The Folger Shakespeare Library

L.b.527: Letter from John Donne, Fleet Prison, to Sir George More, 1601/1602 February 11: autograph manuscript signed

Catalog record:
Collection:Papers of the More family of Loseley Park, Surrey
Preferred Citation:Letter from John Donne, Fleet Prison, to Sir George More, 1601/1602 February 11: autograph manuscript signed, Papers of the More family of Loseley Park, Surrey. Transcription by Early Modern Manuscripts Online (EMMO). MS L.b.527, Folger Shakespeare Library, Washington, DC.
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leaf 1 recto

The inward accusations in my Conscience, that I have offended
you, beyond any ability of redeeming it by me, and the feeling
of my lords heavy displeasure, following it, forces me to write
though I know my fault make my letters very ungracious to you.
Almighty God whom I call to witness, that all my grief
is, that I have in this manner offended you, and him, direct
you to believe, that without of an humble and afflicted heart
I now write to you And since we have no means to move
God, when we he will not hear our prayers, to hear them, but by
praying, I humbly beseech you, to allow, by his gracious example,
my penitence so good Entertainment, as it may have a belief,
and a pity. Of nothing in this one fault, that I
hear laid to me, can I disculp myself, but of the contemptuous
and despiteful purpose towards you, which I hear is surmised
against me. But for my dutiful regard to my late
lady, for my Religion, and for my life, I refer myself
to them, that may have observed them. I humbly beseech
you, to take of these weights, and to put my fault into the
balance alone, as it was done, without the addition of these
ill reports And though then it will be to heavy for
me, yet then it will less grieve you to pardon it. How
little and how short the comfort and pleasure of Destroying
is, I know your wisdom and Religion informs you. And
though perchance you intend not utter Destruction, yet
the way through which I fall towards it, is so headlong,
that being thus pushed, I shall soon be at bottom. for
it pleases God, from whom I acknowledge the punishment
to be just, to accompany my other ills, with so much sickness
as I have no refuge, but that of Mercy, which I beg, of

leaf 1 verso

of him, my lord, and you which I hope you will not repent
to have afforded me, since all my Endeavours, and the whole
course of my life shall be bent, to make myself worthy
of her your favor, and her love, whose peace of Conscience,
and quiet, I know must be much wounded and violenced,
if your displeasure sever us. I can present nothing to your
thoughts, which you knew not before, but my submission, my
repentance, and my hearty desire, to do any thing satisfactory
to your just displeasure: of which I beseech you to
make a charitable use and Construction. from the
fleet 11th February 1601

Yours in all faithful duty
and obedience.
John Donne

leaf 2 recto

leaf 2 verso

To the right worshipful
Sir George More knight.