This study began as a doctoral dissertation presented to the Faculty of English Language and Literature at the University of Oxford. I should like to acknowledge my profound debt to my two very different supervisors, Professor John Carey and Doctor Robin Robbins. They perhaps best exemplify Browne's words: 'To this (as calling my selfe a Scholler) I am obliged by the duty of my condition, I make not therefore my head a grave, but a treasure of knowledge; I intend no Monopoly but a Community in learning.' I have benefited greatly from their exceptional learning and their enlightened, searching approach to literature. Over the past six years I have enjoyed many stimulating discussions with them and I am deeply grateful for their patience, encouragement, and kindness. I should also like to express my enormous gratitude to the two examiners of my thesis, Professor Alastair Fowler and Professor A. D. Nuttall, for a most fascinating and humane viva, and for the help they have so generously given with respect to the publication of this book.
I have incurred many other academic debts. The earliest of these reaches back to Doctor Phil. Habil. Hans Peter Neureuter of Regensburg University; his enthusiasm for his subject has always been infectious. To Professor Clive Hart of Essex University I would like to say thank you for all the untabooed intellectual conversations over the years; he first taught me to look at things from a different angle. Doctor Manfred Rössle of Nürnberg University has been of invaluable help with all my questions on computing and so has Mr Charles Gibbons at a later stage. I remember with fondness the many passionate discussions with Ms Kathrin Peters on the grammatical issues of this book. For helpful, friendly, and supportive advice I am further grateful to Doctor Thomas N. Corns and Sir Anthony Kenny.
I should also like to acknowledge the help of the British Academy; without its financial aid this doctorate would not have been possible. Wadham College has provided me with a home over the years of my doctorate, and has been a most congenial background to the study of seventeenth-century literature. I am, furthermore, very grateful to them for electing me to a Senior Scholarship. Wolfson College has