The Watcher Cat

The Watcher Cat

Sunday, March 3, 2013

A Belated Book Gloat

So, a few months back, I bought an 1894 SPCK biography of George Herbert. Unusually, it was anonymous, so I didn't view the inscription on the flyleaf by one John J. Daniell as anything worth reading, more of a defect than anything else.

Of course, if I'd read the inscription, I'd have noticed that the inscription identified Daniell as the author. Here, look for yourself:

(click to enlarge)

Modern reprints of the biography identify Daniell as the author; according to, Daniell was "born at Bath, Oct. 6, 1819. In 1848 he was ordained by the Bp. of Manchester. His subsequent charges included the curacies of Gerrans, Menheniot, Kington-Langley, and others, and the vicarages of Langley-Fitzurse, Winterborne-Stoke, and Berwick St. James, Wilts, and Langley-Burrell, having been preferred to the last in 1879. Mr. Daniell is the author of several prose works, as: Life of Mrs. Godolphin; The Geography of Cornwall, &c.; and of a poetical work, Lays of the English Cavaliers.... He died Nov. 1, 1898."

So this evening, I open up the book, and find in it two letters from Daniell, one of which discusses the book, and the other responding to his correspondent's thoughts on the volume, and discussing future literary plans. Here's the earlier letter, written in the same bold (if not always perfectly legible) hand as is the inscription:

So Daniell was in his 75th year when he wrote the book, and the letters.Between that fact and my own illegible scrawl, I'm not knocking his penmanship.

Rather a nicer find than I had thought, taken all in all.


Anonymous said...

Dear Anglocat,

Excellent find!

I'm interested in all things George Herbert, primarily because he was a first-rate poet, but also because my ancestor, Nicholas Ferrar, was responsible for editing his work and seeing them published after Herbert, on his deathbed, sent the manuscript of The Temple to him. Herbert instructed Ferrar to seek to publish it if he found the poems good or, if not, to destroy the manuscript.

Ah, the penmanship.


Bryan Hunter

Anonymous said...

PS, wouldn't you give anything to know what on earth was occurring in "neighboring fields" that made the good rector so fearful of sending his five daughters out into them for exercise?

B. Hunter

Anglocat said...


Thanks for sharing my enthusiasm--and yes, I would love to know the answer to that very intriguing "neighboring fields" question!

(And how cool is it that you're descended from Nicholas Ferrar--I'm a big Eliot fan, and looked him up after reading "Little Gidding." Also, as a postulant for the vocational diaconate, I admire him for his membership in that order.)


Daniel Lamont said...

Noting that Daniell was rector of Langley Burrell, I wonder if you have come across the diaries of the Rev. Francis Kilvert, covering the 1870s. Kilvert's father was a predecessor of Daniell as rector of Lonagley Burrell and Kilvert served as his father's curate for a while. The diaries are a fascinating account of clerical life as experienced by a parish priest working in rural parishes. Worth dipping into.

Daniel Lamont

Anonymous said...

AC, "Little Gidding" is obviously my favorite of the Four Quartets. "Midwinter spring" appropriate.

Ferrar lived a fascinating life. Charles I found refuge at Little Gidding when fleeing the Roundheads. I believe Eliot alludes to that in the poem ("If you came at night like a broken king"). A major theme of the poem is Little Gidding being a place where broken people fled for refuge and, possibly, unexpected healing. Ferrar himself was somewhat broken through the failure of the Virginia Company with which he was so deeply involved when he arrived at Little Gidding. But it's a poem about redemption, summed up in that famous and oft quoted line "... to make an end is to make a beginning."

Thanks for sharing your find, and thanks for your dedication to Christian service by pursuing the vocational diaconate. I have such deep admiration for that. Well done.

Warm regards,

B Hunter

Anglocat said...

Thanks for the recommendation, Daniel; I'll hunt it up!

Bryan, thanks so much for the kind words, and the extra info on Ferrar. You made my day.