The Celestial Rail-road

          NOT A great while ago, passing through the gate of dreams, I visited
          that region of the earth in which lies the famous city of Destruction. It
          interested me much to learn that, by the public spirit of some of the
          inhabitants, a rail-road has recently been established between this
          populous and flourishing town, and the Celestial City. Having a little time
          upon my hands, I resolved to gratify a liberal curiosity to make a trip
          thither. Accordingly, one fine morning, after paying my bill at the hotel,
          and directing the porter to stow my luggage behind a coach, I took my
          seat in the vehicle and set out for the Station House. It was my good
          fortune to enjoy the company of a gentleman--one Mr.
          Smooth-it-away--who, though he had never actually visited the Celestial
          City, yet seemed as well acquainted with its laws, customs, policy, and
          statistics, as with those of the city of Destruction, of which he was a native
          townsman. Being, moreover, a Director of the rail-road corporation, and
          one of its largest stockholders, he had it in his power to give me all
          desirable information respecting that praiseworthy enterprise.

          Our coach rattled out of the city, and, at a short distance from its
          outskirts, passed over a bridge, of elegant construction, but somewhat too
          slight, as I imagined, to sustain any considerable weight. On both sides lay
          an extensive quagmire, which could not have been more disagreeable
          either to sight or smell, had all the kennels of the earth emptied their
          pollution there.

          "This," remarked Mr. Smooth-it-away, "is the famous Slough of
          Despond--a disgrace to all the neighborhood; and the greater, that it
          might so easily be converted into firm ground."

          "I have understood," said I, "that efforts have been made for that purpose,
          from time immemorial. Bunyan mentions that above twenty thousand
          cart-loads of wholesome instructions had been thrown in here, without
          effect."

          "Very probably!--and what effect could be anticipated from such
          unsubstantial stuff?" cried Mr. Smooth-it-away. "You observe this
          convenient bridge. We obtained a sufficient foundation for it by throwing
          into the slough some editions of books of morality, volumes of French
          philosophy and German rationalism, tracts, sermons, and essays of
          modern clergymen, extracts from Plato, Confucius, and various Hindoo
          sages, together with a few ingenious commentaries upon texts of
          Scripture--all of which, by some scientific process, have been converted
          into a mass like granite. The whole bog might be filled up with similar
          matter."

          It really seemed to me, however, that the bridge vibrated and heaved up
          and down in a very formidable manner; and, spite of Mr.
          Smooth-it-away's testimony to the solidity of its foundation, I should be
          loth to cross it in a crowded omnibus; especially, if each passenger were
          encumbered with as heavy luggage as that gentleman and myself.
          Nevertheless, we got over without accident, and soon found ourselves at
          the Station House. This very neat and spacious edifice is erected on the
          site of the little Wicket-Gate, which formerly, as all old pilgrims will
          recollect, stood directly across the highway, and, by its inconvenient
          narrowness, was a great obstruction to the traveller of liberal mind and
          expansive stomach. The reader of John Bunyan will be glad to know, that
          Christian's old friend Evangelist, who was accustomed to supply each
          pilgrim with a mystic roll, now presides at the ticket office. Some
          malicious persons, it is true, deny the identity of this reputable character
          with the Evangelist of old times, and even pretend to bring competent
          evidence of an imposture. Without involving myself in a dispute, I shall
          merely observe, that, so far as my experience goes, the square pieces of
          pasteboard, now delivered to passengers, are much more convenient and
          useful along the road, than the antique roll of parchment. Whether they
          will be as readily received at the gate of the Celestial City, I decline giving
          an opinion.

          A large number of passengers were already at the Station House, awaiting
          the departure of the cars. By the aspect and demeanor of these persons, it
          was easy to judge that the feelings of the community had undergone a
          very favorable change, in reference to the Celestial pilgrimage. It would
          have done Bunyan's heart good to see it. Instead of a lonely and ragged
          man, with a huge burthen on his back, plodding along sorrowfully on foot,
          while the whole city hooted after him, here were parties of the first gentry
          and most respectable people in the neighborhood, setting forth towards
          the Celestial City, as cheerfully as if the pilgrimage were merely a summer
          tour. Among the gentlemen were characters of deserved eminence,
          magistrates, politicians, and men of wealth, by whose example religion
          could not but be greatly recommended to their meaner brethren. In the
          ladies' apartment, too, I rejoiced to distinguish some of those flowers of
          fashionable society, who are so well fitted to adorn the most elevated
          circles of the Celestial City. There was much pleasant conversation about
          the news of the day, topics of business, politics, or the lighter matters of
          amusement; while religion, though indubitably the main thing at heart, was
          thrown tastefully into the back-ground. Even an infidel would have heard
          little or nothing to shock his sensibility.

          One great convenience of the new method of going on pilgrimage, I must
          not forget to mention. Our enormous burthens, instead of being carried on
          our shoulders, as had been the custom of old, were all snugly deposited in
          the baggage-car, and, as I was assured, would be delivered to their
          respective owners at the journey's end. Another thing, likewise, the
          benevolent reader will be delighted to understand. It may be remembered
          that there was an ancient feud between Prince Beelzebub and the keeper
          of the Wicket-Gate, and that the adherents of the former distinguished
          personage were accustomed to shoot deadly arrows at honest pilgrims,
          while knocking at the door. This dispute, much to the credit as well of the
          illustrious potentate above-mentioned, as of the worthy and enlightened
          Directors of the rail-road, has been pacifically arranged, on the principle
          of mutual compromise. The Prince's subjects are now pretty numerously
          employed about the Station House, some in taking care of the baggage,
          others in collecting fuel, feeding the engines, and such congenial
          occupations; and I can conscientiously affirm, that persons more attentive
          to their business, more willing to accommodate, or more generally
          agreeable to the passengers, are not to be found on any rail-road. Every
          good heart must surely exult at so satisfactory an arrangement of an
          immemorial difficulty.

          "Where is Mr. Greatheart?" inquired I. "Beyond a doubt, the Directors
          have engaged that famous old champion to be chief conductor on the
          rail-road?"

          "Why, no," said Mr. Smooth-it-away, with a dry cough. "He was offered
          the situation of brake-man; but, to tell you the truth, our friend Greatheart
          has grown preposterously stiff and narrow in his old age. He has so often
          guided pilgrims over the road, on foot, that he considers it a sin to travel in
          any other fashion. Besides, the old fellow had entered so heartily into the
          ancient feud with Prince Beelzebub, that he would have been perpetually
          at blows or ill language with some of the Prince's subjects, and thus have
          embroiled us anew. So, on the whole, we were not sorry when honest
          Greatheart went off to the Celestial City in a huff, and left us at liberty to
          choose a more suitable and accommodating man. Yonder comes the
          conductor of the train. You will probably recognize him at once."

          The engine at this moment took its station in advance of the cars, looking,
          I must confess, much more like a sort of mechanical demon that would
          hurry us to the infernal regions, than a laudable contrivance for smoothing
          our way to the Celestial City. On its top sat a personage almost
          enveloped in smoke and flame, which--not to startle the
          reader--appeared to gush from his own mouth and stomach, as well as
          from the engine's brazen abdomen.

          "Do my eyes deceive me?" cried I. "What on earth is this! A living
          creature?--if so, he is own brother to the engine he rides upon!"

          "Poh, poh; you are obtuse!" said Mr. Smooth-it-away, with a hearty
          laugh. "Don't you know Apollyon, Christian's old enemy, with whom he
          fought so fierce a battle in the Valley of Humiliation? He was the very
          fellow to manage the engine; and so we have reconciled him to the custom
          of going on pilgrimage, and engaged him as chief conductor."

          "Bravo, bravo!" exclaimed I, with irrepressible enthusiasm, "this shows the
          liberality of the age; this proves, if anything can, that all musty prejudices
          are in a fair way to be obliterated. And how will Christian rejoice to hear
          of this happy transformation of his old antagonist! I promise myself great
          pleasure in informing him of it, when we reach the Celestial City."

          The passengers being all comfortably seated, we now rattled away
          merrily, accomplishing a greater distance in ten minutes than Christian
          probably trudged over, in a day. It was laughable while we glanced along,
          as it were, at the tail of a thunderbolt, to observe two dusty
          foot-travellers, in the old pilgrim-guise, with cockle-shell and staff, their
          mystic rolls of parchment in their hands, and their intolerable burthens on
          their backs. The preposterous obstinacy of these honest people, in
          persisting to groan and stumble along the difficult pathway, rather than
          take advantage of modern improvements, excited great mirth among our
          wiser brotherhood. We greeted the two pilgrims with many pleasant gibes
          and a roar of laughter; whereupon, they gazed at us with such woeful and
          absurdly compassionate visages, that our merriment grew tenfold more
          obstreperous. Apollyon, also, entered heartily into the fun, and contrived
          to flirt the smoke and flame of the engine, or of his own breath, into their
          faces, and envelope them in an atmosphere of scalding steam. These little
          practical jokes amused us mightily, and doubtless afforded the pilgrims the
          gratification of considering themselves martyrs.

          At some distance from the rail-road, Mr. Smooth-it-away pointed to a
          large, antique edifice, which, he observed, was a tavern of long standing,
          and had formerly been a noted stopping-place for pilgrims. In Bunyan's
          road-book it is mentioned as the Interpreter's House.

          "I have long had a curiosity to visit that old mansion," remarked I.

          "It is not one of our stations, as you perceive," said my companion. "The
          keeper was violently opposed to the rail-road; and well he might be, as
          the track left his house of entertainment on one side, and thus was pretty
          certain to deprive him of all his reputable customers. But the foot-path still
          passes his door; and the old gentleman now and then receives a call from
          some simple traveller, and entertains him with fare as old-fashioned as
          himself."

          Before our talk on this subject came to a conclusion, we were rushing by
          the place where Christian's burthen fell from his shoulders, at the sight of
          the Cross. This served as a theme for Mr. Smooth-it-away, Mr.
          Live-for-the-world, Mr. Hide-sin-in-the-heart, Mr. Scaly Conscience,
          and a knot of gentlemen from the town of Shun Repentance, to descant
          upon the inestimable advantages resulting from the safety of our baggage.
          Myself, and all the passengers indeed, joined with great unanimity in this
          view of the matter; for our burthens were rich in many things esteemed
          precious throughout the world; and especially, we each of us possessed a
          great variety of favorite Habits, which we trusted would not be out of
          fashion, even in the polite circles of the Celestial City. It would have been
          a sad spectacle to see such an assortment of valuable articles tumbling
          into the sepulchre. Thus pleasantly conversing on the favorable
          circumstances of our position, as compared with those of past pilgrims,
          and of narrow-minded ones at the present day, we soon found ourselves
          at the foot of the Hill Difficulty. Through the very heart of this rocky
          mountain a tunnel has been constructed, of most admirable architecture,
          with a lofty arch and a spacious double-track; so that, unless the earth
          and rocks should chance to crumble down, it will remain an eternal
          monument of the builder's skill and enterprise. It is a great though
          incidental advantage, that the materials from the heart of the Hill Difficulty
          have been employed in filling up the Valley of Humiliation; thus obviating
          the necessity of descending into that disagreeable and unwholesome
          hollow.

          "This is a wonderful improvement, indeed," said I. "Yet I should have
          been glad of an opportunity to visit the Palace Beautiful, and be
          introduced to the charming young ladies--Miss Prudence, Miss Piety,
          Miss Charity, and the rest--who have the kindness to entertain pilgrims
          there."

          "Young ladies!" cried Mr. Smooth-it-away, as soon as he could speak for
          laughing. "And charming young ladies! Why, my dear fellow, they are old
          maids, every soul of them--prim, starched, dry, and angular--and not one
          of them, I will venture to say, has altered so much as the fashion of her
          gown, since the days of Christian's pilgrimage."

          "Ah, well," said I, much comforted, "then I can very readily dispense with
          their acquaintance."

          The respectable Apollyon was now putting on the steam at a prodigious
          rate; anxious, perhaps, to get rid of the unpleasant reminiscences
          connected with the spot where he had so disastrously encountered
          Christian. Consulting Mr. Bunyan's road-book, I perceived that we must
          now be within a few miles of the Valley of the Shadow of Death; into
          which doleful region, at our present speed, we should plunge much sooner
          than seemed at all desirable. In truth, I expected nothing better than to
          find myself in the ditch on one side, or the quag on the other. But on
          communicating my apprehensions to Mr. Smooth-it-away, he assured me
          that the difficulties of this passage, even in its worst condition, had been
          vastly exaggerated, and that, in its present state of improvement, I might
          consider myself as safe as on any rail-road in Christendom.

          Even while we were speaking, the train shot into the entrance of this
          dreaded Valley. Though I plead guilty to some foolish palpitations of the
          heart, during our headlong rush over the causeway here constructed, yet it
          were unjust to withhold the highest encomiums on the boldness of its
          original conception, and the ingenuity of those who executed it. It was
          gratifying, likewise, to observe how much care had been taken to dispel
          the everlasting gloom, and supply the defect of cheerful sunshine; not a ray
          of which has ever penetrated among these awful shadows. For this
          purpose, the inflammable gas, which exudes plentifully from the soil, is
          collected by means of pipes, and thence communicated to a quadruple
          row of lamps, along the whole extent of the passage. Thus a radiance has
          been created, even out of the fiery and sulphurous curse that rests for ever
          upon the Valley; a radiance hurtful, however, to the eyes, and somewhat
          bewildering, as I discovered by the changes which it wrought in the
          visages of my companions. In this respect, as compared with natural
          daylight, there is the same difference as between truth and falsehood; but
          if the reader have ever travelled through the dark Valley, he will have
          learned to be thankful for any light that he could get; if not from the sky
          above, then from the blasted soil beneath. Such was the red brilliancy of
          these lamps, that they appeared to build walls of fire on both sides of the
          track, between which we held our course at lightning speed, while a
          reverberating thunder filled the Valley with its echoes. Had the engine run
          off the track--a catastrophe, it is whispered, by no means
          unprecedented--the bottomless pit, if there be any such place, would
          undoubtedly have received us. Just as some dismal fooleries of this nature
          had made my heart quake, there came a tremendous shriek, careering
          along the Valley as if a thousand devils had burst their lungs to utter it, but
          which proved to be merely the whistle of the engine, on arriving at a
          stopping-place.

          The spot, where we had now paused, is the same that our friend
          Bunyan--truthful man, but infected with many fantastic notions--has
          designated, in terms plainer than I like to repeat, as the mouth of the
          infernal region. This, however, must be a mistake; inasmuch as Mr.
          Smooth-it-away, while we remained in the smoky and lurid cavern, took
          occasion to prove that Tophet has not even a metaphorical existence. The
          place, he assured us, is no other than the crater of a half-extinct volcano,
          in which the Directors had caused forges to be set up, for the manufacture
          of rail-road iron. Hence, also, is obtained a plentiful supply of fuel for the
          use of the engines. Whoever had gazed into the dismal obscurity of the
          broad cavern-mouth, whence ever and anon darted huge tongues of
          dusky flame,--and had seen the strange, half-shaped monsters, and
          visions of faces horribly grotesque, into which the smoke seemed to
          wreathe itself,--and had heard the awful murmurs, and shrieks, and deep
          shuddering whispers of the blast, sometimes forming themselves into
          words almost articulate,--he would have seized upon Mr.
          Smooth-it-away's comfortable explanation, as greedily as we did. The
          inhabitants of the cavern, moreover, were unlovely personages, dark,
          smoke-begrimed, generally deformed, with misshapen feet, and a glow of
          dusky redness in their eyes; as if their hearts had caught fire, and were
          blazing out of the upper windows. It struck me as a peculiarity, that the
          laborers at the forge, and those who brought fuel to the engine, when they
          began to draw short breath, positively emitted smoke from their mouth
          and nostrils.

          Among the idlers about the train, most of whom were puffing cigars which
          they had lighted at the flame of the crater, I was perplexed to notice
          several who, to my certain knowledge, had heretofore set forth by
          rail-road for the Celestial City. They looked dark, wild, and smoky, with
          a singular resemblance, indeed, to the native inhabitants; like whom, also,
          they had a disagreeable propensity to ill-natured gibes and sneers, the
          habit of which had wrought a settled contortion of their visages. Having
          been on speaking terms with one of these persons--an indolent,
          good-for-nothing fellow, who went by the name of Take-it-easy--I called
          him, and inquired what was his business there.

          "Did you not start," said I, "for the Celestial City?"

          "That's a fact," said Mr. Take-it-easy, carelessly puffing some smoke into
          my eyes. "But I heard such bad accounts, that I never took pains to climb
          the hill, on which the city stands. No business doing--no fun going
          on--nothing to drink, and no smoking allowed--and a thrumming of
          church-music from morning till night! I would not stay in such a place, if
          they offered me house-room and living free."

          "But, my good Mr. Take-it-easy," cried I, "why take up your residence
          here, of all places in the world?"

          "Oh," said the loafer, with a grin, "it is very warm hereabouts, and I meet
          with plenty of old acquaintances, and altogether the place suits me. I hope
          to see you back again, some day soon. A pleasant journey to you!"

          While he was speaking, the bell of the engine rang, and we dashed away,
          after dropping a few passengers, but receiving no new ones. Rattling
          onward through the Valley, we were dazzled with the fiercely gleaming
          gas-lamps, as before. But sometimes, in the dark of intense brightness,
          grim faces, that bore the aspect and expression of individual sins, or evil
          passions, seemed to thrust themselves through the veil of light, glaring
          upon us, and stretching forth a great dusky hand, as if to impede our
          progress. I almost thought, that they were my own sins that appalled me
          there. These were freaks of imagination--nothing more, certainly,--mere
          delusions, which I ought to be heartily ashamed of--but, all through the
          Dark Valley, I was tormented, and pestered, and dolefully bewildered,
          with the same kind of waking dreams. The mephitic gases of that region
          intoxicate the brain. As the light of natural day, however, began to struggle
          with the glow of the lanterns, these vain imaginations lost their vividness,
          and finally vanished with the first ray of sunshine that greeted our escape
          from the Valley of the Shadow of Death. Ere we had gone a mile beyond
          it, I could well nigh have taken my oath, that this whole gloomy passage
          was a dream.

          At the end of the Valley, as John Bunyan mentions, is a cavern, where, in
          his days, dwelt two cruel giants, Pope and Pagan, who had strewn the
          ground about their residence with the bones of slaughtered pilgrims. These
          vile old troglodytes are no longer there; but in their deserted cave another
          terrible giant has thrust himself, and makes it his business to seize upon
          honest travellers, and fat them for his table with plentiful meals of smoke,
          mist, moonshine, raw potatoes, and saw-dust. He is a German by birth,
          and is called Giant Transcendentalist; but as to his form, his features, his
          substance, and his nature generally, it is the chief peculiarity of this huge
          miscreant, that neither he for himself, nor anybody for him, has ever been
          able to describe them. As we rushed by the cavern's mouth, we caught a
          hasty glimpse of him, looking somewhat like an ill-proportioned figure, but
          considerably more like a heap of fog and duskiness. He shouted after us
          but in so strange a phraseology, that we knew not what he meant, nor
          whether to be encouraged or affrighted.

          It was late in the day, when the train thundered into the ancient city of
          Vanity, where Vanity Fair is still at the height of prosperity, and exhibits
          an epitome of whatever is brilliant, gay, and fascinating, beneath the sun.
          As I purposed to make a considerable stay here, it gratified me to learn
          that there is no longer the want of harmony between the townspeople and
          pilgrims, which impelled the former to such lamentably mistaken measures
          as the persecution of Christian, and the fiery martyrdom of Faithful. On
          the contrary, as the new rail-road brings with it great trade and a constant
          influx of strangers, the lord of Vanity Fair is its chief patron, and the
          capitalists of the city are among the largest stockholders. Many
          passengers stop to take their pleasure or make their profit in the Fair,
          instead of going onward to the Celestial City. Indeed, such are the charms
          of the place, that people often affirm it to be the true and only heaven;
          stoutly contending that there is no other, that those who seek further are
          mere dreamers, and that, if the fabled brightness of the Celestial City lay
          but a bare mile beyond the gates of Vanity, they would not be fools
          enough to go thither. Without subscribing to these, perhaps, exaggerated
          encomiums, I can truly say, that my abode in the city was mainly
          agreeable, and my intercourse with the inhabitants productive of much
          amusement and instruction.

          Being naturally of a serious turn, my attention was directed to the solid
          advantages derivable from a residence here, rather than to the
          effervescent pleasures, which are the grand object with too many visitants.
          The Christian reader, if he have no accounts of the city later than Bunyan's
          time, will be surprised to hear that almost every street has its church, and
          that the reverend clergy are nowhere held in higher respect than at Vanity
          Fair. And well do they deserve such honorable estimation; for the maxims
          of wisdom and virtue which fall from their lips, come from as deep a
          spiritual source, and tend to as lofty a religious aim, as those of the sagest
          philosophers of old. In justification of this high praise, I need only mention
          the names of the Rev. Mr. Shallow-deep; the Rev. Mr. Stumble-at-truth;
          that fine old clerical character, the Rev. Mr. This-to-day, who expects
          shortly to resign his pulpit to the Rev. Mr. That-to-morrow; together with
          the Rev. Mr. Bewilderment; the Rev. Mr. Clog-the-spirit; and, last and
          greatest, the Rev. Dr. Wind-of-doctrine. The labors of these eminent
          divines are aided by those of innumerable lecturers, who diffuse such a
          various profundity, in all subjects of human or celestial science, that any
          man may acquire an omnigenous erudition, without the trouble of even
          learning to read. Thus literature is etherealized by assuming for its medium
          the human voice; and knowledge, depositing all its heavier
          particles--except, doubtless, its gold--becomes exhaled into a sound,
          which forthwith steals into the ever-open ear of the community. These
          ingenious methods constitute a sort of machinery, by which thought and
          study are done to every person's hand, without his putting himself to the
          slightest inconvenience in the matter. There is another species of machine
          for the wholesale manufacture of individual morality. This excellent result
          is effected by societies for all manner of virtuous purposes; with which a
          man has merely to connect himself, throwing, as it were, his quota of
          virtue into the common stock; and the president and directors will take
          care that the aggregate amount be well applied. All these, and other
          wonderful improvements in ethics, religion, and literature, being made
          plain to my comprehension, by the ingenious Mr. Smooth-it-away,
          inspired me with a vast admiration of Vanity Fair.

          It would fill a volume, in an age of pamphlets, were I to record all my
          observations in this great capital of human business and pleasure. There
          was an unlimited range of society--the powerful, the wise, the witty, and
          the famous in every walk of life--princes, presidents, poets, generals,
          artists, actors, and philanthropists, all making their own market at the Fair,
          and deeming no price too exorbitant for such commodities as hit their
          fancy. It was well worth one's while, even if he had no idea of buying or
          selling, to loiter through the bazaars, and observe the various sorts of
          traffic that were going forward.

          Some of the purchasers, I thought, made very foolish bargains. For
          instance, a young man having inherited a splendid fortune, laid out a
          considerable portion of it in the purchase of diseases, and finally spent all
          the rest for a heavy lot of repentance and a suit of rags. A very pretty girl
          bartered a heart as clear as crystal, and which seemed her most valuable
          possession, for another jewel of the same kind, but so worn and defaced
          as to be utterly worthless. In one shop, there were a great many crowns
          of laurel and myrtle, which soldiers, authors, statesmen, and various other
          people, pressed eagerly to buy; some purchased these paltry wreaths with
          their lives; others by a toilsome servitude of years; and many sacrificed
          whatever was most valuable, yet finally slunk away without the crown.
          There was a sort of stock or scrip, called Conscience, which seemed to
          be in great demand, and would purchase almost anything. Indeed, few
          rich commodities were to be obtained without paying a heavy sum in this
          particular stock, and a man's business was seldom very lucrative, unless
          he knew precisely when and how to throw his hoard of Conscience into
          the market. Yet as this stock was the only thing of permanent value,
          whoever parted with it was sure to find himself a loser, in the long run.
          Several of the speculations were of a questionable character.
          Occasionally, a member of Congress recruited his pocket by the sale of
          his constituents; and I was assured that public officers have often sold
          their country at very moderate prices. Thousands sold their happiness for
          a whim. Gilded chains were in great demand, and purchased with almost
          any sacrifice. In truth, those who desired, according to the old adage, to
          sell anything valuable for a song, might find customers all over the Fair;
          and there were innumerable messes of pottage, piping hot, for such as
          chose to buy them with their birth-rights. A few articles, however, could
          not be found genuine at Vanity Fair. If a customer wished to renew his
          stock of youth, the dealers offered him a set of false teeth and an auburn
          wig; if he demanded peace of mind, they recommended opium or a
          brandy-bottle.

          Tracts of land and golden mansions, situate in the Celestial City, were
          often exchanged, at very disadvantageous rates, for a few years lease of
          small, dismal, inconvenient tenements in Vanity Fair. Prince Beelzebub
          himself took great interest in this sort of traffic, and sometimes
          condescended to meddle with smaller matters. I once had the pleasure to
          see him bargaining with a miser for his soul, which, after much ingenious
          skirmishing on both sides, his Highness succeeded in obtaining at about
          the value of sixpence. The Prince remarked, with a smile, that he was a
          loser by the transaction.

          Day after day, as I walked the streets of Vanity, my manners and
          deportment became more and more like those of the inhabitants. The
          place began to seem like home; the idea of pursuing my travels to the
          Celestial City was almost obliterated from my mind. I was reminded of it,
          however, by the sight of the same pair of simple pilgrims at whom we had
          laughed so heartily, when Apollyon puffed smoke and steam into their
          faces, at the commencement of our journey. There they stood amid the
          densest bustle of Vanity--the dealers offering them their purple, and fine
          linen, and jewels; the men of wit and humor gibing at them; a pair of
          buxom ladies ogling them askance; while the benevolent Mr.
          Smooth-it-away whispered some of his wisdom at their elbows, and
          pointed to a newly-erected temple--but there were these worthy
          simpletons, making the scene look wild and monstrous, merely by their
          sturdy repudiation of all part in its business or pleasures.

          One of them--his name was Stick-to-the-right--perceived in my face, I
          suppose, a species of sympathy and almost admiration, which, to my own
          great surprise, I could not help feeling for this pragmatic couple. It
          prompted him to address me.

          "Sir," inquired he, with a sad, yet mild and kindly voice, "do you call
          yourself a pilgrim?"

          "Yes," I replied, "my right to that appellation is indubitable. I am merely a
          sojourner here in Vanity Fair, being bound to the Celestial City by the
          new rail-road."

          "Alas, friend," rejoined Mr. Stick-to-the-right, "I do assure you, and
          beseech you to receive the truth of my words, that that whole concern is a
          bubble. You may travel on it all your lifetime, were you to live thousands
          of years, and yet never get beyond the limits of Vanity Fair! Yea; though
          you should deem yourself entering the gates of the Blessed City, it will be
          nothing but a miserable delusion."

          "The Lord of the Celestial City," began the other pilgrim, whose name
          was Mr. Foot-it-to-Heaven, "has refused, and will ever refuse, to grant an
          act of incorporation for this rail-road; and unless that be obtained, no
          passenger can ever hope to enter his dominions. Wherefore, every man,
          who buys a ticket, must lay his account with losing the
          purchase-money--which is the value of his own soul."

          "Poh, nonsense!" said Mr. Smooth-it-away, taking my arm and leading
          me off, "these fellows ought to be indicted for a libel. If the law stood as it
          once did in Vanity Fair, we should see them grinning through the iron bars
          of the prison-window."

          This incident made a considerable impression on my mind, and
          contributed with other circumstances to indispose me to a permanent
          residence in the city of Vanity; although, of course, I was not simple
          enough to give up my original plan of gliding along easily and
          commodiously by rail-road. Still, I grew anxious to be gone. There was
          one strange thing that troubled me; amid the occupations or amusements
          of the Fair, nothing was more common than for a person--whether at a
          feast, theatre, or church, or trafficking for wealth and honors, or whatever
          he might be doing, and however unseasonable the interruption--suddenly
          to vanish like a soap-bubble, and be never more seen of his fellows; and
          so accustomed were the latter to such little accidents, that they went on
          with their business, as quietly as if nothing had happened. But it was
          otherwise with me.

          Finally, after a pretty long residence at the Fair, I resumed my journey
          towards the Celestial City, still with Mr. Smooth-it-away at my side. At a
          short distance beyond the suburbs of Vanity, we passed the ancient silver
          mine, of which Demas was the first discoverer, and which is now wrought
          to great advantage, supplying nearly all the coined currency of the world.
          A little further onward was the spot where Lot's wife had stood for ages,
          under the semblance of a pillar of salt. Curious travellers have long since
          carried it away piecemeal. Had all regrets been punished as rigorously as
          this poor dame's were, my yearning for the relinquished delights of Vanity
          Fair might have produced a similar change in my own corporeal
          substance, and left me a warning to future pilgrims.

          The next remarkable object was a large edifice, constructed of
          moss-grown stone, but in a modern and airy style of architecture. The
          engine came to a pause in its vicinity with the usual tremendous shriek.

          "This was formerly the castle of the redoubted giant Despair," observed
          Mr. Smooth-it-away; "but, since his death, Mr. Flimsy-faith has repaired
          it, and now keeps an excellent house of entertainment here. It is one of
          our stopping-places."

          "It seems but slightly put together," remarked I, looking at the frail, yet
          ponderous walls. "I do not envy Mr. Flimsy-faith his habitation. Some day
          it will thunder down upon the heads of the occupants."

          "We shall escape, at all events," said Mr. Smooth-it-away, "for Apollyon
          is putting on the steam again."

          The road now plunged into a gorge of the Delectable Mountains, and
          traversed the field where, in former ages, the blind men wandered and
          stumbled among the tombs. One of these ancient tomb-stones had been
          thrust across the track, by some malicious person, and gave the train of
          cars a terrible jolt. Far up the rugged side of a mountain, I perceived a
          rusty iron door, half overgrown with bushes and creeping plants, but with
          smoke issuing from its crevices.

          "Is that," inquired I, "the very door in the hill-side, which the shepherds
          assured Christian was a by-way to Hell?"

          "That was a joke on the part of the shepherds," said Mr. Smooth-it-away,
          with a smile. "It is neither more nor less than the door of a cavern, which
          they use as a smoke-house for the preparation of mutton-hams."

          My recollections of the journey are now, for a little space, dim and
          confused, inasmuch as a singular drowsiness here overcame me, owing to
          the fact that we were passing over the Enchanted Ground, the air of which
          encourages a disposition to sleep. I awoke, however, as soon as we
          crossed the borders of the pleasant land of Beulah. All the passengers
          were rubbing their eyes, comparing watches, and congratulating one
          another on the prospect of arriving so seasonably at the journey's end.
          The sweet breezes of this happy clime came refreshingly to our nostrils;
          we beheld the glimmering gush of silver fountains, overhung by trees of
          beautiful foliage and delicious fruit, which were propagated by grafts from
          the Celestial gardens. Once, as we dashed onward like a hurricane, there
          was a flutter of wings, and the bright appearance of an angel in the air,
          speeding forth on some heavenly mission. The engine now announced the
          close vicinity of the final Station House, by one last and horrible scream,
          in which there seemed to be distinguishable every kind of wailing and
          woe, and bitter fierceness of wrath, all mixed up with the wild laughter of
          a devil or a madman. Throughout our journey, at every stopping-place,
          Apollyon had exercised his ingenuity in screwing the most abominable
          sounds out of the whistle of the steam-engine; but in this closing effort he
          outdid himself, and created an infernal uproar, which, besides disturbing
          the peaceful inhabitants of Beulah, must have sent its discord even through
          the Celestial gates.

          While the horrid clamor was still ringing in our ears, we heard an exulting
          strain, as if a thousand instruments of music, with height, and depth, and
          sweetness in their tones, at once tender and triumphant, were struck in
          unison, to greet the approach of some illustrious hero, who had fought the
          good fight and won a glorious victory, and was come to lay aside his
          battered arms for ever. Looking to ascertain what might be the occasion
          of this glad harmony, I perceived, on alighting from the cars, that a
          multitude of Shining Ones had assembled on the other side of the river, to
          welcome two poor pilgrims, who were just emerging from its depths.
          They were the same whom Apollyon and ourselves had persecuted with
          taunts and gibes, and scalding steam, at the commencement of our
          journey--the same whose unworldly aspect and impressive words had
          stirred my conscience, amid the wild revellers of Vanity Fair.

          "How amazingly well those men have got on!" cried I to Mr.
          Smooth-it-away. "I wish we were secure of as good a reception."

          "Never fear--never fear!" answered my friend. "Come!--make haste!--the
          ferry-boat will be off directly; and in three minutes you will be on the other
          side of the river. No doubt you will find coaches to carry you up to the
          city-gates."

          A steam ferry-boat, the last improvement on this important route, lay at
          the river-side, puffing, snorting, and emitting all those other disagreeable
          utterances, which betoken the departure to be immediate. I hurried on
          board with the rest of the passengers, most of whom were in great
          perturbation; some bawling out for their baggage; some tearing their hair
          and exclaiming that the boat would explode or sink; some already pale
          with the heaving of the stream; some gazing affrighted at the ugly aspect of
          the steersman; and some still dizzy with the slumberous influences of the
          Enchanted Ground. Looking back to the shore, I was amazed to discern
          Mr. Smooth-it-away waving his hand in token of farewell!

          "Don't you go over to the Celestial City?" exclaimed I.

          "Oh, no!" answered he with a queer smile, and that same disagreeable
          contortion of visage which I had remarked in the inhabitants of the Dark
          Valley. "Oh, no! I have come thus far only for the sake of your pleasant
          company. Good bye! We shall meet again."

          And then did my excellent friend, Mr. Smooth-it-away, laugh outright; in
          the midst of which cachinnation, a smoke-wreath issued from his mouth
          and nostrils, while a twinkle of lurid flame darted out of either eye, proving
          indubitably that his heart was all of a red blaze. The impudent Fiend! To
          deny the existence of Tophet, when he felt its fiery tortures raging within
          his breast! I rushed to the side of the boat, intending to fling myself on
          shore. But the wheels, as they began their revolutions, threw a dash of
          spray over me, so cold--so deadly cold, with the chill that will never leave
          those waters, until Death be drowned in his own river--that, with a shiver
          and a heart-quake, I awoke. Thank Heaven, it was a Dream!