Of the Venerable Dead

Some quotes are special. Anyone who enjoys the peaceful pastime of library reading will appreciate what Samuel Davies of Hanover County, Virginia, once wrote to his brother-in-law, John Holt, residing in Williamsburg, in which Davies refers to himself as a "happy recluse." Davies' words have oft been repeated, with some variation, but rarely properly cited. 

This writer spent many years seeking out the original letter from which the famous quote came. It was recently with the most kind and gracious assistance of Dr. Dewey Roberts, author of a wonderful and highly recommended biography titled Samuel Davies: Apostle to Virginia (2017, available here), that a photograph of the letter was obtained, the original of which resides in the holdings of The Library Company of Philadelphia, founded by Benjamin Franklin. 

The letter is dated August 13, 1751. The quote in question, pictured here for you now, dear reader, reads thus: 

“I can tell you that I am as happy as perhaps the Creation can make me; I enjoy all the Necessaries & most of the Conveniences of Life; I have a peaceful study, as a refuge from the Hurries & Noise of the World around me; the venerable Dead are waiting in my Library to entertain me, & relieve me from the Nonsense of Surviving Mortals….In short, I have all a moderate Heart can wish; & I very much question if there be a more calm, placid & contented mortal in Virginia."

After years spent in search of the original words of Samuel Davies, this 21st century contented mortal in Virginia is pleased to share the picture with you showing the words in his own handwriting. May your library or study be a peaceful refuge as well. 

Davies, Samuel Quote.JPG