Parry, Edward Abbott, Ed. The Love Letters of Dorothy Osborne.
New York: Dodd, Mead & Company, 1901. 1-26.
"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-Comté 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 raillerv 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 25a fact sometimes ignored by antiquarians of high reputeadds 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,&3151;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 forthose 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 Osbornesbefore there were Osbornes of Chicksandswho, 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,
To this text his life wrote the comment.
"Seraphic Doctor, bright evangelist."
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 OsborneDorothy with her, in all probabilitywas 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 1660. 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 wellthat is to say, wealthilymarried. 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
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.