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II

ANTHONY: Cousin, I have bethought me somewhat upon this matter since we were last together. And I find it a thing that, if we should go some way to work, would require many more days to treat of than we should haply find for it in so few as I myself believe that I have yet to live. For every time is not alike with me. Among them, there are many painful, in which I look every day to depart; my mending days come very seldom and are very shortly done.

For surely, cousin, I cannot liken my life more fitly now than to the snuff of a candle that burneth within the candlestick's nose. For the snuff sometimes burneth down so low that whosoever looketh on it would think it were quite out, and yet suddenly lifteth up a flame half an inch above the nose and giveth a pretty short light again, and thus playeth divers times till at last, ere it be looked for, out it goeth altogether. So have I, cousin, divers such days together as every day of them I look even to die, and yet have I then after that some such few days again as you yourself see me now to have, in which a man would think that I might yet well continue. But I know my lingering not likely to last long, but out will go my snuff suddenly some day within a while. And therefore will I, with God's help, seem I never so well amended, nevertheless reckon every day for my last. For though, to the repressing of the bold courage of blind youth, there is a very true proverb that "as soon cometh a young sheep's skin to the market as an old," yet this difference there is at least between them: that as the young man may hap sometimes to die soon, so the old man can never live long.

And therefore, cousin, in our matter here, leaving out many things that I would otherwise treat of, I shall for this time speak but of very few. Howbeit, if God hereafter send me more such days, then will we, when you wish, further talk of more.

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