The Folger Shakespeare Library

L.b.526: Letter from John Donne, The Savoy, London, to Sir George More, 1601/1602 February 2: autograph manuscript signed

Catalog record:
Collection:Papers of the More family of Loseley Park, Surrey
Preferred Citation:Letter from John Donne, The Savoy, London, to Sir George More, 1601/1602 February 2: autograph manuscript signed, Papers of the More family of Loseley Park, Surrey. Transcription by Early Modern Manuscripts Online (EMMO). MS L.b.526, Folger Shakespeare Library, Washington, DC.
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leaf 1 recto

If a very respectiue feare of yr displeasure, and a
doubt, that my L: whom I know owt of yor worthines to loue yow much,
would be so compassionate wth yow, as to add his anger to yrs, did not
so much increase my sicknes, as that I cannot stir I had taken the
boldnes, to haue donne the Office of this letter, by wayting vpon yow
my self To haue giuen yow truthe, and clearnes of this Matter
between yor Daughter and me; and to show to yow plainly the limits
of or fault, by wch I know yr wisdome wyll proportion the punishmt.
So long since, as at her being at yorkhouse, this had foundacon and so
much then of promise and Contract built vpon yt, as wthowt violence
to Conscience might not be shaken. At her lyeng in town this last
parliamt, I found meanes to see her twice or thrice we both knew
the obligacons that lay vpon vs, and wee adventurd equally, and about
three weeks before Christmas we married. And as at the doinge, there
were not vsd aboue fyue persons, of wch I protest to yow by my salvation,
there was not one that ^had any dependence or relation to yow, so in all the
passage of it, did I forbear to vse any such person, who by furtheringe
of yt might violate any trust or duty towards yow. The reasons, why
I did not foreacquaint yow wth it, (to deale wth the same plainnes that I
have vsd) were these. I knew my prsent estate lesse then fitt for her; I
knew, (yet I knew not why) that I stood not right in yr Opinion; I
knew that to have giuen any intimacon of yt had been to impossibilitate
the whole Mattr. And then hauing those honest purposes in or harts, and those
fetters in or Consciences, me thinks we should be pardoned, if or fault be but
this, that wee did not by fore-reuealinge of yt, consent to or hindrance
and torment. Sr, I acknowledge my fault to be so great, as I dare scarse
offer any other prayer to yow in myne own behalf, then this, to beleeue this
truthe, that I neythr had dishonest end nor meanes. But for her
whom I tender much more, then my fortunes, or lyfe (els I would I might
neythr ioy in this lyfe, nor enioy the next) I humbly beg of yow, that she
may not, to her danger, feele the terror of yor sodaine anger. I know
this letter shall find yow full of passion but I know no passion can
alter yor reason and wisdome; to wch I aduenture to comend these
perticulers; That yt ys irremediably donne; That if yow incense
my l, yow Destroy her and me; That yt is ^easye to giue vs happines; And
that my Endevors and industrie, if it please yow to prosper them, may
soone make me somewhat worthyer of her. If any take the

leaf 1 verso

aduantage of yor displeasure against me, and fill yow wth ill
thoughts of me, my Comfort is that yow know, that fayth and
thanks are due to them onely, that speak when theyr informa-
cons might do good wch now yt cannot work towards any party.
For my Excuse I can say nothing except I knew, what were
sayd to yow. Sr, I have truly told yow this Mattr; and
I humbly beseeche yow, so to deale in yt, as the persuasions of
Nature, reason, wisdome, and Christianity shall informe yow;
And to accept the vowes, of one whom yow may now rayse or
scatter, wch are, that as all my love ys directed vnchange-
ably vpon her, so all my labors shall concur to her con-
tentment, and ^to show my humble Obedienc to yor selfe.

From my lodginge by ye
Sauoy. 2o Februa: 160i
Yors in all Duty and
I. Donne

leaf 2 recto

leaf 2 verso

To the right wor: Sr
George More kt