HALE, Matthew. A | Letter | from | Sr Matthew Hale, Kt. Sometime Lord Chief Juſtice of | ENGLAND; | To One of his | SONS, | After his Recovery from the SMALL-POX. ||[Double rule] || LONDON, | Printed by J. Playford, for W. Shrowsbery, at | the sign of the Bible in Duke-lane: 1684.
Compelling and highly personal letter from the English jurist and judge Matthew Hale to his son, Robert, who was probably in late twenties, following Robert's recovery from smallpox. Hale advises his son that he is writing, rather than visiting, "because by reason of the Contagiousness of your Disease, and the many dependents I have upon me." Hale, who must have written the letter with an eye to posterity, describes over several pages the frightening details of his son's affliction; it easy to see that Hale greatly feared the disease. The letter is undated, buy we have an interior clue as to when it was penned: on page 6, Hale mentions "…last years General Bill of Mortality, you will find near Two Thousand dead of that disease…" The only year in Hale's lifetime for which this statistic is true is 1668, so the letter must have been written sometime in 1669, when Matthew was 60 and Robert 29. Hale refers repeatedly to the transmissibility and lethality of smallpox, and just as often reminds his son how lucky he was to survive, and that his near-death experience must inform and elevate his morality for the rest of his life. The present copy was a prized possession of George Baillie, Scottish politician, MP, and Lord of the Treasury, whose wife and two young children survived smallpox around 1700, when the disease was rampant in Scotland and England. Baillie's engraved bookplate graces the upper pastedown.
London: W. Shrowsbery, 1684.
Octavo, 185 x 124 x 12 mm (binding); 182 x 121 x 6 mm (text block). A-B8, C4; , 37 pp. Early 18th-century paneled calf, neatly rebacked, unletterd. Some wear to extremities. Interior: Minor soiling passim; a very good, crisp copy.
Engraved armorial ex-libris of George Baillie Esq., 1724, to upper pastedown; modern manuscript ex-libris of Brent Grafton-Maxfield at head margin of same.
ESTC R228016 (finding five copies in US libraries). Not in Krivatsky. Also published as part four of Hale's Several Tracts.
Status: On Hold