This edition was undertaken because of suggestions contained in Dr. Percy Simpson's article in the Bodleian Quarterly Record for March 1929, 'The Bodleian Manuscripts of Henry King'. He described 'Hannah's manuscript', which had then newly come to light, and had been acquired for the Bodleian in 1928; he showed its connexion with Henry King himself, and its relation to the Malone manuscript of King's poems already in the Bodleian; he also printed, from other Bodleian manuscripts, poems which Lawrence Mason, in a doctoral dissertation of 1913, had attributed to Henry King, and others which he saw belonged with them; and he suggested the possibility that more were to be found in a related collection in the British Museum (Harleian MSS. 6917–18).
By the generosity of Sir Geoffrey Keynes, who had lately (in 1952) added the Phillipps manuscript to his collection at Hampstead, I was able to work with all three of King's surviving collections, an opportunity which earlier editors had not possessed. It was found that Mason's attributions were based on his confusion of the hand of Henry King with that of his brother John, and that the canon was in fact smaller, and not larger, than had been thought. But if there was nothing to add, the three manuscript collections, taken together, seemed to throw enough light on the text of the authentic poems to justify a new edition, in which a text very close to Henry King's own original copies could be provided; and from which John's poems should be excluded.
The manuscripts also suggested a chronological arrangement. In the following pages the occasional poems are printed first in chronological order, followed by the undated poems in what the manuscripts suggest to be approximately the order of their composition.
Sir Edmund Gosse, in the excitement of his discovery of Donne, claimed for him the credit for Henry King's poems as well as his own. In the light of the manuscripts, and a perhaps pg vicloser acquaintance now with the character of King's writing, it is not possible to agree when Gosse says: 'We need not question that the Dean [Donne] saw, and even possibly touched up, the majority of [King's] poems'; nor should Gosse's judgement of King as 'the earliest of Donne's disciples in poetry' be repeated.
I have received much kindness in preparing this edition, and thank those who gave it. In the earliest stages Dr. Helen Gardner, with Miss Helen Darbishire, Dr. G. K. A. Bell, then Bishop of Chichester, and Professor F. P. Wilson, gave encouragement and advice; Mr. Philip Robinson, as well as Sir Geoffrey Keynes, generously deposited a manuscript for me to use in the Bodleian; Mrs. Vivian Ridler, Miss Anne Whiteman, and Mr. Paul Morgan have read different parts of the introduction, and (so far as I was capable) I have gratefully carried out their suggestions, and those of Miss Jonquil Bevan and of the Rev. Michael Gallagher, S. J., who looked at some of the page proofs; my brother Michael transcribed and played to me Dr. John Wilson's settings of King's songs; the librarians of Trinity College and of St. John's College, Cambridge, showed me manuscripts in their keeping; and the governing bodies of those colleges have given their permission to quote from their manuscripts. It will be clear that I am indebted to the earlier editors of King's poems—Archdeacon John Hannah (1843); Lawrence Mason (1914); Saintsbury in Minor Poets of the Caroline Period, iii (1921), and John Sparrow (1925)—and to the writers of other books mentioned in the course of this one. Though I had enjoyed conversation with Mr. Ronald Berman, his book, Henry King and the Seventeenth Century, appeared when mine was virtually finished; it is not from want of respect that his views are unmentioned here. Whatever deficiencies are found in this edition would have been greater if I had not, while I was occupied with it, been working in the Department of Western Manuscripts at the Bodleian. The debt to the care and skill of those concerned at the Clarendon Press is everywhere apparent.
M. C. C.
Islip April 1965