THE LOVE LETTERS OF DOROTHY OSBORNE TO SIR WILLIAM TEMPLE, 1652-54
Edited by Edward Abbott Parry
New York, 1901
TO MY DAUGHTER HELEN THIS VOLUME IS DEDICATED EXEMPLI GRATIA
It having been noted in the Athenaeum, June 9, 1888, that rumours were afloat doubting the authenticity of these letters, and that these rumours would sink to rest if the history of the originals were published, I hasten to adopt my reviewer's suggestion, and give an outline of their story. They are at present in the hands of the Rev. Robert Longe at Coddenham Vicarage, Suffolk, where they have been for the last hundred years. At Sir William Temple's death in 1698, he left no other descendants than two grand-daughters—Elizabeth and Dorothy. Elizabeth died without issue in 1772; Dorothy married Nicholas Bacon, Esq. of Shrubland Hall in the parish of Coddenham. Dorothy left a son, the Rev. Nicholas Bacon, who was vicar of Coddenham. This traces the letters to Coddenham Vicarage. The Rev. Nicholas Bacon dying without issue, bequeathed Coddenham Vicarage, with the pictures and papers therein, to the Rev. John Longe, who had married his wife's sister. The Rev. John Longe, who died in 1835, was the father of the present owner. This satisfactorily accounts for the letters being in their present hands, and these stated facts will, I trust, set at rest the fears or hopes of sceptics.
EDWARD ABBOTT PARRY.
MANCHESTER, October 1888.
II. EARLY LETTERS. Winter and Spring 1652-53
III. LIFE AT CHICKSANDS. 1653
IV. DESPONDENCY. Christmas 1653
V. THE LAST OF CHICKSANDS. February and March 1654
VI. VISITING. Summer 1654
VII. THE END OF THE THIRD VOLUME
"An editor," says Dr. Johnson, is "he that revises or prepares any work for publication;" and this definition of an editor's duty seems wholly right and satisfactory. But now that the revision of these letters is apparently complete, the reader has some right to expect a formal introduction to a lady whose name he has, in all probability, never heard; and one may not be overstepping the modest and Johnsonian limits of an editor's office, when the writing of a short introduction is included among the duties of preparation.
Dorothy Osborne was the wife of the famous Sir William Temple, and apology for her biography will be found in her own letters, here for the first time published. Some of them have indeed been printed in a Life of Sir William Temple by the Right Honourable Thomas Peregrine Courtenay, a man better known to the Tory politician of fifty years ago than to any world of letters in that day or this. Forty-two extracts from these letters did Courtenay transfer to an Appendix, without arrangement or any form of editing, as he candidly confesses; but not without misgivings as to how they would be received by a people thirsting to read the details of the negotiations which took place in connection with the Triple Alliance. If Courtenay lived to learn that the world had other things to do than pore over dull excerpts from inhuman State papers, we may pity his awakening; but we can never quite forgive the apologetic paragraph with which he relegates Dorothy Osborne's letters to the mouldy obscurity of an Appendix.
When Macaulay was reviewing Courtenay's book in the Edinburgh Review, he took occasion to write a short but living sketch of the early history of Sir William Temple and Dorothy Osborne. And with this account so admirably written, ready at hand, it becomes the clear duty of the Editor to quote rather than to rewrite; which he does with the greater pleasure, remembering that it was this very passage that first led him to read the letters of Dorothy Osborne.
"William Temple, Sir John's eldest son, was born in London in the year 1628. He received his early education under his maternal uncle, was subsequently sent to school at Bishop-Stortford, and, at seventeen, began to reside at Emmanuel College, Cambridge, where the celebrated Cudworth was his tutor. The times were not favourable to study. The Civil War disturbed even the quiet cloisters and bowling-greens of Cambridge, produced violent revolutions in the government and discipline of the colleges, and unsettled the minds of the students. Temple forgot at Emmanuel all the little Greek which he had brought from Bishop-Stortford, and never retrieved the loss; a circumstance which would hardly be worth noticing but for the almost incredible fact, that fifty years later he was so absurd as to set up his own authority against that of Bentley on questions of Greek history and philology. He made no proficiency, either in the old philosophy which still lingered in the schools of Cambridge, or in the new philosophy of which Lord Bacon was the founder. But to the end of his life he continued to speak of the former with ignorant admiration, and of the latter with equally ignorant contempt.
"After residing at Cambridge two years, he departed without taking a degree, and set out upon his travels. He seems to have been then a lively, agreeable young man of fashion, not by any means deeply read, but versed in all the superficial accomplishments of a gentleman, and acceptable in all polite societies. In politics he professed himself a Royalist. His opinions on religious subjects seem to have been such as might be expected from a young man of quick parts, who had received a rambling education, who had not thought deeply, who had been disgusted by the morose austerity of the Puritans, and who, surrounded from childhood by the hubbub of conflicting sects, might easily learn to feel an impartial contempt for them all.
"On his road to France he fell in with the son and daughter of Sir Peter Osborne. Sir Peter held Guernsey for the King, and the young people were, like their father, warm for the Royal cause. At an inn where they stopped in the Isle of Wight, the brother amused himself with inscribing on the windows his opinion of the ruling powers. For this instance of malignancy the whole party were arrested, and brought before the Governor. The sister, trusting to the tenderness which, even in those troubled times, scarcely any gentleman of any party ever failed to show where a woman was concerned, took the crime on herself, and was immediately set at liberty with her fellow-travellers.
"This incident, as was natural, made a deep impression on Temple. He was only twenty. Dorothy Osborne was twenty-one. She is said to have been handsome; and there remains abundant proof that she possessed an ample share of the dexterity, the vivacity, and the tenderness of her sex. Temple soon became, in the phrase of that time, her servant, and she returned his regard. But difficulties, as great as ever expanded a novel to the fifth volume, opposed their wishes. When the courtship commenced, the father of the hero was sitting in the Long Parliament; the father of the heroine was commanding in Guernsey for King Charles. Even when the war ended, and Sir Peter Osborne returned to his seat at Chicksands, the prospects of the lovers were scarcely less gloomy. Sir John Temple had a more advantageous alliance in view for his son. Dorothy Osborne was in the meantime besieged by as many suitors as were drawn to Belmont by the fame of Portia. The most distinguished on the list was Henry Cromwell. Destitute of the capacity, the energy, the magnanimity of his illustrious father, destitute also of the meek and placid virtues of his elder brother, this young man was perhaps a more formidable rival in love than either of them would have been. Mrs. Hutchinson, speaking the sentiments of the grave and aged, describes him as an 'insolent foole,' and a 'debauched ungodly cavalier.' These expressions probably mean that he was one who, among young and dissipated people, would pass for a fine gentleman. Dorothy was fond of dogs, of larger and more formidable breed than those which lie on modern hearthrugs; and Henry Cromwell promised that the highest functionaries at Dublin should be set to work to procure her a fine Irish greyhound. She seems to have felt his attentions as very flattering, though his father was then only Lord General, and not yet Protector. Love, however, triumphed over ambition, and the young lady appears never to have regretted her decision; though, in a letter written just at the time when all England was ringing with the news of the violent dissolution of the Long Parliament, she could not refrain from reminding Temple with pardonable vanity, 'how great she might have been, if she had been so wise as to have taken hold of the offer of H.C.'
"Nor was it only the influence of rivals that Temple had to dread. The relations of his mistress regarded him with personal dislike, and spoke of him as an unprincipled adventurer, without honour or religion, ready to render service to any party for the sake of preferment. This is, indeed, a very distorted view of Temple's character. Yet a character, even in the most distorted view taken of it by the most angry and prejudiced minds, generally retains something of its outline. No caricaturist ever represented Mr. Pitt as a Falstaff, or Mr. Fox as a skeleton; nor did any libeller ever impute parsimony to Sheridan, or profusion to Marlborough. It must be allowed that the turn of mind which the eulogists of Temple have dignified with the appellation of philosophical indifference, and which, however becoming it may be in an old and experienced statesman, has a somewhat ungraceful appearance in youth, might easily appear shocking to a family who were ready to fight or to suffer martyrdom for their exiled King and their persecuted Church. The poor girl was exceedingly hurt and irritated by these imputations on her lover, defended him warmly behind his back, and addressed to himself some very tender and anxious admonitions, mingled with assurances of her confidence in his honour and virtue. On one occasion she was most highly provoked by the way in which one of her brothers spoke of Temple. 'We talked ourselves weary,' she says; 'he renounced me, and I defied him.'
"Near seven years did this arduous wooing continue. We are not accurately informed respecting Temple's movements during that time. But he seems to have led a rambling life, sometimes on the Continent, sometimes in Ireland, sometimes in London. He made himself master of the French and Spanish languages, and amused himself by writing essays and romances, an employment which at least served the purpose of forming his style. The specimen which Mr. Courtenay has preserved of these early compositions is by no means contemptible: indeed, there is one passage on Like and Dislike, which could have been produced only by a mind habituated carefully to reflect on its own operations, and which reminds us of the best things in Montaigne.
"Temple appears to have kept up a very active correspondence with his mistress. His letters are lost, but hers have been preserved; and many of them appear in these volumes. Mr. Courtenay expresses some doubt whether his readers will think him justified in inserting so large a number of these epistles. We only wish that there were twice as many. Very little indeed of the diplomatic correspondence of that generation is so well worth reading."
Here Macaulay indulges in an eloquent but lengthy philippic against that "vile phrase" the "dignity of history," which we may omit,—taking up the thread of his discourse where he recurs to the affairs of our two lovers. "Thinking thus,"—concerning the "dignity of history,"—"we are glad to learn so much, and would willingly learn more about the loves of Sir William and his mistress. In the seventeenth century, to be sure, Louis the Fourteenth was a much more important person than Temple's sweetheart. But death and time equalize all things. Neither the great King nor the beauty of Bedfordshire, neither the gorgeous paradise of Marli nor Mistress Osborne's favourite walk 'in the common that lay hard by the house, where a great many young wenches used to keep sheep and cows and sit in the shade singing of ballads,' is anything to us. Louis and Dorothy are alike dust. A cotton-mill stands on the ruins of Marli; and the Osbornes have ceased to dwell under the ancient roof of Chicksands. But of that information, for the sake of which alone it is worth while to study remote events, we find so much in the love letters which Mr. Courtenay has published, that we would gladly purchase equally interesting billets with ten times their weight in State papers taken at random. To us surely it is as useful to know how the young ladies of England employed themselves a hundred and eighty years ago, how far their minds were cultivated, what were their favourite studies, what degree of liberty was allowed to them, what use they made of that liberty, what accomplishments they most valued in men, and what proofs of tenderness delicacy permitted them to give to favoured suitors, as to know all about the seizure of Franche-Comte and the Treaty of Nimeguen. The mutual relations of the two sexes seem to us to be at least as important as the mutual relations of any two Governments in the world; and a series of letters written by a virtuous, amiable, and sensible girl, and intended for the eye of her lover alone, can scarcely fail to throw some light on the relations of the sexes; whereas it is perfectly possible, as all who have made any historical researches can attest, to read bale after bale of despatches and protocols, without catching one glimpse of light about the relations of Governments.
"Mr. Courtenay proclaims that he is one of Dorothy Osborne's devoted servants, and expresses a hope that the publication of her letters will add to the number. We must declare ourselves his rivals. She really seems to have been a very charming young woman, modest, generous, affectionate, intelligent, and sprightly; a Royalist, as was to be expected from her connections, without any of that political asperity which is as unwomanly as a long beard; religious, and occasionally gliding into a very pretty and endearing sort of preaching, yet not too good to partake of such diversions as London afforded under the melancholy rule of the Puritans, or to giggle a little at a ridiculous sermon from a divine who was thought to be one of the great lights of the Assembly at Westminster; with a little turn for coquetry, which was yet perfectly compatible with warm and disinterested attachment, and a little turn for satire, which yet seldom passed the bounds of good nature. She loved reading; but her studies were not those of Queen Elizabeth and Lady Jane Grey. She read the verses of Cowley and Lord Broghill, French Memoirs recommended by her lover, and the Travels of Fernando Mendez Pinto. But her favourite books were those ponderous French romances which modern readers know chiefly from the pleasant satire of Charlotte Lennox. She could not, however, help laughing at the vile English into which they were translated. Her own style is very agreeable; nor are her letters at all the worse for some passages in which raillery and tenderness are mixed in a very engaging namby-pamby.
"When at last the constancy of the lovers had triumphed over all the obstacles which kinsmen and rivals could oppose to their union, a yet more serious calamity befell them. Poor Mistress Osborne fell ill of the small-pox, and, though she escaped with life, lost all her beauty. To this most severe trial the affection and honour of the lovers of that age was not unfrequently subjected. Our readers probably remember what Mrs. Hutchinson tells us of herself. The lofty Cornelia-like spirit of the aged matron seems to melt into a long forgotten softness when she relates how her beloved Colonel 'married her as soon as she was able to quit the chamber, when the priest and all that saw her were affrighted to look on her. But God,' she adds, with a not ungraceful vanity, 'recompensed his justice and constancy by restoring her as well as before.' Temple showed on this occasion the same justice and constancy which did so much honour to Colonel Hutchinson. The date of the marriage is not exactly known, but Mr. Courtenay supposes it to have taken place about the end of the year 1654. From this time we lose sight of Dorothy, and are reduced to form our opinion of the terms on which she and her husband were from very slight indications which may easily mislead us."
When an editor is in the pleasant position of being able to retain an historian of the eminence of Macaulay to write a large portion of his introduction, it would ill become him to alter and correct his statements wherever there was a petty inaccuracy; still it is necessary to say, once for all, that there are occasional errors in the passage,—as where Macaulay mentions that Chicksands is no longer the property of the Osbornes,—though happily not one of these errors is in itself important. To our thinking, too, in the character that he draws of our heroine, Macaulay hardly appears to be sufficiently aware of the sympathetic womanly nature of Dorothy, and the dignity of her disposition; so that he is persuaded to speak of her too constantly from the position of a man of the world praising with patronizing emphasis the pretty qualities of a school-girl. But we must remember, that in forming our estimate of her character, we have an extended series of letters before us; and from these the reader can draw his own conclusions as to the accuracy of Macaulay's description, and the importance of Dorothy's character.
It was this passage from Macaulay that led the Editor to Courtenay's Appendix, and it was the literary and human charm of the letters themselves that suggested the idea of stringing them together into a connected story or sketch of the love affairs of Dorothy Osborne. This was published in April 1886 in the English Illustrated Magazine, and happened, by good luck, to fall into the hands of an admirer of Dorothy, who, having had access to the original letters, had made faithful and loving copies of each one,—accurate even to the old-world spelling. These labours had been followed up by much patient research, the fruits of which were now to be generously offered to the present Editor on condition that he would prepare the letters for the press. The owner of the letters having courteously expressed his acquiescence, nothing remained but to give to the task that patient care that it is easy to give to a labour of love.
A few words of explanation as to the arrangement of the letters. Although few of them were dated, it was found possible, by minute analysis of their contents, to place them in approximately correct order; and if one could not date each letter, one could at least assign groups of letters to specific months or seasons of the year. The fact that New Year's day was at this period March 25—a fact sometimes ignored by antiquarians of high repute—adds greatly to the difficulty of ascertaining exact dates, and as an instance of this we find in different chronicles of authority Sir Peter Osborne's death correctly, yet differently, given as happening in March 1653 and March 1654. Throughout this volume the ordinary New Year's day has been retained. The further revision and preparation that the letters have undergone is shortly this. The spelling has been modernized, the letters punctuated and arranged in paragraphs, and names indicated by initials have been, wherever it was possible, written in full. A note has been prefixed to each letter, printed in a more condensed form than the letter itself, and dealing with all the allusions contained in it. This system is very fit to be applied to Dorothy's letters, because, by its use, Dorothy is left to tell her own story without the constant and irritating references to footnotes or Appendix notes that other arrangements necessitate. The Editor has a holy horror of the footnote, and would have it relegated to those "biblia a-biblia" from which class he is sure Elia would cheerfully except Dorothy's letters. In the notes themselves the endeavour has been to obtain, where it was possible, parallel references to letters, diaries, or memoirs, and the Editor can only regret that his researches, through both MSS. and printed records, have been so little successful. In the case of well-known men like Algernon Sydney, Lord Manchester, Edmund Waller, etc., no attempt has been made to write a complete note,—their lives and works being sufficiently well known; but in the case of more obscure persons,—as, for instance, Dorothy's brother-in-law, Sir Thomas Peyton,—all the known details of their history have been carefully collected. Yet in spite of patience, toil, and the kindness of learned friends, the Editor is bound to acknowledge that some names remain mere words to him, and but too many allusions are mysteriously dim.
The division of the letters into chapters, at first sight an arbitrary arrangement, really follows their natural grouping. The letters were written in the years 1653 and 1654, and form a clear and connected story of the love affairs of the young couple during that time. The most important group of letters, both from the number of letters contained in it and the contents of the letters themselves, is that entitled "Life at Chicksands, 1653." The Editor regards this group as the very mainland of the epistolary archipelago that we are exploring. For it is in this chapter that a clear idea of the domestic social life of these troublous times is obtainable, none the less valuable in that it does not tally altogether with our preconceived and too romantic notions. Here, too, we find what Macaulay longed for—those social domestic trivialities which the historians have at length begun to value rightly. Here are, indeed, many things of no value to Dryasdust and his friends, but of moment to us, who look for and find true details of life and character in nearly every line. And above all things, here is a living presentment of a beautiful woman, pure in dissolute days, passing quiet hours of domestic life amongst her own family, where we may all visit her and hear her voice, even in the very tones in which she spoke to her lover.
And now the Editor feels he must augment Macaulay's sketch of Dorothy Osborne with some account of the Osborne family, of whom it consisted, what part it took in the struggle of the day, and what was the past position of Dorothy's ancestors. All that can be promised is, that such account shall be as concise as may be consistent with clearness and accuracy, and that it shall contain nothing but ascertained facts.
There were Osbornes—before there were Osbornes of Chicksands—who, coming out of the north, settled at Purleigh in Essex, where we find them in the year 1442. From this date, passing lightly over a hundred troubled years, we find Peter Osborne, Dorothy's great-grandfather, born in 1521. He was Keeper of the Purse to Edward VI., and was twice married, his second wife being Alice, sister of Sir John Cheke, a family we read of in Dorothy's letters. One of his daughters, named Catharine,—he had a well-balanced family of eleven sons and eleven daughters,—afterwards married Sir Thomas Cheke. Peter Osborne died in 1592; and Sir John Osborne, Peter's son and Dorothy's grandfather, was the first Osborne of Chicksands. It was he who settled at Chicksands, in Bedfordshire, and purchased the neighbouring rectory at Hawnes, to restore it to that Church of which he and his family were in truth militant members; and having generously built and furnished a parsonage house, he presented it in the first place to the celebrated preacher Thomas Brightman, who died there in 1607. It is this rectory that in 1653-54 is in the hands of the Rev. Edward Gibson, who appears from time to time in Dorothy's letters, and who was on occasions the medium through which Temple's letters reached their destination, and avoided falling into the hands of Dorothy's jealous brother. Sir John Osborne married Dorothy Barlee, granddaughter of Richard Lord Rich, Lord Chancellor of England in the reign of Henry VIII. Sir John was Treasurer's Remembrancer in the Exchequer for many years during the reign of James I., and was also a Commissioner of the Navy. He died November 2, 1628, and was buried in Campton Church,—Chicksands lies between the village of Hawnes and Campton,—where a tablet to his memory still exists.
Sir John had five sons: Peter, the eldest, Dorothy's father, who succeeded him in his hereditary office of Treasurer's Remembrancer; Christopher, Thomas, Richard, and Francis,—Francis Osborne may be mentioned as having taken the side of the Parliament in the Civil Wars. He was Master of the Horse to the Earl of Pembroke, and is noticeable to us as the only known relation of Dorothy who published a book. He was the author of an Advice to his Son, in two parts, and some tracts published in 1722, of course long after his death.
Of Sir Peter himself we had at one time thought to write at some length. The narrative of his defence of Castle Cornet for the King, embodied in his own letters, in the letters and papers of George Carteret, Governor of Jersey, in the detailed account left behind by a native of Guernsey, and in the State papers of the period, is one of the most interesting episodes in an epoch of episodes. But though the collected material for some short life of Sir Peter Osborne lies at hand, it seems scarcely necessary for the purpose of this book, and so not without reluctance it is set aside.
Sir Peter was an ardent loyalist. In his obstinate flesh and blood devotion to the house of Stuart he was as sincere and thorough as Sir Henry Lee, Sir Geoffrey Peveril, or Kentish Sir Byng. He was the incarnation of the malignant of latter-day fiction.
"King Charles, and who'll do him right now? King Charles, and who's ripe for fight now? Give a rouse; here's in hell's despite now, King Charles."
To this text his life wrote the comment.
In 1621, James I. created him Lieutenant-Governor of Guernsey. He had married Dorothy, sister of Sir John Danvers. Sir John was the younger brother and heir to the Earl of Danby, and was a Gentleman of the Privy Chamber to the King. Clarendon tells us that he got into debt, and to get out of debt found himself in Cromwell's counsel; that he was a proud, formal, weak man, between being seduced and a seducer, and that he took it to be a high honour to sit on the same bench with Cromwell, who employed him and contemned him at once. The Earl of Danby was the Governor of Guernsey, and Sir Peter was his lieutenant until 1643, when the Earl died, and Sir Peter was made full Governor. It would be in 1643 that the siege of Castle Cornet began, the same year in which the rents of the Chicksands estate were assigned away from their rightful owner to one Mr. John Blackstone, M.P. Sir Peter was in his stronghold on a rock in the sea; he was for the King. The inhabitants of the island, more comfortably situated, were a united party for the Parliament. Thus they remained for three years; the King writing to Sir Peter to reduce the inhabitants to a state of reason; the Parliament sending instructions to the jurats of Guernsey to seize the person of Sir Peter; and the Earl of Warwick, prompted, we should suppose, by Sir John Danvers, offering terms to Sir Peter which he indignantly rejected. Meanwhile Lady Osborne—Dorothy with her, in all probability—was doing her best to victual the castle from the mainland, she living at St. Malo during the siege. At length, her money all spent, her health broken down, she returned to England, and was lost to sight. Sir Peter himself heard nothing of her, and her sons in England, who were doing all they could for their father among the King's friends, did not know of her whereabouts.
In 1646 he resigned his command. He was weary and heavy laden with unjust burdens heaped on him by those for whom and with whom he was fighting; he was worn out by the siege; by the characteristic treachery of the King, who, being unable to assist him, could not refrain from sending lying promises instead; and by the malice of his neighbour, George Carteret, Governor of Jersey, who himself made free with the Guernsey supplies, while writing home to the King that Sir Peter has betrayed his trust. Betrayed his trust, indeed, when he and his garrison are reduced to "one biscuit a day and a little porrage for supper," together with limpets and herbs in the best mess they can make; nay, more, when they have pulled up their floors for firewood, and are dying of hunger and want in the stone shell of Castle Cornet for the love of their King. However, circumstances and Sir George Carteret were too much for him, and, at the request of Prince Charles, he resigned his command to Sir Baldwin Wake in May 1646, remaining three years after this date at St. Malo, where he did what he was able to supply the wants of the castle. Sir Baldwin surrendered the castle to Blake in 1650. It was the last fortress to surrender.
In 1649 Sir Peter, finding the promises of reward made by the Prince to be as sincere as those of his father, returned to England, and probably through the intervention of his father-in-law, who was a strict Parliament man, his house and a portion of his estates at Chicksands were restored to him. To these he retired, disappointed in spirit, feeble in health, soon to be bereft of the company of his wife, who died towards the end of 1650, and, but for the constant ministering of his daughter Dorothy, living lonely and forgotten, to see the cause for which he had fought discredited and dead. He died in March 1654, after a long, weary illness. The parish register of Campton describes him as "a friend to the poor, a lover of learning, a maintainer of divine exercises." There is still an inscription to his memory on a marble monument on the north side of the chancel in Campton church.
Sir Peter had seven sons and five daughters. There were only three sons living in 1653; the others died young, one laying down his life for the King at Hartland in Devonshire, in some skirmish, we must now suppose, of which no trace remains. Of those living, Sir John, the eldest son and the first baronet, married his cousin Eleanor Danvers, and lived in Gloucestershire during his father's life. Henry, afterwards knighted, was probably the jealous brother who lived at Chicksands with Dorothy and her father, with whom she had many skirmishes, and who wished in his kind fraternal way to see his sister well—that is to say, wealthily—married. Robert is a younger brother, a year older than Dorothy, who died in September 1653, and who did not apparently live at Chicksands. Dorothy herself was born in 1627; where, it is impossible to say. Sir Peter was presumably at Castle Cornet at that date, but it is doubtful if Lady Osborne ever stayed there, the accommodation within its walls being straitened and primitive even for that day. Dorothy was probably born in England, maybe at Chicksands. Her other sisters had married and settled in various parts of England before 1653. Her eldest sister (not Anne, as Wotton conjectures) married one Sir Thomas Peyton, a Kentish Royalist of some note. What little could be gleaned of his actions from amongst Kentish antiquities and history, and such letters of his as lie entombed in the MSS. of the British Museum, is set down hereafter. He appears to have acted, after her father's death, as Dorothy's guardian, and his name occurs more than once in the pages of her letters.
So much for the Osbornes of Chicksands; an obstinate, sturdy, quick-witted race of Cavaliers; linked by marriage to the great families of the land; aristocrats in blood and in spirit, of whom Dorothy was a worthy descendant. Let us try now and picture for ourselves their home. Chixon, Chikesonds, or Chicksands Priory, Bedfordshire, as it now stands,—what a pleasing various art was spelling in olden time,—was, in the reign of Edward III., a nunnery, situated then, as now, on a slight eminence, with gently rising hills at a short distance behind, and a brook running to join the river Ivel, thence the German Ocean, along the valley in front of the house. The neighbouring scenery of Bedfordshire is on a humble scale, and concerns very little those who do not frequent it and live among it, as we must do for the next year or more.
The Priory is a low-built sacro-secular edifice, well fitted for its former service. Its priestly denizens were turned out in Henry VIII.'s monk-hunting reign (1538). To the joy or sorrow of the neighbourhood,—who knows now? Granted then to one Richard Snow, of whom the records are silent; by him sold, in Elizabeth's reign, to Sir John Osborne, Knt., thus becoming the ancestral home of our Dorothy. There is a crisp etching of the house in Fisher's Collections of Bedfordshire. The very exterior of it is Catholic, unpuritanical; no methodism about the square windows, set here and there at undecided intervals wheresoever they may be wanted. Six attic windows jut out from the low-tiled roof. At the corner of the house is a high pinnacled buttress rising the full height of the wall; five buttresses flank the side wall, built so that they shade the lower windows from the morning sun,—in one place reaching to the sill of an upper window. At the further end of the wall are two Gothic windows, claustral remnants, lighting now perhaps the dining-hall where cousin Molle and Dorothy sat in state, or the saloon where the latter received her servants. There are still cloisters attached to the house, at the other side of it maybe. Yes, a sleepy country house, the warm earth and her shrubs creeping close up to the very sills of the lower windows, sending in morning fragrance, I doubt not, when Dorothy thrust back the lattice after breakfast. A quiet place,—"slow" is the accurate modern epithet for it—"awfully slow;" but to Dorothy a quite suitable home, at which she never repines.
This etching by Thomas Fisher, of December 26, 1816, is the more valuable to us since the old Chicksands Priory no longer remains, having suffered martyrdom at the bloody hands of the restorer. For through this partly we have attained to a knowledge of Dorothy's surroundings; and through the baronetages, peerages, and the invincible heaps of genealogical records, we have gathered some few actual facts necessary to be known of Dorothy's relations, her human surroundings, their lives and actions. And we shall not find ourselves following Dorothy's story with the less interest that we have mastered these details about the Osbornes of Chicksands.
Temple, too, claims the consideration at our hands of a few words concerning his near relatives and their position in the country. As Macaulay tells us, he was born in 1628, the place of his birth being Blackfriars in London.
Sir John Temple, his father, was Master of the Rolls and a Privy Councillor in Ireland; he was in the confidence of Robert Sidney, Earl of Leicester, the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland. Algernon Sydney, the Earl's son, was well known to Temple, and perhaps to Dorothy. Sir John Temple, like his son in after life, refused to look on politics as a game in which it was always advisable to play on the winning side, and thus we find him opposing the Duke of Ormond in Ireland in 1643, and suffering imprisonment as a partisan of the Parliament. In England, in 1648, when he was member for Chichester, he concurred with the Presbyterian vote, thereby causing the more advanced section to look askance at him, and he was turned out of the House, or secluded, to use the elegant parliamentary language of the day. From that time he lived in retirement in London until 1654, when, as we read in Dorothy's letters, he and his son go over to Ireland. He resumed his office of Master of the Rolls, and in August of that year was elected to the Irish Parliament as one of the members for Leitrim, Sligo, and Roscommon.
Temple's mother was a sister of Dr. Hammond, to whom one Dr. John Collop, a poetaster unknown in these days even by name, begins an ode—
"Seraphic Doctor, bright evangelist."
The "seraphic Doctor" was rector of Penshurst, near Tunbridge Wells, the seat of the Sydneys. From Hammond, who was a zealous adherent of Charles I., Temple received much of his early education. When the Parliament drove Dr. Hammond from his living, Temple was sent to school at Bishop-Stortford; and the rest of his early life, with an account of his meeting with Dorothy, has been already set down for us by Macaulay.
Anno Domini sixteen hundred and fifty-three;—let us look round through historic mist for landmarks, so that we may know our whereabouts. The narrow streets of Worcester had been but lately stained by the blood of heaped corpses. Cromwell was meditating an abolition of the Parliament, and a practical coronation of himself. The world had ceased to wonder at English democracy giving laws to their quondam rulers, and the democracy was beginning to be a little tired of itself, to disbelieve in its own irksome discipline, and to sigh for the flesh-pots of a modified Presbyterian monarchy. Cromwell, indeed, was at the height of his glory, his honours lie thick upon him, and now, if ever, he is the regal Cromwell that Victor Hugo has portrayed, the uncrowned King of England, trampling under foot that sacred liberty, the baseless ideal for which so many had fought and bled. He is soon to be Lord Protector. He is second to none upon earth. England is again at peace with herself, and takes her position as one of the great Powers of Europe; Cromwell is England's king. So much for our rulers and politics. Now let us remember our friends, those whom we love on account of the work they have done for us and bequeathed to us, through which we have learned to know them. One of the best beloved and gentlest of these, who by the satire of heaven was born into England in these troublous times, was now wandering by brook and stream, scarcely annoyed by the uproar and confusion of the factions around him. And what he knew of England in these days he has left in perhaps the gentlest and most peaceful volume the world has ever read. I speak of Master Izaak Walton, who in this year, 1653, published the first edition of his Compleat Angler, and left a comrade for the idle hours of all future ages. Other friends we have, then living, but none so intimate or well beloved. Mr. Waller, whom Dorothy may have known, Mr. Cowley, Sir Peter Lely,—who painted our heroine's portrait,—and Dr. Jeremy Taylor; very courtly and superior persons are some of these, and far removed from our world. Milton is too sublime to be called our friend, but he was Cromwell's friend at this time. Evelyn, too, is already making notes in his journal at Paris and elsewhere; but little prattling Pepys has not yet begun diary-making. Other names will come to the mind of every reader, but many of these are "people we know by name," as the phrase runs, mere acquaintances,—not friends. Nevertheless even these leave us some indirect description of their time, from which we can look back through the mind's eye to this year of grace 1653, in which Dorothy was living and writing. Yes, if we cannot actually visualize the past, these letters will at least convince us that the past did exist, a past not wholly unlike the present; and if we would realize the significance of it, we have the word of one of our historians, that there is no lamp by which to study the history of this period that gives a brighter and more searching light than contemporary letters. Thus he recommends their study, and we may apply his words to the letters before us: "A man intent to force for himself some path through that gloomy chaos called History of the Seventeenth Century, and to look face to face upon the same, may perhaps try it by this method as hopefully as by another. Here is an irregular row of beacon fires, once all luminous as suns; and with a certain inextinguishable crubescence still, in the abysses of the dead deep Night. Let us look here. In shadowy outlines, in dimmer and dimmer crowding forms, the very figure of the old dead Time itself may perhaps be faintly discernible here."
* * * * *
With this, I feel that I may cast off some of the forms and solemnities necessary to an editorial introduction, and, assuming a simpler and more personal pronoun, ask the reader, who shall feel the full charm of Dorothy's bright wit and tender womanly sympathy, to remember the thanks due to my fellow-servant, whose patient, single-hearted toil has placed these letters within our reach. And when the reader shall close this volume, let it not be without a feeling of gratitude to the unknown, whose modesty alone prevents me from changing the title of fellow-servant to that of fellow-editor.
EARLY LETTERS. WINTER AND SPRING 1652-53
This first chapter begins with a long letter, dated from Chicksands some time in the autumn of 1652, when Temple has returned to England after a long absence. It takes us up to March 1653, about the end of which time Dorothy went to London and met Temple again. The engagement she mentions must have been one that her parents were forcing upon her, and it was not until the London visit, I fancy, that her friendship progressed beyond its original limits; but in this matter the reader of Dorothy's letters will be as well able to judge as myself.
Letter I.—Goring House, where Dorothy and Temple had last parted, was in 1646 appointed by the House of Commons for the reception of the French Ambassador. In 1665 it was the town house of Mr. Secretary Bennet, afterwards Lord Arlington. Its grounds stood much in the position of the present Arlington Street, and Evelyn speaks of it as an ill-built house, but capable of being made a pretty villa.
Dorothy mentions, among other things, that she has been "drinking the waters," though she does not say at what place. It would be either at Barnet, Epsom, or Tunbridge, all of which places are mentioned by contemporary letter-writers as health resorts. At Barnet there was a calcareous spring with a small portion of sea salt in it, which, as we may gather from a later letter, had been but recently discovered. This spring was afterwards, in the year 1677, endowed by one John Owen, who left the sum of L1 to keep the well in repair "as long as it should be of service to the parish." Towards the end of last century, Lyson mentions that the well was in decay and little used. One wonders what has become of John Owen's legacy. The Epsom spring had been discovered earlier in the century. It was the first of its kind found in England. The town was already a place of fashionable resort on account of its mineral waters; they are mentioned as of European celebrity; and as early as 1609 a ball-room was erected, avenues were planted, and neither Bath nor Tunbridge could rival Epsom in the splendour of their appointments. Towards the beginning of the last century, however, the waters gradually lost their reputation. Tunbridge Wells, the last of the three watering-places that Dorothy may have visited, is still flourishing and fashionable. Its springs are said to have been discovered by Lord North in 1606; and the fortunes of the place were firmly established by a visit paid to the springs by Queen Henrietta Maria, acting under medical advice, in 1630, shortly after the birth of Prince Charles. At this date there was no adequate accommodation for the royal party, and Her Majesty had to live in tents on the banks of the spring. An interesting account of the early legends and gradual growth of Tunbridge Wells is to be found in a guide-book of 1768, edited by one Mr. J. Sprange.
The elderly man who proposed to Dorothy was Sir Justinian Isham, Bart., of Lamport in Northamptonshire. He himself was about forty-two years of age at this time, and had lost his first wife (by whom he had four daughters) in 1638. The Rev. W. Betham, with that optimism which is characteristic of compilers of peerages, thinks "that he was esteemed one of the most accomplished persons of the time, being a gentleman, not only of fine learning, but famed for his piety and exemplary life." Dorothy thinks otherwise, and writes of him as "the vainest, impertinent, self-conceited, learned coxcomb that ever yet I saw." Peerages in Dorothy's style would perhaps be unprofitable writing. The "Emperor," as Dorothy calls him in writing to Temple, may feel thankful that his epitaph was in others hands than hers. He appears to have proposed to her more than once, and evidently had her brother's good offices, which I fear were not much in his favour with Dorothy. He ultimately married the daughter of Thomas Lord Leigh of Stoneleigh, some time in the following year.
Sir Thomas Osborne, a Yorkshire baronet, afterwards Earl of Danby, is a name not unknown in history. He was a cousin of Dorothy; his mother, Elizabeth Danvers, being Dorothy's aunt. He afterwards married Lady Bridget Lindsay, the Earl of Lindsay's daughter, and the marriage is mentioned in due course, with Dorothy's comments. His leadership of the "Country Party," when the reins of government were taken from the discredited Cabal, is not matter for these pages, neither are we much concerned to know that he was greedy of wealth and honours, corrupt himself, and a corrupter of others. This is the conventional character of all statesmen of all dates and in all ages, reflected in the mirror of envious opposition; no one believes the description to be true. Judged by the moral standard of his contemporaries, he seems to have been at least of average height. How near was Dorothy to the high places of the State when this man and Henry Cromwell were among her suitors! Had she been an ambitious woman, illustrious historians would have striven to do justice to her character in brilliant periods, and there would be no need at this day for her to claim her place among the celebrated women of England.
SIR,—There is nothing moves my charity like gratitude; and when a beggar is thankful for a small relief, I always repent it was not more. But seriously, this place will not afford much towards the enlarging of a letter, and I am grown so dull with living in't (for I am not willing to confess yet I was always so) as to need all helps. Yet you shall see I will endeavour to satisfy you, upon condition you will tell me why you quarrelled so at your last letter. I cannot guess at it, unless it were that you repented you told me so much of your story, which I am not apt to believe neither, because it would not become our friendship, a great part of it consisting (as I have been taught) in a mutual confidence. And to let you see that I believe it so, I will give you an account of myself, and begin my story, as you did yours, from our parting at Goring House.
I came down hither not half so well pleased as I went up, with an engagement upon me that I had little hope of shaking off, for I had made use of all the liberty my friends would allow me to preserve my own, and 'twould not do; he was so weary of his, that he would part with it upon any terms. As my last refuge I got my brother to go down with him to see his house, who, when he came back, made the relation I wished. He said the seat was as ill as so good a country would permit, and the house so ruined for want of living in't, as it would ask a good proportion of time and money to make it fit for a woman to confine herself to. This (though it were not much) I was willing to take hold of, and made it considerable enough to break the engagement. I had no quarrel to his person or his fortune, but was in love with neither, and much out of love with a thing called marriage; and have since thanked God I was so, for 'tis not long since one of my brothers writ me word of him that he was killed in a duel, though since I have heard that 'twas the other that was killed, and he is fled upon 't, which does not mend the matter much. Both made me glad I had 'scaped him, and sorry for his misfortune, which in earnest was the least return his many civilities to me could deserve.
Presently, after this was at an end, my mother died, and I was left at liberty to mourn her loss awhile. At length my aunt (with whom I was when you last saw me) commanded me to wait on her at London; and when I came, she told me how much I was in her care, how well she loved me for my mother's sake, and something for my own, and drew out a long set speech which ended in a good motion (as she call'd it); and truly I saw no harm in't, for by what I had heard of the gentleman I guessed he expected a better fortune than mine. And it proved so. Yet he protested he liked me so well, that he was very angry my father would not be persuaded to give L1000 more with me; and I him so ill, that I vowed if I had L1000 less I should have thought it too much for him. And so we parted. Since, he has made a story with a new mistress that is worth your knowing, but too long for a letter. I'll keep it for you.
After this, some friends that had observed a gravity in my face which might become an elderly man's wife (as they term'd it) and a mother-in-law, proposed a widower to me, that had four daughters, all old enough to be my sisters; but he had a great estate, was as fine a gentleman as ever England bred, and the very pattern of wisdom. I that knew how much I wanted it, thought this the safest place for me to engage in, and was mightily pleased to think I had met with one at last that had wit enough for himself and me too. But shall I tell you what I thought when I knew him (you will say nothing on't): 'twas the vainest, impertinent, self-conceited, learned coxcomb that ever yet I saw; to say more were to spoil his marriage, which I hear is towards with a daughter of my Lord Coleraine's; but for his sake I shall take care of a fine gentleman as long as I live.
Before I have quite ended with him, coming to town about that and some other occasions of my own, I fell in Sir Thomas's way; and what humour took I cannot imagine, but he made very formal addresses to me, and engaged his mother and my brother to appear in't. This bred a story pleasanter than any I have told you yet, but so long a one that I must reserve it till we meet, or make it a letter of itself.
The next thing I designed to be rid on was a scurvy spleen that I have been subject to, and to that purpose was advised to drink the waters. There I spent the latter end of the summer, and at my coming home found that a gentleman (who has some estate in this country) had been treating with my brother, and it yet goes on fair and softly. I do not know him so much as to give you much of his character: 'tis a modest, melancholy, reserved man, whose head is so taken up with little philosophic studies, that I admire how I found a room there. 'Twas sure by chance; and unless he is pleased with that part of my humour which other people think the worst, 'tis very possible the next new experiment may crowd me out again. Thus you have all my late adventures, and almost as much as this paper will hold. The rest shall be employed in telling you how sorry I am you have got such a cold. I am the more sensible of your trouble by my own, for I have newly got one myself. But I will send you that which was to cure me. 'Tis like the rest of my medicines: if it do no good, 'twill be sure to do no harm, and 'twill be no great trouble to take a little on't now and then; for the taste on't, as it is not excellent, so 'tis not very ill. One thing more I must tell you, which is that you are not to take it ill that I mistook your age by my computation of your journey through this country; for I was persuaded t'other day that I could not be less than thirty years old by one that believed it himself, because he was sure it was a great while since he had heard of such a one as
Your humble servant.
Letter 2.—This letter, which is dated, comes, I think, at some distance of time from the first letter. Dorothy may have dated her letters to ordinary folk; but as she writes to her servant once a week at least, she seems to have considered dates to be superfluous. When Temple is in Ireland, her letters are generally dated with the day of the month. Temple had probably returned from a journey into Yorkshire,—his travels in Holland were over some time ago,—and passing through Bedford within ten miles of Chicksands, he neglected to pay his respects to Dorothy, for which he is duly called to account in Letter 3.
December 24, 1652.
Sir,—You may please to let my old servant (as you call him) know that I confess I owe much to his merits and the many obligations his kindness and civilities has laid upon me; but for the ten pound he claims, it is not yet due, and I think you may do well to persuade him (as a friend) to put it in the number of his desperate debts, for 'tis a very uncertain one. In all things else, pray say I am his servant. And now, sir, let me tell you that I am extremely glad (whosoever gave you the occasion) to hear from you, since (without compliment) there are very few persons in the world I am more concerned in; to find that you have overcome your long journey, and that you are well and in a place where 'tis possible for me to see you, is such a satisfaction as I, who have not been used to many, may be allowed to doubt of. Yet I will hope my eyes do not deceive me, and that I have not forgot to read; but if you please to confirm it to me by another, you know how to direct it, for I am where I was, still the same, and always
Your humble servant,
For Mrs. Paynter, In Covent Garden.
(Keep this letter till it be called for.)
January 2nd, 1653.
Sir,—If there were anything in my letter that pleased you I am extremely glad on't, 'twas all due to you, and made it but an equal return for the satisfaction yours gave me. And whatsoever you may believe, I shall never repent the good opinion I have with so much reason taken up. But I forget myself; I meant to chide, and I think this is nothing towards it. Is it possible you came so near me as Bedford and would not see me? Seriously, I should not have believed it from another; would your horse had lost all his legs instead of a hoof, that he might not have been able to carry you further, and you, something that you valued extremely, and could not hope to find anywhere but at Chicksands. I could wish you a thousand little mischances, I am so angry with you; for my life I could not imagine how I had lost you, or why you should call that a silence of six or eight weeks which you intended so much longer. And when I had wearied myself with thinking of all the unpleasing accidents that might cause it, I at length sat down with a resolution to choose the best to believe, which was that at the end of one journey you had begun another (which I had heard you say you intended), and that your haste, or something else, had hindered you from letting me know it. In this ignorance your letter from Breda found me. But for God's sake let me ask you what you have done all this while you have been away; what you have met with in Holland that could keep you there so long; why you went no further; and why I was not to know you went so far? You may do well to satisfy me in all these. I shall so persecute you with questions else, when I see you, that you will be glad to go thither again to avoid me; though when that will be I cannot certainly say, for my father has so small a proportion of health left him since my mother's death, that I am in continual fear of him, and dare not often make use of the leave he gives me to be from home, lest he should at some time want such little services as I am able to lend him. Yet I think to be in London in the next term, and am sure I shall desire it because you are there.
Sir, your humble servant.
Letter 4.—The story of the king who renounced the league with his too fortunate friend is told in the third book of Herodotus. Amasis is the king, and Polycrates the confederate. Dorothy may have read the story in one of the French translations, either that of Pierre Saliat, a cramped duodecimo published in 1580, or that of P. du Ryer, a magnificent folio published in 1646.
My Lord of Holland's daughter, Lady Diana Rich, was one of Dorothy's dearest and most intimate friends. Dorothy had a high opinion of her excellent wit and noble character, which she is never tired of repeating. We find allusions to her in many of these letters; she is called "My lady," and her name is always linked to expressions of tenderness and esteem. Her father, Henry Rich, Lord Holland, the second son of the Earl of Warwick, has found place in sterner history than this. He was concerned in a rising in 1648, when the King was in the Isle of Wight, the object of which was to rescue and restore the royal prisoner. This rising, like Sir Thomas Peyton's, miscarried, and he suffered defeat at Kingston-on-Thames, on July 7th of that year. He was pursued, taken prisoner, and kept in the Tower until after the King's execution. Then he was brought to trial, and, in accordance with the forms and ceremonies of justice, adjudged to death. His head was struck off before the gate of Westminster Hall one cold March morning in the following year, and by his side died Capel and the Duke of Hamilton. By marriage he acquired Holland House, Kensington, which afterwards passed by purchase into the hands of a very different Lord Holland, and has become famous among the houses of London. Of his daughter, Lady Diana, I can learn nothing but that she died unmarried. She seems to have been of a lively, vivacious temperament, and very popular with the other sex. There is a slight clue to her character in the following scrap of letter-writing still preserved among some old manuscript papers of the Hutton family. She writes to Mr. Hutton to escort her in the Park, adding—"This, I am sure, you will do, because I am a friend to the tobacco-box, and such, I am sure, Mr. Hutton will have more respect for than for any other account that could be pretended unto by
"Your humble servant."
This, with Dorothy's praise, gives us a cheerful opinion of Lady Diana, of whom we must always wish to know more.
January 22nd .
Sir,—Not to confirm you in your belief in dreams, but to avoid your reproaches, I will tell you a pleasant one of mine. The night before I received your first letter, I dreamt one brought me a packet, and told me it was from you. I, that remembered you were by your own appointment to be in Italy at that time, asked the messenger where he had it, who told me my lady, your mother, sent him with it to me; then my memory failed me a little, for I forgot you had told me she was dead, and meant to give her many humble thanks if ever I were so happy as to see her. When I had opened the letter I found in it two rings; one was, as I remember, an emerald doublet, but broken in the carriage, I suppose, as it might well be, coming so far; t'other was plain gold, with the longest and the strangest posy that ever was; half on't was Italian, which for my life I could not guess at, though I spent much time about it; the rest was "there was a Marriage in Cana of Galilee," which, though it was Scripture, I had not that reverence for it in my sleep that I should have had, I think, if I had been awake; for in earnest the oddness on't put me into that violent laughing that I waked myself with it; and as a just punishment upon me from that hour to this I could never learn whom those rings were for, nor what was in the letter besides. This is but as extravagant as yours, for it is as likely that your mother should send me letters as that I should make a journey to see poor people hanged, or that your teeth should drop out at this age.
And to remove the opinions you have of my niceness, or being hard to please, let me assure you I am far from desiring my husband should be fond of me at threescore, that I would not have him so at all. 'Tis true I should be glad to have him always kind, and know no reason why he should be wearier of being my master, than he was of being my servant. But it is very possible I may talk ignorantly of marriage; when I come to make sad experiments on it in my own person I shall know more, and say less, for fear of disheartening others (since 'tis no advantage to foreknow a misfortune that cannot be avoided), and for fear of being pitied, which of all things I hate. Lest you should be of the same humour I will not pity you, lame as you are; and to speak truth, if you did like it, you should not have it, for you do not deserve it. Would any one in the world, but you, make such haste for a new cold before the old had left him; in a year, too, when mere colds kill as many as a plague used to do? Well, seriously, either resolve to have more care of yourself, or I renounce my friendship; and as a certain king (that my learned knight is very well acquainted with), who, seeing one of his confederates in so happy a condition as it was not likely to last, sent his ambassador presently to break off the league betwixt them, lest he should be obliged to mourn the change of his fortune if he continued his friend; so I, with a great deal more reason, do declare that I will no longer be a friend to one that's none to himself, nor apprehend the loss of what you hazard every day at tennis. They had served you well enough if they had crammed a dozen ounces of that medicine down your throat to have made you remember a quinzy.
But I have done, and am now at leisure to tell you that it is that daughter of my Lord of Holland (who makes, as you say, so many sore eyes with looking on her) that is here; and if I know her at all, or have any judgment, her beauty is the least of her excellences. And now I speak of her, she has given me the occasion to make a request to you; it will come very seasonably after my chiding, and I have great reason to expect you should be in the humour of doing anything for me. She says that seals are much in fashion, and by showing me some that she has, has set me a-longing for some too; such as are oldest and oddest are most prized, and if you know anybody that is lately come out of Italy, 'tis ten to one but they have a store, for they are very common there. I do remember you once sealed a letter to me with as fine a one as I have seen. It was a Neptune, I think, riding upon a dolphin; but I'm afraid it was not yours, for I saw it no more. My old Roman head is a present for a prince. If such things come in your way, pray remember me. I am sorry my new carrier makes you rise so early, 'tis not good for your cold; how might we do that you might lie a-bed and yet I have your letter? You must use to write before he comes, I think, that it may be sure to be ready against he goes. In earnest consider on't, and take some course that your health and my letters may be both secured, for the loss of either would be very sensible to
Letter 5.—Sir Justinian is the lover here described. He had four daughters, and it is one of Dorothy's favourite jests to offer Temple a mother-in-law's good word if he will pay court to one of them when she has married the "Emperor."
SIR,—Since you are so easy to please, sure I shall not miss it, and if my idle dreams and thoughts will satisfy you, I am to blame if you want long letters. To begin this, let me tell you I had not forgot you in your absence. I always meant you one of my daughters. You should have had your choice, and, trust me, they say some of them are handsome; but since things did not succeed, I thought to have said nothing on't, lest you should imagine I expected thanks for my good intention, or rather lest you should be too much affected with the thought of what you have lost by my imprudence. It would have been a good strengthening to my Party (as you say); but, in earnest, it was not that I aimed at, I only desired to have it in my power to oblige you; and 'tis certain I had proved a most excellent mother-in-law. Oh, my conscience! we should all have joined against him as the common enemy, for those poor young wenches are as weary of his government as I could have been. He gives them such precepts, as they say my Lord of Dorchester gives his wife, and keeps them so much prisoners to a vile house he has in Northamptonshire, that if but once I had let them loose, they and his learning would have been sufficient to have made him mad without my help; but his good fortune would have it otherwise, to which I will leave him, and proceed to give you some reasons why the other motion was not accepted on. The truth is, I had not that longing to ask a mother-in-law's blessing which you say you should have had, for I knew mine too well to think she could make a good one; besides, I was not so certain of his nature as not to doubt whether she might not corrupt it, nor so confident of his kindness as to assure myself that it would last longer than other people of his age and humour. I am sorry to hear he looks ill, though I think there is no great danger of him. 'Tis but a fit of an ague he has got, that the next charm cures, yet he will be apt to fall into it again upon a new occasion, and one knows not how it may work upon his thin body if it comes too often; it spoiled his beauty, sure, before I knew him, for I could never see it, or else (which is as likely) I do not know it when I see it; besides that, I never look for it in men. It was nothing that I expected made me refuse these, but something that I feared; and, seriously, I find I want courage to marry where I do not like. If we should once come to disputes I know who would have the worst on't, and I have not faith enough to believe a doctrine that is often preach'd, which is, that though at first one has no kindness for them, yet it will grow strongly after marriage. Let them trust to it that think good; for my part, I am clearly of opinion (and shall die in't), that, as the more one sees and knows a person that one likes, one has still the more kindness for them, so, on the other side, one is but the more weary of, and the more averse to, an unpleasant humour for having it perpetually by one. And though I easily believe that to marry one for whom we have already some affection will infinitely increase that kindness, yet I shall never be persuaded that marriage has a charm to raise love out of nothing, much less out of dislike.
This is next to telling you what I dreamed and when I rise, but you have promised to be content with it. I would now, if I could, tell you when I shall be in town, but I am engaged to my Lady Diana Rich, my Lord of Holland's daughter (who lies at a gentlewoman's hard by me for sore eyes), that I will not leave the country till she does. She is so much a stranger here, and finds so little company, that she is glad of mine till her eyes will give her leave to look out better. They are mending, and she hopes to be at London before the end of this next term; and so do I, though I shall make but a short stay, for all my business there is at an end when I have seen you, and told you my stories. And, indeed, my brother is so perpetually from home, that I can be very little, unless I would leave my father altogether alone, which would not be well. We hear of great disorders at your masks, but no particulars, only they say the Spanish gravity was much discomposed. I shall expect the relation from you at your best leisure, and pray give me an account how my medicine agrees with your cold. This if you can read it, for 'tis strangely scribbled, will be enough to answer yours, which is not very long this week; and I am grown so provident that I will not lay out more than I receive, but I am just withal, and therefore you know how to make mine longer when you please; though, to speak truth, if I should make this so, you would hardly have it this week, for 'tis a good while since 'twas call'd for.
Your humble servant.
Letter 6.—The journey that Temple is about to take may be a projected journey with the Swedish Embassy, which was soon to set out. Temple was, apparently, on the look-out for some employment, and we hear at different times of his projected excursions into foreign lands. As a matter of fact, he stayed in and near London until the spring of 1654, when he went to Ireland with his father, who was then reinstated in his office of Master of the Rolls.
Whether the Mr. Grey here written of made love to one or both of the ladies—Jane Seymour and Anne Percy—it is difficult now to say. I have been able to learn nothing more on the subject than Dorothy tells us. This, however, we know for certain, that they both married elsewhere; Lady Jane Seymour, the Duke of Somerset's daughter, marrying Lord Clifford of Lonesborough, the son of the Earl of Burleigh, and living to 1679, when she was buried in Westminster Abbey. Poor Lady Anne Percy, daughter of the Earl of Northumberland, and niece of the faithless Lady Carlisle of whom we read in these letters, was already married at this date to Lord Stanhope, Lord Chesterfield's heir. She died—probably in childbed—in November of next year (1654), and was buried at Petworth with her infant son.
Lady Anne Wentworth was the daughter of the famous and ill-fated Earl of Strafford. She married Lord Rockingham.
The reader will remember that "my lady" is Lady Diana Rich.
March 5th .
SIR,—I know not how to oblige so civil a person as you are more than by giving you the occasion of serving a fair lady. In sober earnest, I know you will not think it a trouble to let your boy deliver these books and this enclosed letter where it is directed for my lady, whom I would, the fainest in the world, have you acquainted with, that you might judge whether I had not reason to say somebody was to blame. But had you reason to be displeased that I said a change in you would be much more pardonable than in him? Certainly you had not. I spake it very innocently, and out of a great sense how much she deserves more than anybody else. I shall take heed though hereafter what I write, since you are so good at raising doubts to persecute yourself withal, and shall condemn my own easy faith no more; for me 'tis a better-natured and a less fault to believe too much than to distrust where there is no cause. If you were not so apt to quarrel, I would tell you that I am glad to hear your journey goes forwarder, but you would presently imagine that 'tis because I would be glad if you were gone; need I say that 'tis because I prefer your interest much before my own, because I would not have you lose so good a diversion and so pleasing an entertainment (as in all likelihood this voyage will be to you), and because the sooner you go, the sooner I may hope for your return. If it be necessary, I will confess all this, and something more, which is, that notwithstanding all my gallantry and resolution, 'tis much for my credit that my courage is put to no greater a trial than parting with you at this distance. But you are not going yet neither, and therefore we'll leave the discourse on't till then, if you please, for I find no great entertainment in't. And let me ask you whether it be possible that Mr. Grey makes love, they say he does, to my Lady Jane Seymour? If it were expected that one should give a reason for their passions, what could he say for himself? He would not offer, sure, to make us believe my Lady Jane a lovelier person than my Lady Anne Percy. I did not think I should have lived to have seen his frozen heart melted, 'tis the greatest conquest she will ever make; may it be happy to her, but in my opinion he has not a good-natured look. The younger brother was a servant, a great while, to my fair neighbour, but could not be received; and in earnest I could not blame her. I was his confidante and heard him make his addresses; not that I brag of the favour he did me, for anybody might have been so that had been as often there, and he was less scrupulous in that point than one would have been that had had less reason. But in my life I never heard a man say more, nor less to the purpose; and if his brother have not a better gift in courtship, he will owe my lady's favour to his fortune rather than to his address. My Lady Anne Wentworth I hear is marrying, but I cannot learn to whom; nor is it easy to guess who is worthy of her. In my judgment she is, without dispute, the finest lady I know (one always excepted); not that she is at all handsome, but infinitely virtuous and discreet, of a sober and very different humour from most of the young people of these times, but has as much wit and is as good company as anybody that ever I saw. What would you give that I had but the wit to know when to make an end of my letters? Never anybody was persecuted with such long epistles; but you will pardon my unwillingness to leave you, and notwithstanding all your little doubts, believe that I am very much
Your faithful friend
and humble servant,
Letter 7.—There seem to have been two carriers bringing letters to Dorothy at this time, Harrold and Collins; we hear something of each of them in the following letters. Those who have seen the present-day carriers in some unawakened market-place in the Midlands,—heavy, rumbling, two-horse cars of huge capacity, whose three miles an hour is fast becoming too sluggish for their enfranchised clients; those who have jolted over the frozen ruts of a fen road, behind their comfortable Flemish horses, and heard the gossip of the farmers and their wives, the grunts of the discontented baggage pig, and the encouraging shouts of the carrier; those, in a word, who have travelled in a Lincolnshire carrier's cart, have, I fancy, a more correct idea of Dorothy's postmen and their conveyances than any I could quote from authority or draw from imagination.
Lord Lisle was the son of Robert Sidney, Earl of Leicester, and brother of the famous Algernon. He sat in the Long Parliament for Yarmouth, in the Isle of Wight, and afterwards became a member of the Upper House. Concerning his embassage to Sweden this is again proposed to him in September 1653, but, as we read in the minutes of the Council, "when he was desired to proceed, finding himself out of health, he desired to be excused, whereupon Council still wishing to send the embassy—the Queen of Sweden being favourably inclined to the Commonwealth—pitched upon Lord Whitelocke, who was willing to go."
To Lady Sunderland and Mr. Smith there are several amusing references in these letters. Lady Sunderland was the daughter of the Earl of Leicester, and sister of Algernon Sydney. She was born in 1620, and at the age of nineteen married Henry Lord Spencer, who was killed in the battle of Newbury in 1642. After her husband's death, she retired to Brington in Northamptonshire, until, wearied with the heavy load of housekeeping, she came to live with her father and mother at Penshurst. In the Earl of Leicester's journal, under date Thursday, July 8th, 1652, we find:—"My daughter Spencer was married to Sir Robert Smith at Penshurst, my wife being present with my daughters Strangford, and Lacy Pelham, Algernon and Robin Sydney, etc.; but I was in London." From this we may imagine the Earl did not greatly approve the match. The ubiquitous Evelyn was there, too, to see "ye marriage of my old fellow collegian Mr. Robt. Smith;" and the place being full of company, he probably enjoyed himself vastly. Lady Sunderland was the Sacharissa of Waller the poet.
SIR,—I am so great a lover of my bed myself that I can easily apprehend the trouble of rising at four o'clock these cold mornings. In earnest, I'm troubled that you should be put to it, and have chid the carrier for coming out so soon; he swears to me he never comes out of town before eleven o'clock, and that my Lady Paynter's footman (as he calls him) brings her letters two hours sooner than he needs to do. I told him he was gone one day before the letter came; he vows he was not, and that your old friend Collins never brought letters of my Lady Paynter's in his life; and, to speak truth, Collins did not bring me that letter. I had it from this Harrold two hours before Collins came. Yet it is possible all that he says may not be so, for I have known better men than he lie; therefore if Collins be more for your ease or conveniency, make use of him hereafter. I know not whether my letter were kind or not, but I'll swear yours was not, and am sure mine was meant to be so. It is not kind in you to desire an increase of my friendship; that is to doubt it is not as great already as it can be, than which you cannot do me a greater injury. 'Tis my misfortune indeed that it lies not in my power to give you better testimony on't than words, otherwise I should soon convince you that 'tis the best quality I have, and that where I own a friendship, I mean so perfect a one, as time can neither lessen nor increase. If I said nothing of my coming to town, 'twas because I had nothing to say that I thought you would like to hear. For I do not know that ever I desired anything earnestly in my life, but 'twas denied me, and I am many times afraid to wish a thing merely lest my Fortune should take that occasion to use me ill. She cannot see, and therefore I may venture to write that I intend to be in London if it be possible on Friday or Saturday come sennight. Be sure you do not read it aloud, lest she hear it, and prevent me, or drive you away before I come. It is so like my luck, too, that you should be going I know not whither again; but trust me, I have looked for it ever since I heard you were come home. You will laugh, sure, when I shall tell you that hearing that my Lord Lisle was to go ambassador into Sweden, I remember'd your father's acquaintance in that family with an apprehension that he might be in the humour of sending you with him. But for God's sake whither is it that you go? I would not willingly be at such a loss again as I was after your Yorkshire journey. If it prove as long a one, I shall not forget you; but in earnest I shall be so possessed with a strong splenetic fancy that I shall never see you more in this world, as all the waters in England will not cure. Well, this is a sad story; we'll have no more on't.
I humbly thank you for your offer of your head; but if you were an emperor, I should not be so bold with you as to claim your promise; you might find twenty better employments for't. Only with your gracious leave, I think I should be a little exalted with remembering that you had been once my friend; 'twould more endanger growing proud than being Sir Justinian's mistress, and yet he thought me pretty well inclin'd to't then. Lord! what would I give that I had a Latin letter of his for you, that he writ to a great friend at Oxford, where he gives him a long and learned character of me; 'twould serve you to laugh at this seven years. If I remember what was told me on't, the worst of my faults was a height (he would not call it pride) that was, as he had heard, the humour of my family; and the best of my commendations was, that I was capable of being company and conversation for him. But you do not tell me yet how you found him out. If I had gone about to conceal him, I had been sweetly serv'd. I shall take heed of you hereafter; because there is no very great likelihood of your being an emperor, or that, if you were, I should have your head.
I have sent into Italy for seals; 'tis to be hoped by that time mine come over, they may be of fashion again, for 'tis an humour that your old acquaintance Mr. Smith and his lady have brought up; they say she wears twenty strung upon a ribbon, like the nuts boys play withal, and I do not hear of anything else. Mr. Howard presented his mistress but a dozen such seals as are not to be valued as times now go. But a propos of Monsr. Smith, what a scape has he made of my Lady Barbury; and who would e'er have dreamt he should have had my Lady Sunderland, though he be a very fine gentleman, and does more than deserve her. I think I shall never forgive her one thing she said of him, which was that she married him out of pity; it was the pitifullest saying that ever I heard, and made him so contemptible that I should not have married him for that reason. This is a strange letter, sure, I have not time to read it over, but I have said anything that came into my head to put you out of your dumps. For God's sake be in better humour, and assure yourself I am as much as you can wish,
Your faithful friend and servant.
Letter 8.—The name of Algernon Sydney occurs more than once in these pages, and it is therefore only right to remind the reader of some of the leading facts in his life. He was born in 1622, and was the second son of Robert Earl of Leicester. He was educated in Paris and Italy, and first served in the army in Ireland. On his recall to England he espoused the popular cause, and fought on that side in the battle of Marston Moor. In 1651 he was elected a member of the Council of State, and in this situation he continued to act until 1653. It is unnecessary to mention his republican sympathies, and after the dismissal of the Parliament, his future actions concern us but little. He was arrested, tried, and executed in 1683, on the pretence of being concerned in the Rye House Plot.
Arundel Howard was Henry, second son of the Earl of Arundel. His father died July 12, 1652. Dorothy would call him Arundel Howard, to distinguish him from the Earl of Berkshire's family.
SIR,—You have made me so rich as I am able to help my neighbours. There is a little head cut in an onyx that I take to be a very good one, and the dolphin is (as you say) the better for being cut less; the oddness of the figures makes the beauty of these things. If you saw one that my brother sent my Lady Diana last week, you would believe it were meant to fright people withal; 'twas brought out of the Indies, and cut there for an idol's head: they took the devil himself for their pattern that did it, for in my life I never saw so ugly a thing, and yet she is as fond on't as if it were as lovely as she herself is. Her eyes have not the flames they have had, nor is she like (I am afraid) to recover them here; but were they irrecoverably lost, the beauty of her mind were enough to make her outshine everybody else, and she would still be courted by all that knew how to value her, like la belle aveugle that was Philip the 2nd of France his mistress. I am wholly ignorant of the story you mention, and am confident you are not well inform'd, for 'tis impossible she should ever have done anything that were unhandsome. If I knew who the person were that is concern'd in't, she allows me so much freedom with her, that I could easily put her upon the discourse, and I do not think she would use much of disguise in it towards me. I should have guessed it Algernon Sydney, but that I cannot see in him that likelihood of a fortune which you seem to imply by saying 'tis not present. But if you should mean by that, that 'tis possible his wit and good parts may raise him to one, you must pardon if I am not of your opinion, for I do not think these are times for anybody to expect preferment in that deserves it, and in the best 'twas ever too uncertain for a wise body to trust to. But I am altogether of your mind, that my Lady Sunderland is not to be followed in her marrying fashion, and that Mr. Smith never appear'd less her servant than in desiring it; to speak truth, it was convenient for neither of them, and in meaner people had been plain undoing one another, which I cannot understand to be kindness of either side. She has lost by it much of the repute she had gained by keeping herself a widow; it was then believed that wit and discretion were to be reconciled in her person that have so seldom been persuaded to meet in anybody else. But we are all mortal.
I did not mean that Howard. 'Twas Arundel Howard. And the seals were some remainders that showed his father's love to antiquities, and therefore cost him dear enough if that would make them good. I am sorry I cannot follow your counsel in keeping fair with Fortune. I am not apt to suspect without just cause, but in earnest if I once find anybody faulty towards me, they lose me for ever; I have forsworn being twice deceived by the same person. For God's sake do not say she has the spleen, I shall hate it worse than ever I did, nor that it is a disease of the wits, I shall think you abuse me, for then I am sure it would not be mine; but were it certain that they went together always, I dare swear there is nobody so proud of their wit as to keep it upon such terms, but would be glad after they had endured it a while to let them both go as they came. I know nothing yet that is likely to alter my resolution of being in town on Saturday next; but I am uncertain where I shall be, and therefore it will be best that I send you word when I am there. I should be glad to see you sooner, but that I do not know myself what company I may have with me. I meant this letter longer when I begun it, but an extreme cold that I have taken lies so in my head, and makes it ache so violently, that I hardly see what I do. I'll e'en to bed as soon as I have told you that I am very much