Imágenes de páginas

“ will now be only a hearer of them, till this mortal shall put on immor“ tality.” And Mr. Bostock did the next day undertake and continue this happy employment, till Mr. Herbert's death. This Mr. Bostock was a learned and virtuous man, an old friend of Mr. Herbert's, and then his curate to the church of Fulston, which is a mile from Bemerton, to which church Bemerton is but a chapel of ease. And this Mr. Bostock did also constantly supply the church-service for Mr. Herbert in that chapel, when the music meeting at Salisbury caused his absence from it. .

About one month before his death, his friend Mr. Ferrar® (for an account of whom I am by promise indebted to the reader, and intend to make him sudden payment) hearing of Mr. Herbert's sickness, sent Mr. Edmund Duncon (who is now Rector of Fryer Barnet, in the county of Middlesex) from his house of Gidden Hall, which is near to Huntingdon, to see Mr. Herbert, and to assure him, he wanted not his daily prayers for his recovery ; and Mr. Duncon was to return back to Gidden, with an account of Mr. Herbert's condition. Mr. Duncon found him weak, and at


3 G

& « The friendship of good men may be maintained in vigour and height, without the cere. « monies of visits and compliments, yea, without any trade of fecular courtesies, merely in or“ der to spiritual edification of one another in love. Mr. Ferrar and Mr. George Herbert “ loved each other most intimately, and drove a large stock of Christian charity long before « their deaths, and yet they saw not each other in many years; I think, scarce ever, but as “ members of one university, in their whole lives.” (Barnabas Oley's Life of Mr. George Herbert. Mr. George Herbert was very desirous of resigning his prebend in the church of Lincoln to this his dear friend, who declined the acceptance of it, and diverted or directed the charity of Mr. Herbert to the re-edifying of the ruined church of Leighton, where the corps of the prebend lay.

Of Mr. Nicholas Ferrar, a recluse almost to monachism, yet a rational and devout Christian, Bishop Turner sıys very properly, that some things in his life were rather to be admired than imitated : yet surely he and his society are not deserving of that censure with which they have : been treated by the author of “ British Topography."

h He was brother to Dr. Eleazer Duncon, Prebendary of Durham, and to Mr. John Duncon,“ two very worthy and learned persons, and great sufferers, who died before the miracle “ of our happy restauration, and were happy in that they lived not to see such ostentation of « lin and ingratitude, as some fince have made, as if they had been delivered from Naverie un“ der the tyrant, that they might with more libertie yield themselves servants to sin under the « tyrannie of Satan.” (Barnabas Oley's Preface, &c.)

that time lying on his bed, or on a pallet; but at his seeing Mr. Duncon, he raised himself vigorously, saluted him, and with some earnestness inquired the health of his brother Ferrar; of which Mr. Duncon fatisfied him; and after some discourse of Mr. Ferrar's holy life, and the manner of his constant serving God, he said to Mr. Duncon,“ Sir, I see by your habit " that you are a priest, and I desire you to pray with me;" which being granted, Mr. Duncon asked him “ What prayers ?” to which Mr. Herbert's answer was, “O, Sir, the prayers of my mother the Church of England; “ no other prayers are equal to them! but at this time, I beg of you to “ pray only the Litany, for I am weak and faint ;” and Mr. Duncon did so. After which, and some other discourse of Mr. Ferrar, Mrs. Herbert provided Mr. Duncon a plain supper and a clean lodging, and he betook himself to reft.-This Mr. Duncon tells me ; and tells me, that at his first view of Mr. Herbert he saw majesty and humility so reconciled in his looks and behaviour, as begot in him an awful reverence for his person; and says, “his “ discourse was so pious, and his inotion so genteel and meek, that after al“ most forty years yet they remain Aill fresh in his memory.”

The next morning, Mr. Duncon left him, and betook himself to a journey to Bath, but with a promise to return back to him within five days, and he did so; but before I shall say any thing of what discourse then fell betwixt them two, I will pay my promised account of Mr. Ferrar.

Mr. Nicholas Ferrar (who got the reputation of being called “ St. Nicholas” at the age of six years) was born in London, and doubtless had good education in his youth ; but certainly was at an early age made Fellow of Clare Hall in Cambridge; where he continued to be eminent for his piety, temperance, and learning. About the 26th' year of his age he betook himself to travel ; in which he added to his Latin and Greek, a perfect knowledge of all the languages spoken in the western parts of our Chriftian world, and understood well the principles of their religion, and of their manner, and the reasons of their worship. In this his travel he met with many persuasions to come into a communion with that church which calls itself Catholic; but he returned from his travels as he went, eminent for his obedience to his mother the Church of England. In his absence from England, Mr. Ferrar's father (who was a merchant) allowed him a liberal maintenance; and, not long after his return into England, Mr. Ferrar had, by the death of his father, or an elder brother, or both, an estate left him, that enabled him to purchase land to the value of four or five hundred pounds a-year, the greatest part of which land was at Little Gidden, four or six miles from Huntingdon, and about eighteen from Cambridge: which place he chose for the privacy of it, and for the hall, which had the parish-church or chapel belonging and adjoining near to it; for Mr. Ferrar having seen the manners and vanities of the world, and found them to be, as Mr. Herbert says, “ a nothing between two dishes,” did so contemn it, that he resolved to spend the remainder of his life in mortifications, and in devotion, and charity, and to be always prepared for death : And his life was spent thus :


i Rather in the 21st year of his age. Mr. Ferrar was born Nov 22, 1592, and went abroad in the retinue of the Princess Elizabeth in 1613. He was usually called “the Protestant Saint Nicholas, and the pious Mr. Herbert's brother.” By the advice of Dr Butler, an eminent physician at Cambridge, his fellow collegian, he travelled for his health ; his constitution, naturally delicate, having been much impaired by his inceffant application to study.

He and his family, which were like a little college, and about thirty in number, did most of them keep Lent and all Ember-weeks strictly, both in fasting and using all those mortifications and prayers that the Church hath appointed to be then used: and he and they did the like constantly on Fridays, and on the vigils or eves appointed to be fasted before the Saints’-days; and this frugality and abstinence turned to the relief of the poor : but this was but a part of his charity, none but God and he knew the rest.

This family, which I have said to be in number about thirty, were a part of them his kindred, and the rest chosen to be of a temper fit to be moulded into a devout life; and all of them were for their dispositions serviceable and quiet, and humble and free from scandal. Having thus fitted himself for his family, he did, about the year 1630, betake himtelf to a constant and methodical service of God, and it was in this manner :-He, being accompanied with most of his family, did himself use to read the cominon-prayers (for he was a deacon) every day, at the appointed hours of ten and four, in the parish-church, which was very near his house, and which he had both repaired and adorned; for it was fallen into a great ruin, by reason of a de3 G 2



population of the village, before Mr. Ferrar bought the manor: And he did also constantly read the matins every morning at the hour of six, either in the church, or in an oratory, which was within his own house; and many of the family did there continue with him after the prayers were ended, and there they spent some hours in singing hymns or anthems, sometimes in the church, and often to an organ in the oratory. And there they sometimes betook themselves to meditate, or to pray privately, or to read a part of the New Testament to themselves, or to continue their praying or reading the Psalms ; and, in case the Psalms were not always read in the day, then Mr. Ferrar, and others of the congregation, did at night, at the ring of a watchbell, repair to the church or oratory, and there betake themselves to prayers and lauding God, and reading the Psalms that had not been read in the day; and when these, or any part of the congregation, grew weary or faint, the watch-bell was' rung, sometimes before and sometimes after midnight, and then another part of the family rose, and maintained the watch, sometimes by praying or singing lauds to God or reading the Pfalms: and when after some hours they also grew weary or faint, then they rung the watch-bell, and were also relieved by some of the former, or by a new part of the society, which continued their devotions (as hath been mentioned) until morning. And it is to be noted, that in this continued serving of God, the Psalter or whole Book of Psalms, was in every four and twenty hours sung or read over, from the first to the last verse ; and this was done as constantly as the sun runs his circle every day about the world, and then begins again the same instant that it ended.

Thus did Mr. Ferrar and his happy family serve God day and night :Thus did they always behave themselves, as in his presence. And they did always eat and drink by the strictest rules of temperance; eat and drink fo as to be ready to rise at midnight, or at the call of a watch-bell, and perform their devotions to God.-And it is fit to tell the reader, that many of the clergy that were more inclined to pra&ical piety and devotion, than to doubtful and needless disputations, did often come to Gidden Hall, and make themselves a part of that happy society, and stay a week or more, and then join with Mr. Ferrar, and the family in these devotions, and assist and ease him or them in their watch by night. And these various devotions had

[merged small][ocr errors]

never less than two of the domestic family in the night, and the watch was always kept in the church or oratory, unless in extreme cold winter nights, and then it was maintained in a parlour which had a fire in it, and the parlourk was fitted for that purpose. And this course of piety, and great liberality to his poor neighbours, Mr. Ferrar maintained till his death, which was in the year 1639.


k In this parlour was a tablet of brass, placed by the advice of Mr. Herbert, with this ina scription approved by him':

. I. H. S.

[ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]





? Mr. Ferrar died Dec. 2, 1637. (Dr. Peckard's Memoirs, &c.)- That happy society, of which he was the founder, is thus noticed in a well-known ludicrous poem ;

* TO

« AnteriorContinuar »