The Author's Apology for His Book
When at the first I took my pen in hand
Thus for to write, I did not understand
That I at all should make a
In such a mode; nay, I had undertook
To make another; which, when almost done,
Before I was
aware, I this begun.
And thus it was: I, writing of the way
And race of saints, in this our gospel day,
Fell suddenly into an allegory
their journey, and the way to glory,
In more than twenty things which I set down.
This done, I twenty more
had in my crown;
And they again began to multiply,
Like sparks that from the coals of fire do fly.
thought I, if that you breed so fast,
I'll put you by yourselves, lest you at last
Should prove ad infinitum,
and eat out
The book that I already am about.
Well, so I did; but yet I did not think
To shew to all the world my pen and ink
In such a mode; I only thought
I knew not what; nor did I undertake
Thereby to please my neighbour: no, not I;
I did it my own self
Neither did I but vacant seasons spend
In this my scribble; nor did I intend
But to divert myself in doing
From worser thoughts which make me do amiss.
Thus, I set pen to paper with delight,
And quickly had my thoughts in black and white.
For, having now my
method by the end,
Still as I pulled, it came; and so I penned
It down: until it came at last to be,
and breadth, the bigness which you see.
Well, when I had thus put mine ends together,
I shewed them others, that I might see whether
condemn them, or them justify:
And some said, Let them live; some, Let them die;
Some said, JOHN, print
it; others said, Not so;
Some said, It might do good; others said, No.
Now was I in a strait, and did not see
Which was the best thing to be done by me:
At last I thought, Since
you are thus divided,
I print it will, and so the case decided.
For, thought I, some, I see, would have it done,
Though others in that channel do not run:
To prove, then,
who advised for the best,
Thus I thought fit to put it to the test.
I further thought, if now I did deny
Those that would have it, thus to gratify;
I did not know but hinder them
Of that which would to them be great delight.
For those which were not for its coming forth,
I said to them, Offend you I am loath,
Yet, since your brethren
pleased with it be,
Forbear to judge till you do further see.
If that thou wilt not read, let it alone;
Some love the meat, some love to pick the bone.
Yea, that I might
them better palliate,
I did too with them thus expostulate:
May I not write in such a style as this?
In such a method, too, and yet not miss
My endthy good? Why
may it not be done?
Dark clouds bring waters, when the bright bring none.
Yea, dark or bright, if they
their silver drops
Cause to descend, the earth, by yielding crops,
Gives praise to both, and carpeth not
But treasures up the fruit they yield together;
Yea, so commixes both, that in her fruit
distinguish this from that: they suit
Her well when hungry; but, if she be full,
She spews out both, and makes
their blessings null.
You see the ways the fisherman doth take
To catch the fish; what engines doth he make?
Behold how he
engageth all his wits;
Also his snares, lines, angles, hooks, and nets;
Yet fish there be, that neither hook,
Nor snare, nor net, nor engine can make thine:
They must be groped for, and be tickled too,
they will not be catch'd, whate'er you do.
How does the fowler seek to catch his game
By divers means! all which one cannot name:
His guns, his
nets, his lime-twigs, light, and bell:
He creeps, he goes, he stands; yea, who can tell
Of all his postures?