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

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

XVIII
BUNYAN'S POSTHUMOUS PUBLICATIONS.

FOR the preservation of those MSS. of Bunyan which remained unpublished at the time of his death we are indebted to the untiring devotion of his enthusiastic admirer, Charles Doe, who tells us in his own good, simple way how he, a comb-maker, came to take in hand the publishing and selling of books. After narrating how he first became acquainted with Bunyan, as already described, he goes on to say:

"In March, 1686, as I was reading Mr. Bunyan's Book 'Saved by Grace,' I thought certainly this is the best Book that was ever writ or I read except the Bible, and then I remembered I had received a great deal of comfort in all of his Books. Some time after my assurance, and being under the sense of the peculiar Love of God, it came into my mind as I was upon my Stair-head what work I should do for God, and about the middle of the Stairs I reckoned that to sell books was the best I could do, and by that time I came to the bottom I concluded to sell Mr. Bunyan's, and so I began to sell Books and have sold about 3,000 of Mr. Bunyan's, and also have been concerned in printing the following Books: The works of Mr. John Bunyan in folio, and the 'Heavenly Footman' by John Bunyan."

This account is given in a little book entitled ' A Collection of Experience, by Charles Doe. London: Printed by Charles Doe, a Comb-maker, between the Hospital and London Bridge, 1700.'

It would appear that there had been some scheme projected in the author's lifetime for publishing a Collected Edition of the Works of Bunyan. Doe describes the folio edition of 1692 as "containing ten of his excellent manuscripts prepared for the press before his death, never before printed, and Ten of his Choyce Books formerly printed. Collected and Printed by the Procurement of his Church and Friends, and by his own Approbation before his Death."* Elsewhere also in his Struggler he says: "It had succeeded in Mr. Bunyan's lifetime even all his labours in folio; but that an interested Bookseller opposed it."

* Vide Appendix I.

-415-

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