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they use to propose to others, as not to be pronounced by any but themselves:) and in good measure to understand a Language and express his own mind in writing ; And he had in that time read over to me distinctly (the whole or greatest part of) the English Bible ; and did pretty well understand (at least) the Historical part of it.
In the year 1662, I did the like for Mr. Alexander Popham (son of the Lady Wharton, by her former husband Admiral Popham :) with like success.
On whom Dr. William Holder had before attempted it, but gave
it over. I know that both of these (who I think are yet living) were apt to forget (after their parting from me) much of that nicety (which before they had) in the distinct pronouncing some Letters, (which they would recover, whea I had occasionally been with them to set them right;) wanting the help of their Ear to direct their speaking, as that of the Eye directs the hand in writing. For which reason a man who writes a good hand, would soon forget so to do; if grown blind." And therefore, one who thus learns to speak, will (for the continuance and improvement of it) need somebody continually with him, who may prompt him, when be mistakes.
I have, since that time (upon the same account) taught divers. Persons (and some of them very considerable) to speak plain and distinctly, who did before hesitate and stutter very much; and others, to pronounce such words or letters, as before they thought impossible for them to do: by teaching them how to rectify such mistakes in the formation, as by some natural impediment, or acquired Custome, they had been subject to.
About February 1657, 8. (upon the death of Dr. Gerard Langbain, Provost of Queen's College in Oxford, a very worthy person) I was chosen Custos Archivorum in this University; to keep and to inspect their Records, Charters, and other Muniments. And was thereby engaged in the Study of our Charters, Rights and Privileges: which I did with great diligence. And in pur. suance thereof, Į was concerned from time to time in defending their just Rights and Privileges, in such Law-Suits, as did arise, of the University with the City of Oxford, the Stationers of London, and others. Wherein I found that some little knowledge, which I had before acquired, by occasional inspection (amongst other Studies) into oạr Books of Law, was of great use unto me; and of which I was hereby ingaged into a further Study, especially, as to those Cases, wherein the University was
concerned. And I think it will be acknow-
endeavour so to do, when I have been employed by them.
It hath been my Lot to live in a time, wherein have been many and great Changes and Alterations. It hath been my endeavour all along, to act by moderate Principles, between the Extremities on either hand, in a moderate compliance with the Powers in being, in those places, where it hath been my Lot to live, without the fierce and violent animosities usual in such Cases, against all, that did not act just as I did, knowing that there were many worthy Persons engaged on either side. And will. ing whatever side was upmost, to promote (as I was able) any good design for the true Interest of Religion, of Learning, and the publick good; and ready so to do good Offices, as there was Opportunity; And, if things could not be just, as I could wish, to make the best of what is: And hereby, (thro! God's gracious Providence) have been able to live easy, and useful, though not Great.
Thus in Compliance with your repeated de. sires, I have given you a short account of divers passages of my life, 'till I have now come to more than fourscore years of age. How well
I have acquitted my self in each, is for others rather to say, than for
An Extract of a Letter from Dr. John Wallis to Dr.
John Fell, then Lord Bishop of Oxford, dated April 8. 1685. concerning the Report spread about of Dr. Wallis's deciphering King Charles the 1st's. Letters. E. Coll. MSS. Smithianis penes Editoren, Vol. 22. p. 54.
I understand there have of late been complaints made of mee, that I deciphered the late King's letters, meaning those taken in the late King's cabinet at Nase-by fight, and after printed. As to this without saying any thing, whether it bee now proper to repeat what was done above forty yeases ago; the thing is quite otherwise. Of those letters and papers, (whatever they were) I never saw any one of them, but in print: por did those papers, as I have been told, need any deciphering at all, either
by mee, or any body else : being taken in words at length, just as they were printed : save that some of them were, I know not by whom, translated out of French into English. 'Tis true, that afterwards some other letters of other persons, which had been occasionally intercepted, were brought to my hands: some of which I did decipher, and some of them ! did not think fit to do, to the displeasing of some, who were then great men.
And I managed my selfe in that whole busines by such measures, as your Lordship, I think, would not bee displeased with. I did his Majesty, who then was, (K. Charles the first) and his friends many good offices, as I had opportunity, both before and after the King's death: and ventured farther to do them service, than perhaps some of those, who now complaine of mee, would have had the courage to do, had they been in my circumstances. And I did to his late Majesty, K. Charles the second, many good services, both before and since his restauration: which himselfe has been pleased divers times to profess to mee with great kindnes. And if either
Lord Chancellour Clarendon, or Mr. Secretary Nicolas, or his late Majesty, were now alive, they would give mee a very different character from what, it seems, some others have done. And I thinke his Majesty, that