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our souls a solid piety, which hath for its foundation a true change of manners, and a government of life; which may be worthy of the name we bear, and not imaginary resolutions, of which we never see any fruit.”
The two first letters are addressed to Mrs Herbert Aston. I have placed them here, as they treat of the same subjects as those which follow, and also in order to preserve entire the collection of Mrs Winefrid Thimelby's letters.
Two of Mrs Herbert Aston's daughters, Catherine, and Gertrude, called in these letters, Keat and Gat, were now grown up, and of an age to be sent abroad to some convent to finish their education. The good old Abbess, their aunt, partial to the state of life which she had embraced, was firmly convinced, that nothing could be more conducive to the happiness of her nieces, than that they should renounce the world, and take the veil in her convent. Her hopes and fears on this topic, together with the expression of her affection for the family at Bellamore, and to all her friends in England, form the chief subject of these letters, which do great credit both to the head and heart of the writer, and are equally interesting both for the sentiment and style. LETTER XL.
DEARST DEARST SISTER, Were it possible to be angry with you, these lins wod chide yr kind folly, in desiring my picture: for besides the idle expence, twas my advantage to be drawn by that neate pencil of yr love; wch I am sure enough would flater me in every kind. But I must confes, since you pretend to likenes, you may with more justice aske, then I deny another painter; therefore I must yealde, and the truth is, I can deny you nothing. As for the present, we are frighted with some feares. of new trobles with you:* if the tempest blow over, you may expect to see me this sommer. But when, o
* This letter being written during the usurpation of Cromwell, probably about the year 1656, there was every reason to be frighted with fears of new troubles.
when, shall I see you.* It is my dayly comfort to remember how fast we approach each other, and that every moment dispatches.some part of the way: this makes me content with present absence, nay even love it. Forgive the sound of that last word, and consider the sence of it. For I pretend not to a good expression, but clame yr beleefe I meane as well, as truest love can teach; and really, sister, you cannot imagin how much the memory of you gives increase of very solid ioys. For when I looke upon the condition I might have expected, or hoped for in the world, methinks, I am so sorry twas noe better, noe greater, that I might have left, and contemed something worthy my pretentions. But when I cast my eyes upon the tresures of my loved friends, and in perticuler yr sweetest selfe, I grow hugely comforted, because Ile not allow the world could give me better. I mean kinder, dearer. Therefore, you must give me leave to love our seperation, because it helps to secure an eternal), mutuall, inioying
* She means, when will you ever come to Louvain te. see me
You must be sure to present my humblest; and most afectionate service to my Lady Wessen.* Tis really my cross I never deserve her sisters kindnes; they also have a brother here, who is as kind as good. If you knew him, you would know this. A very great expression. The best is, they are such noble friends, tis no paine to be obliged. t Say all you can of kindnes to my brother Aston. My hart will bë sure to make it good. Is he as willing to give me a child as you? If so, I shall have very great hopes. Be sure if I dye before you can compasse it, cheange not yr resolution : the child will loose noe happines by want of me. I forgot to tell you, I shewed yr letter to my lady Mary, who sweetly blusht at that conserned herselfe. Pleased with yr prety kind complaint; yet bids me tell you, the fault was all yr own you were noe more acquainted; for she did covet it, but could not fasten on you, you were so extremely silent; wch, I must confesse, she is not in yr prayses. But, by her discourses, adds to that sea, wch flowes, but never yet knew ebbe. I would be understood the love of yx most affectionate sister,
* Lady Weston, one of the family of Richard Weston, Earl of Portland; whose daughter, Lady Mary, was married to the second Lord Aston.
+ This is, indeed, a great expression. I Herbert Aston.