31 MARCH 1855, Page 15



This is a volume which must be allowed mainly to tell its own story in the extracts we can find room for. It consists of two lives of the famous Nicholas Ferrer, the founder of a kind of Pro- testant religions house at Little Gidding in Huntingdonshire, in the time of Charles the First. One of the lives is by John Ferrar, the brother of Nicholas ; and Mr. Mayor found it among the Baker MSS. in the University Library at Cambridge. The other, by Dr. Jebb, an unknown person, came to Mr. Mayor's hands from the descendant of a Rector of Gidding in the last century, and is evidently founded on family documents. Both are highly curious and interesting for the light they throw upon a particular phase of Church-of-Englandism, for the details they furnish of persons of historical importance, for the picture of the Gidding establish- ment, and above all for their portraiture of a man as remarkable in himself as Ignatius Loyola, though his influence was out short by the circumstances of his time, and probably would under no circumstances have taken deep root in English society. Of Mr. Mayor's editorial labours we may say that he exhibits a patient in- dustry and a freedom from prejudice of all kind, which, while they greatly enhance the value of any record of the past to which'they may be applied, justify the hope that he may be destined to win an enduring fame and to perform invaluable service in that pre- paratory work upon the raw material of history, the imperfect- state of which is really the main cause why we still remain with- out a satisfactory History of England.

Nicholas Ferrer was born in London, 1592-93; and was the third son of a wealthy merchant. His childhood was remarkable for an early development of strong religious feeling, which led- him to obtain confirmation twice at the hands of a bishop, to seek plainness of attire as a future clergyman, to conflict of doubt, and to solemn vows of self-dedication. He distinguished himself at school by precocity of talent and character; and was taken to Clare Hall at Cambridge at the early age of thirteen, where he was placed under the tuition of Dr. Linsell, afterwards Bishop of Peterborough and Hereford. His college career was one of signal success in learning ; and he early established a character for good- ness, wisdom, and piety, as well as for tact, resolution, and high intellectual powers. His health, however, failing him, he was recommended to travel; and having become a Fellow of his Col- lege and a Master of Arts by special grace of the Senate, he ac- companied the Princess Palatine abroad in the spring of 1613. Leaving her Highness to travel Southward, he took his course through North Germany ; and resided for a time in many of the famous university towns, making himself acquainted with the learned men in each place, studying the languages and the history of the places, and generally enriching his mind by study and ob- servation. He pursued the same course in Italy ; whence he proceeded to Spain ; and thence, hearing that his family was in il-f6culties, home to England. Here are two passages from his travels highly characteristic both of the times and of the man, who seems to have united in himself all the accomplishments of

the scholar, the divine, the soldier, and the man of business:

"Soon after he shipped himself in a small English vessel of twelve guns bound from Marseilles to Spain ; but they had not sailed far before a Turk- ish pirate gave them chase and fetched them up amain, though the wind was not very favourable to the pirate. The sailors began to tremble, and only the master and his mate had the heart to think of fighting, the major part inclining to strike sail and yield immediately. Our traveller stood upon the deck and heard all, and said nothing till the master appealing to him asked his opinion. For,' said he, this young gentleman has a life to lose as well as we ; shall we hear what he thinks of it ?' Then this young Christian worthy animated them all with such words as David used= Let us fall into the hands of God and not into the hands of men ; however, not into the bands of such men as have cast off all humanity.' He persuaded them to fight manfully; terrifying the fearful with horrid representations of the chains and stripes they must endure together with slavery, and firing the most phlegmatic by recounting how our ancestors lorded it over the sea and were renowned over all the world for their naval victories. He so wrought them, that they all prepared for an engagement ; and he was as ac- tive as any tarpaulin of them all. The Turk, who had been striving to get the weather-gage, approached and was ready to hail them : the English were resolved to use the advantage of the wind whilst they had it, and to give him a broadside. But as the master was giving the signal to the gunner, the Turk fell off and steered away with all the sail he could make, to their inexpressible joy, and to their admiration, till they discovered the reason, viz, that he had descried at a distance a much greater ship, and so probably a better booty, which he was unwilling to lose, and they saw him over the poop get apace upon her. They thanked God and their gallant passenger for his courage and conduct; and, discerning his excellent skill in maritime affairs, they would hardly believe but that he had been some sea captain in the Venetian fleets against the Turks, and that he had seen hot service."

This occurs in his journey on foot from Madrid to St. Sebas- tian's:

. "In all places wherever he thought fit to offer any discourse he was very inquisitive after the state of the war in Flanders; which his hosts or fellow travellers observing, they took him for a young Italian gentleman going to- !cart% Flanders to serve under the Marquis Spinola, the great commander in those parts for the King of Spain. At one little town the.governor would have taken away from him his curious rapier; which he denied him, saying, A man of courage ought no more to part with his sword than with his life.' When still he was urged to surrender it, he answered wisely and resolutely, that if it was forced away from him, he should find friends at court that would see him take no wrong. Some judged by his free speech and by his brave deportment that he was some extraordinary person incognito ; there- fore they advised the governor to press him no further. Well,' said the Don, did this only to try you : I see you love your arms, whieh indeed is

• 'Nicholas Ferran Two Lives by his Brother John and- by Dr. Jebb. Now first edited, with Illustrations, by J. E. B. Mayor, M.A., Fellow and Assistant Tutor of St. John's College, Cambridge. Published by Macmillan and Co.

soldierlike; I perceive you are for the Flemish wars under your countrynitav, Spinola' ; and so dismissed him to proceed on his wearisome journey."

Returning after five years' absence, he finds his father embarked in the Virginian Company ; and, reluctantly giving up his wish to return to his college life and scholastic pursuits, he enters upon public life as a leading member of this famous colonization society.

"He was presently made known to those noble lords that were engaged as adventurers, above twenty peers of the realm; but he was received with. open arms by my Lord Southampton, the most generous patron and the most vigorous promoter of this glorious enterprise. Mr. Nioholas Ferrer the younger was sure to be named for one in all committees ; he was become their secretary to all intents and purposes except taking fees, which he never touched, but left them all to the person that had the title of secretary, who did but write after him. Their letters of advice to the colony were drawn by him ; he had the framing and ordering of all instructions, either for matter of government, or for the country's improvement by staple coin- modities. He procured men out of France that were skilful in feeding and ordering silk-worms, and we owe it to his contrivance that Virginia now affords some as good silk as Persia. He treated with the civilian; the com- mon lawyers, and the divines, that came to their courts; he managed the victualling and setting out of their ships. If reading, considering, and ad- vising would make him perfect master of his business, he would study it with such unweaned diligence, that he alone (as the tradesmen and seamen acknowledged) could direct all the officers. Thus, before he was aware of it, this great young man had made himself necessary to those parts of the other world."

Here is a touch of a mode of oppression fashionable in those days ; and also an indication of the quiet self-possessed energy by which English liberties have been established, without violence, except upon the exact crisis where violence was the only instru- ment effective.

"And though he easily foiled the cabal whenever they demanded audi- ence in so ill a cause as theirs, yet they were restless enemies : at last they brought in I know not how many sheets of articles and accusations against the government of the Virginia Company. These they presented to the Lord- Treasurer Cranfield and other grandees of the Spanish faction. They gave in this charge upon a Thursday. The Lord-Treasurer gives notice of it to the Deputy, and requires his punctual answer to all particulars by the next Monday in the afternoon. The Deputy protests against these proceedings as an insupportable hardship put upon them, and craves more time, at least one week more ; but is austerely refused by the Lord-Treasurer, and denied one hour longer. If Cardinal Wolsey be still famous ever since King Henry the Seventh's reign for one strange despatch, posting to the Emperor Maximilian at Calais and back again to Richmond in the compass of three days, I must needs think this as remarkable, which Mr. Ferrer and two other gallant gentlemen performed on this occasion though sitting still. For being treated so severely by my Lord-Treasurer, he presently assembled the Company, be- fore whom all the artioles of the charge held reading three hours. The com- pany refer themselves and all their concerns entirely to the joint care of the honourable the Lord Cavendish, Sir-Edwin Sandy; and Mr. Nicholas Ferrer. These three made it midnight ere they parted ; they ate no set meals, they slept not two hours all Thursday and Fnday nights ; they met to admire each other's labours on Saturday night, and sat in judgment upon the whole until five o'clock on Sunday morning : then they divided it equally amongst six nimble scribes, and went to bed themselves, as it was high time for them. The transcribers finished their task by five o'clock on Monday morning; at six the Company met in court, and took a hasty review of it by twelve at noon; at two in the afternoon they resolved to meet and carry it to the Council board, where their adversaries were talking merrily, that now the patentees were coming with blank paper to require more time. When the answer was offered at the Council, the Lords were astonished and almost affrighted at the bulk of it ; asking them, if they had not employed all the scribes in London ? It was run over very swiftly in six hours or there-

abouts, to the entire satisfaction and joy of some, but to the extreme regret and discontent of the other party, who were so baffled by this answer that they attempted no more at the Council board, but only in Westminster Hall,

to void the patent ; where, though the Deputy managed a righteous cause with all the industry and dexterity imaginable and natural to him, yet by a nicety in law such a defect was found in the patent that it was voided and nulled by sentence of court. So the colony languished, and the most flou- rishing plantation in the world was almost blasted under new lords and new laws.'

In 1624, Nicholas Ferrer was elected Member of Parliament ; where he took a leading part in the impeachment of the Lord Treasurer Cranfield, for this Virginian business and other irregu- larities in his office. But the conscience of Ferrer smote him for' opposition to his Sovereign, even when the Sovereign was mani- festly wronging his subjects. A very singular trait of the times, and one which is needful to be borne in mind by one who would really understand them is given in this record of his remorse for. having discharged his plain duty as a free Englishman.

"For these engagements and his too free speeches against the will of his prince, though exceedingly well meant, were so deep and so long a regret and shame to him afterwards, that he was heard to say, (stretching out his. right hand,) I would I were assured of the pardon of that sin, though on- that condition this right hand were cut off,'" Nicholas had early entertained the design of devoting himself to a religious life ; and neither brilliant prospects of preferment in the state, nor the pressing offer of the hand of an heiress by her father, could prevail over his sense of his true calling. In 1626 he was ordained deacon by Bishop Laud; refusing to the last to take priest's orders, but determining to act as "Levite in his own house."- He had by his energy saved his family from pecuniary ruin; and, this task performed, he retired with his mother, his brother John, his sister Mrs. Collett, and her husband, with their large family, to the manor of Little Gidding, where he passed the remainder of his life' dying in 1637. It is with this establishment at Little Gid- ding that Ferrar's name will be for ever chiefly remembered; and in the details of its management lies the peculiar interest of the' biography. We select a passage that gives a description of the mode in which the inmates passed their week: daye. "On week-days they employed themselves thus. They all got up as' early at least as on Sundays ; then, after their prayers ha secret by them- selves, they came into the great chamber above mentioned, where the younger nephews and nieces repeated to Mr. Ferrer himself some of the psalms or chapters they had learnt that week; this done, they retired awhile . every one to their closets. At six o'clock, the bellralling, all of them came again into the common room; and the company that had the charge began

the p Wan appo:nted for that hour, (for each hour of the day had such a proportion of psalms allotted to be said in it by some part or division of the family.) and they all knew their order and time of attendance ; so that the whole poilti r was duly said over by them verse by verse interchangeably within the compass of the twenty-four hours. Then one of them repeated without book one of the heads of the concordance or harmony which they had made on the four evangelists (of which more anon). This book was so divided into heads or chapters, and so many of those heads assigned to each hour of the day, that, beginning still on the first day of each month and ending on the last, the gospels were all said over in every month ; that was twelve times in the year. A short hymn also was sung each hour, the or- gans playing to it. The hymn was commonly this :

So angels sing, and so sing we,

To God on high all glory be: Let Him on earth His peace bestow, And unto men His favour show.'

" The services for every hour, though they were very solemn' yet were they so framed as that the collects, the psalms, the gospels, and all, lasted but a quarter of an hour.

"This done, they went all in the order that has been described to prayers in the church; where Mr. Ferrer officiated according to the Liturgy, without adding or diminishing a word. By this time the hour of seven was come,

which bad such another portion of collects, psalms, portions of the gospel, and a hymn ready for it : this was performed by the second company. Then all the children breakfasted and went to the school-house with their masters. The old gentlewoman took her chair, inspecting her daughters and grand- children (like the olive-branches round about her table) as they sat at their books or other good employments in great silence, or at least avoiding all vain talking and jesting that was not convenient. No hour but had its business ; for so their wise uncle had contrived, who used to tell them that the golden mean, if one could light upon it, was the only way to effect great things with ease and pleasure ; and this he prayed them to observe even in their spiritual exercises. Some, therefore, spent part of the day in perfect- ing their harmony on the Scripture or getting it by heart, others practising their singing or playing on instrumental music, some learning to write fair hands or else to cipher, some of them exercising their humility and diligence in gilding and binding of books, for he desired every one that would should be taught a trade. Accordingly, he entertained a Cambridge bookbinder's daughter that bound rarely, to show them that piece of skill.

• "At eight, nine, and ten o'clock, they did as at other hours. Just after their office for ten it rung to church ; where only then the Litany was said, every day in the week, as their bishop had given them leave. At eleven o'clock the set for that hour did as the rest had done. Such was their busi- ness on working-days in the morning. "About this time was their dinner-time; and as the meat was bringing

in and setting on the table below, in the large parlour they sung a hymn to the organ. When grace was said and they all had taken their places, one of the youths whose turn it was read to them out of some English history ; for silence at meals they thought unpleasant, and common discourse they thought unprofitable. It was therefore agreed that something delightful and easy, as stories of sea-voyages, descriptions of foreign countries and ac- counts of revolutions that happened in them, should be reserved for a time when men do not willingly admit of any very serious and deep speculations. This was a way not only to refresh but also to enrich their minds, especially with examples innumerable tending to stir up generous and good affections. For the better retaining in memory what should be read, it was ordered that a summary collection should be taken of all the passages worthy their ob- servation: the drawing of this abstract was one of the schoolmasters' tasks, and the transcribing fair was put upon some of the scholars. Besides this, ever?, noon presently after collation a repetition was made of something for- merly read, the same matter only dressed up in another form ; that is, one of the boys whose course it was that meal repeated a story compiled on pur- pose for him and fitted to his capacity by Mr. Ferrar. It was short, plea- sant, the language good, the matter better, and always drawn into conse- quence, to increase their abhorrence of vice and promote virtue."

With this extract we must conclude ; though we thus omit all mention of the prodigious works of erudition upon which Nicholas Ferrar employed himself and his nephew Nicholas; and of which a minute account is found in John Ferrar's memoir, with very curious details of the interest they excited at the court of Charles, to whom some of them were presented. The reader will learn how much he owes to Mr. Mayor, by comparing with these two biogra- phies the life of Ferrar by Dr. Peckard, printed in Dr. Words- worth's Ecclesiastical Biographies.

But we cannot close our notice without a word upon Mr. Mayor's most thorough exposure of Thomas Carlyle's reprehensible care- lessness—to use the mildest word—in dealing with his authorities, as manifested in the account of Nicholas Ferrar's establishment contained in the first volume of his Cromwell. Mr. Carlyle has a remarkable power of painting men and scenes by graphic epithets, and of enlivening his pages by an epigrammatic and allusive style of writing. Hitherto we have thought him a generally trust- worthy historian, in spite of this dangerous talent, and in spite of our experience of his distorted views of the proceedings of the contemporary world. But such an instance of misrepresentation, unfounded inuendo, and assumed sagacity, as Mr. Mayor has here exposed, throws doubt and distrust over every page of Carlyle's writings about people and things where -we have not his author- ities at hand to compare with his statements. Undoubtedly, in this ease he has been led astray by his conviction that the life of the people at Little Gidding was not a noble life at any time, much less when sterner duties were imposed upon every Englishman of capacity for great action. But let facts speak for themselves. We want historians to tell us facts, not to colour those facts from their own individual tastes or opinions. Mr. Mayor has done ex- cellent service in putting Carlyle's readers upon their guard.