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Full Online Book HomeEssaysOld Friends - Essays In Epistolary Parody - LETTER: From Christian to Piscator
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Old Friends - Essays In Epistolary Parody - LETTER: From Christian to Piscator Post by :sherrieb Category :Essays Author :Andrew Lang Date :August 2011 Read :1121

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Old Friends - Essays In Epistolary Parody - LETTER: From Christian to Piscator

LETTER: From Christian to Piscator

Walton and Bunyan were men who should have known each other. It is a pleasant fancy, to me, that they may have met on the banks of Ouse, while John was meditating a sermon, and Izaak was "attentive of his trembling quill."

Sir,--Being now come into the Land of Beulah; here, whence I cannot so much as see Doubting Castle; here, where I am solaced with the sound of voices from the City,--my mind, that is now more at peace about mine own salvation, misgives me sore about thine. Thou wilt remember me, perchance, for him that met thee by a stream of the Delectable Mountains, and took thee to be a man fleeing from the City of Destruction. For, beholding thee from afar, methought that thou didst carry a burden on thy back, even as myself before my deliverance did bear the burden of my sins and fears. Yet when I drew near I perceived that it was but a fisherman's basket on thy back, and that thou didst rather seek to add to the weight of thy burden than to lighten it or fling it away. But, when we fell into discourse, I marvelled much how thou camest so far upon the way, even among the sheep and the shepherds of that country. For I found that thou hadst little experience in conflict with Apollyon, and that thou hadst never passed through the Slough of Despond nor wandered in the Valley of the Shadow. Nay, thou hadst never so much as been distressed in thy mind with great fear, nor hadst thou fled from thy wife and children, to save, if it might be, thy soul for thyself, as I have done. Nay, rather thou didst parley with the shepherds as one that loved their life; and I remember, even now, that sweet carnal song


The Shepherd swains shall dance and sing,
For thy delight, each May morning;
If these delights thy mind may move,
Then live with me and be my love.


These are not the songs that fit the Delectable Country; nay, rather they are the mirth of wantons. Yet didst thou take pleasure in them; and therefore I make bold to ask how didst thou flee at all from the City of Destruction, and come so far upon thy way? Beware lest, when thou winnest to that brook wherein no man casts angle, even to that flood where there is no bridge to go over and the River is very deep--beware, I say, of one Vain Hope, the Ferryman! For I would not have thee lost, because thou art a kindly man and a simple. Yet for Ignorance there is an ill way, even from the very gates of the City.--Thy fellow-traveller,

CHRISTIAN.

From Piscator to Christian.

Sir,--I do indeed remember thee; and I trust thou art amended of these gripings which caused thee to groan and moan, even by the pleasant streams from the hills of the Delectable Mountains. And as for my "burden" 'twas pleasant to me to bear it; for, like not the least of the Apostles, I am a fisher, and I carried trout. But I take no shame in that I am an angler; for angling is somewhat like poetry; men are to be born so, and I would not be otherwise than my Maker designed to have me. Of the antiquity of angling I could say much; but I misdoubt me that thou dost not heed the learning of ancient times, but art a contemner of good learning and virtuous recreations. Yet it may a little move thee that in the Book of Job mention is made of fish-hooks, and without reproof; for let me tell you that in the Scriptures angling is always taken in the best sense.

Touching my flight from the City of Destruction, I love that place no more than thou dost; yet I fear not its evil communications, nor would I so hastily desert it as to leave my wife and children behind therein. Nor have I any experience of conflict with the Evil One; wherefore I thank Him that hath set me in pleasant fields, by clear waters, where come no wicked whispers (be they from Apollyon or from our own hearts); but there is calmness of spirit, and a world of blessings attending upon it. And hence can no man see the towers of Doubting Castle, for the green trees and the hedges white with May. This life is not wholly vile, as some of thy friends declare (Thou, who makest thy pilgrims dance to the lute, knowest better); and, for myself, I own that I love such mirth as does not make men ashamed to look upon each other next morning. Let him that bears a heavy heart for his ill-deeds turn him to better, but not mourn as though the sun were taken out of the sky. What says the song?--nay, 'tis as good balm for the soul as many a hymn:


A merry heart goes all the day,
Your sad one tires in a mile-a!


He that made the world made man to take delight in it; even as thou saw'st me joyful with the shepherds--ay, with godly Mr. Richard Hooker, "he being then tending his small allotment of sheep in a common field," as I recount in a brief life of a good man. As to what awaits me on the other side of that River, I do expect it with a peaceful heart, and in humble hope that a man may reach the City with a cheerful countenance, no less than through groans and sighs and fears. For we have not a tyrant over us, but a Father, that loveth a cheerful liver no less than a cheerful giver. Nevertheless, I thank thee for thy kind thought of one that is not of thy company, nor no Nonconformist, but a peaceful Protestant. And, lest thou be troubled with apparitions of hobgoblins and evil spirits, read that comfortable sermon of Mr. Hooker's to weak believers, on the CERTAINTY OF ADHERENCE, though they want the inward testimony of it.

But now falls there a sweet shower, "a singing shower" saith old George Chapman, and methinks I shall have sport; for I do note that the mayfly is up; and, seeing all these beautiful creatures playing in the air and water, I feel my own heart play within me; and I must out and dape under yonder sycamore tree. Wherefore, prithee, pardon me a longer discourse as at this time.--Thy friend,

PISCATOR.

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