Front Page Titles (by Subject) VII.: To the Same. - The Prose Works of John Milton, vol. 2
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VII.: To the Same. - 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 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.