Group Title: Celestial Railroad
Title: The celestial railroad
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Title: The celestial railroad printed copy
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Creator: Hawthorne, Nathaniel
Publisher: Democratic Review
Publication Date: 1843
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1843.] The Celestial Railroad. 515





THE CELESTIAL RAILROAD.

BY NATHANIEL HAWTHORNE.

NOT a great while ago, passing through tions had been thrown in here, without
the gate of dreams, I visited that re- effect."
gion of the earth in which lies the "Very probably!-and what effect
famous city of Destruction. It inte- could be anticipated from such unsub-
rested me much to learn, that, by the stantial stuff?" cried Mr. Smooth-it-
public spirit of some of the inhabit- away. "You observe this convenient
ants, a railroad has recently beea es- bridge. We obtained a sufficient foun-
tablished between this populous and dation for it, by throwing into the
flourishing town, and the Celestial Slough some editions of books of mo-
City. Having a little time upon my reality, volumes of French philosophy
hands, I resolved to gratify a liberal and German rationalism, tracts, ser-
curiosity by making a trip thither. mons, and essays of modern clergy-
Accordingly, one fine morning, after men, extracts from Plato, Confucius,
paying my bill at the hotel, and direct- and various Hindoo sages, together
ing the porter to stow my luggage be- with a few ingenious commentaries
hind a coach, I took my seat in the ve- upon texts of Scripture-all of which,
hide, and set out for the Station-house. by some scientific process, have been
It was my good fortune to enjoy the converted into a mass like granite.
company of a gentleman-one Mr. The whole bog might be filled up with
Smooth-it-away-who, though he had similar matter."
never actually visited the Celestial It really seemed to me, however,
City, yet seemed as well acquainted that the bridge vibrated and heaved up
with its laws, customs, policy, and sta- and down, in a very formidable man-
tistics, as with those of the city of ner;and,spiteofMr. Smooth-it-away's
Destruction, of which he was a native testimony to the solidity of its founda-
townsman. Being, moreover, a direc- tion, I should be loth to cross it in a
tor of the railroad corporation, and one crowded omnibus; especially, if each
of its largest stockholders, he had it in passenger were encumbered with as
his power to give me all desirable in- heavy luggage as that gentleman and
formation respecting that praiseworthy myself. Nevertheless, we got over
enterprise, without accident, and soon found our-
Our coach rattled out of the city, selves at the Station-house. This
and, at a short distance from its out- very neat and spacious edifice is erect.
skirts, passed over a bridge, of elegant ed on the site of the little Wicket-
construction, but somewhat too slight, Gate, which formerly, as allold pilgrims
as I imagined, to sustain any consid- will recollect, stood directly across the
erable weight. On both sides lay an highway, and, by its inconvenient nar.
extensive quagmire, which could not rowness, wasa great obstruction to the
have been more disagreeable either to traveller of liberal mind and expansive
sight or smell, had all the kennels of stomach. The reader of John Bunyan
the earth emptied their pollution there, will be glad to know, that Christian's
This," remarked Mr. Smooth-it- old friend Evangelist, who was accus-
away, "is the famous Slough of Des- tomed to supply each pilgrim with a
pond-a disgrace to all the neighbor- mystic roll, now presides at the ticket-
hood; and the greater, that it might so office. Some malicious persons, it is
easily be converted into firm ground." true, deny the identity of this reputa-
I have understood," said I, that ble character with the Evangelist of
efforts have been made for that pur- old times, and even pretend to bring
pose, from time immemorial. Bun- competent evidence of an imposture.
yan mentions that above twenty thou. Without involving myself in the dis-
sand cart-loads of wholesome instruc- pute, I shall merely observe, that, so






516 The Celestial Railroad. [May,

far as my experience goes, the square tomed to shoot deadly arrows at honest
pieces of pasteboard, now delivered to pilgrims, while knocking at the door.
passengers, are much more convenient This dispute, much to the credit as
and useful along the road, than thean- well of the illustrious potentate above-
tique roll of parchment. Whether mentioned, as of the worthy and en-
they will be as readily received at the lightened Directors of the railroad, has
gate of the Celestial City, I decline been pacifically arranged, on the prin-
giving an opinion. ciple of mutual compromise. The
A large number of passengers were Prince's subjects are now pretty nu-
already at the Station-house, awaiting merously employed about the Station-
the departure of the cars. By the as- house,' some in taking care of the bag-
pect and demeanor of these persons, it gage, others in collecting fuel, feeding
was easy to judge that the feelings of the engines, and such congenial occu-
the community had undergone a very pations; and I can conscientiously af-
favorable change, in reference to the firm, that persons more attentive to
celestial pilgrimage. It would have their business, more willing to accom-
done Bunyan's heart good to see it. modate, or more generally agreeable to
Instead of a lonely and ragged man, the passengers, are not to be found on
with a huge burthen on his back, plod- any railroad. Every good heart must
ding along sorrowfully on foot, while surely exult at so satisfactory an ar-
the whole city hooted after him, here rangement of an immemorial difficulty.
were parties of the first gentry and "Where is Mr. Great-heart?" in-
most respectable people in the neigh- quired I. "Beyond a doubt, the Di-
borhood, setting forth towards the Ce- rectors have engaged that famous old
lestial City, as cheerfully as if the pil- champion to be chief conductor on the
grimage were merely a summer tour. railroad?"
Among the gentlemen were characters Why, no," said Mr. Smooth-it-
of deserved eminence, magistrates, away, with a dry cough. "He was
politicians, and men of wealth, by offered the situation of brake-man; but,
whose example religion could not but to tell you the truth, our friend Great-
be greatly recommended to their heart has grown preposterously stiff
meaner brethren. In the ladies' apart- and narrow, in his old age. He has so
ment, too, I rejoiced to distinguish often guided pilgrims over the road, on
some of those flowers of fashionable foot, that he considers it a sin to travel
society, who are so well fitted to adorn in any other fashion. Besides, the old
the most elevated circles of the Celes- fellow had entered so heartily into the
tial City. There was much pleasant ancient feud with Prince Beelzebub,
conversation about the news of the day, that he would have been perpetually
topics of business, politics, or the at blows or ill language with some of
lighter matters of amusement; while the prince's subjects, and thus have
religion, though indubitably the main embroiled us anew. So, on the whole,
thing at heart, was thrown tastefully we were not sorry when honest Great-
into the back-ground. Even an infidel heart went off to the Celestial City in
would have heard little or nothing to a huff, and left us at liberty to choose
shock his sensibility, a more suitable and accommodating
One great convenience of the new man. Yonder comes the conductor of
method of going on pilgrimage, I must the train. You will probably recog-
not forget to mention. Our enormous nize him at once."
burthens, instead of being carried on The engine at this moment took its
our shoulders, as had been the custom station in advance of the cars, looking,
of old, were all snugly deposited in I must confess, much more like a sort
the baggage-car, and, as I was assured, of mechanical demon that would hurry
would be delivered to their respective us to the infernal regions, than a laud-
owners at the journey's end. Another able contrivance for smoothing our way
thing likewise, the benevolent reader to the Celestial City. On its top sat a
will be delighted to understand. It personage almost enveloped in smoke
may be remembered that there wasan and flame, which-not to startle the
ancient feud between Prince Beelzebub reader-appeared to gush from his own
and the keeper of the Wicket-Gate, mouth and stomach, as well as from
and that the adherents of the former the engine's brazen abdomen.
distinguished personage were accus- Do my eyes deceive me ?" cried I.






1843.] The Celestial Railroad. 517

" What on earth is this! A living for pilgrims. In Bunyan's road-book it is
creature ?-if so, he is own brother to mentioned as the Interpreter's House.
the engine that he rides upon !" I have long had a curiosity to visit
"Poh, poh, you are obtuse!" said that old mansion," remarked I.
Mr. Smooth-it-away, with a hearty It is not one of our stations, as you
laugh. "Don't you know Apollyon, perceive," said my companion. "The
Christian's old enemy, with whom he keeper was violently opposed to the
fought so fierce a battle in the Valley railroad; and well he might be, as the
of Humiliation ? He was the very track left his house of entertainment
fellow to manage the engine; and so on one side, and thus was pretty certain
we have reconciled him to the custom to deprive him of all his reputable
of going on pilgrimage, and engaged customers. But the foot-path still
him as chief conductor." passes his door; and the old gentleman
"Bravo, bravo!" exclaimed I, with now and then receives a call from some
irrepressible enthusiasm, this shows simple traveller, and entertains him
the liberality of the age; this proves, with fare as old-fashioned as himself."
if anything can, that all musty preju- Before our talk on this subject came
dices are in a fair way to be obliterated, to a conclusion, we were rushing by
And how will Christian rejoice to hear the place where Christian's burthen
of this happy transformation of his old fell from his shoulders, at the sight of
antagonist! I promise myself great the Cross. This served as a theme for
pleasure in informing him of it, when Mr. Smooth-it-away, Mr. Live-for-the-
we reach the Celestial City." world, Mr. Hide-sin-in-the-heart, Mr.
The passengers being all comfortably Scaly-conscience, and a knot of gentle-
seated, we now rattled away merrily, men from the town of Shun-repentance,
accomplishing a greater distance in ten to descant upon the inestimable ad-
minutes than Christian probably vantages resulting from the safety of
trudged over in a day. It was laugh- our baggage. Myself, and all the pas-
able while we glanced along, as it sengers indeed, joined with great una-
were, at the tail of a thunderbolt, to nimity in this view of the matter; for
observe two dusty foot-travellers, in our burthens were rich in many things
the old pilgrim-guise, with cockle-shell esteemed precious throughout the
and staff, their mystic rolls of parch- world; and, especially, we each of us
ment in their hands, and their intolera- possessed a great variety of favorite
ble burthens on their backs. The Habits, which we trusted would not
preposterous obstinacy of these honest be out of fashion, even in the polite
people, in persisting to groan and circles of the Celestial City. It would
stumble along the difficult pathway, have been a sad spectacle to see such
rather than take advantage of modern an assortment of valuable articles
improvements, excited great mirth tumbling into the sepulchre. Thus
among our wiser brotherhood. We pleasantly conversing on the favorable
greeted the two pilgrims with many circumstances of our position, as con-
pleasant gibes and a roar of laughter; pared with those of past pilgrims, and
whereupon, they gazed at us with such of narrow-minded ones at the present
woeful and absurdly compassionate day, we soon found ourselves at the
visages, that our merriment grew ten- foot of the Hill Difficulty. Through
fold more obstreperous. Apollyon, also, the very heart of this rocky mountain
entered heartily into the fun, and con- a tunnel has been constructed, of most
trived to flirt the smoke and flame of admirable architecture, with a lofty
the engine, or of his own breath, into arch and a spacious double-track; so
their faces, and envelope them in an that, unless the earth and rocks should
atmosphere of scalding steam. These chance to crumble down, it will remain
little practical jokes amused us might- an eternal monument of the builder's
ily. and doubtless afforded the pilgrims skill and enterprise. It is a great
the gratification of considering them- though incidental advantage, that the
selves martyrs. materials from the heart of the Hill
At some distance from the railroad, Difficulty have been employed in filling
Mr. Smooth-it-away pointed to a large, up the Valley of Humiliation; thus
antique edifice, which, he observed, obviating the necessity of descending
was a tavern of long standing, and had into that disagreeable and unwhole-
formerly been a noted stopping-place some hollow.






651 The Celestial Railroad. [May,

"This is a wonderful improvement, udes plentifully from the soil, is col-
indeed," said I. Yet I should have elected by means of pipes, and thence
been glad of an opportunity to visit the communicated to a quadruple row of
Palace Beautiful, and be introduced to lamps, along the whole extent of the
the charming young ladies-Miss Pru- passage. Thus a radiance has been
dence, Miss Piety, Miss Charity, and created, even out of the fiery and sul-
the rest-who have the kindness to phurous curse that rests for ever upon
entertain pilgrims there." the Valley; a radiance hurtful, how-
Young ladies!" cried Mr. Smooth- ever, to the eyes, and somewhat be-
it-away, as soon as he could speak for wildering, as I discovered by the
laughing. "And charming young la- changes which it wrought in the
dies! Why, my dear fellow, they are visages of my companions. In this
old maids, every soul of them-prim, respect, as compared with natural
starched, dry, and angular-and not daylight, there is the same difference
one of them, I will venture to say, has as between truth and falsehood; but if
altered so much as the fashion of her the reader have ever travelled through
gown, since the days of Christian's the dark Valley, he will have learned
pilgrimage." to be thankful for any light that he
"AAh, well," said I, much comforted, could get; if not from the sky above,
then I can very readily dispense with then from the blasted soil beneath.
their acquaintance." Such was the red brilliancy of these
The respectable Apollyon was now lamps, that they appeared to build
putting on the steam at a prodigious walls of fire on both sides of the track,
rate; anxious, perhaps, to get rid of the between which we held our course at
unpleasant reminiscences connected lightning speed, while a reverberating
with the spot where he had so disas- thunder filled the Valley with its
trously encountered Christian. Con- echoes. Had the engine run off the
sulting Mr. Bunyan's road-book, I per- track-a catastrophe, it is whispered,
ceived that we must now be within a by no means unprecedented-the bot-
few miles of the Valley of the Shadow tomless pit, if there be any such place,
of Death; into which doleful region, would undoubtedly have received us.
at our present speed, we should plunge Just as some dismal fooleries of this
much sooner than seemed at all desir- nature had made my heart quake,
able. In truth, I expected nothing there came a tremendous shriek, ca-
better than to find myself in the ditch reering along the Valley as if a thou-
on one side, or the quag on the other. sand devils had burst their lungs to
But, on communicating my apprehen- utter it, but which proved to be merely
sionstoMr. Smooth-it-away, heassured the whistle of the engine, on arriving
me that the difficulties of this passage, at a stopping-place.
even in its worst condition, had been The spot, where we had now paused,
vastly exaggerated, and that, in its is the same that our friend Bunyan-a
present state of improvement, I might truthful man, but infected with many
consider myself as safe as on any rail- fantastic notions-has designated, in
road in Christendom. terms plainer than I like to repeat, as
Even while we were speaking, the the mouth of the infernal region.
train shot into the entrance of this This, however, must be a mistake;
dreaded Valley. Though I plead inasmuch as Mr. Smooth-it-away,
guilty to some foolish palpitations of while we remained in the smoky and
the heart, during our headlong rush lurid cavern, took occasion to prove
over the causeway here constructed, that Tophet has not even a metaphori-
vet it were unjust to withhold the cal existence. The place, he assured
highest encomiums on the boldness of us, isno other than the crater of a half-
its original conception, and the inge- extinct volcano, in which the Direc-
nuity of those who executed it. It was tors had caused forges to be set up, for
gratifying, likewise, to observe how the manufacture of railroad iron.
much care had been taken to dispel Hence, also, is obtained a plentiful
the everlasting gloom, and supply the supply of fuel for the use of the en-
defect of cheerful sunshine; not a ray gines. Whoever had gazed into the
of which has ever penetrated among dismal obscurity of the broad cavern-
these awful shadows. For this pur- mouth, whence ever and anon darted
pose, the infammable gas, which ex- huge tongues of dusky flame,-and






1843.] The Celestial Railroad. 519

had seen the strange, half-shaped mon- meet with plenty of old acquaintances,
sters, and visions of faces horribly gro- and altogether the place suits me. I
tesque, into which the smoke seemed hope to see you back again, some day
to wreathe itself,-and had heard the soon. A pleasant journey to you!"
awful murmurs, and shrieks, and While he was speaking, the bell of
deep shuddering whispers of the the engine rang, and we dashed away,
blast, sometimes forming itself into after dropping a few passengers, but
words almost articulate,-would have receiving no new ones. Rattling on-
seized upon Mr. Smooth-it-away's ward through the Valley, we were
comfortable explanation, as greedily dazzled with the fiercely gleaming gas-
as we did. The inhabitants of the lamps, as before. But sometimes, in
cavern, moreover, were unlovely per- the dark of intense brightness, grim
sonages, dark, smoke-begrimed, gen- faces, that bore the aspect and express.
erally deformed, with mis-shapen feet, sion of individual sins, or evil passions,
and a glow of dusky redness in their seemed to thrust themselves through
eyes; as if their hearts had caught the veil of light, glaring upon us, and
fire, and were blazing out of the upper stretching forth a great dusky hand, as
windows. It struck me as a peculiarity, if to impede our progress. I almost
that the laborersat the forge, and those thought, that they were my own sins
who brought fuel to the engine, when that appalled me there. 'These were
they began to draw short breath, posi- freaks of imagination-nothing more,
tively emitted smoke from their mouth certainly,-mere delusions, which I
and nostrils. ought to be heartily ashamed of-but,
Among the idlers about the train, all through the Dark Valley, I was
most of whom were puffing cigars tormented, and pestered, and dolefully
which they had lighted at the flame bewildered, with the same kind of
of the crater, I was perplexed to no- waking dreams. The mephitic gases
tice several who, to my certain know- of that region intoxicate the brain. As
ledge, had heretofore set forth by rail- the light of natural day, however, be-
road for the Celestial City. They gan to struggle with the glow of the
looked dark, wild, and smoky, with a lanterns, these vain imaginations lost
singular resemblance, indeed, to the their vividness, and finally vanished
native inhabitants; like whom, also, with the first ray of sunshine that
they had a disagreeable propensity to- greeted our escape from the Valley of
ill-natured gibes and sneers, the habit the Shadow of Death. Ere we had
of which had wrought a settled con- gone a mile beyond it, I could well
tortion of their visages. Having been nigh have taken my oath, that this
on speaking terms with one of these whole gloomy passage was a dream.
persons-an indolent, good-for-nothing At the end of the Valley, as John
fellow, who went by the name of Bunyan mentions, is a cavern, where,
Take-it-easy-I called to him, and in- in his days, dwelt two cruel giants,
quired what was his business there. Pope and Pagan, who had strewn the
"Did you not start," said I," for the ground about their residence with the
Celestial City ?" bones of slaughtered pilgrims. These
"That's a fact," said Mr. Take-it- vile old troglodytes are no longer there;
easy, carelessly puffing some smoke but into their deserted cave another
into my eyes. "But I heard such bad terrible giant has thrust himself, and
accounts, that I never took pains to makes it his business to seize upon
climb the hill, on which the city stands. honest travellers, and fat them for his
No business doing-no fun going on- table with plentiful meals of smoke,
nothing to drink, and no smoking al- mist, moonshine, raw potatoes, and
lowed-and a thrumming of church- saw-dust. He is a German by birth,
music from morning till night! I and is called Giant Transcendentalist;
would not stay in such a place, if they but as to his form, his features, his sub-
offered me house-room and living stance, and his nature generally, it is
free." the chief peculiarity of this huge mis-
"But, my good Mr. Take-it-easy," creant, that neither he for himself, nor
cried I, "why take up your residence anybody for him, has ever been able to
here, of all places in the world ?" describe them. As we rushed by the
"Oh," said the loafer, with a grin, cavern's mouth, we caught a hasty
"it is very warm hereabouts, and I glimpse of him, looking somewhat







520 lThe Celestial Railroad. [May;

like an ill-proportioned figure, but con- aim, as those of the sagest philosophers
siderably more like a heap of fog and of old. In justification of this high
duskiness. He shouted after us, but praise, I need only mention the names
in so strange a phraseology, that we of the Rev. Mr. Shallow-deep; the
knew notwhat he meant, nor whether Rev. Mr. Stumble-at-Truth; that fine
to be encouraged or affrighted. old clerical character, the Rev. Mr.
It was late in the day, when the This-to-day, who expects shortly to
itain thundered into the ancient city of resign his pulpit to the Rev. Mr. That-
Vanity, where Vanity Fairisstill at the to-morrow; together with the Rev.
height of prosperity, and exhibits an Mr. Bewilderment; the Rev. Mr. Clog-
epitome of whatever is brilliant, gay, the-spirit; and, last and greatest, the
and fascinating, beneath the sun. As Rev. Dr.Wind-of-doctrine. The labors
I purposed to make a considerable stay of these eminent divines are aided by
here, it gratified me to learn that there those of innumerable lecturers, who
is no longer the want of harmony be- diffuse such various profundity, in all
tween the townspeople and pilgrims, subjects of human or celestial sciences
which impelled the former to such la- that any man may acquire an omni-
mentably mistaken measures as the genous erudition, without the trouble
persecution of Christian, and the fiery of even learning to read. Thus litera-
martyrdom of Faithful. On the con- ture is etherealized by assuming for its
trary, as the new railroad brings with medium the human voice; and know-
it great trade and a constant influx of ledge, depositing all its heavier parti-
strangers, the lord of Vanity Fairis its cles-except, doubtless, its gold-be-
chief patron, and the capitalists of the comes exhaled into a sound, which
city are among the largest stockholders, forthwith steals into the ever-open ear
Many passengers stop to take their of the community. These ingenious
pleasure or make their profit in the methods constitute a sort of machinery,
Fair, instead of going onward to the by which thought and study are done
Celestial City. Indeed, such are the to every person's hand, without his
charms of the place, that people often putting himself to the slightest incon-
affirm it to be the true and only hea- venience in the matter. There is an-
ven; stoutly contending that there is other species of machine for the whole-
no other, that those who seek further sale manufacture ofindividualmorality.
are mere dreamers, and that, if the This excellent result is effected by so-
fabled brightness of the Celestial City cities for all manner of virtuous pur-
lay but a bare mile beyond the gates poses; with which a man has merely
of Vanity, they would not be fools to connect himself, throwing, as it
enough to go thither. Without sub- were, his quota of virtue into the com-
scribing to these, perhaps, exaggerat- mon stock; and the president and di-
ed encomiums, I can truly say, that rectors will take care that the aggregate
my abode in the city was mainly amount be well applied. All these,
agreeable, and my intercourse with the and other wonderful improvements in
inhabitants productive of much amuse- ethics, religion, and literature, being
ment and instruction, made plain to my comprehension by
Being naturally of a serious turn, my the ingenious Mr. Smooth-it-away, in-
attention was directed to the solid ad- spired me with a vast admiration of
vantages derivable from a residence Vanity Fair.
here, rather than to the effervescent It would fill a volume, in an age of
pleasures, which are the grand object pamphlets, were I to record all my
with too many visitants. The Christ- observations in this great capital of
ian reader, if he have had no accounts human business and pleasure. There
of the city later than Bunyan's time, was an unlimited range of society-the
will be surprised to hear that almost powerful, the wise, the witty, and the
every street has its church, and that famous in every walk of life-princes,
the reverend clergy are nowhere held presidents, poets, generals, artists, act-
in higher respect than at Vanity Fair. ors, and philanthropists, all making
And well do they deserve such honor- their own market at the Fair, and
able estimation; for the maxims of deeming no price too exorbitant for
wisdom and virtue which fall from such commodities as hit their fancy.
their lips, come from as deep a spiritual It was well worth one's while, even if
source, and tend to as lofty a religious he had no idea of buying or selling, to







1843.] The Celestial Railroad. 521

loiter through the bazaars, and observe Tracts of land and golden mansions,
the various sorts of traffic that were situate in the Celestial City, were often
going forward, exchanged, at very disadvantageous
Some of the purchasers, I thought, rates, for a few years' lease of small,
made very foolish bargains. For in- dismal, inconvenient tenements in
stance, a young man, having inherited Vanity Fair. Prince Beelzebub himself
a splendid bfrtune, laid out a consider- took great interest in this sort of traffic,
able portion of it in the purchase of and sometimescondescended to meddle
diseases, and finally spent all the rest with smaller matters. I once had the
for a heavy lot of repentance and a suit pleasure to see him bargaining with a
of rags. A very pretty girl bartered a miser for his soul, which, after much
heart as clear as crystal, and which ingenious skirmishing on both sides,
seemed her most valuable possession, his Highness succeeded in obtaining at
for another jewel of the same kind, but about the value of sixpence. The
so worn and defaced as to be utterly prince remarked, with a smile, that he
worthless. In one shop, there were a was a loser by the bargain.
great many crowns of laurel and myrtle, Day after day, as I walked the streets
which soldiers, authors, statesmen, and of Vanity, my manners and deportment
various other people, pressed eagerly became more and more like those of
to buy; some purchased these paltry the inhabitants. The place began to
wreaths with their lives; others by a seem like home; the idea of pursuing
toilsome servitude of years; and many my travels to the Celestial City was
sacrificed whatever was most valuable, almost obliterated from my mind. I
yet finally slunk away without the was reminded of it, however, by the
crown. There was a sort of stock or sightofthesamepairofsimplepilgrims
scrip, called Conscience, which seemed at whom we had laughed so heartily,
to be in great demand, and would pur- when Apollyon puffed smoke and steam
chase almost anything. Indeed, few into their faces, at the commencement
rich commodities were to be obtained of our journey. There they stood amid
without paying a heavy sum in this the densest bustle of Vanity-the deal-
particular stock, as a man's business ers offering them their purple, and fine
was seldom very lucrative, unless he linen, and jewels; the men of wit and
knew precisely when and how to throw humor gibing at them; a pair of buxom
his hoard of Conscience into the market. ladies ogling them askance; while the
Yet as this stock was the only thing of benevolent Mr. Smooth-it-away whis-
permanent value, whoever parted with pered some of his wisdom at their
it was sure to find himself a loser, in elbows, and pointed to a newly-erected
the long run. Several of the specula- temple,-but there were these worthy
tions were of a questionable charac- simpletons, making the scene look wild
ter. Occasionally, a member of Con- and monstrous, merely by their sturdy
gress recruited his-picket by the sale repudiation of all part in its business
of his constituents; and I was assured or pleasures.
that public officers have often sold One of them-his name was Stick-
their country at very moderate prices, to-the-right-perceived in my face, I
Thousands sold their happiness for a suppose, a species of sympathy and
whim. Gilded chains were in great almost admiration, which, to my own
demand, and purchased with almost great surprise, I could not help feeling
any sacrifice. In truth, those who de- for this pragmatic couple. It prompted
sired, according to the old adage, to sell him to address me.
anything valuable for a song, might find "Sir," inquired he, with a sad, yet
customers all over the Fair; and there mild and kindly voice, "do you call
were innumerable messes of pottage, yourself a pilgrim ?"
piping hot, for such as chose to buy "Yes," I replied, "my right to that
them with their birth-rights. A few appellation is indubitable. I am merely
articles, however, could not be found a sojourner here in Vanity Fair, being
genuine at Vanity Fair. If a customer bound to the Celestial City by the new
wished to renew his stock of youth, railroad."
the dealers offered him a set of false Alas, friend," rejoined Mr. Stick-
teeth and an auburn wig; if he de- to-the-right, I do assure you, and be-
manded peace of mind, they recom- seech you to receive the truth of my
mended opium or a brandy-bottle. words, that that whole concern is a
VOL. XII.--NO. LIX. 66






522 The Celestial Railroad. [May,

bubble. You may travel on it all your under the semblance of a pillar of salt.
life-time, were you to live thousands Curious travellers have carried it away
of years, and yet never get beyond the piecemeal. Had all regrets been pun-
limits of Vanity Fair Yea; though ished as rigorously as this poor dame's
you should deem yourself entering the were, my yearning for the relinquished
gates of the Blessed City, it will be delights of Vanity Fair might have
nothing but a miserable delusion." produced a similar change in my own
"The Lord of the Celestial City," corporeal substance, and left me a
began the other pilgrim, whose name warning to future pilgrims.
was Mr. Go-the-old-way, has refused, The next remarkable object was a
and will ever refuse, to grant an act of large edifice, constructed of moss-grown
incorporation for this railroad; and stone, but in a modern and airy style
unless that be obtained, no passenger of architecture. The engine came to
can ever hope to enter his dominions. a pause in its vicinity with the usual
Wherefore, every man who buys a tremendous shriek.
ticket, must lay his account with losing "This was formerly the castle of the
the purchase-money-which is the va- redoubted giant Despair," observed Mr.
lue of his own soul." Smooth-it-away; but, since his death,
"Poh, nonsense!" said Mr. Smooth- Mr. Flimsy-faith has repaired it, and
it-away, taking my arm and leading now keeps an excellent house of enter-
me off, "these fellows ought to be in- tainment here. It is one of our stop-
dicted for a libel. If the law stood as ping-places."
it once did in Vanity Fair, we should It seems but slightly put together,"
see them grinning through the ironbars remarked I, looking at the frail, yet
of the prison window." ponderous walls. "I do not envy Mr.
This incident made a considerable Flimsy-faith his habitation. Some day
impression on my mind, and contributed it will thunder down upon the heads of
with other circumstances to indispose the occupants."
me to a permanent residence in the "We shall escape, at all events,"
city of Vanity; although, of course, I said Mr. Smooth-it-away; "for Apol-
was not simple enough to give up my lyon is putting on the steam again."
original plan of gliding along easily The road now plunged into a gorge
and commodiously by railroad. Still, of the Delectable Mountains, and tra-
I grew anxious to be gone. There was versed the field where, in former ages,
one strange thing that troubled me; the blind men wandered and stumbled
amid the occupations or amusements among the tombs. One of these an-
of the fair, nothing was more common cient tomb-stones had been thrust across
than for a person-whether at a feast, the track, by some malicious person,
theatre, or church, or trafficking for and gave the train of cars a terrible
wealth and honors, or whatever he jolt. Far up the rugged side of a
might be doing, and however unsea- mountain, I perceived a rusty iron door,
sonable the interruption-suddenly to half overgrown with bushes and creep-
vanish like a soap-bubble, and be never ing plants, but with smoke issuing from
more seen of his fellows; and so ac- its crevices.
customer were the latter to such little Is that," inquired I, the very door
accidents, that they went on with their in the hill-side, which the shepherds
business, as quietly as if nothing had assured Christian was a by-way to
happened. But it was otherwise with Hell ?"
me. That was a joke on the part of the
Finally, after a pretty long residence shepherds," said Mr. Smooth-it-away,
at the Fair, I resumed my journey to- with a smile. I' is neither more nor
wards the Celestial City, still with less than the dooi of a cavern, which
Mr. Smooth-it-away at my side. At they use as a smoke-house for the pre-
a short distance beyond the suburbs of paration of mutton hams."
Vanity, we passed the ancient silver- My recollections of the journey are
mine, of which Demas was the first now, for a little space, dim and con-
discoverer, and which is now wrought fused, inasmuch as a singular drowsi-
to great advantage, supplying nearly ness here overcame me, owing to the
all the coined currency of the world, fact that we were passing over the en-
A little further onward was the spot chanted ground, the air of which en-
where Lot's wife had stood for ages, courage a disposition to sleep. I








1843.] The Celestial Railroad. 523

awoke, however, as soon as we crossed How amazingly well those men
the borders of the pleasant land of have got on!" cried I to Mr. Smooth-
Beulah. All the passengers were rub- it-away. I wish we were secure of
bing their eyes, comparing watches, as good a reception."
and congratulating one another on the "Never fear-never fear!" answered
prospect of arriving so seasonably at my friend. Come-make haste; the
the journey's end. The sweet breezes ferry-boat will be off directly; and in
of this happy clime came refreshingly three minutes you will be on the other
to our nostrils; we beheld the glim- side of the river. No doubt you will
mering gush of silver fountains, over- find coaches to carry you up to thecity
hung by trees of beautiful foliage and gates."
delicious fruit, which were propagated A steam ferry-boat, the last improve-
by grafts from the celestial gardens. meant on this important route, lay at
Once, as we dashed onward like a the river side, puffing, snorting, and
hurricane, there was a flutter of wings, emitting all those other disagreeable
and the bright appearance of an angel utterances, which betoken the depart-
in the air, speeding forth on some hea- ure to be immediate. I hurried on
venly mission. The engine now an- board with the rest of the passengers,
nounced the close vicinity of the final most of whom were in great perturba-
Station House, by one last and horrible tion; some bawling out for their bag-
scream, in which there seemed to be gage; some tearing their hair and ex-
distinguishable every kind of wailing claiming that the boat would explode
and woe, and bitter fierceness of wrath, or sink ; some already pale with the
all mixed up with the wild laughter of heaving of the stream; some gazing
a devil or a madman. Throughout affrighted at the ugly aspect of the
our journey, at every stopping-place, steersman; and some still dizzy with
Apollyon had exercised his ingenuity the slumberous influences of the En-
in screwingthemostabominable sounds chanted Ground. Looking back to the
out of the whistle of the steam-engine; shore, I was amazed to discern Mr.
but, in this closing effort he outdid Smooth-it-away waving his hand in
himself, and created an infernal uproar, token of farewell!
which, besides disturbing the peaceful Don't you go over to the Celestial
inhabitants of Beulah, must have sent City ?" exclaimed I.
its discord even through the celestial "Oh,no!" answered he with a queer
gates. smile, and that same disagreeable con-
While the horrid clamor was still tortion of visage which I had remarked
ringing in our ears, we heard an exult- in the inhabitants of the Dark Valley.
ing strain, as if a thousand instruments Oh, no I have come thus far only
of music, with height, and depth, and for the sake of your pleasant company.
sweetness in their tones, at once tender Good bye We shall meet again."
and triumphant, were struck in unison, And then did my excellent friend,
to greet the approach of some illustri- Mr. Smooth-it-away, laugh outright;
ous hero, who had fought the good in the midst of which cachinnation, a
fight and won a glorious victory, and smoke-wreath issued from his mouth
was come to lay aside his battered and nostrils, while a twinkle of livid
arms for ever. Looking to ascertain flame darted out of either eye, proving
what might be the occasion of this indubitably that his heart was all of a
glad harmony, I perceived, on alighting red blaze. The impudent fiend! To
from the cars, that a multitude of deny the existence of Tophet, when he
shining ones had assembled on the felt its fiery tortures raging within his
other side of the river, to welcome two breast I rushed to the side of the boat,
poor pilgrims, who were just emerging intending to fling myself on shore. But
from its depths. They were the same the wheels, as they began their revo-
whom Apollyon and ourselves had per- lutions, threw a dash of spray over me,
secuted with taunts and gibes, and so cold-so deadly cold, with the chill
scalding steam, at the commencement that will never leave those waters,
of our journey-the same whose un- until Death be drowned in his own
worldly aspect and impressive words river-that, with a shiver and a heart-
had stirred my conscience, amid the quake, I awoke. Thank heaven, it
wild revellers of Vanity Fair. was a Dream!





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