What to See in England
By Gordon Home
Public Domain Books
THE HOME OF JOHN BUNYAN
=How to get there.=–Through train from St. Pancras. Midland Railway. =Nearest Station.=–Bedford (1 mile from Elstow). =Distance from London.=–50 miles. =Average Time.=–An hour.
1st 2nd 3rd =Fares.=–Single 6s. 7d. ... 3s. 11-1/2d. Return 13s. 2d. ... 7s. 11d.
=Accommodation Obtainable.=–"Embankment Hotel,” “Lion Hotel," “Swan Hotel,” etc., at Bedford. =Alternative Route.=–Train from Euston. L. and N.W. Railway.
The little village of Elstow, near Bedford, will always be remembered as the birthplace of John Bunyan, and the cottage is still shown where the “immortal dreamer” was born. It was while in Bedford jail for “conscience’ sake” that Bunyan ministered to all posterity by writing the Pilgrim’s Progress from this World to the World to Come, under the similitude of a dream. As an allegory of the soul’s conflicts and struggles with evil in its journey through life, it is unsurpassed. It is believed that no other book except the Bible has gone through so many editions or attained such a popularity in all languages. It has been generally understood that Bunyan’s early life was a very profligate one, but some have thought that his terrible self-accusations in after years may have arisen from the height of his religious fervour and Puritan strictness, which made him look on dancing and bell-ringing as deadly sins. This idea is satisfactorily given by Macaulay.
Bunyan was of poor parentage, his father being a tinker. At one time he was in the Parliamentary Army, and in 1645, was present at the siege of Leicester. Having left the army, he married. Then after a time of great spiritual agony and doubt, with quieter intervals, he became a member and then minister of the Baptist congregation at Bedford. His labours were stopped by the Act of Conventicles, and Bunyan was a prisoner in Bedford jail for twelve years. While in prison Bunyan assisted in providing for the wants of his wife and family by making tagged laces. The only books he had during his confinement were the Bible and Foxe’s Book of Martyrs. Through the kind interposition of Bishop Barlow of Lincoln, Bunyan was released, and resumed his work of a preacher until his death from fever in London in 1688. Bunyan also wrote the Holy Warand Grace Abounding, an autobiographical narrative.
[Illustration: Valentine & Sons, Ltd. BUNYAN’S COTTAGE AT ELSTOW.
The cottage is structurally the same as in Bunyan’s time.]