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MR. CUMMING in his late edition of Felltham's Resolves, remarks, in the short account of him prefixed, that " There are few Eng. lish 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."
For a somewhat more detailed account of this author, the reader is referred to Cum, ming's edition of the Resolves, published last
It may seem strange, that a man should have such an earnest desire of a noble fame and memory, after his death : when, at the same time, he knows that the tongues of the living avail nothing to the good or hurt of those who lie in their graves ; and that the account must pass upon his actions, and not upon the reports of others. There is hardly any thing which we possess that we reckon of equal value with fame ; our wealth, our comfort, nay, sometimes even our lives, are held cheap when they come in competition with it. When Philip asked Democritus, if he did not fear to lose his head, he answered, “ No; for if he did lose it, the Athenians would give him one that would be immortal.” He would be statued in the treasury of eternal fame. Ovid's comfort, in his banishment, was his fame :
Nil non mortale tenemus,
Ingenio tamen ipse meo comitorque fruorque:
All that we hold will die, But our brave thoughts and ingenuity. Even I that want my country-house and friend, From whom is ravish'd all that fate can rend; Possess yet my own genius, and enjoy That which is more than Cæsar can destroy. Each groom may kill me: but whensoe’er I die, My fame shall live to mate eternity.
Ovid's TRIST. iii.7.
Plutarch tells us of a poor Indian, that would rather endure death than shoot before Alexander, having been out of practice ; lest by shooting ill he should mar the fame he had acquired. Desire of glory is the last thing that even wise men lay aside. For this you may take Tacitus.-Etiam sapientibus, cupido glorice novissima exuitur. It was Tamerlane's practice to read often the heroic deeds of his own ancestors; not as any boast to himself, but as glorious examples propounded to inflame his virtues. The noble acts of our predecessors, are as flaming beacons, which fame and time have set on hills, to call us to a defence of virtue, whersoever vice invades