صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني

Believe it, my good friend, to love truth, for truth's sake, is the principal part of human perfection in this world, and the seed-plot of all other virtues ; and, if I mistake not, you have as much of it as ever I met with in any body. What then is there wanting to make you equal to the best ; a friend for any one to be proud of ? Would you have me take upon me, because I have the start of you in the number of years, and be supercilious, conceited, for having, in a long ramble, travelled some countries, which a young voyager has not yet had time to see, and from whence one may be sure he will bring larger collections of solid knowledge ?

In good earnest, Sir, when I consider how much of my life has been trifled away in beaten tracts, were I vamped on with others, only to follow those that went before us ; I cannot but think I have just as much reason to be proud, as if I had travelled all England, and (if you will) France too, only to acquaint myself with the roads, and be able to tell how the highways lie, wherein those of equipage, and even the herd too, travel.

Now, methinks, (and these are often old men's dreams) I see openings to truth, and direct paths leading to it; wherein a little industry and application would settle one's mind with satisfaction, even in those matters which you mention, and leave no darkness or doubt, even with the most scrupulous. But this is at the end of my day, when my sun is setting. And though the prospect it has given me be what I would not, for any thing, be without; there is so much irresistible truth, beauty, and consistency, in it; yet it is for one of your age, I think I ought to say for

yourself, to set about it, as a work

you

into order, and oblige the world with.

You see whither my just thoughts of you have led me ; and that I shall have no quarrel with you will cease to set me, as you do, on the higher ground, and to think that I have not as much pleasure and satisfaction from your company as you have from mine. If I were able to live in your neighbourhood in town, I should quickly convince you of that; and you escape being haunted by me only by being out of my

would put

reach.

you, if

A little better acquaintance will let you see that, in the communication of truth, between those who receive it in the love of it, he that answers, is no less obliged, than he who asks the question ; and therefore you owe me not those mighty thanks you send me, for having the good luck to say something that pleased you. If it were good seed, I am sure it was sown in good ground, and may expect a great increase.

I think you have a familiar, ready to despatch what you undertake for your friends. How is it possible else, you should so soon procure for me Kircher's Concordance ? “ Show me the man, and I will show you his cause ;” will hold now-a-days almost in all other cases, as well as that of açorxuvęsy * ; and yet they must be all thought lovers and promoters of truth. But my letter is too long already, to enter into so copious a subject. I am, &o.

To the same.

SIR,

Oates, Nov. 16, 1703. IF I ask you, how you do ; it is because I am concerned for your health. If I ask you, whether you have sent me any books since you went to town; it is not that I am in haste for them, but to know how the carrier uses me. And if I ask, whether you are of Lincoln's-Inn ; it is to know of what place you write yourself, which I desire you to tell me in your next, and what good new books there are. I am, &c.

To the same.
Sir,

Oates, Nov. 17, 1703. The books I received from you to-night, with the kind letter accompanying them, far more valuable than

* Mr. Locke had been informed that one of the objections of the Walloon divines, against Mr. Le Clerc's New Testament, was his translating w porxuveiv in St. Matthew (chap. II. v. 2.) so as to signify the civil, but not religious, worship of the wise men.

your letter.

the books, give matter of enlarging myself this evening. The common offices of friendship, that I constantly receive from you, in a very obliging manner, give me scope enough, and afford me large matter of acknowledgment. But when I think of you, I feel something of nearer concernment that touches me ; and that noble principle of the love of truth, which possesses you, makes me almost forget those other obligations, which I should be very thankful for to another. · In good earnest, sir, you cannot think what a comfort it is to me to have found out such a man; and not only so, but I have the satisfaction that he is my friend. This gives a gusto to all the good things you say to me, in

letter. For though I cannot attribute them to myself (for I know my own defects too well), yet I am ready to persuade myself you mean as you say; and to confess the truth to you, I almost loathe to undeceive you, so much do I value your good opinion.

But to set it upon the right ground, you must know that I am a poor ignorant man, and, if I have any thing to boast of, it is that I sincerely love and seek truth, with indifferency whom it pleases or displeases. I take you to be of the same school, and so embrace you. And if it please God to afford me so much life as to see you again, I shall communicate to you some of my thoughts tending that way.

You need not make any apology for any book that is not yet come. I thank you for those you have sent me; they are more, I think, than I shall use ; for the indisposition of my health has beaten me almost quite out of the use of books ; and the growing uneasiness of my distemper* makes me good for nothing. I am, &c.

To the same.

SIR,

Oates, January 24, 1703-4. Till your confidence in my friendship, and freedom with me, can preserve you from thinking you have need

* An asthma.

VOL. X.

T

you

to make apologies for your silence, whenever omit a post or two, when in your kind way of reckoning, you judge a letter to be due ; you know me not so well as I could wish ; nor am I so little burthensome to you as I desire. I could be pleased to hear from you every day; because the very thoughts of you, every day, afford me pleasure and satisfaction. But I beseech you to believe, that I measure not your kindness by your opportunities of writing ; nor do suspect that your friendship flattens, whenever your pen lies a little still. The sincerity you profess, and I am convinced of, has charms in it, against all the little phantoms of ceremony. If it be not so, that true friendship sets one free from a scrupulous observance of all those little circumstances, I shall be able to give but a very ill account of myself to my friends ; to whom, when I have given possession of my heart, I am less punctual in making of legs, and kissing my hand, than to other people, to whom that outside civility is all that belongs.

I received the three books you sent me. That which the author sent me* deserves my acknowledgment more ways than one; and I must beg you to return it. His demonstrations are so plain, that, if this were an age that followed reason, I should not doubt but his would prevail. But to be rational is so glorious a thing, that two-legged creatures generally content themselves with the title; but will not debase so excellent a faculty, about the conduct of so trivial a thing, as they make themselves.

There never was a man better suited to your wishes than I am. You take a pleasure in being troubled with my commissions; and I have no other way of commerce with you, but by such importunities. I can only say, that, were the tables changed, I should, being in your place, have the same satisfaction; and therefore confidently make use of your kind offer. I therefore beg the favour of you to get me Mr. Le Clerc's Harmony of the Evangelists in English, bound very finely in

* Reasons against restraining the Press. London, 1704, in 4to.

calf, gilt, and lettered on the back, and gilt on the leaves. So also I would have Moliere's works (of the best edition you can get them) bound. These books are for ladies; and therefore I would have them fine, and the leaves gilt, as well as the back. Moliere of the Paris edition, I think, is the best, if it can be got in London in quires. You see the liberty I take. I should be glad you could find out something for me to do for you here. I am perfectly, &c.

To the same.

SIR,

Oates, Feb. 7, 1703-4. It is with regret I consider you so long in Essex, without enjoying you, any part of the time. Essex, methinks (pardon the extravagancy, extraordinary passions and cases excuse it), when you are to go into it, should all be Oates; and your journey be no whither but thither. But land and tenements say other things, whilst we have carcases that must be clothed and fed ; and books, you know, the fodder of our understandings, cannot be had without them. What think you? are not those spirits in a fine state that need none of all this luggage; that live without ploughing and sowing; travel as easy as we wish ; and inform themselves, not by a tiresome rummaging in the mistakes and jargon of pretenders to knowledge, but by looking into things themselves ?

Sir, I forgot you had an estate in the country, a library in town, friends everywhere, amongst which you are to while away, as pleasantly, I hope, as any one of this our planet, a large number of years (if my wishes may prevail), yet to come; and am got, I know not how, into remote visions, that help us not in our present state, though they show us something of a better. To return therefore to myself and you, I conclude, by this time, you are got to town again, and then, in a little time, I shall hear from you. I am, &c.

« السابقةمتابعة »