HERBERT, George (1593-1633). The Temple. Sacred Poems and Private Ejaculations. Edited by Nicholas Ferrar. Cambridge: Thomas Buck and Roger Daniel, 1633.
12° (149 x 81mm). Collation: s4 A-H12 I2. Title within woodcut border, woodcut initials to "The Church-porch" and "The Church Militant", woodcut head- and tailpieces. ( misbound before .) 19th-century blue morocco, ruled and tooled in gilt, by Bedford, edges gilt, (head and foot of upper joint slightly rubbed). Provenance: Cardiff Castle bookplate.
A FINE COPY OF THE RARE FIRST ISSUE OF THE FIRST EDITION OF HERBERT'S 'SACRED POEMS'; F. E. Hutchinson, writing in the Oxford Bibliographical Society Proceedings and Papers in 1939, recorded only five copies in England, and "after extensive enquiries", twelve in America. The present copy has the dated issue of the title-page; Hutchinson argues convincingly that this is the earlier issue, and that the undated title is a later cancel-leaf, despite DNB's assertion to the contrary. Pforzheimer, citing L.S. Livingston, agrees with Hutchinson, on the grounds that the undated issue is more similar to the title-page of the second edition.
Nicholas Ferrar, the editor of this collection, was founder of the Anglican community at Little Gidding and a close friend of Herbert's from 1626 onwards. At that date, Herbert, after a successful academic career as orator of Cambridge University, had turned his thoughts once more to pursuing a religious way of life. Whilst he was still undecided, he was presented by the Bishop of Lincoln to the prebend of Layton Ecclesia in Huntingdonshire, and was ordained deacon. Ferrar lived at Little Gidding, only two miles from Herbert's new home, and Herbert offered to transfer the prebend to him, but the offer was declined. Ferrar encouraged Herbert to restore the ruined church on the Leighton Bromswold estate attached to the prebend, and contributed both money and enthusiastic advice to the project, although he modestly does not mention his own large role in the work when he discusses it in the foreword. Thus began an affectionate correspondence between the two men, who addressed each other as "most entire friend" and "brother". When Herbert was appointed rector of Fugglestone and Bemerton in Wiltshire, he saw Ferrar less frequently, but continued to take his advice, for instance on the restoration of Bemerton Church and parsonage: DNB records that "Herbert's final absorption into religious life was doubtless largely due to Ferrar's guidance". As Herbert lay dying of consumption, he asked that a manuscript collection of his verse should be delivered to Ferrar for publication. Ferrar immediately applied for a licence to the Vice-Chancellor, who famously objected to the lines in the "Church Militant": "Religion stands on tiptoe in our land Ready to pass to the American strand", but finally allowed them to remain, saying that: "I knew Mr. Herbert well, and know that he was a divine poet; but I hope the world will not take him to be an inspired prophet." The typographical excellence of the first edition was such that Buck and Daniels's text and layout was followed for the next seventeen editions, over the space of 166 years; Hutchinson describes the arrangement as "so pleasing to the eye and satisfactory to the understanding" as to be unparalleled.
STC 13183; Pforzheimer 465; Grolier Wither to Prior II, 438; F. E. Hutchinson. "The First Edition of Herbert's Temple", Oxford Bibliographical Society Proceedings and Papers, vol. V, part III, Oxford: 1939, pp. 189-197; A. F. Allison. Four Metaphysical Poets, (1973), no. 7; J. Hayward. English Poetry,(1950), no. 66