'MR HERBERT'S TEMPLE & CHURCH MILITANT EXPLAINED AND IMPROVED'
IN 'Mr Herbert Temple & Church Militant explained and improved,' George Ryley annotated and paraphrased every poem in The Temple. The neglect of Ryley's work is unfortunate, for Ryley's largely theological commentaries often provide the key to many of the passages and poems which are difficult for the modern reader of Herbert. Ryley MS., dated March 24th, 1714/15 ( Bodleian, MS. Rawlinson D199; my references are to the copy made in 1904 by A. F. Parker for G. H. Palmer, Houghton Library, Her 2.3), was noticed by George Herbert Palmer, but Palmer made little use of it in his edition of The English Works ( 1907): ' Ryley's aims and my own are so divergent that I have been able to quote him less often than I should like, especially as I obtained a copy of his manuscript only after my notes were practically complete' (II, 6n). Palmer was not particularly interested in theology, but a close reading of Ryley's commentary early in his studies might have prevented his 'chronological' rearrangement of the poems. Herbert's definitive editor, F. E. Hutchinson, dismissed Ryley's work with the remark, 'it has no authority for the text, which, where it is cited, evidently follows a late edition; and the comments lack originality' ( Works, p. lvi). But Ryley did not even quote the texts of most of the poems, and he remarked on p. 2, 'I don't pretend to an exactness and especially not in the form of the quotations used here, for they were generally made from absent authors, which my liberal friends have often supplyed me with. The uttermost I please myself with is that a tollerable sence is put upon every poem, & there are not many that have escaped a genuine denudation.' On the theological level Ryley almost makes good his boast.
Ryley's commentary must, however, be used with due
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Publication information: Book title: George Herbert:His Religion and Art. Contributors: Joseph H. Summers - Author. Publisher: Harvard University Press. Place of publication: Cambridge, MA. Publication year: 1954. Page number: 191.
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