Philobiblon: Love letters

Friday, September 17, 2004

Love letters

Was browsing Ebay this morning for some cycling gloves, and somehow by "accident" ended up in the antiquarian history books section, again.

A reference to Dorothy Osborne and an apparently 17th-century book led me off to find an entire copy of her love letters on the web. Anyone who's got here by accident shouldn't be overexcited now -- this was the 17th-century, but the real affection between her and her swain shines through nonetheless:

"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 my 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 year."
LETTERS from DOROTHY OSBORNE to SIR WILLIAM TEMPLE (1652-54)

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