The Traherne Association Newsletter No.32 – February 2006

Page Life is All Traherne Festival Trinity Sunday 2005 – Sermon A True Friend of Traherne : James Bentley The rediscovery of Thomas Traherne – Traherne in danger of breaking out Current studies in Traherne Roman Forgeries- reflections of another rambler High Hill Happiness Plays at Home : Credenhill 2004 From the DNB entry on Traherne Quotations and Poems Richard Birt John Inge Richard Birt Hilton Kelliher Esther de Waal Denise Inge Roy Davies Norman Hidden Priscilla Davies Julia Smith 2 6 9 10 12 13 13 15 15 16 17

The Traherne Newsletter is edited by The Revd Richard Birt, M.A. (Oxon) 18 Ingestre Street, Hereford, HR4 ODU Tel. No. (01432) 265904 Letters & contributions are always welcome for consideration. This is an abridged version of the newsletter, prepared for the website where it is archived for reference purposes. Because we have to remain within the allocated size limit of the website, handwritten sections, musical notation and photographic content have been deleted from the original hard copy as they soak up too much memory. Otherwise, the articles and other material included are exactly as they appear in the original printed leaflets edited by The Revd. Richard Birt.

and makes it to lead a living death.. In describing 'Man the Creator'.one of only seven in his 'Christian Ethics'. but he has to work devastatingly hard in order to actualise what is in him. attended with pleasure.. And fill it with a Work compleat. to establish his felicity". barrenness in good and praiseworthy employments followed by debaucheries and all sorts of vile and wicked diversions. A lazy genius is a contradiction in terms. . It mingles nature and vice in a confusion. 'let us therewith be content. A quiet Mind is worse than Poverty. but a long habit of solid repose. Or the deep love of two people for each other is a gift absolutely. in St Paul's words. And this leads him to a striking poem. it is impossible to be happy or grateful without it. 235) "True contentment is the full satisfaction of a knowing mind. It is not a morose and sullen contempt of all that is good. As Traherne reminds us: Contentment is a sleepy thing If it in death alone must die. but a free and easy mind. p. but is a real vice . It shuts up the soul in a grave. In Chapter 27 of Traherne's last book. Richard Birt The title of this year's Festival comes from a less familiar poem of Traherne . The truth is. may be born a genius. Harry writes: One of the paradoxes of life is that all the best gifts. which passed of old for so great a virtue. he discusses contentment. springing from some one particular little satisfaction that.' But then he shocks : he compares true contentment with what he calls 'negative contentment' : (Faith Press 1962. saith the Apostle.. Unless it from enjoyment spring That's Blessedness alone that makes a king! Wherein the Joyes and Treasures are so great They all the powers of the Soul employ.' He then explores the troublesome nature of a discontented mind. which is falsely so called.. enmity against God.. A man. to seek all ones bliss in one's self alone is to scorn all other objects... although freely given. for godliness with contentment is a great gain. It is not the slavish and forced contentment which the philosophers among the heathen did force upon themselves.2 Life is All – The Revd. where he fitly notch that godliness with contentment is the original of true contentment. that must fight against reason and trample under foot the essence of his soul.. unbelief. and makes man fight against appetite and reason. however momentary it be. We have. It is the source of 'suspicion. It is a virtue: 'Having food and raiment. have to be worked for. published within months of his death in 1674. to work out our own salvation even if' is God who is at work in us. and robs it of all its objects. after much study and serious consideration. It is not a vain and empty contentment. is not at all conducive to felicity. which featured in Harry William's magisterial book "The Joy of God" (Mitchell Beazley '79). even God himself and all creation .. That negative contentment. but a lot of work has to go into it if it is to prosper & mature. does for the present delight our humour. and naturally arising from one's present condition. for instance. Certainly that philosopher has a hard task.

The World was made far you. His view of Traherne begins with these words: Traherne. But to say This Hous is yours.worldly. They think that he is too 'this . and one not very interesting work [Christian Ethicks] appeared immediately after his death in 1674 to keep his reputation alive. everyone will need to think again about everything they have thought about Traherne. becaus the Nature of the Things contradicts your Words. & with all Content! It is this sense that we will all need to be poets or makers. 'By this let Nurses. because (as we have seen) it is only by going out to the other that we find ourselves . owned. Fairacres in 2004.. is a deadly Barbarous and uncouth to a little Child. Soveraign over beasts and Fowls and Fishes. Life ! Life is all: in its most full extent Stretcht out to all things. the stars minister unto us'. and what we seek are words which express the nature of the thing. Those fine words are a description of Traherne's aims in leaving Christian Ethicks to posterity. in this paradoxical way. Some Anglican Voices from Temple to Herbert' They were published by SLG Press.& confirms the Doctrine. to magnify nothing but what is Great indeed. value for others. and those Parents that desire Holy Children learn to make them Possessors of Heaven and Earth betimes to remove silly Objects from before them.' Yet he clearly believes that our lives here are already caught up in eternity. And if. and makes him suspect all you say. who was a fairlv obscure country parson. and these Lands are another Mans and this Bauble is a Jewel and this Gugaw a fine thing. and to talk of God to them and of his works and ways before they can either Speak or go. and possibly one of the reasons why some Christians have not taken to Traherne. 'the sun is glorious. in which we will be faced with Julia. As when we say The Sun is Glorious. A Man is a beautiful Creature.the mystery which in the Godhead is pointed to by the doctrine of the Trinity – "The belief that "Life is all is close to the heart of Traherne. Smith's biography of Traherne. For Traherne's view of blessedness is not what some would expect of this 'mild thinker': . we all have to be the makers of ourselves.see p47) Rowan Williams writes that the editors hope that it will be 'a handbook for faithful living'.3 While it doth all enjoy. This Rattle makes Musick etc. Yet doth that Blot out all Noble and Divine Ideas-" A depiction of the world as something to be possessed. with the subtitle 'The Way to Blessedness'. As when we say. The Stars Minister unto us. But it is poetry and prose manuscripts that have been discovered in the twentieth century which most vividly express what mattered above all to Traherne. In 2001 Rowan Williams gave 2 lectures in Australia on 'Christian Imagination in Poetry and Polity. For No thing is so Easy as to teach the Truth because the nature of the Thing. And yet in his preface to 'Love's Redeeming Work' (759 invaluable pages of Anglican writers . we cannot accomplish that work without creating something of public value. blots out noble and divine ideas. that is. etc. This year. published nothing in his lifetime.

This study of 'the mystical experience and the making of poems' includes Augustine.. Affronts. which will help to make us reign Over Disorders. His essence also is the Sight of all Things. Wrongs. (If we true Blessedness would gain) As those are. Being therefore perfect. Simone Weil.. to whom we owe so much in giving us the first reprinting of Christian Ethicks for 288 years.4 Were all the World a Paradice of Ease Twere easier then to live in peace . 1961. Calamities. that God is a being whose power from all eternity was prevented with Act [Aquinas defined God as "the act of pure being"] . 1962) nevertheless.. will make all vice appear like dirt before a jewel. because I am entirely taken up with the abundance of worth and beauty in virtue Besides. well understood.. rather he accepts them and explains them: "Your soul being naturally very dark.. Oppressions.. and T. Slanders. Angers. For he is all eye and all ear. It is not even true to 'Christian Ethicks' itself. Her chapter on Traherne is a study of the Centuries in particular. For the thorough understanding of which you must know.S.. He knows all which he is able to know.Eliot. Vice as soon as it is named in the presence of these . Chaxles Peguy. Traherne has some obvious deficiencies. bitter tongues. Julian of Norwich. for the perfecting of its stature in the eye of God. (The Faith Press." Traherne's 'Christian Ethicks' is a shocking identification of the causes of the world's miseries. Ingratitudes.. the world serves you in beautifying it and filling it with amiable ideas. guilt or evil in the world. when they are compared together. I conclude that the very glory of virtue.. in her introduction. all the more so because he defines at the beginning the truest way of coming face to face with vice: a way that is the precise opposite of oblique: "I do not speak much of vice. published only the year before. and the mirror of all perfection. She wrote a key essay on Traherne in her book "Every Changing Shape". An imperfect apprehension of the power of evil characterizes all his writings. let alone to 'The Centuries': 'As a moralist. all objects in the world being seen in his understanding ... which is far the more easy theme. But we such Principles must now attain. The reach of Malice must surmount and quell The very rage and Power of Hell. And on the subject of evil she chooses a striking passage: "Traherne never ignores sin. and deformed & empty when extended through intinfinite but empty space. since a straight line is the measure both of itself and of a crooked one. He hath commanded us to be perfect as life is perfect. has left us the strangest verdict on Traherne. Nay. Injuries. Margaret Bottrall. Lies. He underestimates the human propensity to make wrong decisions and minimizes the sheer weight of pain in the world' Elizabeth Jennings had a contrary view.

as black as Malice & ingratitude. describing the ultimate personal hell: "That Man Is Poor and Desolate whose Lov None Seeks. His courage no where is employed. no man sollicits none doth mov Whose Brightest Splendors In the dark do lie And all his great Affections am thrown by Rust covers his Resplendent fancy. such vile. such base repute. His passions are hung o're with cobwebs and and His greatest Virtues Idle In Him stand. do. His faculties are Empty. All his Powers Are Solitary Withered Blasted Bowers. Admire at Nothing can. A little colour in the face. The Commentaries of Heaven. That see. and that all the honour which they generally give is irrational and feigned. And if the glory and esteem I have Be nothing else but what my silver gave. . an exchequer full of gold.5 Virtues will look like poison or a contagion. It comes in an un-noticed poem. his Zeal No beauty doth to any Ey reveal. prize . or some such light and superficial causes. His Wit's unseen his Wisdom none Admires His Souls unsought his favour none desires None values his esteem. contain one of the . erroneous. & his Lov doth rust. If for no other ground I am with love or praises crownd. his Sacred Tears No eye doth pitty. he does become particularly mordant in his view of what undermines true life : 'He that knoweth the honour which cometh from above will despise the honour which men can apply……………He sees that men are generally evil. Enjoy. fury no man fears. His Wide & Great Capacity is laid Aside his Precept is by none Obeyd. His very Worth's Neglected & Despised His very riches are themselves not prized He Is the poor forlorn & needy man. on Magnanimity. a gay coat. a fine horse. deformed and blind. in the entry on 'Spiritual Absence'. poor and miserable. perverse and foolish. if you will." However in Chapter 28. or. Tis such a shame. Tis better starve. his very Body Is his Grave. within the entry rather than at the end. a palace and a coach.most harrowing descriptions of the ways in which a person can be 'undone'. are all the grounds of the respect that they pay us. Dust Soyls all his Powers. than eat such empty fruit. His Excellencies in a Silent Cave Are hid.

Delighte in our Wisdom. reads 'Glory be to to the Father and to the rest'. Whose Highness nothing can at all controul Who cannot pleas far more than Worlds. Low us infinitely.Hereford Cathedral – Bishop John Inge's sermon. In the recently published "The Kingdom of God". Nor Avarice Enjoy anothers State. seeks us. are Dust & Ashes always. Gone are the days when it was considered such a hot potato that St Augustine's great tome on the subject. is to feed upon delusions. to which one's eye is drawn. that he does all Things for us. He sees us. prizeth our Lov. often Dreams & som times Thorns. & in so stupendous a maner Magnifies us. To satisfy these powers & Inclinations. On the floor of the nave of a glorious little Northumbrian Church in the village of Alnham lies a tombstone which has a quite legible. perhaps the inscriber thought – or more likely just got bored with the task. Advanceth us to His Throne. describing whom it is that is commemorated and how she dies. The Trinity has not always engendered the excitement it deserves." Traherne – Commentaries of Heaven Traherne Festival Trinity Sunday 2005 . Who reigns not always in anothers Soul. this inscription comes to an abrupt end that in the middle of a line. Inferior. Can anyone endure to be Absent fom Him. Surprisingly. And be a Bliss to others like the Deitie. & delights in all the felicities of his kingdom for our sakes. Whose violent & endless Lov's displeasd Whose Great Ambition is by no man Eased Who no Dominion hath. To shun the miserie of being Desolat. Yet he is desolat. if rather rough. De Trinitate. filled eternity with joys. he tells us that 'for our sakes (God) builded heaven and earth. as does the tomb itself. The inscription goes halfway down the tomb. dating from the Seventeenth Century. whom no maan's Ey Doth prize. But in GOD's presence all our power & inclinations are satisfied. fickle unworthy Objects. Tenders us as His Ey. jesting with beggars. Magnifie. Many have found the doctrine incomprehensible and have lost interest for that reason Traheme was excited by the Trinity and wanted to explore its wonder and its mystery. giveth us Objects of Admiration & pleasure in our Affection. inscription on it. was stolen just before its publication by someone wanting to make a quick buck. is to be like a King Divested of his ceremonies. Name one person of the Trinity and you have named them all. The concluding sentence. Crowneth our Courage. Exalt. and even gave the whole Trinity . that cannot satisfy them. Rejoice in.6 Whose Goodness cant it self Communicat. among them. being all from GOD. Esteemeth our persons.

Since almost all of Traherne's work was published posthumously we do not have to worry about the analogy going to his head…. there is the creative power. and this is the image of the indwelling Spirit. and in which. the meaning of the work and its response in the lively soul.' There is in his writing a threefold process of love. working in the time from the beginning to the end.. This is the image of the Father. Traheme's work is a good example of Sayers sustained and detailed exploration of an analogy between God and the human creative work. beholding the whole work at once.' Not only is Traherne's work a good example of this analogy. which is the language of pure giving and receiving. the third. begotten and a love proceeding. passionless. which has been responded to in many a lively soul. In it she proposes that every human act of creation is threefold an earthly Trinity to match the heavenly. is the love of a superior for an inferior. the second. C. love between equals. And these three are one each equally in itself in the whole work.7 unto us. Traherne's mind and soul beheld the creative idea of his work which was brought forth in the creative energy onto the page. The first. but it is a voluntary and eternal act begetting.. timeless. For me there is another resonance operating here.' 'Begetting. Lewis reviewed Dorothy Sayers' work sympathetically. begotten and proceeding to all eternitie. Second there is the creative energy (or activity) begotten of the idea. with zeal and passion. writes that when she met his work 'what I found in Traheme was grace. Unimaginable divine generosity woven into the very fabric of the universe. dare to suggest Traheme would be more than interested – as Sayers herself was in Traheme's work. the love of God for humanity. 'They had better read it fasting' he wrote.. and that is with the much neglected work by Dorothy Sayers entitled The Mind of the Maker. my wife Denise. begotten and proceeding'. I know that his essence is his blessedness. back into their native tongue. his beautiful minute handwriting being the bonds of matter in which his creative idea was made incarnate. . One of them. none can exist without the other. the end in the beginning. is apparent in Traherne's ecstatic descriptions of his fellow human beings as 'glittering and sparkling angels' and 'moving jewels. Third. First there is the creative idea. his writing speaks eloquently of the abundance of the glory of God's love in the Trinity. being incarnate in the bonds of matter and this is the image of the World. as it were. the love of an inferior for a superior. Which though they are one in essence subsist nevertheless in three several manners so that in all love the Trinity is clear. S. Then there is the meaning of the work.'. Traheme would go further than Dorothy Sayers by suggesting that by lifting all things up to God in praise the mind is able to translate them. which she published in 1941 having given up writing detective fiction. though he feared that it might give human writers a view of themselves. is evident in his many exhortations to his readers to praise God in filial gratitude for giving them the whole creation. And that vision of a gracious God and his bountiful creation has whispered hopefully to me ever since.'I know that his essence is all blessedness but it is a voluntary and Etemal act begetting. This is the image of the Trinity..

yours and mine.. I pray that our lives. but a clear demonstration also of the perfection of his Kingdom. and to everything and everyone else through him and with reference to him. looks for an analogy of the Trinity in the mental acts of remembering. after Augustine who. If seemeth that the Son of God loved us better than his Father. participates in the divine essence : "Lov in the fountain and lov in the stream are both the same. that it might return to him. where are the Father. is in the Western tradition of a 'psychological' conception of the Trinity. in the words of St Isaac the Syrian: 'When we have reached love. determined to defend the unity of the Trinity. he speaks of the Father and the Son almost competing in how much they love us: 'It seemeth that the Father loved us better than his Son. As Mark Macintosh puts it: 'Creation only exists fully and completely as the flowing mutual gift of the Trinitarian persons.' Traheme begs us to learn that we cannot perceive reality in all its fullness unless we learn to see it in the light of the divine generosity that exist within the very heart of God and that pours that same love out to us. Wherein the mystery is great. to whom be all praise and glory for ever. and to give and offer the world unto hin. For God hath made you able to create worlds in your own mind which are more precious to him than those which He created. might reflect that love in all that we perceive. which is so extremely amiable. for when enmity and variance fell out between us. like Sayers'. He sees the great love of the persons of the Trinity in all creation and yearns for us to see it too. and blessedness the ocean into which it proceedeth. Though Traherne is at home in this tradition. the Son and the Holy Spirit'. which is very delightful in flowing from him. since it came from him.8 The world within you is an offering returned which is infinitely more acceptable to God Almighty. we have reached God. Traheme stresses the unity of love which. the delight of the mutual giving and receiving of heaven'. Amen . yet there are echoes in his writing of the social image of God beloved of the Greek Fathers which concentrates on the persons of Trinity and which has found new favours in the West in recent years. we have not only an emblem of the ever blessed and most glorious Trinity in the union of these. In The Kingdom of God. whether begetting. understanding and willing. A few sentences before he refers to the essence of God being his blessedness and of the voluntary and eternal act of begetting begotten and proceeding. Traherne tells us in The Kingdom of God that 'Since therefore bountie is the stream. God. Augustine sees the perfection of the cardinal mental or personal acts of knowing and loving. in all that we do and all that we are for. directed to their one all satisfying object. he forsook his Father and did cleave to us like a bridegroom that forsaketh his father and mother to cleave to his wife'. For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten so that whosoever believeth on him should not perish but have everlasting life. like the Trinity. and therefore are they both equal in time and glory'. begotten or proceeding. so that we might join in the Trinitarian life of love. but much more in returning to Him. and our journey is complete. Much of Traherne's writing on the Trinity. We have crossed over to the island which lies beyond the world. where love is the fountain.

Brown and Company) was a harvest of' some of the finest writings and paintings of the 16th & 1 7th centuries. in his persistent innocence. Good Christians are physicians of the world's soul. Little. and they say that he has a pussycat view of creation. who wrote the acclaimed biography of Hitler's opponent Pastor Martin Niemoller. Surely this essentially positive and 'mild' writer spends most of his time giving us 'directions' about how to live in this wonderful world doesn't he ? He's a prescriptive writer: he simply tells us what to do. and are ready to eat and devour one another (an image worthy of Goya). Where might Traheme 'fit in' ? Many would go for the Heritage of the Bible or Virtues. Bentley's 'The Tongues of Men & Angels' (1996. Among his last anthologies. All of which proceed from the corruption of Men………. Not so. and how Christians are called to love it. After all he gave us the Centuries as a prolonged commentary on the Bible. falls to recognise the evil that men are capable of. beseiged with offences. . His travel books about Europe won him the Thomas Cook Travel Award in 1988. A most moving tribute to James appeared in a Hereford magazine (reference as yet unknown) which started with an exhibition in the Hereford Photography Festival: A young boy is cradling a white rabbit inside a crater of rubble which may once have been his home is a moving image of tenderness and fragility and emptiness. The book includes Shakespeare. Oppression. receiving evil for good. Virtues. John Donne. Two acknowledged masters of English prose are Thomas Cranmer's Book of Common Prayer of 1549 and the Authorized (King James) Version of the Bible. And in This World & the Next we come face to face with Traherne's 'Fallen World' : how it has fallen.9 A True Friend of Traherne : James Bentley James was an anthologist. he knew. historian & travel writer. And virtues are never far away in any of his writings. Jeremy Taylor. Traherne turns up in Vices.' Yes. But no.. Milton. Not a sign of mild hopes & some kind of improvement Creed. Malice. etc etc. Covetousness. Lancelot Andrewes & Georgc Herbert. Envy. It has four parts : The Heritage of the Bible. Vices. and lie was described by The Times as 'an authoritative guide whose pleasure in the table and command of history gives his work 'full-bodied value'. published in 1611. surrounded with reproaches. He was in no way taken in by the superficial views of Taherne which dominated the last century. This World & the Next. encompassed with wrongs. but 'Greed' : the works of darkness all around us. Some say that Traherne. Fraud. and ignores the tiger. The book is shocking. Or this : 'On every side we are environed with enemies. they have let in broils and dissatisfactions into the world. accompanied by the painting 'Soldiers fighting over Booty'. John Bunyan. being disturbed by fools. 'The works darkness are Repining. and invaded with malice. The painting accompanying his passage is 'The Physician' by Lorenzo Lotto. Discontent and Violence. No-one who saw the vivid photographs war at the Hereford Photography Festival can be in any doubt about the violence and horror of our world.

I feel the loss of a kind friend. He was the last person to interview Martin Niemoller for his excellent biography of the Pastor. RB) On May 18 this year (as reported in the TLS. Thus arrested on their progress from obscurity to possible destruction they were sold to that tireless editor of English Renaissance writers. was involved in a road accident in which he was killed. as it has hitherto been told. and we all should mourn a sharp .10 Both of these extracts from Centuries of Meditation are included in an anthology of writings from the Renaissance to the Restoration. June 8) the British Library purchased through Christies of New York. Alexander Grosart. That story. some hitherto unnoticed details regarding their provenance will show just how . Fifteen years later. March 19. Two years later. edited by James Bentley.13).000 (or £78. The circumstances of the recovery and identification of the manuscript. on a London street-barrow. doing some research for a r book on the Loire Valley. form merely the latest chapter in a story that has long been seen as one of the most romantic in the annals of the survival of English literary works. Brooke. the third from Traherne's pen to have turned up during the last fifteen years. wide-ranging knowledge and profound sympathies. the bulky autograph manuscript of Thomas Traherne's recently discovered – "Commentaries of Heaven". Now. on Grosart's death. and whilst in Saumur. of the two manuscripts of Traherne's Poems and Centuries of Meditations that are now in the Bodleian Library. and eloquently reviewed in the September 1998 edition of this Newsletter (No.014). they were bought by the bookseller Bertram Dobell. who confirmed Brooke's suggestion that they were the work of Henry Vaughan. Bentley was also a renowned travel writer. a great service. narrowly Traherne's eccentric genius failed of its due recognition at an even earlier date. The rediscovery of Thomas Traherne – Hilton Kelliher (A fascinating glimpse of the strange wanderings of of Traherne's manuscripts. Benjamin Heywood Bright.' James Bentley was a longstanding friend of great warmth. 1982) by Elliot Rose of the University of Toronto. assembled during the first half of the nineteenth century an important collection of literary and . The writer ended with the observation that 'James Bentley has done Traherne. where it was subsequently placed on loan in the Thomas Fisher Rare Books Library. This manuscript had been rescued from the flames of a South Lancashire rubbish tip about 1967 and taken to Canada when the finder emigrated. however. with lots of diagrams. at the hammer-price of $110. it was identified as Traherne's (in the TLS. Quantum Theory. James told me that he thought this his best book. He introduced me (a little late to be sure) to the poetry of Housman. intelligent and compassionate human being. and us. Dr. whom Esdaile dubbed "an omnivorous bibliophile". who soon won a place in literary history by attributing them to their long-forgotten author. began with the discovery in 1896 by William T. and spent time explaining to me.

1893. while still absent from home. dated Ledbury. number . successively Rector of Deal and Vicar of Margate between 1856 and 1867. and thirdly. Nisbet. Hazlitt that he had "got lately" some manuscripts of the seventeenth-century divine Herbert Palmer along with 'two volumes of 'Meditations' of a remarkable kind. a date perhaps close enough to Brooke's discovery of 1896 to be significant. that bore ' the. recalled having had "both books & MSS. Grosart. that these "Meditations" were Traherne's work. from a family long resident in Ledbury. 1870. had disposed of his library through the London salerooms about May 1888. who had been Chaplain to the Archbishop of Canterbury at Lambeth at the time of the Pickering sale. included no manuscripts. 1854. when they were again sold through Sotheby's. In this-connection he pointed to an auctioneer's label. along with three other seventeenth -century manuscripts. It may have been the catalogue-description of the "Ledbury Manuscript "as including "Religious Poems in imitation of Herbert's Temple" that aroused the interest of Pickering. though the portion of his library that was offered by Puttick and Simpson on January 16. So that there must have been a Ledbury collector. that they had been purchased with the Palmer manuscripts or at least in the Canterbury area at about the same time." Subsequent enquiries led him to state that a collector of books " and manuscripts.11 historical manuscripts which after his death was offered for sale at Sotheby's on June 18. who had just acquired the Poems for five pounds. carry notes by Grosart stating that he had bought them from. on the binding of the Poems. representing a drop of ten and fourteen shillings respectively on their prices in 1844. this time to a certain Nisbet. that they came from the collection of the ' Revd. He died in September 1892. 1897. he wrote that it 'was "singular that I had & I think still have a thin folio MS. Three tentative inferences may be drawn from these facts: first. now lost. The two Palmer manuscripts. It's long ago & I can't for the life of me bethink me of it. now Cambridge University Library Add MSS 3860 and 3861." Three days later. lettered on the back identically as [the Ledbury MS] is. This title seems to have come about because Ledbury is the only placename mentioned in the volume. What makes it seem probable that Grosart's two volumes of "Meditations" were the work of Traherne is the purport of certain passages in his later letters t o Brooke that are now pre. From this sale the publisher William Pickering secured not only the "Commentaries" (lot 61) but the Dobell manuscript of Poems also (lot 129). on February 23. the latter being catalogued according to some lettering on its binding. though on an inserted slip of accounts dated 1746. named Skipp. containing unpublished. on December 12. Nevertheless his new acquisitions remained unattributed and unpublished at his death ten years later. The "Commentaries" (lot 41) now fetched two shillings and the Poems (lot 105) six. himself an editor of George Herbert. poems that I should much like to know the author or authors of". 1844. John Marjoribanks Nisbet. secondly. More than a decade and a half later. as the "Ledbury Manuscript". Writing from Wales on August 27. on that occasion. Grosart happened to remark in a letter (now BL Additional MS 38901 f 48) to the bibliographer W.served in Bodleian MS Dobell c 56. bookseller in Canterbury. seems most likely to have been the purchaser of the Traherne. C.

and 'that the attribution to Vaughan which Brooke suggested had not occurred to him while he was working on his own edition (1871) of Vaughan's works.. of the major Traherne manuscripts..excited by his purchase of the Poems. Simone Weil had a great influence or me (and still does). since Grosart's time. both being laid aside "for investigation at a more convenient season". "to my intense surprise". that led Brooke to notice. Brooke revealed that these two manuscripts had in fact been picked up in different places and at different times during the winter of 1896-7. Who shall say whether the final instalment of the story can yet be written? Traherne in danger of breaking out . It opens with the Bhagavad Gita and the penultimate name (before Simone Weil) is Thomas Traherne This would have been totally unthinkable 10 years ago.came from Whitechapel and the other from the Farringdon Road. of literary works by an important seventeenth-century writer is rendered all the more remarkable by the dicovery that on three or four occasions during their history they had passed through responsible hands. Fortunately for posterity the opportunities missed by successive owners were redeemed by a series of lucky accidents that ensured their continued preservation and eventual identification.. We can only wonder that the Ledbury MS – for such the "thin folio MS. Yet in a seemingly unpublished account written about October 1910 and now part of Bodleian MS Dobell c 56.12 "1112".. R. 1899. Since Dobell's time it has often been repeated that the Poems and Centuries were discovered on the same barrow in the Farringdon Road. it seems rather odd that he could not by the latter date call to mind more clearly his former ownership of the poems that had so intrigued him in 1870. When I was at Oxford in the early 1960's nearly 20 years before 1 encountered Traherne. when hugely . at various times stretching over seventy years." most probably was – had escaped from Grosart's hands at some time between 1870 and 1896. Certainly. apparently without his recollecting its disposal. The so-called "Church's Year Book" was recognized and acquired by Dobell at the Grosart sale of December 11. The result was that this has remained the accepted provenance. The miraculous recovery. One of them though it is not certain which .' What a strange coincidence with my life. Esther de Waal reports from Washington USA: 'The big bookstore here has a volume which lists the best 25 Greal Books of Spiritual Writing in the World. B) . It was only an urgent appeal from Grosart. What is perhaps even stranger is that he should have failed to notice that a further autograph manuscript of Traherne's was on his own shelves at the time of Brooke's discovery. that one of the poems in that manuscript also appeared in the second one comprising the Centuries of Meditations.

"Presumably she continues. is supervising a new thesis by Alison Kershaw: "The Poetic of the Cosmic Christ in Thomas Traherne's The Kingdom of God'. Bob White. This is one of the first theses to consider the Kingdom of God.. since it had been quite plainly published as his B. Christian Ethicks and Commentaries of Heaven. and the nature of consciousness in his work. At least one of the nine essays looks at Lambeth MS 1360. a philosopher and Traherne fan has include~ Traheme in his recent book On The Meaning of Life (Routledge). Among the contributors is Cynthia Saenz whom many readers may remember from previous Traheme Festivals. is editing a collection of new critical essays due to be published end of 2006. the theology of creation. "The Prayer Closet a 'Room of Ones's Own': Two Anglican Women Devotional Writers at the Tum of the 18th Century. to property law. John Cottingham. Prof of English at University of Western Australia. Charles Wallace Jr. inappropriate and even provocative to all those who have become familiar with the Traherne. 200 1. University of Reading. I must confess . 108 may be of particular interest to those concerned with Susannah Hopton. Issues 4." The Journal of Women's History. Arizona State.D. Margaret Bottrall. Its title will be 'Holiness & Happiness : A Traherne Reader'. "this was what gained him the degree of Bachelor of Divinity. awarded in 1669". as "this Herefordshire poet who advocated the pursuit of happiness and charted a way to blessedness". Roman Forgeries. 43. Mark McIntosh is working on a new book for Blackwell . Pennsylvania has written "Heavenly Perspectives. in her otherwise delightful and informative "Celebrating Traherne" (published to mark the first Herefordshire Traherne Festival in June 1991) refers to it (perhaps a little disdainfully?) as "an arid work dealing with forged insertions in the canons and decretals of the Roman Catholic Church". thesis! Elsewhere Roman Forgeries has been described as infelicitous. Look out for: Re-reading Traherne:. Dickinson College. an upper level introduction to Christian Theology that will include Traherne re. vol 9 Issue2 1997 p. just one year before his untimely death in October 1674. p 3 77 ff. Traherne and his contemporaries. his use of language. Carol Ann Johnston. Denise Inge is working on a Traherne Reader to be published in the Canterbury Studies in Spiritual Theology series by Canterbury Press. who has done a book-length annotated bibliography of Traheme criticism from 1900-2003. Mirrors of Etemity: Thomas Traherne's Yearning Subjec". These adjectives "arid" and "infelicitous" are bound to sound particularly discordant. Topics range widely from Traherne's notions of ablebodiedness and disability. Collection of New Critical Essays. vol. Criticism. Due to the publishers November 2006 for publication Spring 2007.13 Current studies in Traherne Our thanks go to Denise Inge for her report of some news of current studies in Traherne : Jacob Blevins at McNeese University in Louisiana. whom Margaret Bottrall describes. in her concluding sentence.reflections of another rambler * Roman Forgeries was the only book to be published in Traherne's lifetime: in 1673. One senses in the essays a gentle movement away from 'primarily poetry' studies evidenced in the inclusion of the Lambeth MS. MRTS (Medieval and Renaissance Texts and Studies). The collection includes contributions from mostly American scholars alongside one from the UK and one from Canada. Not an unfair presumption.

lying politicians and deceiving document litter the historical records of humankind. We all know. There are those. made his most famous pronouncement: "Power tends to corrupt." Like Traherne. through both talks and tours. when the dogma of papal infallibility was promulgated. near Bridgnorth. commemorated on the floor of St Giles Cathedral. I would never claim that the hours spent reading his Roman Forgeries. When Christianity emerged from Aramaicspeaking Galilee into the Graeco-Roman world. An ambitious church had fabricated these false documents to justify the extension of its power and what was begun by ambition came to be defended by cruelty. Adherence to an orthodox form of belief came to be crucial for the church. were the most exhilarating in my life. he gave two lectures. There was no choice: to choose was to be a "heretic" that's literally what the word means – "one who chooses". interest and relevance. spirituality and ecclesiology were all intertwined in the 17th Century. sparked off an immediate uprising and led ultimately to the religious wars and revolutions in all three kingdoms of Charles I. have certainly been provoked into reflecting on the merits of Roman Forgeries and on the injustice of adverse criticism of it. It was just over two centuries later. later to become Regius Professor of History at Cambridge.The preservation of freedom and its further pursuit are of the greatest contemporary relevance and importance. "a brave scottish woman" Jenny Geddes threw her creepie stool at the Dean of Edinburgh as he began to read the collects. that fraudulent claims. have vividly brought to our attention the fascinating ways in which philosophy and politics. . powerful and cruel.14 that I. Acton spent a large part of his life in this Diocese of Hereford. and heretics were not infrequently burned at the stake! It's worth recalling that it was just four years before the birth of Traherne that Galileo was forced to recant. civil and religious war. Traherne and other investigative writers. 1637 was also the year in which Descartes published his Discourse on Method. "The History of Freedom in Antiquity" and "The History of Freedom in Christianity". for one. who are seriously undermining our precious God-given. yet hard-won liberty by their partisan scheming. and 1637 was almost certainly the year of Thomas Traherne's birth. at our excellent Cathedral Library in Hereford. the year 1637 is certainly particularly noteworthy in this respect. in 1870. an unwanted Prayer Book was being foisted on an unwilling Scottish Church. that Lord Acton. only too well. When these became reinforced by the legal system of Rome. where. This encounter. who examined and exposed the Donation of Constantine and other false decretals were alerting us to the ever-present dangers to the church (any church at any time) of becoming ambitious. at Aldenham Hall. 1877. the Inquisition came into being and the doctrinal system became imposed by force. for all those fascinated by coincidences. and. In July of that year . the Greeks with their genius for philosophy and Romans with their genius for law became obsessed with constructing logical formulas and doctrinal systems. During the course of divine service. Successive Traherne Festivals. and absolute power corrupts absolutely. the famous Liberal and Catholic historian. advocating doubt and questioning as the method of philosophy. both in the church and in the world. but 1 believe the subject of the book to be of immense importance.

proclaiming 'This is my earth. Speakers from as far away as the U. Traherne lived in Credenhill from 1657 to 1674. earth ranges circular Godlike above. I have revisited Hereford many times and the present school is totally different from the horror of Dr Kink's days. from the spontaneous talks on the theme 'happy and sad' on Friday evening to the climax on Monday with the blessing in Battlefield Church Shrewsbury by Bishop John Oliver.15 *The Rambler was edited by Lord Acton from 1859 to 1864. I used to go on long walks and cycle rides in the school holidays. straddle Dizzily below. My experiences at the school are recorded in the semi-autobiographical Dr. A few snatched paragraphs from his Centuries which I came across in the town library drove me to roam the streets & buildings at the end of the old town-haunts which inspired me with something like an echo of what the boy Traherne had felt. and it was there he wrote more about happiness than any other writer in the world. Sudden scamper of the scareaway rabbit Norman Hidden Happiness Plays at Home : Credenhill 2004 Glorlous warnith and sunshine was enjoyed in Credenhill at the 14th Traherne Festival on Trinity weekend. A vast sky mocks at man's Legs are urged forward. Yields to a corkscrew path The climber finds himself the hub That penetrates while it scars : rocks Of universal space: to be godlike And shrubs surrender. were our guests. One such lonely excursion was to Traherne's old parish of Credenhill : the experience is recorded in my poem High Hill. When my parents came to live at Wyeside under the shadow of Dinedor. a literary experiment presenting a complex picture of' a boy's love~hate relationship with father and with school. Some years ago Norman wrote: "My connections with the West Midlands began in the most formative years of my life when I was a pupil at Hereford Cathedral School (1921~26). the track Involves an imagined solitude. and enjoyed the splendid lunches teas and suppers served by the . and the slope pretensions. Above. Roy Davies. High hill ripples the quiet flow The adder rustles in the heather Of land . I have surpassed it Like some huge trap.S. He stopped publication when the Pope decreed that opinions of Catholic writers were subject to the authority of the Roman congregations. Hereford's town-haunts : in memory of Norman Hidden. This height he must master. Harries him down the hill to home. Kink. and Whose boast ensnares the lonely man A bare height that gives its own shape. Loses itself in bramble and fern. our President since the first Festival in 1991.A. For its warm and exciting memories the town and county of Hereford remain dear to me. June 4th-7th." High Hill Trees have fallen behind like dead Soldiers : birds no longer swoop. Another influence at that time came from the town's connections with the 17th century mystic Thomas Traherne. The theme "The Face of' Happiness" abounded throughout the weekend. thrusts up a challenge Without trace ' then only silence.

On Sunday morning I was amazed to see two cyclists coming along the road to Credenhill. 5 miles north-west of Hereford. 4. what glory. . Ecclesiastical records show him engaged in the usual round of a parish minister. Walking the hill to the Iron Age Fort which had been the home of stone age man was unforgettable. registrar's files.23) with an intense perception of spiritual realities. 2. a series of short reflections on his own vocation 'to teach Immortal Souls the way to Heaven' (3. as his churchwarden reported in 1673. you've lighted up my blackest night".85. And she turned out to be the person who had helped me climb the hill. was a very small one of about two dozen households. The Credenhill sermon by the Bishop of Truro ended with some wonderful words by the poet Elizabeth Jennings. with a meditation on the way by the poet Kim Taplin. with a living worth £50 a year was relatively affluent. including an experience of the infinity of the human soul so powerful 'that for a fortnight after I could Scarsly Think or speak or write of any other Thing' (4. let me remember the Glory 1 saw in the feilds' (Select Meditations. 1673/488). His parish. although Traherne did not always find such visiting easy: 'And when I enter into Houses. carrying numerous plastic bags. It juxtaposes a fervent commitment to 'the Beautifull union of my Nationall church' and its 'External Flourishing' (1. In Oxford she was known as the 'Bag Lady'.. And in the evening DDay Remembrance Concert we were enfolded by the silence and calm of Belmont Abbey as John Sanders 'Lament' was played by a young Cathedral School cellist. and its relationship to the political and ecclesiastical turmoils of the nation. and there was only one house in the parish larger than his four-hearth rectory. he 'called his Hous the Hous of Paradice' (Centuries. The Bishop read her words : "Traherne. 3.22). Priscilla Davies 17th June 2004 From the DNB entry on Traherne by Julia Smith It seems to have been during this period of uncertainty for the church shortly after the Restoration that Traherne composed his Select Meditations (first published in -1997). his devotional life.16 church members of' St Mary's Church Credenhill. Traherne was to remain rector of Credenhill until he died in 1674. and one rider was a nun in her habit : something I have never seen in my life before.1673/488). What windows.100). reporting that he 'does duly visit the sick.83). 'continualy resident amongst us' until early in the year of his death (Hereford County RO. apart from some temporary absences he was. and had neither school nor mid-wife. The Hereford Cathedral Evensong on Trinity Sunday was one of the most beautiful we have had. and later gave a stirring meditation on 'Present Happiness'. and poignant readings from Anne Frank's diary came to us out of the ether. I was given absolute Joy as I saw a white pimpernel in that secluded spot. Instruct the youth' (Hereford County RO. Traherne himself. Julia Smith . in the voice of a Whitecross School girl On the Monday we came face to face with the splendour and colour in the wonderful St Mary's Church Shrewsbury.3). about half of them living close to the poverty line. whose part I had taken at the Saturday Tea. registrar's files. The Saturday Concert by Credenhill school children and by the Church Choir was full of pleasure : the children were in perfect harmony with their leaders. They depicted all that Thomas Traherne stood for : moments in time never to be forgotten.

not to approve ones selfe to them. Soveraign over Beasts and Fowls and Fishes. becaus the Nature of the Thing contradicts your Words. And Ended Happily.52 It is no small matter to Dwell in community or in a congregation. and to convers there without complaint. Select Meditations 4. Innocent no man is in this world. not to follow their Opinion. They are as so many Gods if we respect the Grandure and Power of their Soul: and wheather Innocent or miserable it is a weighty thing to be conversant among them and not to Erre. and Divide him from GOD. Yet doth that Blot out all Noble and Divine Ideas. not to be swayed by their example. not to give them occation of evill Speech. and is in e[v]ry moment prudent shall be more beautifull then if he had never sinned nor been a mong them. render him uncertain in all Things. But to say This Hous is yours. Reading Thomas Traherne Can I then lose myself. to revere their censure. to Magnify nothing but what is Great indeed. and to talk of God to them and of His Works and Ways before they can either Speak or go. Blessed is he that hath there Lived well.11 By this let Nurses. is deadly Barbarous and uncouth to a little Child. to retain the Sence of the Eternal Diety. Dissettle his foundation. to Lov them as the Saviour of the world doth. But if they were miserable as the most are. to hold them Sacred. and losing find one word that. For Nothing is so Easy as to teach the Truth becaus the Nature of the Thing confirms the Doctrine. The World was made for you. this Rattle makes Musick &c. to enjoy their Glory: Promote His. and that is weighty. not to be Provoked by their censure. needs to be said or heard? --Or speak of what has come to your sad race that to your clear rejoicing we turn with such a face? With such a face.17 Centuries 3. to remove silly Objects from before them. much Less a Congregation. If there were we ought to be Spotless. and to Persevere Faithfully in it untill Death. Traherne. &c. Establish our own. and those Parents that desire Holy Children learn to make them Possessors of Heaven and Earth betimes. and these Lands are another Mans and this Bauble is a jewel and this Gugaw a fine Thing. The Stars Minister unto us. and He that passeth Thorrow all thes Bryers well. . A Man is a Beautifull Creature. to be the Sons of God. To walk as Gods would be then our Duty. As when we say The Sun is Glorious. to enjoy their Persons. are Difficult Things. to be Amiable in their Eys. in the face of what you were. which would be no Small Inferior Thing. and makes him suspect all you say. to be filled with great compassion.

part and move.18 as might make dumb any but you. From “A Human Pattern” by Judith Wright . the man who knew how simply truth may come: who saw the depth of darkness shake. . and from death' s centre the light' s ladde r go up from love to Love.

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