Introducing George Herbert, part one

Perhaps you are fortunate to have already met George Herbert. In that case, I hope to further the aquaintance. If you do not know him, I hope to give you a treat.

I first met George Herbert well enough to speak to through Charlotte Mason. By that I mean that I believe I had run into him here and there, in hymnals, in books, in passing reference, but never had noticed him well enough to learn that an aquaintance with Mr. Herbert was one worth pursuing.

As I read through Charlotte Mason’s six volume series, I came across quotes that caught my attention and made me want to know more.

For instance:

“Kindness which is simple thinks none of these things, nor does it put
evil constructions upon the thoughts that others may think in the given
circumstances. “Be ye kind one to another” is not an easy precept,

‘All worldly joys go less
To the one joy of doing kindnesses.’

Page 102, volume 4, _Ourselves_

“We must bring wide reading, reflection, conscience, and judgment to
bear upon our opinions, if it be only an opinion concerning a novel or a
sermon- upon our principles, if they affect only the ordering of our

‘Who sweeps a room as for Thy law
Makes that and the action fine,’

is a general principle; and no action is fine but as it reaches after a
principle greater than itself”

Page 150, volume 4 – the ‘who sweeps a room’ bit is from one of Herbert’s poems. The context of CM’s quote, I believe, is that one must be careful to make sure every idea we take into our heads is worthy.

Keep this in mind when I share the whole poem in a moment.

“Perhaps most of us fall on our knees and give thanks for special
mercies that we have begged of our Father’s providing care…
For such graces as these we give ungrudging thanks, and we do well; but
the continual habit of thanksgiving is more;-

“Not thankful when it pleaseth me,
As if Thy blessings had spare days,
But such a heart whose pulse may be,
Thy praise.”

Page 193, Volume 4, OUrselves

And finally, (and I know this may be tiresome, but please do stay with
me, I think it’s worth it):

But what sort of apporaches do we prepare for children towards the God
whom they need, theSaviour in Whom is all help, the King Who affords all
delight commands all adoration and loyalty? Any words or thoughts of
ours are poor and insufficient, but we have a treasury of divine words
which they read and know… [she means the Bible;-)]

By degrees children get that knowledge of God … and all other
knowledge which they obtain gathers round and illuminate this.

Here is an example of how such knowledge grows. I heard a class of
girls aged about thirteen read an essay on Geroge Herbert. Three or
four of his poems were included and none of the girls had read either
essay or poems before.

They ‘narrated’ what they had read and in the course of their narration
gave a full paraphrase of ‘the Elixir, The Pulley, and one or two other

In such ways the great thoughts of great thinkers illuminate children
and they grow in knowledge, chiefly the knowledge of God.”

Volume 6, Towards A Philosophy of Education, page 64

Part two will be a biographical sketch of George Herbert’s life, and part 3 will be a sampling of his poems.

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