John Bunyan (1628-1688): His Life, Times, and Work

By John Brown; Frank Mott Harrison | Go to book overview

III.
THE CIVIL WARS.

[NOTE.--The curtailment or revision of this chapter would have debarred the reader from following the close, accurate reasoning of the author of this biography, although he, in the last edition, 1902 (in two volumes) did abbreviate and amend it. The present editor, however, feels that Dr. Brown's original argument should be retained intact, so comment and supplementary detail are given in the addenda.]

THE cottage at Bunyan's End in which was born has long since disappeared. Portions of it were still remaining at the close of the eighteenth century, when the site was ploughed up, and, with the nine acres of land once belonging to it, was added to the neighbouring farm. It stood at the foot of a gently sloping hill, and between two streams which, after enclosing "the furlong called Pesselynton," met a little farther on in the hamlet of Harrowden. One of these streams flowed close past the cottage, and after heavy rains turned the field behind, as the land still shows, into a veritable Slough of Despond, into which whosoever wandered stuck fast in miry perplexity.

Thomas Bunyan's family, living only a few yards within the Elstow parish boundary, were almost as near to Bedford town as to Elstow Church, the spire of St. Paul's seen through the elm-trees from the top of the grassy slope to the south, being only about a mile away. A bridle-road from Wilstead through Medbury, passing near the front of the cottage, took the line of the willow-trees still to be seen in the hedgerow and joining the main road at the leper house of St. Leonard, went into the town by the ancient hospital of St. John. If Bunyan was sent to Bedford to school rather than to Elstow village, this would be the path he took. In the "Scriptural Poems", published as his in the collected works,1 there are these lines:

"For I'm no poet, nor a poet,'s son,
But a mechanic guided by no rule
But what I gained in a grammar school,
In my minority."

____________________
1
Offor's Edition, 1862, II., 390.

-34-

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