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The New Testament, you mention *, I shall be glad to see, since Mr. Bold has told you how desirous I was to see it. I have expected one of them from Holland ever since they have been out; and so I hope to restore it to you again in a few days.
The other book, you mentioned t, I have seen; and am so well satisfied, by his 5th section, what a doughty ’squire he is like to prove in the rest, that I think not to trouble myself to look farther into him. He has there argued very weakly against his adversary, but very strongly against himself.
But this will be better entertainment for you when we meet, than matter for a letter, wherein I make it my business to assure you, that I am, &c.
To the same.
Oates, 10 September, 1703. Yours of the 7th, which I just now received, is the only letter I have a long time wished for, and the wel. comest that could come; for I longed to hear that you were well, that you were returned, and that I might have the opportunity to return you my thanks for the books you sent me, which came safe ; and to acknowledge my great obligations to you for one of the most villanous books, that, I think, ever was printed f. It is a present that I highly value. I had heard something of it, when a young man in the university; but possibly should never have seen this quintessence of railing, but for your kindness. It ought to be kept as the pattern and standard of that sort of writing, as the man he spends it
* Mr. Le Clerc's French Translation of the New Testament.
+ Psychologia; or, an Account of the Nature of the Rational Soul, &c. By John Broughton, M. A. Chaplain to his Grace the duke of Marlborough. Lond. 1703, in 8vo.
Chillingworthi Novissima. Or the Sickness, Heresy,Death, and Burial of William Chillingworth, (in his own Phrase) Clerk, of Ox. ford, and in the Conceit of his Fellow-soldiers, the Queen's Archengineer and Grand-intelligencer .... By Francis Cheynell, late Fellow of Merton College. Lond. 1644, in 4to. See the article of Mr. Chillingworth, in my Attempt towards an historical and critical English Dictionary.
upon, for that of good temper, and clear and strong arguing. I am, &c.
To the same.
Oates, 1 October, 1703. You are a good man, and one may depend upon your promise. This makes me pass my days in comfortable hopes, when I remember you are not far off. I have your word for it, and that is better than city security. But for fear villanous business should impertinently step in again, between you and your kind purposes to us here; give me leave to beg the favour of you, that if you write again, before I have the happiness to see you, you will do me the favour to send me a note of what you have laid out for me, that I may pay you that part of the debt I am able, of what I owe you, and may not have so much to interrupt the advantages I am to reap from your conversation, when you honour me with your company, as an apology to be made, if I am not out of your debt before we meet.
Doth Mr. Le Clerc's New Testament make any noise amongst the men of letters or divinity in your town? The divines of Brandenburg or Cleve have got the king of Prussia to prohibit it in his dominions; and the Walloon divines in Holland are soliciting the same at the Hague, but it is thought will not prevail*. I have not yet heard what are theexceptions madein particular, either by the one, or the other. If there be need of authentic interpreters of the word of God, what is the way to find them out? That is worth your thinking of, unless you would have every one interpret for himself;
* See Mr. Bayle's Entretiens de Maxime et de Themiste; ou Response à ce que Mr. Le Clerc a écrit dans son X. tome de la Bibliotheque Choisie contre Mr. Bayle, à Rotterdam, 1707, in 8vo. page 70 et suiv.
and what work would that make? Betwixt these two, find something if you can ; for the world is in want of peace, which is much better than everlasting Billingsgate.
I thought not to have troubled you with hard questions, or any thing that should have required a serious thought, any farther than what day you should pitch on to come hither. But everlasting wrangling, and calling of names, is so odious a thing, that you will pardon me, if it puts me out of temper a little. But I think of you, and some few such as you in the world, and that reconciles me to it; or else it would not be worth staying in an hour. I am, &c.
A Letter to the Lady Calverley in Yorkshire.
MADAM, WHATEVER reason you have to look on me, as one of the slow men of London, you have this time given me an excuse for being so; for you cannot expect a quick answer to a letter, which took me up a good deal of time to get to the beginning of it. I turned and turned it on every side ; looked at it again and again, , at the top of every page ; but could not get into the sense and secret of it, till I applied myself to the middle.
You, Madam, who are acquainted with all the skill and methods of the ancients, have not, I suppose, taken up with this hieroglyphical way of writing for nothing; and since you were going to put into your letter things that might be the reward of the highest merit, you would, by this mystical intimation, put me into the way of virtue, to deserve them.
But whatever your ladyship intended, this is certain, that, in the best words in the world, you gave me the greatest humiliation imaginable. Had I as much vanity as a pert citizen, that sets up for a wit in his parish, you have said enough in your letter to content me; and if I could be swoln that way, you have taken a great deal of pains to blow me up, and make me the finest gaudy bubble in the world, as I am painted by your colours. I know the emperors of the East suffer not strangers to appear before them, till they are dressed up out of their own wardrobes; is it so too in the empire of wit ? and must you cover me with your own embroidery, that I may be a fit object for your thoughts and conversation ? This, Madam, may suit your greatness, but doth not at all satisfy my ambition. He, who has once flattered himself with the hopes of your friendship, knows not the true value of things, if he can content himself with these splendid ornaments.
As soon as I had read your letter, I looked in my glass, felt my pulse, and sighed ; for I found, in neither of those, the promises of thirty years to come.
For at the rate I have hitherto advanced, and at the distance, I see, by this complimental way of treatment, I still am, I shall not have time enough in this world to get to you. I do not mean to the place where you now see the pole elevated, as you say, 54 degrees. A post-horse, or a coach, would quickly carry me thither. But when shall we be acquainted at this rate? Is that happiness reserved to be completed by the gossiping bowl, at your grand-daughter's lying-in ?
If I were sure that, when you leave this dirty place, I should meet you in the same star where you are to shine next, and that you would then admit me to your conversation, I might perhaps have a little more patience. But, methinks, it is much better to be sure of something, than to be put off to expectations of so much uncertainty. If there be different elevations of the pole here, that keep you at so great a distance from those who languish in your absence ; who knows but, in the other world, there are different elevations of persons ? And you, perhaps, will be out of sight, among the seraphims, while we are left behind in some dull planet. This the high flights of your elevated genius give us just augury of, whilst you are here. But yet, pray take not your place there before your time; nor keep not us poor mortals at a greater distance than you need. When you have granted me all the nearness that acquaintance and friendship can give, you have other advantages
enough still to make me see how much I am beneath
. ness, without lessening the adoration due to your other excellencies.
You seem to have some thoughts of the town again. If the parliament, or the term, which draw some by the name and appearance of business ; or if company, and music-meetings, and other such entertainments, which have the attractions of pleasure and delight, were of any consideration with you; you would not have much to say for Yorkshire, at this time of the year. But these are no arguments to you, who carry your own satisfaction, and I know not how many worlds always about you. I would be glad you would think of putting all
in a coach, and bringing them this way. For though you should be never the better ; yet there be a great many here that would, and amongst them The humblest of your Ladyship's servants,
A Letter to Anthony Collins, Esq.
Oates, October 29, 1709. You, in yours of the 21st, say a great many very kind things, and I believe all that you say ; am not very well satisfied with you. And how then is it possible to please you? will you be ready to say.
Think that I am as much pleased with your company, as much obliged by your conversation, as you are by mine ; and you set me at rest, and I am the most satisfied man in the world. You complain of a great many defects; and that very complaint is the highest recommendation I could desire, to make me love and esteem you, and desire your friendship. And if I were now setting out in the world, I should think it my great happiness to have such a companion as you, who had a true relish of truth, would in earnest seek it with me, from whom I might receive it undisguised, and to whom I might communicate what I thought true freely.