Ball State University
Rhetoric, Fiction, and the Appetite for Model Letters in Renaissance
as you know our loue began almost in our Cradles: so I pray you, let it continue to our graues: I haue had a bad Husband, and you no good Wife. . .we must one day walke after our friends, and therefore in the mean time, let vs make much one of another: write vnto me how you doe in body and mind, and when I shall bee so happy as to enjoy your good company: for being alone, you may be as a Husband and a Brother, to controle my seruants, and comfort my selfe: beleeue me, I long to see you, and in the meane time to heare from you. . . .
Thy very loving Sister, A. N.
I haue receiued your louing Letter, for which I returne you many kinde thanks: my body I thanke God, is in good health, but my minde somewhat out of temper, for I see three things that doe much grieue me, a Foole rich, a Wise man wicked, and an honest man poore. . . .But when I consider againe, that here is no
Your very loving Brother, E. B. (Breton, Poste 2: H47; emphasis added)
Sweet should be that spirit, which through the instinct of loue vnderstandeth the silence of truth, whose tongue is the heart, whose words are sighes, in which are hidden the secret fruits of those Trees, that onely grow in the Paradise of reason: Vouchsafe then…to blesse this rude and vnworthy Paper, the which if it haue made you any way offended, in the fire consume it….
I heare thou art of late fallen into an extreame melancholy, by reason of the sudden departure of Susanna out of this life: for thy sake I am sorry she hath left her passage on this earth….Thou knowest she is senselesse in the graue, and wilt thou therefore be witlesse in the world? . . .well thou knowest I loue thee, and in my loue let me aduise thee, not to goe from thy selfe with an imagination of what was, to lose that which is: because she is in Heauen, wilt thou be in Hell? Or if she be halfe an Angell, wilt thou be more than halfe a Deuill?. . . . Leaue thy solitary dwelling and come liue with me, we will devise some good meanes for the remoue of this melancholy. . . .
Thine as his owne, F. D. (Breton, Poste 2: H7; emphasis added)
I heare by some of late come from Venice, that seeme to be somewhat inward in thy acquaintance, that thou art of late fallen into an amorous humour, especially with a subject of too much vnworthinesse…. O leaue these follies . . . bee not sotted with a humor, nor slaue to thy selfe-will: leaue courting of a Curtezan, and keepe thy breath for a better blast: saue thy purse for a better purpose, and spend thy time in more profit, let not the wise laugh at thee, and the honest lament thee: for my selfe, how I grieue for thee I would I could tell thee . . . .
Thine as mine owne, N. B. (Breton, Poste 1: H13; emphasis added)
I heare you are not well, I pray you by this bearer write me word how you doe, if you doe well, I shall doe the better, for such is my affection, as cannot but bee a partner in your passion: So till I heare from you, which I much desire, though but in a word or two, I rest,
Yours while I am mine owne, D. T.
I thanke God, I am well, if you be well all is well, farewell.
Yours or not mine owne, B. T. (E2v)
The secretaries studie (1616)
Whereas at your last conference you told me coming from Germany into Antwerpe, you saw no watch set, and a kinde of fearfull stilnesse amongst the souldiers, wherein I could not resolue you so suddenly. . . I haue now thought good to adde to your experience some intelligences of my owne. . .You must then vnderstand, that the Garrisons haue newly mutined, and from insolent attempts drawne a fearfull execution on some principall offenders: the Gouernour of the towne and citadel, did put in practise an ancient vsance and policie of martiall discipline, to command a cessation from orderly watch, and souldier-like seruices. . .And this was the cause of the stilnesse in Antwerpe. . . . (G1v).
provided you have a just opinion of your owne merit, you cannot faile in that you ought to have of our griefe: Remember your selfe onely of the pleasure your presence brings us, to comprehend what your absence takes from us. . . Consider next, if there be any among us, that doe not make vows for your returne, since it must restore alacrity to all your acquaintance. . . . (A7r-A7v)
I must begin my letter where you end yours, to assure you that I have too great an opinion of your good will to thinke it can diminish in my absence. . .The advantage lies on your side in being at Paris, where the greatest discontent may finde diversion, and the sickest soule expect some remedy: I on the contrary, am in a wilde Country, where all familiarity is a punishment. I am deprived of yours, and tired with theirs who are impertinent, and importune. . . . (A9r-A10r)
I defie you to accuse me of neglect in the performance of my Duty, the passion which I have to your Service being so violent, that it nourisheth in mee a continuall Care of seeking Opportunities to make it knowne. To the furtherance of which, this Letter offerd it selfe most happily, having charge to assure you from my part, that of all the servants which your Merits have acquired you, I am
Sir, the most humble and most faithfull (A1v)
the newes of your Promotion into that Charg, which you wish’d for so long, have added such Contentment and Satisfaction to my thoughts, that I am able to expresse but one part of the Ioy which raignes in me. . . .
Sir, Your most humble Servant (E2v)
Since it is your pleasure to adde dayly to the obligations of those who are most intirely yours; I am resolved to let you take your course, and busy my thoughts onely in seeking occasions to revenge my selfe. And if my misfortune in this Pursuit continually render my cares unprofitable, yet for your satisfaction I shall always have a good Will, and Passion to doe you Service, which I heartily offer you up being
Sir, Your most humble servant (C1r)
Distribution of Letter Types
in English Dictaminal Works, 1586-1638
Distribution of Letter Types
in English Dictaminal Works, 1586-1638 (continued)
Comparative Purposes, Techniques, Styles, and Typologies
sweet should be that spirit, which through the instinct of loue vnderstandeth the silence of truth, whose tongue is the heart, whose words are sighes, in which are hidden the secret fruits of those Trees, that onely grow in the Paradise of reason: Vouchsafe then, faire eye, more bright than the Sunne beams, with one splendent glance of your gracious fauour, to blesse this rude and vnworthy Paper, the which if it haue made you any way offended, in the fire consume it: but if through the power of the Fates, or the effect of your kindnesse, it may doe you the least pleasure, let him be metamorphosed to worse than nothing, that would be any thing , but that Letter, during your reading, or euer any other thing, than at your pleasure in your seruice, for that vnder heauen, hauing no cause for comfort, but in my concealed hope of your grace, let all worlds sweet be as bitternesse to my thoughte, that shall seeke sweetnesse in other sense: so looking for no felicity but in the nest of the Phoenix, which is in the admiration of honor, in the humility of loue I rest