Wednesday, October 12, 2016


Books as Gardens

John Florio (1553-1625), "To the Reader" in Boccaccio, The Decameron, containing an hundred pleasant Nouels. Wittily discoursed, betweene seauen Honourable Ladies, and three Noble Gentlemen, Vol. II: The last Fiue Dayes (London: Isaac Iaggard, 1620), sig. A4:
Bookes (Courteous Reader) may rightly be compared to Gardens; wherein, let the painfull Gardiner expresse neuer so much care and diligent endeauour; yet among the very fairest, sweetest, and freshest Flowers, as also Plants of most precious Vertue; ill fauouring and stinking Weeds, fit for no vse but the fire or mucke-hill, will spring and sprout vp. So fareth it with Bookes of the very best quality, let the Author bee neuer so indulgent, and the Printer vigilant: yet both may misse their ayme, by the escape of Errors and Mistakes, either in sense or matter, the one fault ensuing by a ragged Written Copy; and the other through want of wary Correction. If then the best Bookes cannot be free from this common infirmity; blame not this then, of farre lighter argument, wherein thy courtesie may helpe vs both: His blame, in acknowledging his more sufficiency, then to write so grosse and absurdly: And mine, in pardoning vnwilling Errours committed, which thy iudgement finding, thy pen can as easily correct.
See Randall L. Anderson, "Metaphors of the Book as Garden in the English Renaissance," Yearbook of English Studies 33 (2003) 248-261, who doesn't seem to mention this passage.

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