Izaak Walton (1593–1683). The Lives of John Donne and George Herbert.
The Harvard Classics. 1909–14.
“FOR the life of that great example of holiness, Mr. George Herbert, I profess it to be so far a free-will offering, that it was writ chiefly to please myself, but yet not without some respect to posterity: for though he was not a man that the next age can forget, yet many of his particular acts and virtues might have been neglected, or lost, if I had not collected and presented them to the imitation of those that shall succeed us: for I humbly conceive writing to be both a safer and truer preserver of men’s virtuous actions than tradition; especially as it is managed in this age. And I am also to tell the Reader, that though this Life of Mr. Herbert was not by me writ in haste, yet I intended it a review before it should be made public; but that was not allowed me, by reason of my absence from London when it was printing; so that the Reader may find in it some mistakes, some double expressions, and some not very proper, and some that might have been contracted, and some faults that are not justly chargeable upon me, but the printer; and yet I hope none so great, as may not, by this confession, purchase pardon from a good-natured Reader.”—From Izaak Walton’s Introduction to the “Lives.”