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Saturday, July 15. O that my grief were thoroughly weighed, and my calamity laid in the balance together!
For now it would be heavier than the sand of the sea : therefore my words are swallowed up!
For the arrows of the Almighty are within me; the poison whereof drinketh up my spirit. The terrors of God do set themselves in array againt me.
When I lie down, I say, When shall I arise? When will the night be gone? And I am full of tossings to and fro, unto the dawning of the day.
My days are swifter than a weaver's shuttle, and are spent without hope—mine eye shall no more see good.
Wherefore is light given to her that is in misery; and life unto ihe bitter in soul?
Who longeth for death; but it cometh not; and dig. geth for it more than for hid treasures ?
Why is light given to one whose way is hid; and whom God hath hedged in.?
For the thing which I greatly feared is come upon me!
I was not in safety; neither had I rest ; neither was I quiet ; yet trouble came.
But behold God is mighty, and despiseth not any.
He giveth right to the poor- and if téey be found in fetters, and holden in cords of affliction, then he showeth them their works and their trangressions.
I have a little leisure, and am in a scribbling vein: in, dulge me, Lovelace, a few reflections on these sacred books.
We are taught to read the Bible, when children, and as
a rudiment only; and, as far as I know, this may be the reason why we think ourselves above it when at a ma
For you know that our parents, as well as we, wisely rate our proficiency by the books we are ad. vanced to, and not by our understanding of those we have passed through. But, in my uncle's illness, I had the cu. riosity, in some of my dull hours, (lightiag upon one in his closet,) to dip into it: and then I found, wherever I turned, that there were admirable things in it. I have borrowed one, on receiving from Mrs. Lovick the above meditation ; for I had a mind to compare the passages contained in it by the book, hardly believing they could be so exceedingly apposite as I find they are. And one time or other, it is very likely, that I shall make a reso. lution to give the whole Bible a perusal, by way of course, I
may say. This, meantime, I will venture to repeat, is certain, that the style is that truly easy, simple, and natural one, which we should admire in other authors excessively. Then all the world join in an opinion of the antiquity, and authen. ticity too, of the book; and the learned are fond of strengthening their different arguments by its sanctions, Indeed, I was so much taken with it at my uncle's, that I was half ashamed that it appeared so new to me. And yet, I cannot but say, that I have some of the Old Tes. tament history, as it is called, in my head : but, perhaps, am more obliged for it to Josephus than to the Bible itself.
Odd enough, with all our pride of learning, that we choose to derive the little we know from the under cur. rents, perhaps muddy ones too, when the clear, the pel. lucid fountain-head, is much nearer at hand, and easier to be come at-slighted the more, possibly, for that very reason!
But man is a pragmatical, foolish creature ; and the more we look into him, the more we must despise him.Lords of the creation!-Who can forbear indignant laughter! When we see not one of the individuals of that crea. tion (his perpetually-eccentric self excepted) but acts within its own natural and original appointment : and all the time, proud and vain as the conceited wretch is of fan. cied and self-dependent excellence, he is obliged not only for the ornaments, but for the necessaries of life, (that is to say, for food as well as raiment,) to all the other crea. tures ; strutting with their blood and spirits in his veins, and with their plumage on his back: for what has he of his own, but a very mischievous, monkey-like, bad nature ! Yet thinks himself at liberty to kick, and cuff, and elbow out every worthier creature : and when he has none of the animal creation to hunt down and abuse, will make use of his power, his strength, or his wealth, to oppress the less powerful and weaker of his own species !
When you and I meet next, let us enter more largely into this subject : and, I dare say, we shall take it by turns, in imitation of the two sages of antiquity, to laugh and to weep at the thoughts of what miserable, yet conceited beings, men in general, but we libertines in particular, are.
I fell upon a piece at Dorrell's, this very evening, inti. tuled, The Sacred Classics, written by one Blackwell.
I took it home with me, and had not read a dozen pages, when I was convinced that I ought to be ashamed of myself to think how greatly I have admired less noble and less natural beauties in Pagan authors; while I have known nothing of this all.excelling collection of beauties, the Bible! By my faith, Lovelace, I shall for the future have a better opinion of the good sense and taste of half a score of parsons, whom I have fallen in with in my time, and
despised for magnifying, as I thought they did, the lan. guage and the sentiments to be found in it, in preference to all the ancient poets and philosophers. And this is now a convincing proof to me, and shames as much an infidel's presumption as his ignorance, that those who know least are the greatest scoffers. A pretty pack of would be wits of us, who censure without knowledge, laugh without reason, and are most noisy and loud against things we know least of!
MR. BELFORD, TO ROBERT LOVELACE, ESQ.
Wednesday, July 26. I CAME not to town till this morning early: poor Belton clinging to me, as a man destitute of all other hold.
I hastened to Sirith's, and had but a very indifferent account of the lady's health. I sent up my compliments; and she desired to see me in the afternoon.
Mrs. Lovick told me, that after I went away on Satura day, she actually parted with one of her best suits of clothes to a gentlewoman who is her [Mrs. Lovick's] benes factress, and who bought them for a niece who is very speedily to be married, and whom she fits out and portions as her intended heiress. The lady was so jealous that the money might come from you or me, that she would see the purchaser : who owned to Mrs. Lovick. that she bought them for half their worth: but yet, though her conscience permitted her to take them at such an under rate, the widow says her friend admired the lady, as one of the loveliest of her sex : and having beep let into a little of her story, could not help shedding tears at taking away her purchase. She
may be a good sort of a woman: Mrs. Lovick says she is : but self is an odious devil, that reconciles to some people the most cruel and dishonest actions. But, never. theless, it is my opinion, that those who can suffer them. selves to take advantage of the necessities of their fellow. creatures, in order to buy any thing at a less rate than would allow them the legal interest of their purchase-money (supposing they purchase before they want) are no better than robbers for the difference.—To. plunder a wreck, and to rob at a fire, are indeed higher degrees of wickedness : but do not those, as well as these, heighten the distresses of the distressed, and heap misery on the miserable, whom it is the duty of every one to relieve?
About three o'clock I went again to Sajith’s. The lady was writing when I sent up my name; but adinitted of my visit. I saw a miserable alteration in her countenance for the worse; and Mrs. Lovick respectfully accusing her of too great assiduity to her pen, early and late, and of her abstinence the day before, I took notice of the alteration; and told her, that her physician had greater hopes of her than she had of herself; and I would take the liberty to say, that despair of recovery allowed not room for cure.
She said she neither despaired nor hoped. Then stepping to the glass, with great composure, My countenance, said she, is indeed an honest picture of my heart. But the mind will run away with the body at any time.
Writing is all my diversion, continued she: and I have subjects that cannot be dispensed with. As to my hours, I have always been an early riser : but now rest is less in my power than ever. Sleep has a long time ago quarreled