Coleridge said, that for a man fully to appreciate George Herbert, he must be "an affectionate and dutiful son of the Church, and from habit, conviction, and a constitutional predisposition to ceremoniousness in piety as in manners, find her forms and ordinances aids of religion, not sources of formality." Mr Gilfillan has none of the qualifications here described, yet never was the character of Herbert more highly appreciated, nor his poetry more unreservedly admired, than by this Presbyterian editor. The editorial work is done with true Christian liberality, and with the sympathy of a man of genius. The present volume forms one of the new series of the "English Poetical Classics," published by Mr Nichol of Edinburgh. In typography and appearance they are very superior, and they are issued at a price of unusual cheapness. The series will form a beautiful and valuable library edition of the English Classic Poets.
In this age of puffs and puffing, it is really pleasing to find pretensions at first somewhat startling, though modestly enough proclaimed, so well sustained. Six such volumes for twenty-one shillings! We are not surprised that they are said to be "offered at about one-third of the usual selling price." Independently altogether of the original matter furnished by Mr Gilfillan, the poetical works of John Milton, produced in such a style, are certainly worthy of a place in the best libraries. We know of no issue from the press which, as to paper, type, and general getting up, commends itself to public favour at so small a charge.
The proposal issued by Mr Nichol is remarkable even in this age of cheap literature, and will go far to supply what has been long needed, -- an accurate, elegant, and cheap edition of our Poets. Such a guinea's worth was never issued before, and we are much mistaken if the series does not obtain a large circulation. The volumes are issued in handsome style, and every care will be taken to secure the accuracy of the editions. Mr Gilfillan's temperament involves some of the choicest elements of poetic impressions, while his critical canons are for the most part sound and trustworthy.
It is almost unnecessary for us to say more than what is now universally admitted, that this is the best and cheapest edition of the British Poets ever offered to the public. Setting aside their acknowledged and standard elegance, they are the cheapest books we have ever seen, and their being indispensable to the literary man, as well as the educated gentleman or well-read artisan, makes them doubly so.
These volumes form part of a new series of the "British Poets," published by Mr Nichol, in the form of substantial and elegant library volumes, at a price less than one third of that which the public have been accustomed to pay for tomes of such goodly parts and quality. Paper, print, and binding, are all excellent, the type large and clear.... The above extracts, more than anything we could say, will commend these volumes, and the series of which they form a part, to the good opinion of the reader. As a cheap and excellent library edition of the "British Poets," they will prove acceptable to a very numerous class; and under the management of their present able editor, we cannot harbour a doubt of their success with the public.
When it was proposed that, at so low a price as a subscription of a guinea in the year, six volumes, in a superior style of execution, would be issued, we could not but admire the enterprise of the publisher, and heartily wish all success to the undertaking.
These volumes, the first in the series, fully justified our fondest anticipations, and give large promise that this admirable publication will secure, as it certainly deserves, extensive patronage. They are issued in a very attractive style -- in a large bold type, paper of the best quality, and in neat and substantial binding. The editorial part of the undertaking is carefully and ably executed. Indeed, we know no living person who is better qualified to edit a uniform edition of the British Poets than the Rev. George Gilfillan. We tender to both the publisher and editor of this beautiful superior edition of the British Poets our grateful acknowledgments for commencing so important and valuable an undertaking.
This series has now reached the fourth volume, and is fully sustaining the very favourable opinion expressed by the press in all parts of the country. Never was a work issued combining elegance and cheapness in so remarkable a degree.
Bell's Weekly Messenger.
This volume is an additional proof of the excellency of the selection, the ability of the gifted editor, and the elegance of the publication.
This is the fourth volume of the library edition of the British Poets, projected by Mr Nichol, the enterprising Edinburgh publisher, one or two of the former volumes of which we have already had the pleasure of noticing. The design, and the style in which it was proposed to carry it out, as indicated by the first volume of the series, elicited the expression of our special admiration several months ago, and we have pleasure in stating that the volume now before us is in every respect a worthy successor to those which have preceded it. We may observe that the critical dissertation prefixed, from the pen of Mr Gilfillan, is worth the price of the entire volume.
... A few words respecting the series of publications of which this volume forms a part. They are issued, as our readers are aware, under the very efficient superintendence of George Gilfillan; and we cannot speak of them but in terms of the warmest approval; for, in point of form and elegance, and correctness of typography, they are on a level with the high-priced editions; and in point of price, they are on a level with the most ordinary publications of popular works that have been got up for the popular market. The enterprise is indeed a noble one, and we wish it all manner of success.
Dumfriesshire and Galloway Herald.
This is the fourth volume of the new Edinburgh edition of the Poets -- an edition, we must say, alike honourable to the publisher and editor. Mr Nichol's undertaking is a noble one. We wish him all success in it.
The edition before us, with its ample page and masculine type -- very suitable for feeble eyes -- forms part of Nichol's fine and wonderfully cheap issue of the British Poets, under the able editorship of Mr Gilfillan. Four volumes are now out, comprising the works of Milton, Thomson, and Herbert.
The paper and printing of this volume, as of the others, are, however, beyond all praise, when compared with other "people's editions."
Montrose, Arbroath, and Brechin Review.
The editorial part is admirably performed by Mr Gilfillan; the getting up quite the ne plus ultra of elegance and correctness; and the price (six volumes for a guinea) is perhaps the very greatest marvel of this marvellous age of cheap publications.
Regarded as specimens of typography -- as books, in short, in the mere sense of what is mechanical, they are among the most perfect we have seen. This new edition of the British Poets is an undertaking which is worthy of commendation and encouragement, even apart from the considerations to which we have alluded.
The National Miscellany.
It is a bold speculation on the part of a publisher to offer six handsome and well printed volumes for a guinea.... The printing, binding, and general appearance is far superior to what we could have at all expected for the price; and the series being issued under the superintendence of a careful editor, entirely fulfils the import of the title, a Library Edition. The works which have already appeared, are those of Milton, Herbert, and Thomson.