Bunyan in chains

We can gain a remarkable insight into the use of Bunyan’s works thanks to a copy of the 1692 folio that has just been donated to the Angus Library and Archive, Regent’s Park College, Oxford, by the Faringdon Baptist Church, in Berkshire. While working in that Library, I was astonished to be shown what I believe is the only chained copy of the folio in existence. A portion of the rusty chain is still attached to the book, and a fly-leaf note, bearing the name of Philip Farmer, describes how the book was to be used in its original home :

This book was given by Phillip ffarmer to the Church of Christ meeting at their meeting house in Westbrook at ffaringdon, Constituted of such only as are baptized upon profession of their faith; to abide fixed in their meeting house for the use of all such whether members or hearers as shall resort thither at convinient seasons to read in it or hear any part of it read; Never to be moved from their present meeting house so long as they or their succcessours of the same faith and order shall possess and use the same for their meeting house; and if ever that church so constituted shall remove to another meeting place or be [letters deleted] divided, it is the will of the donor that the greatest number of such members as afores[ai]d that shall hold together shall possess and enjoy this book for common use as aforesaid This is declared by the donor the first day of ffebruary anno dom[in]j 1711

                                                                                                Phillip ffarmer

Witness. Tho: Langley

This is a unique document, describing how the Bunyan folio was to be permanently kept in the meeting house, for all those wishing to read it, or be read to from it, when stepping into the building. The volume does not possess the frontispiece, the list of subscribers, or the index dedication.

Faringdon Baptist Church, Bromsgrove face, http://www.geograph.org.uk © Roger Templeman, CC BY-SA 2.0

Faringdon Baptist Church, Bromsgrove face,http://www.geograph.org.uk © Roger Templeman, CC BY-SA 2.0

A 19th-century loose sheet inserted in the volume, simply entitled ‘Baptist Church, Faringdon,’ reveals the full contents of a second fly-leaf, which is unfortunately torn. The text runs:

‘A book of Bunyan’s works, originally presented to the Church in the year 1711, by Philip Farmer, and removed by Thomas Mace to prevent it being stolen in the year 1761, was restored by Mr. J. Broad, of Reading, May 21st 1888, particulars of each circumstances being written on the fly-lead of the book, now chained to [an] antique oak lectern in its original position in the Chapel’.

The Angus Library and Archive now possesses three copies of the folio, whose editorial history might still yield some surprises. For those unfamiliar with their wonderful records, see their website, http://theangus.rpc.ox.ac.uk

With many thanks to Emma Walsh and Emily Burgoyne.

Anne Page, Oxford, July 2014

Baptist Church House

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This is an impressive picture taken on 13 May 2014 outside Baptist Church House on Southampton Row, kindly passed on by Jane Giscombe and Alan Argent (Dr Williams’s Library) to Bunyan lovers, and reproduced here with their permission.

You can see closer photographs of Bunyan statue by Richard Garbe on the Victorian Web page, and visit English Heritage for the building. 

A walking tour…

By Roger Pooley

‘whereas Christian goes on a pilgrimage, Christiana goes on a walking-tour’

This quotation was posted on Facebook by Jameela Lares, with a plea to get the source of it to her before she taught The Pilgrim’s Progress that morning. I’m sorry that it’s taken me rather longer than that, other than a vague memory, but I thought other members of the Society might like to know the results.

It comes from ‘The Identity of the Pseudo-Bunyan’ in Ronald Knox, Essays in Satire (London, 1928: Sheed & Ward), on p.206. The essay is one of a number of satires on biblical source criticism and other ‘modern’ theological ideas of the time – the volume also contains a poem in the manner of Dryden, ‘Absolute and Abitofhell’. The essay itself invents a number of Bunyanesque pseudo-scholars: among them Professor Sack-the-lot, Mr Tithe-mint, and my personal favourite, Canon Obvious, the author of Dear Old Bunyan. The quotation in question is actually ascribed to Mr Muck-rake’s On the Trail of the Pilgrims, as the climax to a whole series of inconsistencies that he has pointed out between Parts One and Two.
The conclusion, after a discussion of the differences between the two parts which (ironies aside) is still worth attending to, is too magnificent not to quote at length. He draws attention to Great-heart’s ‘panegyric upon women’ where:
‘he traces the influence of women in the Gospels with the avowed object of showing that they were ahead of the other sex from end to end of the story. It is my own belief, though one which I offer with all due reserve to the public, that this is the true reading of the problem. The fortunes of Christiana, strange as it may seem, were foisted upon the world by a woman, jealous for the credit of her own sex, and an Anglican, equally jealous for the reputation of a much-maligned and recently persecuted Church.’ (p.219)

Pilgrim’s Progress begins 100-part list of best novels

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The Pilgrim’s Progress begins The Observer‘s 100-part list of best novels written in English. Robert Mc Crum explains his enduring popularity: “The Pilgrim’s Progress is the ultimate English classic, a book that has been continuously in print, from its first publication to the present day, in an extraordinary number of editions.

There’s no book in English, apart from the Bible, to equal Bunyan’s masterpiece for the range of its readership, or its influence on writers as diverse as William Thackeray, Charlotte Bronte, Mark Twain, CS Lewis, John Steinbeck and even Enid Blyton”.

View the complete article on The Observer’s website: http://www.theguardian.com/books/2013/sep/23/100-best-novels-pilgrims-progress

Harlington Manor

Capture d’écran 2013-11-18 à 15.15.01Harlington Manor (previously Harlington House) is arguably the last standing domestic building where John Bunyan is known to have been. Bunyan was interrogated there, probably in the Hall or the great parlour, after his arrest at Lower Samsell (Bedfordshire) in November 1660, by the magistrate who had issued the warrant, Sir Francis Wingate. Tradition has it that Bunyan might have spent the night after his interrogation in a room in Harlington House that was still known as ‘Bunyan’s cell’ in the nineteenth century, but there is no mention of this in Bunyan’s own account of his interrogation. Wingate was joined in the interrogation by the vicar of the nearby Harlington parish Church, William Lindall, who was referred to by Bunyan as ‘an old enemy to the truth’. Ironically, Wingate’s eldest son, also named Francis, married Lady Anne Annesley, the fourth daughter of Arthur Annesley, first earl of Anglesey, and cousin to Samuel Annesley, the Presbyterian minister. When Francis died in 1690, Anne might have shown sympathies towards the Nonconformists and three of their children, Frances, Anna Letitia and Rachel, became members of Bunyan’s former congregation in Bedford. Anna Letitia became the second wife of John Jennings, the tutor of the Dissenting Academy at Kibworth Harcourt (Leicestershire), where Philip Doddridge studied. We’d be glad to hear from any member of the Society who has more information about the episode of Bunyan’s arrest and interrogation at Harlington.

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 Harlington Manor is now in private hands, and its owners provide accommodation and tours for the public. If you happen to be in Bedfordshire, it is well worth a visit, http://harlingtonmanor.com.

room67Further reading: John Bunyan, A Relation of my Imprisonment, Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners, ed. Roger Sharrock (Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1962); John Brown, John Bunyan (1628-1688): His Life, Times, and Work, tercentenary ed., rev. by Frank Mott Harrison (London, Glasgow, Birmingham: The Hulbert Publishing Company, 1928), p. 125-150; Beth Lynch, John Bunyan and the Language of Conviction (Cambridge: D.S. Brewer, 2004), p. 23-33; Richard Greaves’s Glimpses of Glory: John Bunyan and English Dissent (Stanford University Press, 2002), p. 130-145; Clergy of England Database, http://theclergydatabase.org.uk, Dissenting Academy Online, http://www.english.qmul.ac.uk/drwilliams/portal.html; David L. Wykes, ‘Jennings, John (1687/8–1723)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004 [http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/14759, accessed 18 Nov 2013]; Newton E. Key, ‘Annesley, Samuel (bap. 1620, d. 1696)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, May 2013 [http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/566, accessed 18 Nov 2013]. Of related interest: Harlington Church, http://www.harlingtonchurch.org.uk

A word from the President

Our Seventh Triennial Conference, directed by Nigel Smith, lasting a whole week on a Princeton campus buzzing with the sound of cicadas, and the occasional thunderstorm, was a huge success. We heard over thirty papers of great diversity and scope, including four inspiring plenaries delivered by N. H. Keeble (Stirling), Laura Knoppers (Penn. State), Paul C. H. Lim (Vanderbilt) and Cynthia Wall (Virginia). Senior scholars rubbed shoulders with a lively community of doctoral and post-doctoral researchers ; they showed us that we need have no fear for the future of Bunyan studies.

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Two of our officers retired at the business meeting on 13 August 2013 : our Secretary, Michael Davies, and our President, Nigel Smith. Both were warmly thanked for their work and dedication to the IJBS; the task for the new committee will be to rise to the challenge of meeting the standards they have set for us. You will find the membership of the 2013-2016 Executive Committee on the corresponding menu above.

After over a decade of outstanding service, the Alberta IJBS website has been replaced. We are greatly indebted to our Vice-President, David Gay, who devised and maintained it singlehandedly for so long. His diligence and impeccable record-keeping have ensured that the transition to the new website has been smooth and pain-free. This new website has been designed to improve communication between members and the general public. We hope you will find it pleasant and easy to use. Make sure you visit it on a regular basis and recommend it to others.

Finally, the IJBS’s Facebook page (click on the link on the right margin) is also thriving and offers a more informal environment where members can share news, pictures, and keep up with each other, so make sure you join us there as well !

Wishing you all a good year,

Anne Page, Aix-Marseille Université, 29 September 2013