Dorothy Osborne, Lady Temple

G. C. Moore Smith (ed.), The Letters of Dorothy Osborne to William Temple

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LETTER 31

H. O.'s search for her letters. Her two brothers. 'John "maliciously" said …' She is uncertain whether T. is back from Epsom. Jane's absence. Lady Sunderland and Mr. Smith. Sir Justinian Isham.

Sr                          [Saturday 23 July 1653.]

Your last cam safe, and I shall follow your dirrection for the adresse of this,1 though as you say I cannot imagin what should tempt any body to soe severe a search2 for them, unlesse it bee that hee is not yet fully sattisfyed to what degrees our friendship is growne and thinks hee may best informe himself from them. in Earnest 'twould not bee unpleasant to heare our discourses,3 hee formes his with soe much art and designe, and is soe pleased wth the hopes of makeing some discovery, and I that know him as well as pg 68hee do's himselfe cannot but give my selfe the recreation (somtimes) of confounding him and distroyeng all that his buisy head had bin working on since the last conference; hee gives mee some trouble with his suspitions; yet on my conscience hee is a greater to himself and I deale with soe much franchise4 as to tell him soe, many times, and yet hee has noe more the heart to aske mee dirrectly what hee would soe faine know, then a Jealous man has to aske (one that might tell him) whither hee were a cuckolde or not for feare of being resolved of5 that wch is yet a doubt to him.

My E. B.6 is not soe inquisitive, hee sattisfy's himselfe with perswading mee Earnestly to marry, and takes noe notice of any thing that may hinder mee but a Carelessnesse of my fortune or perhaps an aversion to a kinde of life that appears to have lesse of freedom in't then that wch I at present injoy. but sure hee gives himself another reason,7 for tis not very long since hee took occasion to inquire for you very kindly of mee, and though I could then give but litle account of you, hee smiled as if hee did not altogether beleeve mee, and afterwards maliciously sayed hee wondered you did not marry. I seem'd8 to doe soe too, & sayed if I knew any Woman that had a great fortune and were a person Worthy of you, I should wish her you with all my heart. but Sister say's hee, would you have him love her? doe you doubt I would? I say,9 hee were not happy int else. hee laughed and sayed my humor was pleasant but hee made some question whither it was naturall or not. hee cannot bee soe unjust as to let mee loose him10 sure. I was kinder to him,11 though I had some reason's not to take it very well when hee made that a Secreti to mee, wch was knowne to soe many that did not know him, but wee shall never fall out I beleeve, wee are not apt to it neither of us.

if you are come back from Epsum,12 I may aske you how you like drinking water. I have wished it might agree as well with you as it did with mee and if it were as certaine that the same things would doe us good, as tis that the same things would please us I should not need to doubt pg 69it, Otherwise my Wishes doe not signifye much. but I am forbid complaint's or to expresse my fear's,13 and bee it soe, only you must pardon mee if I cannot agree to give you false hopes, I must bee deceived my self before I can deceive you, and I have soe accustomed my self to tell you all that I think, that I must either say nothing, or that wch I beleeve to bee true.

I cannot say but I have wanted Jane,14 but it has bin rather to have sombody to talk with of you, then that I needed any body to put mee in minde of you, and with all her dilligence I should have often prevented her15 in that discourse.

Were you at Althrop16 when you saw my Lady Sunderland and Mr Smith, or are they in towne? I have heard indeed that they are very happy but withall that as she is a very Extreordinary person her self, soe, she aymes at doeing Extreordinary things, and when she had marry'd Mr Smith because some People were soe bold as to think she did it because she loved him, she undertook to convince the worlde that what shee had don was in meer Pitty to his Sufferings, and that she could not goe a step lower to meet any body then that led her, though where she thought there were noe Ey's upon her, she was more gracious to him. but perhaps this might not bee true, or it may bee she is now growne weary of that constraint she putt upon her self. I should have bin sadder then you17 if I had bin theire Neighbour to have seen them so kinde, as I must have bin if I had marryed the Emperour,18 hee used to brag to mee alway's of a great acquaintance hee had there, what an Esteem my Lady had for him, & had the Vanity, (not to call it impudence) to talke somtimes as if hee would have had mee beleev'd hee might19 have had her, and would not, i'le sweare I blushd for him, when I saw hee did not. hee tolde mee too that though hee had carryed his addresses to mee with all the privacy that was posible, because hee saw I liked it best, and that twas partly his owne humor too, yet shee had discoverd it, and could tell that there had bin such a thing, and that it was broake of againe she knew not why, wch certainly was a lye as well as the pg 70other For I doe not think she ever heard there was such a one in the world

  • as
  •       Your faithfull friend20

Notes Settings

Notes

Editor’s Note
1 your dirrection for the adresse of this. In Letter 30, she had asked him to 'think of a new addresse'.
Editor’s Note
2 soe severe a search. See the account of H. O.'s interrogating the carrier about letters in Letter 30.
Editor’s Note
3 our discourses, those of my brother and myself. After 'discourses' the word 'sometimes' has been written and deleted.
Editor’s Note
4 franchise, freedom of speech, openness. Dorothy is perhaps consciously using a French word both here and in Letter 43. See L. 58, n. 7.
Editor’s Note
5 resolved of, informed of.
Editor’s Note
6 My E. B., my Eldest Brother. (See L. 10, n. 8.) Letter 29 told us of his arrival. He went up to London on 25 July, but apparently returned to Chicksands till 1 Sept. (H. O.'s Diary.)
Editor’s Note
7 hee gives himself another reason, he suspects that Dorothy's attachment to Temple is the hidden cause.
Editor’s Note
8 maliciously … seem'd , slily … pretended.
Editor’s Note
9 doe you doubt I would? I say. D. has written 'doe you doubt it would I say', but I think the change is necessary.
Editor’s Note
10 to let mee loose him. Not very clear. Perhaps, 'to make my intended marriage a cause of estrangement from him'.
Editor’s Note
11 I was kinder to him. I made no quarrel out of his marriage, though I was hurt that he had not taken me into his confidence.
Editor’s Note
12 if you are come back from Epsum. Temple must have told her he was going to Epsom to take the waters, as she had done a year before. In Letters 25 and 26, she had told him she could not go to Epsom herself this year.
Editor’s Note
13 I am forbid complaint's or to expresse my fear's, no doubt by Temple, who was always stoical. Referring in his will to his bereavements, he adds: 'God's holy name be praised, his will be done.' Lady Giffard in her Character of him written in 1690 refers to his use of the same words in his times of bereavement (Courtenay, ii. 147).
Editor’s Note
14 Jane. Temple's question: 'Have you missed Jane?' would naturally rise from the mention of Jane in Letter 29.
Editor’s Note
15 prevented her, anticipated her.
Editor’s Note
16 Althrop, Althorpe, near Brington, Northants, the seat of the Spencers, to which Lady Sunderland had taken her new husband, Mr. Robert Smith. See L. 6, n. 11.
Editor’s Note
17 I should have bin sadder then you. Temple must have said that it had made him sad to see the endearments that passed between Lady Sunderland and her husband.
Editor’s Note
18 if I had bin theire Neighbour … as I must have bin if I had marryed the Emperour . As the wife of Sir Justinian Isham (see L. 3, n. 10) she would have been living at Lamport, within six or seven miles of Althorpe.
Editor’s Note
19 as if hee would have had mee beleev'd hee might, &c. This is a syncopated expression for 'have had mee have beleev'd'. Cf. Letter 44: 'I would faine have had her Excepted such as,' &c. Temple himself, in one of his unpublished early essays (Courtenay, ii. 343), writes: 'I would not have had my suspicion lasted … but I would not have it prove a truth.'
Editor’s Note
20 Your faithfull friend. Dorothy had first written 'freind', hitherto her usual spelling of the word. I don't know if Temple ever commented on her spellings, or if she corrected herself merely from his example, but one sees her often discarding spellings that were getting to be oldfashioned. In Letter 32 she corrects 'freindship', 'freind', to 'friendship, friend', and 'sexe' to 'sex'. In Letter 33 she alters 'infalible' (used as an adverb) to 'infallibly', in Letter 44 'enterlarded' to 'interlarded', in Letter 57 'think' (sb.) to 'thing', in Letter 59 'conceale' to conceal', and 'remarque' to 'remark', in Letter 60 'thing' (vb.) to 'think', in Letter 64 'wayte of' to 'wayte on'.
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