'A New Kind of Printing': Cutting and Pasting a Book for a King at Little Gidding
This article describes the harmonized gospel made by the Ferrar family at Little Gidding for King Charles I, c. 1635. This book, one of several of its kind, was made by cutting out printed materials and assembling the pieces into a single, illustrated narrative of the four gospels.
...imitated by Robert Peake, a printer at Holborn Conduit near St Paul'.
Harmonies blending the four gospels into a single narrative of Christ's life were an essential part of the `family religion' of Little Gidding. For the whole family, but especially for its daughters, the harmonies provided scriptural instruction not only through hourly readings but also through crafting with scissors and paste each of the volumes. All but one of the harmonies also reinforced the text's message with pictures despite the potentially controversial status of illustrated bibles. Nicholas Ferrar's early hope to reach an audience beyond the family with a printed version of their harmony was dashed when another published first. Subsequently, however, the enthusiastic patronage of Charles I spurred him and the family to produce harmonies incorporating new materials, new formats, and eventually new biblical texts. On these developments, their sources and significance, the paper chiefly focuses, noting finally the harmonies' exclusion from critics' 1641 attack on `The Arminian Nunnery'.
John, Nicholas's older brother, describes the making of the books:
This Booke of the Concordance of the 4: Evangelists contrivement, was directed to be made . . . by N.F. appointment & [End Page 68] direction. N.F. having first spent Some time in the contrivance of the Work (wch was comonly an hour every Day) and having given his Nieces directions How & in what Manner they should do it, They with their Cizers cut out of each Evangelist such & such Verses, & layd them together, to make & perfect such & such a Head, or Chapter, which when they had first roughly done, then with their Knives & Cizers they neatly fitted each Verse So cutt out, to be pasted downe upon sheets of Paper, & So artificially they performed this new-found-out-way, as it were a new kind of Printing: For all that saw the Bookes when they were done, tooke them to be printed in ye ordinary Way, So finely were ye verses joyned together and with great Presses for that purpose pressed downe upon ye white sheets of paper. This Concordance was a yeare in making.