[from Memoirs of Bishop Hildesley]
Dear Sir, Hitchin, .Feb 3, 1750.
It is common, I perceive, with all people, to complain of want of time. If your time, good sir, is taken up in being, or endeavouring to be, useful to your fellow-creatures, I think you can very improperly be said to be robbed of it. The latter of the two great commandments, with your leave, sir, carries more than a tinkling sound in it.
If a man turned of fifty-five could be able to recollect but few of his past days, or years, which had been employed in the service of his species ; whatever he might have a right to, he world find but small comfort in thinking of himself.
How far the human race is capable of being truly served by the practice of physick, I pretend not to be judge: but, by all I could ever observe, none of the three faculties is more esteemed, or more cheerfully supported, than. yours.
How rejoiced have I seen. a whole family, at the sound of " Here's the Doctor !" and how damped and a-la-mort, at the approach of the Parson !
As to abuses, Gay has warned us each, what we are to expect, in our turns. But, after all, say what we will of each other, 'tis certain that a worthy, sensible man, of what trade or employment soever, will always be regarded by the sensible and worthy of all of them. Yet still, I cannot but think the physician is generally the most acceptable to his fellow-mortals; inasmuch as life, with health, is the great sine qua non, for enjoying the present, or preparing for a future, state.
The difficulties attending the discharge of each of the learned functions, in administering help to the spiritual, secular, or corporeal concerns of mankind, will call for more time to distinguish and enlarge upon, is I should attempt it, than you will find worth yours to attend to from me; and, therefore, I'll spare both you and myself too.
When you and I shall next split an hour together, we will have some talk about what you call self-enjoyment. I am for nothing behind the scenes, during the time of performing our parts on the stage of this short life, but merely for recruit and refreshment, in order to return to action with fresh vigour. If we acquit ourselves properly, and go off with a plaudit, then for enjoyment, in its due place, time, and meaning ! The combat with our passions, in which reason and religion oblige us to be engaged during our stay here will, I fear, scarce leave room for much solid peace and comfort, beyond what we can draw from the expectation of the reward annexed to our conquest. Every day's experience, surely, must convince even men who have the fullest command of time, that this is rather a state of restless trial, and search after something new, and to come, than of real enjoyment for the present : Put, is you, my clear sir, have found any place or situation on the globe, that is productive of the requiem malorum you mention, be it either at Hogmagog * or elsewhere, I congratulate you on your Eurika[in greek] whilst I must be content, in quocunque terrarum orbis loco degens, to subscribe myself, [greek]
P. S. Is I have you not by the hand on some one day between the 13th and 17th instant, I shall receive fresh conviction of the defect of all sublunary expectations.
* A seat of the earl of Godolphin, near New-Market.
2 referring to Phillip III 12