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divines, as deans, or prebends, &c. And it may be, there may be more occasion to shew them, upon this libel ; that makes as if they did no work at Gidding, but all the time spent in contemplation, as it would make the world believe : but they may see this cost hath time and much labour every way; and it may do us much right in that thing."
“At your best and spare leisure, and when there is fitting
time and opportunity for it.
Sir, I have now further taken the presumption to send you herein enclosed the titles or frontispieces of some of those works and books done at Gidding; the inventions and patterns left us by our dearest brother.
The intent and end I have in it (submitting this and all other my desires to your better judgement) is, that if you think so good to shew them to my lord of Durham, or to some other worthy noble personages; if his lordship or they might desire to have any of these made for their uses, and would bestow their money upon them, if not for their own use, yet it may be for some library, as rarities in their kinds and the handy-work of women (for their manufacture, I mean, and labour of putting together, by the way of pasting, &c.), we should be glad of the employment for our younger and elder people, and it may be if noble personages and learned knew of them, they would be casting away money upon them as well as upon other things. My lord Wharton, upon the sight of Kings-Concordance, desired to have one of an inferior kind and sort: for the king's stands us in above $100; but my lord Wharton's cost him but £37: and so much be gave us for it willingly; but it was deemed by all that saw it to be of more worth.
Well, sir, I know you love us, and would be glad in any good way to promote our affairs and employments : if you shall find that the times settle, and men grow out of these fears and doubts : I hope in God, if the bishops and Book of Common Prayer be established, all will settle shortly in a
good end : which God Almighty grant; unto Whom I recomthis and yourself, and am
Yours J. F. But all this is but sent you that if you shall find all things to concur to do us any pleasure in this way, you may the better know how to do it, having these things by you: for no man knows what may [be] by some affected in this kind, and may so like them, that they may desire, as my lord Wharton did, to have some made ; and you may by chance be able to do us a high and rare benefit, with but a word of your mouth, this way. Adieu.
If any thing of these kinds be thought of any to be of worth or rarity, and that God shall enable us to finish them, we must and shall always say; Not unto us, not unto us, but to the great God be the praise and glory, Who hath made us any instruments of these things wholly by His goodness and grace.
(To Dr. Basier at his best The Superscription leisure and fitting time.” Page 257. n. 3. In a conversation (the fourth ; upon temperance) after some remarks on the evil tendency of epigrams, sonnets, madrigals &c. we read, “Sir Philip Sydney closeth up his works with a sonnet of recantation, and seals it with, Splendidis longum valedico nugis.”—Middle Hill MS. 9527.
Page 269. n. 1. “Add. MS. 5903." Now Bibl. Reg. append. No. 65.
Page 275. n. 3. Some of the stories were taken from Fox and other authors. A few extracts from the conversations printed by Hearne and from those preserved by Peck (Middle Hill MS. 9527) must here suffice.
“It was the same time when the church celebrates the great festival of the Purification, that the maiden sisters longing to be imitators of those glorious saints by whose names they were called (for all bare saints' names, and she that was elected Chief, that of the blessed Virgin Mary), having entered into a joint covenant between themselves and some others of nearest blood (which according to their several relations they
styled Founder, Guardian and Visitor), for the performance of divers religious exercises, lest (as sweet liquors are oftentimes corrupted by the sourness of the vessels wherein they are infused), there should arise in their hearts a distaste or abuse of those excellent things which they purposed, they therefore resolved together with the practice of devotion to intermingle the study of wisdom, searching and inquiring diligently into the knowledge of those things which appertain to their condition and sex: finding in themselves, and observing in others that do sincerely pursue virtue, that the greatest bar of perfection was ignorance of the truth, whereby through misapprehension many prejudicial things were embraced, and many most behoveful to their ends, and most delightful in performance, were not only neglected, but abhorred. Which having by many particulars experimented in themselves, doubting that they were alike abused in most of those things which we have received by tradition from our fathers ; they determined with firm promises each to other to make a particular survey of those opinions and practices which the world recommends or disallows; weighing them not in the scales of cominon judgement, but of true and right reason, according to the weights and by the standard of the Scripture; wherein being excellently versed, so as they were able to repeat by heart both the book of the Psalms and most part of the New Testament, they found that there was neither action nor opinion that could be propounded, but might receive a clear solution and direction from that book.
Wherefore not upon presumption of their own abilities, but on confidence of God's gracious assistance to their humble and diligent endeavours, they agreed, every day, at a set hour, to confer together of some such subject as should tend either to the information of the understanding or to the exciting of the affections to the more ready prosecution of virtues, and better performance of all such as in their present or other course of life hereafter should be required of them.
The first proceedings, as it always happens in great attempts that have no precedents to direct, were both in form
and substance far short of that whereunto they were in the end reduced. Wherefore as artists upon the full accomplishment of their works cast away the first draughts : so silencing what was less exactly done, I shall go on with the recording of things from that time which themselves account the beginning, being about the end of May. Only by way of introduction, as porches were anciently set in the fronts of greater buildings, I will set down some passages, which may well serve for a preface to the reader for this following book; as in truth they were main arguments to the confirmation of their minds who were the actors of this and other noble undertakings.
On Ash-Wednesday therefore, although for the better suiting of their bodies to their hearts, and their hearts to the meditations of the day, they forbore the refreshment of corporal food, yet so much the more desirous to feast their minds in the fast of their bodies, meeting at their appointed time and place, together with that other company which were always auditors, and sometimes (at least one of them) partneractors in these exercises ;
The Chief began thus.”—Caius, 713–715. “It is a hard task that is imposed on us (most honoured grandmother, and Founder of our little academy), that we should make supply of delights to your family, for those vain pastimes of cards, and the like, which you have so Christianly deprived them of. But when it is added, that we must likewise endeavour to profit them in the way of virtue, as well as to please them ; in requiring of two such things as scarce can stand together, there is made a great surcharge of difficulty of the work and pains to us. To make it a merry and true Christmas both together to your household by delightful and virtuous exercises, that they should have no cause to envy others greater liberty or better cheer, is your own injunction : but that it should be our performance, were more than we durst hope, but for the great encouragement of our worthy Guardian ; who persuades us, that it will
be easily and certaiply effected by the daily recounting of some good histories, whereof we ought not in truth to be unfurnished, considering the opportunity that God hath given us to grow rich in these kind of jewels : for jewels they are indeed ; especially when they are well set by a graceful delivery and a seasonable application : with which two conditions could we be sure to have our stories qualified, we should indeed make no question, by giving most delightful entertainment to your whole family, to give full satisfaction to your desires and the command that is imposed on us.
But though we cannot hope so much touching our stories, yet since we have no hope by any other means than by our stories, in any part or manner to discharge ourselves of what we are bound unto, we have resolved this way to make essay; wherein if your good acceptation shall give encouragement, we shall proceed the rest of this festival: otherwise, if by this day's experiment you find our designs unworthy of your precious hours, or unanswerable to your worthy intentions, you may please, by the intimation of your dislike, to give an end unto them, and by the direction of your wisdom to set us in a better and more acceptable way.
Having thus spoken, she rose, and sang an hymn; which the master of their music played on the viol.
The hymn being ended, she with a low reverence settling herself in the chair, thus proceeded.
This song refreshing to your memories the ground of this day's solemnity, leads us of necessity (except we will make a treble disproportion, to the festival, to the music, and to your minds, which I am sure are in expectation of matter answer able to this time and this preface) to begin and end our present exercise with stories of such affections, words and actions as in and by the example of blessed St. Stephen are recommended to our imitation by God and the church."--Ibid. 739-741.
“The company was about to rise, when the Moderator staying them with the beckoning of the hand to sit down again, I should be sorry (said she) that we should part without