The Country Parson; The Temple

By John N. Wall; George Herbert | Go to book overview
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The Printers to the Reader 1.

The dedication of this work having been made by the Author to the Divine Majesty only, how should we now presume to interest any mortal man in the patronage of it? Much less think we it meet to seek the recommendation of the Muses, for that which himself was confident to have been inspired by a diviner breath than flows from Helicon. 2. The world therefore shall receive it in that naked simplicity, with which he left it, without any addition either of support or ornament, more than is included in itself. We leave it free and unforestalled to every man's judgment, and to the benefit that he shall find by perusal. Only for the clearing of some passages, we have thought it not unfit to make the common Reader privy to some few particularities of the condition and disposition of the Person.

Being nobly born, and as eminently endued with gifts of the mind, and having by industry and happy education perfected them to that great height of excellency, whereof his fellowship of Trinity College in Cambridge, and his Oratorship in the University, together with that knowledge which the King's Court had taken of him, could make relation far above ordinary. Quitting both his deserts and all the opportunities that he had for worldly preferment, he betook himself to the Sanctuary and Temple of God, choosing rather to serve at God's Altar, than to seek the honor of State employments. As for those inward enforcements to this course (for outward there was none) which many of these ensuing verses bear witness of, they detract not from the freedom, but add to the honor of this resolution in him. As God had enabled him, so he accounted him meet not only to be called, but to be compelled to this service: Wherein his faithful discharge was such, as may make him justly a companion to the primitive Saints, and a pattern or more for the age he lived in.

To testify his independency upon all others, and to quicken his diligence in this kind, he used in his ordinary speech, when he made

The Printers to the Reader. Preface to The Temple by Nicholas Ferrar (1592-1637), Anglican deacon and spiritual leader of the religious community at Little Gidding known to its Puritan opponents as his "Arminian nunnery." A friend of Herbert, Ferrar served as his first literary executor; see textual introduction.
Helicon. A mountain in southwest Boeotia, Greece, traditionally considered the home of the Muses in Greek mythology.


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