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Author's Apology

John Bunyan
John Bunyan
(1628-1688)

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 flie.
Nay then, thought I, if that you breed so fast,
I'll put you by your selves, 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 shew 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 gratifie.

Neither did I but vacant seasons spend

In this my Scribble; Nor did I intend
But to divert my self in doing this,
From worser thoughts, which make me do amiss.

Thus I set Pen to Paper with delight,

And quickly had my thoughts in 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 shew'd them others, that I might see whether
They would condemn them, or them justifie:
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 straight, 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.

For, thought I; Some I see would have it done,

Though others in that Channel do not run;
To prove then who advised for the best,
Thus I thought fit to put it to the test.

I further thought, if now I did deny

Those that would have it thus, to gratifie,
I did not know, but hinder them I might,
Of that which would to them be great delight.

For those that were not for its coming forth;

I said to them, Offend you I am loth;
Yet since your Brethren pleased with it be,
Forbear to judge, till you do further see.

If that thou wilt not read, let it alone;

Some love the meat, some love to pick the bone:
Yea, that I might them better palliate,
I did too with them thus Expostulate.

May I not write in such a stile as this?

In such a method too, and yet not miss
Mine end, thy good? Why may it not be done?
Dark Clouds bring Waters, when the bright bring none;
Yea, dark or bright, if they their silver drops
Cause to descend, the Earth, by yielding Crops,
Gives praise to both, and carpeth not at either,
But treasures up the Fruit they yield together:
Yea, so commixes both, that in her Fruit
None can distinguish this from that, they suit
Her well, when hungry: but if she be full,
She spues out both, and makes their blessing null.
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