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in view. But he reflected also that our Saviour himself frequently delivered his discourses in
parables; and therefore that fable, to a certain degree, might be admitted in moral instruction. With this view he composed those stories, and essays, which were intended to enliven their readings, and conversations. Beside these, he drew up regular discourses upon all the fasts, and feasts of the church, and these also in their order made part of the readings. Every one of the young people, from the eldest to the youngest, male and female, was exercised every day in these public readings, and repetitions: by which the memory was wonderfully strengthened, and they all attained great excellence in speaking with propriety and grace.
But now four of Mr. Collet's eldest daughters being grown up to woman's estate, to perfect them in the practice of good housewifery, Mr. Ferrar appointed them in rotation to take the whole charge of the domestic æconomy. Each had this care for a nionth, when her accounts were regularly passed, allowed, and delivered over to the next in succession. There was also the same care and regularity required with respect to the surgeon's chest; and the due provision of medicines and all things necessary for those who were sick, or hurt by any misfortune. A convenient apartment was provided for those of the family who chanced to be indisposed, called the infirmary, where they might be attended, and properly taken care of, without disturbance from any part of the numerous family. A large room was also set apart for the reception of the medicines, and of those who were brought in sick, or hurt, and wanted immediate assistance. The young ladies were required to dress the wounds of those who were hurt, in order to give them readiness and skill in this
employment, employment, and to habituate them to the virtues of humility and tenderness of heart4. The office relative to pharmacy, the weekly inspection, the prescription, and administration of medicines, Mr. Ferrar reserved to hinself, being an excellent physician : as he had for many years attentively studied the theory, and practice of medicine, both when physic fellow at Clare-hall
, and under the celebrated professors at Padua. In this way was a considerable part of their income disposed of, and thus did Mír. Ferrar form his nieces to be wise and useful, virtuous, and valuable women.
In order to give some variety to this system of education, he formed the family into a sort of collegiate institution, of which one was considered as the founder, another guardian, a third as moderator, and himself as visitor of this little academy.
• Tenderness of heart.] In the reliques of ancient English poetry we read “ As to what will be observed in this ballad (Sir Cauline) of the art of healing being practised by a young princess, it is no more than what is usual in all the old romances, and was conformable to real manners; it being a practice derived from the earliest times among all the Gothic, and Celtic nations, for women even of the highest rank to exercise the art of surgery. In the northern chronicles we always find the young damsels stanching the wounds of their lovers, and the wives those of their husbai ds. And even so late as the time of Q. Elizabeth it is mentioned among the accomplishments of the ladies of her court, that the eldest of them are skilfull in surgery.”
Rel. of Ant. Eng. Poetry. Introd. to sir Cauline, p. 39.
" I could set down the ways and means whereby our ancient ladies of the cuurt do shun and avoid idleness, while the youngest sort applie to their lutes, citharnes, prick-song, and all kinds of music: how many of the eldest sort also are skilfull in surgery, and distillation of waters, &c. I might easily declare, but I pass over such manner of dealing, lest ! should seem to glaver, and currie favour with some of them." Harrison's Descrip. of Eng. before Hollingshead's Chron. p. 196. col. ii. l. 20.
The seven virgin daughters formed the junior part of this society, were called The Sisters, and assumed the names of, ist. The Chief. 2d. The Patient. 3d. The Chearful. 4th. The Affectionate. 5th. The Submiss. 6th. The Obedient. 7th. The Moderate. These all had their respective characters to sustain, and exercises to perform suited to those characters.
For the Christmas season of the year 1631, he composed twelve excellent discourses, five suited to the festivals within the twelve days, and seven to the assumed name and character of the sisters. These were enlivened by hymns and odes composed by Mr. Ferrar, and set to music by the music master of the family, who accompanied the voices with the viol, or the lute. That exercise which was to be performed by the Patient, is alone to be excepted. There was not any poetry, or music at the opening of this as of all the rest: the discourse itself was of a very serious turn, it was much longer than any other, and had not any historical anecdote, or fable interwoven into the body of it. The contrivance here was to exercise that virtue which it was intended to teach.
Upon the whole, these and many other dialogues, conversations, histories, fables, and essays, which Nicholas Ferrar penned for the immediate use of his family, and left behind him in many large volumes, if ever the world should be so happy as to see them, will best shew what he was, a man every way so complete, that few ages have brought forth his equal; whether we consider his vast memory, his deep judgment, his rare contrivance, or the elegance of stile in the matter, and manner of his compositions.
Amongst other articles of instruction and amusement Mr. Ferrar entertained an ingenious bookbinder
who taught the family, females as well as males, the whole art and skill of bookbinding, gilding, lettering, and what they called pasting-printing, by the use of the rolling-press. By this assistance he composed a full harmony, or concordance of the four evangelists, adorned with many beautiful pictures, which required more than a year for the composition, and was divided into 150 heads or chapters. For this purpose he set apart a handsome room near the oratory. Here he bad a large table, two printed copies of the evangelists, of the same edition, and great store of the best and strongest white paper. Here he spent more than an hour every day in the contrivance of this book, and in directing his nieces, who attended him for that purpose, how they should cut out such and such particular passages out of the two printed copies of any part of each evangelist, and then lay them together so as to perfect such a head or chapter as he had designed. This they did first roughly, and then with nice knives, and scissars so neatly fitted each passage to the next belonging to it, and afterwards pasted them so even and smoothly together, upon large sheets of the best white paper, by the help of the rolling-press, that many curious persons who saw the work when it was done, were deceived, and thought that it had been printed in the ordinary way. This was the mechanical method which he followed in compiling his harmony. The title of his book was as follows:
" The Actions, Doctrines, and other Passages touching our blessed Lord and Saviour J. Christ, as they are related in the four Evangelists, reduced into one compleat body of history: wherein that which is severally related by them is digested into order; and that which is jointly related by all or
any of them is, first, expressed in their own words, by way of comparison; secondly, brought into one narration by way of composition: thirdly, extracted into one clear context by way of collection; yet so as whatsoever was omitted in the context is inserted by way of supplement in another print, and in such a manner as all the four evangelists may be easily read severally and distinctly; each apart and alone from first to last: and in cach page throughout the book are sundry pictures added, expressing either the facts themselves, or their types and figures; or other things appertaining thereunto. The whole divided into 150 heads."
I cannot help transcribing here a passage from Dr. Priestley's preface to his Harmony of the Evangelists. “ If I should be thought to have succeeded better than the generality of my predecessors, I shall attribute it chiefly to the mechanical methods I made use of in the arrangement of it; which were as follow. I procured two printed copies of the gospel, and having cancelled one side of every sheet, I cut out all the separate histories, &c. in each gospel, and having a large table appropriated to that use, I placed all the corresponding parts opposite to each other, and in such an order as the comparison of them (which when they were brought so near together was exceedingly easy) directed.
“ In this loose order the whole harmony lay before me a considerable time, in which I kept reviewing it at my leisure, and changing the places of the several parts of it, till I was as well satisfied with the arrangement of them, as the nature of the case would admit. I then fixed the places of all these separate papers, by pasting them, in the order in which they lay before me, upon different