[Footnote 1: Peter Anthony Motteux, the writer of this letter, was born in Normandy, and came as a refugee to England at the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes. Here he wrote about 14 plays, translated Bayle’s Dictionary, Montaigne’s Essays, and Don Quixote, and established himself also as a trader in Leadenhall Street. He had a wife and a fine young family when (at the age of 56, and six years after the date of this letter) he was found dead in a house of ill fame near Temple Bar under circumstances that caused a reward of fifty pounds to be offered for the discovery of his murderer.]
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No. 289. Thursday, January 31, 1712. Addison.
Vitae summa brevis spem nos vetat inchoare longam.
Upon taking my Seat in a Coffee-house I often draw the Eyes of the whole Room upon me, when in the hottest Seasons of News, and at a time that perhaps the Dutch Mail is just come in, they hear me ask the Coffee-man for his last Weeks Bill of Mortality: I find that I have been sometimes taken on this occasion for a Parish Sexton, sometimes for an Undertaker, and sometimes for a Doctor of Physick. In this, however, I am guided by the Spirit of a Philosopher, as I take occasion from hence to reflect upon the regular Encrease and Diminution of Mankind, and consider the several various Ways through which we pass from Life to Eternity. I am very well pleased with these Weekly Admonitions, that bring into my Mind such Thoughts as ought to be the daily Entertainment of every reasonable Creature; and can consider, with Pleasure to my self, by which of those Deliverances, or, as we commonly call them, Distempers, I may possibly make my Escape out of this World of Sorrows, into that Condition of Existence, wherein I hope to be Happier than it is possible for me at present to conceive.