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brothers', is literally as plain as it is that black is not white. That the “ Anonymous Person,” respecting whose profession Mr. Carlyle hazards a conjecture, bears the less mysterious title Edward Lenton of Grey's Inn in the very book referred to by Mr. Carlyle', is, though strange, not less true. That "above fourscore persons” of this “surprising Establishment” managed to pick up a living “in that desertregion,” that veritable hermitage, is a conclusion of transcendental logic from the premisses
is left on the mind by this summary sentence than by a formal conviction on sufficient proof? But, if I may steal a trick from the Teufelsdröckh press : “What if your Graphic-Epithet be misapplied ?" Do you not risk the proverbial step to the ridiculous ?
1 John, whom Lenton calls “a short, black-complexioned man; whose apparel and hair made him shew priestlike;" with Nicholas "a bachelor, of a plain presence, but of able speech and parts;" in childhood “fair and of bright hair like his mother," in manhood, as his portraits shew, clear-complexioned.
2 In Hearne's Caius, 693 n., is some notice of Lenton's family. Gough, Peckard and others have cited these papers from Hearne ; so that for Mr. Carlyle alone, of those who have looked into the matter, can they have been preserved in very unexpected neighbourhood.” The letters, it may be added, are printed with Lenton's name in one of the commonest of books, Wordsworth’s Eccl. Biogr.
3 So called after the analogy of lucus a non lucendo, because it lay hard by the great north road, with half a dozen villages within a distance of two miles. See below, p. 55, “ the towns round about and men in the fields;" also pp. 57 and 76.
(1. Ferrar's mother, a tall, straight, clear-complexioned, grave matron was of eighty years of age. 2. Some sixty or eighty poor people were tasked with catechetical questions, which when they came and made answer to, they were rewarded with money and their dinner), or from these, furnished by two out of the three testimonies which Mr. Carlyle has glanced at, I will not desecrate the term by saying, has read: 1. He and his family were like a little college, about thirty in number. 2. The family consisted of N. F., his mother and brother, his sister and her husband, their fourteen or fifteen children, and two or three maidservants?.
The uninitiated may imagine that the words binding of Prayer-books' are a quotation; for the benefit of the literary aspirant I will venture to divulge the mystery: lest your happy hits be lost upon the unconscious public, mark them out for approbation by inverted commas. But to the point : that the Ferrars did bind prayer-books, I make no question, but there is, I believe, no proof that they
1 Walton and Lenton.
2 Add the three schoolmasters; John Ferrar's family ; “little Mall” Mapletoft, soon to be joined by her fatherless brother and sister, when they also (in 1635) were adopted by their aunt Mary Collett; Ralph Woodnoth, whose father's wealth could nowhere else procure him so sound a training ; the poor almswidows, for whom Charles emptied his purse, “willing them to pray for him,” &c.
did: four biblical books bound by them I have seen, and have heard of two others?: the three in the British Museum may fall under Mr. Carlyle's eye; if so, he will, I hope, join me in the wish that both our libraries enjoyed as stout, if not as gorgeous, a covering. “But if the books are not known to have been Prayer-books, why call them so?” It is for Mr. Carlyle to answer the question. I cannot go beyond a guess, that “the modern reader” might not have relished the implied sarcasm so keenly, if it had been levelled at the gospels. The same hypothesis will account for the next misstatement. “They kept up, night and day, a continual repetition of the English Liturgy." Night and day, did they? but let that pass. One can only reply that they might have been worse employed; and that, if for English Liturgy we had read Psalms of David, we might have bethought ourselves of a modern, who loudly trumpets forth those very Psalms, when degraded into a fanatical battle-cry.
“Well, at any rate, the Ferrars were far gone in Monachism; and that, surely, is priestcraft's most ensnaring invention.” Perhaps so; but it is not obvious, how a family which saw six daughters out of eight well bestowed in marriage, can be claimed as devotees of celibacy: had their mother been the most scheming of dowagers, she could
i See the Index, s.v. Bookbinding.
scarcely have repined at such a proportion of successes. “ They followed merely religious duties :" in one sense this is true; every social duty was to them a duty of religion: in another it is most false; the time they spent in prayer or devout meditation was won from sleep, from idleness, and from pleasure, not from offices to which their station called them: of this the Collett letters afford superfluous proof.
But to do full justice to the keenness? with which Mr. Carlyle has “looked” through the spectacles of Lenton's—I beg pardon, that “most sharp, distinct man’s,” that “ Anonymous Person's”— “clear eyes,” we must examine the sentence which is the foundation of the whole charge (or insinuation rather, for your master of effect can make or blast a reputation by a turn of expression) in the light of the paraphrase which adapts it to the comprehension of the nineteenth century. ANONYMOUS PERSON.
MR. CARLYLE. This, as all other our discourse, The Anonymous Per. being ended with mildness and son, after some survey moderation, on his part at least, I and communing, sugsaid farther, since their devotions gested to Nicholas Fer(from which they would be loth to rar, 'Perhaps he had be diverted or interrupted, as in but assumed all this rithe said protestation appears) are tual mummery, in order more strict and regular than usual, to get a devout life led if in their consciences they were peaceably in these bad
1 “The duke said, Envy was quick-sighted. Nay, said the palsgrave, can see what is not.”—Infra, p. 150.
ANONYMOUS PERSON. persuaded that all their formalities and ceremonies were but adia phora (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 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 bad experience in the world.
MR. CARLYLE. 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!'
Had Mr. Carlyle’s blunders been mere blunders of haste, I should not have dwelt thus long upon them; but they seem to be owing to the evil habit, fostered by ministering to a vitiated literary taste, of sacrificing rigid exactness to rounded periods or epigrammatic smartness? Be this as it may, when a man, who, though ever dinning in our ears that all around him is a moral and spiritual desert, yet offers no practical suggestion for reclaiming the waste,--when such a man presumes to scoff at one whose whole life was self-denial, because he did only
1 Populus vult decipi et decipietur. “This also, as a feature of the times, the modern reader is to meditate."