Front Page Titles (by Subject) FAMILIAR EPISTLES, TRANSLATED FROM THE LATIN, BY ROBERT FELLOWES, A. M. OXON. - The Prose Works of John Milton, vol. 2
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FAMILIAR EPISTLES, TRANSLATED FROM THE LATIN, BY ROBERT FELLOWES, A. M. OXON. - John Milton, The Prose Works of John Milton, vol. 2 
The Prose Works of John Milton, With a Biographical Introduction by Rufus Wilmot Griswold. In Two Volumes (Philadelphia: John W. Moore, 1847). Vol. 2.
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To his TutorThomas Jure.
Though I had determined, my excellent tutor, to write you an epistle in verse, yet I could not satisfy myself without sending also another in prose. For the emotions of my gratitude, which your services so justly inspire, are too expansive and too warm to be expressed in the confined limits of poetical metre; they demand the unconstrained freedom of prose, or rather the exuberant richness of Asiatic phraseology. Though it would far exceed my power accurately to describe how much I am obliged to you, even if I could drain dry all the sources of eloquence, or exhaust all the topics of discourse which Aristotle or the famed Parisian Logician has collected. You complain with truth, that my letters have been very few and very short; but I do not grieve at the omission of so pleasurable a duty, so much as I rejoice at having such a place in your regard as makes you anxious often to heat from me. I beseech you not to take it amiss, that I have not now written to you for more than three years; but with your usual benignity and candour to impute it rather to circumstances than to inclination. For heaven knows, that I regard you as a parent, that I have always treated you with the utmost respect, and that I was unwilling to teaze you with my compositions. And I was anxious that if my letters had nothing else to recommend them, they might be recommended by their rarity. And lastly, since the ardour of my regard makes me imagine that you are always present, that I hear your voice and contemplate your looks; and as thus (which is usually the case with lovers) I charm away my grief by the illusion of your presence, I was afraid when I wrote to you the idea of your distant separation should forcibly rush upon my mind; and that the pain of your absence, which was almost soothed into quiescence, should revive and disperse the pleasurable dream. I long since received your desirable present of the Hebrew Bible. I wrote this at my lodgings in this city, not as usual, surrounded by my books. If therefore there be any thing in this letter which either fails to give pleasure, or which frustrates expectation, it shall be compensated by a more elaborate composition as soon as I return to the dwelling of the Muses.
London, March 26, 1625.
I received your letters and your poem, with which I was highly delighted, and in which I discover the majesty of a poet, and the style of Virgil. I knew how impossible it would be for a person of your genius entirely to divert his mind from the culture of the Muses, and to extinguish those heavenly emotions, and that sacred and ethereal fire which is kindled in your heart. For what Claudian said of himself may be said of you, your “whole soul is instinct with the fire of Apollo.” If therefore, on this occasion, you have broken your own promises, I here commend the want of constancy which you mention; I commend the want of virtue, if any want of virtue there be. But, in referring the merits of your poem to my judgment, you confer on me as great an honour as the gods would if the contending musical immortals had called me in to adjudge the palm of victory; as poets babble that it formerly fell to the lot of Imolus the guardian of the Lydian mount. I know not whether I ought to congratulate Henry Nassau more on the capture of the city or the composition of your poems. For I think that this victory produced nothing more entitled to distinction and to fame than your poem. But since you celebrate the successes of our allies in lays so harmonious and energetic, what may we not expect when our own successes call for the congratulations of your muse? Adieu, learned Sir, and believe me greatly obliged by the favour of your verses.
London, May 20, 1628.
To the Same.
In my former letter I did not so much answer yours as deprecate the obligation of then answering it; and therefore at the time I tacitly promised that you should soon receive another, in which I would reply at length to your friendly challenge. But, though I had not promised this, it would most justly be your due, since one of your letters is full worth two of mine, or rather, on an accurate computation, worth a hundred. When your letter arrived, I was strenuously engaged in that work concerning which I had given you some obscure hints, and the execution of which could not be delayed. One of the fellows of our college, who was to be the respondent in a philosophical disputation for his degree, engaged me to furnish him with some verses, which are annually required on this occasion; since he himself had long neglected such frivolous pursuits, and was then intent on more serious studies. Of these verses I sent you a printed copy, since I knew both your discriminating taste in poetry, and your candid allowances for poetry like mine. If you will in your turn deign to communicate to me any of your productions, you will, I can assure you, find no one to whom they will give more delight, or who will more impartially endeavour to estimate their worth. For as often as I recollect the topics of your conversation, (the loss of which I regret even in this seminary of erudition,) I cannot help painfully reflecting on what advantages I am deprived by your absence, since I never left your company without an increase of knowledge, and always had recourse to your mind as to an emporium of literature. Among us, as far as I know, there are only two or three, who without any acquaintance with criticism or philosophy, do not instantly engage with raw and untutored judgments in the study of theology; and of this they acquire only a slender smattering, not more than sufficient to enable them to patch together a sermon with scraps pilfered, with little discrimination, from this author and from that. Hence I fear, lest our clergy should relapse into the sacerdotal ignorance of a former age. Since I find so few associates in study here, I should instantly direct my steps to London, if I had not determined to spend the summer vacation in the depths of literary solitude, and, as it were, hide myself in the chamber of the muses. As you do this every day, it would be injustice in me any longer to divert your attention or engross your time. Adieu.
Cambridge, July 2, 1628.
On reading your letter, my excellent tutor, I find only one superflous passage, an apology for not writing to me sooner; for though nothing gives me more pleasure than to hear from you, how can I or ought I to expect that you should always have leisure enough from more serious and more sacred engagements to write to me; particularly when it is kindness, and not duty, which prompts you to write? Your many recent services must prevent me from entertaining any suspicion of your forgetfulness or neglect. Nor do I see how you could possibly forget one on whom you had conferred so many favours. Having an invitation into your part of the country in the spring, I shall readily accept it, that I may enjoy the deliciousness of the season as well as that of your conversation; and that I may withdraw myself for a short time from the tumult of the city to your rural mansion, as to the renowned portico of Zeno, or Tusculan of Tully, where you live on your little farm with a moderate fortune, but a princely mind; and where you practise the contempt, and triumph over the temptations of ambition, pomp, luxury, and all that follows the chariot of fortune, or attracts the gaze and admiration of the thoughtless multitude. I hope that you who deprecated the blame of delay, will pardon me for my precipitance; for, after deferring this letter to the last, I chose rather to write a few lines, however deficient in elegance, than to say nothing at all. Adieu, reverend sir.
Cambridge, July 21, 1628.
If you had made me a present of a piece of plate, or any other valuable which excites the admiration of mankind, I should not be ashamed in my turn to remunerate you, as far as my circumstances would permit. But since you, the day before yesterday, presented me with an elegant and beautiful poem in Hendecasyllabic verse, which far exceeds the worth of gold, you have increased my solicitude to discover in what manner I may requite the favour of so acceptable a gift. I had by me at the time no compositions in a like style which I thought at all fit to come in competition with the excellence of your performance. I send you therefore a composition which is not entirely my own, but the production of a truly inspired bard, from whom I last week rendered this ode into Greek Heroic verse, as I was lying in bed before the day dawned, without any previous deliberation, but with a certain impelling faculty, for which I know not how to account. By his help who does not less surpass you in his subject than you do me in the execution, I have sent something which may serve to restore the equilibrium between us. If you see reason to find fault with any particular passage, I must inform you that, from the time I left your school, this is the first and the last piece I have ever composed in Greek; since, as you know, I have attended more to Latin and to English composition. He who at this time employs his labour and his time in writing Greek, is in danger of writing what will never be read. Adieu, and expect to see me, God willing, at London on Monday among the booksellers. In the mean time, if you have interest enough with that Doctor who is the master of the college to promote my business, I beseech you to see him as soon as possible, and to act as your friendship for me may prompt.
From my villa, Dec. 4, 1634.
I clearly see that you are determined not to be overcome in silence; if this be so, you shall have the palm of victory, for I will write first. Though if the reasons which make each of us so long in writing to the other should ever be judicially examined, it will appear that I have many more excuses for not writing than you. For it is well known, and you well know, that I am naturally slow in writing, and averse to write; while you, either from disposition or from habit, seem to have little reluctance in engaging in these literary (προσϕωνησεις) allocutions. It is also in my favour, that your method of study is such as to admit of frequent interruptions, in which you visit your friends, write letters, or go abroad; but it is my way to suffer no impediment, no love of ease, no avocation whatever, to chill the ardour, to break the continuity, or divert the completion of my literary pursuits. From this and no other reasons it often happens that I do not readily employ my pen in any gratuitous exertions; but I am not, nevertheless, my dear Deodati, a very sluggish correspondent; nor has it at any time happened that I ever left any letter of yours unanswered till another came. So I hear that you write to the bookseller, and often to your brother, either of whom, from their nearness, would readily have forwarded any communication from you to me. But what I blame you for is, for not keeping your promise of paying me a visit when you left the city; a promise which, if it had once occurred to your thoughts, would certainly have forcibly suggested the necessity of writing. These are my reasons for expostulation and censure. You will look to your own defence. But what can occasion your silence? Is it ill health? Are there in those parts any literati with whom you may play and prattle as we used to do? When do you return? How long do you mean to stay among the Hyperboreans? I wish you would give me an answer to each of these questions; and that you may not suppose that I am quite unconcerned about what relates to you, I must inform you that in the beginning of the autumn I went out of my way to see your brother, in order to learn how you did. And lately when I was accidentally informed in London that you were in town, I instantly hastened to your lodgings; but it was only the shadow of a dream, for you were no where to be found. Wherefore, as soon as you can do it without any inconvenience to yourself, I beseech you to take up your quarters where we may at least be able occasionally to visit one another; for I hope that you would not be a different neighbour to us in the country than you are in town. But this is as it pleases God. I have much to say to you concerning myself and my studies, but I would rather do it when we meet, and as to-morrow I am about to return into the country, and am busy in making preparations for my journey, I have but just time to scribble this. Adieu.
London, Sept. 7, 1637.
To the Same.
Most of my other friends think it enough to give me one farewell in their letters, but I see why you do it so often; for you give me to understand that your medical authority is now added to the potency, and subservient to the completion, of those general expressions of good-will which are nothing but words and air. You wish me my health six hundred times, in as great a quantity as I can wish, as I am able to bear, or even more than this. Truly, you should be appointed butler to the house of Health, whose stores you so lavishly bestow; or at least Health should become your parasite, since you so lord it over her, and command her at your pleasure. I send you therefore my congratulations and my thanks, both on account of your friendship and your skill. I was long kept waiting in expectation of a letter from you, which you had engaged to write; but when no letter came my old regard for you suffered not, I can assure you, the smallest diminution, for I had supposed that the same apology for remissness, which you had employed in the beginning of our correspondence, you would again employ. This was a supposition agreeable to truth and to the intimacy between us. For I do not think that true friendship consists in the frequency of letters or in professions of regard, which may be counterfeited; but it is so deeply rooted in the heart and affections, as to support itself against the rudest blast; and when it originates in sincerity and virtue, it may remain through life without suspicion and without blame, even when there is no longer any reciprocal interchange of kindnesses. For the cherishing aliment of a friendship such as this, there is not so much need of letters as of a lively recollection of each other’s virtues. And though you have not written, you have something that may supply the omission: your probity writes to me in your stead; it is a letter ready written on the innermost membrane of the heart; the simplicity of your manners, and the rectitude of your principles, serve as correspondents in your place; your genius, which is above the common level, writes, and serves in a still greater degree to endear you to me. But now you have got possession of this despotic citadel of medicine, do not alarm me with the menace of being obliged to repay those six hundred healths which you have bestowed, if I should, which God forbid, ever forfeit your friendship. Remove that formidable battery which you seem to have placed upon my breast to keep off all sickness but what comes by your permission. But that you may not indulge any excess of menace I must inform you, that I cannot help loving you such as you are; for whatever the Deity may have bestowed upon me in other respects, he has certainly inspired me, if any ever were inspired, with a passion for the good and fair. Nor did Ceres, according to the fable, ever seek her daughter Proserpine with such unceasing solicitude as I have sought this τοῦ ϰαλοῦ ἰδέαν, this perfect model of the beautiful in all the forms and appearances of things (πολλαιγαρ γορϕαι των Δαιμονιων, many are the forms of the divinities.) I am wont day and night to continue my search; and I follow in the way in which you go before. Hence, I feel an irresistible impulse to cultivate the friendship of him, who, despising the prejudiced and false conceptions of the vulgar, dares to think, to speak, and to be that which the highest wisdom has in every age taught to be the best. But if my disposition or my destiny were such that I could without any conflict or any toil emerge to the highest pitch of distinction and of praise; there would nevertheless be no prohibition, either human or divine, against my constantly cherishing and revering those, who have either obtained the same degree of glory, or are successfully labouring to obtain it.
But now I am sure that you wish me to gratify your curiosity, and to let you know what I have been doing or am meditating to do. Hear me, my Deodati, and suffer me for a moment to speak without blushing in a more lofty strain. Do you ask what I am meditating? by the help of heaven, an immortality of fame. But what am I doing? πτεροϕυῶ, I am letting my wings grow and preparing to fly; but my Pegasus has not yet feathers enough to soar aloft in the fields of air. I will now tell you seriously what I design; to take chambers in one of the inns of court, where I may have the benefit of a pleasant and shady walk; and where with a few associates, I may enjoy more comfort when I choose to stay at home, and have a more elegant society when I choose to go abroad. In my present situation, you know in what obscurity I am buried, and to what inconveniences I am exposed. You shall likewise have some information respecting my studies. I went through the perusal of the Greek authors, to the time when they ceased to be Greeks; I was long employed in unravelling the obscure history of the Italians, under the Lombards, the Franks, and Germans, to the time when they received their liberty from Rodolphus king of Germany. From that time it will be better to read separately the particular transactions of each state. But how are you employed? How long will you attend to your domestic ties, and forget your city connections? But unless this novercal hostility be more inveterate than that of the Dacian or Sarmacian, you will feel it a duty to visit me in my winter quarters. In the mean time, if you can do it without inconvenience, I will thank you to send me Justinian the historian of Venice. I will either keep it carefully till your arrival, or, if you had rather, will soon send it back again. Adieu.
London, Sept. 23, 1637.
ToBeneditto Bonomattai,a Florentine.
I am glad to hear, my dear Bonomattai, that you are preparing new institutes of your native language, and have just brought the work to a conclusion. The way to fame which you have chosen, is the same as that which some persons of the first genius have embraced; and your fellowcitizens seem ardently to expect that you will either illustrate or amplify, or at least polish and methodize, the labours of your predecessors. By such a work you will lay your countrymen under no common obligation, which they will be ungrateful if they do not acknowledge. For I hold him to deserve the highest praise who fixes the principles and forms the manners of a state, and makes the wisdom of his administration conspicuous both at home and abroad. But I assign the second place to him, who endeavours by precepts and by rules to perpetuate that style and idiom of speech and composition, which have flourished in the purest periods of the language, and who, as it were, throws up such a trench around it, that people may be prevented from going beyond the boundary almost by the terrors of a Romulean prohibition. If we compare the benefits which each of these confer, we shall find that the former alone can render the intercourse of the citizens just and conscientious, but that the last gives that gentility, that elegance, that refinement, which are next to be desired. The one inspires lofty courage and intrepid ardour against the invasion of an enemy; the other exerts himself to annihilate that barbarism which commits more extensive ravages on the minds of men, which is the intestine enemy of genius and literature, by the taste which he inspires, and the good authors which he causes to be read. Nor do I think it a matter of little moment whether the language of a people be vitiated or refined, whether the popular idiom be erroneous or correct. This consideration was more than once found salutary at Athens. It is the opinion of Plato, that changes in the dress and habits of the citizens portend great commotions and changes in the state; and I am inclined to believe, that when the language in common use in any country becomes irregular and depraved, it is followed by their ruin or their degradation. For what do terms used without skill or meaning, which are at once corrupt and misapplied, denote, but a people listless, supine, and ripe for servitude? On the contrary, we have never heard of any people or state which has not flourished in some degree of prosperity, as long as their language has retained its elegance and its purity. Hence, my Beneditto, you may be induced to proceed in executing a work so useful to your country, and may clearly see what an honourable and permanent claim you will have to the approbation and the gratitude of your fellowcitizens. Thus much I have said, not to make you acquainted with that of which you were ignorant, but because I was persuaded that you are more intent on serving your country than in considering the just title which you have to its remuneration. I will now mention the favourable opportunity which you have, if you wish to embrace it, of obliging foreigners, among whom there is no one at all conspicuous for genius or for elegance, who does not make the Tuscan language his delight, and indeed consider it as an essential part of education, particularly if he be only slightly tinctured with the literature of Greece or of Rome. I, who certainly have not merely wetted the tip of my lips in the stream of those languages, but, in proportion to my years, have swallowed the most copious draughts, can yet sometimes retire with avidity and delight to feast on Dante, Petrarch, and many others; nor has Athens itself been able to confine me to the transparent wave of its Ilissus, nor ancient Rome to the banks of its Tiber, so as to prevent my visiting with delight the stream of the Arno, and the hills of Fæsolæ. A stranger from the shores of the farthest ocean, I have now spent some days among you, and am become quite enamoured of your nation. Consider whether there were sufficient reason for my preference, that you may more readily remember what I so earnestly importune; that you would, for the sake of foreigners, add something to the grammar which you have begun, and indeed almost finished, concerning the right pronunciation of the language, and made as easy as the nature of the subject will admit. The other critics in your language seem to this day to have had no other design than to satisfy their own countrymen, without taking any concern about any body else. Though I think that they would have provided better for their own reputation, and for the glory of the Italian language, if they had delivered their precepts in such a manner as if it was for the interest of all men to learn their language. But, for all them, we might think that you Italians wished to confine your wisdom within the pomærium of the Alps. This praise therefore, which no one has anticipated, will be entirely yours immaculate and pure; nor will it be less so if you will be at the pains to point out who may justly claim the second rank of fame after the renowned chiefs of the Florentine literature; who excels in the dignity of tragedy, or the festivity and elegance of comedy; who has shown acuteness of remark or depth of reflection in his epistles or dialogues; to whom belongs the grandeur of the historic style. Thus it will be easy for the student to choose the best writers in every department; and if he wishes to extend his researches farther, he will know which way to take. Among the ancients you will in this respect find Cicero and Fabius deserving of your imitation; but I know not one of your own countrymen who does. But though I think as often as I have mentioned this subject that your courtesy and benignity have induced you to comply with my request, I am unwilling that those qualities should deprive you of the homage of a more polished and elaborate entreaty. For since your singular modesty is so apt to depreciate your own performances; the dignity of the subject, and my respect for you, will not suffer me to rate them below their worth. And it is certainly just that he who shows the greatest facility in complying with a request should not receive the less honour on account of his compliance. On this occasion I have employed the Latin rather than your own language, that I might in Latin confess my imperfect acquaintance with that language which I wish you by your precepts to embellish and adorn. And I hoped that if I invoked the venerable Latian mother, hoary with years, and crowned with the respect of ages, to plead the cause of her daughter, I should give to my request a force and authority which nothing could resist. Adieu.
Florence, Sept. 10, 1638.
ToLuke Holstein,in the Vatican at Rome.
Though in my passage through Italy, many persons have honoured me with singular and memorable proofs of their civility and friendship, yet on so short an acquaintance, I know not whether I can truly say that any one ever gave me stronger marks of his regard than yourself. For, when I went to visit you in the Vatican, though I was not at all known to you, except perhaps from the incidental mention of Alexander Cherion, you received me with the utmost affability and kindness. You afterwards obligingly admitted me into the Museum, you permitted me to see the precious repository of literature, and many Greek MSS., adorned with your own observations; some of which have never yet seen the light, but seem, like the spirits in Virgil,
to demand the parturient labours of the press. Some of them you have already published, which are greedily received by the learned. You presented me with copies of these on my departure. And I cannot but impute it to your kind mention of me to the noble Cardinal Francisco Barberino, that at a grand musical entertainment which he gave, he waited for me at the door, sought me out among the crowd, took me by the hand, and introduced me into the palace with every mark of the most flattering distinction. When I went the next day to render him my acknowledgments for this his gracious condescension, it was you who obtained me an interview, in which I experienced a degree of civility and kindness greater than I had any reason to expect from a person of his high dignity and character. I know not, most learned Holstein, whether I am the only Englishman to whom you have shown so much friendship and regard, or whether you are led to show the same to all my countrymen, from a recollection of the three years which you passed at the university of Oxford. If this be the case, you generously pay to our dear England the fees of her education; and you both deserve the grateful acknowledgments of each individual in particular, and of our country in general. But if this distinction was shown exclusively to me, if you selected me as worthy of your friendship, I congratulate myself on your preference, while I think your candour greater than my desert.
I strenuously urged my friends, according to your instructions, to inspect the Codex Mediceus; though they have at present but little hope of being able to do it. For in that library nothing can be transcribed, nor even a pen put to paper, without permission being previously obtained; but they say that there is at Rome one John Baptista Donio, who is daily expected at Florence, where he has been invited to read lectures on the Greek language, and by whom you may easily obtain the object of your wishes. It would indeed have been far more grateful to me if I could have been at all instrumental in promoting those honourable and illustrious pursuits in which you are engaged; and which it behoves all men, on all occasions and in all circumstances, to promote. I add that you will lay me under new obligations if you will express my warmest acknowledgments, and my most respectful compliments, to the most noble Cardinal, whose great virtues and whose honest zeal, so favourable to the encouragement of all the liberal arts, are the constant objects of my admiration. Nor can I look without reverence on that mild, and if I may so speak, that lowly, loftiness of mind, which is exalted by its own humiliation, and to which we may apply a verse in the Ceres of Callimachus,
His conduct may serve to show other princes that a forbidding superciliousness and a dazzling parade of power are quite incompatible with real magnanimity. Nor do I think that while he lives any one will regret the loss of the Esti, the Farnese or the Medici, who formerly espoused with so much zeal the patronage of literature. Adieu, most learned Holstein, and if you think me worthy of the honour, rank me, I beseech you, for the future, wherever I may be, among those who are most attached to you and to the studies in which you are engaged.
Florence, March 30, 1639.
ToCarolo Deodati,a Florentine Noble.
I derived, my dear Charles, from the unexpected receipt of your letter, a pleasure greater than I can express; but of which you may have some notion from the pain with which it was attended; and without a mixture of which hardly any great pleasure is conceded to mankind. While I was perusing the first lines of yours, in which the elegance of expression seems to contest the palm with the tenderness of friendship, I felt nothing but an unmingled purity of joy, particularly when I found you labouring to make friendship win the prize. But as soon as I came to that passage in which you tell me that you had previously sent me three letters which must have been lost, then the simplicity of my joy began to be imbued with grief and agitated with regret. But something more disastrous soon appears. It is often a subject of sorrowful reflection to me, that those with whom I have been either fortuitously or legally associated by contiguity of place, or some tie of little moment, are continually at hand to infest my home, to stun me with their noise and waste me with vexation, while those who are endeared to me by the closest sympathy of manners, of tastes and pursuits, are almost all withheld from my embrace either by death or an insuperable distance of place; and have for the most part been so rapidly hurried from my sight, that my prospects seem continually solitary, and my heart perpetually desolate. With a lively pleasure do I read your anxious inquiries about my health since I left Florence, and your unintermitted recollections of our intimacy. Those recollection have been reciprocal, though I thought that they had been cherished by me alone. I would not conceal from you that my departure excited in me the most poignant sensations of uneasiness, which revive with increased force as often as I recollect that I left so many companions so engaging, and so many friends so kind, collected in one city; which is, alas, so far removed; which imperious circumstances compelled me to quit against my inclination, but which was and is to me most dear. I appeal to the tomb of Damon, which I shall ever cherish and revere; his death occasioned the most bitter sorrow and regret, which I could find no more easy way to mitigate than by recalling the memory of those times, when, with those persons, and particularly with you, I tasted bliss without alloy. This you would have known long since, if you received my poem on that occasion. I had it carefully sent, that whatever poetical merit it might possess, the few verses which are included in the manner of an emblem might afford no doubtful proof of my love for you. I thought that by this means I should entice you or some other persons to write; for if I wrote first it seemed necessary that I should write to all, as if I wrote to one exclusively I feared that I should give offence to the rest; since I hope that many are still left who might justly claim the performance of this duty. But you, by first addressing me in a manner so truly friendly, and by a triple repetition of epistolary kindness, have laid me under an obligation to write to you, and have exonerated me from the censure of those to whom I do not write. Though I must confess that I found other reasons for silence in these convulsions which my country has experienced since my return home, which necessarily diverted my attention from the prosecution of my studies to the preservation of my property and my life. For can you imagine that I could have leisure to taste the sweets of literary ease while so many battles were fought, so much blood shed, and while so much ravage prevailed among my fellow-citizens? But even in the midst of this tempestuous period, I have published several works in my native language, which if they had not been written in English, I should have pleasure in sending to you, whose judgment I so much revere. My Latin poems I will soon send as you desire; and this I should have done long ago without being desired, if I had not suspected that some rather harsh expressions which they contained against the Roman pontiff would have rendered them less pleasing to your ears. Now I request whenever I mention the rites of your religion in my own way, that you will prevail on your friends (for I am under no apprehensions from you) to show me the same indulgence not only which they did to Aligerius and to Petrarch on a similar occasion, but which you did formerly with such singular benevolence to the freedom of my conversation on topics of religion. With pleasure I perused your description of the funeral of King Louis. I do not acknowledge the inspiration of that vulgar and mercenary Mercury whom you jocosely profess to worship, but of that Mercury who excels in eloquence, who is dear to the Muses and the patron of men of genius. It remains for us to hit upon some method by which our correspondence may in future be carried on with greater regularity and fewer interruptions. This does not seem very difficult, when we have so many merchants who trade so extensively with us; whose agents pass to and fro every week, and whose ships are sailing backward and forward almost as often. In the mean time, my dear Charles, farewell, and present my kind wishes to Cultellino, Francisco, Trescobaldo, Maltatesto, the younger Clemantillo, and every other inquiring friend, and to all the members of the Gaddian academy. Adieu.
London, April 21, 1647.
ToHermann Milles,Secretary to the Count of Oldenburgh.
Before I return any answer, most noble Hermann, to your letter which I received on the 17th of December, I will first explain the reasons why I did not write before, that you may not impute to me the blame of a silence which has so long continued. First, the delay was occasioned by ill-health, whose hostilities I have now almost perpetually to combat; next, by a cause of ill-health, a necessary and sudden removal to another house, which had accidentally begun to take place on the day that your letter arrived; and lastly, by shame that I had no intelligence concerning your business, which I thought that it would be agreeable to communicate. For the day before yesterday when I accidentally met the Lord Frost, and anxiously inquired of him whether any answer to you had been resolved on? (for the state of my health often kept me from the council;) he replied with not without emotion, that nothing had been resolved on, and that he could make no progress in expediting the business. I thought it therefore better to be silent for a time, than immediately to write what I knew that it would be irksome for you to hear, but rather to wait till I should have the pleasure to communicate what I was sure it would give you so much pleasure to know. This I hope that I have to-day accomplished; for when I had more than once reminded the president of your business, he replied that to-morrow they would discuss what answer they should give. If I am the first, as I endeavoured, to give you intelligence of this event, I think that it will contribute greatly to your satisfaction, and will serve as a specimen of my zeal for the promotion of your interests.
To the renownedLeonard Philara,the Athenian.
I was in some measure made acquainted, most accomplished Philara, with your good will towards me, and with your favourable opinion of my defence of the people of England, by your letters to the Lord Auger, a person so renowned for his singular integrity in executing the embassies of the republic. I then received your compliments with your picture and an eulogy worthy of your virtues; and, lastly, a letter full of civility and kindness. I who am not wont to despise the genius of the German, the Dane, and Swede, could not but set the highest value on your applause, who were born at Athens itself, and who after having happily finished your studies in Italy, obtained the most splendid distinctions and the highest honours. For if Alexander the Great, when waging war in the distant East, declared that he encountered so many dangers and so many trials for the sake of having his praises celebrated by the Athenians, ought not I to congratulate myself on receiving the praises of a man in whom alone the talents and the virtues of the ancient Athenians seem to recover their freshness and their strength after so long an interval of corruption and decay. To the writings of those illustrious men which your city has produced, in the perusal of which I have been occupied from my youth, it is with pleasure I confess that I am indebted for all my proficiency in literature. Did I possess their command of language and their force of persuasion, I should feel the highest satisfaction in employing them to excite our armies and our fleets to deliver Greece, the parent of eloquence, from the despotism of the Ottomans. Such is the enterprise in which you seem to wish to implore my aid. And what did formerly men of the greatest courage and eloquence deem more noble or more glorious, than by their orations or their valour to assert the liberty and independence of the Greeks? But we ought besides to attempt, what is, I think, of the greatest moment, to inflame the present Greeks with an ardent desire to emulate the virtue, the industry, the patience of their ancient progenitors; and this we cannot hope to see effected by any one but yourself, and for which you seem adapted by the splendour of your patriotism, combined with so much discretion, so much skill in war, and such an unquenchable thirst for the recovery of your ancient liberty. Nor do I think that the Greeks would be wanting to themselves, nor that any other people would be wanting to the Greeks. Adieu.
London, Jan. 1652.
If I were able, my excellent friend, to render you any service in the promotion of your studies, which at best could have been but very small, I rejoice on more accounts than one, that that service, though so long unknown, was bestowed on so fruitful and so genial a soil, which has produced an honest pastor to the church, a good citizen to our country, and to me a most acceptable friend. Of this I am well aware, not only from the general habits of your life, but from the justness of your religious and political opinions, and particularly from the extraordinary ardour of your gratitude, which no absence, no change of circumstances, or lapse of time, can either extinguish or impair. Nor is it possible, till you have made a more than ordinary progress in virtue, in piety, and the improvement of the mind and heart, to feel so much gratitude towards those who have in the least assisted you in the acquisition. Wherefore, my pupil, a name which with your leave I will employ, be assured that you are among the first objects of my regard; nor would any thing be more agreeable to me, if your circumstances permit as much as your inclination, than to have you take up your abode somewhere in my neighbourhood, where we may often see each other, and mutually profit by the reciprocations of kindness and of literature. But this must be as God pleases, and as you think best. Your future communications may, if you please, be in our own language, lost (though you are no mean proficient in Latin composition) the labour of writing should make each of us more averse to write; and that we may freely disclose every sensation of our hearts without being impeded by the shackles of a foreign language. You may safely entrust the care of your letters to any servant of that family which you mention. Adieu.
Westminster, Dec. 13, 1652.
ToHenry Oldenburgh,Aulic Counsellor to the Senate of Bremen.
I received your former letters, most accomplished sir, at the moment when your clerk was at the point of setting out on his return, so that I had no power of returning you an answer at that time. This some unexpected engagements concurred to delay, or I should not have sent you my Defence without any compliment or apology; and I have since received another letter from you in which you return me more ample acknowledgments than the present deserved. And I had more than once an intention of substituting our English for your Latin, that you, who have studied our language with more accuracy and success than any foreigner with whom I am acquainted, might lose no opportunity of writing it, which I think that you would do with equal elegance and correctness. But in this respect you shall act as you feel inclined. With respect to the subject of your letter you are clearly of my opinion, that that cry to heaven could not have been audible by any human being, which only serves the more palpably to show the effrontery of him who affirms with so much audacity that he heard it. Who he was you have caused a doubt, though long since in some conversations which we had on the subject just after your return from Holland, you seemed to have no doubt but that More was the author to whom the composition was in those parts unanimously ascribed. If you have received any more authentic information on this subject, I wish that you would acquaint me with it. With respect to the mode of handling the subject I would willingly agree with you, and what could more readily persuade me to do it than the unfeigned approbation of persons so zealously attached to me as you are; if my health, and the deprivation of my sight, which is more grievous than all the infirmities of age, or of the cries of these impostors will permit, I shall readily be led to engage in other undertakings, though I know not whether they can be more noble or more useful; for what can be more noble or more useful than to vindicate the liberty of man? An inactive indolence was never my delight, but this unexpected contest with the enemies of liberty has involuntarily withdrawn my attention from very different and more pleasurable pursuits. What I have done, and which I was under an obligation to do, I feel no reason to regret, and I am far from thinking, as you seem to suppose, that I have laboured in vain. But more on this at another opportunity. At present adieu, most learned sir, and number me among your friends.
Westminster, July 6, 1654.
ToLeonard Philara,the Athenian.
I have always been devotedly attached to the literature of Greece, and particularly to that of your Athens; and have never ceased to cherish the persuasion that that city would one day make me ample recompense for the warmth of my regard. The ancient genius of your renowned country has favoured the completion of my prophecy in presenting me with your friendship and esteem. Though I was known to you only by my writings, and we were removed to such a distance from each other, you most courteously addressed me by letter; and when you unexpectedly came to London, and saw me who could no longer see, my affliction, which causes none to regard me with greater admiration, and perhaps many even with feelings of contempt, excited your tenderest sympathy and concern. You would not suffer me to abandon the hope of recovering my sight, and informed me that you had an intimate friend at Paris, Doctor Thevenot, who was particularly celebrated in disorders of the eyes, whom you would consult about mine, if I would enable you to lay before him the causes and symptoms of the complaint. I will do what you desire, lest I should seem to reject that aid which perhaps may be offered me by heaven. It is now, I think, about ten years since I perceived my vision to grow weak and dull; and, at the same time, I was troubled with pain in my kidneys and bowels, accompanied with flatulency. In the morning, if I began to read, as was my custom, my eyes instantly ached intensely, but were refreshed after a little corporeal exercise. The candle which I looked at, seemed as it were encircled with a rainbow. Not long after the sight in the left part of the left eye, (which I lost some years before the other) became quite obscured, and prevented me from discerning any object on that side. The sight in my other eye has now been gradually and sensibly vanishing away for about three years; some months before it had entirely perished, though I stood motionless, every thing which I looked at seemed in motion to and fro. A stiff cloudy vapour seemed to have settled on my forehead and temples, which usually occasions a sort of somnolent pressure upon my eyes, and particularly from dinner till the evening. So that I often recollect what is said of the poet Phineas in the Argonautics;
I ought not to omit that, while I had any sight left, as soon as I lay down on my bed and turned on either side, a flood of light used to gush from my closed eyelids. Then, as my sight became daily more impaired, the colours became more faint, and were emitted with a certain inward crackling sound; but at present every species of illumination being, as it were, extinguished, there is diffused around me nothing but darkness, or darkness mingled and streaked with an ashy brown. Yet the darkness in which I am perpetually immersed, seems always, both by night and day, to approach nearer to white than black; and when the eye is rolling in its socket, it admits a little particle of light as through a chink. And though your physician may kindle a small ray of hope, yet I make up my mind to the malady as quite incurable; and I often reflect, that as the wise man admonishes, days of darkness are destined to each of us, the darkness which I experience, less oppressive than that of the tomb, is, owing to the singular goodness of the Deity, passed amid the pursuits of literature and the cheering salutations of friendship. But if, as is written, man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth from the mouth of God, why may not any one acquiesce in the privation of his sight, when God has so amply furnished his mind and his conscience with eyes. While he so tenderly provides for me, while he so graciously leads me by the hand and conducts me on the way, I will, since it is his pleasure, rather rejoice than repine at being blind. And, my dear Philara, whatever may be the event, I wish you adieu with no less courage and composure than if I had the eyes of a lynx.
Westminster, Sept. 28, 1654.
It is with great pleasure I find that you still retain the same regard for me which you indicated while among us. With respect to the book concerning divorce, which you say that you had engaged some one to turn into Dutch, I would rather that you had engaged him to turn it into Latin. For I have already experienced how the vulgar are wont to receive opinions which are not agreeable to vulgar prejudice. I formerly wrote three treatises on this subject; one in two books, in which the doctrine of divorce is diffusely discussed; another which is entitled Tetrachordon, in which the four principal passages in scripture relative to the doctrine are explained; a third, Colasterion, which contains an answer to some vulgar sciolist. I know not which of these treatises or which edition you have engaged him to translate. The first treatise has been twice published, and the second edition is much enlarged. If you have not already received this information, or wish me to send you the more correct edition or the other treatises, I shall do it immediately, and with pleasure. For I do not wish at present that they should receive any alterations or additions. If you persist in your present purpose, I wish you a faithful translator and every success.
Westminster, Feb. 5, 1654.
ToEzechiel Spanheim,of Geneva.
I know not how it happened that your letters were not delivered to me for three months after they were written. I hope that mine will have a more expeditious conveyance: for, owing to various engagements, I have put off writing from day to day till I perceive that almost another three months have elapsed. But I would not wish you to suppose that my regard for you has experienced any diminution; but that it has rather increased in proportion as I have more frequently thought of discharging this epistolary debt. The tardy performance of this duty seems to admit of this excuse, that when it is performed after so long a lapse of time it is only a more clear confession that it was due. You are quite right in the supposition that I shall not be surprised at receiving the salutations of a foreigner, and you may be assured that it is my maxim, to consider and to treat no good man as a stranger; that you are such I am well persuaded, both because you are the son of a father highly celebrated for his erudition and his piety; and because all good men think you good; and lastly, because you hate the bad. With such persons since it has also been my lot to be at war, Calandrinus very obligingly signified to you, that it would be highly grateful to me if you would lend me your assistance against our common enemy. That you have kindly done in your present letter, of which I have taken the liberty, without mentioning the author’s name, to insert a part in my Defence. This work I will send you as soon as possible after the publication; in the mean time do you direct your letters to me under cover to Turettin a Genoese, living at London, and through whom we may conveniently carry on our correspondence. Be assured that you rank high in my esteem, and that I wish for nothing more than your regard.
Westminster, March 24, 1654.
ToHenry Oldenburgh,Aulic Counsellor to the Senate of Bremen.
Your letters which young Ranley brought, found me so much employed that I am compelled to be more brief than I could wish. You have most faithfully fulfilled those promises to write which you made me when you went away. No honest man could discharge his debts with more rigid punctuality. I congratulate you on your retirement, because it gives pleasure to you though it is a loss to me; and I admire that felicity of genius, which can so readily leave the factions or the diversions of the city for contemplations the most serious and sublime. I see not what advantage you can have in that retirement except in an access to a multitude of books; the associates in study whom you have found there, were I believe, rather made students by their own natural inclinations, than by the discipline of the place. But perhaps I am less partial to the place because it detains you, whose absence I regret. You rightly observe that there are too many there who pollute all learning, divine and human, by their frivolous subtleties and barren disputations; and who seem to do nothing to deserve the salary which they receive. But you are not so unwise. Those ancient records of the Sinese from the period of the deluge, which you say are promised by the Jesuit Martinius, are no doubt on account of their novelty expected with avidity; but I do not see what authority or support they can add to the books of Moses. Our friend to whom you begged to be remembered sends his compliments. Adieu.
Westminster, June 25, 1656.
To the noble Youth,Richard Jones.
As often as I have taken up the pen to answer your last letter, some sudden interruptions have occurred to prevent the completion of my purpose. I afterwards heard that you had made an excursion to the adjoining country. As your excellent mother is on the eve of departing for Ireland, whose loss we have both no small occasion to regret, and who has to me supplied the place of every relative, will herself be the bearer of these letters to you. You may rest assured of my regard, and be persuaded that it will increase in proportion as I see an increasing improvement in your heart and mind. This, by the blessing of God, you have solemnly pledged yourself to accomplish. I am pleased with this fair promise of yourself, which I trust you will never violate. Though you write that you are pleased with Oxford, you will not induce me to believe that Oxford has made you wiser or better. Of that I require very different proof. I would not have you lavish your admiration on the triumphs of the chiefs whom you extol, and things of that nature in which force is of most avail. For why need we wonder if the wethers of our country are born with horns which may batter down cities and towns? Do you learn to estimate great characters, not by the quantity of their animal strength, but by the habitual justice and temperance of their conduct. Adieu, and make my best respects to the accomplished Henry Oldenburgh, your college chum.
Westminster, Sept. 21, 1656.
To the accomplished YouthPeter Heinbach.
You have abundantly discharged all the promises which you made me, except that respecting your return, which you promised should take place at farthest within two months. But if my regard for you do not make me err in my calculation, you have been absent almost three months. You have done all that I desired respecting the atlas, of which I wished to know the lowest price. You say it is an hundred and thirty florins, which I think is enough to purchase the mountain of that name. But such is the present rage for typographical luxury, that the furniture of a library hardly costs less than that of a villa. Paintings and engravings are of little use to me. While I roll my blind eyes about the world, I fear lest I should seem to lament the privation of sight in proportion to the exorbitance of the price for which I should have purchased the book. Do you endeavour to learn in how many volumes the entire work is contained; and of the two editions, whether that of Blaeu or Janson be the most accurate and complete. This I hope rather to hear verbally from yourself on your return, which will soon take place, than to trouble you to give me the information by another letter. In the mean time adieu, and return as soon as possible.
Westminster, Nov. 8, 1656.
To the accomplishedEmeric Bigot.
I was highly gratified by the distinguished marks of attention which you paid me on coming into England, and this gratification is considerably increased by your kind epistolary inquiries after so long an interval. The favourable opinions of others might have prompted your first visit, but you would hardly have taken the trouble to write if you had not been prompted by your own judgment or benevolence. Hence I think I may justly congratulate myself; many have been celebrated for their compositions whose common conversation and intercourse have betrayed no marks of sublimity or genius. But, as far as possible, I will endeavour to seem equal in thought and speech to what I have well written, if I have written any thing well; and while I add to the dignity of what I have written, I will, at the same time, derive from my writings a greater splendour of reputation. Thus I shall not seem to have borrowed the excellence of my literary compositions from others so much as to have drawn it pure and unmingled from the resources of my own mind, and the force of my own conceptions. It gives me pleasure that you are convinced of the tranquillity which I possess under this afflicting privation of sight, as well as of the civility and kindness with which I receive those who visit me from other countries. And indeed why should I not submit with complacency to this loss of sight, which seems only withdrawn from the body without, to increase the sight of the mind within. Hence books have not incurred my resentment, nor do I intermit the study of books, though they have inflicted so heavy a penalty on me for my attachment; the example of Telephus king of Micia, who did not refuse to receive a cure from the same weapon by which he had been wounded, admonished me not to be so morose. With respect to the book which you have concerning the mode of holding parliaments, I have taken care to have the passages which were marked, either amended, or, if they were doubtful, confirmed by a MS. of the illustrious Lord Bradshaw; and from one of the Cotton MSS. as you will perceive from the paper which I have returned. I sent some one to inquire of the keeper of the Records in the Tower, who is my intimate friend, whether the original of this work be extant in that collection, and he replied that there was no copy in the repository. I am reciprocally obliged to you for your assistance in procuring me books. My Byzantine History wants Theophanis Chronographia Græc. Lat. fol. Constant. Manassis Breviarium Historicum, and Codini Excerpta de Antiquit. C. P. Græc. Lat. Anastasii Bibliothecarii Hist. and Vitæ Rom. Pontific. fol. to which I beg you to add Michael Glycas and John Sinnam, and the continuator of Anna Comnena, if they have already issued from the same press. I need not request you to purchase them as cheap as possible. There is no occasion to do this to a man of your discretion, and the price of those books is fixed and known to all. Dr. Stuppe has undertook to pay you the money, and to get them conveyed in the most commodious way. Accept my best wishes. Adieu.
Westminster, March 24, 1658.
To the noble YouthRichard Jones.
I did not receive your letter till some time after it was written; it lay fifteen days at your mother’s. With pleasure I perceive the emotions of your attachment and your gratitude. I have never ceased to promote the culture of your genius, and to justify the favourable opinion which your excellent mother entertains of me, and the confidence she places in me, by benevolence the most pure and counsels the most sincere. In that agreeable and healthy spot, to which you have retired, there are books enough for the purposes of academical education. If beauty of situation contributed as much to improve the wit of the inhabitants as it does to please the eye, the felicity of that place would be complete. The library there is rich in books, but unless the minds of the students be improved by a more rational mode of education, it may better deserve the name of a book-repository than of a library. You justly acknowledge that all these helps to learning should be associated with a taste for literature, and with diligence in the cultivation. Take care that I may never have occasion to blame you for deviating from that opinion. And this you will really avoid if you will diligently obey the weighty and friendly precepts of the accomplished Henry Oldenburgh, your associate and friend. Adieu, my dearest Richard, and let me incite you like another Timothy to the practice of virtue and of piety, by the example of your mother, who is the best of women.
To the illustrious LordHenry de Bras.
I see, my Lord, that you, unlike most of our modern youth who pass through foreign countries, wisely travel, like the ancient philosophers, for the sake of completing your juvenile studies, and of picking up knowledge wherever it may be found. Though as often as I consider the excellence of what you write, you appear to me to have gone among foreigners not so much for the sake of procuring erudition yourself, as of imparting it to others, and rather to exchange than to purchase a stock of literature. I wish it were as easy for me in every way to promote the increase of your knowledge, and the improvement of your intellect, as it is pleasing and flattering to me to have that assistance requested by talents and genius like yours. I have never attempted, and I should never dare to attempt, to solve those difficulties as you request, which seem to have cast a cloud over the writers of history for so many ages.
Of Sallust I will speak as you desire without any hesitation or reserve. I prefer him to any of the Latin historians; which was also the general opinion of the ancients. Your favourite Tacitus deserves his meed of praise; but his highest praise in my opinion, consists in his having imitated Sallust with all his might. By my conversation with you on this subject I seem, as far as I can guess from your letter, to have inspired you with sentiments very similar to my own, concerning that most energetic and animated writer. As he in the beginning of his Catilinarian war asserted that there was the greatest difficulty in historical composition, because the style should correspond with the nature of the narrative, you ask me how a writer of history may best attain that excellence. My opinion is that he who would describe actions and events in a way suited to their dignity and importance, ought to write with a mind endued with a spirit, and enlarged by an experience, as extensive as the actors in the scene, that he may have a capacity properly to comprehend and to estimate the most momentous affairs, and to relate them, when comprehended, with energy and distinctness, with purity and perspicuity of diction. The decorations of style I do not greatly heed; for I require an historian and not a rhetorician. I do not want frequent interspersions of sentiment, or prolix dissertations on transactions, which interrupt the series of events, and cause the historian to entrench on the office of the politician, who if in explaining counsels, and explaining facts, he follows truth rather than his own partialities and conjectures, excites the disgust or the aversion of his party. I will add a remark of Sallust, and which was one of the excellencies which he himself commended in Cato, that he should be able to say much in a few words; a perfection which I think that no one can attain without the most discriminating judgment and a peculiar degree of moderation. There are many in whom you have not to regret either elegance of diction or copiousness of narrative, who have yet united copiousness with brevity. And among these Sallust is in my opinion the chief of the Latin writers. Such are the virtues which I think that every historian ought to possess who would proportion his style to the facts which he records. But why do I mention this to you? When such is your genius that you need not my advice, and when such is your proficiency that if it goes on increasing you will soon not be able to consult any one more learned than yourself. To the increase of that proficiency, though no exhortations can be necessary to stimulate your exertions, yet that I may not seem entirely to frustrate your expectations, I will beseech you with all my affection, all my authority, and all my zeal, to let nothing relax your diligence, or chill the ardour of your pursuit. Adieu! and may you ever successfully labour in the path of wisdom and of virtue.
Westminster, July 15, 1657.
I rejoice to hear of your safe arrival at Saumur, which is, I believe, the place of your destination. You cannot doubt of the pleasure which this intelligence has given me, when you consider how much I love your virtues and approve the object of your journey, I had much rather that some other person had heard in the boat of Charon than you on the waters of the Charent, that so infamous a priest was called in to instruct so illustrious a church. For I much fear that he will experience the most bitter disappointment who thinks ever to get to heaven under the auspices of so profligate a guide. Alas! for that church where the ministers endeavour to please only the ear; ministers whom the church, if it desires a real reformation, ought rather to expel than to choose. You have done right, and not only according to my opinion but that of Horace, by not communicating my writings to any but to those who expressed a desire to see them.
A learned friend of mine who past the last summer at Saumur, informed me that that book was in great request in those parts. I sent him only one copy; he wrote back that the perusal of it had afforded the highest satisfaction to some of the learned there. If I had not thought that I should oblige them I should have spared this trouble to you and this expense to myself.
I have, as you desired me, presented your kind wishes to our friend Lawrence. There is nothing that I wish more than that you and your pupil may have your health and return to us soon as possible after having effected the object of your wishes.
Westminster, Aug. 1, 1657.
To the noble YouthRichard Jones.
I rejoice to hear that you accomplished so long a journey with so little inconvenience, and what redounds so much to your credit that, despising the luxuries of Paris, you hastened with so much celerity where you might enjoy the pleasures of literature and the conversation of the learned. As long as you please you will there be in a haven of security; in other places you will have to guard against the shoals of treachery and the syrens’ songs. I would not wish you to thirst too much after the vintage of Saumur, but resolve to dilute the Bacchanalian stream with more than a fifth part of the chrystal liquor of the Parnassian fount. But in this respect, without my injunctions, you have an excellent preceptor whom you cannot do better than obey; and by obeying whom you will give the highest satisfaction to your excellent mother, and daily increase in her regard and love. That you may have power to do this you should daily ask help from above. Adieu, and endeavour to return as much improved as possible, both in virtue and erudition. This will give me more than ordinary pleasure.
Westminster, Aug. 1, 1657.
To the illustrious LordHenry de Bras.
Some engagements, most noble Lord, have prevented me from answering your letter so soon as I could wish. I wished to have done it the sooner because I saw that your letter, so full of erudition, left me less occasion for sending you my advice (which I believe that you desire more out of compliment to me than of any benefit to yourself) than my congratulations. First, I congratulate myself on having been so fortunate in characterising the merits of Sallust as to have excited you to the assiduous perusal of that author, who is so full of wisdom, and who may be read with so much advantage. Of him I will venture to assert what Quintilian said of Cicero, that he who loves Sallust is no mean proficient in historical composition. That precept of Aristotle in the third book of his rhetoric, which you wish me to explain, relates to the morality of the reflections and the fidelity of the narrative. It appears to me to need little comment, except that it should be appropriated not to the compositions of rhetoric but of history. For the offices of a rhetorician and an historian are as different as the arts which they profess. Polybius, Halicarnassus, Diodorus, Cicero, Lucian, and many others, whose works are interspersed with precepts on the subject, will better teach you what are the duties of an historian. I wish you every success in your travels and pursuits. Adieu.
Westminster, Dec. 16, 1657.
To the accomplishedPeter Heinbach.
I received your letter from the Hague the 18th December, which, as your convenience seems to require, I answer the same day on which it was received. In this letter, after returning me thanks for some favours which I am not conscious of having done, but which my regard for you makes me wish to have been real, you ask me to recommend you, through the medium of D. Lawrence, to him who is appointed our agent in Holland. This I grieve that I am not able to do, both on account of my little familiarity with those who have favours to bestow, since I have more pleasure in keeping myself at home, and because I believe that he is already on his voyage, and has in his company a person in the office of secretary, which you are anxious to obtain. But the bearer of this is on the eve of his departure. Adieu.
Westminster, Dec. 18, 1657.
ToJohn Badiaus,Minister of the Church of Orange.
Most excellent and reverend sir, I believe that our friend Durius will take upon himself the blame of my not writing to you sooner. After he had showed me that paper which you wished me to read concerning what I had done and suffered for the sake of the gospel, I wrote this letter as soon as possible, intending to send it by the first conveyance, since I was fearful that you might consider a longer silence as neglect. In the mean time I am under the greatest obligations to your friend Molin, for procuring me the esteem of the virtuous in those parts by the zeal of his friendship and the warmth of his praise; and though I am not ignorant that the contest in which I was engaged with so great an adversary, that the celebrity of the subject and the style of the composition had far and wide diffused my fame, yet I think that I can be famous only in proportion as I enjoy the approbation of the good. I clearly see that you are of the same opinion; so many are the toils you have endured, so many are the enemies whom you have provoked by your disinterested zeal in defence of the Christian doctrine; and you act with so much intrepidity as to show, that instead of courting the applause of bad men, you do not fear to excite their most inveterate hate and their most bitter maledictions. Oh happy are you whom, out of so many thousands of the wise and learned, Providence has rescued from the very brink of destruction, and selected to bear a distinguished and intrepid testimony to the truth of the gospel. I have now reasons for thinking that it was a singular mercy that I did not write to you sooner; for when I understood by your letters that, threatened on all sides by the malice of your enemies, you were looking round for a place of refuge, to which you might fly in the last extremity of danger, and that you had fixed on England as the object of your wishes, I was considerably gratified, because it gave me the hope of enjoying your company, and because I was happy to find you think so favourably of my country; but I lamented that, particularly owing to your ignorance of our language, I did not see any chance of a decent provision being made for you among us. The death of an old French minister has since very opportunely occurred. The principal persons of his congregation (from whom I have received this communication) anxiously wish, or rather invite you to be chosen in his place; they have determined to pay the expenses of your journey, to provide for you as large a salary as any of the French ministers receive, and to let you want nothing which can contribute to the cheerful discharge of your ecclesiastical function. Fly, I beseech you, as soon as possible, reverend sir, to those who are so desirous of seeing you, and where you will reap a harvest, not rich indeed in temporal delights, but in numerous opportunities to improve the hearts and to save the souls of men; and be assured that your arrival is warmly desired by all good men. Adieu.
Westminster, April 1, 1659.
The indulgence which you beg for yourself, you will rather have to bestow on me, whose turn, if I remember, it was to write. My regard for you has, believe me, suffered no diminution; but either my studies or my domestic cares, or perhaps my indolence in writing, have made me guilty of this omission of duty. I am, by God’s help, as well as usual. I am not willing, as you wish me, to compile a history of our troubles; for they seem rather to require oblivion than commemoration; nor have we so much need of a person to compose a history of our troubles as happily to settle them. I fear with you lest our civil dissensions, or rather maniacal agitation should expose us to the attack of the lately confederated enemies of religion and of liberty; but those enemies could not inflict a deeper wound upon religion than we ourselves have long since done by our follies and our crimes. But whatever disturbances kings and cardinals may meditate and contrive, I trust that God will not suffer the machinations and the violence of our enemies to succeed according to their expectations. I pray that the protestant synod, which you say is soon to meet at Leyden, may have a happy termination, which has never yet happened to any synod that has ever met before. But the termination of this might be called happy, if it decreed nothing else but the expulsion of More. As soon as my posthumous adversary shall make his appearance I request you to give me the earliest information. Adieu.
Westminster, Dec. 20, 1659.
To the noble YouthRichard Jones.
You send me a most modest apology for not writing sooner, when you might more justly have accused me of the same offence; so that I hardly know whether I should choose that you had not committed the offence or not written the apology. Never for a moment believe that I measure your gratitude, if any gratitude be due to me, by the assiduity of your epistolary communications. I shall perceive all the ardour your gratitude, since you will extol the merit of my services, not so much in the frequency of your letters as in the excellence of your habits, and the degree of your moral and intellectual proficiency. On the the theatre of the world on which you have entered, you have rightly chosen the path of virtue; but know there is a path common to virtue and to vice; and that it behoves you to advance where the way divides. Leaving the common track of pleasure and amusement, you should cheerfully encounter the toils and the dangers of that steep and rugged way which leads to the pinnacle of virtue. This, believe me, you will accomplish with more facility since you have got a guide of so much integrity and skill. Adieu.
Westminster, Dec. 20, 1659.
To the accomplishedPeter Heinbach,Counsellor to the Elector of Brandenburg.
It is not strange as you write that report should have induced you to believe, that I had perished among the numbers of my countrymen who fell in a year so fatally visited by the ravages of the plague. If that rumour sprung as it seems out of a solicitude for my safety, I consider it as no unpleasing indication of the esteem in which I am held among you. But by the goodness of God, who provided for me a place of refuge in the country, I yet enjoy both life and health; which, as long as they contiuue, I shall be happy to employ in any useful undertaking. It gives me pleasure to think, that after so long an interval I have again occurred to your remembrance; though, owing to the luxuriance of your praise, you seem almost to lead me to suspect that you had quite forgotten one in whom you say that you admire the union of so many virtues; from such an union I might dread too numerous a progeny, if it were not evident that the virtues flourish most in penury and distress. But one of those virtues has made me but an ill return for her hospitable reception in my breast; for what you term policy, and which I wish that you had rather called patriotic piety, has, if I may so say, almost left me, who was charmed with so sweet a sound, without a country. The other virtues harmoniously agree. Our country is wherever we are well off. I will conclude after first begging you if there be any errors in the diction or the punctuation to impute it to the boy who wrote this, who is quite ignorant of Latin, and to whom I was, with no little vexation, obliged to dictate not the words, but, one by one, the letters of which they were composed. I rejoice to find that your virtues and talents, of which I saw the fair promise in your youth, have raised you to so honourable a situation under the prince; and I wish you every good which you can enjoy. Adieu.
London, Aug. 15, 1666.