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Bunyan's Copy Of The Book Of Martyrs

There is no book, except the Bible, which Bunyan is known to have

perused so intently as the Acts and Monuments of John Fox, the

martyrologist, one of the best of men; a work more hastily than

judiciously compiled, but invaluable for that greater and far more

important portion which has obtained for it its popular name of The

Book of Martyrs. Bunyan's own copy of this work is in existence, and

valued of course as such
relic of such a man ought to be. It was

purchased in the year 1780, by Mr. Wantner, of the Minories; from him it

descended to his daughter, Mrs. Parnell, of Botolph-lane; and it was

afterwards purchased, by subscription, for the Bedfordshire General


This edition of The Acts and Monuments is of the date 1641, 3 vols,

folio, the last of those in the black-letter, and probably the latest

when it came into Bunyan's hands. In each volume he has written his name

beneath the title-page, in a large and stout print-hand. Under some of

the woodcuts he has inserted a few rhymes, which are undoubtedly his own

composition; and which, though much in the manner of the verses that

were printed under the illustrations of his own Pilgrim's Progress,

when that work was first adorned with cuts, (verses worthy of such

embellishments,) are very much worse than even the worst of those.

Indeed, it would not be possible to find specimens of more miserable


Here is one of the Tinker's tetrasticks, penned in the margin, beside

the account of Gardiner's death:--

"The blood, the blood that he did shed

Is falling one his one head;

And dredfull it is for to see

The beginers of his misere."

One of the signatures bears the date of 1662; but the verses must

undoubtedly have been some years earlier, before the publication of his

first tract. These curious inscriptions must have been Bunyan's first

attempts in verse: he had, no doubt, found difficulty enough in tinkering

them to make him proud of his work when it was done; otherwise, he would

not have written them in a book which was the most valuable of all his

goods and chattels. In later days, he seems to have taken this book for

his art of poetry. His verses are something below the pitch of Sternhold

and Hopkins. But if he learnt there to make bad verses, he entered fully

into the spirit of its better parts, and received that spirit into as

resolute a heart as ever beat in a martyr's bosom.

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