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we had not much conversation together. But because in your 115 p. you are so particular, you know a friend of ours, &c. intending that J. M. and his Answer to Salmasius, I think it here seasonable to acquit my promise to you in giving the reader a short trouble concerning my first acquaintance with you. J. M. was, and is a man of great learning and sharpness of `wit as any man. It was his misfortune, living in a tumultuous time, to be tossed on the wrong side, and he writ flagrante bello, certain dangerous treatises. His books of divorce, I know not whether you may have use of; but those upon which you take him at advantage, were of no other nature than that which I mentioned to you, writ by your own father; only with this difference, that your father's, which I have by me, was written with the same design, but with much less wit or judgment, for which there was no remedy; unless you will supply his judgment with his High Court of Justice. At his majesty's happy return, J. M. did partake, even as you yourself did, for all your huffing, of his regal clemency, and has ever since expiated himself in a retired silence. It was after that, I well remember it, that being one day at his house, I there first met you, and accidentally. Since that I have been scarce four or five times in your company; but it were my foresight or my good fortune, I never contracted any friendship or confidence with you. But then it was, when you,
as I told you, wandered up and down Moorfields, astrologizing upon the duration of his majesty's government, that you frequented J. M. incessantly, and haunted his house day by day. What discourses you there used, he is too generous to remember. But he never having in the least provoked you, for you to insult thus over his old age, to traduce him by your scaramuccios, and in your own person as a schoolmaster, who was born and hath lived much more ingenuously and liberally than yourself; to have done all this, and lay at last my simple book to his charge, without ever taking care to inform yourself better, which you had so easy opportunity to do; nay, when you yourself too have said, to my knowledge, that you saw no such great matter in it, but that I might be the author of it; it is inhu manly and inhospitably done, and will I hope be a warning to all others, as it is to me, to avoid (L will not say such a Judas) but a man that creeps into all companies, to jeer, trepan, and betray them.
MR. CUMMING in his late edition of Felltham's Resolves, remarks, in the short account of him prefixed, that-" There are few English writers, perhaps none, who enjoyed any considerable celebrity in the ages in which they lived, of whom less is known, than of the author of the Resolves; and what is particularly remarkable, though this production of his pen has passed through no less than twelve editions, I do not find the name of Owen Felltham to have been made the subject of an article in any one of our printed biographical collections."
It appears that he was the son of Thomas Felltham of Suffolk, gent. who died in 1631; and scarcely any other particulars of his life
are known with certainty. He was probably connected, in quality of gentleman of the horse, or secretary, with the family of the earl of Thomond; since in the dedication prefixed to the later editions of the Resolves, and which is addressed "To the Right Hon. my most honoured Lady Mary Countess Dowager of Thomond," he declares" that most of them were drawn up under her roof." He probably died about the year 1677.
The second edition of the Resolves is in the Bodleian Library, and bears the date of 1628. . His motives for writing the Resolves are best explained in his own words. He says:
"What I aim at in it, I confess, hath most respect to myself; that I might out of my own school, take a lesson, which should serve me for my own pilgrimage; and if I should wander, my own items might set me in Heaven's direct way again." "We do not (continued he) run into crimes, that from our own mouth have had sentence of condemnation." And again" that I might curb my own wild passions, I have writ these; and if thou findest a line may mend thee, I shall think I have divulged it to purpose. Read all, and use thy mind's liberty; how thy suffrage falls, I weigh not;
for it was not so much to please others as to profit myself. In the preface to the amended editions, he farther observes" Sure it is, the invitation I had to write and publish them, were not so much to please others, or to shew any thing I had could be capable of the name of parts; but to give the world some account how I spent my vacant hours, and that (by passing the press they becoming, in a manner, ubiquitaries) they might every where be as boundaries to hold him within the limits of prudence, honour, and virtue."
To the eighth and subsequent impressions of the Resolves is appended, "A brief character of the Low Countries under the States;" and some letters serious and sportive. Of this performance, Mr. Cumming remarks" that it proves Felltham to have been a very lively wit, as well as a grave moralist. It abounds with keen strokes of humour, chiefly displayed at the expence of the Hollanders, and affords some very neat and entertaining descriptions. of their character, their manners, their institutions, and of several of their large cities, &c. It was written by Felltham when a youth, as a recreation, while on a three weeks tour in the Low Countries.".