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could write a volume to you, but all the language on earth would fail in saying how much, and with what disinterested passion,
I am ever your's."
September 30, 1671, seven in the morning.
"NEXT to the influence of heaven, I am to thank you that I see the returning day with pleasure. To pass my evenings in so sweet a conversation, and have the esteem of a woman of your merit, has in it a particularity of happiness no more to be expressed than returned. But I am, my lovely creature, contented to be on the obliged side, and to employ all my days in new endeavours to convince you and all the world of the sense I have of your condescension in choosing,
MADAM, your most faithful,
most obedient humble servant."+
'He was, when he writ the following letter, as agreeable and pleasant a man as any in England.
October 20, 1671.
"I BEG pardon that my paper is not finer, but I am forced to write from a coffee-house where I am attending about business. There is a dirty crowd of busy faces all around me talking of money, while all my ambition, all my wealth, is love: love, which animates my heart, sweetens my hu mour, enlarges my soul, and affects every action of my life. It is to my lovely charmer I owe that many noble ideas are continually affixed to my words and actions: it is the natural effect of
that generous passion to create in the admirers some similitude of the object admired; thus, my dear, am I every day to improve from so sweet a companion. Look up, my fair one, to that heaven which made thee such, and join with me to implore its influence on our tender innocent hours, and beseech the author of love to bless the rites he has ordained, and mingle with our happiness a just sense of our transient condition, and a resignation to his will, which only can regulate our minds to a steady endeavour to please him and each other.
I am, for ever, your faithful servant.”*
'I will not trouble you with more letters at this time, but if you saw the poor withered hand which sends you these minutes, I am sure you will smile to think that there is one who is so gallant as to speak of it still as so welcome a present, after forty years possession of the woman whom he writes to.
June 23, 1711.
"I HEARTILY beg your pardon for my omission to write yesterday. It was no failure of my tender regard for you; but having been very much perplexed in my thoughts on the subject of my last, made me determine to suspend speaking of it until I came myself. But, my lovely creature, know it is not in the power of age, or misfortune, or any other accident which hangs over human life, to take from me the pleasing esteem I have for you, or the memory of the
bright figure you appeared in, when you gave your hand and heart to,
MADAM, your most grateful husband,
No. 143. TUESDAY, AUGUST 14, 1711.
Nou est vivere, sed valere, vita.
MARTIAL, Epig. Ixx. 6.
For life is only life, when blest with health.
It is an unreasonable thing some men expect of their acquaintance. They are ever complaining that they are out of order, or displeased, or they know not how, and are so far from letting that be a reason for retiring to their own homes, that they make it their argument for coming into company. What has any body to do with accounts of a man's being indisposed but his physician? If a man laments in company, where the rest are in humour enough to enjoy themselves, he should not take it ill if a servant is ordered to present him with a porringer of caudle or posset-drink, by way of admonition that he go home to bed. That part of life which we ordinarily understand by the word conversation, is an indulgence to the sociable part of our make; and should incline us to bring our proportion of good-will or good-humour among the friends we meet with, and not to trouble them with relations which must of necessity
* Richard Steele.
The letters in this No. 142, are all genuine, written originally by Steele, and actually sent, with but little variation, to Mrs. Scurlock, afterwards Lady Steele. See Steele's Letters, vol. I. p. 11. & seq. cr. 8vo. 1787, 2 vols.
oblige them to a real or feigned affliction. Cares, distresses, diseases, uneasinesses, and dislikes of our own, are by no means to be obtruded upon our friends. If we would consider how little of this vicissitude of motion and rest, which we call life, is spent with satisfaction, we should be more tender of our friends, than to bring them little sorrows which do not belong to them. There is no real life but cheerful life; therefore valetudinarians should be sworn, before they enter into company, not to say a word of themselves until the meeting breaks up. It is not here pretended, that we should be always sitting with chaplets of flowers round our heads, or be crowned with roses in order to make our entertainment agreeaable to us; but if (as it is usually observed) they who resolve to be merry, seldom are so; it will be much more unlikely for us to be well-pleased, if they are admitted who are always complaining they are sad. Whatever we do, we should keep up the cheerfulness of our spirits, and never let them sink below an inclination at least to be wellpleased. The way to this, is to keep our bodies, in exercise, our minds at ease. That insipid state wherein neither are in vigour, is not to be accounted any part of our portion of being. When we are in the satisfaction of some innocent pleasure, or pursuit of some laudable design, we are in the possession of life, of human life. Fortune will give us disappointments enough, and nature is attended with infirmities enough, without our adding to the unhappy side of our account by our spleen or ill-humour. Poor Cottilus, among so many real evils, a chronical distemper and a narrow fortune, is never heard to complain. That equal spirit of his, which any man may have, that, like him, will conquer pride, vanity, and af
fectation, and follow nature, is not to be broken, because it has no points to contend for. To be anxious for nothing but what nature demands as necessary, if it is not the way to an estate, is the way to what men aim at by getting an estate. This temper will preserve health in the body, as well as tranquillity in the mind. Cottilus sees the world in a hurry, with the same scorn that a sober person sees a man drunk. Had he been contented with what he ought to have been, how could, says he, such a one have met with such a disappointment? If another had valued his mistress for what he ought to have loved her, he had not been in her power. If her virtue had had a part of his passion, her levity had been his cure; she could not then have been false and amiable at the same time.
Since we cannot promise ourselves constant health, let us endeavour at such a temper as may be our best support in the decay of it. Uranius has arrived at that composure of soul, and wrought himself up to such a neglect of every thing with which the generality of mankind is inchanted, that nothing but acute pains can give him disturbance, and against those too he will tell his intimate friends he has a secret which gives him present ease. Uranius is so thoroughly persuaded of another life, and endeavours so sincerely to secure an interest in it, that he looks upon pain but as a quickening of his pace to a home, where he shall be better provided for than in his present apartment. Instead of the melancholy views which others are apt to give themselves, he will tell you that he has forgot he is mortal, nor will he think of himself as such. He thinks at the time of his birth he entered into an eternal being; and the short article of death he will not allow an