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It seems to be approved by experience, that a slender diet and well nigh Pythagorean, or such as is answerable to the severest rules of monastical life, or to the institutions of hermits, who had necessity and scarceness for a rule, doth produce long life. And to this course appertains drinking of water, cold air, slender food (to wit, of roots and fruits, and powdered and pickled flesh and fish, rather than that which is fresh and hot), the wearing of hair-cloth, often fastings, frequent watchings, and seldom enjoyment of sensual pleasures, and the like. For all these do diminish the spirits, and reduce them to that quantity which sufficeth merely to the services of life, whereby the consumption of the radical humour and vital heat is abated. Bacon, History of Lifeand Death (vol. iii. p. 357, London, 1753).
1. The first in value and the foundation of all other memoirs is that written by John Ferrar. There seem originally to have been two or three forms of this : thus Peckard notes (307, 308) among “MSS. once at Gidding" “Mr. Nich. Ferrar's life : in the hand of Mr. J. Ferrar. 76 pages folio,” and “mementos concerning Mr. N. Ferrar, folio, 1655," as well as an ancient folio MS. which had been entrusted to Peck, and had afterwards passed into Peckard's hands, by bequest from Ed. ward Ferrar of Huntingdon. Peck's MS.“entitled The complete Church of England man exemplified in the holy life of Mr. N. Ferrar, written out fair and prepared for the press," was lent by Peckard to the Rev. Mr. Jones, of Sheephall, Herts., and never recovered? Its loss is much to be regretted, as Peck certainly would not have deformed his original as Peckard has done in his Memoirs of the Life of Mr. Nicholas Ferrar. By P. Peckard”, D.D. Master of Magdalen College,
1 In the Brit. Mus. Add. MS. 6209. fol. 88 6. seq. are some letters of Peck to Prof. Ward, in which (Sept. 10 and 23, 1735) he states that John Ferrar's memoirs were composed in 1655, “to assist somebody (whom, I am not yet sure) to write his (N. F.'s] life. They are wrote by fits and starts confusedly. And I have had a deal of trouble to reduce them to method." He hoped to complete his task that winter, 1735.
2 Dr. Peckard's mutilations of the original seem to have been dictated by fear of a scornful public in the man himself there was much to esteem : see Cambridge. Cambridge, Archdeacon, 1790, 8vo.1 Peckard's work has been reprinted (with curtailments, not always judicious, with some useful notes, and with the valuable appendix from the Lambeth MS., which is given above) in the four editions of Dr. Wordsworth’s Eccl. Biogr. “A life of Nicholas Ferrar. London, Masters. 1852,” edited, I believe, by Mr. Miller, of New College, is a neatly printed abridgement from Peckard ; it has also a sketch of the church and an account of the church furniture. Baker's extracts 2 were known to Peckard, but neither he nor his successors have made any use of them. In the early part they are little more than a table of contents 3 ; but the account of the Gidding settlement is probably complete. I have taken the liberty to change the spelling, and to insert or omit, for the sake of distinctness, a few little words, such as and, the &c. These corrections, with a few errata, will be noticed in their proper places below.
2. Life by Turner, bishop of Ely. Extracts were first given (by Dr. Dodd) in the second volume of the Christian Magazine (1761). “In some parts,” says Peckard, “even whole paragraphs are word for word the same" with John Ferrar's MS. A short summary appeared in the Gent. Mag. xlii. 364 seq. After fruitless endeavours to consult the
a notice of him and his foundations at Magdalen in Nichols's Literary Illustrations, vi. 729. He presented his life of Ferrar to Mr. Hopkinson's father; thus it was that the second restorer of Gidding learnt in early boyhood to revere the memory of the first.
Some copies have a portrait prefixed, with the inscription, C. Jahnson pinxt. P. W. Tomkins sculp. late pupil of F. Bartolozzi. Nicholas Ferrar, A M. Born Feb. 22, 1592. Died Dec. 2*, 1637. Publ. as the act directs, Jan. 1, 1791.
2 Baker MS. xxxv. (Camb. Univ. Libr. EB. 9. 24), 389–432.
3 The MS. was lent to Baker by one of the family, “and being very authentic," as he says, p. 422, “may serve to correct whatever we have yet in print concerning this extraordinary man, and his extraordinary way of living." He was at first hurried by the fear that the MS. might be recalled, and therefore could not make so full a transcript as he desired.
* The true date is Dec. the
Christian Magazine, I have been compelled to derive my knowledge of this life from the Brief Memoirs of Nicholas Ferrar, M.A. and fellow of Clare Hall, Cambridge, founder of a protestant religious establishment at Little Gidding, Hunting. donshire; collected from a narrative by the right reverend Dr. Turner, formerly bishop of Ely; now edited with additions and biographical notices of some of Mr. Ferrar's contemporaries. By a clergyman of the established church. Bristol, Chilcott. 1829. 12mo. Again in 1837 appeared Brief memoirs of Nicholas Ferrar, M.A. founder dc. Chiefly collected from a narrative by the right rev. Dr. Turner, formerly lord bishop of Ely. And now edited, with additions, by the Rev. T. Macdonogh, vicar of Bovingdon. Second edition. London, Nisbet. 12mo. These editions are burdened with unnecessary reflections, and no less unnecessary accessions of well known facts. Turner's memoir may be read in a better form in the second life printed above. This is now in the possession of the Rev. Dan. John Hopkins, vicar of Hartford near Huntingdon, grandson to Wm. Robinson, “rector of Hammerton, Hunts. 1743," a laborious but forgotten scholar, who was also rector of Gidding, where he copied out the older entries (beginning with N. F.'s burial) from the original parish registers now lost. Mr. Hopkins has many of his grandfather's MSS., all most correctly written in a small neat hand, “the paper all the time resting on the knee.” In the same volume with the memoir are several curious papers, e.g. the correspondence between the nonjurors and the eastern patriarchs. I have called it Life of N. F. by Dr. Jebb, after the heading of the MS. which states that it came by a member of the Cotton family (whose seat is in the county) from Dr. Jebb; who Dr. Jebb was I have not yet ascertained :—there was a nonjuror of the name. What is certain is that the life is in substance and generally in expression, Turner's. If partiality do not deceive me, it yields to few English biographies in vigour of style or interest of subject, and seems well adapted for general circulation in a cheap form ; I throw out the hint, in the hope that it may meet the eye of some influential member of the Christian Knowledge Society.
3. The Collett Letters, 153 in number, written chiefly by Mrs. Collett, between the years 1600 and 16451. These are well and forcibly expressed, often applying proverbs and metaphors with great effect. The advice given is judicious and kindly administered ; strong affection and deep religious earnestness pervade every line. They are preserved (in a hand of the latter part of the 17th or beginning of the 18th century) in a small 4to volume, now in the possession of Samuel Buckle Esq. of Leamington, by whom, through the kind offices of Mr. Hopkinson, I was liberally allowed to make a transcript of the whole. Some five and twenty years ago an old house in Midgate Street, Peterborough, was pulled down : the workmen, knowing Mr. Buckle to be "a curious gentleman," brought him some papers, which they had found in a recess in the wall: these turned out to be the Collett letters together with a transcript (in a different hand) of Fuller's Holy and Profane State, of which Peckard had a copy (Wordsw. Eccl. Biogr. iv. 183, 184). Other papers were destroyed as rubbish.
4. Lenton's letter to sir Thos. Hetley. See it together with the explanatory note to John Ferrar in the preface. This has been several times printed in the editions of Hearne's Caius and Langtoft, in Peckard, and in the four editions of Wordsw. Eccl. Biogr. 2
5. Oley's Preface to Herbert's Country Parson.
I See a list of these letters below.
2 MSS. copies in Brit. Mus. Add. MS. 5506. fol. 157, Harl. 4845, art. 1, Lansd. 209, art. 3, 213. art. 29.
3 Hacket's account of the restoration of glebe by the Ferrars, Kennett: (Of Impropriations, 237 n.) thus characterizes : “though not strictly true in every circumstance, it is so in the substance of it."
4 Walton's errors are noticed by Hearne (Caius, 689) and Peckard (Pref. xi).