Dorothy Osborne, Lady Temple

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

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She had been out dining the day before [with H. O. and Lady Gargrave] and had been out of humour. Lady Tollemache's claim to will-power. Col. R. Hammond going to Ireland. Lady Vavasour sent to the Tower. D.'s distaste to a public wedding. Sir J. T. and Sir T. Peyton will act together in the marriage-treaty. Visit to Suffolk abandoned. Goes into Kent next week. Sends verses from Cowley's Davideis.

London, [Thursday 15 June 1654].

I promised in my last to write againe before I went out of Towne, and now i'le bee as good as my word, they are all gon this morning1 and have left mee much more at liberty then I have bin of late, therfore I beleeve this will bee a long letter, perhaps too long; at least if my letters are as litle entertaining as my company is. I was carryed yester-pg 168day abroade to a dinner2 that was designed for mirth, but it seem's one ill humord person in the company is enough to put all the rest out of tune, for I never saw People performe what they intended worse and could not forbear telling them soe, but to Excuse themselv's and silence my reproaches they all agreed to say that I spoyled theire Jollity by wearing the most unseasonable look's that could bee put on for such an occasion; I tolde them I knew noe remedy3 but leaving mee behinde next time, and could have told them that my looks were sutable to my fortune, though not to a feast. fye I am gott into my complaining humor that tyres my self as well as every body else and wch (as you observe) help's not at all. would it would leave mee and that I could beleeve I shall not alway's have occasion for it, but thats in nobody's power, and my Lady Talmach4 that say's she can doe whatsoever she will, cannot beleive whatsoever she pleases. tis not unpleasant mee thinks to hear her talke how at such a Time she was sick and the Phisitians iolde her she would have the small Poxe and shewed her where they5 were comeing out upon her, but she bethought her self that it was not at all convenient for her to have them at that time; some buisnesse she had that required her goeing abroade, and soe shee resolved shee would not bee sick; nor was not. twenty such storry's as these she tell's and then fall's into discourses of ye strengh6 of reason and the power of Philosophy till she confound's her self and all that hear her; You have noe such Lady's in Irlande. Oh mee but I heard to day Your Cousin Hamond is goeing thither to bee in Ludlows place,7 is it true? you tell mee nothing what is don there, but tis noe matter, the lesse one knows of State affayr's I finde it is the better; my Poore Lady Vavasor8 is carryed to ye Tower & her great belly could not Excuse her because she was acquainted by somebody that there was a plott9 against ye Prottector and did not discover it, she has tolde now all that was tolde her but vow's she will never say from whence she had it; wee shall see whither her resolutions are as unalterable as those of my Lady Talmach. I wonder how shee behaved10 her self when she was marryed. I never pg 169saw any body yet that did not look simply and out of Countenanc[e]11 nor ever knew a wedding well designed but one, and that was of two person's whoe had time enough I confesse to contrive it; and noebody to please int but themselves. hee came downe into the Country where she was upon a Visett and one morning marryed her, as soone as they cam out of the Church they took coach and cam for the Towne, dined at an Inne by the way and at night cam into Lodgings that were provided for them, where nobody knew them and where they passed for marryed People of seven years standing; the truth is I could not indure to bee Mrs Bride in a Publick wedding12 to bee made ye happiest person on Earth. doe not take it ill, for I would indure it if I could rather then faile, but in Earnest I doe not think it were posible for mee. You cannot aprehende ye Formality's of a Treaty more then I doe, nor soe much the successe on't. Yet in Earnest your f: will not finde my B: Peyton wanting in civility (though hee is not a man of much complement unlesse it bee in his letters to mee) nor an unreasonable Person in any thing, soe hee will allowe him out of his Kindnesse to his wife to sett a higher valew upon her sister then she deserv's. I know not how hee may bee prejudiced as to the buisnesse, but hee is not deaf to reason when tis civily deliverd and is as easily gained wth compliance and good usage as any body I know, but by noe other way; when hee is roughly dealt with hee is like mee ten times the worse fort. I make it a case of consciens to discover my faults to you as fast as I know them that you may consider what you have to doe, my Aunt told mee noe longer agon then Yesterday13 that I was the most willfull woman that ever she knew and had an obstinacy of spirritt nothing could overcome. Take heed, you see I give you faire warning.

I have missed a letter this monday, what is the reason? by the next I shall bee gon into Kent and my other Journy14 is layed aside, wch I am not displeased at because it would have broken our intercourse very much. heer are some Verses of Cowry's,15 tell mee how you like them. tis only a peece taken out of a new thing of his, the whole is very pg 170longe & is a discription of, or rather a paraphrase upon the friendships of David and Jonathon, tis I think ye best I have seen of his, and I like ye subject because tis that I would bee perfect In. Adieu

Je suis vostre.

Notes Settings


Editor’s Note
1 they are all gon this morning. H. O.'s Diary has: 'June 15, Thursday: My Lady Ruthin went out of Towne my A[unt] Gargrave who came to Towne about my C[ousin] Thorolds businesse went out of towne againe. This day my sister removed from my Lady Ruthins lodging in Queene streete, to my C. Thorolds lodging in Drury Lane.' It seems clear that it is Lady Ruthin, Mr. Yelverton and party who have left. Queen Street runs into Drury Lane. This Covent Garden quarter was then fashionable.
Editor’s Note
2 I was carryed yesterday abroade to a dinner. H. O.'s Diary again helps us: 'June 14, Wednesday. My A. Gargrave and my Cousin Thorold my sister and I dined at the Swan in Fish streete, my sister and I had the greate falling out and were friends again.'
Editor’s Note
3 remedy. Written 'rememdy'.
Editor’s Note
4 my Lady Talmach, on whose belief in will-power Dorothy dilates, was a remarkable woman. Born Elizabeth Murray, daughter of William Murray, gentleman of the bedchamber to Charles I, created in 1643 Earl of Dysart, she married about 1647 Sir Lionel Tollemache or Talmach, 3rd Baronet, of Helmingham, Suffolk. She was considered (March 1652/3) to be a very powerful favourite with Cromwell (Camden Soc., N.S., L., p. 6). On her father's death she succeeded him as Countess of Dysart in her own right, the date is doubtful, G. E. C. suggests '1654?', but it was probably after the date of Dorothy's letter. After the death of Sir Lionel, to whom she had borne eleven children, in 1669, Lady Dysart raised a scandal by renewing an old friendship with John, Earl of Lauderdale, though his Countess was still living. However, this lady died in 1671, and in 1671/2 the Countess of Dysart became Countess (two months later, Duchess) of Lauderdale. Burnet, who had once grossly flattered her, afterwards described her with severity: 'A woman of great beauty but of far greater parts, violent in everything she set about; a violent friend, but a much more violent enemy: ravenously covetous and would have stuck at nothing by which she might compass her ends' (quoted by G. E. C.). See her life in the D.N.B. ('Murray, Elizabeth').
Editor’s Note
5 they, the pocks (written 'Poxe').
Editor’s Note
6 strengh. This seems to be D.'s usual spelling.
Editor’s Note
7 Your Cousin Hamond … in Ludlows place . Colonel Robert Hammond (cf. L. 9, n. 7) was appointed in August 1654 a member of the Irish Council, went over at once, and died early in October. Ludlow, who had been one of the Commissioners for the civil government of Ireland as well as lieutenant-general of the horse in Ireland, had resigned his civil position after Cromwell's coup d'état of 20 April.
Editor’s Note
8 Lady Vavasor. She may have been Ursula, daughter of Thomas, Viscount Fauconberg, and wife of Sir Walter Vavasor, 2nd baronet of Haselwood, Yorks. Sir Walter's youngest son, John, was thirteen years old in Aug. 1666, i. e. he was born about 1653, and there was a daughter, Ursula, who died in infancy and may have been younger. Or she may have been Olive, wife of Sir William Vavasor of Copmanthorpe, Yorks., whose only daughter, Frances, was born on 26 Oct. 1654.
Editor’s Note
9 a plott. See L. 64, n. 12.
Editor’s Note
10 I wonder how shee behaved. That is, Lady Tollemache I suppose.
Editor’s Note
11 Countenanc[e]. At end of line.
Editor’s Note
12 I could not indure to bee Mrs Bride in a Publick wedding. Temple and Dorothy were married on Christmas Day of this year. Probably no friends on either side were present. It is clear that a 'treaty' of marriage was now in prospect in which Sir John Temple would act for his son and Sir T. Peyton for Dorothy.
Editor’s Note
13 my Aunt told mee … Yesterday . Lady Gargrave at the dinner at the Swan in Fish Street.
Editor’s Note
14 my other Journy. Her intended visit to Suffolk. See L. 64.
Editor’s Note
15 some Verses of Cowly's. The 'new thing of his' was Abraham Cowley's Davideis, published first, so far as we know, in his Works, 1656. The verses she sends Temple must have been in MS. Her copy of them has not been preserved with her letter.
Judge Parry is no doubt right in thinking that the verses which touched Dorothy were those that described the friendship of David and Jonathan in Book II. The Judge has quoted some apposite lines: I quote some others:
  • 'They mingled fates, and both in each did share,
  • They both were servants, they both princes were.
  • If any joy to one of them was sent,
  • It was most his, to whom it least was meant;
  • And Fortune's malice betwixt both was crost,
  • For, striking one, it wounded th'other most.'
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