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Holy War
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TO THE READER

‘Tis strange to me, that they that love to tell

Things done of old, yea, and that do excel

Their equals in historiology,

Speak not of Mansoul’s wars, but let them lie

Dead, like old fables, or such worthless things,

That to the reader no advantage brings:

When men, let them make what they will their own,

Till they know this, are to themselves unknown.

Of stories, I well know, there’s divers sorts,

Some foreign, some domestic; and reports

Are thereof made as fancy leads the writers.

(By books a man may guess at the inditers.)

Some will again of that which never was,

Nor will be, feign (and that without a cause)

Such matter, raise such mountains, tell such things

Of men, of laws, of countries, and of kings;

And in their story seem to be so sage,

And with such gravity clothe every page,

That though their frontispiece says all is vain,

Yet to their way disciples they obtain.

But, readers, I have somewhat else to do,

Than with vain stories thus to trouble you.

What here I say, some men do know so well,

They can with tears and joy the story tell.

The town of Mansoul is well known to many,

Nor are her troubles doubted of by any

That are acquainted with those histories

That Mansoul and her wars anatomise.

Then lend thine ear to what I do relate,

Touching the town of Mansoul and her state:

How she was lost, took captive, made a slave:

And how against him set that should her save;

Yea, how by hostile ways she did oppose

Her Lord, and with his enemy did close.

For they are true: he that will them deny

Must needs the best of records vilify.

For my part, I myself was in the town,

Both when ’twas set up, and when pulling down.

I saw Diabolus in his possession,

And Mansoul also under his oppression.

Yea, I was there when she own’d him for lord,

And to him did submit with one accord.

When Mansoul trampled upon things divine,

And wallowed in filth as doth a swine;

When she betook herself unto her arms,

Fought her Emmanuel, despised his charms;

Then I was there, and did rejoice to see

Diabolus and Mansoul so agree.

Let no men, then, count me a fable-maker,

Nor make my name or credit a partaker

Of their derision: what is here in view,

Of mine own knowledge, I dare say is true.

I saw the Prince’s arm’d men come down

By troops, by thousands, to besiege the town;

I saw the captains, heard the trumpets sound,

And how his forces covered all the ground.

Yea, how they set themselves in battle-’ray,

I shall remember to my dying day.

I saw the colours waving in the wind,

And they within to mischief how combined

To ruin Mansoul, and to make away

Her primum mobilewithout delay.

I saw the mounts cast up against the town,

And how the slings were placed to beat it down:

I heard the stones fly whizzing by mine ears,

(What longer kept in mind than got in fears?)

I heard them fall, and saw what work they made,

And how old Mors did cover with his shade

The face of Mansoul; and I heard her cry,

‘Woe worth the day, in dying I shall die!’

I saw the battering-rams, and how they play’d

To beat ope Ear-gate: and I was afraid

Not only Ear-gate, but the very town

Would by those battering-rams be beaten down.

I saw the fights, and heard the captains shout,

And in each battle saw who faced about;

I saw who wounded were, and who were slain;

And who, when dead, would come to life again.

I heard the cries of those that wounded were

(While others fought like men bereft of fear),

And while the cry, ‘Kill, kill,’ was in mine ears,

The gutters ran, not so with blood as tears.

Indeed, the captains did not always fight,

But then they would molest us day and night;

Their cry, ‘Up, fall on, let us take the town,’

Kept us from sleeping, or from lying down.

I was there when the gates were broken ope,

And saw how Mansoul then was stripp’d of hope;

I saw the captains march into the town,

How there they fought, and did their foes cut down.

I heard the Prince bid Boanerges go

Up to the castle, and there seize his foe;

And saw him and his fellows bring him down,

In chains of great contempt quite through the town.

I saw Emmanuel, when he possess’d

His town of Mansoul; and how greatly blest

A town his gallant town of Mansoul was,

When she received his pardon, loved his laws.

When the Diabolonians were caught,

When tried, and when to execution brought,

Then I was there; yea, I was standing by

When Mansoul did the rebels crucify.

I also saw Mansoul clad all in white,

I heard her Prince call her his heart’s delight.

I saw him put upon her chains of gold,

And rings, and bracelets, goodly to behold.

What shall I say? I heard the people’s cries,

And saw the Prince wipe tears from Mansoul’s eyes;

And heard the groans, and saw the joy of many:

Tell you of all, I neither will, nor can I.

But by what here I say, you well may see

That Mansoul’s matchless wars no fables be.

Mansoul, the desire of both princes was:

One keep his gain would, t’other gain his loss.

Diabolus would cry, ‘The town is mine!’

Emmanuel would plead a right divine

Unto his Mansoul: then to blows they go,

And Mansoul cries, ‘These wars will me undo.’

Mansoul! her wars seem’d endless in her eyes;

She’s lost by one, becomes another’s prize;

And he again that lost her last would swear,

‘Have her I will, or her in pieces tear.’

Mansoul! it was the very seat of war;

Wherefore her troubles greater were by far

Than only where the noise of war is heard,

Or where the shaking of a sword is fear’d;

Or only where small skirmishes are fought,

Or where the fancy fighteth with a thought.

She saw the swords of fighting men made red,

And heard the cries of those with them wounded:

Must not her frights, then, be much more by far

Than theirs that to such doings strangers are?

Or theirs that hear the beating of a drum,

But not made fly for fear from house and home?

Mansoul not only heard the trumpets sound,

But saw her gallants gasping on the ground:

Wherefore we must not think that she could rest

With them, whose greatest earnest is but jest:

Or where the blust’ring threat’ning of great wars

Do end in parleys, or in wording jars.

Mansoul! her mighty wars, they did portend

Her weal or woe, and that world without end:

Wherefore she must be more concern’d than they

Whose fears begin and end the selfsame day;

Or where none other harm doth come to him

That is engaged, but loss of life or limb,

As all must needs confess that now do dwell

In Universe, and can this story tell.

Count me not, then, with them that, to amaze

The people, set them on the stars to gaze,

Insinuating with much confidence,

That each of them is now the residence

Of some brave creatures: yea, a world they will

Have in each star, though it be past their skill

To make it manifest to any man,

That reason hath, or tell his fingers can.

But I have too long held thee in the porch,

And kept thee from the sunshine with a torch.

Well, now go forward, step within the door,

And there behold five hundred times much more

Of all sorts of such inward rarities

As please the mind will, and will feed the eyes

With those, which, if a Christian, thou wilt see

Not small, but things of greatest moment be.

Nor do thou go to work without my key

(In mysteries men soon do lose their way);

And also turn it right, if thou wouldst know

My riddle, and wouldst with my heifer plough:

It lies there in the window. Fare thee well,

My next may be to ring thy passing-bell.

John Bunyan.

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