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THE BIRTH-PLACE OF JOHN BUNYAN.
HE pilgrim who approaches a SHRINE without
devotional reverence—reverence which stimulates the pulsations of his heart, and suffuses his eyes with unbidden tears-can have no calling,' so to say, to his pilgrimage. Instead of bearing the worldly fardel' of doubts and unbelief he must go forth with genuine faith and cordial enthusiasmfaith in the virtues of him before whose Shrine he seeks to offer the homage of mind and heart. Without this, he can neither comprehend the actions nor appreciate the motives
of the mighty dead; he becomes entangled in a net of so-called reasons' leading to unworthy and treacherous • doubts.' One, who is still with us—a great mystic yet a mighty teacher -asks— Does not every true man feel that he is himself made higher by doing reverence to what is really above him?' That steady and sturdy faith in all high and glorious things, is one of the first great steps towards the Heaven which shall be revealed hereafter.
We do not expect those who are born of the Aesh to be without those weaknesses and failings which are the lot of humanity, but where there is a strong and lofty spirit, doing battle honestly and openly with what is wrong, and, above all, warring against himself and lashing his own frailties
with a rigorous and unsparing hand—we tender the homage of FAITH to his good intent and unflinching purpose, and ask for him to be judged, not by the burs that cling to his garment, but by his high attributes and the holy PURPOSE of his MISSION. This purpose' we should never lose sight of when doing pilgrimage. The worthiest thinkers and writers of modern times have offered tributes to the genius which breathes throughout the Pilgrim's Progress.' «New editions,' illustrated editions,' ' lectures on,' lives,' and even records,' of the author, pour forth from the press, each stimulating the other ; and few would make pilgrimage to the drowsy city of Bedford, but for the interest created for it by the once despised and persecuted, but now universally appreciated, advocate of Puritanism, whom the poet Cowper, with all his admiration for his genius, even in his day feared to name.
It had long-indeed, ever since our childhood—been with us an earnest desire to visit the place of Bunyan's birth. It has been said, that when God's will crosses man's will, man calls it disappointment. We had often been disappointed' of our projected journey to Bedford. At last, however, it was accomplished, and we felt how much better it was that we had not visited it previously. The railroad offers facilities to those who have not much time to spend in travel, which atones for its destroying a great deal of the picturesque beauty of our country, and leaving but little trace of the primitive habits and manners of our ancestors.
No one, we have said, would visit this midland town for its own sake. The locality calls to mind that of one of those heavy Flemish towns where there is literally no landscape ; but where all is dark and flat, and rich with heavy vegetation—not even a mound of earth higher than a churchyardgrave to animate the torpid scene. The Ouse creeps lazily here through fertile meadows, sunning its lake-like waters without the relief of a single shadow from mountain or small hill. Cultivation does its utmost to atone by abundance for lack of beauty; and the sleepy locality is not devoid of historical interest. *
* As far back as the reign of our Sixth Edward, a grammar-school was here founded; but it was endowed in 1566 by Sir William Harpur (a native of Bedford and Lord Mayor of London), and by ‘Dame Alice, his wife, with a house and premises in Bedford, and land situate in Middlesex. This land, in the heart of London, has so increased in value, and the trustees have made such use of their funds, that all Bedford seems one huge charity, and every householder in the city has a free education for his son. The increase of the value of
But that which renders Bedford a shrine, and elevates the whole neighbourhood into a place of intense interest, is the memory of a persecuted and imprisoned man, John Bunyan, the author of some sixty volumes of the outpourings of his own heart under various forms ; many of these, however, evincing the strong hardy spirit of the fearless man, are only regarded as curiosities ; for the oppressions and other circumstances that called them forth, have long since passed away, and are now matters of history ; but the Pilgrim's Progress' is sacred in every Christian home, and will exist as long as the spires of our holy temples point to the skies, or a knee remains to bend in prayer at any house of Christian worship.
It seems strange to us that Southey, whose memoir is full of feeling for his subject, never visited Bunyan's birth-place, and Mr. Philip must have looked upon what is still called the Pilgrim's Cottage with a poet's eye, when he suffered the vignette décorée, which certainly adds to the pictorial
London land is curiously exemplified in Harpur's gift. He purchased 13 acres and a rood of meadow land in Holborn, which he obtained for 1801. This had produced, in 1668, the yearly rent of 991. to the funds of his charity; but the progress of building rapidly augmented it, and it is now of the annual value of 12,0001.
Howard, the philanthropist, in later times, was stimulated by the bad state of his county