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Dorothy Osborne.

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LIBRARY

HNi v ' rp S'TY OF
C |J< ORNIA

SAN DIEGO




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EVERYMAN'S LIBRARY
EDITED BY ERNEST RHYS



ESSAYS AND
BELLES LETTRES



THE LETTERS FROM DOROTHY
OSBORNE TO SIR WILLIAM

TEMPLE WITH A NEW HISTORICAL
INTRODUCTION BY E. A. PARRY



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Tfie LETTERS
<$*&& from
DOROTHY
OSBORNE
Ofc$>& SIR
WILLIAMS
TEMPLE



LONDON-PUBLJSHED



ANP IN NEW YORK
BYE-PDUTTONSCO



INTRODUCTION

IT was Macaulay who said of these letters that " very
little indeed of the diplomatic correspondence of that
generation is so well worth reading." And perhaps the
best place for an English reader to study the history
especially the social history of his own country, is in the
personal letters or diaries of the men and women of olden
tunes.

The historian's duty is to make research in the mouldy
closets and muniment rooms of the past, and to sift from
out of these huge piles of mouldering wreck any grains of
historical gold that may be lurking therein. The average
reader cannot find time, even if he had the taste, to read
all the dreary old records at first hand that Dry-as-dust
societies with laborious industry pour out from day to
day. Did he make the attempt, he would, in Carlyle's
phrase, find that they were " a sorrowful kind of pabulum."

Indeed, even the modern finished history book, model
of research and literary style though it be, is not every one's
book. There are readers who have ambitions beyond the
contemporary magazine to whom Grote is not a persona
grata. Gibbon is not a companion for an idle evening, and
in whose soul John Richard Green's Shorter History of the
English People has never raised a patriotic thrill.

And as it is possible to read much pleasurable and pro-
fitable history or a sort of history, to quote a Lord Chan-
cellor in romances and novels, so there is another method
whereby the lover of literature may study the works and
days and social life of different periods, namely by reading
those books of letters and diaries and autobiographies which
are both history and literature.

Pliny's Letters are much better fun than Gibbon, the
Paston Letters are nearer to entertainment than John
Richard Green. Indeed, English history is rich in such
volumes as I mean, and some educational professor might

vii



viii Letters of Dorothy Osborne

set down for desultory readers like myself a chronological
list of books that are not only original documents and
authorities for historical periods, but also book-lovers' books.
For to-day we follow the wisdom of Charles Lamb, who had
no use for " all those volumes which ' no gentleman's
library should be without/ " in which he included more
history books than I should have dared to name. But
there never was, I believe, a period when more readers
desired to read good literature, though it is the cant of the
day to deny it. And the way for the desultory reader to
awaken a love of historical reading, is to start with the
diarists and letter-writers who have made English history
such an entertaining study for the man in the arm-chair.
Who can tell you more about the politics and theatres
and gossip and scandal of the time of Charles II. than
Samuel Pepys? "I refrain," writes Thackeray, "to
quote from Walpole regarding George for those charm-
ing volumes are in the hands of all who love the gossip of
the last century. Nothing can be more cheery than
Horace's letters. Fiddles sing all through them; wax
lights, fine dresses, fine jokes, fine plate, fine equipages
glitter and sparkle there ; never was such a brilliant jigging,
smirking Vanity Fair as that through which he leads us."
What more, again, do we want to know of the " ombre and
claret and toasted oranges," and the London Society and
political intrigues of the days of good Queen Anne than we
can find in Swift's Journal to Stella ? And as these greater
works have long been recognised as historical authorities
as well as literary masterpieces, so I think the time has
come to claim for the Letters of Dorothy Osborne their right-
ful place in the sun of English letters. Apart from the
charm of their literary style and the human interest of
their simple natural love story, they are, perhaps, the one
important historic document we possess describing the
every-day life of the English Royalist aristocracy and gentry
during the reign of Cromwell. They portray a wholly
different side of the picture from that to which the writers
of romance have paid so much attention. We have nothing
of the clash of swords and the battering down of doors and
the stabling of horse in the parish church. Yet the battle
of Worcester was fought on September 3, 1651, and it was



Introduction ix

not until December 19, 1651, that Castle Cornet in Guernsey
Sir Peter Osborne's own stronghold had surrendered to
the Commonwealth. These letters begin in December
1652, and cover a period of history about which there are
very few contemporary domestic annals.

It is very interesting to note how soon after the terrible
conflicts of the Civil War, families, whose sons and brothers
had fought and died for either cause, settled down again
to the every-day life of the country-side. They visited
their friends in the next county; they came to town for a
few weeks' shopping; they borrowed and lent volumes of
the latest romances; they went to Tunbridge Wells or
Barnet to take the waters, and handed their letters and
parcels to the carriers' carts in the certain hope of that
punctual delivery which is the boast of our modern post
office.

To any reader desirous of a living presentment of Eng-
land at this date, these letters will, as historical documents
illustrative of the domestic life of the day, be a necessary
as well as a delightful study. As a book of English social
history, they may claim a place on the student's shelf some-
where between the Paston Letters and the Correspondence
of Horace Walpole.

But the book will always be something more than a
book of letters which the student goes to for historical in-
formation. It has won its place among English readers as
a beautiful autograph portrait of a virtuous, amiable, and
sensible woman, who, by the natural charm of her literary
style, is as much alive for us to-day as she was to the squires
and shepherds and carriers of the English country-side
which was her beloved home.

EDWARD A. PARRY.



SEVENOAKS, 1914.



Letters of Dorothy Osborne



BIBLIOGRAPHY

DOROTHY OSBORNE, AFTERWARDS LADY TEMPLE

Letters from Dorothy Osborne to Sir William Temple, 1652-54,
edited by E. A. Parry, 1888 (new and cheaper edition, 1888, revised
and enlarged edition, 1903).

EDWARD ABBOTT PARRY (JUDGE)

Works in addition to the above :

Catalogue of the C. E. Lees' Collection of Water-colour Drawings,
1889; Charles Macklin, a biography, 1890; Katawampus: its Treat-
ment and Cure, 1895; Introduction and notes to F. Osborne's Advice
to a Son, 1896; Butterscotia: or, A Cheap Trip to Fairy Land, 1896;
The First Book of Krab: Christmas Stories for Young and Old, 1897;
The Scarlet Herring, and other Stories, 1899; Don Quixote of the
Mancha, retold, 1900; Introduction to A. Elliott's Workmen's Com-
pensation Acts, 1901; Lamb's Tales from Shakespeare, with Shake-
speare's Life, 1903; England's Elizabeth: being the Memories of
Matthew Bedale, 1904; Ten Years' Experience of the Manchester and
Salford County Courts, together with The Insolvent Poor from the
Fortnightly Review, May 1898, 1906; Gamble Gold, 1907; The Dis-
advantages of Education, 1909; Judgments in Vacation, 1911; Pre-
face to J. G. Lange's Martha Lady Giffard, 1911; The Tallyman, and
other Plays, 1912; What the Judge Saw: being twenty-five years in
Manchester by one who has done it, 1912.



.



TO
MY DAUGHTER

HELEN

THIS VOLUME IS DEDICATED
EXEMPLI GRATIA



CONTENTS

CHAP. PAGE

I. INTRODUCTION ....... 5

II. EARLY LETTERS. WINTER, 1652-3 ... 21

III. LIFE AT CHICKSANDS. SPRING AND SUMMER, 165 3 48

IV. DESPONDENCY. AUTUMN AND WINTER, 1653 . 174
V. THE LAST OF CHICKSANDS. JANUARY TO APRIL,

1654 ... ... 194

VI. VISITING. SUMMER, 1654 233

VII. THE END OF THE THIRD VOLUME. AUTUMN, 1654 270

APPENDIX

I. Lady Temple ....... 274

II. Sir Peter Osborne 281

III. The Osborne Family . . . . . -313

IV. History and Arrangement of the Letters . . 315

INDEX 319




LETTERS OF
DOROTHY OSBORNE



CHAPTER I

INTRODUCTION

" 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,
one may not be overstepping the modest and Johnsonian
limits of an editor's office, when the writing of a short intro-
duction 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. Some of these were 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 mis-
givings as to how they would be received by a people thirst-
ing 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.

5



Letters of Dorothy Osborne

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 Cud-
worth 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 revolu-
tions 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 circum-
stance 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 pro-
ficiency, 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 accept-
able 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 child-

6



Letters of Dorothy Osborne

hood 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 in-
scribing 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 ad-
vantageous 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 dis-
tinguished 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 formid-
able 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

7



Letters of Dorothy Osborne

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 ad-
venturer, 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 admoni-
tions, 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

8



Letters of Dorothy Osborne

during that time. But he seems to have led a rambling life,
sometimes on the Continent, sometimes in Ireland, some-
times 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 corre-
spondence 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 equalise 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

9



Letters of Dorothy Osborne

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 accom-
plishments 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, affec-
tionate, 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 diver-
sions 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 dis-
interested 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
andfLady 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

10



Letters of Dorothy Osborne

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 her beauty. To this most severe
trial the affection and honour of the lovers of that age was
not unf requently sub j ected . 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. (See Appendix I.) 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



Online LibraryDorothy OsborneThe letters from Dorothy Osborne to Sir William Temple → online text (page 1 of 27)