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Title: The Poetical Works of Thomas Traherne - 1636?-1674 from the original manuscripts
Author: Traherne, Thomas
Language: English
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  [Illustration: Facsimile of the original MS. of one of Traherne's

                         THE POETICAL WORKS OF
                            THOMAS TRAHERNE


                               EDITED BY
                            BERTRAM DOBELL

                     _WITH A MEMOIR OF THE AUTHOR_

                            SECOND EDITION

    "I give you the end of a golden string,
      Only wind it into a ball,
    It will lead you in at Heaven's gate
      Built in Jerusalem's wall."

                            _William Blake_

    "Heaven lies about us in our infancy."

                       _William Wordsworth_

                        PUBLISHED BY THE EDITOR
                      77 CHARING CROSS ROAD, W.C.


                            G. THORN DRURY

    My youth was ever constant to one dream,
    Though hope failed oft--so hopeless did it seem--
    That in the ripeness of my days I might
    Something achieve that should the world requite
    For my existence; for it was a pain
    To think that I should live and live in vain:
    And most my thoughts were turned towards the Muse,
    Though long she did my earnest prayers refuse,
    And left me darkling and despairing; then
    By happy chance there came within my ken
    A hapless poet, whom--I thank kind fate!--
    It was my privilege to help instate
    In that proud eminence wherein he shines
    Now that no more on earth he sadly pines.
    This was a fortune such as I must ever
    Be thankful for--yet still 'twas my endeavour,
    With what, I hope, was no unworthy zeal,
    My life-work with some other deed to seal,
    And lo! when such a dream might well seem vain,
    Propitious fate smiled on me once again,
    And through the mists of time's close-woven pall
    A glint of light on one dim form did fall,
    Which, as I gazed more earnestly, became
    A living soul, discovered by the flame
    Of glowing inspiration which possessed
    Even now, as when he lived, the poet's breast.
    Did I deceive myself? Could it be true
    A new poetic star was in my view,
    And shining with a lustre bright and clear,
    Where, constellated in the heavenly sphere,
    Herbert and Vaughan, Crashaw and Milton shine
    With varying brightness, yet alike divine?
    I gazed again, but still that star burned on,
    And ever with a deeper radiance shone,
    Until I knew no Will-o'-th'-Wisp's false light,
    No meteor delusive mocked my sight,
    But 'twas indeed a fulgent planet which
    Henceforth shall with its beams the heavens enrich.

    Some vanity, I know, is in this strain,
    But men may be with reason sometimes vain:
    Shall he alone who does a worthy deed
    Not pay himself, if so he will, that meed
    Of self-applause from which all virtues spring,--
    Without it who would do a noble thing?
    So let the world arraign me as it will,
    It cannot now my satisfaction chill,
    Since you, dear friend! and all whose praise I prize,
    Look on my labours with approving eyes.

    This book to you 'tis fit I dedicate
    Since you, my friend, so well appreciate--
    Nay, rather love, our poets of old time,
    Responding ever to their notes sublime:
    Who, though you treasure most those sons of light,
    Whose radiance glitters on the brow of night,
    Do not despise the faintest twinkling star
    That shines where Shakespeare, Spenser, Milton are:
    Who can, like Lamb, a brilliant flower descry
    Where all seems sterile to the common eye,
    Who, like Lamb, too, to no strait bounds confined,
    Have room for all fair fancies in your mind,
    And, with a taste that never errs, discover
    Faults like a censor, beauties like a lover.

    Here is another offering for your store,
    Though not arrayed in that brown garb of yore
    Which, with quaint type and paper stained with age,
    Were for the Spirit of our Poet-Sage
    A fitter dwelling, more becoming page.
    I could not give him these, and so have sought
    To match his noble and exalted thought
    With the best raiment that our time affords
    Of comely type, fine paper, seemly boards,
    Which, centuries hence, to our children's children's eyes
    May have an antique look which they shall prize,
    When Traherne's name, familiar to their ears,
    Shall hold assured a place among his peers.



    DEDICATION                                v

    CONTENTS                                 ix

    INTRODUCTION                           xiii

    THE SALUTATION                            1

    WONDER                                    4

    EDEN                                      8

    INNOCENCE                                11

    THE PREPARATIVE                          15

    THE INSTRUCTION                          19

    THE VISION                               21

    THE RAPTURE                              24

    THE IMPROVEMENT                          26

    THE APPROACH                             31

    DUMBNESS                                 34

    SILENCE                                  38

    MY SPIRIT                                42

    THE APPREHENSION                         48

    FULLNESS                                 49

    NATURE                                   51

    EASE                                     55

    SPEED                                    58

    THE CHOICE                               60

    THE PERSON                               65

    THE ESTATE                               69

    THE ENQUIRY                              73

    THE CIRCULATION                          76

    AMENDMENT                                80

    THE DEMONSTRATION                        83

    THE ANTICIPATION                         88

    THE RECOVERY                             94

    ANOTHER                                  98

    LOVE                                    101

    THOUGHTS.--I                            104

    THOUGHTS.--II                           109

    [THE INFLUX]                            112

    THOUGHTS.--III                          115

    DESIRE                                  119

    THOUGHTS.--IV                           123

    GOODNESS                                128

    [THE SOUL'S GLORY]                      132

    [FINITE YET INFINITE]                   134

    ON NEWS                                 135

    [THE TRIUMPH]                           138

    [THE ONLY ILL]                          140

    THE RECOVERY                            142

    [THE GLORY OF ISRAEL]                   143

    [ASPIRATION]                            148

    [SUPPLICATION]                          152




         PLEASURES"                                157

         BRING"                                    157


      OF MEEKNESS                                  160

      OF CONTENTMENT                               166

      "AND IF THE GLORY AND ESTEEM I HAVE"         167


    BLISS                                             170

    [LIFE'S BLESSEDNESS]                              171

    [THE RESURRECTION]                                172

    THE WAYS OF WISDOM                                174

    OF THE MERCIES OF GOD"                            179

    THE WILL OF THOMAS TRAHERNE                       185

   Note: The poems of which the titles are
   enclosed within brackets are without titles in the original
   manuscripts. It seemed better to give them names, in order to
   facilitate reference to them.


It is with a more than ordinary degree of pleasure that I have
undertaken the task of introducing to readers of the present day the
writings of a hitherto unknown seventeenth-century poet. Centuries
had drawn their curtains around him, and he had died utterly, as it
seemed, out of the minds and memories of men; but the long night of
his obscurity is at length over, and his light henceforth, if I am not
much mistaken, is destined to shine with undiminished lustre as long as
England or the English tongue shall endure.

The author of the poems contained in the present volume belongs to
that small group of religious poets which includes Herbert, Vaughan,
and Crashaw, though he is much more nearly allied to the authors of
"The Temple" and "Silex Scintillans" than to the lyrist of Roman
Catholicism. Yet he is neither a follower nor an imitator of any of
these, but one who draws his inspiration from sources either peculiar
to himself or made his own by the moulding force of his own fervent
spirit. Of the inner life of the author of these poems we have
abundant and satisfactory knowledge, for it is certain that no man's
writings ever furnished a clearer or more faithful mirror of their
author's personality than do those of Thomas Traherne. But of the
outward incidents of his life little can be told, though that little
is sufficient to show that he was a man of the finest and noblest
character. Profession and practice in his case went together, and he
was no less admirable as a man than he was as a poet and a minister
of religion. That he was a person of great sweetness of disposition,
of most happy temperament, and of singularly attractive character, is
certain; and to know so much of a man is to know everything we really
need to know. We cannot help, however, craving for more than this, and
we would give much indeed for such a record of Traherne as Walton gave
of Hooker, Herbert, Donne, and Sanderson. It is likely, indeed, that
other particulars of Traherne's career will in time be discovered; but
for the present the reader must be content with the scanty details
which are given in the following pages.

I regret to say that the inquiries which I have made, or caused to be
made, as to the time and place of Thomas Traherne's birth have been, so
far, without result. Probably he was born at Hereford, since his father
was a shoemaker in that town; but this is not certain. He may have
been born at Ledbury, which is a village a few miles from Hereford,
for it seems pretty certain that his family was in some way connected
with that place. The earlier portion of the registers of that village
has been printed by the Parish Registers Society, and from this it
appears that there were "Trayernes" there in the sixteenth century.
Unfortunately, the portion of the Ledbury registers which covers the
period during which it is probable that our author was born is missing.
That also seems to be the case as regards the Hereford registers of the
same period. This is very disappointing; but we may hope that further
inquiries will prove more successful.

That the family from which the poet sprang was Welsh by descent seems
to be highly probable. It is true that the name is also found in
a slightly different form in Cornwall; but no doubt both branches
sprang from the same root at some distant period. The poet's character
and temperament, as displayed in his writings, almost proclaim his
nationality. Herbert and Vaughan, the two poets to whom he is most
near akin, were both Welsh by descent, and though neither of them is
deficient in warmth of feeling, Traherne certainly surpasses them in
the passionate fervour which he infuses into his writings. It is hardly
possible to think of them as having emanated from the cooler and less
enthusiastic Anglo-Saxon temperament.

All that I am able to say, then, as to the time of Traherne's birth is
that it was probably in the year 1636. Wood informs us that he became
a commoner of Brazennose College, Oxford, in 1652; and as the age at
which it was then usual for youths to commence their college career
was about sixteen, the above date seems the most likely one, though
it may, of course, have been a year earlier or later. His father was
in all probability the "John Traherne, Shoemaker," who is recorded to
have received, in conjunction with another person, "from Mistress Joyce
Jefferies the sum of three pounds for the shipping money."[A] This lady
is also recorded to have paid money to one John Traherne (who may or
may not have been the same person) for training as the soldier whom she
had to provide for the Trained-bands.

John Traherne, it seems likely, was related to a man of considerable
note and influence in Hereford. This was Philip Traherne (the name is
sometimes spelt Traheron), who was twice Mayor of Hereford. He was
born in 1566, and was noted for his fidelity to the cause of King
Charles I., and, to follow the eulogium upon his tombstone, "for his
fervent zeal for the Established Church and clergy, and friendly and
affectionate behaviour in conversation, which rendered him highly
valuable to all the loyal party." He was mayor of Hereford at the time
when the Scots attacked it. He died in 1645, aged 79. It would thus
appear that the Traherne family was one which occupied a fairly good
position in the middle class of the community. It would seem, however,
from a passage in Traherne's "Centuries of Meditations" ("Sitting in a
little obscure room in my father's poor house") that John Traherne's
circumstances were not very flourishing.

Of the poet's infancy and youth, the only source of information we have
is that which we find in his own writings. That the poems in which he
dwells so lovingly, and with so much enthusiasm, upon the happiness and
innocence of his infancy are somewhat coloured by the warmth of his
imagination may, perhaps, be suspected, but not, I think, with justice.
It is possible that he, to some extent, confused reflections of later
date with those which he represents himself to have experienced in his
infancy; but he was evidently a very precocious child, and the dawn of
consciousness and thought was surely much earlier in him than it is in
ordinary children. I think, therefore, we may trust the evidence of the
poems, in which he speaks of his infancy and childhood, as affording a
true, or but little idealised, picture of his early life. It might be
unsafe to depend upon the evidence of the poems if they stood alone,
but the earnestness with which he dwells upon the same topic, and
repeats in prose (in his "Centuries of Meditations") what he asserts
in his verse, is sufficiently convincing. I know of no author whose
writings convey to the reader a stronger conviction of their author's
entire sincerity and absolute truthfulness than do those of Thomas

Traherne's "Centuries of Meditations" consists of a series of
reflections on religious and moral subjects, divided into short
numbered paragraphs. The manuscript (which was probably written in
the last years of his life, and therefore contains his most mature
thoughts) comprises four complete "Centuries," and ten numbers of a
fifth "Century." From the fact that it was left unfinished it would
seem that his labour upon it was cut short by his death. It was written
for the benefit and instruction of a lady, a friend from whom he had
received as a present the book in which it is written. It bears the
following inscription on the first page:

    "This book unto the friend of my best friend,
     As of the wisest love a mark, I send,
     That she may write my Maker's praise therein,
     And make herself thereby a cherubim."

In the third "Century" of the "Meditations" we find many details of
the author's infancy and childhood. I cannot do better that give the
greater part of these in the author's own words:


   Will you see the infancy of this sublime and celestial greatness?
   Those pure and virgin apprehensions I had in my infancy, and that
   divine light wherewith I was born, are the best unto this day
   wherein I can see the universe. By the gift of God they attended
   me into the world, and by His special favour I remember them
   till now. Verily they form the greatest gift His wisdom could
   bestow, for without them all other gifts had been dead and vain.
   They are unattainable by books, and therefore I will teach them
   by experience. Pray for them earnestly, for they will make you
   angelical and wholly celestial. Certainly Adam in Paradise had not
   more sweet and curious apprehensions of the world than I when I was
   a child.


   All appeared new and strange at first, inexpressibly rare and
   delightful and beautiful. I was a little stranger which at my
   entrance into the world was saluted and surrounded with innumerable
   joys. My knowledge was Divine; I knew by intuition those things
   which since my apostacy I collected again by the highest reason.
   My very ignorance was advantageous. I seemed as one brought into
   the estate of innocence. All things were spotless and pure and
   glorious; yea, and infinitely mine and joyful and precious. I knew
   not that there were any sins, or complaints or laws. I dreamed not
   of poverties, contentions, or vices. All tears and quarrels were
   hidden from mine eyes. Everything was at rest, free and immortal.
   I knew nothing of sickness or death or exaction. In the absence of
   these I was entertained like an angel with the works of God in their
   splendour and glory; I saw all in the peace of Eden; heaven and
   earth did sing my Creator's praises, and could not make more melody
   to Adam than to me. All Time was Eternity, and a perpetual Sabbath.
   Is it not strange that an infant should be heir of the whole world,
   and see those mysteries which the books of the learned never unfold?


   The corn was orient and immortal wheat which never should be reaped
   nor was ever sown. I thought it had stood from everlasting to
   everlasting. The dust and stones of the street were as precious
   as gold: the gates were at first the end of the world. The green
   trees when I saw them first through one of the gates transported
   and ravished me; their sweetness and unusual beauty made my heart
   to leap, and almost mad with ecstacy, they were such strange and
   wonderful things. The Men! O what venerable and reverend creatures
   did the aged seem! Immortal Cherubims! And young men glittering and
   sparkling angels, and maids strange seraphic pieces of life and
   beauty! Boys and girls tumbling in the street were moving jewels: I
   knew not that they were born or should die. But all things abided
   eternally as they were in their proper places. Eternity was manifest
   in the Light of the Day, and something infinite behind everything
   appeared, which talked with my expectation and moved my desire. The
   City seemed to stand in Eden or to be built in Heaven. The streets
   were mine, the temple was mine, the people were mine, their clothes
   and gold and silver were mine, as much as their sparkling eyes,
   fair skins, and ruddy faces. The skies were mine, and so were the
   sun and moon and stars, and all the world was mine; and I the only
   spectator and enjoyer of it. I knew no churlish proprieties, nor
   bounds nor divisions; but all proprieties and divisions were mine,
   all treasures and the possessors of them. So that with much ado I
   was corrupted, and made to learn the dirty devices of this world,
   which now I unlearn, and become, as it were, a little child again
   that I may enter into the Kingdom of God.

These passages are succeeded in the MS. by the poem entitled "The
Approach," which the reader will find at page 31 of the present volume.

In the following sections of the "Meditations" the author tells how
these thoughts were first dimmed, and afterwards almost entirely lost
owing to the evil influence of those around him. It is clear that his
parents failed to appreciate the fact that their child was of a very
uncommon type, and that the ordinary methods of dealing with children
were inapplicable in his case. His early and innocent thoughts, he
says, were quite obliterated by the influence of a bad education. He
found that those around him were immersed in the trivial cares and
vanities of common life; that they were wholly wrapped up in the
outward shows of things, and were moved only by common and mercenary
motives. Alas! this is the discovery that every poet makes, and it
is this which constitutes the tragedy of life for him. Had any one,
Traherne says, spoken to him on the great and sublime truths of God and
Nature; had he been taught that God was good, and had made him the sole
heir of a glorious universe; had he been assured that earth was better
than gold, and water, every drop of it, a precious jewel, he would have
thankfully received and gladly believed the lessons. But instead of
this they tried to instil into his mind the lessons of selfishness and
worldly wisdom.


   It was a difficult matter to persuade me that the tinseled ware upon
   a hobby horse was a fine thing. They did impose upon me and obtrude
   their gifts that made me believe a ribbon or a feather curious. I
   could not see where was the curiousness or fineness. And to teach me
   that a purse of gold was at any value seemed impossible, the art by
   which it becomes so, and the reasons for which it is accounted so
   were so deep and hidden to my inexperience. So that nature is still
   nearest to natural things, and farthest off from preternatural; and
   to esteem that the reproach of nature is an excuse in them only who
   are unacquainted with it. Natural things are glorious, and to know
   them glorious; but to call things preternatural natural monstrous.
   Yet all they do it who esteem gold, silver, houses, land, clothes,
   &c., the riches of nature, which are indeed the riches of invention.
   Nature knows no such riches, but art and error makes them. Not the
   God of Nature, but sin only was the parent of them. The riches of
   Nature are our souls and bodies, with all their faculties, senses,
   and endowments. And it had been the easiest thing in the whole world
   [to teach me] that all felicity consisted in the enjoyment of all
   the world, that it was prepared for me before I was born, and that
   nothing was more divine and beautiful.

Surely Traherne was here anticipating much which seems to belong to a
far later date! The doctrine here urged is in essentials the same as
that which was insisted upon by Rousseau and other philosophers of the
eighteenth century. Shelley himself hardly enforced the idea of the
return to nature more strenuously than Traherne does in this passage.
"Natural things are glorious and to know them glorious"--is not this
the whole burden of Walt Whitman's poetry? Nay, is it not the whole
burden of all poetry worthy of the name?


   Thoughts are the most present things to thoughts, and of the most
   powerful influence. My Soul was only apt and disposed to great
   things; but souls to souls are like apples, one being rotten rots
   another. When I began to speak and go, nothing began to be present
   to me but what was present to me in their thoughts. Nor was anything
   present to me any other way than it was so to them. The glass of
   imagination was the only mirror wherein anything was represented or
   appeared to me. All things were absent which they talked not of. So
   I began among my playfellow's to prize a drum, a fine coat, a penny,
   a gilded book, &c., who before never dreamed of any such wealth.
   Goodly objects to drown all the knowledge of Heaven and Earth! As
   for the Heavens and Sun and Stars, they disappeared, and were no
   more unto me than the bare walls. So that the strange riches of
   man's invention quite overcame the riches of nature, being learned
   more laboriously and in the second place.

By this, Traherne proceeds, parents and nurses should learn the right
way of teaching children. Nothing is easier than to teach the truth
because the nature of the thing confirms the teaching; whereas to teach
children to value "gugaus," baubles, and rattles puts false ideas into
their heads, and blots out all noble and divine thoughts, rendering
them uncertain about everything, and dividing them from God. "Verily,"
he says, "there is no savage nation under the cope of Heaven that is
more absurdly barbarous than the Christian World.... I am sure that
those barbarous people that go naked come nearer to Adam, God, and
Angels in the simplicity of their wealth, though not in knowledge."


   Being swallowed up therefore in the miserable gulf of idle talk
   and worthless vanities, thenceforth I lived among shadows, like a
   prodigal son feeding upon husks with swine. A comfortless wilderness
   full of thorns and troubles the world was or worse: a waste place
   covered with idleness and play, and shops, and markets, and taverns.
   As for churches they were things I did not understand, and schools
   were a burden: so that there was nothing in the world worth the
   having or enjoying but my game and sport, which also was a dream,
   and being passed wholly forgotten. So that I had wholly forgotten
   all goodness, bounty, comfort, and glory; which things are the very
   brightness of the Glory of God, for lack of which therefore He was


   Yet sometimes in the midst of these dreams I should come a little
   to myself, so far as to feel I wanted something, secretly to
   expostulate with God for not giving me riches, to long after an
   unknown happiness, to grieve that the world was so empty and to be
   dissatisfied with my present state because it was vain and forlorn.
   I had heard of Angels and much admired that here upon earth nothing
   should be but dirt and streets and gutters. For as for the pleasures
   that were in great men's houses I had not seen them: and it was my
   real happiness they were unknown. For because nothing deluded me I
   was the more inquisitive.


   Once I remember (I think I was about four years old) when I thus
   reasoned with myself. Sitting in a little obscure room in my
   father's poor house: If there be a God certainly He must be Infinite
   in Goodness, and that I was prompted to, by a real whispering
   instinct of nature. And if He be Infinite in Goodness and a perfect
   Being in Wisdom and Love, certainly He must do most glorious things
   and give us infinite riches; how comes it to pass, therefore, that
   I am so poor? Of so scanty and narrow a fortune, enjoying few and
   obscure comforts? I thought I could not believe Him a God to me
   unless all His power were employed to glorify me. I knew not then
   my Soul or Body, nor did I think of the Heavens and the Earth, the
   Rivers and the Stars, the Sun or the Seas: all those were lost and
   absent from me. But when I found them made out of nothing for me,
   then I had a God indeed whom I could praise and rejoice in.


   Sometimes I should be alone and without employment, when suddenly
   my Soul would return to itself, and forgetting all things in the
   whole world which mine eyes had seen, would be carried away to the
   end of the earth, and my thoughts would be deeply engaged with
   inquiries--How the Earth did end? Whether walls did bound it or
   sudden precipices? Or whether the Heavens by degrees did come to
   touch it, so that the faces of the Earth and Heaven were so near
   that a man with difficulty could creep under? Whatever I could
   imagine was inconvenient, and my reason being posed was quickly
   wearied. What also upheld the Earth (because it was heavy) and kept
   it from falling; whether pillars or dark waters? And if any upheld
   these, what then upheld those, and what again those, of which I saw
   there would be no end? Little did I think that the Earth was round
   and the World so full of Beauty, Light, and Wisdom. When I saw
   that, I knew by the perfection of the work there was a God, and was
   satisfied and rejoiced. People underneath and fields and flowers,
   with another Sun and another Day pleased me mightily; but more when
   I knew it was the same Sun that served them by Night that served us
   by day.


   Sometimes I should soar above the stars, and inquire how the Heavens
   ended, and what was beyond them? Concerning which by no means could
   I receive satisfaction. Sometimes my thoughts would carry me to the
   Creation, for I had heard now that the World which at first I had
   thought was Eternal had a beginning: how therefore that beginning
   was, and why it was; why it was no sooner, and what was before,
   I mightily desired to know. By all which I easily perceived my
   Soul was made to live in communion with God in all places of His
   dominion, and to be satisfied with the highest reason in all things.
   After which it so eagerly aspired that I thought all the gold and
   silver in the world but dirt in comparison of satisfaction in any
   of these. Sometimes I wondered why men were made no bigger? I would
   have had a man as big as a giant, a giant as big as a castle, and a
   castle as big as the Heavens. Which yet would not serve, for there
   was infinite space beyond the Heavens, and all was defective and but
   little in comparison; and for man to be made infinite, I thought it
   would be to no purpose, and it would be inconvenient. Why also there
   was not a better Sun and better Stars, a better Sea, and better
   Creatures I much admired. Which thoughts produced that poem upon
   moderation which afterwards was written.

Following this the author quotes a part of the poem he refers to,
which, as it is printed on page 132, need not be given here. The
argument of his verses is that everything is for the best and in the
best possible proportion:

    "God made man greater while he made him less."


   These liquid clear satisfactions were the emanations of the
   highest reason, but not achieved till a long time afterwards. In
   the meantime I was sometimes, though seldom, visited and inspired
   with new and more vigorous desires after that Bliss which Nature
   whispered and suggested to me. Every new thing quickened my
   curiosity, and raised my expectation. I remember once, the first
   time I came into a magnificent and noble dining-room and was left
   there alone, I rejoiced to see the gold and state and carved
   imagery, but when all was dead and there was no motion, I was
   weary of it and departed dissatisfied. But afterwards when I saw
   it full of lords and ladies and music and dancing, the place which
   once seemed not to differ from a solitary den had now entertainment
   and nothing of tediousness in it. By which I perceived (upon a
   reflection made long after) that men and women are, when well
   understood, a principal part of our true felicity. By this I found
   also that nothing that stood still could, by doing so, be a part of
   Happiness: and that affection, though it were invisible, was the
   best of motions. But the august and glorious exercise of virtue was
   more solemn and divine, which yet I saw not. And that all men and
   angels should appear in Heaven.


   Another time, in a lowering and sad evening, being alone in the
   field, when all things were dead and quiet, a certain want and
   horror fell upon me, beyond imagination. The unprofitableness and
   silence of the place dissatisfied me, its wildness terrified me;
   from the utmost ends of the earth fears surrounded me. How did I
   know but dangers might suddenly arise from the East, and invade me
   from the unknown regions beyond the seas? I was a weak and little
   child and had forgotten there was a man alive in the earth. Yet
   something also of hope and expectation comforted me from every
   border. This taught me that I was concerned in all the world: and
   that in the remotest borders the causes of peace delight me, and
   the beauties of the earth, when seen, were made to entertain me:
   that I was made to hold a communion with the secrets of Divine
   Providence in all the world: that a remembrance of all the joys I
   had from my birth ought always to be with me: that the presence of
   Cities, Temples, and Kingdoms ought to sustain me, and that to be
   alone in the world was to be desolate and miserable. The comfort of
   houses and friends, and the clear assurance of treasures everywhere,
   God's care and love, His Wisdom, Goodness, and Power, His Presence
   and watchfulness in all the ends of the earth were my strength and
   assurance for ever: and that those things being absent to my eye
   were my joys and consolations: as present to my understanding as the
   wideness and emptiness of the Universe which I saw before me.


   When I heard of any new Kingdom beyond the seas the light and glory
   of it entered into me, it rose up within me, and I was enlarged
   wonderfully. I entered into it, I saw its commodities, springs,
   meadows, riches, inhabitants, and became possessor of that new
   room as if it had been prepared for me, so much was I magnified
   and delighted in it. When the Bible was read my spirit was present
   in other ages. I saw the light and splendour of them, the Land of
   Canaan, the Israelites entering into it, the ancient glory of the
   Amorites, their peace and riches, their cities, houses, vines,
   and fig-trees, the long prosperity of their Kings, their milk and
   honey, their slaughter and destruction, with the joys and triumphs
   of God's people. All which entered into me, and God among them. I
   saw all and felt all in such a lively manner as if there had been
   no other way to those places but in spirit only. This shewed me
   the liveliness of interior presence, and that all ages were for
   most glorious ends accessible to my understanding, yea with it, yea
   within it. For without changing place in myself I could behold and
   enjoy all those. Anything, when it was proposed, though it was a
   thousand ages ago being always before me.

Some few other passages relating to Traherne's boyhood might be quoted;
but as I hope soon to publish the "Centuries of Meditations" in
complete form, it is hardly necessary to give further extracts here. I
have quoted enough, I trust, to create a desire in the reader's mind to
see the whole work in print. I have found the narrative so interesting
myself that I would fain hope it will be not less so to others. It
displays with a vividness seldom equalled the eager, enthusiastic,
thoughtful, affectionate, and, above all, poetic character of its
author. It was doubtless because he retained in his manhood so much of
the fresh, unspoiled, and uncorrupted spirit of his youth that he was
able to give such an engaging picture of his early years. It bears the
stamp of veracity and sincerity in every line; and leaves no room in
the reader's mind (as so many autobiographies do) for the suspicion
that the author was posing himself in the most favourable light, and
suppressing the darker shades of his portraiture. I do not think there
is anything resembling it in English literature; nor could more than
one or two other English poets have written such a narrative. It is
fortunate indeed that the "Centuries of Meditations," which so narrowly
escaped destruction or oblivion, should have been preserved to afford
us this valuable record of the inner life of a spirit touched to such
fine issues as was that of Thomas Traherne.

Turning from the brilliant illumination of our author's own account
of his youthful experiences it is very disappointing to find that no
information about him from external sources can be discovered before
the time when he became an Oxford undergraduate. But we may, I think,
conclude with little chance of error that the course of his early life
was somewhat as follows: His parents, seeing the precocity and unusual
promise of their child, determined to give him the best education
within their power, and therefore sent him to the local Grammar School.
This was founded by Bishop Gilbert in 1386. While there he must have
distinguished himself so much by his good conduct and aptitude for
learning that some patron--or perhaps some of his relatives who were
in a better position than his father--furnished the means to enable
him to proceed to Oxford and become a student there. His course at the
University is thus related in the _Athenæ Oxonienses_:

   Thomas Traherne, a shoemaker's son of Hereford, was entered a
   Commoner of Brasen-nose College on the first day of March, 1652,
   took one degree in Arts, left the House for a time, entered into the
   sacred function, and in 1661 he was actually created Master of Arts.
   About that time he became Rector of Credinhill, commonly called
   Crednell, near to the city of Hereford ... and in 1669 Bachelor of

To the above it may perhaps be as well to add the exact dates of the
degrees bestowed upon him at the University. He was made Bachelor of
Arts on October 13, 1656; Master of Arts on November 6, 1661; and
Bachelor of Divinity on December 11, 1669. Why or when he "left the
House for a time" does not appear; possibly it was on account of the
political troubles of the period.

When at the University we may be certain that Traherne's inclination
and natural genius would lead him to study for the ministry; and he
was undoubtedly an earnest and diligent student of the history and
doctrines of the Christian faith, and more especially of those of the
Church of England. He found in that communion his ideal Church. We
have seen that Philip Traherne, the Mayor of Hereford, was noted for
his "fervent zeal for the Established Church and clergy"--and probably
we shall not be wrong in thinking that the Trahernes generally were
members of the English Church. That circumstance doubtless had its
influence in determining the faith of Thomas Traherne; but his own
deeply fervent and religious nature found in the national faith, as
George Herbert had found before him, the peace and satisfaction which
he could find nowhere else. That the Anglican Church can boast of
having attracted to its service such fine spirits as those of Herbert,
Vaughan, Traherne, and the many others that might be mentioned, is
surely one of its greatest honours.

We have the evidence of Antony à Wood and that of Traherne's book
entitled "Roman Forgeries" to prove that he was an unwearied student
of the antiquities of the Church, of its Fathers, Councils, and
Doctrines. But the best evidence on this point is to be found in the
"Advertisement to the Reader" prefixed to "Roman Forgeries." Herein
the author gives us a lively account of a discussion which took place
between himself and a Roman Catholic gentleman on the questions in
dispute between the two Churches. This passage must be quoted in full,
for the story is so vividly told that the reader becomes almost a
spectator of the scene:

   Before I stir further I shall add one passage which befell me in the
   _Schools_ as I was studying these things, and searching the most
   old and authentic records in pursuance of them. One evening as I
   came out of the Bodleian Library, which is the glory of Oxford,
   and this nation, at the stairs-foot I was saluted by a person that
   has deserved well of scholars and learning, who being an intimate
   friend of mine, told me there was a gentleman, his cousin, pointing
   to a grave person, in the quadrangle, a man that had spent many
   thousand pounds in promoting Popery, and that he had a desire to
   speak with me. The gentleman came up to us of his own accord: we
   agreed, for the greater liberty and privacy, to walk abroad into
   the New Parks. He was a notable man, of an eloquent tongue, and
   competent reading, bold, forward, talkative enough; he told me,
   that the Church of Rome had eleven millions of martyrs, seventeen
   Oecumenical Councils, above one hundred Provincial Councils, all the
   Doctors, all the Fathers, Unity, Antiquity, Consent, &c. I desired
   him to name _one_ of his eleven millions of martyrs, excepting
   those that died for treason in Queen Elizabeth's and King James his
   days: for the martyrs of the primitive times, were martyrs of the
   _Catholic_, but not of the _Roman_ Church: they only being martyrs
   of the Roman Church, that die for _transubstantiation_, the _Pope's
   Supremacy_, the doctrine of _Merits_, _Purgatory_, and the like.
   So many he told me they had, but I could not get him to name one.
   As for his Councils, Antiquities and Fathers, I asked him what he
   would say, if I could clearly prove that the Church of Rome was
   guilty of _forging_ them, so far that they had published _Canons_
   in the _Apostles_ names, and invented _Councils_ that never were,
   forged _letters_ of Fathers, and _Decretal Epistles_, in the name of
   the first Bishops and Martyrs of Rome, made 5, 6, 700 years after
   they were dead, to the utter disguising and defacing of antiquity,
   for the first 480 years next after our Saviour? "Tush, these are
   nothing but lies," quoth he, "whereby the Protestants endeavour to
   disgrace the Papists." Sir, answered I, you are a scholar, and have
   heard of Isidore, Mercator, James Merlin, Peter Crabbe, Laurentius
   Surius, Severinus Binius Labbè, Cossartius, and the Collectio Regia,
   books of vast bulk and price, as well as of great majesty and
   magnificence: you met me this evening at the Library door; if you
   please to meet me there to-morrow morning at eight of the clock,
   I will take you in; and we will go from class to class, from book
   to book, and there I will first shew in your own authors, that you
   publish such instruments for good _Records_: and then prove, that
   those instruments are downright frauds and forgeries? "What hurt is
   that to the Church of Rome?" said he. No! (cried I, amazed) Is it no
   hurt to the Church of Rome, to be found guilty of _forging Canons_
   in the _Apostles_ names, and _Epistles_ in the _Fathers'_ names,
   which they never made? Is it nothing in _Rome_ to be guilty of
   counterfeiting _Decrees_ and _Councils_, and _Records of Antiquity_?
   _I have done with you!_ whereupon I turned from him as an obdurate
   person. And with this I thought it meet to acquaint the Reader.

No other particulars of Traherne's University career are now available,
but those which I have related are sufficient to show that it was not
an unsuccessful one. It is plain that he made his way entirely by his
own ability, for he could have had no other means of advancing himself.

It appears from a passage in our author's "Centuries of Meditations"
that there was at one time a conflict in his mind as to his future
course in life. He debated with himself as to whether he should
pursue the path that might lead to worldly prosperity, at the cost
of sacrificing or suppressing his higher aspirations, or whether he
should, at the risk of poverty and obscurity, follow out the promptings
of his better self. Such a conflict, in his case, could have only one

   When I came into the country, and being seated among silent trees
   and woods and hills, had all my time in mine own hands, I resolved
   to spend it all, whatever it cost me, in the search of Happiness,
   and to satiate the burning thirst which Nature had enkindled in me
   from my youth. In which I was so resolute that I chose rather to
   live upon ten pounds a year, and to go in leather clothes and to
   feed upon bread and water, so that I might have all my time clearly
   to myself, than to keep many thousands per annum in an estate of
   life where my time would be devoured in care and labour. And God was
   so pleased to accept of that desire that from that time to this I
   have had all things plentifully provided for me without any care at
   all, my very study of Felicity making me more to prosper than all
   the care in the whole world. So that through His blessing I live a
   free and a kingly life, as if the world were turned again into Eden,
   or, much more, as it is at this day.

Truly a memorable resolution! which has had not too many parallels,
though the failure to make it has caused many a man of fine abilities
to fall into the ranks of those whom the world has conquered and
subdued to its own purposes. One remembers the similar resolution of
the great founder of Quakerism, which Traherne might possibly have
heard of. One thinks also of Thoreau and of his life in the woods; and
of the few others who have dared to live out their own lives in their
own way, regardless of the disdain or censure of the worldly-minded.
That nothing but good came to Traherne from his resolution we might
have been sure even if he had not himself told us so; for what harm
can come to those who are animated with such a spirit as his? The
spiritually minded derive their sustenance from the spirit, and are the
richer on the ten pounds a year which Traherne speaks of than are the
masters of untold wealth who are spiritually destitute.

At what period Traherne came to the decision which he has thus recorded
does not appear; but it seems probable it was at the time when, as
Wood tells us, he left the University for a time. Wood places the
commencement of his ministry at Credenhill at about 1661, when he was
made Master of Arts. This, however, seems to be an error. Mr. E. H.
W. Dunkin has kindly informed me that he has in his possession a copy
of a manuscript preserved at Lambeth Library (MS. 998) containing
particulars of admissions to Benefices _temp._ Commonwealth, in which
the following entry appears:

   Thomas Traherne, clerk, admitted 30 Dec., 1657, by the Commissioners
   for the Approbation of Public Preachers to the Rectory of Crednell,
   alias Creddenhill, Co. Hereford: patron Amabella, Countess Dowager
   of Kent.

In 1657 Traherne could not have been more than 21 or 22 years of
age--hardly old enough, one would think, to assume entire charge of the
parish. Possibly at first he only acted as assistant to the minister
whom he afterwards succeeded.

Of the course of Traherne's life at Credenhill nothing is now known,
but, as far as outward events were concerned, it was doubtless quiet
and uneventful. He remained there, it would appear, for rather more
than nine and a half years. Then he was summoned to London to become
private chaplain to Sir Orlando Bridgman, who, on August 30, 1667, was
created Lord Keeper of the Seals. Whether he owed his promotion to a
friend's recommendation, or whether he had, before this time, become
personally acquainted with Sir Orlando, we do not know, but it is
certain that he must henceforth have been highly esteemed and valued
by his patron. When Bridgman was, in 1672, deprived of the Seals, and
went into retirement, he still retained Traherne in his service, and
it was in his patron's house at Teddington, about three months after
the latter's decease, that he died. We may indeed feel certain that a
mutual regard and even affection existed between them; and perhaps it
is not too great a stretch of imagination to think that the death of
Traherne may have been hastened by his grief at the loss of his patron.

Sir Orlando Bridgman was not only a very able lawyer, but also an
honourable, conscientious, and upright statesman. He was, perhaps, a
little wanting in strength of character, and therefore appeared to his
contemporaries to be something of a trimmer. He was a royalist, and
remained such all through the Civil War and the Commonwealth; though it
appears that during the last years of Cromwell's reign he had in some
degree made his peace with the Protector. But he was not disposed to
be a mere tool in the hands of the Court party. He was made Keeper of
the Seals because it was supposed that he would have been subservient
to the designs of the ministry then in power; but when it was found
that he was not disposed to be a compliant tool in their hands he
was dismissed from his office. He had nothing in him of a Scroggs
or a Jeffries, and was therefore no fit instrument of the crew of
unscrupulous and corrupt intriguers who then misruled the country. That
he was of a most charitable disposition--though he has not hitherto, I
believe, received credit for the fact--we have sufficient evidence. In
Traherne's "Christian Ethicks" we find the following passage (p. 471):
"My Lord Bridgman, late Lord Keeper, confessed himself in his Will
to be but a Steward of his Estate, and prayed God to forgive all his
offences in getting, mis-spending, or not spending it as he ought to
do. And that after many Charitable and Pious Works, perhaps surmounting
his estate tho concealed from the notice or knowledge of the world."

It has been seen from one of the extracts quoted from "Centuries of
Meditations" that Traherne esteemed himself fortunate in having "all
things plentifully provided for me without any care at all, my very
study of Felicity making me more to prosper than all the care in the
whole world." That he was perfectly sincere in this statement, and that
he had all the riches and advancement he required, is certain; but very
few men, and certainly no ambitious man, under the same circumstances
would have made such a declaration. To the worldly-minded his destiny
must have seemed a poor, if not mean one. To be the parson of two small
and obscure parishes, and the private chaplain of the Keeper of the
Seals, while possessing abilities which would have adorned the highest
possible station, must have seemed, to a less happily constituted
temperament, a fate which would have justified much repining and
discontent. That Traherne was not merely contented but happy under such
circumstances is but one more proof that

    Happiness to no outward cause we owe,
    From inward sources only doth it flow.

The position of chaplain to Lord Bridgman must have brought Traherne
into contact with many distinguished persons of the time; but no trace
of his intercourse with them seems now to be discoverable, save in one
instance. John Aubrey, the famous gossip, to whose undiscriminating
industry we are indebted for the preservation of much chaff indeed, but
also for not a little precious wheat, in his "Miscellanies," under the
heading "Apparitions," gives us a remarkable reference to our author. I
quote the passage in full:

   Mr. Trahern, B.D. (chaplain to Sir Orlando Bridgman, Lord Keeper),
   a learned and sober person, was son of a shoemaker in Hereford:
   one night as he lay in bed, the moon shining very bright, he saw
   the phantom of one of the apprentices, sitting in a chair in his
   red waistcoat, and head-band about his head, and strap upon his
   knee; which apprentice was really in bed and asleep with another
   fellow-apprentice, in the same chamber, and saw him. The fellow was
   living, 1671. Another time, as he was in bed, he saw a basket come
   sailing in the air, along by the valence of his bed; I think he
   said there was fruit in the basket: it was a phantom. From himself.

It is highly probable that it was Aubrey who furnished Wood with the
account of Traherne which appears in the _Athenæ Oxonienses_, and
doubtless he could have given us much more information about him had
he chosen to do so. But he was incapable of appreciating so fine a
spirit as Traherne's; nor was the latter likely to reveal to him the
profounder depths of his nature. It is much to be regretted that Aubrey
gives us such a confused account of what he was told. The stories were
doubtless related to him at his own direct request, he being ever eager
to collect accounts of the marvellous and the supernatural. It seems
evident that Traherne attached little importance to these two visions,
purposeless as they apparently were, and as visions of the kind usually
are. No one nowadays would attribute such phantoms of the brain to any
supernatural cause, nor does it appear that Traherne himself did. I
find no trace in his writings of a belief in the common superstitions
of his time as to ghosts, witches, or evil spirits.

The date of the interview in which Traherne related these things to
Aubrey is fixed by the date given in it (1671) to a period within two
or three years of the poet's death. During these latter years he was,
according to Wood, minister of the parish of Teddington, Middlesex. It
was there that Sir Orlando Bridgman's country residence was situated;
and it was doubtless owing to his lordship's influence that Traherne
was appointed minister. That he did hold that position seems to be
certain, though, curiously enough, his name does not appear in the list
of ministers of the parish which is given in Newcourt's "Repertorium
Ecclesiasticum." Perhaps this may be accounted for by the fact that
though Traherne was actually the working minister, the post was
nominally held by a clerical pluralist of the time. The succession of
curates as given by Newcourt during the period of Traherne's connection
with the parish is as follows: 1664,--Badcock; 1668, Car. Bryan; 1673,
Joh. Graves; 1677, Jacobus Elsby.

It was not until the year before his death that the first fruit of
Traherne's long and laborious studies was offered to the readers of
the time. His poems--or some of them, at least--were written early
in life, for he speaks of one of them as having been written "long
since"; but his "Roman Forgeries," "Christian Ethicks," and "Centuries
of Meditations" were almost certainly his latest productions. Without
undervaluing his two published works, it must be regretted that he did
not send to the press in preference to them his poems, which would
then have had the advantage of his own supervision, and would have
saved his name from the total obscurity in which it has now been sunk
for upwards of two centuries. But doubtless he did not anticipate so
untimely an end of his career, and may well have preferred to make his
first appearance in print as a serious student and thinker rather than
as a poet. I feel sure that he did not undervalue his poems (what poet
ever did?); but he must have believed that his prose writings were
better calculated to influence the world, as he desired to influence
it, than they were. His "Roman Forgeries" and "Christian Ethicks"
probably cost him far more labour and hard thought than his poems did;
and authors, it has been observed, usually value most highly the works
which have cost them the greatest pains.

It was in 1673 that "Roman Forgeries" was published. There never was
a period in the history of England when theological questions were
more hotly debated than during the second half of the seventeenth
century. Political and theological questions were then far more closely
connected than is now the case, so that a double degree or vehemence
was imparted to all the subjects of dispute which then divided the
nation. Hence it was that a continual flood of partisan books and
pamphlets issued from the press, to contemplate which nowadays is to be
filled with a melancholy sense of the energy and intellect which our
ancestors wasted in angry disputations and futile controversies.

That Traherne should have plunged into this whirlpool of controversy
is, I must needs think, matter for regret. His "Roman Forgeries" is,
it is true, a very able work; and as to its main contentions a very
convincing one to those who need no convincing, and possibly even to
the very few Catholics who could be induced to peruse it. But most of
the latter, it is probable, would brush the whole question aside, as
did the Catholic gentleman whom Traherne encountered at Oxford, merely
exclaiming "What does it matter?"

As to the object of the work, the passage which I have quoted from
it on p. xxxiv will give the reader a good idea of its scope and
purpose. It is, in fact, an indictment of the Roman Church as being
guilty of the most flagrant forgeries of documents and falsifications
of historical facts for the purpose of supporting its spiritual and
temporal pretensions. To those who are able to take any interest in
its subject the book is by no means a dull one. Traherne, indeed, felt
such a lively concern in his theme that he has succeeded in infusing
much of his own animation into his pages. He deals his blows at his
adversaries with such hearty good will, and has so much confidence in
the justice of his cause, that the reader can hardly fail to sympathise
with so earnest a combatant. Yet, as I have said, one can hardly help
regretting that the book should have been written, for, well as it is
done, it might have been done equally well by a writer of far inferior
gifts, while it is impossible not to feel that Traherne was wasting his
genius in its composition.[B]

Within twelve months after the publication of "Roman Forgeries" its
author was dead. But he had, during the few months of life still
left to him, finished another long and elaborate work. This was his
"Christian Ethicks," a work of much more value and interest than his
first book, though it seems to have fallen still-born from the press,
and to have remained neglected and unknown ever since.

The satisfaction of seeing his second work in print was denied to its
author. He had sent it to the press, but was dead before the printing
of it was commenced. Sir Orlando died on June 25, 1674, and was
interred in the church at Teddington, where a monument was erected to
him. Three months afterwards Traherne died in his patron's house, and
was also buried in the church at Teddington under the reading-desk. Of
the exact date of his decease we are ignorant, but he was buried on
October 10, 1674.

About a fortnight before his death, Traherne sent for his friend, John
Berdo, and his sister-in-law, Susan Traherne, and in their presence
made his Will--a nuncupative one. This Will, which I have to thank my
friend, Gordon Goodwin, for communicating to me, was registered in
the Prerogative Court of Canterbury. It is a curious and interesting
document, and I have therefore printed it in full in the Appendix to
the present volume. From its terms, it is very evident that Traherne
had accumulated no wealth, and that he died possessed of little indeed
beyond his books and other personal effects.

At the time of his death Traherne was probably not more than
thirty-eight years of age, but certainly under forty. He was thus in
the very prime of life, and his intellect was in its fullest vigour.
Had he lived he would surely have produced a succession of works which
would have sensibly enriched our literature, for his industry was not
less remarkable than his ability and his learning. As it was, his
career must have seemed to those who were capable of appreciating his
fine qualities a failure, for his books brought him little reputation;
and beyond the mention of him in the _Athenæ Oxonienses_, his name
quickly sank into entire oblivion, so to remain for upwards of two
centuries. A strange fate! the strangest, perhaps, that ever befell
an author of such fine genius. During all this period his manuscripts
were lying unknown and neglected, and exposed to all the accidents of
time and chance. Yet not altogether so, for it seems that those into
whose hands his papers fell had at least a dim perception of their
value. Twenty-five years after his death a little book stole into the
world the title of which was as follows: "A Serious and Patheticall
Contemplation of the Mercies of God, in several most Devout and Sublime
Thanksgivings for the same. Published by the Reverend Doctor Hickes
at the request of a friend of the Authors." It was the fortunate
issue of this work of Traherne's that, after the lapse of upwards of
two centuries, was to be the means of identifying him as the author
of the poems contained in the present volume, which else might now
be masquerading as those of Henry Vaughan. But for this we have not
altogether to thank the friend of Traherne's who brought about the
issue of the "Serious and Patheticall Contemplation." He certainly
laid us under considerable obligations to him when he procured its
publication; but his curious idea that it was not to the purpose to
tell us the author's name might have caused it to remain for ever
unknown but for one clue that he gave us, which ultimately led to its

The "Serious and Patheticall Contemplation" opens with a letter from
the Rev. George Hickes (then a well-known writer on theological
subjects), in which he says that the work was recommended to him
for publication by "a devout person who was a great Judge of Books
of Devotion, having given the world one already which had been well
received in three impressions." He intended, he says, to have written
a Preface to the book himself, but had received from a friend of the
deceased author an account of him, which rendered it unnecessary for
him "who can only tell how greatly the author of them wrote, but knew
not how greatly he lived" to fulfil his intention. Dr. Hickes's Letter
is followed by an Address "To the Reader," written by Traherne's
friend. As this contains the best and most valuable account of our
author which has descended to us, I need make no apology for quoting it
in full:

   Tho' the unhappy decay of true Piety and the Immoralities of the Age
   we live in may be a discouragement to the multiplying such Books
   as this, yet on the other hand this degeneracy of Manners, and too
   evident contempt of Religion makes it (it may be) the more necessary
   to endeavour to retrieve the Spirit of Devotion and the sacred
   Fires of Primitive Christianity. And since 'tis hop'd this ensuing
   Treatise may somewhat conduce to these noble Ends: It is thought
   to be no unprofitable undertaking to commit it to the Press, it
   being part of the Remains of a very devout Christian, who is long
   since removed to the Regions of Beatified Spirits, to sing those
   Praises and Hallelujahs, in which he was very vigourously employ'd
   whilst he dwelt amongst us: and since somewhat of _Preface_ is
   become, as it were, a necessary part of every book, instead of any
   particular _Dedication_ (which is commonly over-stuft with Flattery
   and Complements) I will only give thee some Account of the Author.
   To tell thee who he was, is, I think, to no purpose: And therefore I
   will only tell thee what he was, for that may possibly recommend the
   following Thanksgivings and Meditations to thy use. He was a Divine
   of the Church of England, of a very comprehensive Soul and very
   acute Parts, so fully bent upon that Honourable Function in which
   he was engaged; and so wonderfully transported with the Love of
   God to Mankind, with the excellency of those Divine Laws which are
   prescribed to us, and with those inexpressible Felicities to which
   we are entitled by being created in, and redeemed to the Divine
   Image that he dwelt continually amongst these thoughts with great
   delight and satisfaction, spending most of his time when at home
   in digesting his notions of these things into writing, and was so
   full of them when abroad that those who would converse with him were
   forced to endure some discourse upon these subjects, whether they
   had any sense of Religion or not. And therefore to such he might be
   sometimes thought troublesome, but his company was very acceptable
   to all such as had any inclination to Vertue and Religion. And tho'
   he had the misfortune to come abroad into the world in the late
   disordered Times, when the Foundations were cast down, and this
   excellent Church laid in the dust, and dissolved into Confusion
   and Enthusiasme; yet his Soul was of a more refin'd alloy, and his
   Judgment in discerning of things more solid and considerate than to
   be infected with that Leaven, and therefore became much in love with
   the beautiful order and Primitive Devotions of this our excellent
   Church. Insomuch that I believe he never failed any one day either
   publickly or in his private Closet to make use of her publick
   Offices, as one part of his devotion, unless some very unavoidable
   business interrupted him. He was a man of a cheerful and sprightly
   Temper, free from anything of the sourness or formality by which
   some great pretenders to Piety rather disparage and misrepresent
   true Religion than recommend it; and therefore was very affable and
   pleasant in his conversation, ready to do all good offices to his
   Friends, and Charitable to the Poor almost beyond his ability. But
   being removed out of the Country to the service of the late Lord
   Keeper Bridgman as his Chaplain, he died young and got early to
   those blissful Mansions to which he at all times aspir'd.

This eulogy of Traherne, it will be observed, was written twenty-five
years after his death, when the writer could have had no possible
motive to pen it, beyond a desire to do justice to the memory of his
friend. It is a most attractive picture; but not, I am convinced, one
in which truth was sacrificed to flattery. It is exactly what might
have been inferred from the poems and "Centuries of Meditations"; but
since it does not always happen that an author's personality tallies
with that which might be deduced from his writings, it is fortunate
that the impression derived from Traherne's works is thus confirmed by
independent evidence. The poet was, it is plain, one of those rare and
enviable individuals in whom no jarring element is present, who come
into the world as into their rightful inheritance, and whose whole life
is a song of thankfulness for the happiness which they enjoy in it. His
was indeed

    A happy soul that all the way
    To Heaven hath a summer's day,

and though we, who are not so constituted, and who may question whether
in a world, which to us seems to give at least as much reason for
lamenting as for rejoicing, any man has a right to be so happy as
Traherne was, the feeling is perhaps only an outcome of that envy which
those who are tortured with a thousand doubts and misgivings must needs
entertain for those who enjoy an existence of entire serenity.

It is fortunate that Traherne's friend, though he did not mention his
name, yet gave us a clue to him by mentioning that he was private
chaplain to Lord Keeper Bridgman. Without this clue we should probably
have had to remain in ignorance of his authorship of the poems
contained in this volume: for though there was (as will be seen later
on) another clue, it was hidden away so deeply that it is unlikely it
would ever have been discovered. Why Traherne's friend should have
thought that it was not to the purpose to tell us who he was, and yet
gave us such a means of discovering him, is rather a puzzle; but we
have reason to be ever grateful to him for what he has told us, while
regretting that he has told us no more.

I must now give some account of Traherne's "Christian Ethicks." It
is so rare a book that I have only just obtained a copy of it, after
searching for it for nearly two years. Few books surely have had so
unfortunate a fate. If there is a better book of its kind in the
English language I have not been so fortunate as to meet with it. It
is a work full of eloquence, persuasiveness, sagacity, and piety.
While the author's concern, as might be expected, is chiefly with the
spiritual life, he is by no means destitute of worldly wisdom, and he
often exhibits a shrewdness and knowledge of human nature which would
scarcely be expected from him. Open the book anywhere you please you
can hardly fail to discover a fine thought finely expressed. How then
shall we account for the fact that the work has remained in total
obscurity from the time of its first publication to the present day?
The fact that the author died before its appearance, and it was thus
thrown into the world without a parent or friend to foster it, was
no doubt in some degree accountable for its ill-fortune. It is true
that the author makes no appeal to the uninstructed or the fanatical,
and keeps throughout the work upon a higher level of thought than
the generality of readers can ascend to. He is somewhat too fond of
debating abstruse points of metaphysics, and of dwelling upon the
subtleties of theological speculation. Yet there is in the book enough,
one would think, of homely wisdom, and even of wit, to have secured it
a warm welcome from all those to whom it appealed.

I think the reader--since he is not likely to obtain a copy of
"Christian Ethicks," however much he may desire it--will be glad to
see a few extracts from it. And first I will quote a passage from
the chapter "Of Magnanimity." I do this because of its personal
interest--for Traherne, in painting the character of a magnanimous man,
was, whether consciously or unconsciously, drawing his own portrait.
Flattering as the picture may seem, I do not doubt in the least that it
is a true one.

   Magnanimity and contentment are very near allied; like brothers
   and sisters they spring from the same parents, but are of several
   features. Fortitude and Patience are kindred to this incomparable
   virtue. Moralists distinguish Magnanimity and Modesty, by making the
   one the desire of greater, the other of less and inferior, honours.
   But in my apprehension there is more in Magnanimity. It includes
   all that belongs to a Great Soul: a high and mighty courage, an
   invincible Patience, an immoveable Grandeur which is above the reach
   of injuries, a contempt of all little and feeble enjoyments, and
   a certain kind of majesty that is conversant with great things;
   a high and lofty frame of spirit, allied with the sweetness of
   Courtesy and Respect; a deep and stable resolution founded on
   humility without any baseness; an infinite hope and a vast desire;
   a Divine, profound, uncontrollable sense of one's own capacity; a
   generous confidence, and a great inclination to heroical deeds; all
   these conspire to complete it, with a severe and mighty expectation
   of Bliss incomprehensible. It soars up to Heaven, and looks down
   upon all dominion of fortune with pity and disdain. Its aims and
   designs are transcendent to all concerns of this little world.
   Its objects and its ends are worthy of a soul that is like God in
   Nature; and nothing less than the Kingdom of God, his Life and
   Image; nothing beneath the friendship and communion with Him can be
   its satisfaction. The terrors, allurements, and censures of men are
   the dust of its feet: their avarice and ambition are but feebleness
   before it. Their riches and contentions, and interests and honours,
   but insignificant and empty trifles. All the world is but a little
   bubble; Infinity and Eternity the only great and sovereign things
   wherewith it converseth. A Magnanimous Soul is always awake. The
   whole globe of the earth is but a nutshell in comparison of its
   enjoyments. The sun is its lamp, the sea its fishpond, the stars
   its jewels, men, angels, its attendants, and God alone its sovereign
   delight and supreme complacency. The earth is its garden, all
   palaces its summer houses, cities are its cottages, empires its more
   spacious Courts, all ages and kingdoms its demeans, monarchs its
   ministers and public agents, the whole Catholick Church its family,
   the Eternal Son of God its pattern and example. Nothing is great if
   compared to a Magnanimous Soul but the sovereign Lord of all Worlds.

          *       *       *       *       *

   If you would have the character of a Magnanimous Soul, he is the son
   of Eternal Power, and the friend of Infinite Goodness, a Temple of
   Divine and Heavenly Wisdom, that is not imposed upon by the foul and
   ragged disguises of Nature, but acquainted with her great capacities
   and principles, more than commonly sensible of her interests, and
   depths, and desires. He is one that has gone in unto Felicity,
   and enjoyed her beauties, and comes out again her perfect Lover
   and Champion: a man whose inward stature is miraculous; and his
   complexion so divine that he is king of as many kingdoms as he will
   look on: one that scorns the smutty way of enjoying things like a
   slave, because he delights in the celestial way, and the Image of
   God. He knows that all the world lies in wickedness; and admires not
   at all that things palpable and near and natural, are unseen, though
   most powerful and glorious, because men are blind and stupid. He
   pities poor vicious kings that are oppressed with heavy crowns of
   vanity and gold, and admires how they can content themselves with
   such narrow territories: yet delights in their regiment of the
   world, and pays them the honour that is due unto them. The glorious
   exaltation of good kings he more abundantly extols, because so
   many thousand Magnanimous Creatures are committed to their trust,
   and they that govern them understand their value. But he sees
   well enough that the king's glory and true repose consists in the
   Catholick and Eternal kingdom. As for himself he _is come unto Mount
   Sion, and to the City of the Living God, the Heavenly Jerusalem, and
   to an innumerable company of Angels, to the General Assembly and
   Church of the Firstborn, which are written in Heaven, and to God
   the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect, and
   to Jesus the Mediator of the New Covenant_: and therefore receiving
   a Kingdom which cannot be moved, he desires to serve God acceptably
   with reverence and godly fear: and the truth is we can fear nothing
   else, for God alone is a consuming fire.

The above passage is a fairly representative one. If the reader is
pleased with it, he would be equally pleased with the whole work; if he
sees nothing to admire in it, he may conclude that "Christian Ethicks"
is not a book which has any message in it for him.

The following extract is taken from the chapter "Of Charity to our

   That which yet further commendeth this virtue of love unto us
   is that it is the only soul of all pleasure and felicity in all
   estates. It is like the light of the sun, in all the kingdoms and
   houses and eyes and ages, in Heaven, in earth, in the sea, in shops
   and temples, in schools and markets, in labours and recreations,
   in theatres and fable. It is _the great demon of the world_, and
   the sole cause of all operations. It is evidently impossible for
   any fancy, or play, or romance, or fable to be composed well and
   made delightful without a mixture of Love in the composure. In
   all theatres and feasts and weddings and triumphs and coronations
   Love is the Soul and Perfection of all. In all persons, in all
   occupations, in all diversions, in all labours, in all virtues, in
   all vices, in all occasions, in all families, in all cities and
   empires, in all our devotions and religious actions, Love is all in
   all. All the sweetness of society is seated in Love, the life of
   music and dancing is Love; the happiness of houses, the enjoyment
   of friends, the amity of relations, the providence of kings, the
   allegiance of subjects, the glory of empires, the security, peace,
   and welfare of the world is seated in Love. Without Love all is
   discord and confusion. All blessings come upon us by Love, and by
   Love alone all delights and blessings are enjoyed. All happiness
   is established by Love, and by Love alone is Glory attained. God
   knoweth that Love uniteth Souls, maketh men of one heart in a house,
   fills them with liberality and kindness to each other, makes them
   delightful in presence, faithful in absence, tender of the honour
   and welfare of the beloved, apt to obey, ready to please, constant
   in trials, patient in sufferings, courageous in assaults, prudent
   in difficulties, victorious and triumphant. All that I shall need
   to observe further is that it _completed the Joys of Heaven_. Well,
   therefore, may wisdom desire Love, well may the Goodness of God
   delight in Love. It is the sum and glory of his Eternal Kingdom.

The following spirited, vigorous, and eloquent passage is from the
chapter "Of Courage":

   What a glorious and incomparable virtue this is appeareth from the
   baseness and ineptitude of its contrary. A coward and an honest man
   can never be the same; a coward and a constant lover can never be
   the same; cowardice and wisdom are as incompatible for ever as Love
   and Wisdom were thought to be of old. A coward is always despicable
   and wretched, because he dares not expose himself to any hazards,
   nor adventure upon any great attempt for fear of some little pain
   and damage that is between him and an excellent achievement. He is
   baffled from the acquisition of the most great and beautiful things,
   and nonplust with every impediment. He is conquered before he begins
   to fight. The very sight of danger makes him a slave. He is undone
   when he sees his enemy afar off, and wounded before the point of his
   sword can touch his shadow. He is all ways a terror and burden to
   himself, a dangerous knave, and a useless creature.

   Strange is the vigour in a brave man's soul. The strength of his
   spirit and his irresistible power, the greatness of his heart and
   the height of his condition, his mighty confidence and contempt
   of dangers, his true security and repose in himself, his liberty
   to dare and do what he pleaseth, his alacrity in the midst of
   fears, his invincible temper, are advantages which make him master
   of fortune. His courage fits him for all attempts, makes him
   serviceable to God and man, and makes him the bulwark and defence of
   his being and country.

   Let those debauched and unreasonable men that deny the existence
   of virtue contemplate the reality of its excellency here, and be
   confounded with shame at their prodigious blindness. Their impiety
   designs the abolishment of Religion, and the utter extirpation of
   all faith, and piety, while they pretend the distinction between
   virtue and vice to be merely feigned for the aweing of the world,
   and that their names have no foundation in Nature but the craft of
   politicians and the traditions of their nurses. Are there no base
   fellows, nor brave men in the world? Is there no difference between
   a Lion and a Hare? a faint-hearted Coward and a glorious Hero? Is
   there nothing brave nor vile in the world? What is become of these
   Rodomontadoes wits? Where is the boasted glory of their personal
   valour, if there be no difference, but courage and cowardice be the
   same thing?

I have marked, I find, at least twenty other passages for quotation;
and indeed it would be easy to extract from the book enough notable
sayings to form a pocket volume of religious and moral philosophy; but
I must content myself with only one other quotation. It is from the
chapter "Of Knowledge":

   The sun is a glorious creature, and its beams extend to the utmost
   stars; by shining on them it clothes them with light, and by its
   rays exciteth all their influences. It enlightens the eyes of all
   the creatures: it shineth on forty kingdoms at the same time, on
   seas and continents in a general manner; yet so particularly
   regardeth all, that every mote in the air, every grain of dust,
   every spire of grass is wholly illuminated thereby as if it did
   entirely shine upon that alone. Nor does it only illuminate all
   these objects in an idle manner; its beams are operative, enter in,
   fill the pores of things with spirits, and impregnate them with
   powers, cause all their emanations, odors, virtues, and operations;
   springs, rivers, minerals and vegetables are all perfected by the
   sun; all the motion, life and sense of birds, beasts and fishes
   dependeth on the same. Yet the sun is but a little spark among all
   the creatures that are made for the Soul; the Soul, being the most
   high and noble of all, is capable of far higher perfections, far
   more full of life and vigour in its uses. The sphere of its activity
   is illimited, its energy is endless upon all its objects. It can
   exceed the heavens in its operations, and run out into infinite
   spaces. Such is the extent of knowledge that it seemeth to be the
   Light of all Eternity. All objects are equally near to the splendour
   of its beams: As innumerable millions may be conceived in its
   Light, with a ready capacity for millions more; so can it penetrate
   all abysses, reach to the centre of all Nature, converse with all
   beings, visible and invisible, corporeal and spiritual, temporal and
   eternal, created and increated, finite and infinite, substantial
   and accidental, actual and possible, imaginary and real; all the
   mysteries of bliss and misery, all the secrets of heaven and hell
   are objects of the Soul's capacity, and shall be actually seen and
   known here.

It seems strange indeed that no compiler in search of material for a
book of selections, no student in search of forgotten excellence, no
seeker for wisdom conjoined with piety, has ever lighted in his search
upon "Christian Ethicks." But it came into the world in a time of
general dissoluteness of manners, and amid the jarrings of contending
sects and the venomous contests of political parties. Probably very
few copies of the book were sold, and its rarity in after times has
prevented it from becoming known to any one who had the will and the
power to proclaim its merits.

"Poetry," says Milton, if he be indeed the author of "Nova Solyma," "is
the impetuous rush of a mind full to overflowing, strained, exalted to
its utmost powers, yea, rather, lifted into ecstacy beyond itself."[C]
Could we accept this (as we cannot) as a complete definition of the
poetic faculty, we might then place Traherne in the very front rank of
inspired singers. It would be impossible to give a better description
of the leading characteristics of his poetry than that which we find
in the words of Milton. Not Milton himself, nor even Shelley, has more
of the impetuous rush of a mind lifted into ecstacy beyond itself
than Traherne. No poet writes with more absolute spontaneity than he.
Whatever may be wanting in him, however he may occasionally fail in
expression, he has always this impetuous rush, this ecstacy that rises
beyond itself. A glowing ardour of conviction, a passionate spirit
of love and devotion, a profound sense of the beauty and sublimity
which he saw everywhere around him, a never-failing aspiration towards
that Goodness which he believed to be the Fountain and the Ocean, the
Beginning and the End of Things, were the sources of his inspiration,
the impelling forces of his genius. Where these qualities are present
their possessor can never altogether fail in expressing them, however
deficient he may be in the technical accomplishments of the poet's art.
These things indeed are the root, if not the flower, of all poetry
worthy of the name. That Traherne was essentially a poet we might
be certain even if none of his lyrical work had remained to prove
it. The man who could say, "You never enjoy the world aright till
the sea itself floweth in your veins, till you are clothed with the
heavens, and crowned with the stars"--a sentence which contains the
essence of everything that has been said by the poets who have sung
of the relation between the soul of man and the spirit of Nature--did
not need to write in verse in order to prove that he was beyond all
question a poet. There is enough of the spirit of poetry in "Christian
Ethicks" and "Centuries of Meditations" to set up a dozen versifiers.
It was as impossible for Traherne to see things as a Jeremy Bentham
or a Cobbett saw them, as it was for either or the latter to have
written the sentence I have just quoted. And who shall say that the
light of imagination through which Traherne and those who resemble
him behold the universe is a light which misleads them? Why should we
assume that those who view it with eyes that are blind to all but its
prosaic aspects are its true interpreters? Whatever else it may be, the
universe, it is certain, is a marvellous and stupendous poem; and it is
singular indeed if those who are insensible to this truth are able to
see it in a clearer light than those who are alive to all its beauty,
to all its magnificence, and to all its mystery.

With Traherne poetry was no elegant recreation, no medium for the
display of a lively fancy, no means of exhibiting his skill as a
master of metrical effects, but the vehicle through which he expressed
his deepest convictions and his profoundest thoughts. He used it as
a gift which it was his duty to employ only for the highest purposes
and the most sacred ends. All that he saw, felt, and apprehended was
transmuted by the alchemy of his mind into that mysterious union of
thought, imagination, and expression, which we half praise and half
disparage when we term it poetic inspiration. He possessed--or rather
was possessed by--that "fine madness" without which no poet, painter,
or musician ever yet created a work which deserved to outlive its
author. He saw in the universe no "foul and pestilent congregation of
vapours," but a majestic dwelling-place for gods, angels, and men. All
nature to him was lovely and perfect; and if the existence of evil,
injustice, and sin disquieted him for a moment he had little difficulty
in persuading himself that these things were owing not to defect or
imperfection in nature, but to the folly or perverseness of men in
departing from it. It may indeed be said of him, as Matthew Arnold said
of Wordsworth, that his eyes refused to dwell upon the darker aspects
of life and nature; but that, in his case, as in Wordsworth's, was in
a great degree the source of his greatness, and is the reason why he
interests us. It is only those that possess an undoubting faith who can
inspire it in others. It is given only to a Shakespeare or a Goethe
to "see life steadily and see it whole." Almost all other authors see
it, as their nature prompts them, in colours which are either too
glowing or too sombre. It has been said of the author of "The City of
Dreadful Night" that he was born that we might have things stated at
their worst, once for all:[D] may we not likewise say of Traherne that
he was born that things might be stated, once for all, at their best?
Perhaps the reader may think that his poems do not justify so strong
a claim; but when they are taken in conjunction with his "Christian
Ethicks" and "Centuries of Meditations" I do not think it can be
considered as an overstatement. Whether his moral and theological views
were right or wrong, Traherne at least was warranted in holding them,
because they were exactly suited to his peculiar temperament, if indeed
they were not the outcome of it. Were all men blessed with so happy a
disposition as his, then indeed might the world become the Eden which
to him it appeared to be. He believed that all men might be as happy as
he was if they would only firmly resolve to follow the path which had
led him to felicity. Like all enthusiasts and most reformers of human
nature or human institutions, he made the mistake of supposing that
others were, or might be made, like-minded with himself, and did not
take into account the infinite varieties of character and temperament
which exist among mankind. But to believe that men are better and
nobler is at least a less fault than to believe them to be worse and
baser than they are.

To claim for Traherne a place in the front rank of poets is hardly
possible. Considering his limited range of subjects, we cannot put him
on an equality with the poets who have exhibited more varied powers,
and shown a deeper insight into human nature. But, excluding Milton,
we may at least place him in the front rank of poets of his class.
It is possible my opinion may be somewhat biassed by a reason which
the reader will be at no loss to divine; but I cannot help thinking
that neither Herbert, Crashaw, nor Vaughan can compare with Traherne
in the most essential qualities of the poet. He alone has that
"impetuous rush of a mind ... lifted into ecstasy beyond itself" which
Milton, as we have seen, regarded as the chief requisite of poetry.
Herbert has a finer sense of proportion, a keener perception of the
importance of form and measure; Vaughan appeals more strongly to the
common sympathies of mankind; while Crashaw, when at his best, has
more fine passages of quintessential poetry, more curious felicities
of expression, than Traherne; but none of them has the vitality, the
sustained enthusiasm, the power imparted by intense conviction, which
we find in our author. Vitality, indeed, seems to me to be the keynote
of Traherne's character. That he was himself aware of this we may see
from his poem on Contentment:

    Employment is the very life and ground
    Of life itself; whose pleasant motion is
        The form of Bliss:
    All Blessedness a life with Glory crown'd;
    Life! Life is all: in its most full extent
    Stretcht out to all things, and with all Content.

Not, be it observed, the still life of contemplation or inaction, but
an active, eager, energetic enjoying of life, to be so used as to
get from it the utmost degree of felicity or blessedness. Traherne
repudiates energetically the idea that the more unhappy we make
ourselves here the greater will be our happiness hereafter. In his
"Centuries of Meditations" he says:

   There are Christians that place and desire all their happiness in
   another life, and there is another sort of Christians that desire
   happiness in this. The one can defer their enjoyment of wisdom to
   the world to come, and dispense with the increase and perfection of
   enjoyment for a little time; the other are instant and impatient of
   delay, and would fain see that happiness here which they shall enjoy
   hereafter.... Whether the first sort be Christians indeed, look you
   to that. They have much to say for themselves. Yet certainly they
   that put off Felicity with long delays are to be much suspected. For
   it is against the nature of love and desire to defer, nor can any
   reason be given why they should desire it at last, and not now.

While we may not claim for Traherne's work as a whole that it is of
the first order of excellence, we may, I think, make that claim for
some of it. We can hardly have a better test of a poet's merits than
to inquire how many of his pieces are fit to take their place in such
anthologies as the "Golden Treasury," or Mr. Quiller-Couch's "Oxford
Book of English Verse." Judged in this way Traherne makes, I think, a
very good showing, considering (as I have elsewhere explained) that
we possess only a part of his poetical works, and that what we have
had probably not received his final revision. Were I asked to name
the pieces which, in my opinion, deserve the honour which I have
mentioned, I think my first choice would fall upon "The Salutation,"
"Wonder," "The Approach," "The Circulation," "Desire," "Goodness," and
"On News."[E] I am not at all sure, however, that this is the best
selection that could be made. "Innocence," "The Rapture," "Silence,"
"The Choice," "The Person," "The Recovery," "Love," and "Thoughts--I.
and II." have perhaps equal or almost equal claims to be included in
a list of Traherne's best work. But individual tastes differ so much
that I daresay other readers would make another choice, for Traherne is
a remarkably equal writer, and does not often fall below his own level
of excellence. Yet all the poems I have mentioned, fine as they are
when standing alone, gain considerably when they are read as parts of
a continuous poem, the subject of which is the history of the author's
progress in his pilgrimage towards the kingdom of perfect Blessedness.
He too, like Bunyan's pilgrim, found difficulties and dangers in the
way; but with him it was rather a triumphant progress from victory
to victory than a long and bitter struggle against enemies who might
at any time have overcome him. Very few of his poems dwell upon his
discouragements; most of them are songs of rejoicing for victories
achieved or happiness attained.

In the last analysis it will always be found that it is the poet
himself and not his poetry that has the greatest interest for us.
Unless he is interesting in himself he will not interest us in his
writings. No amount of study and pains will suffice to render the work
of a shallow and commonplace personality interesting to us. From the
strong only shall sweetnesss come forth. I do not know whether I have
succeeded in any degree in convincing the reader that Traherne was,
both as a man and as a poet, a very interesting character; but if I
have not, the fault assuredly is mine, and not his. We may study him in
two aspects: firstly, as a representative of the poetic temperament;
and secondly, as a representative of the religious idiosyncrasy in
conjunction with the poetic--for religion in many of its professors is
often enough altogether disjoined from any tincture of poetry. In both
aspects we have ample materials for studying him: and I cannot help
thinking that few writers of his age are better worth studying.

Were Traherne a smaller man than he is, and therefore less able to
afford to have the whole truth told about him, I should hesitate long
before printing the following remarks on some of his shortcomings.
It is the less needful to attempt to conceal his defects, since they
are for the greater part the defects of his qualities, and therefore
inseparable from them. Constituted as he was, it was not possible
for him to see things in a wholly clear and uncoloured light. He is
elevated so high above ordinary humanity that he is unable to see
clearly what is so much beneath him. Nor is it always easy for us,
the dwellers upon the plain, to ascend to his altitude. He is so
exempt from the ordinary failings of humanity that we feel almost as
if he belonged to a different race. He died a bachelor, and I do not
find anything in his writings which shows that he ever experienced
the passion of love in relation to the female sex. His love for the
divine seems to have swallowed up all thought of sexual love, though
not his love for humanity in the mass. He is sometimes so mystical or
metaphysical that the ordinary reader finds it difficult to comprehend
him. But, after all, if the reader will only exercise a little patience
and be at the expense of a little thought, he will not find it hard to
understand the poet, even in his most difficult passages. Those who are
able to follow Browning through all his intricacies will find no knot
in Traherne which they will not easily unravel.

The charge which is most likely to be pressed against Traherne is that
he appears to have been a man of few ideas, and is consequently much
given to repetition of thoughts and even of words and phrases. That
there is some foundation for this charge may be admitted, but it is
nevertheless unjust. No one, after the examination of his manuscripts
and of his two published works, could believe it. A scholar so well
versed in the classics, a student so eager for knowledge of all kinds,
a thinker so acute, could not possibly be a man of narrow ideas and
restricted sympathies. What is true, however, is that his mind dwelt
with so much delight upon certain thoughts that it was continually
recurring to them, setting them in different lights, and repeating
them, even as a musician will execute ever-new variations upon a
favourite theme. Those who care for Traherne's themes will not
complain that he dwells too much upon them.

It must be owned, I think, that while Traherne is usually happy in
the selection of his themes, he is sometimes less happy in developing
and expressing them. Lines which leave something to be desired in
smoothness (though he is not usually chargeable with this fault, his
handling of the heroic couplet being particularly good), and now and
then lines which to our modern ideas appear to be somewhat prosaic,
are certainly to be found in his poems, and do, to a small extent,
interfere with the reader's pleasure in them. But for such faults as
these we ought surely to make large allowance. The reader should,
and doubtless will, remember that he has before him a work for which
the author himself has but a limited responsibility. Had he himself
published the poems we should have been entitled to think that he
deliberately chose to give them to the world with all their faults upon
them. As it is, I think we may assume that had he lived to publish them
they would have undergone a good deal of revision before they were sent
forth to the world. Most of their defects are such as might be easily
remedied, and such, indeed, as it was sometimes hard to refrain from
remedying. But I have resisted all such temptations, and have confined
myself to the task of making the printed text as nearly as possible
a reproduction of the original manuscripts. The reader will gather
from the facsimile of one of Traherne's poems, which I have given as a
frontispiece to this volume, a good general idea as to the character
of his handwriting, his spelling, and his punctuation. It would have
been an interesting thing could the whole of Traherne's poems have been
reproduced in the same style, for, as the reader will see, there is a
picturesqueness, a beauty, and a life about the manuscripts which is
lost in the cold regularity of type. Some readers may perhaps think
that it would have been better to follow the author's original spelling
and punctuation; but after giving full consideration to this point, it
did not seem advisable to do this. Traherne's spelling is by no means
uniform--Deity, for instance, is sometimes "Dietie" and sometimes
"Deitie"--and his punctuation, which is, I think, quite peculiar to
himself, differs so much from our modern practice, that if it had
been reproduced without modification it would often have obscured his
meaning and puzzled the reader without any compensating advantage.

Traherne, as will be perceived from the frontispiece, made much use of
capital letters and occasionally of italics in his writings. This was
the custom of the time, as any one who examines a seventeenth-century
printed book will see. In the first edition of this book I preserved
most of the author's capitals and italicised passages: but here I have
thought it unnecessary to do so. Upon the whole there seemed to be
no advantage in retaining them, since they look a little odd to eyes
accustomed to the uniformity of modern typography. In the case of the
poems taken from "Christian Ethicks," however, I have preserved the old
spelling and the capitals very nearly as they appear in the book.

Traherne, so far as English authors were concerned, was very little
indebted to his predecessors. He was, of course, greatly influenced by
the writers of the Old and New Testaments, from whom he is continually
quoting in his "Christian Ethicks." Next to the Scriptures, the book
which seems most to have influenced him was that ancient mystical and
philosophical work which is attributed to Hermes Trismegistus. Those
who are well acquainted with that remarkable production will find
frequent traces of its influence in the prose and verse of Traherne.
He gives several extracts from it in "Christian Ethicks," and in his
"Commonplace Book" there are continual references to it. It might
almost be said that, after the Bible, it was his chief manual of
philosophy and of divine wisdom.

That Traherne was well acquainted with the writings of Herbert is
evident from the fact that in one of his manuscript books he has copied
out that writer's poem, "To all Angels and Saints"; but I do not find
any traces of Herbert's influence upon him either in prose or verse.
Nor do I find any proof that he was acquainted with the writings of
Vaughan. The resemblance between Traherne's line,

    How, like an Angel came I down,

and Vaughan's reference to his "angel infancy" is probably no more than
an accidental coincidence. Though their points of view were similar
in many respects, Traherne possessed a much stronger personality than
Vaughan, and therefore had little or nothing to learn from him. It is
likely enough that he owed something to Donne, as most of the poets of
his time did; but I do not find any clear indications of that poet's
influence in his writings. Traherne's style, indeed, is that of his
age, but as to his matter, few poets, I think, can boast of more

Perhaps the most remarkable thing about Traherne's poetry is that it
anticipates so much that seems to belong to much later periods of
our literary history. Traherne, indeed, is likely to suffer to some
extent in his reputation because ideas which with him were certainly
original--or at least as much so as any ideas in any poets can be said
to be original--have since become commonplaces in our literature. The
praise of the beauty and innocence of childhood is familiar enough to
us now, and has, perhaps, in some instances been carried to a rather
ridiculous extreme. That certainly was not the case in Traherne's
time. So far as I know, he was the first who dwelt upon those ideas in
any other than an incidental and allusive manner. It is true that we
find in Vaughan some passages of a similar tendency, but they are few
and slight in comparison with those which we find in Traherne. If there
are similar passages in other poets previous to, or contemporary with,
the latter, I must confess that I am unacquainted with them. Nor were
the poetical possibilities of the theme discovered until more than a
century afterwards, when William Blake, who by the light of genius--or
shall we say lunacy?--discovered so much else, discovered them. It was
fitting, indeed, that Blake, whose youthful experiences seem to have
more nearly resembled Traherne's than those of any other poet, should
have followed all unknowingly in the elder writer's footsteps. Had
he ever sat down to record the events of his infancy and childhood,
Blake's narrative, I think, however different in detail, must have been
like that of his predecessor in its chief features. I do not believe
that there is any point out of all those which I have quoted respecting
Traherne's childhood which Blake might not also have recorded of
himself. Much as they differed in matters of faith, there was a deep
and fundamental agreement in character and temperament between the two
poets. To both of them the things seen by their imaginations were more
real than the things seen with the eye, and to neither of them was
there any dividing line between the natural and the supernatural. Their
faiths were founded upon intuition rather than reason, and they were no
more troubled by doubt or disbelief than a mountain is. Their capacity
for faith was infinite, and stopped short only when their imagination
failed them--if it ever did fail them.

Another poet with whom Traherne has some remarkable affinities is
Wordsworth--not the Wordsworth of later life, when his poetic vein,
if not exhausted, had at least grown thin and unproductive, but the
Wordsworth of the magnificent ode "Intimations of Immortality from
Recollections of Early Childhood." Let the reader once more peruse
that poem, and note carefully the leading points in it. Then let him,
bearing in mind the foregoing extracts from Traherne's "Centuries of
Meditations," go carefully through the various poems in which the
earlier poet celebrates the happiness of his infancy and childhood.
When he has done this, let him ask himself if he would have believed
that Wordsworth was unacquainted with Traherne's writings, supposing
that they had been published before the later poet's time? I cannot
think myself that it would have been easy in that case to think that
the modern poet was entirely unindebted to the older one. It is
hardly too much to say that there is not a thought of any value in
Wordsworth's Ode which is not to be found in substance in Traherne.
Of course, I do not say this with any view of disparaging Wordsworth,
whose Ode, even if it had been, as we know it was not, derived from
Traherne, would still have been a masterpiece. Its merit, like that
of Gray's "Elegy," depends at least as much upon its form as upon its
substance, and that, of course, was all Wordsworth's own. It is in a
measure a testimony to the authentic character of their inspiration
when two poets, unknown to each other, produce works which are so
nearly identical in substance and spirit.

The reader will remember that Traherne in his youth determined to
follow the bent of his own inclination at whatever cost of poverty
or want of worldly success. That was the case also with Wordsworth.
Another point in which, as it seems to me, they resembled each other
was in the matter of poetic style. At first sight, indeed, there does
not appear to be any likeness between them in this respect; yet,
allowing for the difference in their times and their temperaments, I
think we may find a good deal of similarity. Traherne's style, allowing
for the nature of his subjects, is always simple and direct. His aim
is to affect the minds of his readers by the weight of his thought and
the enthusiasm of his utterance, not to astonish them by far-fetched
metaphors or delight them with dulcet melodies. He has no ornament
for ornament's sake, and he never attempts to clothe his "naked simple
thought" in silken raiment or cloth of gold. He does not indulge in the
metaphysical conceits and ingenuities with which the works of Donne and
Cowley are so plentifully besprinkled. "Poetic diction" was as little
sought for by him as by Wordsworth. He did not, however, fall into
the error that Wordsworth sometimes did, of mistaking puerility for
simplicity. I do not wish to press this point too far. I only desire
to show that both poets were more solicitous about the substance than
the form of their poetry. Wordsworth would have heartily endorsed the
doctrine of Traherne that the best things are the commonest, and that
natural objects and not artificial inventions are the true well-springs
of delight.

Though the reader will, I hope, have agreed with my contention that
Traherne anticipated a good many poetical ideas which have been thought
to belong to much later dates, I can hardly expect him to accept
without demur the claim I am now about to make on the poet's behalf.
That Traherne had a considerable genius for metaphysics will be evident
to any one who reads his "Christian Ethicks," or who studies at all
carefully the contents of the present volume. But to claim that he was
the originator of the metaphysical system which, since it was first
made known, has created more discussion and exercised more influence
than any other has done, will probably seem at first to be a very
extravagant assertion. Yet that he had at least a clear prevision of
that famous system which is known as the Berkeleian philosophy is, I
think, incontestable. That theory, it seems to me, could hardly be
stated in a clearer or more precise manner than it is in Traherne's
poem entitled "My Spirit." I am much mistaken if the theory of
"the non-existence of independent matter," which is the essence of
Berkeley's system, is not to be found in this poem--not, it is true,
stated as a philosophical dogma, but yet clearly implied, and not
merely introduced as a flight of poetical fancy. It seems to me that
if the following stanza from that poem is not altogether meaningless,
no other construction can be placed upon it than that its author was a
Berkeleian before Berkeley was born:

    This made me present evermore
      With whatsoe'er I saw.
    An object, if it were before
    My eyes, was by Dame Nature's law
      Within my soul. Her store
    Was all at once within me: all Her treasures
    Were my immediate and internal pleasures,
    Substantial joys which did inform my Mind.

        With all She wrought
        My Soul was fraught
    And every object in my Heart a Thought
      Begot or was; I could not tell
        Whether the things did there
          Themselves appear,
    Which in my Spirit truly seem'd to dwell;
      _Or whether my conforming Mind
      Were not even all that therein shin'd_.

The idea that matter has no existence, apart from its existence in the
Spirit of the Eternal, or in the soul of man, is surely clearly, if
not positively, advanced in the last six lines of the above stanza.
The thought, so strangely fascinating to a poet--and Berkeley no
less than Traherne was one--that the whole exterior universe is not
really a thing apart from and independent of man's consciousness of
it, but something which exists only as it is perceived, is undeniably
to be found in "My Spirit." I have quoted only one stanza of it, but
the whole poem should be carefully studied, for it is throughout an
assertion of the supremacy of mind over matter, and an averment that it
is the former and not the latter which has a real existence. If it be
thought that it is going too far to say that the Berkeleian system is
to be found in the poem--which of course it is not as a reasoned-out
and complete theory--it yet cannot be denied that it is there in germ
and in such a form that it only required to be seized upon by an acute
intellect to be developed in the way Berkeley developed it. That the
latter knew nothing of Traherne's poem is certain, and therefore I am
not attempting to detract in any way from the credit which belongs to
him. I am only anxious to give the poet his due as the first who caught
a glimpse of so notable a truth or error--which ever it may be.[F]

Deeply as Traherne was penetrated with a sense of the glory of the
universe, and of the infinite greatness of its Creator, it was with
no sense of abasement that he contemplated them. He felt that in his
own soul, so capable of the sublimest conceptions and the most exalted
aspirations, there must needs be a divine element. He was no outcast
thrust out of Eden into a wilderness of spiritual destitution, but the
son of a loving Father, born to a splendid inheritance, and at least
as necessary to the Deity as servants and dependents are to keep up
the state and dignity of a king. If God confers benefits on man it
is in order that He may witness man's delight in them and gratitude
for them. To see this is a supreme delight to Him, and without it
there would be something wanting to His felicity. But I must quote a
stanza from "The Recovery," lest the reader should think that I am
misrepresenting the poet:

          For God enjoy'd is all His End.
          Himself He then doth comprehend
          When He is blessed, magnified,
    Extoll'd, exalted, prais'd and glorified,
          Honor'd, esteem'd, belov'd, enjoy'd,
          Admired, sanctified, obey'd,
            That is received. For _He_
          Doth place His whole Felicity
    In that, _who is despised and defied,
    Undeified almost if once denied_.

Matthew Arnold said of Goethe that he

    Neither made man too much a God
      Nor God too much a man.

That could hardly be said of Traherne. It is scarcely possible, I
think, to deny that in the above-quoted passage he committed the fault
of making "God too much a man." That, however, was a fault which he
shared with most of the theologians of his time. Perhaps it is a fault
which is almost inseparable from a sincere and fervent faith. Without
refining away the conception of God to a mere abstraction, it is
impossible to think of Him otherwise than as an infinitely magnified
and glorified man. Since the human mind is so constituted, it is surely
vain to attempt to set limits within which we are to think of Him.
Every man will do this according to the law of his own temperament.
The man of cool reason and well-controlled passions will form a
very different conception of the Deity from the man of enthusiastic
disposition and ardent emotions. To think of the Deity as "a power not
ourselves which makes for righteousness" is no more possible for a
Traherne, than it is for an Arnold to think of God as One

          who is despised and defied,
    Undeified almost if once denied.

To make all men think alike, whether on political, moral, or
theological subjects, is now seen by all but a very few reactionaries
to be an impossible task. It is needless to defend Traherne for the
views he took regarding the relations between God and man; I have only
thought it expedient to show that the line he followed was that to
which he was impelled by the character of his individuality.

An excellent poet, a prose-writer of equal or perhaps greater
excellence, an exemplary preacher and teacher, who gave in his own
person an example of the virtues which he inculcated, one with whom
religion was not a garment to be put on, but the life of his life and
the spring of all his actions--such was Thomas Traherne. Much as I
dissent from his opinions, and much as my point of view as regards the
meaning and the purpose of life differs from his, I have yet found it
easy to appreciate the fineness of his character, and the charm of
his writings. It is not necessary that we should believe as Traherne
believed in order to derive benefit from his works. Men of all faiths
may study them with profit, and derive from them a new impulse towards
that "plain living and high thinking" by which alone happiness can be
reached and peace of mind assured.

       *       *       *       *       *

It remains for me to tell the strange story of the fate of Traherne's
manuscripts after his death. They passed, we may reasonably suppose,
together with his books, into the hands of his brother Philip,
as directed in his will. Philip Traherne, I imagine, was in some
way--perhaps by marriage--connected with a family named Skipp, which
dwelt at Ledbury, in Herefordshire. These Skipps appear to have become
the owners and custodians of the poet's remains; and in their hands
they probably rested down to the year 1888, when it seems that the
property belonging to the family was dispersed. Into what hands the
Traherne manuscripts then fell cannot now be ascertained; but it was
certainly into hands that were ignorant of their value. In the latter
part of 1896, or the early months of 1897, some of them had descended
to the street bookstall, that last hope of books and manuscripts
in danger of being consigned to the waste-paper mills. Here, most
fortunately, two of them were discovered by my friend, Mr. William
T. Brooke, who acquired them at the price of a few pence. They could
hardly have fallen into better hands, for Mr. Brooke's knowledge of our
poetical literature, and especially of sacred poetry and hymnology,
is no less remarkable for its extent than for its exactness. As soon
as he could find time to examine the manuscripts he at once saw that
they were of great interest and value. He could hardly imagine that
writings so admirable could be the work of an unknown author; and
he at length came to the conclusion, from the fact that the poems
resembled those of Henry Vaughan in their subjects and partly in their
sentiments, that they must be his. This was an unfortunate idea, since
it caused a considerable delay in the tracing out of the real author.
Mr. Brooke communicated his discovery to the late Dr. Grosart, who
became so much interested in the matter that he purchased the two
manuscripts. He, too, after some waverings of opinion, during which
he was disposed to attribute the manuscripts, first to Theophilus
Gale, and secondly to Thomas Vaughan, became convinced that they must
be Henry Vaughan's. Under this persuasion he prepared for the press
a most elaborate edition of Vaughan's works, in which the matter
contained in the manuscripts was to be included. This edition he was,
at the time of his death, endeavouring to find means to publish. That
the work thus projected was not actually published must, I think,
be regarded as a fortunate circumstance. Whether the poems, on the
authority of Dr. Grosart, would have been accepted as Vaughan's, can
only be conjectured; but it seems probable that they would, since it
is unlikely that any critic, however much he might have doubted their
imputed authorship, would have been able to trace out the real author.
An irreparable injury would thus have been inflicted upon Traherne,
while Vaughan would have received an unneeded accession of fame, at
the expense of puzzling all readers of a critical disposition by the
exhibition of inconsistent and irreconcilable qualities.

Upon Dr. Grosart's death his library was purchased by the well-known
bookseller, Mr. Charles Higham, of Farringdon Street. Included in it
were the two Traherne manuscript volumes. Having learned from Mr.
Brooke the story of the manuscripts, and that they were in Mr. Higham's
hands, I became interested in the matter, and ultimately purchased
them. Afterwards, when a part of Dr. Grosart's library was sold at
Sotheby's, I became the possessor of the third manuscript volume, which
their late owner appears not to have known to be Traherne's, though
nothing is needed but to compare it with the other volumes in order to
see that all three are in the same handwriting.

It is due to Mr. Higham to say that he most liberally allowed me to
examine the manuscripts before purchasing them, so that I might form my
own opinion as to their authorship. I need not say that I should have
been delighted if I could have come to the same conclusion that Mr.
Brooke and Dr. Grosart had arrived at. Inclination and interest alike
impelled me to take their view. But when I sat down to read the poems
and to compare them with the acknowledged writings of Henry Vaughan, I
soon began to doubt, and it required but a little time for that doubt
to develop into a conviction that whoever might have been their author,
they were assuredly not written by the Silurist. It is true that the
poems deal, as most of Vaughan's do, solely with religious or moral
subjects, and that the author dwells continually, as Vaughan did, upon
the subjects of childhood and innocence; and that both authors display
the same love of nature and of a simple and natural life. It is true
also that we find both poets making use of some rather uncommon words
and phrases, and that we find in both the same free use of defective
rhymes. These resemblances, however, are merely superficial. In all
the deeper matters of style, thought, and temperament, Traherne and
Vaughan were as far apart as any two men, animated as both were by a
deep spirit of piety and beneficence, could well be. To me, had there
been no other difference, one striking note of dissimilarity would
have sufficed to prove that the poems in manuscript and those of
Vaughan could not have proceeded from the same pen. In the manuscript
poems an ever-present quality is a passionate fervour of thought, an
intense ardour of enthusiasm, which is not to be found, or at least
only rarely, in Vaughan's works. Restrained emotion, expressed in
verse which moves slowly and not without effort, is, it seems to me,
the leading characteristic of Vaughan's poetry; emotion in full flood,
expressed in lively and energetic diction, is that of Traherne's. With
Traherne all nature is bathed in warmth and light: with Vaughan we feel
sensible of a certain coolness of temperament, and are conscious that
he rejoices rather in the twilight than in the radiance of noonday.

With the conviction that the poems could not be Vaughan's, while yet it
seemed unlikely that they could be the work of an altogether unknown or
unpractised writer, I began to search for indications by which their
author might possibly be discovered. Here again I found Mr. Brooke's
assistance most valuable. To an edition of Giles Fletcher's "Christ's
Victory and Triumph," which he had edited, he had appended a number of
previously uncollected seventeenth-century poems. Among these was one
entitled "The Ways of Wisdom." To this poem he now drew my attention,
as he had previously drawn Dr. Grosart's. It was at once evident to
me that its style was very similar to that of the manuscript poems.
In fact, that poem, as any reader will see who cares to study it in
comparison with the other poems in this volume, presents such strong
resemblances and parallels with them that it is hardly too much to
say that the question as to their common authorship might have been
rested entirely upon it. However, it was of course desirable to find
further evidence. Mr. Brooke told me that he had found the poem in a
little book in the British Museum, entitled "A Serious and Patheticall
Contemplation of the Mercies of God, in several most Devout and Sublime
Thanksgivings for the same."[G] The book, Mr. Brooke also told me,
contained other pieces in verse. These I desired him to copy out. When
he had done so it at once became evident to me that the author of the
manuscript poems and of the "Devout and Sublime Thanksgivings" must
be, beyond all doubt, one and the same person. The fact was as clearly
demonstrated to my mind as the truths of the multiplication table. That
point being settled, the next thing was to discover, if possible, who
was the author of the "Devout and Sublime Thanksgivings." That might
have remained unknown to the end of time, but for one clue which the
book luckily afforded. This was, as the reader has seen, the statement
in the "Address to the Reader" that the author was private chaplain to
Sir Orlando Bridgman. This clue had only to be patiently followed up
to lead to the discovery of the author's name. This Mr. Brooke at last
found to be Thomas Traherne. It was from Wood's _Athenæ Oxonienses_
that the information was obtained, and from that we also learned that
Traherne was the author of two books, "Roman Forgeries" and "Christian
Ethicks." The next step was to examine these works to see if any
evidence could be found which would connect them with the author of the
manuscripts. That evidence was found in "Christian Ethicks." This was
the poem which the reader will find on p. 157. The same poem, though in
a shorter form and with a good many textual variations, appears in the
manuscript "Centuries of Meditations" (see p. 134). Here then was proof
positive that Traherne and no other was the author of the manuscripts
in my possession. Though I did not require this evidence myself, it
was fortunate it was found, since its discovery put the matter beyond
all doubt. Will the reader accuse me of undue vanity if I say that it
was with a good deal of self-satisfaction, and no little rejoicing,
that I welcomed this confirmation of the opinion which I had formed
solely upon critical grounds? One might be tempted to think that the
whole train of circumstances by which Traherne was discovered, first to
be the author of the anonymous "Thanksgivings," and through that of the
more important manuscripts, has the appearance of being something more
than the work of chance, were it not that their long concealment, their
narrow escape from entire destruction, and the fact that the verses
printed in the present volume form only a part of Traherne's poetical
works, seem to forbid us to entertain such an idea.[H]

The manuscripts from which the contents of this book have been derived
are three in number. They consist of one folio and two octavo volumes.
The folio volume contains all the poems from "The Salutation" to
"Goodness" which are here printed. The same volume contains a large
number of prose essays and memoranda alphabetically arranged so as to
form a kind of commonplace book. The greater part of these are in a
handwriting which differs from Traherne's. They appear to have been
written by a friend of the poet's, since Traherne has in many cases
added remarks of his own to those in the other writer's handwriting.
I believe it was Dr. Grosart's intention to print the whole of this
material; but although it certainly has a curious interest, it does
not appear to me that it is worth while to publish it at present. Some
parts of this commonplace book appear to have been used as material for
"Christian Ethicks" and "Centuries of Meditations"; and the whole of
it, as might be expected, is more like the notes of a student than the
finished work of an essayist.

The second manuscript volume contains Traherne's "Centuries of
Meditations," which I have already described and quoted largely from.
The third volume contains Traherne's private religious meditations,
devotions, and prayers. It is in this latter volume that the "Hymn on
St. Bartholomew's Day," a facsimile of which is given as a frontispiece
to the present volume, is found.

I must not conclude without thanking my friends, G. Thorn Drury and E.
V. Lucas, to both of whom I am indebted for many valuable suggestions.
I have also to thank the Rev. Canon Beeching for similar and not less
appreciated assistance. Thanks are due also to the Rev. J. C. Foster,
who drew my attention to the passage in Aubrey's "Miscellanies"
relating to Traherne's visions, and to Miss Isabel Southall, who
searched diligently, though without success, to find out the time and
place of Traherne's birth. I have already acknowledged my obligations
to Mr. W. T. Brooke, Mr. E. H. W. Dunkin, and Mr. Gordon Goodwin.

                   THE SALUTATION


                These little limbs,
      These eyes and hands which here I find,
    These rosy cheeks wherewith my life begins,
      Where have ye been? behind
    What curtain were ye from me hid so long,
    Where was, in what abyss, my speaking tongue?


                When silent I
      So many thousand, thousand years
    Beneath the dust did in a chaos lie,
      How could I smiles or tears,
    Or lips or hands or eyes or ears perceive?
    Welcome ye treasures which I now receive.


                I that so long
      Was nothing from eternity,
    Did little think such joys as ear or tongue
      To celebrate or see:
    Such sounds to hear, such hands to feel, such feet,
    Beneath the skies on such a ground to meet.


                New burnisht joys!
      Which yellow gold and pearls excel!
    Such sacred treasures are the limbs in boys,
      In which a soul doth dwell;
    Their organised joints and azure veins
    More wealth include than all the world contains.


                From dust I rise,
      And out of nothing now awake,
    These brighter regions which salute mine eyes,
      A gift from God I take.
    The earth, the seas, the light, the day, the skies,
    The sun and stars are mine; if those I prize.


                Long time before
      I in my mother's womb was born,
    A God preparing did this glorious store,
      The world for me adorn.
    Into this Eden so divine and fair,
    So wide and bright, I come His son and heir.


                A stranger here
      Strange things doth meet, strange glories see;
    Strange treasures lodg'd in this fair world appear,
      Strange all and new to me;
    But that they mine should be, who nothing was,
    That strangest is of all, yet brought to pass.



      How like an Angel came I down!
          How bright are all things here!
    When first among His works I did appear
      O how their Glory me did crown!
    The world resembled His Eternity,
          In which my soul did walk;
      And every thing that I did see
            Did with me talk.


      The skies in their magnificence,
          The lively, lovely air;
    Oh how divine, how soft, how sweet, how fair!
      The stars did entertain my sense,
    And all the works of God, so bright and pure,
          So rich and great did seem,
    As if they ever must endure
            In my esteem.


      A native health and innocence
          Within my bones did grow,
    And while my God did all his Glories show,
      I felt a vigour in my sense
    That was all Spirit. I within did flow
          With seas of life, like wine;
      I nothing in the world did know
            But 'twas divine.


      Harsh ragged objects were concealed,
          Oppressions, tears and cries,
    Sins, griefs, complaints, dissensions, weeping eyes
      Were hid, and only things revealed
    Which heavenly Spirits and the Angels prize.
          The state of Innocence
      And bliss, not trades and poverties,
            Did fill my sense.


      The streets were paved with golden stones,
          The boys and girls were mine,
    Oh how did all their lovely faces shine!
      The sons of men were holy ones,
    In joy and beauty they appeared to me,
          And every thing which here I found,
      While like an angel I did see,
            Adorned the ground.


      Rich diamond and pearl and gold
          In every place was seen;
    Rare splendours, yellow, blue, red, white and green,
      Mine eyes did everywhere behold.
    Great Wonders clothed with glory did appear,
          Amazement was my bliss,
      That and my wealth was everywhere;
            No joy to this!


      Cursed and devised proprieties,
          With envy, avarice
    And fraud, those fiends that spoil even Paradise,
      Flew from the splendour of mine eyes,
    And so did hedges, ditches, limits, bounds,
          I dreamed not aught of those,
      But wandered over all men's grounds,
            And found repose.


      Proprieties themselves were mine
          And hedges ornaments,
    Walls, boxes, coffers, and their rich contents
      Did not divide my joys, but all combine.
    Clothes, ribbons, jewels, laces, I esteemed
          My joys by others worn:
      For me they all to wear them seemed
            When I was born.



    A learned and a happy ignorance
              Divided me
        From all the vanity,
    From all the sloth, care, pain, and sorrow that advance
        The madness and the misery
    Of men. No error, no distraction I
    Saw soil the earth or overcloud the sky.


    I knew not that there was a serpent's sting,
              Whose poison shed
        On men, did overspread
    The world; nor did I dream of such a thing
        As sin, in which mankind lay dead.
    They all were brisk and living wights to me,
    Yea, pure and full of immortality.


    Joy, pleasure, beauty, kindness, glory, love,
              Sleep, day, life, light,
        Peace, melody, my sight,
    My ears and heart did fill and freely move.
        All that I saw did me delight.
    The Universe was then a world of treasure,
    To me an universal world of pleasure.


    Unwelcome penitence was then unknown,
              Vain costly toys,
        Swearing and roaring boys,
    Shops, markets, taverns, coaches, were unshown;
        So all things were that drowned my joys:
    No thorns choked up my path, nor hid the face
    Of bliss and beauty, nor eclipsed the place.


    Only what Adam in his first estate,
              Did I behold;
        Hard silver and dry gold
    As yet lay under ground; my blessed fate
        Was more acquainted with the old
    And innocent delights which he did see
    In his original simplicity.


    Those things which first his Eden did adorn
              My infancy
        Did crown. Simplicity
    Was my protection when I first was born.
        Mine eyes those treasures first did see
    Which God first made. The first effects of Love
    My first enjoyments upon earth did prove;


    And were so great, and so divine, so pure,
              So fair and sweet,
        So true; when I did meet
    Them here at first, they did my soul allure,
        And drew away my infant feet
    Quite from the works of men; that I might see
    The glorious wonders of the Deity.



    But that which most I wonder at, which most
    I did esteem my bliss, which most I boast,
    And ever shall enjoy, is that within
        I felt no stain nor spot of sin.

        No darkness then did overshade,
        But all within was pure and bright,
        No guilt did crush nor fear invade,
        But all my soul was full of light.

        A joyful sense and purity
            Is all I can remember,
        The very night to me was bright,
        'Twas Summer in December.


    A serious meditation did employ
    My soul within, which taken up with joy
    Did seem no outward thing to note, but fly
        All objects that do feed the eye,

        While it those very objects did
        Admire and prize and praise and love,
        Which in their glory most are hid,
        Which presence only doth remove.

        Their constant daily presence I
            Rejoicing at, did see,
        And that which takes them from the eye
        Of others offered them to me.


    No inward inclination did I feel
    To avarice or pride; my soul did kneel
    In admiration all the day. No lust, nor strife,
        Polluted then my infant life.

        No fraud nor anger in me mov'd
        No malice, jealousy, or spite;
        All that I saw I truly lov'd:
        Contentment only and delight

        Were in my soul. O Heav'n! what bliss
            Did I enjoy and feel!
        What powerful delight did this
        Inspire! for this I daily kneel.


    Whether it be that Nature is so pure,
    And custom only vicious; or that sure
    God did by miracle the guilt remove,
        And made my soul to feel his Love

        So early: or that 'twas one day,
        Wherein this happiness I found,
        Whose strength and brightness so do ray,
        That still it seems me to surround,

        Whate'er it is, it is a Light
            So endless unto me
        That I a world of true delight
        Did then, and to this day do see.


    That prospect was the gate of Heaven, that day
    The ancient Light of Eden did convey
    Into my soul: I was an Adam there,
        A little Adam in a sphere

        Of joys! O there my ravisht sense
        Was entertained in Paradise,
        And had a sight of Innocence,
        Which was beyond all bound and price.

        An antepast of Heaven sure!
        I on the Earth did reign,
        Within, without me, all was pure:
        I must become a child again.

             THE PREPARATIVE


    My body being dead, my limbs unknown;
          Before I skill'd to prize
          Those living stars mine eyes,
    Before my tongue or cheeks were to me shown,
      Before I knew my hands were mine,
    Or that my sinews did my members join,
      When neither nostril, foot nor ear
    As yet was seen, or felt, or did appear:
                I was within
    A house I knew not, newly cloth'd with skin.


    Then was my soul my only all to me,
          A living endless eye,
          Just bounded with the sky.
    Whose power, whose act, whose essence, was to see:
      I was an inward Sphere of Light,
    Or an interminable Orb of Sight,
      An endless and a living day,
    A vital Sun that round about did ray
                All life, all sense,
    A naked simple pure Intelligence.


    I then no thirst nor hunger did perceive,
          No dull necessity,
          No want was known to me;
    Without disturbance then I did receive
      The fair ideas of all things,
    And had the honey even without the stings.
      A meditating inward eye
    Gazing at quiet did within me lie,
                And every thing
    Delighted me that was their heavenly King.


    For sight inherits beauty, hearing sounds,
          The nostril sweet perfumes,
          All tastes have hidden rooms
    Within the tongue; and feeling wounds
      With pleasure and delight; but I
    Forgot the rest, and was all sight or eye:
      Unbodied and devoid of care,
    Just as in Heaven the holy Angels are,
                For simple sense
    Is Lord of all created excellence.


    Being thus prepared for all felicity,
          Not prepossest with dross,
          Nor stiffly glued to gross
    And dull materials that might ruin me,
      Nor fettered by an iron fate
    With vain affections in my earthly state
      To any thing that might seduce
    My sense, or else bereave it of its use,
                I was as free
    As if there were nor sin, nor misery.


    Pure empty powers that did nothing loath,
          Did like the fairest glass,
          Or spotless polished brass,
    Themselves soon in their object's image clothe.
      Divine impressions when they came
    Did quickly enter and my soul inflame.
      'Tis not the object, but the light
    That maketh Heaven: 'tis a purer sight.
    Appears to none but them that purely see.


    A disentangled and a naked sense,
          A mind that's unpossest,
          A disengaged breast,
    An empty and a quick intelligence
      Acquainted with the golden mean,
    An even spirit pure and serene,
      Is that where beauty, excellence,
    And pleasure keep their Court of Residence.
                My soul retire,
    Get free, and so thou shalt even all admire.

             THE INSTRUCTION


    Spue out thy filth, thy flesh abjure;
    Let not contingents thee defile,
    For transients only are impure,
    And aery things thy soul beguile.


    Unfelt, unseen, let those things be
    Which to thy spirit were unknown,
    When to thy blessed infancy
    The world, thyself, thy God was shown.


    All that is great and stable stood
    Before thy purer eyes at first:
    All that in visibles is good
    Or pure, or fair, or unaccurst.

    Whatever else thou now dost see
    In custom, action, or desire,
    'Tis but a part of misery
    In which all men at once conspire.

                   THE VISION


    Flight is but the preparative. The sight
        Is deep and infinite,
    Ah me! 'tis all the glory, love, light, space,
        Joy, beauty and variety
    That doth adorn the Godhead's dwelling-place,
        'Tis all that eye can see.
    Even trades themselves seen in celestial light,
      And cares and sins and woes are bright.


    Order the beauty even of beauty is,
        It is the rule of bliss,
    The very life and form and cause of pleasure;
        Which if we do not understand,
    Ten thousand heaps of vain confused treasure
        Will but oppress the land.
    In blessedness itself we that shall miss,
      Being blind, which is the cause of bliss.


    First then behold the world as thine, and well
        Note that where thou dost dwell.
    See all the beauty of the spacious case,
        Lift up thy pleas'd and ravisht eyes,
    Admire the glory of the Heavenly place
        And all its blessings prize.
    That sight well seen thy spirit shall prepare,
      The first makes all the other rare.


    Men's woes shall be but foils unto thy bliss,
        Thou once enjoying this:
    Trades shall adorn and beautify the earth,
        Their ignorance shall make thee bright,
    Were not their griefs Democritus his mirth?
        Their faults shall keep thee right:
    All shall be thine, because they all conspire,
      To feed and make thy glory higher.


    To see a glorious fountain and an end,
        To see all creatures tend
    To thy advancement, and so sweetly close
        In thy repose: to see them shine
    In use, in worth, in service, and even foes
        Among the rest made thine:
    To see all these unite at once in thee
      Is to behold felicity.


    To see the fountain is a blessed thing,
        It is to see the King
    Of Glory face to face: but yet the end,
        The glorious, wondrous end is more;
    And yet the fountain there we comprehend,
        The spring we there adore:
    For in the end the fountain best is shewn,
      As by effects the cause is known.


    From one, to one, in one to see all things,
        To see the King of Kings
    But once in two; to see His endless treasures
        Made all mine own, myself the end
    Of all his labours! 'Tis the life of pleasures!
        To see myself His friend!
    Who all things finds conjoined in Him alone,
      Sees and enjoys the Holy One.

            THE RAPTURE


        Sweet Infancy!
    O fire of heaven! O sacred Light!
        How fair and bright!
        How great am I,
    Whom all the world doth magnify!


        O Heavenly joy!
    O great and sacred blessedness
        Which I possess!
        So great a joy
    Who did into my arms convey!


        From God above
    Being sent, the Heavens me enflame:
        To praise his Name
        The stars do move!
    The burning sun doth shew His love.


        O how divine
    Am I! To all this sacred wealth,
        This life and health,
        Who raised? Who mine
    Did make the same? What hand divine?

                THE IMPROVEMENT


    'Tis more to recollect, than make. The one
    Is but an accident without the other.
    We cannot think the world to be the Throne
    Of God, unless His Wisdom shine as Brother
      Unto His Power, in the fabric, so
      That we the one may in the other know.


    His goodness also must in both appear,
    And all the children of His love be found
    In the creation of the starry sphere,
    And in the forming of the fruitful ground;
      Before we can that happiness descry
      Which is the Daughter of the deity.


    His wisdom shines in spreading forth the sky,
    His power's great in ordering the Sun,
    His goodness very marvellous and high
    Appears, in every work His hand hath done:
      And all His works in their variety
      United or asunder please the eye.


    But neither goodness, wisdom, power, nor love,
    Nor happiness itself in things could be,
    Did they not all in one fair order move,
    And jointly by their service end in me:
      Had He not made an eye to be the Sphere
      Of all things, none of these would e'er appear.


    His wisdom, goodness, power, as they unite,
    All things in one, that they may be the treasures
    Of one enjoyer, shine in the utmost height
    They can attain; and are most glorious pleasures,
      When all the universe conjoined in one,
      Exalts a creature as if that alone.


    To bring the moisture of far-distant seas
    Into a point, to make them present here,
    In virtue, not in bulk; one man to please
    With all the powers of the Highest Sphere
      From East, from West, from North and South, to bring
      The pleasing influence of every thing,


    Is far more great than to create them there
    Where now they stand; His wisdom more doth shine
    In that His might and goodness more appear
    In recollecting; He is more divine
      In making every thing a gift to one
      Than in the sev'ral parts of all His spacious Throne.


    Herein we see a marvellous design,
    And apprehending clearly the great skill
    Of that great Architect, whose love doth shine
    In all His works, we find His Life and Will:
      For lively counsels do the Godhead shew,
      And these His love and goodness make us know.


    By wise contrivance He doth all things guide,
    And so dispose them, that while they unite
    For man He endless pleasures doth provide,
    And shows that happiness is His delight,
      His creatures' happiness as well as His:
      For that in truth He seeks, and 'tis His bliss.


    O rapture! wonder! ecstasie! delight!
    How great must then His glory be, how great
    Our blessedness! How vast and infinite
    Our pleasure, how transcendent, how complete,
      If we the goodness of our God possess,
      And all His joy be in our blessedness.


    Almighty power when it is employed
    For one, that He with glory might be crown'd;
    Eternal wisdom when it is enjoyed
    By one whom all its pleasures do surround,
      Produce a creature that must, all his days,
      Return the sacrifice of endless praise.


    But Oh! the vigour of mine infant sense
    Drives me too far: I had not yet the eye,
    The apprehension, or intelligence
    Of things so very great, divine, and high.
      But all things were eternal unto me,
      And mine, and pleasing which mine eye did see.


    That was enough at first: eternity,
    Infinity, and love were silent joys;
    Power, wisdom, goodness, and felicity;
    All these which now our care and sin destroys,
      By instinct virtually were well discern'd,
      And by their representatives were learn'd.


    As sponges gather moisture from the earth
    Whereon there is scarce any sign of dew;
    As air infecteth salt: so at my birth
    All these were unperceiv'd, yet near and true:
      Not by reflexion, and distinctly known,
      But by their efficacy all mine own.

                 THE APPROACH[I]


        That childish thoughts such joys inspire,
    Doth make my wonder and His glory higher:
        His bounty and my wealth more great,
    It shows His Kingdom and His Work complete:
        In which there is not anything
    Not meet to be the joy of Cherubim.


        He in our childhood with us walks,
    And with our thoughts mysteriously he talks;
        He often visiteth our minds,
    But cold acceptance in us ever finds:
        We send Him often grieved away;
    Else would He shew us all His Kingdom's joy.


        O Lord, I wonder at Thy Love,
    Which did my Infancy so early move:
        But more at that which did forbear,
    And move so long, tho' slighted many a year:
        But most of all, at last that Thou
    Thyself shouldst me convert I scarce know how.


        Thy Gracious motions oft in vain
    Assaulted me: my heart did hard remain
        Long time: I sent my God away,
    Grieved much that He could not impart His joy.
        I careless was, nor did regard
    The end for which He all those thoughts prepar'd;


        But now with new and open eyes,
    I see beneath as if above the skies;
        And as I backward look again,
    See all His thoughts and mine most clear and plain.
        He did approach, He me did woo;
    I wonder that my God this thing would do.


        From nothing taken first I was;
    What wondrous things His glory brought to pass!
        Now in this world I Him behold,
    And me enveloped in more than gold;
        In deep abysses of delights,
    In present hidden precious benefits.


        Those thoughts His goodness long before
    Prepared as precious and celestial store,
        With curious art in me inlaid,
    That Childhood might itself alone be said
        My tutor, teacher, guide to be,
    Instructed then even by the Deity.


    Sure Man was born to meditate on things,
    And to contemplate the eternal springs
    Of God and Nature, glory, bliss, and pleasure;
    That life and love might be his Heavenly treasure;
    And therefore speechless made at first, that He
    Might in himself profoundly busied be:
    And not vent out, before he hath ta'en in
    Those antidotes that guard his soul from sin.
        Wise Nature made him deaf, too, that He might
    Not be disturbed, while he doth take delight
    In inward things, nor be deprav'd with tongues,
    Nor injured by the errors and the wrongs
    That mortal words convey. For sin and death
    Are most infused by accursed breath,
    That flowing from corrupted entrails, bear
    Those hidden plagues which souls may justly fear.
        This, my dear friends, this was my blessed case;
    For nothing spoke to me but the fair face
    Of Heaven and Earth, before myself could speak,
    I then my Bliss did, when my silence, break.
    My non-intelligence of human words
    Ten thousand pleasures unto me affords;
    For while I knew not what they to me said,
    Before their souls were into mine convey'd,
    Before that living vehicle of wind
    Could breathe into me their infected mind,
    Before my thoughts were leaven'd with theirs, before
    There any mixture was; the Holy Door,
    Or gate of souls was close, and mine being one
    Within itself to me alone was known.
    Then did I dwell within a world of light,
    Distinct and separate from all men's sight,
    Where I did feel strange thoughts, and such things see
    That were, or seem'd, only reveal'd to me,
    There I saw all the world enjoyed by one;
    There I was in the world myself alone;
    No business serious seemed but one; no work
    But one was found; and that did in me lurk.
        D'ye ask me what? It was with clearer eyes
    To see all creatures full of Deities;
    Especially one's self: And to admire
    The satisfaction of all true desire:
    'Twas to be pleased with all that God hath done;
    'Twas to enjoy even all beneath the sun:
    'Twas with a steady and immediate sense
    To feel and measure all the excellence
    Of things; 'twas to inherit endless treasure,
    And to be filled with everlasting pleasure:
    To reign in silence, and to sing alone,
    To see, love, covet, have, enjoy and praise, in one:
    To prize and to be ravish'd; to be true,
    Sincere and single in a blessed view
    Of all His gifts. Thus was I pent within
    A fort, inpregnable to any sin:
    Until the avenues being open laid
    Whole legions entered, and the forts betrayed:
    Before which time a pulpit in my mind,
    A temple and a teacher I did find,
    With a large text to comment on. No ear
    But eyes themselves were all the hearers there,
    And every stone, and every star a tongue,
    And every gale of wind a curious song.
    The Heavens were an oracle, and spake
    Divinity: the Earth did undertake
    The office of a priest; and I being dumb
    (Nothing besides was dumb), all things did come
    With voices and instructions; but when I
    Had gained a tongue, their power began to die.
    Mine ears let other noises in, not theirs,
    A noise disturbing all my songs and prayers.
    My foes pulled down the temple to the ground;
    They my adoring soul did deeply wound
    And casting that into a swoon, destroyed
    The Oracle, and all I there enjoyed:
    And having once inspired me with a sense
    Of foreign vanities, they march out thence
    In troops that cover and despoil my coasts,
    Being the invisible, most hurtful hosts.
        Yet the first words mine infancy did hear
    The things which in my dumbness did appear,
    Preventing all the rest, got such a root
    Within my heart, and stick so close unto 't,
    It may be trampled on, but still will grow
    And nutriment to soil itself will owe.
    _The first Impressions are Immortal all_,
    And let mine enemies hoop, cry, roar, or call,
    Yet these will whisper if I will but hear,
    And penetrate the heart, if not the ear.


    A quiet silent person may possess
    All that is great or high in Blessedness.
    The inward work is the supreme: for all
    The other were occasioned by the fall.
    A man that seemeth idle to the view
    Of others, may the greatest business do.
    Those acts which Adam in his innocence
    Performed, carry all the excellence.
    Those outward busy acts he knew not, were
    But meaner matters of a lower sphere.
    Building of churches, giving to the poor,
    In dust and ashes lying on the floor,
    Administering of justice, preaching peace,
    Ploughing and toiling for a forct increase,
    With visiting the sick, or governing
    The rude and ignorant: this was a thing
    As then unknown. For neither ignorance
    Nor poverty, nor sickness did advance
    Their banner in the world, till sin came in.
    Those therefore were occasioned all by sin.
    The first and only work he had to do,
    Was in himself to feel his bliss, to view
    His sacred treasures, to admire, rejoice,
    Sing praises with a sweet and heavenly voice,
    See, prize, give hourly thanks within, and love,
    Which is the high and only work above
    Them all. And this at first was mine; these were
    My exercises of the highest sphere.
    To see, approve, take pleasure, and rejoice
    Within, is better than an empty voice.
    No melody in words can equal that;
    The sweetest organ, lute, or harp is flat
    And dull, compared thereto. And O that still
    I might admire my Father's love and skill!
    This is to honour, worship, and adore,
    This is to love Him: nay, it is far more,
    It is to enjoy Him, and to imitate
    The life and glory of His high Estate.
    'Tis to receive with holy reverence,
    To understand His gifts, and with a sense
    Of pure devotion and humility,
    To prize His works, His Love to magnify.
    O happy ignorance of other things
    Which made me present with that King of Kings!
    And like Him too! All spirit, life, and power,
    All love and joy, in His Eternal Bower,
    A world of innocence as then was mine,
    In which the joys of Paradise did shine:
    And while I was not here I was in Heaven,
    Not resting one, but every, day in seven,
    For ever minding with a lively sense,
    The universe in all its excellence.
    No other thoughts did intervene, to cloy,
    Divert, extinguish, or eclipse my joy,
    No other customs, new-found wants, or dreams
    Invented here polluted my pure streams,
    No aloes or drugs, no wormwood star
    Was seen to fall into the sea from far;
    No rotten soul, did like an apple near
    My soul approach. There's no contagion here.
    An unperceived donor gave all pleasures,
    There nothing was but I, and all my treasures.
    In that fair world, one only was the Friend,
    One golden stream, one spring, one only end.
    There only one did sacrifice and sing
    To only one Eternal Heavenly King.
    The union was so strait between them two,
    That all was either's which my soul could view:
    His gifts and my possessions, both our treasures;
    He mine, and I the ocean of His pleasures.
    He was an ocean of delights from Whom
    The living springs and golden streams did come:
    My bosom was an ocean into which
    They all did run. And me they did enrich.
    A vast and infinite capacity,
    Did make my bosom like the Deity,
    In whose mysterious and celestial mind
    All ages and all worlds together shin'd,
    Who tho' He nothing said did always reign,
    And in Himself Eternity contain.
    The world was more in me, than I in it.
    The King of Glory in my soul did sit,
    And to Himself in me he always gave
    All that He takes delight to see me have,
    For so my spirit was an endless Sphere,
    Like God Himself, and Heaven, and Earth was there.

               MY SPIRIT


      My naked simple Life was I;
        That Act so strongly shin'd
      Upon the earth, the sea, the sky,
      It was the substance of my mind;
        The sense itself was I.
    I felt no dross nor matter in my Soul,
    No brims nor borders, such as in a bowl
    We see. My essence was capacity,
        That felt all things;
        The thought that springs
    Therefrom's itself. It hath no other wings
      To spread abroad, nor eyes to see,
        Nor hands distinct to feel,
          Nor knees to kneel.
    But being simple like the Deity
      In its own centre is a sphere
      Not shut up here, but everywhere.


      It acts not from a centre to
        Its object as remote,
      But present is when it doth view,
      Being with the Being it doth note
        Whatever it doth do.
    It doth not by another engine work,
    But by itself; which in the act doth lurk.
    Its essence is transformed into a true
        And perfect act,
        And so exact
    Hath God appeared in this mysterious fact,
      That 'tis all eye, all act, all sight,
        And what it please can be,
          Not only see,
    Or do; for 'tis more voluble than light:
      Which can put on ten thousand forms,
      Being cloth'd with what itself adorns.


      This made me present evermore
        With whatsoe'er I saw.
      An object, if it were before
      My eye, was by Dame Nature's law,
        Within my soul. Her store
    Was all at once within me; all Her treasures
    Were my immediate and internal pleasures,
    Substantial joys, which did inform my mind.
        With all she wrought
        My soul was fraught,
    And every object in my heart a thought
      Begot, or was; I could not tell,
        Whether the things did there
          Themselves appear,
    Which in my Spirit truly seem'd to dwell;
      Or whether my conforming mind
      Were not even all that therein shin'd.


      But yet of this I was most sure,
        That at the utmost length,
      (So worthy was it to endure)
      My soul could best express its strength.
        It was so quick and pure,
    That all my mind was wholly everywhere,
    Whate'er it saw, 'twas ever wholly there;
    The sun ten thousand legions off, was nigh:
        The utmost star,
        Though seen from far,
      Was present in the apple of my eye.
      There was my sight, my life, my sense,
        My substance, and my mind;
          My spirit shin'd
    Even there, not by a transient influence:
      The act was immanent, yet there:
      The thing remote, yet felt even here.


    O Joy! O wonder and delight!
        O sacred mystery!
      My Soul a Spirit infinite!
      An image of the Deity!
        A pure substantial light!
    That Being greatest which doth nothing seem!
    Why, 'twas my all, I nothing did esteem
    But that alone. A strange mysterious sphere!
        A deep abyss
        That sees and is
    The only proper place of Heavenly Bliss.
      To its Creator 'tis so near
        In love and excellence,
          In life and sense,
    In greatness, worth, and nature; and so dear,
      In it, without hyperbole,
      The Son and friend of God we see.


      A strange extended orb of Joy,
        Proceeding from within,
      Which did on every side, convey
      Itself, and being nigh of kin
        To God did every way
    Dilate itself even in an instant, and
    Like an indivisible centre stand,
    At once surrounding all eternity.
        'Twas not a sphere,
        Yet did appear,
    One infinite. 'Twas somewhat everywhere,
      And tho' it had a power to see
        Far more, yet still it shin'd
          And was a mind
    Exerted for it saw Infinity.
      'Twas not a sphere, but 'twas a might
      Invisible, and yet gave light.


      O wondrous Self! O sphere of light,
        O sphere of joy most fair;
      O act, O power infinite;
      O subtile and unbounded air!
        O living orb of sight!
    Thou which within me art, yet me! Thou eye,
    And temple of His whole infinity!
    O what a world art Thou! A world within!
        All things appear
        All objects are
    Alive in Thee! Supersubstantial, rare,
      Above themselves, and nigh of kin
        To those pure things we find
          In His great mind
    Who made the world! Tho' now eclipsed by sin
      There they are useful and divine,
      Exalted there they ought to shine.


    If this I did not every moment see,
        And if my thoughts did stray
      At any time, or idly play,
      And fix on other objects, yet
        This Apprehension set
              In me
      Was all my whole felicity.


            That light, that sight, that thought,
        Which in my soul at first He wrought,
    Is sure the only act to which I may
                  Assent to-day:
            The mirror of an endless life,
            The shadow of a virgin wife,
    A spiritual world standing within,
        An Universe enclosed in skin,
    My power exerted, or my perfect Being,
    If not enjoying, yet an act of seeing.
                        My bliss
                  Consists in this,
                  My duty too
                  In this I view.
        It is a fountain or a spring,
        Refreshing me in everything.
    From whence those living streams I do derive,
    By which my thirsty soul is kept alive.
                  The centre and the sphere
                  Of my delights are here.
                  It is my David's tower
                  Where all my armour lies,
                  The fountain of my power,
                  My bliss, my sacrifice:
                      A little spark
                  That shining in the dark,
    Makes and encourages my soul to rise,
        The root of hope, the golden chain,
        Whose end is, as the poets feign,
            Fastened to the very throne
                      Of Jove.
                  It is a stone,
                  On which I sit,
                  An endless benefit,
        That being made my regal throne,
                      Doth prove
    An Oracle of His Eternal Love.


    That Custom is a second Nature, we
    Most plainly find by Nature's purity.
    For Nature teacheth nothing but the truth;
    I'm sure that mine did in my virgin youth:
    The very Day my Spirit did inspire,
    The world's fair beauty set my soul on fire.
    My senses were informers to my heart,
    The conduits of His glory, power, and art.
    His greatness, wisdom, goodness, I did see,
    His glorious Love, and His Eternitie,
    Almost as soon as born; and every sense
    Was in me like to some Intelligence.
    I was by nature prone and apt to love
    All light and beauty, both in Heaven above,
    And Earth beneath, prone even to admire,
    Adore, and praise as well as to desire.
    My inclinations raised me up on high,
    And guided me to all Infinity.
    A secret self I had enclosed within,
    That was not bounded with my clothes or skin,
    Or terminated with my sight, the sphere
    Of which was bounded with the Heavens here:
    But that did rather, like the subtile light,
    Secured from rough and raging storms by night,
    Break through the lanthorn's sides, and freely ray
    Dispersing and dilating every way:
    Whose steady beams too subtile for the wind,
    Are such that we their bounds can scarcely find.
    It did encompass, and possess rare things,
    But yet felt more, and on its angel's wings
    Pierced through the skies immediately, and sought
    For all that could beyond all worlds be thought.
    It did not move, nor one way go, but stood,
    And by dilating of itself, all good
    It strove to see, as if 'twere present there,
    Even while it present stood conversing here:
    And more suggested than I could discern,
    Or ever since by any means could learn.
    Vast, unaffected wonderful desires,
    Like inward, native, uncaus'd hidden fires,
    Sprang up with expectations very strange,
    Which into new desires did quickly change:
    For all I saw beyond the azure round,
    Was endless darkness with no beauty crown'd.
    Why beauty should not there, as well as here,
    Why goodness should not likewise there appear,
    Why treasures and delights should bounded be,
    Since there is such a wide Infinitie;
    These were the doubts and troubles of my Soul,
    By which I do perceive without control,
    A world of endless joys by Nature made,
    That needs must flourish ever, never fade.
    A wide, magnificent and spacious sky,
    So rich 'tis worthy of the Deity,
    Clouds here and there like winged charets flying,
    Flowers ever flourishing, yet always dying,
    A day of glory where I all things see,
    As 'twere enrich'd with beams of light for me,
    And drown'd in glorious rays of purer light,
    Succeeded with a black, yet glorious night;
    Stars sweetly shedding to my pleased sense,
    On all things their nocturnal influence,
    With secret rooms in times and ages more,
    Past and to come enlarging my great store:
    These all in order present unto me
    My happy eyes did in a moment see,
    With wonders there-too, to my Soul unknown,
    Till they by men and reading first were shewn.
    All which were made that I might ever be
    With some great workman, some Great Deity.
    But yet there were new rooms and spaces more,
    Beyond all these, new regions o'er and o'er,
    Into all which my pent-up Soul like fire
    Did break, surmounting all I here admire.
    The spaces fill'd were like a cabinet
    Of joys before me most distinctly set:
    The empty like to large and vacant room
    For fancy to enlarge in, and presume
    A space for more, remov'd, but yet adorning
    Those near at hand, that pleased me every morning.
    Here I was seated to behold new things,
    In the fair fabric of the King of Kings.
    All, all was mine. The fountain tho' not known,
    Yet that there must be one was plainly shewn,
    Which fountain of delights must needs be Love,
    As all the goodness of the things did prove.
    It shines upon me from the highest skies,
    And all its creatures for my sake doth prize,
    Of whose enjoyment I am made the end,
    While how the same is so I comprehend.



    How easily doth Nature teach the soul
    How irresistible is her infusion!
    There's nothing found that can her force control
    But sin. How weak and feeble's all delusion!


    Things false are forc'd and most elaborate,
    Things pure and true are obvious unto sense;
    The first impressions in our earthly state
    Are made by things most great in excellence.


    How easy is it to believe the sky
    Is wide and great and fair! How soon may we
    Be made to know the Sun is bright and high,
    And very glorious, when its beams we see!


    That all the Earth is one continued globe,
    And that all men therein are living treasures,
    That fields and meadows are a glorious robe
    Adorning it with smooth and heavenly pleasures.


    That all we see is ours, and every one
    Possessor of the whole; that every man
    Is like a God Incarnate on the Throne,
    Even like the first for whom the world began;


    Whom all are taught to honour, serve, and love,
    Because he is belov'd of God unknown;
    And therefore is on Earth itself above
    All others, that His wisdom might be shewn.


    That all may happy be, each one most blest,
    Both in himself and others; all most high,
    While all by each, and each by all possest
    Are intermutual joys beneath the sky.


    This shows a wise contrivance, and discovers
    Some great Creator sitting on the Throne,
    That so disposeth things for all His lovers,
    That every one might reign like God alone.



          The liquid pearl in springs,
          The useful and the precious things
          Are in a moment known.
    Their very glory does reveal their worth
      (And that doth set their glory forth);
    As soon as I was born they all were shewn.


          True living wealth did flow
          In crystal streams below
          My feet, and trilling down
    In pure, transparent, soft, sweet, melting pleasures,
      Like precious and diffusive treasures,
    At once my body fed, and soul did crown.


          I was as high and great
          As Kings are in their seat.
          All other things were mine.
    The world my house, the creatures were my goods,
      Fields, mountains, valleys, woods,
    Men and their arts to make me rich combine.


          Great, lofty, endless, stable,
          Various and Innumerable,
          Bright, useful, fair, divine.
    Immovable and sweet the treasures were,
      The sacred objects did appear
    More rich and beautiful, as well as mine.


          New all! new-burnisht joys;
          Tho' now by other toys
          Eclipst: new all and mine.
    Great Truth so sacred seemed for this to me,
      Because the things which I did see
    Were such, my state I knew to be divine.


          Nor did the Angels' faces,
          The glories and the graces,
          The beauty, peace and joy
    Of Heaven itself, more sweetness yield to me.
      Till filthy sin did all destroy
    Those were the offspring of the Deity.

                   THE CHOICE


    When first Eternity stoop'd down to nought
        And in the Earth its likeness sought,
    When first it out of nothing fram'd the skies,
        And form'd the moon and sun
    That we might see what it had done,
              It was so wise,
              That it did prize
    Things truly greatest, brightest, fairest, best,
        All which it made, and left the rest.


    Then did it take such care about the Truth,
        Its daughter, that even in her youth,
    Her face might shine upon us, and be known,
              That by a better fate,
        It other toys might antedate
              As soon as shewn;
              And be our own,
    While we were hers; and that a virgin love
        Her best inheritance might prove.


    Thoughts undefiled, simple, naked, pure;
        Thoughts worthy ever to endure,
    Our first and disengaged thoughts it loves,
          And therefore made the truth,
        In infancy and tender youth
              So obvious to
              Our easy view
    That it doth prepossess our Soul, and proves
        The cause of what it all ways moves.


    By merit and desire it doth allure;
        For truth is so divine and pure,
    So rich and acceptable, being seen,
          (Not parted, but in whole)
        That it doth draw and force the soul,
              As the great Queen
              Of bliss, between
    Whom and the Soul, no one pretender ought
        Trust in to captivate a thought.


    Hence did Eternity contrive to make
        The truth so fair for all our sake
    That being truth, and fair and easy too,
          While it on all doth shine,
        We might by it become divine,
              Being led to woo
              The thing we view,
    And as chaste virgins early with it join,
        That with it we might likewise shine.


    Eternity doth give the richest things
        To every man, and makes all Kings.
    The best and richest things it doth convey
          To all, and every one,
        It raised me unto a throne!
              Which I enjoy,
              In such a way,
    That truth her daughter is my chiefest bride,
        Her daughter truth's my chiefest pride.


    All mine! And seen so easily! How great, how blest!
        How soon am I of all possest!
    My infancy no sooner opes its eyes,
          But straight the spacious Earth
        Abounds with joy, peace, glory, mirth,
              And being wise
              The very skies,
    And stars do mine become; being all possest
        Even in that way that is the best.

                THE PERSON


              Ye Sacred limbs,
        A richer blazon I will lay
            On you than first I found:
            That like celestial kings,
        Ye might with ornaments of joy
              Be always crown'd.
        A deep vermilion on a red,
        On that a scarlet I will lay,
            With gold I'll crown your head,
            Which like the Sun shall ray.
        With robes of glory and delight
              I'll make you bright.
    Mistake me not, I do not mean to bring
        New robes, but to display the thing:
    Nor paint, nor clothe, nor crown, nor add a ray,
    But glorify by taking all away.


              The naked things
        Are most sublime, and brightest show,
            When they alone are seen:
            Men's hands than Angels' wings
        Are truer wealth even here below:
              For those but seem.
        Their worth they then do best reveal,
        When we all metaphors remove,
            For metaphors conceal,
            And only vapours prove.
        They best are blazon'd when we see
              The anatomy,
        Survey the skin, cut up the flesh, the veins
            Unfold: the glory there remains:
    The muscles, fibres, arteries, and bones
    Are better far than crowns and precious stones.


              Shall I not then
        Delight in those most sacred treasures
            Which my great Father gave,
            Far more than other men
        Delight in gold? Since these are pleasures
              That make us brave!
            Far braver than the pearl and gold
            That glitter on a lady's neck!
              The rubies we behold,
              The diamonds that deck
        The hands of queens, compared unto
              The hands we view;
        The softer lilies and the roses are
            Less ornaments to those that wear
    The same, than are the hands, and lips and eyes
    Of those who those false ornaments so prize.


              Let verity
        Be thy delight; let me esteem
            True wealth far more than toys:
            Let sacred riches be,
        While falser treasures only seem,
              My real joys.
        For golden chains and bracelets are
        But gilded manacles, whereby
            Old Satan doth ensnare,
            Allure, bewitch the eye.
        Thy gifts, O God, alone I'll prize,
              My tongue, my eyes,
    My cheeks, my lips, my ears, my hands, my feet;
        Their harmony is far more sweet;
    Their beauty true. And these in all my ways
    Shall themes become and organs of Thy praise.

                 THE ESTATE


      But shall my soul no wealth possess,
        No outward riches have?
      Shall hands and eyes alone express
        Thy bounty? Which the grave
      Shall strait devour. Shall I become
        Within myself a living tomb
    Of useless wonders? Shall the fair and brave
    And great endowments of my soul lie waste,
    Which ought to be a fountain, and a womb
        Of praises unto Thee?
      Shall there no outward objects be,
        For these to see and taste?
    Not so, my God, for outward joys and pleasures
    Are even the things for which my limbs are treasures.


      My palate is a touch-stone fit
        To taste how good Thou art,
      And other members second it
        Thy praises to impart.
      There's not an eye that's fram'd by Thee,
        But ought Thy life and love to see:
    Nor is there, Lord, upon mine head an ear,
    But that the music of Thy works should hear.
    Each toe, each finger, framed by Thy skill,
        Ought ointments to distil.
      Ambrosia, nectar, wine should flow
        From every joint I owe,
    Or things more rich; while they Thy holy will
    Are instruments adapted to fulfill.


      They ought, my God, to be the pipes
        And conduits of Thy praise.
      Men's bodies were not made for stripes,
        Nor anything but joys.
      They were not made to be alone:
      But made to be the very throne
    Of Blessedness, to be like Suns, whose rays,
    Dispersed, scatter many thousand ways.
    They drink in nectars, and disburse again
        In purer beams, those streams,
      Those nectars which are caus'd by joys,
        And as the spacious main
    Doth all the rivers, which it drinks, return,
    Thy love receiv'd doth make the soul to burn.


      Elixirs richer are than dross,
        And ends are more divine
      Than are the means; but dung and loss
        Materials (tho' they shine
      Like gold and silver) are, compar'd
        To what Thy Spirit doth regard,
    Thy will require, Thy love embrace, Thy mind
    Esteem, Thy nature most illustrious find.
    These are the things wherewith we God reward.
        Our love He more doth prize,
      Our gratitude is in His eyes
        Far richer than the skies.
    And those affections which we do return,
    Are like the love which in Himself doth burn.


      We plough the very skies, as well
        As earth; the spacious seas
      Are ours; the stars all gems excel.
        The air was made to please
      The souls of men: devouring fire
      Doth feed and quicken man's desire.
    The orb of light in its wide circuit moves,
    Corn for our food springs out of very mire,
    Our fuel grows in woods and groves;
        Choice herbs and flowers aspire
      To kiss our feet: beasts court our loves.[J]
        How glorious is man's fate!
    The laws of God, the works He did create,
    His ancient ways, are His and my Estate.

                THE ENQUIRY


      Men may delighted be with springs,
      While trees and herbs their senses please,
    And taste even living nectar in the seas:
        May think their members things
    Of earthly worth at least, if not divine,
    And sing because the earth for them doth shine:


      But can the Angels take delight,
      To see such faces here beneath?
    Or can perfumes indeed from dung-hills breathe?
        Or is the world a sight
    Worthy of them? Then may we mortals be
    Surrounded with eternal Clarity.


      Even holy angels may come down
      To walk on Earth, and see delights,
    That feed and please, even here, their appetites.
        Our joys may make a crown
    For them. And in His Tabernacle men may be
    Like palms we mingled with the Cherubs see.


      Men's senses are indeed the gems,
      Their praises the most sweet perfumes,
    Their eyes the thrones, their hearts the Heavenly rooms,
        Their souls the diadems,
    Their tongues the organs which they love to hear,
    Their cheeks and faces like to theirs appear.


      The wonders which our God hath done,
      The glories of His attributes,
    Like dangling apples or like golden fruits,
        Angelic joys become.
    His wisdom shines on Earth; His love doth flow,
    Like myrrh or incense, even here below.


      And shall not we such joys possess,
      Which God for man did chiefly make?
    The Angels have them only for our sake!
        And yet they all confess
    His glory here on Earth to be divine,
    And that His Godhead in His works doth shine.

              THE CIRCULATION


          As fair ideas from the sky,
            Or images of things,
          Unto a spotless mirror fly,
            On unperceived wings,
        And lodging there affect the sense,
        As if at first they came from thence;
    While being there, they richly beautify
      The place they fill, and yet communicate
      Themselves, reflecting to the seer's eye;
            Just such is our estate.
        No praise can we return again,
        No glory in ourselves possess,
    But what derived from without we gain,
    From all the mysteries of blessedness.


          No man breathes out more vital air
            Than he before sucked in:
          Those joys and praises must repair
            To us, which 'tis a sin
        To bury in a senseless tomb.
        An earthly wight must be the heir
    Of all those joys the holy Angels prize,
      He must a king before a priest become,
      And gifts receive or ever sacrifice.
            'Tis blindness makes us dumb:
        Had we but those celestial eyes,
        Whereby we could behold the sum
    Of all His bounties, we should overflow
    With praises did we but their causes know.


          All things to Circulations owe
            Themselves; by which alone
          They do exist; they cannot shew
            A sigh, a word, a groan,
          A colour or a glimpse of light,
          The sparkle of a precious stone,
    A virtue, or a smell, a lovely sight,
      A fruit, a beam, an influence, a tear,
      But they another's livery must wear,
            And borrow matter first,
        Before they can communicate.
        Whatever's empty is accurst:
    And this doth shew that we must some estate
    Possess, or never can communicate.


          A sponge drinks in the water, which
            Is afterwards exprest.
          A liberal hand must first be rich:
            Who blesseth must be blest.
        The thirsty earth drinks in the rain,
        The trees suck moisture at their roots,
    Before the one can lavish herbs again,
      Before the other can afford us fruits.
      No tenant can raise corn or pay his rent,
            Nor can even have a lord,
        That has no land. No spring can vent,
        No vessel any wine afford
    Wherein no liquor's put. No empty purse,
    Can pounds or talents of itself disburse.


          Flame that ejects its golden beams
            Sups up the grosser air;
          To seas that pour out their streams
            In springs, those streams repair;
        Receiv'd ideas make even dreams.
        No fancy painteth foul or fair
    But by the ministry of inward light,
      That in the spirits cherisheth its sight.
      The moon returneth light, and some men say
            The very sun no ray
        Nor influence could have, did it
        No foreign aids, no food admit.
    The earth no exhalations would afford,
    Were not its spirits by the sun restored.


          All things do first receive, that give:
            Only 'tis God above,
          That from and in Himself doth live;
            Whose all-sufficient love
        Without original can flow
        And all the joys and glories shew
    Which mortal man can take delight to know.
      He is the primitive eternal spring
      The endless ocean of each glorious thing.
            The soul a vessel is,
        A spacious bosom, to contain
        All the fair treasures of His bliss,
    Which run like rivers from, into the main,
    And all it doth receive returns again.



        That all things should be mine,
      This makes His bounty most divine:
      But that they all more rich should be,
          And far more brightly shine,
            As used by me;
    It ravisheth my soul to see the end,
    To which this work so wonderful doth tend.


        That we should make the skies
      More glorious far before Thine eyes
      Than Thou didst make them, and even Thee
          Far more Thy works to prize,
            As used they be
    Than as they're made, is a stupendous work,
    Wherein Thy wisdom mightily doth lurk.


        Thy greatness, and Thy love,
      Thy power, in this, my joy doth move;
      Thy goodness, and felicity
          In this exprest above
            All praise I see:
    While Thy great Godhead over all doth reign,
    And such an end in such a sort attain.


        What bound may we assign,
      O God, to any work of thine!
      Their endlessness discovers thee
          In all to be Divine;
            A Deity
    That will for evermore exceed the end
    Of all that creature's wit can comprehend.


        Am I a glorious spring
      Of joys and riches to my King?
      Are men made Gods? And may they see
          So wonderful a thing
            As God in me?
    And is my soul a mirror that must shine
    Even like the sun and be far more divine?


        Thy Soul, O God, doth prize
      The seas, the earth, our souls, the skies;
      As we return the same to Thee
          They more delight Thine eyes,
            And sweeter be
    As unto thee we offer up the same,
    Than as to us from Thee at first they came.


        O how doth Sacred Love
      His gifts refine, exalt, improve!
      Our love to creatures makes them be
          In Thine esteem above
            Themselves to Thee!
    O here His goodness evermore admire!
    He made our souls to make His creatures higher.



    The highest things are easiest to be shewn,
    And only capable of being known.
        A mist involves the eye
      While in the middle it doth live;
      And till the ends of things are seen
    The way's uncertain that doth stand between.
      As in the air we see the clouds
        Like winding sheets or shrouds,
      Which, though they nearer are, obscure
    The sun, which, higher far, is far more pure.


    Its very brightness makes it near the eye,
    Tho' many thousand leagues beyond the sky.
        Its beams by violence
      Invade, and ravish distant sense.
      Only extremes and heights are known,
    No certainty, where no perfection's, shewn.
      Extremities of blessedness
        Compel us to confess
      A God indeed, Whose excellence
    In all His works must needs exceed all sense.


    And for this cause incredibles alone
    May be by demonstration to us shewn.
        Those things that are most bright
      Sun-like appear in their own light,
      And nothing's truly seen that's mean:
    Be it a sand, an acorn, or a bean,
      It must be cloth'd with endless glory,
        Before its perfect story
      (Be the spirit ne'er so clear)
    Can in its causes and its ends appear.


    What can be more incredible than this,
    Where may we find a more profound abyss?
        What Heavenly height can be
      Transcendent to this Summity!
      What more desirable object can
    Be offered to the soul of hungering man!
      His gifts as they to us come down
        Are infinite and crown
      The soul with strange fruitions; yet
    Returning from us they more value get.


    And what than this can be more plain and clear?
    What truth than this more evident appear?
        The Godhead cannot prize
      The sun at all, nor yet the skies,
      Or air, or earth, or trees, or seas,
    Or stars, unless the soul of man they please.
      He neither sees with human eyes,
        Nor needs Himself seas, skies,
      Or earth, or any thing: He draws
    No breath, nor eats or drinks by Nature's laws.


    The joy and pleasure which His soul doth take
    In all His works is for His creatures' sake.
        So great a certainty
      We in this holy doctrine see
      That there could be no worth at all
    In any thing material, great, or small,
      Were not some creature more alive,
        Whence it might worth derive.
      God is the spring whence things come forth,
    Souls are the fountains of their real worth.


    The joy and pleasure which His soul doth take
    In all His works is for His creatures' sake.
        Yet doth He take delight
      That's altogether infinite
      In them even as they from Him come,
    For such His love and goodness is, the sum
      Of all His happiness doth seem,
        At least in His esteem,
      In that delight and joy to lie
    Which is His blessed creatures' melody.


    In them He sees, and feels, and smells, and lives,
    In them affected is to whom He gives:
        In them ten thousand ways,
      He all His work again enjoys
      All things from Him to Him proceed
    By them: are His in them: as if indeed
      His Godhead did itself exceed.
        To them He all conveys;
      Nay, even Himself! He is the End
    To whom in them Himself, and all things tend.



    My contemplation dazzles in the End
          Of all I comprehend,
          And soars above all heights,
    Diving into the depths of all delights.
          Can He become the End,
          To whom all creatures tend,
    Who is the Father of all Infinites?
    Then may He benefit receive from things,
    And be not Parent only of all springs.


    The End doth want the means, and is the cause,
          Whose sake, by Nature's laws,
          Is that for which they are.
    Such sands, such dangerous rocks we must beware:
          From all Eternity
          A perfect Deity
    Most great and blessed he doth still appear;
    His essence perfect was in all its features,
    He ever blessed in His joys and creatures.


    From everlasting He those joys did need,
          And all those joys proceed
          From Him eternally.
    From everlasting His felicity
          Complete and perfect was,
          Whose bosom is the glass,
    Wherein we all things everlasting see.
    His name is Now, His Nature is Forever:
    None can His creatures from their Maker sever.


    The End in Him from everlasting is
          The fountain of all bliss:
          From everlasting it
    Efficient was, and influence did emit,
          That caused all. Before
          The world, we do adore
    This glorious End. Because all benefit
    From it proceeds: both are the very same,
    The End and Fountain differ but in Name.


    That so the End should be the very Spring
          Of every glorious thing;
          And that which seemeth last,
    The fountain and the cause; attained so fast
          That it was first; and mov'd
          The Efficient, who so lov'd
    All worlds and made them for the sake of this;
    It shews the End complete before, and is
    A perfect token of His perfect bliss.


    The End complete, the means must needs be so,
          By which we plainly know,
          From all Eternity,
    The means whereby God is, must perfect be.
          God is Himself the means
          Whereby He doth exist:
    And as the Sun by shining's cloth'd with beams,
    So from Himself to all His glory streams,
    Who is a Sun, yet what Himself doth list.


    His endless wants and His enjoyments be
          From all Eternity
          Immutable in Him:
    They are His joys before the Cherubim.
          His wants appreciate all,
          And being infinite,
    Permit no being to be mean or small
    That He enjoys, or is before His sight:
    His satisfactions do His wants delight.


    Wants are the fountains of Felicity;
          No joy could ever be
          Were there no want. No bliss,
    No sweetness perfect were it not for this.
          Want is the greatest pleasure
          Because it makes all treasure.
    O what a wonderful profound abyss
    Is God! In whom eternal wants and treasures
    Are more delightful, since they both are pleasures.


    He infinitely wanteth all His joys;
          (No want the soul e'er cloys.)
          And all those wanted pleasures
    He infinitely hath. What endless measures,
          What heights and depths may we
          In His felicity
    Conceive! Whose very wants are endless pleasures.
    His life in wants and joys is infinite,
    And both are felt as His Supreme Delight.


    He's not like us; possession doth not cloy,
          Nor sense of want destroy;
          Both always are together;
    No force can either from the other sever.
          Yet there's a space between
          That's endless. Both are seen
    Distinctly still, and both are seen for ever.
    As soon as e'er He wanteth all His bliss,
    His bliss, tho' everlasting, in Him is.


    His Essence is all Act: He did that He
          All Act might always be.
          His nature burns like fire;
    His goodness infinitely does desire
          To be by all possesst;
          His love makes others blest.
    It is the glory of His high estate,
    And that which I for evermore admire,
    He is an Act that doth communicate.


    From all to all Eternity He is
          That Act: an Act of bliss:
          Wherein all bliss to all
    That will receive the same, or on him call,
          Is freely given: from whence
          'Tis easy even to sense
    To apprehend that all receivers are
    In Him, all gifts, all joys, all eyes, even all
    At once that ever will or shall appear.


    He is the means of them, they not of Him.
          The Holy Cherubim,
          Souls, Angels from Him came
    Who is a glorious bright and living Flame,
          That on all things doth shine,
          And makes their face divine.
    And Holy, Holy, Holy is His Name:
    He is the means both of Himself and all,
    Whom we the Fountain, Means, and End do call.

                  THE RECOVERY


        To see us but receive, is such a sight
        As makes His treasures infinite!
        Because His goodness doth possess
    In us, His own, and our own Blessedness.
        Yea more, His love doth take delight
        To make our glory infinite;
          Our blessedness to see
        Is even to the Deity
    A Beatific vision! He attains
    His Ends while we enjoy. In us He reigns.


        For God enjoy'd is all His End.
        Himself He then doth comprehend
        When He is blessed, magnified,
    Extoll'd, exalted, prais'd, and glorified,
        Honor'd, esteem'd, belov'd, enjoy'd,
        Admired, sanctified, obeyed,
          That is received. For He
        Doth place His whole felicity
    In that: who is despised and defied,
    Undeified almost if once denied.


        In all His works, in all His ways,
        We must His glory see and praise;
        And since our pleasure is the end,
    We must His goodness, and His love attend.
        If we despise His glorious works,
        Such sin and mischief in it lurks
          That they are all made vain;
        And this is even endless pain
    To Him that sees it: Whose diviner grief
    Is hereupon (ah me!) without relief.


        We please His goodness that receive:
        Refusers Him of all bereave.
        As bridegrooms know full well that build
    A palace for their bride. It will not yield
        Any delight to him at all
        If she for whom he made the hall
          Refuse to dwell in it,
        Or plainly scorn the benefit.
    Her act that's woo'd yields more delight and pleasure
    If she receives, than all the pile of treasure.


        But we have hands, and lips, and eyes,
        And hearts and souls can sacrifice;
        And souls themselves are made in vain
    If we our evil stubbornness retain.
        Affections, praises, are the things
        For which He gave us all those springs;
          They are the very fruits
        Of all those trees and roots,
    The fruits and ends of all His great endeavours,
    Which He abolisheth whoever severs.


        'Tis not alone a lively sense,
        A clear and quick intelligence,
        A free, profound, and full esteem;
    Tho' these elixirs all and ends do seem:
        But gratitude, thanksgiving, praise,
        A heart returned for all those joys,
          These are the things admired,
        These are the things by Him desired:
    These are the nectar and the quintessence,
    The cream and flower that most affect His sense.


        The voluntary act whereby
        These are repaid is in His eye
        More precious than the very sky.
    All gold and silver is but empty dross,
        Rubies and sapphires are but loss,
        The very sun, and stars and seas
          Far less His spirit please:
        One voluntary act of love
    Far more delightful to His soul doth prove,
    And is above all these as far as love.



    He seeks for ours as we do seek for His;
    Nay, O my Soul, ours is far more His bliss
    Than His is ours; at least it so doth seem
        Both in His own and our esteem:


    His earnest love, His infinite desires,
    His living, endless, and devouring fires,
    Do rage in thirst and fervently require
        A love 'tis strange it should desire.


    We cold and careless are, and scarcely think
    Upon the glorious spring whereat we drink.
    Did He not love us we could be content:
        We wretches are indifferent!


    He courts our love with infinite esteem,
    And seeks it so that it doth almost seem
    Even all His blessedness. His love doth prize
        It as the only Sacrifice.


    'Tis death, my soul, to be indifferent,
    Set forth thyself unto thy whole extent,
    And all the glory of His passion prize,
        Who for thee lives, who for thee dies.


    His goodness made thy love so great a pleasure,
    His goodness made thy soul so great a treasure
    To thee and Him: that thou mightst both inherit,
        Prize it according to its merit.


    There is no goodness nor desert in thee,
    For which thy love so coveted should be;
    His goodness is the fountain of thy worth;
        O live to love and set it forth.


    Thou nothing giv'st to Him, He gave all things
    To thee, and made thee like the King of Kings:
    His love the fountain is of Heaven and Earth,
        The cause of all thy joy and mirth.


    Thy love is nothing but itself, and yet
    So infinite is His that He doth set
    A value infinite upon it. Oh!
        This, canst thou careless be, and know!


    Let that same goodness, which being infinite,
    Esteems thy love with infinite delight,
    Tho' less than His, tho' nothing, always be
        An object infinite to thee.


    And as it is the cause of all esteem,
    Of all the worth which in thy love doth seem,
    So let it be the cause of all thy pleasure,
        Causing its being and its treasure.



      O nectar! O delicious stream!
    O ravishing and only pleasure! Where
        Shall such another theme
    Inspire my tongue with joys or please mine ear!
        Abridgment of delights!
          And queen of sights!
    O mine of rarities! O Kingdom wide!
    O more! O cause of all! O glorious Bride!
      O God! O Bride of God! O King!
      O soul and crown of everything!


      Did not I covet to behold
    Some endless monarch, that did always live
        In palaces of gold,
    Willing all kingdoms, realms, and crowns to give
        Unto my soul! Whose love
          A spring might prove
    Of endless glories, honors, friendships, pleasures,
    Joys, praises, beauties and celestial treasures!
      Lo, now I see there's such a King,
      The fountain-head of everything!


      Did my ambition ever dream
    Of such a Lord, of such a love! Did I
        Expect so sweet a stream
    As this at any time! Could any eye
        Believe it? Why all power
          Is used here;
    Joys down from Heaven on my head do shower,
    And Jove beyond the fiction doth appear
      Once more in golden rain to come
      To Danæ's pleasing fruitful womb.


      His Ganimede! His life! His Joy!
    Or He comes down to me, or takes me up
        That I might be His boy,
    And fill, and taste, and give, and drink the cup.
        But those (tho' great) are all
          Too short and small,
    Too weak and feeble pictures to express
    The true mysterious depths of Blessedness.
      I am His image, and His friend,
      His son, bride, glory, temple, end.



          Ye brisk, divine and living things,
    Ye great exemplars, and ye heavenly springs,
              Which I within me see;
                Ye machines great,
          Which in my spirit God did seat,
          Ye engines of felicity;
          Ye wondrous fabrics of His hands,
    Who all possesseth that He understands;
          That ye are pent within my breast,
          Yet rove at large from East to West,
    And are invisible, yet infinite,
    Is my transcendent and my best delight.


          By you I do the joys possess
    Of yesterday's-yet-present blessedness;
              As in a mirror clear,
                Old objects I
          Far distant do even now descry,
          Which by your help are present here.
          Ye are yourselves the very pleasures,
    The sweetest, last, and most substantial treasures:
          The offsprings and effects of bliss
          By whose return my glory is
    Renew'd and represented to my view:
    O ye delights, most pure, divine, and true!


          Ye thoughts and apprehensions are
    The Heavenly streams which fill the soul with rare
              Transcendent perfect pleasures.
                At any time
          As if ye still were in your prime,
          Ye open all His heavenly treasures.
          His joys accessible are found
    To you, and those things enter which surround
          The soul. Ye living things within!
          Where had all joy and glory been
    Had ye not made the soul those things to know,
    Which seated in it make the fairest shew?


          I know not by what secret power
    Ye flourish so: but ye within your bower
              More beautiful do seem,
                And better meat
          Ye daily yield my soul to eat,
          Than even the objects I esteem
          Without my soul. What were the sky,
    What were the sun, or stars, did ye not lie
          In me, and represent them there
          Where else they never could appear!
    Yea, what were bliss without such thoughts to me,
    What were my life, what were the Deity?


          O ye Conceptions of delight!
    Ye that inform my soul with life and light!
              Ye representatives, and springs
                Of inward pleasure!
          Ye joys, ye ends of outward treasure!
          Ye inward and ye living things!
          The thought or joy conceived is
    The inward fabric of my standing bliss:
          It is the very substance of my mind
          Transform'd and with its objects lined,
    The quintessence, elixir, spirit, cream:
    'Tis strange that things unseen should be supreme.


          The eye's confined, the body's pent
    In narrow room: limbs are of small extent,
              But thoughts are always free;
                And as they're best
          So can they even in the breast
          Rove o'er the world with liberty:
          Can enter ages, present be
    In any kingdom, into bosoms see.
          Thoughts, thoughts can come to things and view
          What bodies can't approach unto:
    They know no bar, denial, limit, wall,
    But have a liberty to look on all.


          Like bees they fly from flower to flower,
    Appear in every closet, temple, bower,
              And suck the sweet from thence
                No eye can see:
          As tasters to the Deity,
          Incredible their excellence,
          For evermore they will be seen,
    Nor ever moulder into less esteem.
          They ever shew an equal face,
          And are immortal in their place:
    Ten thousand Ages hence they are as strong,
    Ten thousand Ages hence they are as young.



      A delicate and tender thought
    The quintessence is found of all He wrought;
      It is the fruit of all his works,
        Which we conceive,
        Bring forth, and give,
    Yea and in which the greater value lurks.
      It is the fine and curious flower
    Which we return and offer every hour;
      So tender is our Paradise
        That in a trice
      It withers strait and fades away
    If we but cease its beauty to display.


      Why things so precious should be made
    So prone, so easy, and so apt to fade
      It is not easy to declare;
        But God would have
        His creatures brave,
    And that too by their own continual care.
      He gave them power every hour
    Both to erect and to maintain a tower,
      Which he far more in us doth prize
        Than all the skies,
      That we might offer it to Him,
    And in our souls be like the Seraphim.


      That temple David did intend
    Was but a thought, and yet it did transcend
      King Solomon's. A thought we know
        Is that for which
        God doth enrich
    With joys even Heaven above and Earth below.
      For that all objects might be seen
    He made the orient azure and the green:
      That we might in his works delight
        And that the sight
      Of those His treasures might enflame
    The soul with love to Him, He made the same.


      This sight which is the glorious End
    Of all His works and which doth comprehend
      Eternity and time and space,
        Is far more dear,
        And far more near
    To Him, than all His glorious dwelling-place.
      It is a spiritual world within,
    A living world and nearer far of kin
      To God than that which first he made.
        While that doth fade
      This therefore ever shall endure
    Within the soul as more divine and pure.

                [THE INFLUX]


    Ye hidden nectars, which my God doth drink,
      Ye heavenly streams, ye beams divine,
        On which the angels think,
      How quick, how strongly do ye shine!
    Ye images of joy that in me dwell,
        Ye sweet mysterious shades
      That do all substances excel,
        Whose glory never fades;
    Ye skies, ye seas, ye stars, or things more fair,
    O ever, ever unto me repair!


    Ye pleasant thoughts! O how that sun divine
      Appears to-day which I did see
        So sweetly then to shine
      Even in my very infancy!
    Ye rich ideas which within me live
        Ye living pictures here,
      Ye spirits that do bring and give
        All joys; when ye appear
    Even Heaven itself and God, and all in you
    Come down on earth and please my blessed view.


    I never glorious great and rich am found,
      Am never ravished with joy,
          Till ye my soul surround:
        Till ye my blessedness display
    No soul but stone, no man but clay am I,
        No flesh, but dust, till ye
      Delight, invade and move my eye,
        And do replenish me;
    My sweet informers and my living treasures,
    My great companions and my only pleasures!


    O what incredible delights, what fires,
      What appetites, what joys do ye
        Occasion, what desires,
      What heavenly praises! While we see
    What every Seraphim above admires!
        Your Jubilee and trade,
      Ye are so strangely and divinely made
        Shall never, never fade:
    Ye ravish all my soul: Of you I twice
    Will speak, for in the dark y'are Paradise.


    Thoughts are the Angels which we send abroad,
    To visit all the parts of God's abode.
    Thoughts are the things wherein we all confess
    The quintessence of sin and holiness
    Is laid. All wisdom in a thought doth shine,
    By thoughts alone the soul is made divine.
    Thoughts are the springs of all our actions here
    On earth, tho' they themselves do not appear.
    They are the springs of beauty, order, peace,
    The city's gallantries, the fields' increase.
    Rule, government, and kingdoms flow from them,
    And so doth all the New Jerusalem,
    At least the glory, splendour, and delight,
    For 'tis by thoughts that even she is bright.
    Thoughts are the things wherewith even God is crown'd,
    And as the soul without them's useless found,
    So are all other creatures too. A thought
    Is even the very cream of all He wrought.
    All holy fear, and love, and reverence,
    With honour, joy, and praise, as well as sense,
    Are hidden in our thoughts. Thoughts are the things
    That us affect: The honey and the stings
    Of all that is are seated in a thought,
    Even while it seemeth weak, and next to nought.
    The matter of all pleasure, virtue, worth,
    Grief, anger, hate, revenge, which words set forth,
    Are thoughts alone. Thoughts are the highest things,
    The very offspring of the King of Kings.
    Thoughts are a kind of strange celestial creature
    That when they're good, they're such in every feature.
    They bear the image of their Father's face,
    And beautify even all His dwelling-place:
    So nimble, volatile, and unconfined,
    Illimited, to which no form's assigned,
    So changeable, capacious, easy, free,
    That what itself doth please a thought may be.
    From nothing to infinity it turns,
    Even in a moment: Now like fire it burns,
    Now's frozen ice: Now shapes the glorious sun,
    Now darkness in a moment doth become.
    Now all at once: Now crowded in a sand,
    Now fills the hemisphere, and sees a land:
    Now on a sudden's wider than the sky,
    And now runs parile with the Deity.
    'Tis such that it may all or nothing be,
    And's made so active, voluble, and free
    Because 'tis capable of all that's good,
    And is the end of all when understood.
    A thought can clothe itself with all the treasures
    Of God, and be the greatest of His pleasures.
    It all His laws, and glorious works, and ways,
    And attributes and counsels, all His praise
    It can conceive and imitate, and give:
    It is the only being that doth live.
    'Tis capable of all perfection here,
    Of all His love and joy and glory there.
    It is the only beauty that doth shine,
    Most great, transcendent, heavenly, and divine.
    The very best or worst of things it is,
    The basis of all misery or bliss.
    Its measures and capacities are such,
    Their utmost measure we can never touch.
    Here ornament on ornament may still
    Be laid; beauty on beauty, skill on skill,
    Strength still on strength, and life itself on life,
    'Tis Queen of all things, and its Maker's wife.
    The best of thoughts is yet a thing unknown,
    But when 'tis perfect it is like His own:
    Intelligible, endless, yet a sphere
    Substantial too: In which all things appear,
    All worlds, all excellencies, senses, graces,
    Joys, pleasures, creatures, and the angels' faces.
    It shall be married ever unto all,
    And all embrace, tho' now it seemeth small.
    A thought my soul may omnipresent be,
    For all it toucheth which a thought can see.
    O that mysterious Being! Thoughts are things
    Which rightly used make His creatures Kings.



          For giving me desire,
    An eager thirst, a burning ardent fire,
          A virgin infant flame,
    A Love with which into the world I came,
      An inward hidden heavenly love,
      Which in my soul did work and move,
          And ever me inflame
    With restless longing, heavenly avarice,
      That never could be satisfied,
    That did incessantly a Paradise
    Unknown suggest, and something undescried
      Discern, and bear me to it; be
      Thy Name for ever praised by me.


          My parched and withered bones
    Burnt up did seem: my soul was full of groans:
          My thoughts extensions were:
    Like paces, reaches, steps they did appear:
      They somewhat hotly did pursue,
      Knew that they had not all their due,
          Nor ever quiet were:
    But made my flesh like hungry, thirsty ground,
      My heart a deep profound abyss,
    And every joy and pleasure but a wound,
    So long as I my Blessedness did miss.
      O Happiness! A famine burns,
      And all my life to anguish turns!


          Where are the silent streams,
    The living waters and the glorious beams,
          The sweet reviving bowers,
    The shady groves, the sweet and curious flowers,
      The springs and trees, the heavenly days,
      The flow'ry meads, and glorious rays,
          The gold and silver towers?
    Alas! all these are poor and empty things!
      Trees, waters, days, and shining beams,
    Fruits, flowers, bowers, shady groves and springs,
    No joy will yield, no more than silent streams;
      Those are but dead material toys,
      And cannot make my heavenly joys.


          O Love! Ye amities,
    And friendships that appear above the skies!
          Ye feasts and living pleasures!
    Ye senses, honours, and imperial treasures!
      Ye bridal joys! ye high delights
      That satisfy all appetites!
          Ye sweet affections, and
    Ye high respects! Whatever joys there be
      In triumphs, whatsoever stand
    In amicable sweet society,
    Whatever pleasures are at His right hand,
      Ye must before I am divine,
      In full propriety be mine.


          This soaring, sacred thirst,
    Ambassador of bliss, approached first,
          Making a place in me
    That made me apt to prize, and taste, and see.
      For not the objects but the sense
      Of things doth bliss to souls dispense,
          And make it, Lord, like thee,
    Sense, feeling, taste, complacency, and sight,
      These are the true and real joys,
    The living, flowing, inward, melting, bright,
    And heavenly pleasures; all the rest are toys:
      All which are founded in Desire,
      As light in flame and heat in fire.


   In Thy presence there is fullness of Joy, and at Thy right hand
   there are pleasures for evermore.

    Thoughts are the wings on which the soul doth fly,
    The messengers which soar above the sky,
    Elijah's fiery chariot, that conveys
    The soul, even here, to those eternal joys.
    Thoughts are the privileged posts that soar
    Unto His throne, and there appear before
    Ourselves approach. These may at any time
    Above the clouds, above the stars may climb.
    The soul is present by a thought; and sees
    The New Jerusalem, the palaces,
    The thrones, and feasts, the regions of the sky,
    The joys and treasures of the Deity.
    His wisdom makes all things so bright and pure,
    That they are worthy ever to endure.
    His glorious works, His laws and counsels are,
    When seen, all like Himself, beyond compare.
    All ages with His love and glory shine,
    As they are His all Kingdoms are Divine.
    Whole hosts of Angels at His throne attend,
    And joyful praises from His saints ascend.
    Thousands of thousands kneel before His face
    And all His benefits with joy embrace.
    His goodness makes all creatures for His pleasure,
    And makes itself His creatures' chiefest treasure.
    Almighty power doth itself employ
    In all its works to make itself the joy
    Of all His hosts, and to complete the bliss
    Which omnipresent and eternal is.
    His omnipresence is an Endless Sphere,
    Wherein all worlds as his delights appear:
    His bounty is the spring of all delight;
    Our blessedness, like His, is infinite.
    His glory endless is and doth surround
    And fill all worlds without or end or bound.
    What hinders then but we in Heaven may be
    Even here on Earth did we but rightly see?
    As mountains, chariots, horsemen all on fire,
    To guard Elisha did of old conspire,
    Which yet his servant could not see, being blind,
    Ourselves environ'd with His joys we find.
    Eternity itself is that true light
    That doth enclose us being infinite.
    The very seas do overflow and swim
    With precious nectars as they flow from Him.
    The stable Earth which we beneath behold,
    Is far more precious than if made of gold.
    Fowls, fishes, beasts, trees, herbs, and precious flowers,
    Seeds, spices, gums, and aromatic bowers,
    Wherewith we are enclos'd and serv'd each day
    By His appointment do their tributes pay,
    And offer up themselves as gifts of love,
    Bestowed on Saints, proceeding from above.
    Could we but justly, wisely, truly prize
    These blessings, we should be above the skies,
    And praises sing with pleasant heart and voice,
    Adoring with the Angels should rejoice.
    The fertile clouds give rain, the purer air,
    Is warm and wholesome, soft and bright and fair.
    The stars are wonders which His wisdom names,
    The glorious sun the knowing soul enflames.
    The very Heavens in their sacred worth,
    At once serve us and set His glory forth.
    Their influences touch the grateful sense,
    They please the eye with their magnificence;
    While in His temple all His saints do sing,
    And for His bounty praise their Heavenly King.
    All these are in His omnipresence, still
    As living waters from His throne they trill;
    As tokens of His love they all flow down
    Their beauty, use, and worth the soul do crown.
    Men are like Cherubims on either hand
    Whose flaming love by His divine command
    Is made a sacrifice to ours; which streams
    Throughout all worlds, and fills them all with beams.
    We drink our fill, and take their beauty in,
    While Jesus' blood refines the soul from sin.
    His grievous Cross is a supreme delight,
    And of all Heavenly ones the greatest sight.
    His Throne is near, 'tis just before our face,
    And all Eternity His dwelling-place,
    His dwelling-place is full of joys and pleasures,
    His throne a fountain of Eternal treasures.
    His omnipresence is all sight and love,
    Which whoso sees he ever dwells above.
    With soft embraces it doth clasp the soul,
    And watchfully all enemies control.
    It enters in and doth a temple find,
    Or make a living one within the mind,
    That, while God's omnipresence in us lies,
    His treasures might be all before our eyes:
    For minds and souls intent upon them here,
    Do with the Seraphim's above appear:
    And are like spheres of bliss, by love and sight,
    By joy, thanksgiving, praise, made infinite.
    O give me grace to see Thy face, and be
    A constant Mirror of Eternity.
    Let my pure soul, transformed to a thought
    Attend upon Thy Throne, and, as it ought,
    Spend all its time in feeding on Thy love,
    And never from Thy sacred presence move.
    So shall my conversation ever be
    In Heaven, and I, O Lord my God, with Thee!



    The bliss of other men is my delight,
        (When once my principles are right:)
        And every soul which mine doth see
              A treasury.
    The face of God is goodness unto all,
    And while He thousands to His throne doth call,
        While millions bathe in pleasures,
        And do behold His treasures,
              The joys of all
              On mine do fall,
    And even my infinity doth seem
    A drop without them of a mean esteem.


    The light which on ten thousand faces shines,
        The beams which crown ten thousand vines
        With glory, and delight, appear
              As if they were
    Reflected only from them all for me,
    That I a greater beauty there might see.
        Thus stars do beautify
        The azure canopy:
              Gilded with rays,
              Ten thousand ways
    They serve me, while the sun that on them shines
    Adorns those stars and crowns those bleeding vines.


    Where goodness is within, the soul doth reign.
        Goodness the only Sovereign!
        Goodness delights alone to see
    And while the Image of His goodness lives
    In me, whatever He to any gives
        Is my delight and ends
        In me, in all my friends:
              For goodness is
              The spring of bliss,
    And 'tis the end of all it gives away
    And all it gives it ever doth enjoy.


    His goodness! Lord, it is His highest glory!
        The very grace of all His story!
        What other thing can me delight
              But the blest sight
    Of His eternal goodness? While His love,
    His burning love the bliss of all doth prove,
        While it beyond the ends
        Of Heaven and Earth extends,
              And multiplies
              Above the skies,
    His glory, love, and goodness in my sight
    Is for my pleasure made more infinite.


    The soft and swelling grapes that on their vines
        Receive the lively warmth that shines
        Upon them, ripen there for me:
              Or drink they be,
    Or meat. The stars salute my pleased sense
    With a derived and borrowed influence:
        But better vines do grow,
        Far better wines do flow
              Above, and while
              The Sun doth smile
    Upon the lilies there, and all things warm,
    Their pleasant odours do my spirit charm.


    Their rich affections me like precious seas
        Of nectar and ambrosia please.
        Their eyes are stars, or more divine
              And brighter shine:
    Their lips are soft and swelling grapes, their tongues
    A quire of blessed and harmonious songs.
        Their bosoms fraught with love
        Are Heavens all Heavens above;
    And being Images of God they are
    The highest joys His goodness did prepare.

              [THE SOUL'S GLORY]

    In making bodies Love could not express
    Itself, or art; unless it made them less.
    O what a monster had in man been seen,
    Had every thumb or toe a mountain been!
    What worlds must he devour when he did eat?
    What oceans drink? Yet could not all his meat,
    Or stature, make him like an Angel shine;
    Or make his soul in glory more divine.
    A soul it is that makes us truly great,
    Whose little bodies make us more complete.
    An Understanding that is Infinite,
    An endless, wide, and everlasting sight,
    That can enjoy all things and nought exclude,
    Is the most sacred greatness may be viewed.
    'Twas inconvenient that his bulk should be
    An endless hill; he nothing then could see:
    No figure have, no motion, beauty, place,
    No colour, feature, member, light, or grace:
    A body like a mountain is but cumber,
    An endless body is but idle lumber,
    It spoils converse, and Time itself devours,
    While meat in vain in feeding idle powers,
    Excessive bulk being most injurious found,
    To those conveniences which men have crown'd.
    His wisdom did His power here repress,
    God made man greater while He made him less.


    His power bounded, greater is in might,
    Than if let loose 'twere wholly infinite.
    He could have made an endless Sea by this,
    But then it had not been a Sea of Bliss.
    Did water from the centre to the skies
    Ascend, 'twould drown whatever else we prize.
    The Ocean bounded in a finite shore,
    Is better far because it is no more,
    No use nor glory would in that be seen,
    His power made it endless in esteem.
    Had not the sun been bounded in its sphere,
    Did all the world in one fair flame appear,
    And were that flame a real infinite,
    'Twould yield no profit, splendour, nor delight.
    Its corps confined and beams extended be
    Effects of wisdom in the Deity.
    One star made infinite would all exclude,
    An earth made infinite could ne'er be viewed.
    But one being fashioned for the other's sake,
    He bounding all, did all most useful make:
    And which is best, in profit and delight,
    Tho' not in bulk, they all are infinite.

                  ON NEWS


      News from a foreign country came,
    As if my treasure and my wealth lay there:
      So much it did my heart enflame
    'Twas wont to call my soul into mine ear,
        Which thither went to meet
          The approaching sweet,
        And on the threshold stood,
      To entertain the unknown Good.
          It hovered there
        As if 'twould leave mine ear,
      And was so eager to embrace
      The joyful tidings as they came,
      'Twould almost leave its dwelling-place,
        To entertain that same.


      As if the tidings were the things,
    My very joys themselves, my foreign treasure,
      Or else did bear them on their wings;
    With so much joy they came, with so much pleasure.
        My Soul stood at that gate
          To recreate
        Itself with bliss: And to
      Be pleased with speed. A fuller view
          It fain would take,
        Yet journeys back would make
      Unto my heart: as if 'twould fain
      Go out to meet, yet stay within
      To fit a place, to entertain,
        And bring the tidings in.


      What sacred instinct did inspire
    My Soul in childhood with a hope so strong?
      What secret force mov'd my desire
    To expect my joys beyond the seas, so young?
        Felicity I knew
          Was out of view:
        And being here alone,
      I saw that happiness was gone
          From me! For this,
        I thirsted absent bliss,
      And thought that sure beyond the seas,
      Or else in something near at hand
      I knew not yet, (since nought did please
        I knew) my Bliss did stand.


      But little did the infant dream
    That all the treasures of the world were by:
      And that himself was so the cream
    And crown of all which round about did lie.
        Yet thus it was: The gem,
          The diadem,
        The ring enclosing all
      That stood upon this earthly ball;
          The Heavenly Eye,
        Much wider than the sky,
      Wherein they all included were,
      The glorious Soul that was the King
      Made to possess them, did appear
        A small and little thing!

            [THE TRIUMPH]


    A life of Sabbaths here beneath!
    Continual Jubilees and Joys!
    The days of Heaven, while we breathe
    On Earth! where sin all bliss destroys:
    This is a triumph of delights
    That doth exceed all appetites!
    No joy can be compared to this,
    It is a life of perfect bliss.


    Or perfect bliss! How can it be?
    To conquer Satan and to reign
    In such a vale of misery,
    Where vipers, stings and tears remain,
    Is to be crowned with victory.
    To be content, divine, and free
    Even here beneath is great delight,
    And next the beatific sight.


    But inward lusts do oft assail,
    Temptations work us much annoy;
    We'll therefore weep, and to prevail
    Shall be a more celestial joy.
    To have no other enemy
    But one; and to that one to die:
    To fight with that and conquer it,
    Is better than in peace to sit.


    'Tis better for a little time:
    For he that all his lusts doth quell,
    Shall find this life to be his prime,
    And vanquish sin and conquer hell.
    The next shall be his double joy,
    And that which here seemed to destroy
    Shall in the other life appear
    A root of Bliss; a pearl each tear.

         [THE ONLY ILL]


      O only fatal woe,
    That makes me sad and mourning go!
      That all my joys dost spoil,
    His Kingdom and my Soul defile!
      I never can agree
          With Thee.


      Only Thou! O Thou alone,
    And my obdurate Heart of Stone,
      The poison and the foes
    Or my enjoyments and repose,
      The only bitter ill:
          Dost kill!


      I cannot meet with thee,
    Nor once approach thy memory,
      But all my joys are dead,
    And all my sacred treasures fled,
      As if I now did dwell
          In Hell.


      O hear how short I breathe!
    See how I tremble here beneath
      A sin! its ugly face
    More terror than its dwelling-place
      Contains, (O dreadful sin)

             THE RECOVERY

        Sin! wilt thou vanquish me!
      And shall I yield the victory?
        Shall all my joys be spoiled,
          And pleasures soiled
              By thee!
          Shall I remain
          As one that's slain
      And never more lift up the head?
        Is not my Saviour dead!
    His blood, thy bane, my balsam, bliss, joy, wine,
    Shall thee destroy; heal, feed, make me divine.



        In Salem dwelt a glorious King,
        Rais'd from a shepherd's lowly state,
    That did His praises like an angel sing
          Who did the world create.
        By many great and bloody wars
        He was advanced unto thrones:
        But more delighted in the stars
    Than in the splendour of his precious stones.
    Nor gold nor silver did his eye regard:
    The works of God were his sublime reward.


        A warlike champion he had been,
        And many feats of chivalry
    Had done: in kingly courts his eye had seen
          A vast variety
        Of earthly joys: yet he despised
        Those fading honours and false pleasures
        Which are by mortals so much prized;
    And placed his happiness in other treasures:
    No state of life which in this world we find
    Could yield contentment to his greater mind.


        His fingers touched his trembling lyre,
        And every quivering string did yield
    A sound that filled all the Jewish quire,
          And echoed in the field.
        No pleasure was so great to him
        As in a silent night to see
        The moon and stars: a Cherubim
    Above them even here he seemed to be.
    Enflamed with love it was his great desire,
    To sing, contemplate, ponder, and admire.


        He was a prophet and foresaw
        Things extant in the world to come:
    He was a judge and ruled by a law
          That than the honeycomb
        Was sweeter far: he was a sage,
        And all his people could advise;
        An oracle whose every page
    Contained in verse the greatest mysteries:
    But most he then enjoy'd himself when he
    Did as a poet praise the Deity.


        A shepherd, soldier, and divine,
        A judge, a courtier, and a king,
    Priest, angel, prophet, oracle did shine
          At once when he did sing.
        Philosopher and poet too
        Did in his melody appear;
        All these in him did please the view
    Of those that did his Heavenly music hear,
    And every drop that from his flowing quill
    Came down did all the world with nectar fill.


        He had a deep and perfect sense
        Of all the glories and the pleasures
    That in God's works are hid; the excellence
          Of such transcendent treasures
        Made him on earth an Heavenly King,
        And fill'd his solitudes with joy;
        He never did more sweetly sing
    Than when alone, tho' that doth mirth destroy:
    Sense did his soul with Heavenly life inspire
    And made him seem in God's celestial quire.


        Rich, sacred, deep and precious things
        Did here on earth the man surround:
    With all the glory of the King of Kings
          He was most strangely crown'd.
        His clear soul and open sight
        Among the Sons of God did see
        Things filling angels with delight;
    His ear did hear their Heavenly melodie
    And when he was alone he all became,
    That Bliss implied, or did increase his fame.


        All arts he then did exercise;
        And as his God he did adore,
    By secret ravishments above the skies
          He carried was before
        He died. His soul did see and feel
        What others know not; and became,
        While he before his God did kneel,
    A constant Heavenly pure seraphic flame.
    O that I might unto his throne aspire,
    And all his joys above the stars admire.



    Unto the spring of purest life
      Aspires my withered heart,
    My soul confined in this flesh
      Employs both strength and art
    Working, struggling, suing still
      From exile home to part.


    Who can utter the full joy
      Which that high place doth hold,
    Where all the buildings founded are
      On orient pearls untold,
    And all the work of those high rooms
      Doth shine with beams of gold!


    The season is not changed, but still
      Both sun and moon are Bright,
    The Lamb of this fair city is
      That clear immortal Light
    Whose presence makes eternal day
      Which never ends in night.


    Nay all the Saints themselves shall shine
      As bright as brightest sun,
    In fullest Triumph crowned they
      To mutual joys shall run,
    And safely count their fights and foes
      When once the war is done.


    For being freed from all defect
      They feel no fleshly war,
    Or rather both the flesh and mind
      At length united are,
    For joying in so rich a peace
      They can admit no jar.


    For ever cheerful and content
      They from mishaps are free;
    No sickness there can threaten health,
      Nor young men old can be:
    There they enjoy such happy state
      That in't no change they see.


    Who know the Knower of all things
      What can they choose but know?
    They all behold each other's hearts
      And all their secrets shew:
    One act of will and of not will
      From all their minds do flow.


    Though all their merits diverse be
      According to their pains,
    Yet Love doth make that every one's
      Which any other gains,
    And all which doth belong to one
      To all of them pertains.


    O Happy Soul which shall behold
      Thy King still present there,
    And mayst from thence behold the world
      Run round, secure from fear,
    With stars and planets, moon and sun,
      Still moving in their sphere!


    O King of Kings give me such strength
      In this great War depending,
    That I may here prevail at length,
      And ever be ascending,
    Till I at last arrive to Thee,
    The Source of all Felicity!

   [This poem is not Traherne's, though I have copied it from
   his manuscript volume of "Meditations and Devotions." It is a
   translation of S. Peter Damiani's hymn, "Ad Perennis Vitæ Fontem,"
   which has been many times rendered into English. The above
   translation is from "The Meditations, Manuall, and Soliloquia of the
   Glorious Doctour, St. Augustine," 1631. But it is much abridged and
   altered in Traherne's version, and for that reason I have printed it
   here. Those who wish to refer to the original version will find it
   among the "Inedited Sacred Poems," at the end of Mr. W. T. Brooke's
   edition of Giles Fletcher's "Christ's Victory and Triumph."]



    Come, Holy Ghost, Eternal God,
      Our hearts with Life inspire,
    Enkindle zeal in all our Souls,
      And fill us with Thy Heavenly fire.


    Send forth Thy Beams and let Thy Grace
      Upon my spirit shine,
    That I may all Thy works enjoy,
      Revive, sing praises, be Divine.



      What powerful Spirit lives within!
    What active Angel doth inhabit here!
      What heavenly light inspires my skin,
    Which doth so like a Deity appear!
    A Living Temple of all ages, I
        Within me see
      A Temple of Eternity!
        All Kingdoms I descry
            In me.


      An inward Omnipresence here
    Mysteriously like His within me stands
      Whose knowledge is a Sacred Sphere
    That in itself at once includes all lands.
    There is some Angel that within me can
        Both talk and move,
      And walk and fly and see and love,
        A man on earth, a man


      Dull walls of clay my Spirit leaves,
    And in a foreign Kingdom doth appear,
      This great Apostle it receives
    Admires His works and sees them, standing here.
    Within myself from East to West I move
        As if I were
      At once a Cherubim and Sphere,
        Or was at once above
            And here.


      The Soul's a messenger whereby
    Within our inward Temple we may be
      Even like the very Deity
    In all the parts of His Eternity.
    O live within and leave unwieldy dross!
        Flesh is but clay!
    O fly my Soul and haste away
        To Jesus' Throne or Cross--


   [All the following poems (excepting those in the "Appendix") are
   taken from Traherne's "Christian Ethicks." That they are all from
   his own pen cannot, I think, be doubted. They are entirely in his
   manner, and have little or no resemblance to that of any other
   poet. As the reader will see, I have, where necessary, quoted a few
   sentences from Traherne's prose in order to render the design of the
   verses more intelligible.]

                           [From pp. 344-5]

   How glorious the Counsel and Design of God is for the Atchieving
   of this Great End, for the making of all Vertues more compleat and
   Excellent, and for the Heightening of their Beauty and Perfection we
   will exemplifie here in the Perfection of Courage. For the Height
   and depth and Splendor of every Vertue is of great Concernment to
   the Perfection of the Soul since the Glory of its Life is seated in
   the Accomplishment of its essence, in the fruit it yieldeth in its
   Operations. Take it in Verse made long ago upon this occasion--

    For Man to Act as if his Soul did see
    The very Brightness of Eternity;
    For Man to Act as if his Love did burn
    Above the Spheres, even while it's in its Urne;
    For Man to Act even in the Wilderness,
    As if he did those Sovereign Joys possess,
    Which do at once confirm, stir up, enflame,
    And perfect Angels; having not the same!
    It doth increase the value of his Deeds,
    In this a Man a Seraphim exceeds.
    To Act on Obligations yet unknown,
    To Act upon Rewards as yet unshewn,
    To keep Commands whose Beauty's yet unseen,
    To Cherish and retain a Zeal between
    Sleeping and waking; shews a constant care,
    And that a deeper Love, a Love so rare,
    That no Eye Service may with it compare.
    The Angels, who are faithful while they view
    His Glory, know not what themselves would do,
    Were they in our Estate! A Dimmer Light
    Perhaps would make them erre as well as We
    And in the Coldness of a darker Night
    Forgetful and Lukewarm Themselves might be.
    Our very Rust shall cover us with Gold,
    Our Dust shall sprinkle[L] while their Eyes behold
    The Glory Springing from a feeble State,
    Where meer Belief doth, if not conquer Fate
    Surmount and pass what it doth Antedate.

                             [From p. 326]

   In Matters of Art the force of Temperance is undeniable. It relateth
   not only to our Meats and Drinks, but to all our Behaviours,
   Passions, and Desires.

    All Musick, Sawces, Feasts, Delights and Pleasures,
    Games, Dancing, Arts consist in govern'd Measures;
    Much more do Words and Passions of the Mind
    In Temperance their sacred Beauty find.

                           [From pp. 347-9]

   If you say it would be Beneficial to God or to that Spectator or
   that intelligible Power, that Spirit for whom it was made: It is
   apparent that no Corporeal Being can be serviceable to a Spirit
   but only by the Beauty of those Services it performeth to other
   Corporeals that are capable of receiving them, and that therefore
   all Corporeals must be limited and bounded for each other's sake.
   And for this Cause it is that a Philosophical Poet said:

    As in a Clock, 'tis hinder'd Force doth bring
    The Wheels to order'd Motion by a Spring;
    Which order'd Motion guides a steddy Hand
    In useful sort at Figures just to stand;
    Which, were it not by Counter-ballance staid,
    The Fabrick quickly would aside be laid
    As wholly useless: So a Might too Great
    But well proportion'd makes the World compleat.
    Power well-bounded is more Great in Might
    Than if let loose 'twere wholly Infinite.
    He could have made an endless Sea by this,
    But then it had not been a Sea of Bliss;
    A Sea that's bounded in a finite shore
    Is better far because it is no more.
    Should Waters endlessly exceed the Skies
    They'd drown the World, and all whate'er we prize.
    Had the bright Sun been Infinite its Flame
    Had burnt the World, and quite consumed the same.
    That Flame would yield no splendour to the Sight,
    'Twould be but Darkness though 'twere Infinite.
    One Star made Infinite would all exclude,
    An Earth made Infinite could ne'er be view'd.
    But all being bounded for each other's sake,
    He, bounding all, did all most useful make;
    And which is best, in Profit and Delight
    Though not in Bulk, he made all Infinite!
    He, in his Wisdom, did their use extend
    By all, to all the World from End to End.
    In all Things all Things service do to all;
    And thus a Sand is Endless, though most small,
      And every Thing is truly Infinite
      In its Relation deep and exquisite.

    [From p. 383 in Chapter XXV On Meekness]

    Were all the World a Paradise of Ease
        'Twere easie then to live in Peace.
    Were all men Wise, Divine, and Innocent,
      Just, Holy, Peaceful and Content,
      Kind, Loving, True and alwaies Good
      As in the Golden-Age they stood;
        'Twere easie then to live
      In all Delight and Glory, full of Love,
      Blest as the Angels are above.

    But we such Principles must now attain
        (If we true blessedness would gain)
    As those are which will help to make us reign
      Over Disorders, Injuries,
      Ingratitudes, Calamities,
      Affronts, Oppressions, Slanders, Wrongs,
        Lies, Angers, bitter Tongues;
      The reach of Malice must surmount, and quell
      The very Rage and Power of Hell.

              [From pp. 394-9]

                OF MEEKNESS


    Mankind is sick, the World distemper'd lies
        Opprest with Sins and Miseries.
    Their Sins are Woes; a long corrupted Train
        Of Poyson, drawn from Adam's vein,
    Stains all his seed, and all his Kin
        Are one Disease of Life within;
            They all torment themselves!
    The World's one Bedlam, or a greater Cave
        Of Mad-men that do alwaies rave.


    The Wise and Good like kind Physicians are,
      That strive to heal them by their Care;
    They Physick and their Learning calmly use
      Although the Patient them abuse,
    For since the Sickness is (they find)
    A sad Distemper of the Mind,
        All railings they impute,
    All Injuries, unto the sore Disease
        They are expresly come to ease.


    If we would to the World's distempered Mind
      Impute the Rage which there we find,
    We might, even in the midst of all our Foes
        Enjoy and feel a sweet Repose,
        Might pity all the Griefs we see,
        Anointing every Malady
        With precious Oil and Balm;
    And while ourselves are calm, our Art improve
        To rescue them and show our Love.


    But let's not fondly our own selves beguile;
      If we Revile 'cause they Revile,
    Ourselves infected with their sore Disease
      Need other's Helps to give us ease;
    For we more Mad than they remain,
      Need to be cut, and need a Chain
        Far more than they. Our Brain
      Is craz'd, and if we put our Wit to theirs,
        We may be justly made their Heirs.


    But while with open eyes we clearly see
      The brightness of His Majesty;
    While all the World by Sin to Satan sold,
      In daily Wickedness grows old,
      Men in chains of Darkness lye,
      In Bondage and Iniquity,
          And pierce and grieve themselves!
      The dismal Woes wherein they crawl, enhance
          The peace of our Inheritance.


    We wonder to behold our selves so nigh
      To so much Sin and Misery,
    And yet to see our selves so safe from harm!
      What Amulet, what hidden Charm
        Could fortifie and raise the Soul
      So far above them and controul
        Such fierce Malignity?
    The brightness and the glory which we see
        Is made a greater Mystery.


    And while we feel how much our God doth love
      The Peace of Sinners, how much move
    And sue, and thirst, intreat, lament, and grieve
      For all the Crimes in which they live,
    And seek and wait and call again,
    And long to save them from the pain
      Of Sin, from all their Woe!
    With greater thirst as well as grief we try,
      How to relieve their Misery.


    The life and splendour of Felicity,
      Whose floods so overflowing be,
    The streams of Joy which round about his Throne
      Enrich and fill each Holy One,
      Are so abundant, that we can
      Spare all, even all to any Man!
        And have it all ourselves!
    Nay, have the more! We long to make them see
        The sweetness of Felicity.


    While we contemplate their Distresses, how
      Blind Wretches, they in bondage bow,
    And tear and wound themselves, and vex and groan,
      And chafe and fret so near His Throne
      know not what they ail, but lye
        Tormented in their Misery,
        (Like Mad-men that are blind)
    In works of darkness nigh such full Delight:
        That they might find and see the sight,


    What would we give! that these might likewise see
        The Glory of His Majesty
    The joy and fulness of that high delight
        Whose Blessedness is infinite!
      We would even cease to live, to gain
      Them from their misery and pain,
        And make them with us reign,
    For they themselves would be our greatest Treasures,
        When sav'd our own most Heavenly Pleasures.


    O holy Jesus who didst for us die,
        And on the Altar bleeding lie,
    Bearing all torment, pain, reproach, and shame,
      That we, by vertue of the same,
      Though enemies to God, might be
      Redeem'd and set at liberty:
        As thou didst us forgive,
    So meekly let us love to others shew,
        And live in Heaven on Earth below.


    Let's prize their Souls, and let them be our Gems,
      Our Temples and our Diadems,
    Our Brides, our Friends, our fellow-Members, Eyes,
      Hands, Hearts and Souls, our Victories,
      And Spoils and Trophies, our own Joys!
      Compar'd to Souls all else are Toys;
        O Jesus, let them be
      Such unto us as they are unto Thee,
        Vessels of Glory and Felicity!


    How will they love us, when they find our Care
    Brought them all thither where they are!
    When they conceive what terror 'tis to dwell
      In all the punishments of Hell;
      And in a lively manner see,
      O Christ, eternal Joys in thee!
          How will they all delight
    In praising Thee for us with all their might!
        How sweet a Grace, how infinite!

            [From p. 425]

            OF CONTENTMENT

    Contentment is a sleepy thing
      If it in Death alone must die;
    A quiet Mind is worse than Poverty,
      Unless it from Enjoyment spring!
    That's Blessedness alone that makes a King!
    Wherein the Joys and Treasures are so great,
    They all the powers of the Soul employ,
            And fill it with a Work compleat,
            While it doth all enjoy.
    True Joys alone Contentment do inspire,
    Enrich Content and make our Courage higher.
            Content alone's a dead and silent Stone;
                The real life of Bliss
            Is Glory reigning in a Throne,
                Where all Enjoyment is.
            The Soul of Man is so inclin'd to see,
            Without his Treasures no man's Soul can be,
                Nor rest content Uncrown'd!
                Desire and Love
    Must in the height of all their Rapture move,
                Where there is true Felicity.
    Employment is the very life and ground
    Of Life itself; whose pleasant Motion is
                The form of Bliss:
    All Blessedness a life with Glory Crown'd:
    Life! Life is all; in its most full extent
    Stretcht out to all things, and with all Content!

         [From p. 456, Of Magnanimity]

      And if the Glory and Esteem I have,
      Be nothing else than what my Silver gave,
          If, for no other ground,
      I am with Love or Praises crown'd,
    'Tis such a shame, such vile, such base Repute,
    'Tis better starve than eat such empty Fruit.


The poems in the foregoing pages are derived (as I have already
explained) from three separate MS. volumes, and from the author's
prose volume, entitled "Christian Ethicks." The bulk of them (ending
with "Goodness") are from the folio volume. The remainder--with the
exception of the three which are from the volume of "Meditations
and Devotions"--are from the prose volume entitled "Centuries of
Meditations." I have printed all the poems which I have found in these
various sources, with one exception. This is a poem which appears in
the folio volume, but which is there crossed through as though marked
for suppression.[M] Whether this mark of suppression was made by the
author or by another person there are no means of judging; but as the
poem in question is, as I think, somewhat below the level of its
companions, I have thought it better to reserve it for the appendix
than to print it between the poems "Thoughts" I. and II., where it
occurs in the MS.



                All Bliss
            Consists in this,
        To do as Adam did,
    And not to know those superficial Toys
        Which in the Garden once were hid.
        Those little new-invented things,
        Cups, saddles, crowns are childish joys,
          So ribbands are and rings,
        Which all our happiness destroys.


                Nor God
            In His abode,
        Nor Saints, nor little boys,
    Nor Angels made them; only foolish men,
        Grown mad with custom, on those toys,
        Which more increase their wants, do dote,
        And when they older are do then
          Those baubles chiefly note
        With greedier eyes, more boys tho' men.

To enable the reader to judge whether my hypothesis that the author of
"A Serious and Patheticall Contemplation of the Mercies of God" is also
the author of the other poems contained in the present volume, is well
or ill-founded, I will now print the three poems which appear in the
above-mentioned work. They are as follows:

            [LIFE'S BLESSEDNESS]

    While I, O Lord, exalted by Thy hand
    Above the skies, in glory seem to stand,
    The skies being made to serve me, as they do,
    While I thy Glories in thy Goodness view.
    To be in Glory higher than the skies
    Is greater bliss than 'tis in place to rise
    Above the Stars: More blessed and divine
    To live and see than like the Sun to shine.
    O what Profoundness in my Body lies
    For whom the Earth was made, the Sea, the Skies!
    So greatly high our human Bodies are
    That Angels scarcely may with these compare:
    In all the heights of Glory seated, they
    Above the Sun in Thine eternal day
    Are seen to shine; with greater gifts adorned
    Than Gold with Light or Flesh with Life suborned;
    Suns are but Servants, Skies beneath their feet;
    The Stars but Stones; Moons but to serve them meet.
    Beyond all heights above the World they reign
    In thy great Throne ordained to remain.
    All Tropes are Clouds; Truth doth itself excel,
    Whatever Heights Hyperboles can tell.

              [THE RESURRECTION]

    Then shall each Limb a spring of Joy be found,
    And every member with its Glory crown'd:
    While all the Senses, fill'd with all the Good
    That ever Ages in them understood
    Transported are: Containing Worlds of Treasure
    At one delight with all their Joy and Pleasure,
    From whence, like Rivers, Joy shall ever flow,
    Affect the Soul, though in the Body grow,
    Return again and make the Body shine
    Like Jesus Christ, while both in one combine.
    Mysterious Contracts are between the Soul,
    Which touch the Spirits and by those its Bowl;
    The Marrow, Bowels, Spirits, melt and move,
    Dissolving ravish, teach them how to love.
    He that could bring the Heavens thro' the eye,
    And make the World within the Fancy lie,
    By beams of Light that closing meet in one,
    From all the parts of His celestial Throne,
    Far more than this in framing Bliss can do,
    Inflame the Body and the Spirit too:
    Can make the Soul by Sense to feel and see,
    And with her Joy the Senses wrap'd to be:
    Yea, while the Flesh or Body subject lies
    To those Affections which in Souls arise;
    All holy Glories from the Soul redound,
    And in the Body by the Soul abound,
    Are felt within and ravish ev'ry Sense
    With all the Godhead's glorious Excellence,
    Who found the way Himself to dwell within,
    As if even Flesh were nigh to Him of kin:
    His Goodness, Wisdom, Power, Love Divine,
    Make by the Soul convey'd the Body shine,
    Not like the Sun (that earthly Darkness is)
    But in the strengths and heights of all this bliss,
    For God designed thy Body for His sake,
    A Temple of the Deity to make.


   "Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace."

    These sweeter far than lilies are,
    No roses may with these compare!
            How these excel
            No tongue can tell,
    Which he that well and truly knows
        With praise and joy he goes!
    How great and happy's he that knows his ways
        To be divine and heavenly Joys:
    To whom each city is more brave
    Than walls of pearl and streets which gold doth pave:
            Whose open eyes
            Behold the skies;
    Who loves their wealth and beauty more
          Than kings love golden ore!
    Who sees the heavenly ancient ways
    Of God the Lord with joy and praise,
          More than the skies
          With open eyes
    Doth prize them all; yea, more than gems,
        And regal diadems;
    That more esteemeth mountains, as they are,
      Than if they gold and silver were:
    To whom the sun more pleasure brings
    Than crowns and thrones and palaces to kings:
            That knows his ways
            To be the joys
    And way of God--those things who knows
          With joy and praise he goes!

I do not think it is necessary to spend much time or ink in
endeavouring to prove that the author of these three poems must have
been also the writer of the other poems contained in this volume.
Unless it be contended that no conclusion as to authorship can be drawn
from similarity of style, sentiment, and peculiarities of expression,
I do not see how it is possible for any one who carefully considers
the matter to entertain a reasonable doubt about it. Not even the
hypothesis of imitation by one author of the style of another can here
be entertained--for no man can imitate what is not known to him.

Every poet has his special topics, his favourite terms of expression,
his peculiar vocabulary, and even his pet rhymes, which are bound to
appear often in his verse. I think it may be truly said that there
is nothing in the three poems taken from "A Serious and Patheticall
Contemplation of the Mercies of God" which cannot be paralleled in
the other poems contained in this volume. All are characterised by
the same fervent piety, the same command of expression and musical
diction, the same dwelling upon the ideas that though God is necessary
to man, yet man also is necessary to God, and that the body (instead
of being, according to the ordinary theological belief, a _corpus
vile_ of corruption) is "a spring of Joy" crowned with glory; and
the same continual allusions to the great natural phenomena. When to
these resemblances we add the many small coincidences of words and
phrases which are always recurring in the poems, the evidence of common
authorship becomes too strong to be resisted.

Perhaps it may be worth while to quote a few instances of these
resemblances out of the many which might be given. In the second stanza
of "The Person" we have

    Men's hands than angels' wings
    Are truer wealth even here below.

In "Life's Blessedness" we have

    So greatly high our human bodies are
    That Angels scarcely may with them compare.

In the fifth stanza of "The Estate" we have

    The laws of God, the Works he did create,
    His ancient ways, are His and my Estate.

In "The Ways of Wisdom" we have

    Who sees the heavenly ancient ways.

In "Thoughts IV." we have

    The very heavens in their sacred worth
    At once serve us and set his Glory forth.

In "Life's Blessedness" we have

    The skies being made to serve me, as they do,
    While I Thy Glories in Thy Goodness view.

In "The Influx" we have

    No soul but stone, no man but clay am I.

In "Life's Blessedness" we have

    The stars but stones.

The reader will doubtless have observed that our poet was very fond of
using "treasure" and a "pleasure" as rhymes. He seldom omits to bring
them in in a poem of any length, and it will be observed that they
are introduced in "The Resurrection." Certain defective rhymes (or no
rhymes) also occur pretty frequently, as "lay," "joy," "away," "enjoy."
In "The Ways of Wisdom" we have "ways" and "joys."

I think I have produced evidence enough to convince the reader of the
soundness of my contention: if not, I will undertake to produce a good
deal more. It is fortunate, indeed, that "A Serious and Patheticall
Contemplation" should have stolen into print (for neither at the time
of its publication nor subsequently does it appear to have attracted
any attention), since without it we should have had no clue to the
authorship of these poems.

       *       *       *       *       *

Mr. W. T. Brooke has discovered in the British Museum a broadside with
the following title, "A Congratulatory Poem on the Right Honourable S^r
Orlando Bridgman, Lord Keeper of the Great Seal of England," which, he
suggests, may possibly have been written by the author of the poems
here printed. But though it is a poem of considerable merit, it has,
in my opinion, no correspondence in style with Traherne's poems. A few
lines from it, however, will not be altogether out of place here:

    Were all your own Rolls searcht scarce should we find
    That noble seat filled with so fit a mind:
    So brave a mind as baseness ne'er allays,
    So great a mind as greatness cannot raise,
    So just a mind as interest can't seduce,
    So wise a mind as colours can't abuse,
    So large a mind as largest Trusts do crave,
    So calm a mind as Equity should have.
    High Courtships construed in the present tense,
    Law's Oracle without perplexed sense,
    A sober piety in a virtuoso,
    And an Orlando without Furioso.

                            MERCIES OF GOD"

This book would hardly be complete without some account of the above
work. It is a small 12mo volume of 146 pages, with an engraved
frontispiece. It is written--excepting the three pieces of verse which
I have already printed--in a kind of unrhymed verse, which is curiously
suggestive of the style of Whitman's "Leaves of Grass," particularly in
the frequent passages in which the author enumerates or catalogues, as
the American poet does, every object he can think of which bears any
relation to his theme. There were, of course, more points of unlikeness
than of likeness between the two poets, but they at least resembled
each other in their invincible optimism, as well as in the points
mentioned above. Whitman could not have known of the existence of the
"Serious and Patheticall Contemplation"; but had it been accessible
to him, it might well have been suspected that he was under some
obligations to it.

The booklet consists of a series of "Thanksgivings" for the Body, the
Soul, the Glory of God's Works, the Blessedness of God's Ways, the
Wisdom of His Word, &c. There is much poetry and beauty of expression
in these "Thanksgivings," and they are valuable also for the light
which they occasionally throw upon passages in the poems which might
else seem obscure. Thus the following passages from the "Thanksgiving
for the Body" may be profitably compared with "The Salutation" and

   I will praise Thee, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made,
   marvellous are Thy works; and that my Soul knoweth right well.

   My substance was not hid from Thee when I was made in secret and
   curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.

   Thine eyes did see my substance yet being unperfect; and in thy book
   all my members were written; which in continuance were fashioned
   when as yet there was none of them.

       *       *       *       *       *

            O Lord!
    Thou hast given me a body,
    Wherein the glory of Thy Power shineth,
    Wonderfully composed above the beasts,
    Within distinguished into useful parts,
    Beautified without with many ornaments.
            Limbs rarely pois'd,
              And made for Heaven:
            Arteries fill'd
              With celestial spirits:
            Veins wherein blood floweth,
            Refreshing all my flesh.
                    Like rivers:
            Sinews fraught with the mystery
                  Of wonderful strength,
            O blessed be Thy glorious Name!
              That Thou hast made it
                A Treasury of Wonders,
              Fit for its several Ages;
                For Dissections,
                For Sculptures in Brass,
                For Draughts in Anatomy,
              For the contemplation of the Sages.

I quote the following passage from "A Thanksgiving and Prayer for the
Nation" not merely because it is fine in itself, but also because it
affords us yet another interesting glimpse of the author's personality:

    O Lord, the children of my people are Thy peculiar treasures,
    Make them mine, O God, even while I have them,
    My lovely companions, like Eve in Eden!
    So much my treasure that all other wealth is without them
          But dross and poverty.
    Do they not adorn and beautifie the World,
      And gratify my Soul which hateth Solitude!
    Thou, Lord, hast made thy servant a sociable creature, for which I
            praise thy name,
    A lover of company, a delighter in equals;
      Replenish the inclination which Thyself hath implanted,
    And give me eyes
    To see the beauty of that life and comfort
    Wherewith those by their actions
          Inspire the nations.
    Their Markets, Tillage, Courts of Judicature, Marriages, Feasts and
            Assemblies, Navys, Armies,
    Priests and Sabbaths, Trades and Business, the voice of the
            Bridegroom, Musical Instruments, the light of Candles,
            and the grinding of Mills
    Are comfortable, O Lord, let them not cease.
    The riches of the land are all the materials of my felicity in
            their hands:
    They are my Factors, Substitutes, and Stewards;
    Second Selves, who by Trade and Business animate my wealth,
    Which else would be dead and rust in my hands;
    But when I consider, O Lord, how they come unto thy
        Temples, fill thy Courts, and sing Thy praises,
      O how wonderful they then appear!
            What Stars,
            Enflaming Suns,
            Enlarging Seas
              Of Divine Affection,
            Confirming Paterns,
            Infusing Influence,
              Do I feel in these!
            Who are the shining light
            Of all the land (to my very Soul:)
            Wings and Streams
            Carrying me unto thee,
          The Sea of Goodness from whence they came.

Have we not here a very remarkable anticipation of the leading
thought of Whitman's "Leaves of Grass"? Do we not see in both poets
the same deep love of and delight in humanity, the same feeling of
comradeship and brotherhood with all men, the same hunger for sympathy
and reciprocal affection, the same pleasure in the common things of
life and nature, and the same frank acceptance of things as they are,
and not as they might be? I have said that there is more unlikeness
than likeness between the poets--but is it really so? Does not the
above passage show that beneath all apparent differences there was a
fundamental resemblance in their characters? To say the least, there
was this resemblance--that both of them found life supremely well worth
living, and never doubted, even when the clouds were blackest, that the
sun was shining beyond them.


Memorandum that Thomas Traherne late of Teddington in the County of
Midd Clerk deceased in the time of the sickness whereof he dyed and
vpon or about the Seaven and Twentyth of September 1674 having sent
for John Berdo Gent to come to him the said Thomas Traherne then lying
sick at the Lady Bridgmans house in Teddington and the said Mr Berdo
being come vnto him he the said Thomas Traherne being then of perfect
mind and memory vsed these or the like words to the said Mr. Berdo
viz^t. I haue sent for you to make my Will for mee or to that effect.
Whereupon the said Mr Berdo asked of him the said Mr Thomas Traherne
whether he would haue it made in Writing. To which the said Thomas
Traherne answeared in these or the like words viz^t. Noe I haue not so
much but that I can dispose of it by Word of Mouth or to that effect
And the said Thomas Traherne being then of perfect mind and memory by
Word of Mouth with an intent to make his Will and to settle and dispose
of his Goods and Estate did vtter and speake these or the like words
viz^t. I desire my Lady Bridgman and her daughter the Lady Charlott
should haue each of them a Ring. And to you (speaking to the said Mr.
Berdo) I give Tenn Pounds and to Mrs Cockson Tenn shillings and to
Phillipp Landman ffyve shillings and to John Rowland the Gardiner ffyve
shillings and to Mary the Laundry maid ffyve shillings and to all the
rest of the servants half a crowne apeece. My best Hatt I give it to
my brother Phillipp. And sister (speaking to Mrs Susan Traherne the
wife of his brother Phillipp which Susan was then present) I desire
you would keepe it for him. And all the rest of my Clothes that is
worth your acceptance I give to you. And for those that are not worth
your accepting I would have you to giue them to Phillipp Landman or to
whome you please with my old Hatt. All my Books I give to my brother
Phillipp. And (still speaking to the said Mrs Susan then present) I
make you and my brother Phillipp my whole Executors which words or the
like in effect The said Thomas Traherne being then of perfect mind
and memory did then utter Animo testandi and with an intent that the
same should stand and be as and for his last Will and Testament in the
presence and hearing of John Berdo Alice Cockson and Mary Linum.

John Berdo Alice Cockson The Mark of Mary Linum.

       *       *       *       *       *

Proved at London 22 Oct 1674 by Susan Traherne, one of the Executors,
to whom administration was granted, power being reserved of making the
like grant to Philip Traherne, the other executor, should he ask for
the same.

                  Printed by BALLANTYNE & CO. LIMITED
                       Tavistock Street, London

                      BOOKS WRITTEN OR EDITED BY

                            BERTRAM DOBELL


       _Post 8vo, cloth extra, 6s.; or on hand-made paper, 12s._

                      SIDELIGHTS ON CHARLES LAMB

This work contains much new matter relating to Charles Lamb, his
works and his friends. It comprises a number of essays, poems, and
short articles, some of which are certainly by Lamb, while others are
probably his. One of them, which is undoubtedly by Lamb, tells, under
the guise of a humorous fiction, the story of a curious and hitherto
unknown incident in the author's life. Other pieces contained in the
volume, whether written by Lamb, or by imitators of his style, will be
found to be of quite remarkable interest and curiosity.


     _Post 8vo, cloth extra, 3s.; or on hand-made paper, 7s. 6d._

                         ROSEMARY AND PANSIES

"There's rosemary for you, that's for remembrance; pray, love,
remember: and there's pansies, that's for thoughts."

    _Hamlet_, Act iv. sc. 5.

"Mr. Dobell has a good ear, a pretty gift of language and
versification, and his matter is always worthy and truthful, and not
seldom at once profound and beautiful, though these latter qualities
are not always found together."--_The Reformer._

"Mr. Dobell's poems reach a high level of accomplishment, and reveal a
very attractive and strenuous personality."--_Sunday Times._

"Mr. Dobell's volume will be liked by all who value wit, humour, and
sincerity in verse."--_The Observer._

               _2 vols., pt. 8vo, cloth extra, 12s. 6d._


                      With Memoir and Portraits.


_16mo, cloth, 3s. 6d._


                       By JAMES THOMSON ("B.V.")


                     _Small 4to, buckram, 2s. 6d._

                         A PROSPECT OF SOCIETY

                          By OLIVER GOLDSMITH

 Now first printed from the unique original; with an Introduction and



       _Cloth extra, 5s. net; large paper copies, 7s. 6d. net._

                        CENTURIES OF MEDITATION

                          By THOMAS TRAHERNE

Traherne is no less excellent as a prose writer than as a poet; indeed,
I think it is not too much to say that his prose will bear comparison
with that of any English writer of the seventeenth century. It is
remarkable for its ease, spirit, eloquence, and suppleness--qualities
which are not often found in combination in the writers of that period.

                   _Small 4to, cloth extra, 7s. 6d._

                      THE POEMS OF WILLIAM STRODE


Now first collected from Manuscript and Printed Sources, together with
                           his Play entitled

                          THE FLOATING ISLAND

                         _NOW FIRST REPRINTED_

There is no more singular circumstance in the history of English
literature than the fact that the writings of so fine a poet as William
Strode should have remained for such a length of time neglected and
forgotten. He had a great reputation in his lifetime, and his poems
were largely circulated in manuscript among the literary circles of
the time. His play, entitled "The Floating Island," which had been
performed before Charles I. and his Court in 1636, was published in
1655, with a preface in which the editors promised that if it met
with a good reception, more of the author's writings should follow.
This promise, however, owing perhaps to the political disturbances of
the time, was never fulfilled; and Strode has ever since remained a
mere shadow so far as any knowledge of his writings and personality
is concerned. With the publication of this volume he will take the
place to which he is entitled besides such poets as Carew, Cartwright,
Randolph and Corbet.

               _Crown 8vo, cloth extra, 6s. per volume._

                      GLEANINGS FROM MANUSCRIPTS


    Now first printed from manuscripts, most of which are in my own

This series, which will, I hope, extend to three or four volumes,
will consist chiefly of unprinted matter which I have discovered in
the course of my researches among manuscripts of the sixteenth and
seventeenth centuries. The works of several authors not hitherto known
to fame will be included in the contents of these volumes. Among them
the names of Nicholas Oldisworth and M. Johnson may be particularly
mentioned. Both of them are writers of very considerable merit, and
are well worthy of being rescued from the obscurity in which they have
so long rested. Another feature of the collection will be copies of
the poems of many well-known writers, which will be printed because
the manuscript versions which I possess exhibit many variations from
the printed texts. Altogether, I venture to say that all scholars and
students of our old literature will welcome these volumes and recognise
their value.

       *       *       *       *       *

_For further particulars of the above works, and of others which I have
in contemplation, see a Prospectus which is now ready, and which will
be forwarded on application._


[A] See "Archæologia," vol. xxxvii, p. 204.

[B] "Roman Forgeries" must have had some popularity in its time, for
it is, unlike "Christian Ethicks," a tolerably common book. Fifteen
years after its publication Dean Comber, a writer of some note in his
day, published a work of similar character, and with the same title.
As Traherne's book was published anonymously, Dean Comber has usually
received credit for that as well as for his own work. The Dean was a
man of considerable ability, and he would hardly have been pleased had
he been told that he would only be remembered in future times as the
writer who helped himself to a striking title at the expense of one who
was far superior to himself in character and genius.

[C] See "Nova Solyma": an Anonymous Romance. With Introduction,
Translation, &c., by the Rev. Walter Begley. (1903.)

[D] "Nature is the great spendthrift. She will burn up the world some
day to attain what will probably seem to us a very inadequate end;
and in order to have things stated at their worst, once for all, in
English, she took a splendid genius and made him--an army schoolmaster;
starved his intellect, starved his heart, starved his body. All the
adversity of the world smote him; and that nothing should be wanting to
her purpose Nature took care that the very sun should smite him also!
Time will avenge him: he is among the immortals."--John Davidson, in
the _Speaker_, June 17, 1899.

[E] This poem is included in the "Oxford Book of English Verse"; and
the Rev. Orby Shipley has included two of Traherne's poems in his
"Carmina Mariana."

[F] It is not only in "My Spirit" that we find traces of Traherne's
Berkeleianism. See the "Hymn on St. Bartholomew's Day," "The
Preparative," and various passages in other poems. I do not contend,
however, that we have the idea in a clear and unmistakable form
anywhere but in "My Spirit."

[G] This title was probably the invention of the publisher--one Samuel
Keble--and not of the author.

[H] From certain indications in the folio manuscript, from which the
bulk of the poems in the present volume are derived, it seems clear
that there must be a considerable quantity of verse by Traherne which
has not yet been recovered. Appended to several poems in the folio
volume are references to other poems, as, for example, at the end of
"Innocence," "An Infant Eye, p. 1," and "Adam, p. 12." Other poems thus
mentioned are "News," "The Odor," "The Inheritance," "The Evidence,"
"The Center," and "Insatiableness." As the manuscript volume containing
these pieces consisted of at least 142 pages, it seems likely that the
present volume contains not more than one half of Traherne's poetical
works. It may be hoped, but hardly expected, that the volume containing
the poems mentioned above will some day be recovered. Possibly this
mention of it may, if it still exists, lead to its eventual discovery.

[I] In Traherne's "Centuries of Meditations" this poem is preceded by
the following note: "Upon those pure and virgin apprehensions which I
had in my infancy I made this Poem."

[J] These five lines have an alternative reading:

The Sun itself doth in its glory shine, And gold and silver out of
very mire, And pearls and rubies out of earth refine; While herbs and
flowers aspire To touch and make our feet divine.

[K] It is doubtful whether this poem is by Traherne.

[L] (?) Sparkle.

[M] Several passages in other poems are thus marked. Usually where
these marks appear--but not invariably so--there is a slight falling
off in the author's inspiration. As these passages, however, could
not be omitted without leaving palpable _lacunæ_ in the poems, I have
taken no notice of them (save in one instance where I have suppressed a
stanza which is clearly superfluous), preferring to leave the critical
reader to discover such inequalities for himself.

Transcriber's Note:

1. Caret letters are shown as ^x.

2. Italics are shown as _xxx_.

3. All original spelling has been retained.

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