Give your servant who hath ever honour'd you leave to take notice of a book at present in the Press, intituled (as I am informed) Animadversions upon a Treatise lately printed under the name of Religio Medici; hereof I am advertised, you have descended to be the Author. Worthy Sir, permit your Servant to affirm there is contain'd therein nothing that can deserve the Reason of your contradictions, much less the candor of your Animadversions: and to certifie the truth thereof; that book (whereof I do acknowledg my selfe the Author) was pen'd many yeares past, and (what cannot escape your apprehension) with no intention for the Press, or the least desire to obleige the Faith of any man to its assertions: but what hath more especially emboldened my Pen unto you at present is, that the same peice contrived in my private study, and as an exercise unto my self, rather then exercitation for any other, having past from my hand under a broken and imperfect Copy, by frequent transcription it still run forward in corruption, and after the addition of some things, omißion of others, and transposition of many, without my assent or privacy, the liberty of these times committed it unto the Press, from whence it issued so disguised, the Author without distinction could not acknowledge it. Having thus miscarried within a few weeks I shall, God willing, deliver unto the Press the true and intended Originall (whereof in the mean time your worthy self may command a view;) otherwise when ever that Copy shall be extant, it will most clearly appear how far the Text hath been mistaken, and all observations, glosses, or exercitations thereon, will in a great part impugne the Printer or transcriber, rather then the Author. If after that you shall esteem it worth your vacant hours to discourse thereon, you shall but take that liberty which I assume my self, that is, freely to abound in your sense, as I have done in my own. However you shall determin, you shall sufficiently honour me in the vouchsafe of your refute, and I obliege the whole world in the occasion of your Pen.
Speedily upon the Receipt of your Letter of the third Current, I sent to finde out the Printer that Mr. Crooke (who delivered me yours) tole me was printing something under my name, concerning your Treatise of Religio Medici, and to forbid him any further proceeding therein; But my Servant could not meet with him; Whereupn I have left with Mr. Crooke a Note to that purpose, entreating him to deliver it to the Printer. I verily beleeve there is some mistake in the information given you, and that what is printing must be from some other Pen then mine, for such reflections as I made upon your learn'd and ingenious discourse, are so far from meriting the Press, as they can tempt no body to a serious reading of them, they were Notes hastily set down, as I suddenly ran over your excellent piece, which is of so weighty subject and so strongly penned, as requireth much time, time, and sharp attention but to comprehend it; whereas what I writ was the employment but of one sitting; and there was not twenty four houres between my receiving my Lord of Dorsets letter that occasioned what I said, and the finishing my answer to him; and yet part of that time was taken up in procuring your book, which he desired me to read, and give him an accompt of, for till then I was so unhappy as never to have heard of that worthy discourse. If that letter ever come to your view, you will see the high value I set upon your great parts: And if it should be thought I have been something too bold in differing from your sense, I hope I shall easily obtaine pardon when it shall be considered that his Lordship assigned it me as an exercitation to oppose in it for entertainment, such passages as I might judge capable thereof; wherein what liberty I took is to be attributed to the security of a private letter, and to my not knowing (nor my Lords) the person whom it concerned.
But Sir, now that I am so happy as to have that knowledge, I dare assure you, that nothing shal ever issue from me, but savouring of all honor, esteem, and reverence both to your self, and that worthy Production of yours. If I had the vanity to give my self reputation by entring the lists in publike with so eminent and learned a man a you are, yet I know right well, I am no wayes able to do it; it would be a very unequall congress: I pretend not to learning, those slender notions I have are but dis-jointed pieces I have by chance gleaned up here and there: To encounter such a sinewy Opposite, or make Animadversions upon so smart a piece as yours is, requireth a solid stock and exercise in School learning. My superficial besprinkling will serve onely for a private letter, or familiar discourse with Lay auditors. With longing I expect the comming abroad of the true Copy of that Book, whose false and stoln one hath already given me so much delight. And so assuring you I shall deem it a great good fortune to deserve your favour and friendship, I kiss your hand and rest
20 of March
Your most humble
*The letters here reproduced from the 1645 edition of Religio Medici are on 7 unnumbered pages, gather A3, one of them (4) blank. It is perhaps needless to point out that Digby published his "Animadversions", as Observations Upon Religio Medici, without editing them to fit with the authorized edition of Religio Medici. The Observations are printed with the 1659 edition of Religio Medici, as well as in the 1686 edition of the Complete Works, etc.
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