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From 1715, to 1725.


JANUARY 21, 1715-16.

Dear Sir,

KNOW of nothing that will be fo Interessing to you at present, as some circumstances of the last Act of that eminent Comic Poet, and our Friend, Wycherley. He had often told me,

as I doubt not he did all his Acquaintance, that he would marry as soon as his Life was despaired of. Accordingly a few days before his F


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Death he underwent the Ceremony: and joined together those two Sacraments, which wise Men fay should be the last we receive ; for if you observe, Matrimony is plac'd after Extreme 'Unction in our Catechism, as a kind of Hint of the Order of Time in which they are to be taken. The old Man then lay down, fatisfy'd in the Conscience of having, by this one Act, paid his just Debts, obliged a Woman' who (he was told) had Merit, and shewn an heroic resentment of the ill usage of his next Heir. · Some hundred pounds which he had with the Lady, discharged those Debts; a Jointure of four hundred a year made her a Recompence; and the nephew he left to comfort himself, as well as he could, with the miserable Remains of a mortgaged Estate. I saw our Friend twice after this was done, less peevish in his Sickness than he used to be in his Health; neither much afraid of dying, nor (which in him had been more likely) much ashamed of marrying. The Evening before he 'expired, he called his young Wife to the bed-lide, and earnestly entreated her not to deny him one request, the last he should make. Upon her Assurances of consenting to it, he told her, My Dear, it is only this; that you will never marry an old Man again. I cannot help remarking, that Sickness which often destroys both Wit and Wisdom, yet feldom has power to remove that Talent which we call Humour. 'Mr Wycherley Thewed his even in this last Compliment, tho I think his request a little hard; for why should he bar her from doubling her Jointure on the same eafy Terms.

So trivial as these Circumstances are, I should not be displeas'd myself to know fuch Trifles, when they concern or characterise any eminent Person

. The wiseft and wittiest of Men are seldom wiser


or wittier than others in these fober Moments. At least our Friend ended much in the Character he had liv'd in, and Horate's Rule for a Play may as well be apply'd to him as a Playwright :

fervetur ad imum
Qualis ab inceptú processerit, & fibi conftet.

I am, &c.

To the same.

February 10, 1715-16,

Dear Sir, I

Am just return’d from the Country, whither

Mr Rowe accompanied me, and pass'd a Week in the Forest. I need not tell you how much a Man of his Turn entertain'd me; but I must acquaint you there is a Vivacity and Gaiety of Disposition almost peculiar to him, which make it impossible to part from him without that Uneasiness which generally fucceeds all our Pleasures. I have been just taking a solitary Walk by Moon-fhine, full of Reflexions on the transitory Nature of all human Delights; and giving my Thoughts a loose in the Contemplation of those Satisfactions which probably we may hereafter taste in the Company of separate Spirits, when we shall range the Walks a: bove, and perhaps gaze on this World at as vast a Distance as we now do on those Worlds. The Pleasures we are to enjoy in that Converfation must undoubtedly be of a nobler kind, and (not unlikely) F 2


may proceed from the Discoveries each shall communicate to another, of God and of Nature : for the Happiness of Minds can furely be nothing but Knowledge.

The highest Gratification we receive from Company is Mirth, which at the best is but a futtering unquiet Motion, that beats. about the Breast for a a few Moments, and after leaves it void and empty.

Keeping good Company, even the best, is but a less shameful Art of losing. Time.

What we here call Science and Study, are little better. The greater Number of Arts to which we - apply ourselves arę meer groping in the Dark; and

even the Search of our most important Concerns in a future being, is but a needless, anxious, and uncertain Haste to be knowing sooner than we can, what without all this Sollicitude we shall know a little later. We are but Curious Impertinents in the Case of Futurity. 'Tis not our Bufiness to be guessing what the State of Souls shall be, but to be doing what may make our own State happy : We cannot be Knowing, but we can be Virtuous.

If this be my Notion of a great part of that high Science, Divinity; you will be so civil as to imagine I lay no mighty stress upon the rest. Even of my darling Poetry I really make no other Use, than Horses of the Bells that gingle about their Ears (tho’ now and then they tofs their Heads as if they were proud of 'em) only to jogg on a little more merrily.

Your Observations on the narrow Conceptions of Mankind in the Point of Friendship, confirm me in what I was so fortunate as at my first Knowledge of you to hope, and since fo amply to experience. Let' me take so much decent Pride and Dignity upon me, as to tell you, that but for Opinions like


these, which I discover'd in your Mind, I had never made the Trial I have done ; which has succeeded so much to mine, and I believe not less to your Satisfaction : For if I know you right, your Pleasure is greater in obliging me, than I can feel on my part, till it falls in my. Power to oblige you.

Your Remark, that the Variety of Opinion in Politics or Religion is often rather a Gratification than Objection to People, who have Sense enough to confider the beautiful Order of Nature in her Variations, makes me think you have not construed Joannes Secundus wrong, in the Verse which preceeds that which you quote : Bene nota Fides, as I take it, does no ways fignify the Roman Catholic Religion, though Secundus was of it. I think it was a generous Thought, and one that flow'd from an exalted Mind, that it was not improbable but God might be delighted with the various Methods of worshipping him, which divided the whole World. I'am pretty sure You and I should no more make good Inquisitors to the modern Tyrants in Faith, than we could have been qualify'd for Liftors to Precruftes, when he converted refractory Members with the Rack. In a Word, I can only repeat to you what I think I have formerly said that I as little fear 'God will damn a Man who has Charity, as I hope that any Priest can save him without it.

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