james howell an den schreibfaulen cousin

THE last week you sent me word, that you were so cramp´d with Business, that you could not put Pen to Paper: if you write not this week I shall fear you are not only cramp´d but crippled; at least I shall think you are cramp´d in your affection rather than your fingers, and that you have forgot how once it was my good fortune to preserve you from drowning, when the Cramp took you in St. John’s Pool at Oxford. The Cramp, as I take it, is a sudden Convulsion of the Nerves. For my part, the ligaments and sinews of my love to you have been so strong, that they were never yet subject to such spasmatical shrinkings and convulsions. Now, Letters are the very Nerves and Arteries of Friendship; nay, they are the vital Spirits and Elixir of Love, which in case of distance and long absence would be in hazard to languish, and quite moulder away without them. Among the Italians and Spaniards, ’tis held one of the greatest solecisms that can be in good manners, not to answer a Letter with like civility; by this they use to distinguish a Gentleman from a Clown: besides, they hold it one of the most vertuous ways to employ time. I am the more covetous of a punctual correspondence with you in this point, because I commonly gain by your Letters; your style is so polite, your expressions so gallant, and your lines interspers´d with such dainty flowers of Poetry and Philosophy. I understand there is a very able Doctor that reads the Anatomy Lecture this Term; if Plowden will dispense with you, you cannot spend your hours better than to hear him. So I end for this time, being cramp´d for want of more matter, and rest
Your most affectionate loving Cousin, J. H.
Westm., 3. July 1631

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