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however in fairness be allowed, that the chorus of praise has been interrupted by a few discordant voices. That in the spreading ferment of puritanism, when the celebration of Christmas and the decoration of houses were abominated as dregs of heathenism, and organs and surplices as rags and furniture of Babylon',--that amid such jealous suspicions, I say, the Ferrars would not escape calumny, was to have been anticipated, nor would mere vague rumours admit of serious refutation. In their more tangible form, as embodied in the Arminian Nunnery, these slanders were silenced by Lenton, whose letter the libeller had taken as his groundwork. Gough’s imputation of “ useless enthusiasm” called
1 See Prynne's Histriomastic. This most learned of libellers is far better known by the cruel usage, which could not still his restless tongue and pen, than by his works. Yet hear the weighty sentence of one of his few readers. “I take Wm. Prynne to have been at the bottome an honest Man, his zeal for the Protestant Religion led him to great excesses, and to writing Books, that were interpreted (and really were) libels against the Church and Government: but when he saw into the bloody designs of the Independent Party, he stopt, and was an utter enemy to bringing the King to a Tryall, as he has sufficiently shown in his Preface to this Book ; and was an enemy to Cromwell, and to the Rump, more then to the King. And this may be said for his Books, that being most Historical, he always quotes his Authorities, so that if there be any mistakes, he fairly offers them to be examined. This too is like an honest Man.” Baker's MS. note in Prynne's Saints Loyalty.)
forth indignant protests at the time', and was more gravely discussed than it deserved by Dr. Peckard. These accusations and replies have been long forgotten; but a continually increasing circle, embracing men of every party, holds in honour the name of Ferrar, if only as that of a congenial friend of Herbert, now happily restored to his rightful rank among our national poets.
There is however one exception to the general unanimity which cannot be thus summarily dismissed. Raised far above most writers on our civil wars not less by his industry and scholarships than
i Gent. Mag. xlii. 322. Cole's Athence.
2 Witness the publishers of the three latest biographies, Rivington, Nisbet, Masters.
3 Understand it of modern scholarship, in which Mr. Carlyle is beyond question far better versed than in ancient, if we are to estimate his proficiency in that by the following passage, wherein, it is true, party spirit (Hero Worship) seems to have led him astray. “Pientissimo, which might as well be piantissimo if conjugation and declension were observed, is accredited barbarous-latin for most pious, but means properly most expiative; by which title the zealous individual of later date indicates his martyred Majesty; a most 'expiative' Majesty indeed.” Cromwell's Letters, &c. i. 58. When did Mr. Carlyle see a superlative formed from an active participle not used as an adjective ? or when did he meet with pians rex in the sense of an expiative king? Doubtless such an anomalous inflection as pientissimus from pians is “barbarous-latin.” It is hardly needful to say, that those who remember Cicero's ridicule of Antony's piissimus, and know the superlative of munificus, will readily divine the origin of pientissimus.
by his singular power of bringing a scene before us in all its picturesque features, Mr. Carlyle has asserted his superiority by nothing more, than by assigning a place in his narrative to many incidents and many persons, significant types of their class, but unnoticed by ordinary historians. Among other portraits that of Ferrar hangs in this gallery; and his friends, how little soever they may acknowledge the likeness, must at least rejoice that so eminent an artist has thus confessed his importance. To enable the reader to judge for himself, it will be necessary to introduce Mr. Carlyle's account by the authority to which it appeals (the same, by the way, which was caricatured in the Arminian Nunnery) and that by an explanatory letter', which Mr. Carlyle appears to have overlooked.
If your messenger had staid but one night longer, I would not have delayed my answer to your so discreet and respective a letter; which makes me wish we were better acquainted, in hope to confirm your good and charitable opinion of me.
Sir, I confess I should much degenerate from my birth (being a gentleman), my breeding (well known to the world), and the religion I profess, if having, upon something a bold visit, been entertained in your family with kind and civil
i Both printed after Peckard, his unnecessary interpolations alone being omitted. The copies in Hearne's Caius offer only minute verbal differences.
respects, I should requite it with such scorn and calumny as this libellous pamphlet seems to insinuate.
Sir, my conceit of it is, that in this time of too much liberty (if not licentiousness) of the press, many balladmakers and necessitous persons (it may be, set on work by some printers themselves, to promote their trade) distil their barren brains to make provision for their empty bellies, by publishing such novelties and fictions as they think will vent best; and, when they have spent their own little wit, borrow of others to eke it out; and so, enterlacing some shreds of their own, they patch up a penny pamphlet, to serve for their morning draught.
Of this strain I take this book to be. The ground whereof (you doubt, but I doubt not) was the letter I writ to sir Thomas Hetley many years since, upon his request that in my passage from him to my lord Montague's, being by your house, I would see and certify what I could in so short a stay, touching the various reports divulged in most places of your religious rites and ceremonies.
To which my true relation (which I am sorry and marvel how it should light in such hucksters' hands) the pamphleteer, by his additions and subtractions, interweaving truth with falsehood to purchase some credit to his untruths, hath drawn conclusions and accusations of Arminianism and other fopperies, not once mentioned in my letter ; but, as wisely as that atheist, who, to prove there was no God, vouched one end of a verse where David in his psalmsi saith, There is no God; and left out the beginning of the verse, That the fool hath said it in his heart.
By this time, sir, I hope you see I am so far from being the author, infuser, abetter or countenancer of this fable, that, by it I take myself to be as much abused, and that there is as much aspersion cast upon me as upon your family, by a sly and cunning intimation (my letter being his groundwork) to
make me thought (by such as know me not well) to be the author and divulger of his lies and scandals, which (by God's mercy) my soul abhors.
Had he shewed his dislike of some of the ceremonies, dc. (as I myself did, by way of argument) I should not (nor, I think, you) so much have kindled at it. But so to add to, subtract, pervert, and falsify my letter ;-I think the author (if haply he may be found out) deserves to be censured as a counterfeiter of false letters and tokens, and as a contriver and publisher of false news, according to the law of the land and the statutes in like case provided.
His ignorance (which yet excuseth not a toto, if a tanto) I think will be his best plea. For, it should seem, he is no great clerk. Which I observe even almost at the beginning of his story, where he tells a tale as of a third person, and in the same clause, within two or three lines after, ineptly changeth it into the first person, without any apt transition. A solecism which a mean scholar would hardly have fallen into.
To have put the true copy of my letter in print, without my privity, had been a great inhumanity. But to pervert it with so many falsifications, and laying his inhumanities on me, I think, none but a licentious libeller, or a beggarly balladmaker, would have offered.
I was so conscious to myself of intending no wrong to your family in my relation, that I thought to have sent your brother [N. F.] a copy thereof; and had done it, if want of opportunity in his lifetime, and his death afterwards, had not prevented me. And I would now send you a true copy thereof, if you had not wrote to me, that you had it presently after my writing it. And sith I have been at your house long since (for it is about seven years past, as I take it, that I writ the relation) I presume you would have expostulated the matter with me, if you had taken any just exception or distaste at it. But therein you might well perceive, that I endeavoured not to detract any thing from you, or to conceal even the civility or humility I found, or what I had heard or believed of your works of charity.