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Herbert, made it fifty pounds more. And in this nomination of some of his benefactors, James Duke of Lenox, and his brother, Sir Henry Herbert, ought to be remembered; as also the bounty of Mr. Nicholas Farrer,[18] and Mr. Arthur Woodnot: the one a gentleman in the neighbourhood of Layton, and the other a Goldsmith in Foster Lane, London, ought not to be forgotten: for the memory of such men ought to outlive their lives. Of Mr. Farrer, I shall hereafter give an account in a more seasonable place; but before I proceed farther, I will give this short account of Mr. Arthur Woodnot.

[Sidenote: Mr. Arthur Woodnot]

He was a man that had considered overgrown estates do often require more care and watchfulness to preserve than get them, and considered that there be many discontents, that riches cure not; and did therefore set limits to himself, as to desire of wealth. And having attained so much as to be able to shew some mercy to the poor, and preserve a competence for himself, he dedicated the remaining part of his life to the service of God, and to be useful to his friends; and he proved to be so to Mr. Herbert; for besides his own bounty, he collected and returned most of the money that was paid for the rebuilding of that Church; he kept all the account of the charges, and would often go down to state them, and see all the workmen paid. When I have said, that this good man was a useful friend to Mr. Herbert’s father, and to his mother, and continued to be so to him, till he closed his eyes on his death-bed; I will forbear to say more, till I have the next fair occasion to mention the holy friendship that was betwixt him and Mr. Herbert. From whom Mr. Woodnot carried to his mother this following letter, and delivered it to her in a sickness, which was not long before that which proved to be her last.

[Sidenote: A Letter]

A Letter of Mr. GEORGE HERBERT to his Mother, In her Sickness.”


“At my last parting from you, I was the better content, because I was in hope I should myself carry all sickness out of your family: but since I know I did not and that your share continues, or rather increaseth, I wish earnestly that I were again with you; and would quickly make good my wish, but that my employment does fix me here, it being now but a month to our commencement: wherein my absence, by how much it naturally augmenteth suspicion, by so much shall it make my prayers the more constant and the more earnest for you to the God of all consolation.–In the mean time, I beseech you to be cheerful, and comfort yourself in the God of all comfort, who is not willing to behold any sorrow but for sin.–What hath affliction grievous in it more than for a moment? or why should our afflictions here, have so much power or boldness as to oppose the hope of our joys hereafter?–Madam, as the earth is but a point in respect of the heavens, so are earthly troubles compared to heavenly joys; therefore, if either age or sickness lead you to those joys, consider what advantage you have over youth and health, who are now so near those true comforts. Your last letter gave me earthly preferment, and I hope kept heavenly for yourself: but would you divide and choose too? Our College customs allow not that: and I should account myself most happy, if I might change with you; for I have always observed the thread of life to be like other threads or skeins of silk, full of snarles and incumbrances. Happy is he, whose bottom is wound up, and laid ready for work in the New Jerusalem.–For myself, dear Mother, I always feared sickness more than death, because sickness hath made me unable to perform those offices for which I came into the world, and must yet be kept in it; but you are freed from that fear, who have already abundantly discharged that part, having both ordered your family and so brought up your children, that they have attained to the years of discretion, and competent maintenance. So that now, if they do not well, the fault cannot be charged on you, whose example and care of them will justify you both to the world and your own conscience; insomuch that, whether you turn your thoughts on the life past, or on the joys that are to come, you have strong preservatives against all disquiet. And for temporal afflictions, I beseech you consider, all that can happen to you are either afflictions of estate, or body, or mind. For those of estate, of what poor regard ought they to be? since, if we had riches, we are commanded to give them away: so that the best use of them is, having, not to have them. But perhaps, being above the common people, our credit and estimation calls on us to live in a more splendid fashion: but, O God! how easily is that answered, when we consider that the blessings in the holy Scripture are never given to the rich, but to the poor. I never find ‘Blessed be the rich,’ or ‘Blessed be the noble;’ but, ‘Blessed be the meek,’ and, ‘Blessed be the poor,’ and, ‘Blessed be the mourners, for they shall be comforted.’–And yet, O God! most carry themselves so, as if they not only not desired, but even feared to be blessed.–And for afflictions of the body, dear Madam, remember the holy Martyrs of God, how they have been burned by thousands, and have endured such other tortures, as the very mention of them might beget amazement: but their fiery trials have had an end; and your’s–which, praised be God, are less,–are not like to continue long. I beseech you, let such thoughts as these moderate your present fear and sorrow; and know that if any of yours should prove a Goliah-like trouble, yet you may say with David, ‘That God, who hath delivered me out of the paws of the lion and bear, will also deliver me out of the hands of this uncircumcised Philistine.’–Lastly, for those afflictions of the soul; consider that God intends that to be as a Sacred Temple for himself to dwell in, and will not allow any room there for such an inmate as grief; or allow that any sadness shall be his competitor. And, above all, if any care of future things molest you, remember those admirable words of the Psalmist: ‘Cast thy care on the Lord, and he shall nourish thee.’ [Psal. lv. 22.] To which join that of St. Peter, ‘Casting all your care on the Lord, for he careth for you.’ [1 Pet. v. 7.] What an admirable thing is this, that God puts his shoulder to our burden, and entertains our care for us, that we may the more quietly intend his service! To conclude, let me commend only one place more to you: Philipp. iv. 4. St. Paul saith there, ‘Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, rejoice.’ He doubles it to take away the scruple of those that might say, What, shall we rejoice in afflictions? Yes, I say again, rejoice; so that it is not left to us to rejoice, or not rejoice; but, whatsoever befalls us, we must always, at all times, rejoice in the Lord, who taketh care for us. And it follows in the next verses: ‘Let your moderation appear to all men: The Lord is at hand: Be careful for nothing.’ What can be said more comfortably? Trouble not yourselves; God is at hand, to deliver us from all, or in all.–Dear Madam, pardon my boldness, and accept the good meaning of

“Your most obedient son,


“_Trin. Coll. May 25th,_ 1622.”

[Sidenote: Sickness]

About the year 1629, and the thirty-fourth of his age, Mr. Herbert was seized with a sharp quotidian ague, and thought to remove it by the change of air; to which end, he went to Woodford in Essex, but thither more chiefly to enjoy the company of his beloved brother, Sir Henry Herbert, and other friends then of that family. In his house he remained about twelve months, and there became his own physician, and cured himself of his ague, by forbearing to drink, and not eating any meat, no not mutton, nor a hen, or pigeon, unless they were salted; and by such a constant diet he removed his ague, but with inconveniences that were worse; for he brought upon himself a disposition to rheums, and other weaknesses, and a supposed consumption. And it is to be noted, that in the sharpest of his extreme fits he would often say, “Lord, abate my great affliction, or increase my patience: but Lord, I repine not; I am dumb, Lord, before thee, because thou doest it.” By which, and a sanctified submission to the will of God, he shewed he was inclinable to bear the sweet yoke of Christian discipline, both then and in the latter part of his life, of which there will be many true testimonies.

[Sidenote: At Dauntsey]

And now his care was to recover from his consumption, by a change from Woodford into such an air as was most proper to that end. And his remove was to Dauntsey in Wiltshire, a noble house, which stands in a choice air; the owner of it then was the Lord Danvers, Earl of Danby, who loved Mr. Herbert so very much, that he allowed him such an apartment in it as might best suit with his accommodation and liking. And in this place, by a spare diet, declining all perplexing studies, moderate exercise, and a cheerful conversation, his health was apparently improved to a good degree of strength and cheerfulness. And then he declared his resolution both to marry, and to enter into the Sacred Orders of Priesthood. These had long been the desires of his Mother, and his other relations; but she lived not to see either, for she died in the year 1627. And though he was disobedient to her about Layton Church, yet, in conformity to her will, he kept his Orator’s place till after her death, and then presently declined it; and the more willingly, that he might be succeeded by his friend Robert Creighton,[19] who now is Dr. Creighton, and the worthy Bishop of Wells.

I shall now proceed to his marriage; in order to which, it will be convenient that I first give the Reader a short view of his person, and then an account of his wife, and of some circumstances concerning both.–He was for his person of a stature inclining towards tallness; his body was very straight, and so far from being cumbered with too much flesh, that he was lean to an extremity. His aspect was cheerful, and his speech and motion did both declare him a gentleman; for they were all so meek and obliging, that they purchased love and respect from all that knew him.

[Sidenote: Jane Danvers]

These, and his other visible virtues, begot him much love from a gentleman of a noble fortune, and a near kinsman to his friend the Earl of Danby; namely, from Mr. Charles Danvers of Bainton, in the County of Wilts, Esq. This Mr. Danvers, having known him long, and familiarly, did so much affect him, that he often and publicly declared a desire, that Mr. Herbert would marry any of his nine daughters,–for he had so many,–but rather his daughter Jane than any other, because Jane was his beloved daughter. And he had often said the same to Mr. Herbert himself; and that if he could like her for a wife, and she him for a husband, Jane should have a double blessing: and Mr. Danvers had so often said the like to Jane, and so much commended Mr. Herbert to her, that Jane became so much a platonic, as to fall in love with Mr. Herbert unseen.

[Sidenote: His marriage]

This was a fair preparation for a marriage; but, alas! her father died before Mr. Herbert’s retirement to Dauntsey: yet some friends to both parties procured their meeting; at which time a mutual affection entered into both their hearts, as a conqueror enters into a surprised city; and love having got such possession, governed, and made there such laws and resolutions, as neither party was able to resist; insomuch, that she changed her name into Herbert the third day after this first interview.

This haste might in others be thought a love-frenzy, or worse; but it was not, for they had wooed so like princes, as to have select proxies; such as were true friends to both parties, such as well understood Mr. Herbert’s and her temper of mind, and also their estates, so well before this interview, that the suddenness was justifiable by the strictest rules of prudence; and the more, because it proved so happy to both parties; for the eternal lover of mankind made them happy in each other’s mutual and equal affections, and compliance; indeed, so happy, that there never was any opposition betwixt them, unless it were a contest which should most incline to a compliance with the other’s desires. And though this begot, and continued in them, such a mutual love, and joy, and content, as was no way defective; yet this mutual content, and love, and joy, did receive a daily augmentation, by such daily obligingness to each other, as still added such new affluences to the former fulness of these divine souls, as was only improvable in Heaven, where they now enjoy it.

[Sidenote: A presentation]

About three months after this marriage, Dr. Curle, who was then Rector of Bemerton, in Wiltshire, was made Bishop of Bath and Wells, and not long after translated to Winchester, and by that means the presentation of a Clerk to Bemerton did not fall to the Earl of Pembroke,–who was the undoubted Patron of it,–but to the King, by reason of Dr. Curie’s advancement: but Philip, then Earl of Pembroke,–for William was lately dead,–requested the King to bestow it upon his kinsman George Herbert; and the King said, “Most willingly to Mr. Herbert, if it be worth his acceptance;” and the Earl as willingly and suddenly sent it him, without seeking. But though Mr. Herbert had formerly put on a resolution for the Clergy; yet, at receiving this presentation, the apprehension of the last great account, that he was to make for the cure of so many souls, made him fast and pray often, and consider for not less than a month: in which time he had some resolutions to decline both the Priesthood, and that living. And in this time of considering, “he endured,” as he would often say, “such spiritual conflicts, as none can think, but only those that have endured them.”

[Sidenote: Rector of Bemerton]

In the midst of these conflicts, his old and dear friend, Mr. Arthur Woodnot, took a journey to salute him at Bainton,–where he then was, with his wife’s friends and relations,–and was joyful to be an eye-witness of his health and happy marriage. And after they had rejoiced together some few days, they took a journey to Wilton, the famous seat of the Earls of Pembroke; at which time the King, the Earl, and the whole Court were there, or at Salisbury, which is near to it. And at this time Mr. Herbert presented his thanks to the Earl, for his presentation to Bemerton, but had not yet resolved to accept it, and told him the reason why: but that night, the Earl acquainted Dr. Laud, then Bishop of London, and after Archbishop of Canterbury, with his kinsman’s irresolution. And the Bishop did the next day so convince Mr. Herbert, that the refusal of it was a sin, that a tailor was sent for to come speedily from Salisbury to Wilton, to take measure, and make him canonical clothes against next day; which the tailor did: and Mr. Herbert being so habited, went with his presentation to the learned Dr. Davenant,[20] who was then Bishop of Salisbury, and he gave him institution immediately,–for Mr. Herbert had been made Deacon some years before,–and he was also the same day–which was April 26th, 1630–inducted into the good, and more pleasant than healthful, Parsonage of Bemerton; which is a mile from Salisbury.

[Sidenote: Preparation]

I have now brought him to the Parsonage of Bemerton,[21] and to the thirty-sixth year of his age, and must stop here, and bespeak the Reader to prepare for an almost incredible story, of the great sanctity of the short remainder of his holy life; a life so full of charity, humility, and all Christian virtues, that it deserves the eloquence of St. Chrysostom to commend and declare it: a life, that if it were related by a pen like his, there would then be no need for this age to look back into times past for the examples of primitive piety; for they might be all found in the life of George Herbert. But now, alas! who is fit to undertake it? I confess I am not; and am not pleased with myself that I must; and profess myself amazed, when I consider how few of the Clergy lived like him then, and how many live so unlike him now. But it becomes not me to censure: my design is rather to assure the Reader, that I have used very great diligence to inform myself, that I might inform him of the truth of what follows; and though I cannot adorn it with eloquence, yet I will do it with sincerity.

When at his induction he was shut into Bemerton Church, being left there alone to toll the bell,–as the Law requires him,–he staid so much longer than an ordinary time, before he returned to those friends that staid expecting him at the Church-door, that his friend Mr. Woodnot looked in at the Church-window, and saw him lie prostrate on the ground before the Altar; at which time and place–as he after told Mr. Woodnot–he set some rules to himself, for the future manage of his life; and then and there made a vow to labour to keep them.

[Sidenote: and resolutions]

And the same night that he had his induction, he said to Mr. Woodnot, “I now look back upon my aspiring thoughts, and think myself more happy than if I had attained what then I so ambitiously thirsted for. And I now can behold the Court with an impartial eye, and see plainly that it is made up of fraud and titles, and flattery, and many other such empty, imaginary, painted pleasures; pleasures, that are so empty, as not to satisfy when they are enjoyed. But in God, and his service, is a fulness of all joy and pleasure, and no satiety. And I will now use all my endeavours to bring my relations and dependents to a love and reliance on Him, who never fails those that trust him. But above all, I will be sure to live well, because the virtuous life of a Clergyman is the most powerful eloquence to persuade all that see it to reverence and love, and at least to desire to live like him. And this I will do, because I know we live in an age that hath more need of good examples than precepts. And I beseech that God, who hath honoured me so much as to call me to serve him at his altar, that as by his special grace he hath put into my heart these good desires and resolutions; so he will, by his assisting grace, give me ghostly strength to bring the same to good effect. And I beseech him, that my humble and charitable life may so win upon others, as to bring glory to my Jesus, whom I have this day taken to be my Master and Governor; and I am so proud of his service, that I will always observe, and obey, and do his will; and always call him, Jesus my Master; and I will always contemn my birth, or any title or dignity that can be conferred upon me, when I shall compare them with my title of being a Priest, and serving at the Altar of Jesus my Master.”

[Sidenote: “The Odour”]

And that he did so, may appear in many parts of his book of Sacred Poems: especially in that which he calls “The Odour.” In which he seems to rejoice in the thoughts of that word Jesus, and say, that the adding these words, my Master, to it, and the often repetition of them, seemed to perfume his mind, and leave an oriental fragrancy in his very breath. And for his unforced choice to serve at God’s altar, he seems in another place of his poems, “The Pearl,” (Matt. xiii. 45, 46,) to rejoice and say–“He knew the ways of learning; knew what nature does willingly, and what, when it is forced by fire; knew the ways of honour, and when glory inclines the soul to noble expressions; knew the Court; knew the ways of pleasure, of love, of wit, of music, and upon what terms he declined all these for the service of his Master Jesus;” and then concludes, saying,

That, through these labyrinths, not my grovelling wit, But thy silk twist, let down from Heaven to me, Did both conduct, and teach me, how by it To climb to thee.

[Sidenote: A Priest’s Wife]

The third day after he was made Rector of Bemerton, and had changed his sword and silk clothes into a canonical coat, he returned so habited with his friend Mr. Woodnot to Bainton; and immediately after he had seen and saluted his wife, he said to her–“You are now a Minister’s wife, and must now so far forget your father’s house, as not to claim a precedence of any of your parishioners; for you are to know, that a Priest’s wife can challenge no precedence or place, but that which she purchases by her obliging humility; and I am sure, places so purchased do best become them. And let me tell you, that I am so good a Herald, as to assure you that this is truth.” And she was so meek a wife, as to assure him, “it was no vexing news to her, and that he should see her observe it with a cheerful willingness.” And, indeed, her unforced humility, that humility that was in her so original, as to be born with her, made her so happy as to do so; and her doing so begot her an unfeigned love, and a serviceable respect from all that conversed with her; and this love followed her in all places, as inseparably as shadows follow substances in sunshine.

[Sidenote: A parishioner]

It was not many days before he returned back to Bemerton, to view the Church, and repair the Chancel: and indeed to rebuild almost three parts of his house, which was fallen down, or decayed by reason of his predecessor’s living at a better Parsonage-house; namely, at Minal, sixteen or twenty miles from this place. At which time of Mr. Herbert’s coming alone to Bemerton, there came to him a poor old woman, with an intent to acquaint him with her necessitous condition, as also with some troubles of her mind: but after she had spoke some few words to him, she was surprised with a fear, and that begot a shortness of breath, so that her spirits and speech failed her; which he perceiving, did so compassionate her, and was so humble, that he took her by the hand, and said, “Speak, good mother; be not afraid to speak to me; for I am a man that will hear you with patience; and will relieve your necessities too, if I be able: and this I will do willingly; and therefore, mother, be not afraid to acquaint me with what you desire.” After which comfortable speech, he again took her by the hand, made her sit down by him, and understanding she was of his parish, he told her “He would be acquainted with her, and take her into his care.” And having with patience heard and understood her wants,–and it is some relief for a poor body to be but heard with patience,–he, like a Christian Clergyman, comforted her by his meek behaviour and counsel: but because that cost him nothing, he relieved her with money too, and so sent her home with a cheerful heart, praising God, and praying for him. Thus worthy, and–like David’s blessed man–thus lowly, was Mr. George Herbert in his own eyes, and thus lovely in the eyes of others.

At his return that night to his wife at Bainton, he gave her an account of the passages betwixt him and the poor woman; with which she was affected, that she went next day to Salisbury, and there bought a pair of blankets, and sent them as a token of her love to the poor woman; and with them a message, “That she would see and be acquainted with her, when her house was built at Bemerton.”

[Sidenote: Bemerton Parsonage]

There be many such passages both of him and his wife, of which some few will be related: but I shall first tell, that he hasted to get the Parish-Church repaired; then to beautify the Chapel,–which stands near his house,–and that at his own great charge. He then proceeded to rebuild the greatest part of the Parsonage-house, which he did also very completely, and at his own charge; and having done this good work, he caused these verses to be writ upon, or engraven in, the mantle of the chimney in his hall.


If thou chance for to find
A new house to thy mind,
And built without thy cost;
Be good to the poor,
As God gives thee store,
And then my labour’s not lost.

We will now, by the Reader’s favour, suppose him fixed at Bemerton, and grant him to have seen the Church repaired, and the Chapel belonging to it very decently adorned at his own great charge,–which is a real truth;–and having now fixed him there, I shall proceed to give an account of the rest of his behaviour, both to his parishioners, and those many others that knew and conversed with him.

[Sidenote: Ordained Priest]

Doubtless Mr. Herbert had considered, and given rules to himself for his Christian carriage both to God and man, before he entered into Holy Orders. And ’tis not unlike, but that he renewed those resolutions at his prostration before the holy altar, at his induction into the Church of Bemerton: but as yet he was but a Deacon, and therefore longed for the next Ember-week, that he might be ordained Priest, and made capable of administering both the Sacraments. At which time the reverend Dr. Humphrey Henchman,[22] now Lord Bishop of London,–who does not mention him but with some veneration for his life and excellent learning,–tells me, “He laid his hand on Mr. Herbert’s head, and, alas! within less than three years, lent his shoulder to carry his dear friend to his grave.”

[Sidenote: “The Country Parson”]

And that Mr. Herbert might the better preserve those holy rules which such a Priest as he intended to be, ought to observe; and that time might not insensibly blot them out of his memory, but that the next year might shew him his variations from this year’s resolutions; he therefore did set down his rules, then resolved upon, in that order as the world now sees them printed in a little book, called “The Country Parson;” in which some of his rules are:

The Parson’s knowledge.
The Parson on Sundays.
The Parson praying.
The Parson preaching.
The Parson’s charity.
The Parson comforting the sick.
The Parson arguing.
The Parson condescending.
The Parson in his journey.
The Parson in his mirth.
The Parson with his Churchwardens. The Parson blessing the people.

And his behaviour towards God and man may be said to be a practical comment on these, and the other holy rules set down in that useful book: a book so full of plain, prudent, and useful rules, that that Country Parson, that can spare twelve pence, and yet wants it, is scarce excusable; because it will both direct him what he ought to do, and convince him for not having done it.

[Sidenote: First sermon]

At the death of Mr. Herbert, this book fell into the hands of his friend Mr. Woodnot; and he commended it into the trusty hands of Mr. sermon Barnabas Oley,[23] who published it with a most conscientious and excellent preface; from which I have had some of those truths, that are related in this life of Mr. Herbert. The text of his first Sermon was taken out of Solomon’s Proverbs, chap. iv. 23, and the words were, “Keep thy heart with all diligence.” In which first Sermon he gave his Parishioners many necessary, holy, safe rules for the discharge of a good conscience, both to God and man; and delivered his Sermon after a most florid manner, both with great learning and eloquence; but, at the close of this Sermon, told them, “That should not be his constant way of preaching; for since Almighty God does not intend to lead men to Heaven by hard questions, he would not therefore fill their heads with unnecessary notions; but that, for their sakes, his language and his expressions should be more plain and practical in his future sermons.” And he then made it his humble request, “That they would be constant to the Afternoon’s Service, and Catechising:” and shewed them convincing reasons why he desired it; and his obliging example and persuasions brought them to a willing conformity to his desires.

[Sidenote: Other sermons]

The texts for all his future sermons–which, God knows, were not many–were constantly taken out of the Gospel for the day; and he did as constantly declare why the Church did appoint that portion of Scripture to be that day read; and in what manner the Collect for every Sunday does refer to the Gospel, or to the Epistle then read to them; and, that they might pray with understanding, he did usually take occasion to explain, not only the Collect for every particular Sunday, but the reasons of all the other Collects and Responses in our Church-service; and made it appear to them, that the whole service of the Church was a reasonable, and therefore an acceptable sacrifice to God: as namely, that we begin with “Confession of ourselves to be vile, miserable sinners;” and that we begin so, because, till we have confessed ourselves to be such, we are not capable of that mercy which we acknowledge we need, and pray for: but having, in the prayer of our Lord, begged pardon for those sins which we have confessed; and hoping, that as the Priest hath declared our absolution, so by our public confession, and real repentance, we have obtained that pardon; then we dare and do proceed to beg of the Lord, “to open our lips, that our mouth may shew forth his praise;” for till then we are neither able nor worthy to praise him. But this being supposed, we are then fit to say, “Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost;” and fit to proceed to a further service of our God, in the Collects, and Psalms, and Lauds, that follow in the service.

[Sidenote: Psalms and Lauds]

And as to the Psalms and Lauds, he proceeded to inform them why they were so often, and some of them daily, repeated in our Church-service; namely, the Psalms every month, because they be an historical and thankful repetition of mercies past, and such a composition of prayers and praises, as ought to be repeated often, and publicly; for with such sacrifice God is honoured and well-pleased. This for the Psalms.

[Sidenote: His teaching]

And for the Hymns and Lauds appointed to be daily repeated or sung after the first and second Lessons are read to the congregation; he proceeded to inform them, that it was most reasonable, after they have heard the will and goodness of God declared or preached by the Priest in his reading the two chapters, that it was then a seasonable duty to rise up, and express their gratitude to Almighty God, for those his mercies to them, and to all mankind; and then to say with the Blessed Virgin, “that their souls do magnify the Lord, and that their spirits do also rejoice in God their Saviour:” and that it was their duty also to rejoice with Simeon in his song, and say with him, “That their eyes have” also “seen their salvation;” for they have seen that salvation which was but prophesied till his time: and he then broke out into these expressions of joy that he did see it; but they live to see it daily in the history of it, and therefore ought daily to rejoice, and daily to offer up their sacrifices of praise to their God, for that particular mercy. A service, which is now the constant employment of that Blessed Virgin and Simeon, and all those blessed Saints that are possessed of Heaven: and where they are at this time interchangeably and constantly singing, “Holy, holy, holy, Lord God; glory be to God on high, and on earth peace.” And he taught them, that to do this was an acceptable service to God, because the Prophet David says in his Psalms, “He that praiseth the Lord honoureth him.”

He made them to understand how happy they be that are freed from the incumbrances of that law which our forefathers groaned under: namely, from the legal sacrifices, and from the many ceremonies of the Levitical law; freed from Circumcision, and from the strict observation of the Jewish Sabbath, and the like. And he made them know, that having received so many and so great blessings, by being born since the days of our Saviour, it must be an acceptable sacrifice to Almighty God, for them to acknowledge those blessings daily, and stand up and worship, and say as Zacharias did, “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he hath–in our days–visited and redeemed his people; and he hath–in our days–remembered, and shewed that mercy, which by the mouth of the Prophets, he promised to our forefathers; and this he has done according to his holy covenant made with them.” And he made them to understand that we live to see and enjoy the benefit of it, in his Birth, in his Life, his Passion, his Resurrection, and Ascension into Heaven, where he now sits sensible of all our temptations and infirmities; and where he is at this present time making intercession for us, to his and our Father: and therefore they ought daily to express their public gratulations, and say daily with Zacharias, “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, that hath thus visited and thus redeemed his people.”–These were some of the reasons, by which Mr. Herbert instructed his congregation for the use of the Psalms and Hymns appointed to be daily sung or said in the Church-service.

[Sidenote: Prayers]

He informed them also, when the Priest did pray only for the congregation, and not for himself; and when they did only pray for him; as namely, after the repetition of the Creed before he proceeds to pray the Lord’s Prayer, or any of the appointed Collects, the Priest is directed to kneel down, and pray for them, saying, “The Lord be with you;” and when they pray for him, saying, “And with thy spirit;” and then they join together in the following Collects: and he assured them, that when there is such mutual love, and such joint prayers offered for each other, then the holy Angels look down from Heaven, and are ready to carry such charitable desires to God Almighty, and he as ready to receive them; and that a Christian congregation calling thus upon God with one heart, and one voice, and in one reverent and humble posture, looks as beautifully as Jerusalem, that is at peace with itself.

[Sidenote: Mode of worship]

He instructed them also why the prayer of our Lord was prayed often in every full service of the Church; namely, at the conclusion of the several parts of that service; and prayed then, not only because it was composed and commanded by our Jesus that made it, but as a perfect pattern for our less perfect forms of prayer, and therefore fittest to sum up and conclude all our imperfect petitions.

He instructed them also, that as by the second Commandment we are required not to bow down to, or worship an idol, or false god; so, by the contrary rule, we are to bow down and kneel, or stand up and worship the true God. And he instructed them why the Church required the congregation to stand up at the repetition of the Creeds; namely, because they thereby declare both their obedience to the Church, and an assent to that faith into which they had been baptized. And he taught them, that in that shorter Creed or Doxology, so often repeated daily, they also stood up to testify their belief to be, that “the God that they trusted in was one God, and three persons; the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost; to whom they and the Priest gave glory.” And because there had been heretics that had denied some of those three persons to be God, therefore the congregation stood up and honoured him, by confessing and saying, “It was so in the beginning, is now so, and shall ever be so world without end.” And all gave their assent to this belief, by standing up and saying, Amen.

[Sidenote: Commemorations]

He instructed them also what benefit they had by the Church’s appointing the celebration of holidays and the excellent use of them, namely, that they were set apart for particular commemorations of particular mercies received from Almighty God; and–as Reverend Mr. Hooker says–to be the landmarks to distinguish times; for by them we are taught to take notice how time passes by us, and that we ought not to let the years pass without a celebration of praise for those mercies which those days give us occasion to remember, and therefore they were to note that the year is appointed to begin the 25th day of March; a day in which we commemorate the Angel’s appearing to the Blessed Virgin, with the joyful tidings that “she should conceive and bear a son, that should be the Redeemer of mankind.” And she did so forty weeks after this joyful salutation; namely, at our Christmas: a day in which we commemorate his Birth with joy and praise: and that eight days after this happy birth we celebrate his Circumcision; namely, in that which we call New-year’s day. And that, upon that day which we call Twelfth-day, we commemorate the manifestation of the unsearchable riches of Jesus to the Gentiles: and that that day we also celebrate the memory of his goodness in sending a star to guide the three Wise Men from the East to Bethlehem, that they might there worship, and present him with their oblations of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. And he–Mr. Herbert–instructed them, that Jesus was forty days after his birth presented by his blessed Mother in the Temple; namely, on that day which we call, “The Purification of the Blessed Virgin, Saint Mary.”

[Sidenote: Other instructions]

And he instructed them, that by the Lent-fast we imitate and commemorate our Saviour’s humiliation in fasting forty days; and that we ought to endeavour to be like him in purity: and that on Good Friday we commemorate and condole his Crucifixion; and at Easter commemorate his glorious Resurrection. And he taught them, that after Jesus had manifested himself to his Disciples to be “that Christ that was crucified, dead and buried;” and by his appearing and conversing with his Disciples for the space of forty days after his Resurrection, he then, and not till then, ascended into Heaven in the sight of those Disciples; namely, on that day which we call the Ascension, or Holy Thursday. And that we then celebrate the performance of the promise which he made to his Disciples at or before his Ascension; namely, “that though he left them, yet he would send them the Holy Ghost to be their Comforter;” and that he did so on that day which the Church calls Whitsunday.–Thus the Church keeps an historical and circular commemoration of times, as they pass by us; of such times as ought to incline us to occasional praises, for the particular blessings which we do, or might receive, by those holy commemorations.

[Sidenote: His own practice]

He made them know also why the Church hath appointed Ember-weeks; and to know the reason why the Commandments, and the Epistles and Gospels, were to be read at the Altar or Communion Table: why the Priest was to pray the Litany kneeling; and why to pray some Collects standing: and he gave them many other observations, fit for his plain congregation, but not fit for me now to mention; for I must set limits to my pen, and not make that a treatise, which I intended to be a much shorter account than I have made it: but I have done, when I have told the Reader, that he was constant in catechising every Sunday in the afternoon, and that his catechising was after his Second Lesson, and in the pulpit; and that he never exceeded his half hour, and was always so happy as to have an obedient and a full congregation.

And to this I must add, that if he were at any time too zealous in his Sermons, it was in reproving the indecencies of the people’s behaviour in the time of divine service; and of those Ministers that huddle up the Church-prayers, without a visible reverence and affection; namely, such as seemed to say the Lord’s prayer, or a Collect in a breath. But for himself, his custom was to stop betwixt every Collect, and give the people time to consider what they had prayed, and to force their desires affectionately to God, before he engaged them into new petitions.

[Sidenote: “Mr. Herbert’s Saint’s-bell”]

And by this account of his diligence to make his parishioners understand what they prayed, and why they praised and adored their Creator, I hope I shall the more easily obtain the Reader’s belief to the following account of Mr. Herbert’s own practice; which was to appear constantly with his wife and three nieces–the daughters of a deceased sister–and his whole family, twice every day at the Church-prayers in the Chapel, which does almost join to his Parsonage-house. And for the time of his appearing, it was strictly at the canonical hours of ten and four: and then and there he lifted up pure and charitable hands to God in the midst of the congregation. And he would joy to have spent that time in that place, where the honour of his Master Jesus dwelleth; and there, by that inward devotion which he testified constantly by an humble behaviour and visible adoration, he, like Joshua, brought not only “his own household thus to serve the Lord;” but brought most of his parishioners, and many gentlemen in the neighbourhood, constantly to make a part of his congregation twice a day: and some of the meaner sort of his parish did so love and reverence Mr. Herbert, that they would let their plough rest when Mr. Herbert’s Saint’s-bell rung to prayers, that they might also offer their devotions to God with him; and would then return back to their plough. And his most holy life was such, that it begot such reverence to God, and to him, that they thought themselves the happier, when they carried Mr. Herbert’s blessing back with them to their labour. Thus powerful was his reason and example to persuade others to a practical piety and devotion.

And his constant public prayers did never make him to neglect his own private devotions, nor those prayers that he thought himself bound to perform with his family, which always were a set form, and not long; and he did always conclude them with a Collect which the Church hath appointed for the day or week.–Thus he made every day’s sanctity a step towards that kingdom, where impurity cannot enter.

[Sidenote: Music]

His chiefest recreation was Music, in which heavenly art he was a most excellent master, and did himself compose many Divine Hymns and Anthems, which he set and sung to his lute or viol: and though he was a lover of retiredness, yet his love to Music was such, that he went usually twice every week, on certain appointed days, to the Cathedral Church in Salisbury; and at his return would say, “That his time spent in prayer, and Cathedral-music, elevated his soul, and was his Heaven upon earth.” But before his return thence to Bemerton, he would usually sing and play his part at an appointed private Music-meeting; and, to justify this practice, he would often say, “Religion does not banish mirth, but only moderates and sets rules to it.”

And as his desire to enjoy his Heaven upon earth drew him twice every week to Salisbury, so his walks thither were the occasion of many happy accidents to others; of which I will mention some few.

In one of his walks to Salisbury he overtook a gentleman, that is still living in that City; and in their walk together, Mr. Herbert took a fair occasion to talk with him, and humbly begged to be excused, if he asked him some account of his faith; and said, “I do this the rather, because though you are not of my parish, yet I receive tythe from you by the hand of your tenant; and, Sir, I am the bolder to do it, because I know there be some sermon-hearers that be like those fishes, that always live in salt water, and yet are always fresh.”

After which expression, Mr. Herbert asked him some needful questions, and having received his answer, gave him such rules for the trial of his sincerity, and for a practical piety, and in so loving and meek a manner, that the gentleman did so fall in love with him, and his discourse, that he would often contrive to meet him in his walk to Salisbury, or to attend him back to Bemerton; and still mentions the name of Mr. George Herbert with veneration, and still praiseth God for the occasion of knowing him.

[Sidenote: The cure for indifference]

In another of his Salisbury walks, he met with a neighbour Minister; and after some friendly discourse betwixt them, and some condolement for the decay of piety, and too general contempt of the Clergy, Mr. Herbert took occasion to say,

“One cure for these distempers would be, for the Clergy themselves to keep the Ember-weeks strictly, and beg of their parishioners to join with them in fasting and prayers for a more religious Clergy.

“And another cure would be, for themselves to restore the great and neglected duty of Catechising, on which the Salvation of so many of the poor and ignorant lay-people does depend; but principally, that the Clergy themselves would be sure to live unblameably; and that the dignified Clergy especially which preach temperance, would avoid surfeiting and take all occasions to express a visible humility and charity in their lives; for this would force a love and an imitation, and an unfeigned reverence from all that knew them to be such.” (And for proof of this, we need no other testimony than the life and death of Dr. Lake,[24] late Lord Bishop of Bath and Wells.) “This,” said Mr. Herbert, “would be a cure for the wickedness and growing Atheism of our age. And, my dear brother, till this be done by us, and done in earnest, let no man expect a reformation of the manners of the Laity; for ’tis not learning, but this, this only that must do it; and, till then, the fault must lie at our doors.”

[Sidenote: The Good Samaritan]

In another walk to Salisbury, he saw a poor man with a poorer horse, that was fallen under his load: they were both in distress, and needed present help; which Mr. Herbert perceiving, put off his canonical coat, and helped the poor man to unload, and after to load, his horse. The poor man blessed him for it, and he blessed the poor man; and was so like the Good Samaritan, that he gave him money to refresh both himself and his horse; and told him, “That if he loved himself he should be merciful to his beast.” Thus he left the poor man: and at his coming to his musical friends at Salisbury, they began to wonder that Mr. George Herbert, which used to be so trim and clean, came into that company so soiled and discomposed: but he told them the occasion. And when one of the company told him “He had disparaged himself by so dirty an employment,” his answer was, “That the thought of what he had done would prove music to him at midnight; and that the omission of it would have upbraided and made discord in his conscience, whensoever he should pass by that place: for if I be bound to pray for all that be in distress, I am sure that I am bound, so far as it is in my power, to practice what I pray for. And though I do not wish for the like occasion every day, yet let me tell you, I would not willingly pass one day of my life without comforting a sad soul, or shewing mercy; and I praise God for this occasion. And now let’s tune our instruments.”

Thus, as our blessed Saviour, after his Resurrection, did take occasion to interpret the Scripture to Cleopas, and that other Disciple, which he met with and accompanied in their journey to Emmaus; so Mr. Herbert, in his path toward Heaven, did daily take any fair occasion to instruct the ignorant, or comfort any that were in affliction; and did always confirm his precepts, by shewing humility and mercy, and ministering grace to the hearers.

[Sidenote: Mrs. Herbert]

[Sidenote: His charity]

And he was most happy in his wife’s unforced compliance with his acts of Charity, whom he made his almoner, and paid constantly into her hand, a tenth penny of what money he received for tythe, and gave her power to dispose that to the poor of his parish, and with it a power to dispose a tenth part of the corn that came yearly into his barn: which trust she did most faithfully perform, and would often offer to him an account of her stewardship, and as often beg an enlargement of his bounty; for she rejoiced in the employment: and this was usually laid out by her in blankets and shoes for some such poor people as she knew to stand in most need of them. This as to her charity.–And for his own, he set no limits to it: nor did ever turn his face from any that he saw in want, but would relieve them; especially his poor neighbours; to the meanest of whose houses he would go, and inform himself of their wants, and relieve them cheerfully, if they were in distress; and would always praise God, as much for being willing, as for being able to do it. And when he was advised by a friend to be more frugal, because he might have children, his answer was, “He would not see the danger of want so far off: but being the Scripture does so commend Charity, as to tell us that Charity is the top of Christian virtues, the covering of sins, the fulfilling of the Law, the Life of Faith; and that Charity hath a promise of the blessings of this life, and of a reward in that life which is to come: being these, and more excellent things are in Scripture spoken of thee, O Charity! and that, being all my tythes and Church-dues are a deodate from thee, O my God! make me, O my God! so far to trust thy promise, as to return them back to thee; and by thy grace I will do so, in distributing them to any of thy poor members that are in distress, or do but bear the image of Jesus my Master.” “Sir,” said he to his friend, “my wife hath a competent maintenance secured after my death; and therefore, as this is my prayer, so this my resolution shall, by God’s grace, be unalterable.”

[Sidenote: His illness]

This may be some account of the excellencies of the active part of his life; and thus he continued, till a consumption so weakened him, as to confine him to his house, or to the Chapel, which does almost join to it; in which he continued to read prayers constantly twice every day, though he were very weak: in one of which times of his reading, his wife observed him to read in pain, and told him so, and that it wasted his spirits, and weakened him; and he confessed it did, but said, his “life could not be better spent, than in the service of his Master Jesus, who had done and suffered so much for him. But,” said he, “I will not be wilful; for though my spirit be willing, yet I find my flesh is weak; and therefore Mr. Bostock shall be appointed to read prayers for me to-morrow; and I will now be only a hearer of them, till this mortal shall put on immortality.” 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.

[Sidenote: Mr. Edward Duncon]

About one month before his death, his friend Mr. Farrer,–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 Friar 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 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 enquired the health of his brother Farrer; of which Mr. Duncon satisfied him, and after some discourse of Mr. Farrer’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. Farrer, Mrs. Herbert provided Mr. Duncon a plain supper, and a clean lodging, and he betook himself to rest. 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 motion so genteel and meek, that after almost forty years, yet they remain still 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. Farrer.

[Sidenote: Mr. Nicholas Ferrer]

[Sidenote: Little Gidden]

Mr. Nicholas Farrer–who got the reputation of being called Saint 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 twenty-sixth 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 Christian 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. Farrer’s father–who was a merchant–allowed him a liberal maintenance; and, not long after his return into England, Mr. Farrer 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. Farrer, 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:

[Sidenote: Life there]

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.

[Sidenote: The daily round]

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 himself 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 common 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 depopulation of the village before Mr. Farrer 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. Farrer, and others of the congregation, did at night, at the ringing of a watch-bell, 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 Psalms; 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 the 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.

[Sidenote: Mr. Farrer’s Death]

Thus did Mr. Farrer 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 so 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 practical 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. Farrer and the family in these devotions, and assist and ease him or them in their watch by night. And these various devotions had 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 parlour was fitted for that purpose. And this course of piety, and great liberality to his poor neighbours, Mr. Farrer maintained till his death, which was in the year 1639.[24]

[Sidenote: “Valdesso’s Considerations”]

Mr. Farrer’s and Mr. Herbert’s devout lives were both so noted, that the general report of their sanctity gave them occasion to renew that slight acquaintance which was begun at their being contemporaries in Cambridge; and this new holy friendship was long maintained without any interview, but only by loving and endearing letters. And one testimony of their friendship and pious designs, may appear by Mr. Farrer’s commending the “Considerations of John Valdesso”–a book which he had met with in his travels, and translated out of Spanish into English,–to be examined and censured by Mr. Herbert before it was made public: which excellent book Mr. Herbert did read, and return back with many marginal notes, as they be now printed with it; and with them, Mr. Herbert’s affectionate letter to Mr. Farrer.

[Sidenote: Valdesso himself]

This John Valdesso was a Spaniard, and was for his learning and virtue much valued and loved by the great Emperor Charles the Fifth, whom Valdesso had followed as a Cavalier all the time of his long and dangerous wars: and when Valdesso grew old, and grew weary both of war and the world, he took his fair opportunity to declare to the Emperor, that his resolution was to decline his Majesty’s service, and betake himself to a quiet and contemplative life, “because there ought to be a vacancy of time betwixt fighting and dying.” The Emperor had himself, for the same, or other like reasons, put on the same resolution: but God and himself did, till then, only know them; and he did therefore desire Valdesso to consider well of what he had said, and to keep his purpose within his own breast, till they two might have a second opportunity of a friendly discourse; which Valdesso promised to do.

In the mean time the Emperor appoints privately a day for him and Valdesso to meet again; and, after a pious and free discourse, they both agreed on a certain day to receive the blessed Sacrament publicly; and appointed an eloquent and devout Friar to preach a Sermon of contempt of the world, and of the happiness and benefit of a quiet and contemplative life; which the Friar did most affectionately. After which Sermon, the Emperor took occasion to declare openly, “That the Preacher had begot in him a resolution to lay down his dignities, and to forsake the world, and betake himself to a monastical life.” And he pretended, he had persuaded John Valdesso to do the like: but this is most certain, that after the Emperor had called his son Philip out of England, and resigned to him all his kingdoms, that then the Emperor and John Valdesso did perform their resolutions.

This account of John Valdesso I received from a friend, that had it from the mouth of Mr. Farrer. And the Reader may note, that in this retirement John Valdesso writ his Hundred and Ten Considerations, and many other treatises of worth, which want a second Mr. Farrer to procure and translate them.[25]

[Sidenote: Failing strength]

[Sidenote: “The Temple”]

After this account of Mr. Farrer and John Valdesso, I proceed to my account of Mr. Herbert and Mr. Duncon, who according to his promise returned from Bath the fifth day, and then found Mr. Herbert much weaker than he left him; and therefore their discourse could not be long: but at Mr. Duncon’s parting with him, Mr. Herbert spoke to this purpose: “Sir, I pray you give my brother Farrer an account of the decaying condition of my body, and tell him I beg him to continue his daily prayers for me; and let him know that I have considered, that God only is what he would be; and that I am, by his grace, become now so like him, as to be pleased with what pleaseth him; and tell him, that I do not repine, but am pleased with my want of health: and tell him, my heart is fixed on that place where true joy is only to be found; and that I long to be there, and do wait for my appointed change with hope and patience.” Having said this, he did, with so sweet a humility as seemed to exalt him, bow down to Mr. Duncon, and with a thoughtful and contented look, say to him, “Sir, I pray deliver this little book to my dear brother Farrer, and tell him, he shall find in it a picture of the many spiritual conflicts that have passed betwixt God and my soul, before I could subject mine to the will of Jesus my Master: in whose service I have now found perfect freedom. Desire him to read it; and then, if he can think it may turn to the advantage of any dejected poor soul, let it be made public; if not, let him burn it; for I and it are less than the least of God’s mercies.” Thus meanly did this humble man think of this excellent book, which now bears the name of “The Temple; or, Sacred Poems and Private Ejaculations;” of which Mr. Farrer would say, “There was in it the picture of a divine soul in every page: and that the whole book was such a harmony of holy passions, as would enrich the world with pleasure and piety.” And it appears to have done so; for there have been more than twenty thousand of them sold since the first impression.

[Sidenote: Its publication]

And this ought to be noted, that when Mr. Farrer sent this book to Cambridge to be licensed for the press, the Vice-Chancellor would by no means allow the two so much noted verses,

Ready to pass to the American strand,

to be printed; and Mr. Farrer would by no means allow the book to be printed and want them. But after some time, and some arguments for and against their being made public, the Vice-Chancellor said, “I knew Mr. Herbert well, and know that he had many heavenly speculations, and was a divine poet: but I hope the world will not take him to be an inspired prophet, and therefore I license the whole book.” So that it came to be printed without the diminution or addition of a syllable, since it was delivered into the hands of Mr. Duncon, save only that Mr. Farrer hath added that excellent Preface that is printed before it.

[Sidenote: Retrospect]

[Sidenote: Waiting for death]

At the time of Mr. Duncon’s leaving Mr. Herbert,–which was about three weeks before his death,–his old and dear friend Mr. Woodnot came from London to Bemerton, and never left him till he had seen him draw his last breath, and closed his eyes on his death-bed. In this time of his decay, he was often visited and prayed for by all the Clergy that lived near to him, especially by his friends the Bishop and Prebends of the Cathedral Church in Salisbury; but by none more devoutly than his wife, his three nieces,–then a part of his family,–and Mr. Woodnot, who were the sad witnesses of his daily decay; to whom he would often speak to this purpose: “I now look back upon the pleasures of my life past, and see the content I have taken in beauty, in wit, in music, and pleasant conversation, are now all past by me like a dream, or as a shadow that returns not, and are now all become dead to me, or I to them; and I see, that as my father and generation hath done before me, so I also shall now suddenly (with Job) make my bed also in the dark; and I praise God I am prepared for it; and I praise him that I am not to learn patience now I stand in such need of it; and that I have practised mortification, and endeavoured to die daily, that I might not die eternally; and my hope is, that I shall shortly leave this valley of tears, and be free from all fevers and pain; and, which will be a more happy condition, I shall be free from sin, and all the temptations and anxieties that attend it: and this being past, I shall dwell in the New Jerusalem; dwell there with men made perfect; dwell where these eyes shall see my Master and Saviour Jesus; and with him see my dear Mother, and all my relations and friends. But I must die, or not come to that happy place. And this is my content, that I am going daily towards it: and that every day which I have lived, hath taken a part of my appointed time from me; and that I shall live the less time, for having lived this and the day past,” These, and the like expressions, which he uttered often, may be said to be his enjoyment of Heaven before he enjoyed it. The Sunday before his death, he rose suddenly from his bed or couch, called for one of his instruments, took it into his hand and said,

My God, my God,
My music shall find thee,
And every string
Shall have his attribute to sing.

And having tuned it, he played and sung:

The Sundays of man’s life,
Threaded together on time’s string, Make bracelets to adorn the wife
Of the eternal glorious King:
On Sundays Heaven’s doors stand ope; Blessings are plentiful and rife,
More plentiful than hope.

Thus he sung on earth such Hymns and Anthems, as the Angels, and he, and Mr. Farrer, now sing in Heaven.

[Sidenote: His Will]

[Sidenote: Last words]

Thus he continued meditating, and praying, and rejoicing, till the day of his death; and on that day said to Mr. Woodnot, “My dear friend, I am sorry I have nothing to present to my merciful God but sin and misery; but the first is pardoned, and a few hours will now put a period to the latter; for I shall suddenly go hence, and be no more seen.” Upon which expression Mr. Woodnot took occasion to remember him of the re-edifying Layton Church, and his many acts of mercy. To which he made answer, saying, “They be good works, if they be sprinkled with the blood of Christ, and not otherwise.” After this discourse he became more restless, and his soul seemed to be weary of her earthly tabernacle; and this uneasiness became so visible, that his wife, his three nieces, and Mr. Woodnot, stood constantly about his bed, beholding him with sorrow, and an unwillingness to lose the sight of him, whom they could not hope to see much longer. As they stood thus beholding him, his wife observed him to breathe faintly, and with much trouble, and observed him to fall into a sudden agony; which so surprised her, that she fell into a sudden passion, and required of him to know how he did. To which his answer was, “that he had passed a conflict with his last enemy, and had overcome him by the merits of his Master Jesus.” After which answer, he looked up, and saw his wife and nieces weeping to an extremity, and charged them, if they loved him, to withdraw into the next room, and there pray every one alone for him; for nothing but their lamentations could make his death uncomfortable. To which request their sighs and tears would not suffer them to make any reply; but they yielded him a sad obedience, leaving only with him Mr. Woodnot and Mr. Bostock. Immediately after they had left him, he said to Mr. Bostock, “Pray, Sir, open that door, then look into that cabinet, in which you may easily find my last Will, and give it into my hand:” which being done, Mr. Herbert delivered it into the hand of Mr. Woodnot, and said, “My old friend, I here deliver you my last Will, in which you will find that I have made you my sole Executor for the good of my wife and nieces; and I desire you to shew kindness to them, as they shall need it: I do not desire you to be just; for I know you will be so for your own sake; but I charge you, by the religion of our friendship, to be careful of them.” And having obtained Mr. Woodnot’s promise to be so, he said, “I am now ready to die.” After which words, he said, “Lord, forsake me not now my strength faileth me: but grant me mercy for the merits of my Jesus. And now, Lord–Lord, now receive my soul.” And with those words he breathed forth his divine soul, without any apparent disturbance, Mr. Woodnot and Mr. Bostock attending his last breath, and closing his eyes.

Thus he lived, and thus he died, like a Saint, unspotted of the world, full of alms-deeds, full of humility, and all the examples of a virtuous life; which I cannot conclude better, than with this borrowed observation:

—-All must to their cold graves:
But the religious actions of the just Smell sweet in death, and blossom in the dust.[26]

Mr. George Herbert’s have done so to this, and will doubtless do so to succeeding generations.–I have but this to say more of him; that if Andrew Melvin died before him,[27] then George Herbert died without an enemy.[28] I wish–if God shall be so pleased–that I may be so happy as to die like him.


[Sidenote: Mrs. Herbert]

There is a debt justly due to the memory of Mr. Herbert’s virtuous Wife; a part of which I will endeavour to pay, by a very short account of the remainder of her life, which shall follow.

She continued his disconsolate widow about six years, bemoaning herself, and complaining, that she had lost the delight of her eyes; but more that she had lost the spiritual guide for her poor soul; and would often say, “O that I had, like holy Mary, the Mother of Jesus, treasured up all his sayings in my heart! But since I have not been able to do that, I will labour to live like him, that where he now is I may be also.” And she would often say,–as the Prophet David for his son Absalom,–“O that I had died for him!” Thus she continued mourning till time and conversation had so moderated her sorrows, that she became the happy wife of Sir Robert Cook, of Highnam, in the County of Gloucester, Knight. And though he put a high value on the excellent accomplishments of her mind and body, and was so like Mr. Herbert, as not to govern like a master, but as an affectionate husband; yet she would even to him often take occasion to mention the name of Mr. George Herbert, and say, that name must live in her memory till she put off mortality. By Sir Robert she had only one child, a daughter, whose parts and plentiful estate make her happy in this world, and her well using of them gives a fair testimony that she will be so in that which is to come.

Mrs. Herbert was the wife of Sir Robert eight years, and lived his widow about fifteen; all which time she took a pleasure in mentioning and commending the excellencies of Mr. George Herbert. She died in the year 1663, and lies buried at Highnam: Mr. Herbert in his own Church, under the altar, and covered with a gravestone without any inscription.

[Sidenote: Lost relics]

This Lady Cook had preserved many of Mr. Herbert’s private writings, which she intended to make public; but they and Highnam House were burnt together by the late rebels, and so lost to posterity.


[Footnote 1: A fortress first erected by Roger de Montgomery, Earl of Shrewsbury, under William I., to secure his conquests in Wales, though it was twice partly destroyed by the Welsh. It stands near the Severn, on a gentle ascent, having a fair prospect over the plain beneath. The order of Parliament for its destruction was made June 11th, 1649.]

[Footnote 2: That eloquent and acute biographer, Edmund Lodge, thus truly gives the character of Lord Herbert of Cherbury. “Of that anomaly of character by the abundance and variety of which foreigners are pleased to tell us that our country is distinguished, we meet with few examples more striking than in the subject of this memoir–wise and unsteady; prudent and careless; a philosopher, with ungovernable and ridiculous prejudices; a good humoured man, who even sought occasions to shed the blood of his fellow creatures; a deist, with superstition too gross for the most secluded cloister. These observations are not founded on the report of others, but on the fragment which remains of his own sketch of his life,–a piece of infinite curiosity.” His autobiography has been edited by Horace Walpole and Scott. He is also the author of a volume of poems written in the style of Donne, frequently marred by harsh rhythm and violent conceits, but occasionally displaying artistic excellence of a very high order.]

[Footnote 3: It has been said of Dr. Richard Neale, that no one was more thoroughly acquainted with the distresses as well as the conveniences of the clergy, having served the Church as Schoolmaster, Curate, Vicar, Rector, Master of the Savoy, Dean of Westminster, Clerk of the Closet to James I. and Charles I., Bishop of Rochester, Lichfield, Durham, Winchester, and Archbishop of York (1631). “He died,” says Echard, “full of years as he was full of honours; a faithful subject to his prince, an indulgent father to his clergy, a bountiful patron to his chaplains, and a true friend to all that relied upon him.”]

[Footnote 4: He was made Master of Westminster School in 1599, and continued so to 1610.]

[Footnote 5: Thomas Nevil, D.D., eminent for the splendour of his birth, his extraordinary piety and learning, was educated at Pembroke Hall in the University of Cambridge. In 1582 he was admitted Master of Magdalen College in the same University, and in 1593 he succeeded Dr. John Still in the Mastership of Trinity College, being then Dean of the Cathedral Church of Peterborough, over which he presided commendably eight years. Upon the demise of Queen Elizabeth, Dr. Nevil, who had been promoted to the Deanery of Canterbury in 1597, was sent by Archbishop Whitgift to King James in Scotland, in the names of the Bishops and Clergy of England, to tender their bounden duties, and to understand his Highness’s pleasure for the ordering and guiding of the Clergy. The Dean brought a most gracious answer of his Highness’s purpose, which was to uphold and maintain the government of the late Queen, as she left it settled.]

[Footnote 6: Born on 28th June, 1573; created Baron Danvers in 1603, and Earl of Danby 7th February, 1625-6; died on 10th January, 1643-4.]

[Footnote 7: This gentleman was born in Suffolk, in 1563, and was descended from a very ancient family in that County. He was educated at Trinity College, Cambridge, and on January 8th, 1617-18, was made Secretary of State: King James I. having been previously so well pleased with his eloquence and learning as to appoint him Master of the Court of Wards. Sir Robert Naunton was the Author of the interesting “Fragmenta Regalia, or Observations on Queen Elizabeth and her Favourites.” He died on Good Friday, 1633-34.]

[Footnote 8: Sir Francis Nethersole was a native of Kent, Ambassador to the Princes of the Union, and Secretary to the Queen of Bohemia, and was equally remarkable for his doings and sufferings in her behalf.]

[Footnote 9: This royal work is divided into three books; the first on “A Christian King’s duty towards God.” The second on “A King’s duty in his office.” The third on “A King’s behaviour in things indifferent.”]

[Footnote 10: Andrew Melville procured the Basilicon Doron in Manuscript, and circulated it in Scotland, which produced a libel against it and first caused its publication in 1599. This celebrated person was born in 1545, and was educated at the University of St. Andrews, which he left with an eminent character for learning, and travelled through France to Geneva. He was elected principal Master of Glasgow College in 1574, when he began to enforce the Presbyterian System; and after much opposition, and two years’ imprisonment, he died Professor of Divinity to the Protestants of Sedan, in 1622.]

[Footnote 11: Andrew Melville was not present at the celebrated conference held at Hampton-Court, in the first year of King James I., upon the complaint of the Puritans against the ceremonies and the liturgy of the Church of England. He was summoned to appear before the King and Council in 1604. In the first edition of “Mr. Walton’s Life of Mr. George Herbert,” Melville is described to be “Master of a great wit; a wit full of knots and clenches; a wit sharp and satirical; exceeded, I think, by none of that nation, but their Buchanan.”]

[Footnote 12: Daughter of Charles Stuart, Earl of Lenox, the younger brother of Henry, Earl of Darnley, father of King James I. She was born at Hampstead in 1577, and received a very liberal education; added to which, she possessed a large estate, and, the English succession being doubtful, she was supposed to be a probable heir to the crown. She incurred the displeasure of James, by marrying Mr. William Seymour, grandson of the Earl of Hertford, for which she was sent to the Tower; and although she had made her escape thence, she was overtaken, brought back, and died there in 1615.]

[Footnote 13: James Duport, the learned son of a learned father, John Duport, Master of Jesus College, Cambridge, was Greek Professor in that University. On the promotion of Dr. Edward Rainbow to the See of Carlisle, he was appointed Dean of Peterborough, and in 1668 was elected Master of Magdalen College, Cambridge.]

[Footnote 14: In the margin of the 1670 edition is written “Albumazar, Ignoramus.” The author of “Albumazar,” a piece presented before the King at Cambridge in 1614, and printed in the same year, was John Tomkis. “Ignoramus,” a Latin comedy by James Ruggle (or Ruggles), was first printed in 1630.]

[Footnote 15: Dr. Richard Parry, who died September 26, 1623. The “sinecure” here mentioned was the rectory of Whitford.]

[Footnote 16: Mr. Herbert Thorndike was then Fellow of Trinity College. He was ejected from his Fellowship by the usurped powers, and admitted to the Rectory of Barley in Hertfordshire, July 2, 1642. On the death of Dr. Samuel Ward, he was elected to the Mastership of Sidney College, but was kept out of it by the oppression of the times. For his sufferings and great learning he was installed Prebendary of Westminster, Sept. 5, 1660. In the year following he resigned his living of Barley, and died in 1672. He assisted Dr. Walton in the edition of the Polyglot Bible.]

[Footnote 17: Dr. John Williams, afterwards Archbishop of York, was then Bishop of Lincoln, the last ecclesiastic who was Lord Keeper of the Great Seal.]

[Footnote 18: See Prof. Mayor’s “Nicholas Farrer: Two Lives by his brother John and Dr. Jebb.” (Cambridge, 1855.)]

[Footnote 19: A native of Scotland, educated at Westminster School and Trinity College, Cambridge, afterwards Greek Professor of the University. During the Civil Wars, he suffered extremely for the Royal Cause, and was an exile with Charles II., who gave him the Deanery of Wells on the Restoration, and in 1670, he was made Bishop of Bath and Wells. He died in 1672.]

[Footnote 20: He was, in 1609, Lady Margaret’s Professor of Divinity at Cambridge, and in 1611, Bishop of Salisbury. He was appointed by James I. to attend the Synod of Dort, and his endeavours to effect an union between the reformed Churches were zealous and sincere. He died in 1641.]

[Footnote 21: The House and grounds of this Rectory were in the same state as in the time of Herbert, when the late Archdeacon Coxe was presented to the living; the principal part of the former was single, with small windows, and the river Neder flowed at the bottom of the garden. Bemerton is two miles west by north of Salisbury, and the Church is dedicated to St. Andrew.]

[Footnote 22: At the time Dr. Henchman was Prebendary of Salisbury, of which See he became Bishop in 1660, and in 1663 he was removed to London. He was much esteemed by King Charles II., whose escape at the battle of Worcester, he was very instrumental in promoting: but when the declaration for liberty of conscience was published in 1671-72, this Prelate was not afraid of the King’s displeasure, but enjoined his Clergy to preach against Popery. He died in 1675.]

[Footnote 23: A private Clergyman, of Clare Hall, Cambridge, who suffered much for his gallant devotion to the cause of his King, Charles I.]

[Footnote 24: The extraordinary course of life pursued at Gidding, the strictness of their rules, their prayers, literally without ceasing, their abstinence, mortifications, nightly watchings, and various other peculiarities, gave birth to censure in some, and inflamed the malevolence of others, but excited the wonder and curiosity of all. So that they were frequently visited with different views by persons of all denominations, and of opposite opinions. They received all who came with courteous civility; and from those who were inquisitive they concealed nothing, as indeed there was not any thing either in their opinions or their practice, in the least degree necessary to be concealed. Notwithstanding this, they were by some abused as Papists, by others as Puritans, Mr. Ferrar himself, though possessed of uncommon patience and resignation, yet in anguish of spirit complained to his friends, that the perpetual obloquy he endured was a sort of unceasing martyrdom. Added to all this, violent invectives and inflammatory pamphlets were published against them. Amongst others, not long after Mr. Ferrar’s death, a treatise was addressed to the Parliament, entitled, “The Arminian Nunnery, or a brief description and relation of the late erected monastical place called the Arminian Nunnery at Little Gidding in Huntingdonshire: humbly addressed to the wise consideration of the present parliament. The foundation is by a company of Ferrars at Gidding,” printed by Thomas Underbill, 1641.

Soon after Mr. Ferrar’s death, certain soldiers of the Parliament resolved to plunder the house at Gidding. The family being informed of their hasty approach, thought it prudent to fly; while these military zealots, in the rage of what they called _reformation_, ransacked both the church and the house; in doing which, they expressed a particular spite against the organ. This they broke in pieces, of which they made a large fire, and at it roasted several of Mr. Ferrar’s sheep, which they had killed in his grounds. This done, they seized all the plate, furniture, and provision, which they could conveniently carry away. And in this general devastation perished the works which Mr. Ferrar had compiled for the use of his household, consisting chiefly of harmonies of the Old and New Testament.]

[Footnote 25: Valdesso died at Naples in 1540.]

[Footnote 26: Altered from a Dirge in Shirley’s “Contention of Ajax and Ulysses.”–The lines in Shirley are

“Your heads must come
To the cold tomb–
Only the actions of the just
Smell sweet and blossom in their dust.”]

[Footnote 27: “Mr. George Herbert, Esq., Parson of Fuggleston and Bemerton, was buried 3d day of March, 1632.” (_Parish Register of Bemerton_.’)–It does not appear whether he was buried in the parish church or in the chapel. His letter to Mr. Nicholas Ferrar, the translator of Valdesso, is dated from his Parsonage at Bemerton, near Salisbury, Sept. 29, 1632. It must be remembered, that the beginning of the year, at that time, was computed the 25th of March. In this year also, he wrote the short address to the Reader, which is prefixed to his “Priest to the Temple,” which was not published till after his death.]

[Footnote 28: It is not to be supposed that Andrew Melville could retain the least personal resentment against Mr. Herbert; whose verses have in them so little of the poignancy of satire, that it is scarce possible to consider them as capable of exciting the anger of him to whom they are addressed.]


_the Translator of Valdesso_

[Sidenote: Concerning Valdesso]

My dear and deserving brother, your Valdesso I now return with many thanks, and some notes, in which perhaps you will discover some care which I forbear not in the midst of my griefs; first for your sake, because I would do nothing negligently that you commit unto me: secondly for the Author’s sake, whom I conceive to have been a true servant of God; and to such, and all that is their’s, I owe diligence: thirdly for the Church’s sake, to whom by printing it, I would have you consecrate it. You owe the Church a debt, and God hath put this into your hands–as he sent the fish with money to St. Peter–to discharge it; happily also with this–as his thoughts are fruitful–intending the honour of his servant the Author, who, being obscured in his own country, he would have to flourish in this land of light, and region of the Gospel among his chosen. It is true, there are some things which I like not in him, as my fragments will express, when you read them: nevertheless, I wish you by all means to publish it, for these three eminent things observable therein: First, that God in the midst of Popery, should open the eyes of one to understand and express so clearly and excellently, the intent of the Gospel in the acceptation of Christ’s righteousness,–as he sheweth through all his Considerations,–a thing strangely buried and darkened by the adversaries, and their great stumbling block. Secondly, the great honour and reverence which he every where bears towards our dear Master and Lord; concluding every Consideration almost with his holy name, and setting his merit forth so piously; for which I do so love him, that were there nothing else, I would print it, that with it the honour of my Lord might be published. Thirdly, the many pious rules of ordering our life about mortification, and observation of God’s kingdom within us, and the working thereof; of which he was a very diligent observer. These three things are very eminent in the Author, and overweigh the defects–as I conceive–towards the publishing thereof.

From his Parsonage of
Bemerton, near Salisbury,
Sept. 29th, 1632.


[Sidenote: Herbert’s Works]

I. “ORATIO qua auspicatissimum serenissimi Principis CAROLI reditum ex Hispaniis celebravit GEORGIUS HERBERT, Academae Cantabrigiensis Orator.–1623.”

II. “ORATIO … habita coram Dominis Legatis cum Magistro in Artib. titulis insignirentur. 27 Febr. 1622.”

III. “A TRANSLATION of LEWIS CORNARO’S TREATISE on TEMPERANCE.” Printed at Cambridge in 1634, along with Mr. Nicholas Ferrar’s translation of “The Hygiasticon, or the right Course of preserving Health, by Leonard Lessius.” To Mr. Herbert’s Translation is annexed “A Paradox, translated out of Italian, That a more spare diet is better than a splendid or sumptuous.”

IV. “HERBERT’S REMAINS; or Sundry Pieces of that sweet Singer of the Temple, Mr. GEORGE HERBERT, some time Orator of the University of Cambridge, now exposed to public Light.” _London, 1652._

This volume consists of–1. “A Priest to the Temple, or the Country Parson in his Character and Rule of Holy Life; with a Prefatory View of the Life and Virtues of the Author and Excellencies of this Book, by Barnabas Oley.” In the second and subsequent impressions of this volume is added, “A Preface to the Christian Reader,” consisting of six paragraphs, by Mr. Oley. 2. “Jacula Prudentum; or Outlandish Proverbs, Sentences, &c., selected by Mr. George Herbert.”

V. “THE TEMPLE: SACRED POEMS and Private EJACULATIONS, by Mr. GEORGE HERBERT, late orator of the University of Cambridge. In his Temple doth every Man speak of his Honour, Psal. xxix. _Cambridge, 1633_.”


During his residence at Cambridge, he composed Latin Poems on the Death of Henry Prince of Wales; and of Anne, Queen to James I. See “Epicedium Cantabrigiense in obitum immaturum semperque deflendum Henrici illustrissimi Principis Walliae, _Cantab. 1612._” And “Lachrymae Cantabrigienses in obitum serenissimae Regiae Annae, Conjugis dilectissimae Jacobi Magnae Britanniae, Franciae, et Hiberniae Regis. _Cantab. 1619._”

The following letters, written by Herbert, when he was Public Orator, are in the Orator’s Book at Cambridge:

1. “To Sir Robert Naunton, with thanks for some acts of kindness procured by him from Government to the University.”

2. “To Fulke Greville, on the same account.”

3. “To George Villiers, Marquis of Buckingham, on his being created a Marquis.”

4. “To Sir Francis Bacon, with thanks for his Novum Organum.”

5. “To Sir Thomas Coventry, Attorney-General.”

6. “To Montagu, Lord Treasurer,” and

7. “To Sir Robert Heath, Solicitor-General, congratulating them on their several promotions.”

8. “To King James, with thanks for a present of his Doron Basilicon.”

9. “To the same, with thanks for the preservation of the river.”

10. “To Sir Francis Bacon, on the same subject.”

11. “To Dr. Abbot, Archbishop of Canterbury, against the London Printers monopolizing foreign books.”

12. “To Sir Francis Bacon, on the same subject.”

13. “To Leigh, Chief Justice, on his promotion.”

14. “To Cranfield, Lord Treasurer, on the same occasion.”


“Blessed is the man in whose spirit there is no guile.”–Ps. xxxii. 2.


[Sidenote: Dedication]


If I should undertake to enumerate the many favours and advantages I have had by my very long acquaintance with your Lordship, I should enter upon an employment, that might prove as tedious as the collecting of the materials for this poor Monument, which I have erected, and do dedicate to the Memory of your beloved friend, Dr. Sanderson: But though I will not venture to do that; yet I do remember with pleasure, and remonstrate with gratitude, that your Lordship made me known to him, Mr. Chillingworth,[1] and Dr. Hammond; men, whose merits ought never to be forgotten.

My friendship with the first was begun almost forty years past, when I was as far from a thought, as a desire to outlive him; and farther from an intention to write his Life. But the wise Disposer of all men’s lives and actions hath prolonged the first, and now permitted the last; which is here dedicated to your Lordship,–and, as it ought to be–with all humility, and a desire that it may remain as a public testimony of my gratitude.

My Lord,
Your most affectionate old friend, and most humble servant,

[Footnote 1: William Chillingworth, born at Oxford in 1602, and educated at Trinity College. He was proverbially celebrated there for clear and acute reasoning; but he so much involved himself in the Romish Controversy with John Fisher, a Jesuit, as to become a convert, and enter the College at Douay. His re-conversion was brought about by his godfather, Archbishop Laud, in 1631, when he returned to England; and in 1638, he wrote his famous work called “The Religion of Protestants a safe Way to Salvation.” Fol. He was zealously attached to the Royal cause, and served at the Siege of Gloucester: but being taken prisoner, he was carried to the Bishop’s Palace, at Chichester, on account of his illness, and, dying there Jan. 30th, 1644, was buried in the Cathedral, without any other ceremony than that of his book being cast into the grave by the hand of a fanatic.]


[Sidenote: Introductory]

I dare neither think, nor assure the Reader, that I have committed no mistakes in this relation of the Life of Dr. Sanderson; but I am sure, there is none that are either wilful, or very material. I confess, it was worthy the employment of some person of more Learning and greater abilities than I can pretend to; and I have not a little wondered that none have yet been so grateful to him and to posterity, as to undertake it. For it may be noted, that our Saviour hath had such care, that, for Mary Magdalen’s kindness to him, her name should never be forgotten: and doubtless Dr. Sanderson’s meek and innocent life, his great and useful Learning, might therefore challenge the like endeavours to preserve his memory: And ’tis to me a wonder, that it has been already fifteen years neglected. But, in saying this, my meaning is not to upbraid others,–I am far from that,–but excuse myself, or beg pardon for daring to attempt it. This being premised, I desire to tell the Reader, that in this relation I have been so bold, as to paraphrase and say, what I think he–whom I had the happiness to know well–would have said upon the same occasions: and if I have erred in this kind, and cannot now beg pardon of him that loved me; yet I do of my Reader, from whom I desire the same favour.

[Sidenote: Reasons for writing]

And, though my age might have procured me a Writ of Ease, and that secured me from all further trouble in this kind; yet I met with such persuasions to begin, and so many willing informers since, and from them, and others, such helps and encouragements to proceed, that when I found myself faint, and weary of the burthen with which I had loaden myself, and ready to lay it down; yet time and new strength hath at last brought it to be what it now is, and presented to the Reader, and with it this desire; that he will take notice, that Dr. Sanderson did in his Will, or last sickness, advertise, that after his death nothing of his might be printed; because that might be said to be his, which indeed was not; and also for that he might have changed his opinion since he first writ it. And though these reasons ought to be regarded, yet regarded so, as he resolves in that Case of Conscience concerning Rash Vows; that there may appear very good second reasons why we may forbear to perform them. However, for his said reasons, they ought to be read as we do Apocryphal Scripture; to explain, but not oblige us to so firm a belief of what is here presented as his.

[Sidenote: Tracts and a Sermon]

And I have this to say more; That as in my queries for writing Dr. Sanderson’s Life, I met with these little Tracts annexed; so, in my former queries for my information to write the Life of venerable Mr. Hooker, I met with a Sermon, which I also believe was really his, and here presented as his to the Reader. It is affirmed,–and I have met with reason to believe it,–that there be some Artists, that do certainly know an original picture from a copy; and in what age of the world, and by whom drawn. And if so, then I hope it may be as safely affirmed, that what is here presented for their’s is so like their temper of mind, their other writings, the times when, and the occasions upon which they were writ, that all Readers may safely conclude, they could be writ by none but venerable Mr. Hooker, and the humble and learned Dr. Sanderson.

And lastly, I am now glad that I have collected these memoirs, which lay scattered, and contracted them into a narrower compass; and if I have, by the pleasant toil of doing so, either pleased or profited any man, I have attained what I designed when I first undertook it. But I seriously wish, both for the Reader’s and Dr. Sanderson’s sake, that posterity had known his great Learning and Virtue by a better pen; by such a pen, as could have made his life as immortal, as his learning and merits ought to be.



[Sidenote: Birth and birth-place]

Doctor Robert Sanderson, the late learned Bishop of Lincoln, whose Life I intend to write with all truth and equal plainness, was born the nineteenth day of September in the year of our Redemption 1587. The place of his birth was Rotherham[1] in the County of York; a Town of good note, and the more for that Thomas Rotherham,[2] some time Archbishop of that see, was born in it; a man, whose great wisdom, and bounty, and sanctity of life, have made it the more memorable: as indeed it ought also to be, for being the birth-place of our Robert Sanderson. And the Reader will be of my belief, if this humble relation of his life can hold any proportion with his great Piety, his useful Learning, and his many other extraordinary endowments.

[Sidenote: His father]

He was the second and youngest Son, of Robert Sanderson, of Gilthwaite-Hall, in the said Parish and County, Esq., by Elizabeth, one of the daughters of Richard Carr, of Butterthwaite-Hall, in the Parish of Ecclesfield, in the said County of York, Gentleman.

This Robert Sanderson, the Father, was descended from a numerous, ancient, and honourable family of his own name: for the search of which truth, I refer my Reader, that inclines to it, to Dr. Thoroton’s “History of the Antiquities of Nottinghamshire,” and other records; not thinking it necessary here to engage him into a search for bare titles, which are noted to have in them nothing of reality: for titles not acquired, but derived only, do but shew us who of our ancestors have, and how they have achieved that honour which their descendants claim, and may not be worthy to enjoy. For, if those titles descend to persons that degenerate into Vice, and break off the continued line of Learning, or Valour, or that Virtue that acquired them, they destroy the very foundation upon which that Honour was built; and all the rubbish of their vices ought to fall heavy on such dishonourable heads; ought to fall so heavy, as to degrade them of their titles, and blast their memories with reproach and shame.

But our Robert Sanderson lived worthy of his name and family: of which one testimony may be, that Gilbert, called the Great Earl of Shrewsbury, thought him not unworthy to be joined with him as a Godfather to Gilbert Sheldon,[3] the late Lord Archbishop of Canterbury; to whose merits and memory, posterity–the Clergy especially–ought to pay a reverence.

[Sidenote: His youth]

But I return to my intended relation of Robert the Son, who began in his youth to make the Laws of God, and obedience to his parents, the rules of his life; seeming even then to dedicate himself, and all his studies, to Piety and Virtue.

[Sidenote: His early training]

And as he was inclined to this by that native goodness, with which the wise Disposer of all hearts had endowed his; so this calm, this quiet and happy temper of mind–his being mild, and averse to oppositions–made the whole course of his life easy and grateful both to himself and others: and this blessed temper was maintained and improved by his prudent Father’s good example; and by frequent conversing with him, and scattering short apophthegms and little pleasant stories, and making useful applications of them, his son was in his infancy taught to abhor Vanity and Vice as monsters, and to discern the loveliness of Wisdom and Virtue; and by these means, and God’s concurring grace, his knowledge was so augmented, and his native goodness so confirmed, that all became so habitual, as it was not easy to determine whether Nature or Education were his teachers.

And here let me tell the Reader, that these early beginnings of Virtue, were by God’s assisting grace, blessed with what St. Paul seemed to beg for his Philippians [Phil. i. 6.]; namely, “That he, that had begun a good work in them, would finish it.” And Almighty God did: for his whole life was so regular and innocent, that he might have said at his death–and with truth and comfort–what the same St. Paul said after to the same Philippians, when he advised them to walk as they had him for an example [chap. iii. 17].

[Sidenote: At Rotherham]

And this goodness, of which I have spoken, seemed to increase as his years did; and with his goodness his Learning, the foundation of which was laid in the Grammar-school of Rotherham–that being one of those three that were founded and liberally endowed by the said great and good Bishop of that name.–And in this time of his being a Scholar there, he was observed to use an unwearied diligence to attain learning, and to have a seriousness beyond his age, and with it a more than common modesty; and to be of so calm and obliging a behaviour, that the Master and whole number of Scholars loved him as one man.

And in this love and amity he continued at that School till about the thirteenth year of his age; at which time his Father designed to improve his Grammar learning, by removing him from Rotherham to one of the more noted Schools of Eton or Westminster; and after a year’s stay there, then to remove him thence to Oxford. But, as he went with him, he called on an old friend, a Minister of noted learning, and told him his intentions; and he, after many questions with his Son, received such answers from him, that he assured his Father, his Son was so perfect a Grammarian, that he had laid a good foundation to build any or all the Arts upon; and therefore advised him to shorten his journey, and leave him at Oxford. And his Father did so.

[Sidenote: At Oxford]

[Sidenote: Master of Arts]

His father left him there to the sole care and manage of Dr. Kilbie,[4] who was then Rector of Lincoln College. And he, after some time and trial of his manners and learning, thought fit to enter him of that College, and, after to matriculate him in the University, which he did the first of July, 1603; but he was not chosen Fellow till the third of May, 1606; at which time he had taken his degree of Bachelor of Arts: at the taking of which degree, his Tutor told the Rector, “That his pupil Sanderson had a metaphysical brain and a matchless memory; and that he thought he had improved or made the last so by an art of his own invention.” And all the future employments of his life proved that his tutor was not mistaken. I must here stop my Reader, and tell him that this Dr. Kilbie was a man of so great learning and wisdom, and was so excellent a critic in the Hebrew Tongue, that he was made Professor of it in this university; and was also so perfect a Grecian, that he was by King James appointed to be one of the Translators of the Bible; and that this Doctor and Mr. Sanderson had frequent discourses, and loved as father and son. The Doctor was to ride a journey into Derbyshire, and took Mr. Sanderson to bear him company: and they going together on a Sunday with the Doctor’s friend to that Parish Church where they then were, found the young Preacher to have no more discretion, than to waste a great part of the hour allotted for his Sermon in exceptions against the late Translation of several words,–not expecting such a hearer as Dr. Kilbie,–and shewed three reasons why a particular word should have been otherwise translated. When Evening Prayer was ended, the Preacher was invited to the Doctor’s friend’s house; where after some other conference the Doctor told him, “He might have preached more useful doctrine, and not have filled his auditors’ ears with needless exceptions against the late Translation: and for that word, for which he offered to that poor congregation three reasons why it ought to have been translated as he said; he and others had considered all them, and found thirteen more considerable reasons why it was translated as now printed;” and told him, “If his friend, then attending him, should prove guilty of such indiscretion, he should forfeit his favour.” To which Mr. Sanderson said, “He hoped he should not.” And the preacher was so ingenuous as to say, “He would not justify himself.” And so I return to Oxford. In the year 1608,–July the 11th,–Mr. Sanderson was completed Master of Arts. I am not ignorant, that for the attaining these dignities the time was shorter than was then or is now required; but either his birth or the well performance of some extraordinary exercise, or some other merit, made him so: and the Reader is requested to believe, that ’twas the last: and requested to believe also, that if I be mistaken in the time, the College Records have misinformed me: but I hope they have not.

In that year of 1608, he was–November the 7th–by his College chosen Reader of Logic in the House; which he performed so well, that he was chosen again the sixth of November, 1609. In the year 1613, he was chosen Sub-Rector of the College, and the like for the year 1614, and chosen again to the same dignity and trust for the year 1616.

In all which time and employments, his abilities and behaviour were such, as procured him both love and reverence from the whole Society; there being no exception against him for any faults, but a sorrow for the infirmities of his being too timorous and bashful; both which were, God knows, so connatural as they never left him. And I know not whether his lovers ought to wish they had; for they proved so like the radical moisture in man’s body, that they preserved the life of virtue in his soul, which by God’s assisting grace never left him till this life put on immortality. Of which happy infirmities–if they may be so called–more hereafter.

[Sidenote: Standing for Proctor]

In the year 1614 he stood to be elected one of the Proctors for the University. And ’twas not to satisfy any ambition of his own, but to comply with the desire of the Rector and whole Society, of which he was a Member; who had not had a Proctor chosen out of their College for the space of sixty years;–namely, not from the year 1554, unto his standing;–and they persuaded him, that if he would but stand for Proctor, his merits were so generally known, and he so well beloved, that ’twas but appearing, and he would infallibly carry it against any opposers; and told him, “That he would by that means recover a right or reputation that was seemingly dead to his College.” By these, and other like persuasions, he yielded up his own reason to their’s, and appeared to stand for Proctor. But that election was carried on by so sudden and secret, and by so powerful a faction, that he missed it. Which when he understood, he professed seriously to his friends, “That if he were troubled at the disappointment, it was for their’s, and not for his own sake: for he was far from any desire of such an employment, as must be managed with charge and trouble, and was too usually rewarded with hard censures, or hatred, or both.”

[Sidenote: Lectures on Logic]

[Sidenote: Their success]

In the year following he was earnestly persuaded by Dr. Kilbie and others, to review the Logic Lectures which he had read some years past in his College; and, that done, to methodise and print them, for the ease and public good of posterity. But though he had an averseness to appear publicly in print; yet after many serious solicitations, and some second thoughts of his own, he laid aside his modesty, and promised he would; and he did so in that year of 1615. And the book proved as his friends seemed to prophesy, that is, of great and