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The Works of Thomas Traherne V

The Works of Thomas Traherne V: Centuries of Meditations' and 'Select Meditations'

Edited by JAN ROSS
Volume: 5
Copyright Date: 2013
Published by: Boydell and Brewer,
Pages: 528
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  • Book Info
    The Works of Thomas Traherne V
    Book Description:

    Thomas Traherne (1637?-1674), a clergyman of the Church of England during the Restoration, was little known until the early twentieth century, when his poetry and 'Centuries of Meditations' were first printed. There have been since only miscellaneous publications of his poetry and devotional writings. 'The Works of Thomas Traherne' brings together for the first time all Traherne's extant works, including his notebooks, in a definitive, printed edition. The six works in this volume are taken from two manuscripts. The first, held at the Bodleian Library, University of Oxford (MS Eng. th. e. 50), contains 'Centuries of Meditations'; the other, held at the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University (Osborn MS b. 308), is comprised of three works by Traherne, 'Select Meditations' and two brief untitled treatises, 'Being a Lover of the world' and 'The best principle whereby a man can Steer his course'. It also includes two works by an unidentified writer, 'A Prayer for Ash Wednesday' and 'A Meditation'; neither work is of Traherne's making.

    eISBN: 978-1-78204-069-9
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. List of Plates
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. General Preface
    (pp. ix-x)
  5. Acknowledgements
    (pp. xi-xi)
  6. Abbreviations
    (pp. xii-xii)
  7. Introduction
    (pp. xiii-xxxvi)

    The six works in this volume are taken from two manuscripts. One, held at the Bodleian Libraries, the University of Oxford, MS Eng. th. e. 50, contains Centuries of Meditations ; the other, held at the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University, Osborn MS b. 308, comprises three works by Thomas Traherne, Select Meditations and two brief untitled treatises, ‘Being a Lover of the world’ and ‘The best principle whereby a man can Steer his course’. It includes also ‘A Prayer for Ash Wednesday’ and ‘A Meditation’, which are not of Traherne’s making and the identity of the...

  8. Centuries of Meditations

    • [Introduction]
      (pp. 1-6)

      This volume is the original manuscript of Thomas Traherne’s ‘Centuries of Meditation’. It was once in the hands of the Rev. A. B. Grosart, who had persuaded himself that it was written by Henry Vaughan, and who therefore had it lettered on the back as it now appears.

      I need not say that I consider this to be a most precious manuscript. It should be in the Brit. Museum, to which after I have printed its contents I intend to offer it.

      Bertram Dobell

      This book unto the friend of my best friend

      As of the Wisest Love a Mark...

    • The First Century (untitled)
      (pp. 7-49)


      An Empty Book is like an Infants Soul, in which any Thing may be Written. It is Capable of all Things, but containeth Nothing. I hav a Mind to fill this with Profitable Wonders. And since Love made you put it into my Hands, I will fill it with those Truths you Love, without knowing them : and with those Things which if it be Possible, shall shew my Lov ; To you, in Communicating most Enriching Truths ; to Truth, in Exalting Her Beauties in such a Soul.


      Do not Wonder that I promise to fill it,...

    • The Second Century
      (pp. 50-92)


      The Services which the World doth you, are transcendent to all Imagination. Did it only Sustain your Body and preserv your Life, and Comfort your sences, you were bound to valu it as much as those services were worth : but it Discovers the Being of GOD unto you, It opens His Nature, and shews you his Wisdom Goodness and Power, It Magnifies His Lov unto you, It serves Angels and Men for you, It entertains you with many Lovely and Glorious Objects, It feeds you with Joys, and becomes a Theme that furnishes you with perpetual Praises and...

    • The Third Century
      (pp. 93-140)


      Will you see the Infancy of this Sublime and Celestial Greatness? Those Pure and Virgin Apprehensions I had from the Womb, and that Divine Light wherwith I was born, are the Best unto this Day, wherin I can see the Universe. By the Gift of GOD they attended me into the World, and by his Special favor I remember them till now. Verily they seem the Greatest Gifts His Wisdom could bestow. for without them all other Gifts had been Dead and Vain. They are unattainable by Books, and therfore I will teach them by Experience. Pray for them...

    • The Fourth Centurie
      (pp. 141-186)


      Having spoken so much concerning his Enterance and Progress in Felicity, I will in this Centurie speak of the Principles with which your friend Endued Himself to enjoy it! For besides Contemplativ, there is an Activ Happiness ; which consisteth in Blessed Operations. And as som things fit a man for Contemplation, so there are others fitting him for Action : which as they are infinitly necessary to Practical Happiness, so are they likewise infinitly conduciv to Contemplativ it self.


      He thought it a Vain Thing to see Glorious Principles lie Buried in Books, unless he did remove...

    • The Fifth Centurie
      (pp. 187-191)


      The Objects of Felicitie, and the Way of enjoying them, are two Material Themes ; wherin to be instructed is infinitly desirable, becaus as Necessary, as profitable. Whether of the Two, the Object, or the Way be more Glorious ; it is difficult to determine. God is the Object, and God is the Way of Enjoying. God in all his Excellencies, Laws and Works, in all his Ways and Counsels is the Sovereign Object of all Felicitie. Eternity and Time, Heaven and Earth, Kingdoms and Ages, Angels and Men, are in him to be enjoyed. In him, the fountain,...

    • Textual Emendations and Notes
      (pp. 192-250)
  9. Select Meditations

    • [Illustrations]
      (pp. 251-254)
    • The First Century (untitled)
      (pp. 255-266)


      When I retire first I seem to Com in my selfe to a Centre, in that Centre I find Eternitie and all its Riches. By Leaving things as they Stand without I find them within in a richer Manner. They are all in Thee, and Thou art there : O my God I flie unto Thee.


      Haveing made me Lord and Heir of the world, Reedeemed me by the Blood of thy Son, Exalted me to thy Throne by thy Holy laws, Received me to liv in Communion with thee, made me a Temple of all Eternity, A...

    • The Second Century
      (pp. 267-296)


      Haveing made me the Image of God Himselfe, and Given me Dominion over the works of His Hands ; He maketh Laws, wherein he teacheth me to lead the Best of all possible lives, and commandeth all creatures in Heaven and Earth, to regard me with Reverance Care and Lov as they do Him.


      The best of all possible lives is that wherein the best of all possible things are after the Similitud of God enjoyed. And becaus his laws require me to lead this Glorious Life, both they them Selves are the best of all possible laws,...

    • The Third Century
      (pp. 297-354)


      The Greatest Misery in Humane Nature is forgetfulness And yet is it a way to the Greatest Blessedness : if some have not weighed amiss. for the poets feigned that all those who passed hence into the Elizian feilds were Steeped in Lethe, haveing their senses Drenched in the lake of oblivion, that they might never more be Disturbed with the Remembrance of Earthly Troubles, but being removed in Spirit as well as Body from all sorrowfull and Greivious objects, be nakedly receptive of Celestiall Joys. but I think the learning of the Poets here Defective, and that Solid...

    • The Fourth Century
      (pp. 355-389)


      Had God created only one Image of Himselfe, and made it to behold his Eternal Godhead in so doing He had Given it Himself. for He had Loved it infinitly, and made it a Temple of all Eternity, and Glorified his Almighty Power Wisdom and Goodness in so Highly Exalting it. Yea He had made it to Live in union and communion with Himselfe For evermore. This Seemeth True at the first appearance : And that therefore God is Superlativly Wonderfull in Giving and superadding other Treasure. But in very Deed, had God only made one Image of himselfe,...

    • Textual Emendations and Notes
      (pp. 390-432)
  10. Miscellaneous works from Osborn MS b. 308

    • [Illustrations]
      (pp. 433-436)
    • Anonymous work from Osborn b.308: ‘A Prayer for Ash Wednesday’
      (pp. 437-438)

      Most Glorious Creator! who art all good, only good and Eternally good, my Soul desires to Love thee with ardency, and worthyly to Esteeme and admire thy Glory and Perfection. that I may not bee an useless, idle, Insensible being amydst soe many bounties and those satisfieing objects, which thou hast prepared for my Reason and affections. Wonderfully hast thou made mee the Divine Image, an Immortall Soul, Endued with the most Excellent powers, tho veyl’d and Ecclipst under corruption, and an Inclination to Evill, which I Inherite by the transmission of my first Parents ; the conquest whereof thou...

    • Anonymous work from Osborn MS b. 308: ‘A Meditation’
      (pp. 439-440)

      O Lord, when I call to mind thy loveing Kindnesses which have been ever of old, when I consider thyne Eternall Love, from Everlasting redeeming me from misery to Blessedness, I admire thy abundant compassions, and abhore my owne [inexcusable ?] unthankfullness, mee thinks this prospect and consideration of the joys and dignity to which thou hast advanced me, should turne me all into Love and Divine prayses ; To consider that thou hast made me in the best of manners to the best of ends, and to consider that thou requirest of me nothing but the love of thy...

    • Untitled Treatise: ‘Being a Lover of the world’
      (pp. 441-457)

      Being a Lover of the world, and concernd in the felicity of all persons, I am willing to gratifie your desires in treating of the Soul : not out of any vain Humor to appear a broad ; but from a native desire that the Glory of God may be seen with many eys, and every person filled with Blessedness. For which cause with Humility not with Arrogance, modesty and not with presumption, I desire by greatness of Reason a lone, without any violence, to Demonstrat the excellency of the Sublimest Creature : And Shall as willingly receive a confutation,...

    • Untitled treatise: ‘The best principle whereby a man can Steer his course’
      (pp. 458-461)

      The best principle whereby a man can Steer his course in this world is that of Love to God and man ; which being well prosecuted will make his Life at once Honorable and Happy, Holy and Blessed, Divine and Glorious. The utmost Height of it is most easy and most Blessed. which is to love evry man in the whole world, as the Sovereign object of ones Desires, the Representative of God Angels and Men, the right object of all their Love, the freind of God and the End of all Things. For this will a man Contemn Himselfe...

    • Textual Emendations and Notes
      (pp. 462-468)
  11. Appendix

    • William T. Brooke’s account of the discovery of Thomas Traherne’s manuscripts: The Story of the Traherne MSS. by their Finder
      (pp. 471-474)
    • Bodleian MS Eng. th. e. 50: Manuscript foliation
      (pp. 475-479)
    • Osborn MS b. 308: Manuscript foliation
      (pp. 480-484)
  12. Glossary
    (pp. 485-492)
  13. Back Matter
    (pp. 493-493)