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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 221 pages of information about Among Famous Books.
told the adventures of two Puritans who strayed into the Fair, and who regarded the whole affair as the shop of Satan.  There were many other Fairs, such as that of Sturbridge, and the Elstow Fair itself, which was instituted by the nuns on the ground close to their convent, and which is held yearly to the present day.  Such Fairs as these have been a source of much temptation and danger to the neighbourhood, and represent in its popular form the whole spirit of paganism at its worst.

All the various elements of Bunyan’s world live on in the England of to-day.  Thackeray, with a stroke of characteristic genius, has expanded and applied the earlier conception of paganism in his great novel whose title Vanity Fair is borrowed from Bunyan.  But the main impression of the allegory is the victory of the spiritual at its weakest over the temporal at its mightiest.  His descriptions of the supper and bed chamber in the House Beautiful, and of the death of Christiana at the end of the Second Part, are immortal writings, in the most literal sense, amid the shows of time.  They have indeed laid hold of immortality not for themselves only, but for the souls of men.  Nothing could sum up the whole story of Bunyan better than the legend of his flute told by Mr. S.S.  M’Currey in his book of poems entitled In Keswick Vale.  The story is that in his prison Bunyan took out a bar from one of the chairs in his cell, scooped it hollow, and converted it into a flute, upon which he played sweet music in the dark and solitary hours of the prison evening.  The jailers never could find out the source of that music, for when they came to search his cell, the bar was replaced in the chair, and there was no apparent possibility of flute-playing; but when the jailers departed the music would mysteriously recommence.  It is very unlikely that this legend is founded upon fact, or indeed that Bunyan was a musician at all (although we do have from his pen one touching and beautiful reference to the finest music in the world being founded upon the bass), but, like his own greater work, the little legend is an allegory.  The world for centuries has heard sweet music from Bunyan, and has not known whence it came.  It has seemed to most men a miracle, and indeed they were right in counting it so.  Yet there was a flute from which that music issued, and the flute was part of the rough furniture of his imprisoned world.  He was no scholar, nor delicate man of belles lettres, like so many of his contemporaries.  He took what came to his hand; and in this lecture we have tried to show how much did come thus to his hand that was rare and serviceable for the purposes of his spirit, and for the expression of high spiritual truth.

LECTURE VI

PEPYS’ DIARY

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