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To the same.
Oates, Feb. 21, 1703-4. I must acknowledge it as an effect of your zeal to serve me, that you have sent me Le Clerc's Harmony, and Moliere's works, by the Bishop-Stortford coach; and I return you my thanks as much as if it exactly answered my purpose. I ought not to think it strange, that you
in town, amidst a hurry of business, should not keep precisely in mind my little affairs ; when I here, where I have nothing to disturb my thoughts, do so often forget. When I wrote to you to do me the favour to get these books for me carefully bound, I think I made it my request to you, I am sure I intended it, to write word when they were done, and then I would acquaint you how they were to be disposed of; for the truth is, they were to be disposed of in town. But whether I only meant this, and said nothing; or you forgot it; the matter is not much. I expect to receive the books to-morrow, and shall do well enough with them.
I should not have taken notice of this to you at all, did I not intend it for an excuse for an ill-mannered thing, very necessary in business, which perhaps you will find me use with you for the future, which is, to repeat the little circumstances of business which are apt to be forgotten in every letter till the danger be over. This, if you observe to do, will prevent many cross accidents in your affairs ; I assure it you upon experience.
desire you to stop your hand a little, and forbear putting to the press the two discourses you mention". They are very touchy subjects at this time, and that good man, who is the author, may, for aught I know, be crippled by those, who will be sure to be offended at him, right or wrong. Remember what you say, a little lower in your letter, in the case of another friend of yours, “that in the way of reason they are not to be dealt with.”
* A Discourse concerning the Resurrection of the same Body, with two Letters concerning the necessary Immateriality of a created thinking Substance. These pieces, written by Mr. Bold, were printed at London 1705, in 8vo.
It will be a kindness to get a particular account of those proceedings * ; but therein must be contained the day, the names of those present, and the very words of the order or resolution ; and to learn, if you can, from whence it had its rise. When these particulars are obtained, it will be fit to consider what use to make of them. In the meantime I take what has been done, as a recommendation of that book to the world, as you do; and I conclude, when you and I meet next, we shall be merry upon the subject. For this is certain, that because some men wink, or turn away
their heads, and will not see, others will not consent to have their eyes put out. I am, &c.
To the same.
Oates, Feb. 24, 1703-4. You know me not yet as you ought, if you do not think I live with you with the same confidence I do with myself, and with the same sincerity of affection too. This makes me talk to you with the same freedom I think; which though it has not all the ceremony of good breeding, yet it makes amends with something more substantial, and is of better relish in the stomach. Believe it, therefore, that you need not trouble yourself with apologies for having sent the books hither. You have obliged me as much by it, as you could by any thing of that nature, which I had desired; neither need you be concerned for the future.
* It was proposed, at a meeting of the heads of the houses of the aniversity of Oxford, to censure and discourage the reading of Mr. Locke's Essay concerning Human Understanding; and, after various debates among themselves, it was concluded, that each head of a house should endeavour to prevent its being read in his college, without coming to any public censure.
It is convenient to make it a rule not to let one's friends forget little circumstances, whereby such cross purposes sometimes happen; but when they do happen between friends, they are to be made matter of mirth.
The gentleman that writ you the letter, which you sent to me, is an extraordinary man, and the fittest in the world to go on with that inquiry. Pray let him, at any rate, get the precise time, the persons present, and the minutes of the register taken of their proceed. ings; and this without noise, or seeming concern to have them, as much as may be; and I would beg you not to talk of this matter, till we have got the whole matter of fact, which will be a pleasant story, and of good use.
I wish the books you mentioned*, were not gone to the press, and that they might not be printed ; for when they are printed, I am sure they will get abroad; and then it will be too late to wish it had not been so. However if the fates will have it so, and their printing cannot be avoided; yet, at least, let care be taken to conceal his name. I doubt not of his reasoning right, and making good his points ; but what will that boot, if he and his family should be disturbed, or diseased?
I shall, as you desire, send Moliere, and Le Clerc, back to you, by the first opportunity. I am,
with perfect sincerity and respect, &c.
To the same.
Oates, 28 February, 1708-4. I saw the packet was exactly well made up, and I knew the books in it were well bound; whereupon I let it alone, and was likely to have sent it back to you unopened; but my good genius would not suffer me to lose a letter of yours in it,
which I value more than all the books it accompanied. Since my last therefore to you,
I opened the packet, and therein found yours of the 16th instant, which makes me love and value you, if it were
* Mr. Bold's Treatises mentioned in the preceding letter.
possible, more than I did before; you having therein, in short, so well described, wherein the happiness of a rational creature in this world consists; though there are very few that make any other use of their half employed and undervalued reason, but to bandy against
It is well, as you observe, that they agree as ill with one another, as they do with common sense. For when, by the influence of some prevailing head, they all lean one way; truth is sure to be born down, and there is nothing so dangerous, as to make any inquiry after her; and to own her, for her own sake, is a most unpardonable crime.
You ask me, how I like the binding of Moliere, and Le Clerc. You will wonder to hear me say, not at all; but you must take the other part of my answer, which is, nor do I dislike it. It is probable, that this yet doth not satisfy you, after you have taken such especial care with your binder, that they should be exactly well done. Know then, that upon moving the first book, having luckily espied your letter, I only just looked into it to see the Paris print of Moliere; and, without so much as taking it out of the paper it was wrapped up in, cast my eye upon the cover, which looked very fine, and curiously done, and so put it up again, hasting to your letter. This was examining, more than enough, of books whose binding you had told me you had taken care of; and more than enough, for a man who had your letter in his hand unopened.
Pray send me word what you think or hear of Dr. Pitt's last book*. For as for the first of the other authors you mentiont, by what I have seen of him already, I can easily think his arguments not worth your reciting. And as for the other, though he has parts, yet that is not all which I require in an author I am covetous of, and expect to find satisfaction in.
The Antidote; or the Preservative of Health and Life, and the Restorative of Physic to its Sincerity and Perfection ; &c. By R. Pitt, M. D. Fellow and Censor of the College of Physicians, &c. Lond. 1704, 8vo,
+ The grand Essay; or a Vindication of Reason and Religion, against the Imposture of Philosophy, &c. Lond. 1701, in 8vo.
Pray, forget not to write to your friend in Oxford, to the purpose I mentioned in my last to you. I am, &c.
To the same.
Oates, 6 March, 1703-4. WERE you of Oxenford itself, bred under those sharp heads, which were for damning my book, because of its discouraging the staple commodity of the place; which in my time was called hogs-shearing, (which is, as I hear, given out for the cause of their decree); you could not be a more subtle disputant than you are. You do every thing that I desire of you, with the utmost care and concern; and because I understand and accept it so, you contend that you are the party obliged. This, I think, requires some of the most refined logic to make good; and if you will have me believe it, you must forbid me too to read my own book, and oblige me to take to my help more learned and scholastic notions. But the mischief is, I am too old to go to school again; and too resty now to study arts, however authorized, or wherever taught, to impose upon my own understanding. Let me therefore, if you please, be sensible of your kindness; and I give you leave to please yourself, with my interpreting them as I ought, as much as you think fit. For it would be hard in me to deny you so small a satisfaction, where I receive so great and real advantage.
To convince you, that you are not like to lose what you so much value, and is all you can expect in our commerce, I put into your
hands a fresh opportunity of doing something for me, which I shall have reason to take well. I have this day sent back the bundle of books. I have taken what care I can to secure them from any harm, that might threaten them in the carriage. For I should be extremely vexed that books, so curiously finished by your care, should be in the least injured, or lose any thing of their perfect beauty, till they came to the hands, for whom they are designed.