"When I have supped," continued Dorothy, "I go into the garden, and so to the side of a small river that runs by it, when I sit down and wish you were with me (you had best say this is not kind, neither!) In earnest, 'tis a pleasant place, and would be much more so to me if I had your company. I sit there sometimes till I am lost with thinking, and were it not for the cruel thoughts of the crossness of our fortunes that will not let me sleep there, I should forget that there were such a thing to be done as going to bed."
A Passing Cloud
"That which I writ by your boy Was in so much haste and distraction, as I cannot be satisfied with it, nor believe it has expressed my thoughts as I meant them. No, I find it is not more easily done at more leisure, and I am yet to seek what to say which is not too little nor too much.
"I Would fain let you see that I am extremely sensible of your affliction, that I would lay down my life to redeem you from it; but that's a mean expression, my life is of so little Value that I will not mention it. If I loved you less, I Would allow you to be the same person to me, and I would be the same to you, as heretofore. But, to deal freely with you, that were to betray myself, and I find that my passion would quickly be my master again if I gave it any liberty.
"I am not secure that it would not make me do the most extravagant things in the world, and I shall be forced to keep a continual war alive with it as long as there are any remainders of it left - I think I might as well have said as long as I lived. Why should you give yourself over so unreasonably to it? Good God ! no woman breathing can deserve half the trouble you give yourself. If I were yours from this minute, I could not recompense what you have suffered from the violence of your passion, though I were all that you imagine me, when, God knows, I am an inconsiderable person, born to a thousand misfortunes, which have taken away all sense of anything else from me, and left me a walking misery only. I do from my soul forgive you all the injuries your passion has done me; though, let me tell you, I was much more at my ease while I was angry. Scorn and despite would have cured me in some reasonable time, which I despair of now. I could say a thousand things more to this purpose if I were not in haste to send this away, that it may come to you, at least, as soon as the other. Adieu."
In the following letter she is herself again. She writes thus merrily after a short meeting with her lover:
"Lord, there were a thousand things I remembered after you were gone that I should have said, and now I am to write, not one of them will come into my head. Sure, as I live, it is not settled yet. Good God ! the fears and surprises, the crosses and disorders of that day, 'twas confused enough to be a dream, and I am apt to think sometimes it was no more.
"But no, I saw you. When I shall do it again, God only knows. Can there be a romancer story than ours would make if the conclusion prove happy ? Ah, I dare not hope it; something that I cannot describe draws a cloud over all the light my fancy discovers sometimes, and leaves me so in the dark, with all my fears about me, that I tremble to think on't. But no more of this sad talk."
The story did end happily after all, and these last notes are written when Dorothy was in London, after her formal betrothal, probably buying her trousseau. They sparkle with light-heartedness and joy.
"You are like," she Writes, "to have an excellent housewife of me. I am abed still, and slept so soundly, nothing but your letter could have waked me. You shall hear from me as soon as we have dined. Farewell - can you endure that word? No out upon't; I'll see you anon."
Sparkling with Joy
"Fie upon't, I shall grow too good now! I am taking care to know how your worship slept to-night - better, I hope, than you did the last. Send me word how you do, and don't put me off with a bit of a note now; you could write me a fine long letter when I did not deserve it half so well."
"Here comes the note again to tell you 1 cannot call on you to-night. I cannot help it, and you must take it as patiently as you can; but I am engaged to-night at the Three Rings to sup and play. Poor man ! I am sorry for you, in earnest. I shall be quite spoiled. I see no remedy. Think whether it were not best to leave me and begin a new adventure."
After her marriage with Temple, in 1654, the letters end; but she wrote enough to make us understand that Dorothy Osborne was one of those unaging women whose charms never perish, and whose memory continues to secure them a succession of lovers till the end of time. Her letters possess that quality of which the world can never tire; they breathe the spirit of love and are, in addition, wholly natural and delightfully irresponsible.