INTERVAL BETWEEN THE PILGRIM'S PROGRESS
AND THE HOLY WAR, 1676--1682.
BUNYAN wrote the First Part of The Pilgrim's Progress when he was forty-seven and the Second Part when he was fifty-five, The Holy War coming in between.* What may therefore be regarded as the flowering time of his genius came late in life. In this respect he more nearly resembles his great contemporary, John Milton, while contrasting with that other gifted soul, with whom, otherwise, he had so many points in common--Robert Burns. Bunyan and Burns, alike in their simple ancestry, their original genius and their wonderful heart-power over men in every walk of life, came thus variously to the full development of their powers. Burns had done most of his best work before he was thirty and had passed away before he was forty, while at fifty Bunyan stood scarcely midway between the two parts of his greatest work, Milton bearing him company so far as this that his Paradise Lost was not produced till he was fifty- seven. It may be mentioned by the way that while Bunyan's mother died when he was a youth of fifteen, his father, Thomas Bunyan, the old tinker of Elstow, lived on till 1676, being buried according to the parish register on the 7th of February in that year. It would appear, therefore, that he died when his son was in gaol for the last time, and just when the wonderful dream was taking shape. The old man seems always to have kept in the communion of the Church of England. What he thought of his son's career and convictions in later years, whether he was proud of his popularity and influence or disapproved of his perversely resisting the authorities of the times, nothing remains to show. His will has been preserved in the District Registry, and if its language may be taken as the expres- sion of his own religious feeling he was not altogether out of spiritual sympathy with this son who went his diverse way. As giving us some items of information about the Bunyan family at this time, the reader may like to see this will for himself.
* Bunyan wrote also, in 1680, The Life and Death of Mr. Badman.