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I asked also, what use they made of so many tapers? He said, to give them light, when they could not see without them.
Then (having, as I told you before, obtained leave to say what I listed) I asked bim, to whom he made all those courtesies? He said, to God. I asked if the papists made any other answer for their bowing to images and crucifixes? yet we account them idolaters for so doing. He said, we have no such warrant for the one. But for the other we have a precept, to do all things with decency and orderd; as he took this to be.
I demanded then, why he used not the same solemnity in his service at his house; And, whether he thought the chapel more holy than his house? He said, No. But that God was more immediately present, while we were worshiping him in the temple.
I replied, that I thought God was as present at Paul's cross as at Paul's church; and at the preaching-place at Whitehall, and 'spital sermons, as elsewhere. For where two or three are gathered together in His name, God is in the midst of them. And yet in those places (no, not in the body of the church, though there be a sermon and prayers there) we do not use this threefold reverence, nor any low bowing, unless in the chancel towards the east, where an altar or some crucifix is ?-He answered me something of the trinary number, which I did not understand, nor well hear.
This, as all other our discourse, being ended with mildness and moderation (on his part at least) I said farther, since their devotions (from which they would be loth to be diverted or interrupted, as in the said protestation appears) are more strict and regular than usual, if in their consciences they were persuaded that all their formalities and ceremonies were but adiaphora (things indifferent) I then thought they were as wise as serpents (in the Scripture sense) in complying so with the church ceremonies, that they might the safelier hold on
1 1 Cor. xiv. 40.
their course without exception. For in this comportment, I thought, authority would not except against them, unless for exceeding the cathedrals; who make but one reverence, whereas they make three. He said, I spake like one who seemed to have had experience in the world.
It being now near twelve o'clock, we ended our discourse, and I called for my horses; hoping that thereupon he would have invited me to stay dinnerl: not that I care for his or any man's meat (for you had given me a dinner in too good a breakfast) but that I might have gained more time to have seen and observed more of their fashions; and whether the virgins and younger sort would have mingled with us; with divers other things, which such a dinner-time would have best ministered matter for. But, instead of making me stay, he helped me in calling for my horses; accompanying me even to my stirrup. And so, I not returning into the house, as we friendly met, we friendly parted.
Many more questions I thought on, when it was too late ; and yet you see I was not idle for the short time I stayed. I asked him, of their monthly receiving the sacrament, and whether their servants (when they received) were attended by their masters and mistresses, and suffered not so much as to lay and take away their own trenchers, as I had heard? whereat he smiled, as at a frivolous fable, and said, the only difference from other days was, that the servants (the day they received) sat at the same table with them.
1 It was not the custom of the family to invite “ Anonymous Persons” to stay dinner (see below, pp. 247, 248): it is however, some consolation to think that Lenton had eaten “ too good a Breakfast,” and that “a mannerly Maid” had before church stayed him “as with a parenthesis, by a Glass of Sack, Sugar-Cake and a fine Napkin,” and all this before twelve o'clock. As probably half an hour would see him safe at “my Lord Mountague's," we are not surprised that he lived to tell the tale of his privations.
I heard also that they never roast any meat; only boil and bake (but not in paste), that their servants may not be much hindered from their devotions; and that they have but one horse amongst them all. But of these I made no mention.
They are extraordinary well reported of by their neighbours, viz, that they are very liberal to the poor; at great cost in preparing physic and surgery, for the sick and sore (whom they also visit often), and that some sixty or eighty poor people they task with catechetical questions: which when they come and make answer to, they are rewarded with money and their dinner, By means of which reward of meat and money, the poor catechumens learn their lessons well; and so their bodies and souls too are well fed.
I find them full of humanity and humility. And others speak as much of their charity: which I also verily believe, and therefore am far from censuring them: of whom I think much better than of myself. My opposing of some of their opinions and practices, as you see in this my relation (wherein I may have varied in some circumstances, but nothing from the substance) was only by way of argument, and for my own better information. I shall be glad to observe how wiser men will judge of them, or imitate their course of life.
I intended not a third part of this when I began, as you may see by my first lines. But, one thing drawing on another, I have now left out little or nothing to my remembrance; saving what I thought fitting in good manners, upon my first affront, to make way for my welcome, and ad captandam benevolentiam ; which is not worth the repeating, if I could; and I am something better at acting such a part, than at relating it: though good at neither.
After this long and tedious relation, I must now make but short thanks to yourself and my lady for my long and kind welcome; wherein my wife joins with me; praying your remembering our loving respects to our kind nieces (hoping the good scholars at Westminster are well). And so I leave you to the grace of God; and am the same, your loving friend,
EDWARD LENTON.” “Crossing Huntingdonshire, on this occasion, in his way Northward, his Majesty had visited the Establishment of Nicholas Ferrar at Little Gidding on the western border of that county'. A surprising Establishment, now in full flower; wherein above fourscore persons, including domestics, with Ferrar and his Brother and aged Mother at the head of them, had devoted themselves to a kind of Protestant Monachism, and were getting much talked of in those times. They followed celibacy, and merely religious duties; employed themselves in binding of Prayer-books,' embroidering of hassocks, and what charitable work was possible in that desert region; above all, they kept up, night and day, a continual repetition of the English Liturgy; being divided into relays and watches, one watch relieving another, as on ship-board; and never allowing at any hour the sacred fire to go out. This also, as a feature of the times, the modern reader is to meditate. In Isaac Walton's Lives there is some drowsy notice of these people, not unknown to the modern reader. A far livelier notice; record of an actual visit to the place, by an Anonymous Person, seemingly a religious Lawyer, perhaps returning from Circuit in that direction, at all events a most sharp distinct man, through whose clear eyes we also can
still look ;-is preserved by Hearne in very unexpected neighbourhood'. The Anonymous Person, after some survey and communing, suggested to Nicholas Ferrar, ‘Perhaps he had but assumed all this ritual mummery, in order to get a devout life led peaceably in these bad times? Nicholas, a dark man, who had acquired something of the Jesuit in his Foreign travels, looked at him ambiguously, and said, “I perceive you are a person who know the world! They did not ask the Anonymous Person to stay dinner, which he considered would have been agreeable.”—Carlyle's Cromwell, i. 106, 107.
In dealing with language so allusive, one cannot be sure of having seized the meaning intended to be conveyed. As I understand it, Ferrar is here depicted as a cowardly hypocrite, feigning a love of “ritual mummery” in order to live unmolested by bishops and chancellors. Let us compare the comment with the text. That Mr. Carlyle has mistaken Ferrar’s complexion and confounded the two
1 “Thornæ Caii Vindiciæ Antiquitatis Academiæ Oxoniensis (Oxf. 1730), ii. 702–794. There are two Lives of Ferrar; considerable writings about him; but, except this, nothing that much deserves to be read.”
2 “Nicholas, a dark man, who had acquired something of the Jesuit in his Foreign travels.” It is a great gift, no doubt, thus to dash off a character at a stroke, by a single graphic epithet ; who does not feel that a worse impression of Nicholas