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Thus angels sung, and so do we,
39. Then the young children, the youths with their masters, went down to breakfast, and, that ended, to their school-house, which was near adjoining to the house, having been formerly a fair dove-house. The old gentlewoman set herself down in a chair, and this was her constant place for most part of the time any were there, and some or other of her daughters: her grandchildren were always there. Others, as young or old and such as were too young to go to school, yet sat there, and in great silence, either at their book or otherwise : and the others, some to their needleworks, others to learn what they were to say the next day. And each hour had commonly some employment or other for them; the making the concordance, their singing, their playing on their instruments, their writing, ciphering; and so never idle. And for the variety of employments, Nicholas Ferrar entertained a bookbinder's daughter of Cambridge, to learn of her the skill and art of bookbinding and gilding, and grew very expert at it, as the king, having received books of her binding, said, he never saw the like workmanship.
40. Each several hour in forenoon and afternoon made all to be very pleasant and profitable to them: for so that was, until Nicholas Ferrar contrived all things to have a fit proportion in time; for he was wont to say, a mean in all things, if men could hit it, was the only way with good order to effect great things with ease and delight, as well as to advantage of necessary things in the world, even for this life and a better.
41. But to proceed. Eight, nine, ten o'clock come, those hours had their several companies, that came and did as at the former hours: psalms said and a head of the concordance, the organs playing, the hymn sung at each hour, as the clock struck, that gave
notice to all of the time passing. Besides, in most rooms of the house, they had sun-dials of painted glass, and three dials on the church-steeple, north, south and west, all of them large and fairly painted in colours, with suitable mottoes on them.
42. Ten o'clock striking, the bell rung to church : so up came all into the great chamber, which was always the place of assembling, for all to come unto, before they went to church. So as in the morning, they all went in their orders, and then was only the litany said, every day in the week. (The reason of this unusual reading the litany? daily was, that they, coming to Gidding in the great plague time, obtained licence of the bishop that they might use it daily, which he granted).
43. This having ended, they returned all home to the house. Then at eleven o'clock, the bell ringing, the company appointed for that hour said their
1 The Arminian Nunnery falsely imputes to them the "lip-labour of trolling out the litany four times a day."cxxxviii.
psalms and head of concordance in the great chamber. The hymn sung &c., they went all to dinner, and while the meat came in to be set on the table, they sung the hymn, with organs playing to it. Grace said, all standing, after some time they all sat down, and one whose turn it was read at dinner and supper-time some part of history, such as was appointed, either some chronicles of nations, journeys by land, sea-voyages, and the like. The reasons and the method of them I shall for the better satisfaction of the historian set down.
44. Finding silence at meals' time unpleasant and common discourse for the most part unprofitable, it is agreed that there shall be always something read during meal-times'. And because the mind,
1“I have stood by his [king James's] table often, when I was about the age of two and twenty years, and from thence forward, and have heard learned pieces read before him at his dinners, which I thought strange; but a chaplain of James Montague, bishop of Winton, told me, that the bishop had read over unto him the four tomes of Cardinal Bellarmine's controversies at those respites, when his majesty took fresh air, and weighed the objections and answers of that subtle author, and sent often to the libraries in Cambridge for books, to examine his quotations.”—Hacket's Life of Williams, i. 227. “At this (Williams's] table a chorister read a chapter in the English translation at dinner, and one of his gentlemen another in the Latin translation at supper. For there was none of them but was bred at least to so much learning."—ibid. ü. 32. “While he [John Ball] was at supper, other scholars read a piece of Greek or Latin (so exceeding diligent was he in husbanding the shreds of time).”—
then being in most men altogether intent upon the refreshment of their bodies, doth not willingly admit any serious speculation, it is thought fit that the reading shall be always of some easy and delightful matter, such as are history and relations of particu lar actions and persons, such as may not only furnish the mind with variety of knowledge in all kinds, but also stir up the affections to the embracements of virtue. The performance of this shall be by the two young daughters and four boys, every one in their course, whereby a particular benefit is hoped will arise to the whole, and they shall by these means be brought to read any book well and gracefully. They that are to read shall immediately upon the coming into the dining-room have a mess of broth sent them, which when they have eaten, they shall begin their reading, standing at the north end of the table, and continue so reading, till the rest of the children have supped; when another, after they have repeated their gospels, shall take the book, and the first go to their meal and, in regard of their forbearance, shall always have the advantage of some more than their fellows had. For the better retaining in memory of that which shall be read, it is agreed, that a summary collection shall be kept in writing of those things, which are judged worthy of observation, out of that book. The drawing of this abstract shall
Clarke's Martyrologie (1651), 444. On the Roman and the monastic practice see Juv. xi. 179, Du Cange s. v. Lector Mensce.
be the work of one of the parents or masters, but the transcribing it fair may be by any of the children; and every noon, presently after collation, shall be made a repetition of that which was formerly read. The manner of this repetition, whether it shall be by examination of the younger, or by the elders relating it and application of things, is left to the judgement of the directors of those exercises to proceed according as the nature of the subject, time, persons and other occasions shall require. The ordinary and constant charge of this matter is committed to John and Mary Ferrar, and for assistance and supply, when they cannot, Susanna Collett: the mother and the elder daughters are desired always, as occasion serves, to give their help. Some other orders and directions were given, but this as a taste may suffice. And by this means it so came to pass, that though they seemed to live privately and had not much commerce with people, yet they were well acquainted with the former and latter passages of the world, and what was done in it at home and abroad, and had gained knowledge of many actions of note and passages of consequence and the manners of other countries and nations and affairs of their own country.
45. When dinner and supper were ended, the reader ceased; and then, grace said, one boy, whose turn it was that meal, repeated a story without book, such as Nicholas Ferrar had compiled for them and fitting their capacities.
These were short, pleasant and profitable; good language and