The Works of George Herbert

By F. E. Hutchinson; George Herbert | Go to book overview

PREFACE

THE main object of this edition is to establish the text of The Temple by providing a more complete and more accurate collection of the evidence than has been hitherto available. The principles which I have adopted, after much trial and error, determining the relative authority of the two manuscripts and the first edition are set out in section vii of the Introduction. The Temple was fortunate in having Thomas Buck, a scholar and a lover of literature, for its first printer. The five editions for which he was responsible all testify to his continued vigilance. After his retirement the degeneration of the text set in. I have, however, recorded the variants of all the seventeenth-century editions, since, although they have no authority, many of the errors which they introduced have had a long life and have been able to mislead critics as acute as Coleridge. I have also recorded the variants due to Walton, because the popularity of his Lives has given them wide currency. Mrs. Bernard Hall has generously placed at my disposal the notes on the text made by her late husband, a lifelong and devoted student of Herbert's poems. Although his theory about the manuscripts, communicated to The Times Literary Supplement of 26 October 1933, was in my judgement disproved by Mr. John Sparrow in a letter to the same journal on 14 December, some of the emendations suggested by him deserve to be recorded.

The authenticity of the occasional writings is discussed in the Commentary. There is new evidence (see pp. 570-2) for ascribing to Herbert the nucleus at least of Outlandish Proverbs. Professor H. G. Wright published in 1935 a transcript of seventy-two proverbs made by Sir Henry Herbert in 1637, three years before the appearance in print of Outlandish Proverbs. By the kindness of the Hon. Lady Langman I have had access to a collection of more than 200 of the proverbs, contained in a Little Gidding Story-Book, which she inherited from her Ferrar ancestors.

For the Latin texts I have had the help of Mr. Bruce

-v-

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