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The first edition of The Pilgrim's Progress, of which an exact reproduction is now placed before the public, was issued by “Nath. Ponder at the Peacock in the Poultrey near Cornbill, 1678.” At the present time, but one copy of that edition is known to exist. It is in the library of H. S. Holford, Esq., through whose kindness the publisher has been enabled to produce the present fac-simile. The unique and priceless original is a compact volume, printed on yellowish grey paper, from, apparently, new type; and so perfectly has it been preserved, that it seems to be in precisely the state in which it left the publisher's shelves. It is a book as full of material peculiarities as any that ever taxed the correctness of a fac-similist; and it may not be out of place to draw attention to some of them. The spelling and grammar are
frequently both inaccurate and inconsistent, from a modern point of view ; but to this, which is scarcely a peculiarity, we have to add a very irregular use of capital letters, the greatest profusion of italics, the employment now of asterisks and
of letters for reference to the notes, and the use of certain characters differing in form from modern letters, and not commonly used in books of the seventeenth century. The italic k and the st which occur in the Introduction to the First Part, and also in the Second Part, are examples of these obsolete letters; and the 2 in the word Progress, at the head of every page, is of
very rare occurrence. But this edition has other characteristics which render its interest still more vital. The marginal comments, which some modern editors have seen fit to omit, are there in all their quaint force : in one case the temper of Christian, as described in the text, is summarized in the side-note thus : “ Christian snibbeth bis Fellow”; in another place Bunyan ejaculates in the margin, “O brave Talkative”; and in numerous instances these notes have a value of their own, either as samples of the rough vernacular of the author's original book, or as indications of his mode of thought.
This first edition, more than any subsequent one, is replete with quaint expressions in rugged SaxonEnglish, and with other elements of style which induced Bunyan to say in his “Apology”:“ This Book is writ in such a Dialect As may
the minds of listless men affect.” And although the great allegorist never materially changed his handiwork, he did make alterations in his grammar and orthography in the course of the eight editions which he lived to revise. Add to this that his numerous editors have also carried on the work of modification for nearly two centuries; and it will at once be evident that it is a matter of real importance for the reading public of to-day to see what Bunyan really wrote and issued in the first instance.
To compass this end, no pains have been spared. In all those matters of orthography, grammar, rough or quaint expression, typo