused him to sleep and rest quietly; it put him into a fine heat and breathing sweat, and did quite rid him of his gripes. So, in a little time he got up, and walked about with a staff, and would go from room to room, and talk with Prudence, Piety, and Charity, of his sickness, and how he was healed.

So, when the boy was healed, Christiana asked Mr. Skill, saying, "Sir, what will content you for your pains and care to and of my child?"

And he said, "You must pay the Master of[277] the College of Physicians, according to the rules made in that case and provided."

Chr. "But, sir," said she, "what is this pill good for else?"

Skill. It is an universal pill: it is good against all the diseases that pilgrims are troubled with; and when it is well prepared, it will keep good time out of mind.

Chr. Pray, sir, make me up twelve boxes of them; for if I can get these, I will never take other physic.

Skill. These pills are good to prevent diseases, as well as to cure when one is sick. Yea, I dare say it, and stand to it, that if a man will but use this physic as he should, it will make him live for ever. But, good Christiana, thou must give these pills no other way than as I have prescribed; for if you do, they will do no good. So he gave unto Christiana physic for herself and her boys, and for Mercy; and bid Matthew take heed how he ate any more green plums; and kissed them and went his way.

It was told you before, that Prudence bid the boys, if at any time they would, they should ask her some questions that might be profitable, and she would say something to them.

Matt. Then Matthew, who had been sick, asked her, "Why, for the most part, physic should be bitter to our palates?"

Prud. To show how unwelcome the Word of God, and the effects thereof, are to a sinful heart.

Matt. Why does physic, if it does good, purge and cause that we vomit?

Prud. To show that the Word, when it works effectually, cleanseth the heart and mind. For look, what the one doth to the body, the other doth to the soul.

Matt. What should we learn by seeing the flame of our fire go upwards, and by seeing the beams and sweet influences of the sun strike downwards?

Prud. By the going up of the fire, we are taught to ascend to heaven by fervent and hot desires. And by the sun's sending his heat, beams, and sweet influences downwards, we are taught that the Saviour of the world, though high reaches down with His grace and love to us below.

Matt. Where have the clouds their water?

Prud. Out of the sea.

Matt. What may we learn from that?

Prud. That ministers should fetch their teaching from God.

Matt. Why do they empty themselves upon the earth?

Prud. To show that ministers should give out what they know of God to the world.

Matt. Why is the rainbow caused by the sun?

Prud. To show that the promise of God's grace is made sure to us in Christ.

Matt. Why do the springs come from the sea to us through the earth?

[279]Prud. To show that the grace of God comes to us through the body of Christ.

Matt. Why do some of the springs rise out of the tops of high hills?

Prud. To show that the spirit of grace shall spring up in some that are great and mighty, as well as in many that are poor and low.

Matt. Why doth the fire fasten upon the candle-wick?

Prud. To show that, unless grace doth kindle upon the heart, there will be no true light of life in us.

Matt. Why is the wick, and tallow, and all, spent to maintain the light of the candle?

Prud. To show that body, and soul, and all, should be at the service of, and spend themselves to maintain in good condition, that grace of God that is in us.

Matt. Why doth the pelican pierce her own breast with her bill?

Prud. To nourish her young ones with her blood, and thereby to show that Christ the Blessed so loveth His young (His people), as to save them from death by His blood.

Matt. What may one learn by hearing the cock to crow?

Prud. Learn to remember Peter's sin and Peter's sorrow. The cock's crowing shows also that day is coming on: let, then, the crowing of the cock put thee in mind of that last and terrible day of judgment.

[280]Now, about this time, their month was out; wherefore they signified to those of the house that it was convenient for them to be up and going. Then said Joseph to his mother, "It is convenient that you forget not to send to the house of Mr. Interpreter, to pray him to grant that Mr. Great-heart should be sent unto us, that he may be our conductor the rest of our way."

"Good boy," said she, "I had almost forgot." So she drew up a petition, and prayed Mr. Watchful the Porter to send it by some fit man to her good friend Mr. Interpreter, who, when it was come, and he had seen the contents of the petition, said to the messenger, "Go, tell them that I will send him."

When the family where Christiana was saw that they had a purpose to go forward, they called the whole house together, to give thanks to their King for sending of them such profitable guests as these. Which done, they said unto Christiana, "And shall we not show thee something, according, as our custom is to do to pilgrims, on which thou mayest meditate when thou art upon the way?"

THE PILGRIMS VIEW CURIOSITIES So they took Christiana, her children, and Mercy, into the closet, and showed them one of the apples that Eve did eat of, and that which she also did give to her husband, and that for the eating of which they were both turned out of Paradise, and asked her what she thought that was.

Then Christiana said, "It is food or poison, I know not which."

[281]So they opened the matter to her, and she held up her hands and wondered.

Then they had her to a place, and showed her Jacob's ladder. Now, at that time there were some angels ascending upon it. So Christiana looked and looked, to see the angels go up, and so did the rest of the company. Then they were going into another place, to show them something else; but James said to his mother, "Pray bid them stay here a little longer, for this is a curious sight." So they turned again, and stood feeding their eyes with this so pleasing a prospect.

After this they had them into a place where did hang up a golden anchor. So they bid Christiana take it down; "For," said they, "you shall have it with you, for it is of absolute necessity that you should, that you may lay hold of that within the veil, and stand steadfast, in case you should meet with turbulent weather." So they were glad thereof.

Then they took them, and had them to the mount upon which Abraham our father had offered up Isaac his son, and showed them the altar, the wood, the fire, and the knife; for they remain to be seen to this very day. When they had seen it, they held up their hands, and blessed themselves, and said, "Oh! what a man for love to his Master, and for denial to himself, was Abraham!"

After they had showed them all these things, Prudence took them into the dining-room, where stood a pair of excellent virginals;[9] so she played[282] upon them, and turned what she had showed them into this excellent song, saying:

"Eve's apple we have showèd you—
Of that be you aware;
You have seen Jacob's ladder too,
Upon which angels are.
An anchor you receivèd have:
But let not these suffice,
Until with Abra'm, you have gave
Your best a sacrifice."

GREAT-HEART CONDUCTS THEM Now, about this time, one knocked at the door. So the Porter opened, and behold, Mr. Great-heart was there; but when he was come in, what joy was there! For it came now fresh again into their minds, how, but a while ago, he had slain old Grim Bloody-man, the giant, and had delivered them from the lions.

Then said Mr. Great-heart to Christiana and to Mercy, "My lord has sent each of you a bottle of wine, and also some parched corn, together with a couple of pomegranates; he has also sent the boys some figs and raisins, to refresh you in your way."

Then they addressed themselves to their journey; and Prudence and Piety went along with them. When they came at the gate, Christiana asked the Porter if any one of late went by.

He said, "No; only one some time since, who also told me that, of late, there had been a great robbery committed on the King's highway as you go. But he saith the thieves are taken, and will shortly be tried for their lives."

[283]Then Christiana and Mercy were afraid; but Matthew said, "Mother, fear nothing as long as Mr. Great-heart is to go with us, and to be our conductor."

Then said Christiana to the Porter, "Sir, I am much obliged to you for all the kindnesses that you have shown me since I came hither, and also for that you have been so loving and kind to my children. I know not how to gratify your kindness; wherefore, pray, as a token of my respects to you, accept of this small mite."

So she put a gold angel[10] in his hand; and he made her a low obeisance, and said, "Let thy garments be always white, and let thy head want no ointment. Let Mercy live and not die, and let not her works be few." And to the boys he said, "Do you flee youthful passions, and follow after godliness with them that are grave and wise, so shall you put gladness into your mother's heart, and obtain praise of all that are sober-minded."

So they thanked the Porter, and departed.

Now I saw in my dream that they went forward until they were come to the brow of the hill; where Piety, bethinking herself, cried out, "Alas! I have forgot what I intended to bestow upon Christiana and her companions: I will go back and fetch it." So she ran and fetched it. While she was gone, Christiana thought she heard, in a grove a little way off on the right hand, a most[284] curious melodious note, with words much like these:

"Through all my life Thy favor is
So frankly showed to me,
That in Thy house for evermore
My dwelling-place shall be."

And listening still, she thought she heard another answer it, saying:

"For why? the Lord our God is good;
His mercy is for ever sure;
His truth at all times firmly stood,
And shall from age to age endure."

So Christiana asked Prudence what it was that made those curious notes. "They are," said she, "our country birds: they sing these notes but seldom, except it be at the spring, when the flowers appear and the sun shines warm, and then you may hear them all day long. I often," said she, "go out to hear them; we also ofttimes keep them tame in our house. They are very fine company for us when we are melancholy; also they make the woods, and groves, and solitary places, places desirable to be in."

By this time Piety was come again. So she said to Christiana, "Look here: I have brought thee a plan of all those things that thou hast seen at our house, upon which thou mayest look when thou findest thyself forgetful, and call those things again to remembrance for thy teaching and comfort."

Return to the The Pilgrim's Progress Summary Return to the John Bunyan Library

Anton Chekhov
Nathaniel Hawthorne
Susan Glaspell
Mark Twain
Edgar Allan Poe
Mary E. Wilkins Freeman
Herman Melville
Stephen Leacock
Kate Chopin
Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson