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2021-08-29 22:37:14 (UTC)

The Pilgrim's Progress

During our outing to a very large boot fair today, I stumbled across some unique items, hidden between many other things. I was looking for unique items for our home and we certainly found some. I am surprised that the certain types of items we were keeping our eye's alert for, (aged, cultured, different) we came across. To list all we found would take away from the most unique item I was drawn to and purchased, not realising its significance.

It was a tiny very old brown worn and torn book. It had no writing on the front as books do nowadays, but it was the size of the old victorian books, small. I loved its frayed edges, the use it had over the many years passed and the man selling the item along looked travelled and cultured. I briefly opened the book, with my mind already decided I wanted it. Inside the book cover, it had handwritten personal calligraphy writing from a brother, I can't make out the writing in its entirety but a man called "Alfred Roe" was given it by another man and it was signed by the other man and dated 1854. From research, Alfred Roe was a commando veteran in a raiding party in Norway and was captured and died of typhus in Belsen Concentration camp.

The book is "The Pilgrims Progress from This World, to That Which Is to Come" it's a 1678 Christian allegory written by John Bunyan and is regarded as one of the most significant works of religious, theological fiction in English literature.

On the opposite inside page was another handwritten note, I am assuming it was after Alfred's death that in life he requested the book was given to his brother because the note reads, "Lusan Roe, from his affectionate brother, Alfred Roe 1862"

The man I bought this book from only asked for 20p. It's the new edition printed in 1853. And although I am not religious and do not believe in religions god. I do believe in God, without religion. And I am already enamoured by John Bunyan's author's apology at the beginning of the book, a beautiful long tale-telling poem of his journey and decisions before creating the book itself. Here is a small slice of is too long to put all of it here.

The Authors Apology - The pilgrim's Progress

When at the first I took my pen in hand,
Thus for to write, I did not understand
That I at all should make a little book
In such a mode: nay, I had undertook
To make another; which, when almost done,
Before I was aware, I this begun.

And thus it was: I writing of the way
And race of saints, in this our gospel-day,
Fell suddenly into an allegory
About their journey, and the way to glory,
In more than twenty things, which I set down;
This done, I twenty more had in my crown;
And they again began to multiply,
Like sparks that from the coals of fire do fly.
Nay, then, thought I, if that you breed so fast,
I’ll put you by yourselves, lest you at last
Should prove ad infinitum, and eat out
The book that I already am about.

Well, so I did; but yet I did not think
To show to all the world my pen and ink
In such a mode; I only thought to make
I knew not what: nor did I undertake
Thereby to please my neighbour; no, not I;
I did it mine own self to gratify.

Neither did I but vacant seasons spend
In this my scribble; nor did I intend
But to divert myself in doing this,
From worser thoughts which make me do amiss.

Thus I set pen to paper with delight,
And quickly had my thoughts on black and white.
For having now my method by the end,
Still as I Pull’d it came; and so I penn’d
It down; until it came at last to be,
For length and breadth, the bigness which you see.

Well, when I had thus put mine ends together,
I show’d them others, that I might see whether
They would condemn them, or them justify:
And some said, Let them live; some, Let them die.
Some said, John, print it; others said, Not so:
Some said, It might do good; others said, No.

Now was I in a strait, and did not see
Which was the best thing to be done by me:
At last I thought; since you are thus divided,
I print it will; and so the case decided.

It goes on for another five pages before the book begins.

What a great find!