[from Memoirs of Bishop Hildesley]
To the Rev. PHILIP MOORE,
Bishops-Court, Feb. 12, 1768.
On Monday last, who should come over, but Mr. John Moore from Kirk-Arbory, to bring me a horse he had picked up from a neighbouring farmer, which he thought would suit me. Accordingly we settled it to make a trial : Tuesday stopped us, by a heavy fall of snow ; but on Wednesday afternoon we sallied forth, he on my little horse, and I on that which he brought : and, not-withstanding his chartacter of a fine, light, easy trot, I said but little, and only changed for my own in return ; when my palfrey soon shewed the Recommender the difference : mine trotting so fast, and so easily, that my Arbory jockey was quite spent with heat and fatigue, by keeping pace with me on his farmers nag .and this I thought the best means of bringing him to own it could not do for me. You will smile when I tell you, that I went to Mr. Curghey, and got him to be the purchaser ! and I really think it will suit him very well, as he does not generally choose to ride so briskly as somebody you know.
Now, is not this sad, impertinent stuff, to write to my brother Moore, in his present circumstances ? "Brother Sewell does not treat me thus ;but sends me comfortable doctrines, to help alleviate my present troubles." Well, sir, when you come hither, I have a panacea, which I will venture to set up against his for efficacy; and pronounce it the best medicine too in the universe, for affiicted souls, next to the sacred volume itself, that I ever met with *. . So pray come away, and try my recipe.
But, whilst we are in the body, in vain shall we expect to be always, or altogether spiritual ; and therefore sent I you a detail about a horse and a palfrey, by way of chit-chat : For, though I well know, in your present state, it will be looked upon as trash, not fit to be set before you either for physick or food ;yet it is such as, fooner or later, human creatures must be content to hear or see ;unless they will shut both ears and eyes, till they can bear impertinent sounds, and unentertaining sights. At prefent, I know you are better pleased with other kind of subjeccts ; such as, " not being long after your beloved associate," and "renewing your acquaintance, in a spiritual sense, and in another state." This, my friend, may be an innocent indulgence of imagination, to soothe the painful thoughts of the late separation : But you certainly will find that you must come down to something lower, in time ; unless you intend to be a devoted instance of unremitting sorrow.
Returns of plaintive sensibility it must be expected will occafionally arise, for a considerabie time ;perhaps for the whole time of survivorship: but returns also of usual cheerfulness. will often-times take place. This is the course of the world, and of human nature, An intermixture of good and evil, of pleasure and pain, is the constitution of this state of trial ;and though not wholly, yet great part of each is more or less the effect of that conception, to which our weak judgements unavoidably render us subject.
But, to tell a man of your sense that we are all mortal ; and that the best of friends,sooner or later, unless they go together, must part,-would comparatively be stark nonsense, or at least an useless spccies of observation, affording neither comfort nor information. I remember some one of our divines, I believe it is Tillotson, takes notice of the trite consolation sometimes given to a person, upon the loss of a dear friend ; " Come, since it cant be helped, cease to grieve ;" or, " why do you grieve ?" The answer is excellent ; " It is therefore I grieve, because it cannot be helped : for, if it I should have no occasion to grieve +"
Thus you see, sir, I run on, without study or method, whenever I take up my pen to you, clapping down what comes uppermost. And though I own this manner of writing may seem too indelicate for the oppressed tnind of an afflicted man, yet I think I would rather hazard something not being quite so palatable than the taking more time to confider, till opportunity might thereby often slip for writing to you. Both my hand~writing and my thoughts are much of a sort, equally obscure and hasty:
Such as they are, I shall have hard luck, if no good at all, but the reverse, should arise from the multitude of addresses sent you on the melancholy occason that has drawn them from me.
Your affectionate friend,
MARK SODOR and MANN.
To the fire, if you please, sir ;for I am ashamed of it.
* ( A faithful Friend says the fon of Sirach~, ":is theMedicine of 1ife Eccllus VI 16 And, assuredly, there exists that healing quality in the interchange of amicable sentiments, which is far more balsamick, on trial, than all the recipes of art. These may, indeed, mollify the soreness of corporeal wounds, or assuage the paroxysms of pain; but words of consolation, applied in due season, from the mouth of sympathetick friendship, are words fitly spoken! And how good they are to the heart diseased, none but the heart, more or mess conversant with distress, can ever fully know.
. As bees rnixd nectar draw from fragrant
So men, from friendship, wisdom and delight.
" Major levatio asserri nulla potest, quam conjunctio consuetudinis, sermonumque nostrorum ;" says Tully to his consoling friend Sulpicius ; Ep. Lib. IV. 6. edit. Schrevel. 668.
+ It was the laying of Augustus Caesar : Hoc ipsum est, quod me mali habet ! See Tillotson, Vol. I. Serru V. The celebrated Gray has very happily expressed this idea, in an elegant sonnet on the death of his friend Mr. West; which concludes thus:
"I fruitless mourn to him, who cannot hear;
And weep the more, because I weep in vain."
Masons Edit. 4to P. 6o