London: SPCK, 1954. First edition. Octavo, original black cloth, original dust jacket. Offsetting to free endpapers and verso of the dust jacket flaps. A near-fine copy. Item #522
THE RULE OF LITTLE GIDDING First edition of this depiction of the spirituality of the Anglican community gathered around the Ferrar family at Little Gidding, complete with a frontispiece photograph of the Church of St. John the Divine. The author plumbed the largely unpublished collection of Ferrar manuscripts at Magdalene College, Cambridge for this continuation of his full-length biography, Nicholas Ferrar of Little Gidding (1938). Nicholas Ferrar and his extended family arrived at Little Gidding in 1626 and established a small community devoted to 'ora et labora,' intent on "steering a middle course between popery and puritanism." The Rule of Little Gidding fortified an Anglican theology that was still tentative and amorphous, affirming that "the Anglican liturgy was no sectarian collection of prayers, but an authentic expression of the traditional intentions of Christian public worship." Maycock stresses that the life "was undertaken in an entirely private manner. It was a life of poverty voluntarily embraced, of incessant labour for the spiritual and temporal welfare of others, of practical charity, of constant prayer, with a strict regard for the fasts prescribed by the Church and cast within the framework of the forms of public worship provided in the Book of Common Prayer." The devotional spirit of this "congregation of saints" attracted attention within the Church of England in the 1630s. George Herbert entrusted his manuscript of poems to Ferrar and The Temple: Sacred Poems and Private Ejaculations, edited by Ferrar, was published on Herbert's death in 1633.
Chronicles of Little Gidding is composed of an Introduction and seven sections along with a brief Index. Maycock resumes the narrative after Nicholas's death in 1637, describing at length the controversy around the publication of The Arminian Nunnery (1641) and the sectarian upheaval of the English Civil War. King Charles I apparently visited Little Gidding three times and the reputation of the village as a High Church and Royalist redoubt led the King to seek shelter among the community when he fled London on his way to Scotland. The scattered community reassembled after the war but soon faded away for good on the death of John Ferrar in 1657. The Anglo-Catholic renewal of the Oxford Movement sparked a resurgent interest in the devotional legacy of Little Gidding. The vibrant sense of Anglicanism depicted in the historical novel John Inglesant: A Romance (1881) and the formation of The Society of King Charles the Martyr (1894) brought Anglican pilgrims to the village, where they visited Nicholas Ferrar's gravesite beside the Church of St. John the Divine, his tomb embellished with a Latin epitaph by his friend, the poet Richard Crashaw. Most notable of the modern pilgrims was T.S. Eliot, who further commemorated the community in the last of his Four Quartets (1942). Maycock founded The Friends of Little Gidding in 1946 (with support from Eliot) to maintain the site. With a splendid postcard featuring a color-portrait of Nicholas Ferrar (after the painting by Cornelius Janssen) laid inside the front board.