Religious Allegory


Interestingly, a major motif of evangelical allegory, aimed at children, was the joy of young martyrdom. Works widely depicted the joyful event of the death of a young believer. George Burder's The History of Master Jackey and Miss Harriot has its narrator recount the story of an old hermit who sought to learn the role of fate in the unveiling of life. Upon meeting a seemingly innocent youth, they travel together, learning from experiences along the way that indeed Providence does guide people's lives. One night, the hermit and youth lodge at the home of a kind man. In the morning, "just before they departed, the youth went to the cradle, in which was a pretty infant, (the pride and joy of its aged father,) and broke its neck." The hermit, in horror, fled the child, but the child would not allow the hermit to escape and revealed himself as an angel. In explaining his motives to the slow to understand hermit, the angel explained, "The child of our pious friend had almost weaned his affections from God; but to teach him better, the Lord, to save the father has taken the child." In this way, Burder's allegory demonstrates the trueness of the Lord's loving provision in each life. 17

In more secularized works, this theme reoccurs as the triumph over hardship. In Tom Thumb's Folio, Tom is depicted as a meager young boy. However, the story recounts Tom's later greatness by way of his intellect and virtue. Replacing the more direct celebration of the exchange of loss for gain, this story's depiction of a disability causing greater virtue echoes the same moral teaching.18