There’s a book called The Letters of Dorothy Osborne! So if you want to read a young Royalist woman’s love letters, when they’re perfectly wholesome and led up to marriage, and also met the literary and personal liking of people like Macaulay… There you go!
As if it wasn’t romantic enough, the foreword tells us exactly why William Temple fell in love with Dorothy Osborne, and a very quickwitted and generous act was what did it.
And his family was Parliamentarian… so you can imagine that neither family was too pleased about the couple.
All sorts of things happened in those seven years, but the couple persisted. Temple knew that his girl loved cheesy French romance novels, so he WROTE HER SOME.
On Temple’s part, he was not at all discouraged from marrying her when she came down from smallpox. In fact, he helped nurse her through a life-threatening bout, along with her sister, and was totally unconcerned that his beloved was seriously scarred. As soon as she was well enough, and as soon as Advent was over, he married her on Christmas Day; and they seem to have been very happy.
My gosh, this is so wholesome. And her reproduced signature is so darned cute.
More about Dorothy Osborne and William Temple. There is a modern history book about them, called Read My Heart.
Dorothy sent her letters by “carrier,” every week. There were wagons that went around various districts, picking up and delivering goods, and also carrying mail and packages to the nearest place where mail could be passed on (like the local inn). The mail, packages, or goods that were going to other towns would be packed onto other carrier wagons, or onto stagecoaches going to big cities; and from there, it might be sent on boats that carried mail and packages to France or other countries. So mail could take a while to get places, especially if it was being sent overseas, but the crazyquilt system seems to have worked.
As a daughter of the house, getting goods off the carrier and supervising the servants would have been one of her jobs. But sending out a bunch of correspondence every week to her boyfriend… even if she was also sending out a lot of other letters, it took some chutzpah.
Sadly, we don’t have many of William’s letters to Dorothy, because she destroyed his letters to prevent them being found by her family, and especially by the older brother who wanted to get her married off. William seems to have promised to destroy her letters, and then kept a good chunk of them. (But of course he wasn’t living at home with his family most of the time, so there was little danger of discovery.)