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scene of my life; when I am good for nothing, and am
Every one here finds himself obliged, by your late good company. As for myself, if you had not convinced me by a sensible experiment, I could not have believed I could have had so many happy days together. I shall always pray that yours may be multiplied. Could I, in the least, contribute any thing thereunto, I should think myself happy in this poor decaying state of my health; which, though it affords me little in this world to enjoy, yet I find the charms of your company make me not feel the want of strength, or breath, or any thing else.
The bishop of Glocester came hither the day you went from hence, and in no very good state of health. I find two groaning people make but an uncomfortable concert. He returned yesterday, and went away in somewhat a better state. I hope he got well to town.
Enjoy your health, and youth, whilst you have it, to all the advantages and improvements of an innocent and pleasant life; remembering that merciless old age is in pursuit of you, and when it overtakes you, will not fail, some way or other, to impair the enjoyments both of body and mind. You know how apt I am to preach. I believe it is one of the diseases of old age. friends will forgive me, when I have nothing to persuade them to, but that they should endeavour to be as happy as it is possible for them to be; and to you I have no more to say, but that you go on in the course you are in. I reflect often upon it, with a secret joy, that you promised I should, in a short time, see you again. You are very good, and I dare not press you. But I cannot but remember how well I passed my time, when you were here. I am, &c.
To the same.
Oates, 25 May, 1704.
WHEN you come to my age, you will know that, with us old fellows, convenient always carries it before ornamental. And I would have as much of the free air when I go abroad in it*, as is possible. Only I ask whether those, which fall back, so as to give as free a prospect behind as before, be as easily managed, and brought over you again, in case of need, as in a shower; as one that falls back, upon two standing corner pillars? And next, whether that which falls back so well, doth, when it is drawn up over you, come so far over your head, when it is erected, as to shelter it from the dew, without shutting you up from the free open air? For I think sometimes in the evening of a warm day to sit abroad in it, to take the fresco; but would have a canopy over my head, to keep the dew off. If this be so, I am plainly, and without balancing, for that which falls flattest. One question more, and I have done. Pray, what place is there for a footman in any of them? Most of my time being spent in sitting, I desire special care may be taken, in making the seat broad enough, and the two cushions soft, plump, and thick enough.
You know I have great liking to be canonical; but I little thought, that you, of all others, was the man to make me so. I shall love it the better for your sake; and wish that canonical were ready, that you might have the handselling of it hither speedily. If I did not take you for myself, as you have taught me to do, I should not be thus free with you. Count me in your turn all yourself, except my age and infirmities, those I desire to keep to myself; all the rest of me is yours.
* That is, in a chaise, which Mr. Locke desired to have made for him.
To the same.
Oates, 26 May, 1704.
My letter yesterday went away without an answer to one of your demands; and that was, whether I would have any brass on the harness? To which, give me leave to tell you, that, in my whole life, I have been constantly against any thing that makes a show; no maxim being more agreeable to my condition and temper, than" qui bene latuit bene vixit." I like to have things substantially good of their kind, and useful, and handsomely made, and fitly adapted to their uses; for, if either were necessary, I had rather be taken notice of for something that is fashionably gaudy, than ridiculously uncouth, or for its poorness and meanness remarkable. Therefore, if you please, let the harness, and all the whole accoutrements be of as good materials, and as handsomely made and put together as may be; but for ornaments of brass, or any such thing, I desire it may be spared.
One question more comes into my mind to ask you, and that is, whether the back of those, that fall down so flat, are so made that, when it is up, one may lean and loll against it at one's case, as in a coach or a chariot; for I am grown a very lazy fellow, and have now three easy chairs to lean and loll in, and would not be without that relief in my chaise.
You see I am as nice as a young fond girl, that is coming into the world, with a face and a fortune, as she presumes, to command it. Let not this, however, deter you; for I shall not be so hard to be pleased. For what you do will be as if I did it myself. I am, &c.
To the same.
Oates, 29 May, 1704. How should I value the chaise you take so much pains about, if I could hope I could have your company
with me abroad in it, every two or three days. ever, it wears the signature of your friendship, and so will always have something in it to please me.
I know not whether it be worth while to clog it with any thing, to make a place for a footman. That must, I suppose, make it bigger and heavier, which I would avoid; and I think, upon the whole matter, there will be no great need of it. But when I hear from you again, I shall know that. In the meantime, all the rest, I think, is resolved; for, I suppose of course, you will choose a cloth for the lining of a dust colour; that is the proper colour for such a priest as you mention in your letter.
If poor Psalmanassar be really a convert from paganism (which I would be glad to be assured of), he has very ill luck, not to herd any where among the variety of sorts that are among us. But I think it so, that the parties are more for doing one another harm, than for doing any body good. I am, &c.
To the same.
Oates, 9 June, 1704.
I MIGHT number my days (and it is a pleasant sort of almanac) by the kindnesses I receive from Your packet I received, and have reason to thank you for all the particulars in it; however, you thought fit to prepare me for being disappointed, in the binding my Greek Testament. There is nothing in it that offends me, but the running of his paring-knife too deep into the margin; a knavish and intolerable fault in all our English bookbinders.
Books seem to me to be pestilent things, and infect all that trade in them; that is, all but one sort of men, with something very perverse and brutal. Printers, binders, sellers, and others that make a trade and gain out of them, have universally so odd a turn and corruption of mind, that they have a way of dealing pecu
liar to themselves, and not conformed to the good of society, and that general fairness that cements mankind.
Whether it be, that these instruments of truth and knowledge will not bear being subjected to any thing but those noble ends, without revenging themselves on those who meddle with them to any other purpose, and prostitute them to mean and misbecoming designs; I will not inquire. The matter of fact, I think, you will find true; and there we will leave it to those who sully themselves with printer's ink, till they wholly expunge all the candour that nature gives, and become the worst sort of black cattle.
To the same.
Oates, June 29, 1704.
If the chaise you have had so much trouble about gives me as much satisfaction afterwards, as it will in the first service I shall receive from it; the conquerors of the world will not ride in their triumphant chariots with more pleasure, than I shall in my little tumbrel. It will bring me what I prefer to glory. For, methinks, he understands but little of the true sweetness of life, that doth not more relish the conversation of a worthy and ingenuous friend in retirement, than the noise and rout of the crowd in the streets, with all their accla mations and huzzas. I long, therefore, that the machine should be despatched; and expect it as greedily as a hungry merchant doth a ship from the East Indies, which is to bring him a rich cargo. I hope the coachmaker doth not live far from you; for if he be a slow man of London, I would have him quickened once a day, that he may make as much haste as if the satisfaction of two lovers depended on his despatch. In the meantime, give me leave to desire you to bestow some of your spare hours on the epistles to the Corinthians, and to try whether you can find them intelligible or no.