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And even were this not the case, the poems here offered in a collected form, are many of them only to be found, as a reader familiar with the subject will perfectly know, one here, one there, in costly editions of the Fathers or medieval writers, or in collections of very rarest occurrence. The extreme difficulty I have myself experienced in obtaining several of the books which I desired to use, and the necessity under which I have remained of altogether forgoing the use of many that I would most gladly have consulted, has sufficiently shewn me how little obvious they can be to most readers. Often too the poems one would care to possess, are lost amid a quantity of verse of little or no value; or mixed up with much which, at least for purposes such as those which the present volume is intended to serve, the reader would much rather have away. They are to be met too, for the most part, without those helps for their profitable study which they so greatly require-with no attempt to bring them into relation with the theology of their own or of an earlier day, which at once they illustrate, and from which alone many of their allusions can be explained.
In regard of the notes with which I have sought to supply this last deficiency, I will say at once that had I followed my own inclinations, I should much have preferred to have given merely
the text, without adding any of these. At the same time, the longer I was engaged with these poems, the more I was struck with the extent to which they swarmed with Scriptural and patristic allusions, yet such as oftentimes one might miss at a first or second perusal, or, unless they were pointed out, might overlook altogether. I felt how many passages there were, which, without some such helps, would remain obscure to many readers; or, at any rate, would fail to yield up to them all the riches of meaning which they contained; and that an Editor had no right to presume that particular kind of knowledge upon their parts, which should render occasional explanations superfluous. Thus none, I trust, will take ill the space which I have bestowed on the elucidation of the typical allusions with which many of these poems so much abound, nor think that I have gone at too great a length into the explanation of these. Whatever the absolute worth of the medieval typology may be, its relative worth is considerable, giving us such insight as it does into the habits of men's thoughts in those ages, and the aspect under which they were wont to contemplate the Holy Scriptures and the facts of which Holy Scripture is the record. Without such pains bestowed, some of these poems would have been nearly unintelligible. Nor may we forget, that however the Old Testament typology
is now little better than a wreck, that is, as a branch of scientific theology,—that, however out of the capricious and oftentimes childish abuse which has been made of it, many look now at the whole matter with averseness and distaste, yet has it, as we are sure, a deep ground of truth; which is not affected by the fact that we have been at so little pains accurately to determine its limits, or the laws which are to guide its application, and have thus left it open to such infinite abuse.
And yet, with the fullest sense of the necessity of giving some notes, I will not deny how much of perplexity in one respect those here appended have cost me; nor can I hope that this volume has escaped that which, with only the difference of more or less, must be the lot of all annotated books. Doubtless it has often a note where none was needed, and none where one might justly have been looked for. As in part an excuse for their inadequacy and imperfections, I must plead the very little that had hitherto been done in this regard; so that, although assistances from those who have gone before are not altogether wanting, yet these are only few and insufficient. own notes been exclusively, or even mainly, critical, I should have felt myself bound to compose them in Latin, which has been so happily called “the
algebraic notation of criticism;" but being in the
A word or two before I conclude, in regard to
casionally made in some, with no loss I believe to the reader, and without which their length, or even a more serious flaw, might have excluded them from the volume. But the personal and the devotional being my primary objects, and all else merely secondary, it was plain that the order to be followed was that which should best assist and further the end I had specially in view.
In regard of that occasional liberty of omission which I have used—by which I mean, not so much presenting the fragments of a poem, as thinning it~ I would just observe that it is not so great a liberty, nor so perilous an interference with the unity, and so the life, of medieval, as it would be of many other, compositions. Form these writers thought of but little; and were little careful to satisfy its requirements. Oftentimes indeed the instincts of Art effectually wrought in them, and what they gave forth is as perfect in form as it is in spirit. But oftentimes also the stanzas, or other component parts of some long poem, jostle, and impair the effect of, one another. It is evident that the writer had not learned the painful duty of sacrificing parts to the interests of the whole ; perhaps it had never dawned on him that, in all higher art, there is such a duty, and one needing continually to be exercised. And when this is done for him, which he would not do for himself, the