[Letter Text: Notes]
I acknowledge my self most bounde to her Maty for her gracious pardon
of my offence wch appeareth more disgracefull in her Mats Eyes, your La
and those two graue and honorable counsellours by whose lre it pleaseth
her Maty to reprooue my offence then it yet doth in the opinion of
many others vppon whose opinion I haue laydd the foundacon of
all the rest of my life. Pardonne therefore I beseech your La
if wthout those Ceremonyes, wch ether through ignorance or
anxietye of mynde, yet distracted between feare and hope ~
I sett downe the trew reasons of this my proceedinge To ~
imploy any much more such base and vnworthy parsons in
such a matter had been a blott to my reputation, never to be
washed away wth floods of repentant teares, if my intent
had not been to haue it knowne to her Maty that such a matter
was propounded seriously, and by some desyred, by others not ~
misliked, but vtterly neglected or reiected by my self from
the first howre I heard ^of^ it till the Last, and not more now ~
then at the first, for all my L of Hartfords discourteous ~
dealinge wth me whoe haue deserved better at his hands, and ~
therefore restrayninge my freinds I respected I sent such
as I thought likeliest to displease his Lp, though I instructed
them not to give his Lp iust cause of offence, and adventured noe
more then I was desyrous they should diuuldge soe it weare
wthout my consent, for in truth I cannot fynde in my hart
to disclose the Counsell of any stranger or enemy that ether by
their consent, or chanceably commeth to my knowledge if it
may be, or if I doe but doubt it may be preiudiciall to them
And I thanke God it fell out better then I and my dearest and
betrusted whatsoever he be could haue devised or imagyned though
we haue bett our braynes about it theise three yeares. The
ridiculous and contempteous stile I pray you excuse wth the
reasons wch this gentleman wch taught it me alledged before
he could perswade me to play the foole in good earnest. It
was convenient her Maty should see and beleive what busye
bodyes, vntrew rumours, vniust practises colorable and
cunninge devises, are in remote parts against those whom
the world
[page break]
vnderstands to be in a sort exiled her Mats presence vndeservedly
though themselfes be never soe wary or vnwillinge any should
soe much as speake of them, and as herein your Ladyshipps
wisdome and fydelity hath been at Least comparable wth my
L of Hartfords, soe I haue many good wittnesses and
more then for their owne sake I would I had had, that I
haue been as precise and circumspect in auoydinge all
occasions ether of alluringe or incoraginge any to reveile
their affection how, great soever, how read ^respectively^ soever, how
well soever Loued or liked by my self, and whosoever
hath made tryall, what would ether perswade the most ~
verteous Lady or the greatest Lady, for by their ~
commadment I must needs tell your Lape they will needs ~
say and sweare I am the one of their knowledge, and they
could wishe me in the highest degree of her Mats favour,
and putt me in hope if ever I may attayne her Mats presence
I shall receaue the like gracious countenance for all this that
ever I haue done. They I say whoe haue made most triall
what promises, oathes, vowes, threatninges, vnkyndnesses ~
kyndnes, fayre meanes and fowle, neglect of others, ~
wth drawinge of Comfort, Counsell, hope of redresse or any
thinge in the world, could constrayne or intize one of my
sex, yeares, and hetherto vnhappy fortune, can beare me
wittnes that I am to stout to request favour, till
I be sure I may Command it, and they take it as a ~
favour done to them and not to me of whom they craue
not soe much as thankes; I assure your Lap nor any
thinge but loue in such honorable and Christian sort as
I weare to be condemned by your Lap especially, if for
your Laps Comfort and my owne advancemt I should ~
still haue reiected or like a deafe Aspe stopped my eares
agaynst his voyce whoe never requested any thinge, but
was more for my good and honour then his owne. All the
iniuryes he could he hath done me, and his creditt beeinge
as he right well deserves great wth her maty and his
[page break]
may I impute even all my wronges to him, and freely forgive
them all whoe haue been his (vnwittinge I am sure) pchance
vnwillinge Instruments and if they had knowne by whom
to what end they weare imployed, (as I thinke verie
feaw did if any; for secrecy is one of his vertues
and I thinke he hath as many as any subiect or forrayne
Prince in Europe or more. The only request that I ^ever^ made vnto
him (many other thinges I haue in rude and vncivill manner
bidd him doe and he can take nothinge ill at my hand, but
as he protesteth, and I am as sure, as one can be of any
mortall creature ^that^ he knoweth the vallue of an oath and ~
esteemeth it as the pawne of his sowle, that he would
procure my remove from out of your Laps Custody, not
that I would ^not^ thinke my self most happye, to spend all
my life vnder your Ladyships governement, but that I
cannot rule Loue and ambition in others, as I thanke
God I can doe both verii well in my self, and in truth
am not infected at all wth the Later, nor soe apt to ~
beleive and sodaynly to resolue in soe important a ~
matter, as I was content I should seeme to my Lord
of Hartford of purpose and not by errour I protest
As I may compare the Loue of this worthy gentleman
wch I haue allready vnrevoubeably accepted and confirmed
and will never deny, nor cannot nor will repent whatsoever
befall) to gold wch hath been soe often purifyed, that I
cannot fynde one fault to vrge iealousye that only excepted,
soe I haue dealt vnkydly, shrewdly, prowdly wth him, and
if any Livinge haue cause to thinke me proude or shrewde it
is he whom I haue Loued to well even since I could Loue
to hyde any thought woord or deed of myne from him ~
vnlesse it weare to awe him a little when I thought
his Loue converted into hate, for I did him the wronge
to thinke soe a great whyle, or to make him weary of his
iealousye by lettinge him see it was the only way to make
me fall out wth him, and anger him in the highest degree
I could imagyn...
[page break]
wth my L of Hartford I haue dealt soe precisely that it
hath nether been in his power to doe me more hurt then
reveale all he knew by me, or should haue cause or colour
to take any thinge soe kyndly to keepe my Counsell. When
I writt I weept and I mervayle it was not perceaued
for I could nether forbeare weapinge at meale tymes
nor in truth day nor night till I had performed my
and sett downe in good and orderly sort some of the sevral...
devises, and shifts, wch more then one had devised and
practised without ether my knowledge, till it was past,
or allowance ether for what was past or to come, and this
Party whoe trusts me wth more then ever I would haue ~
been even the secretest thoughts of his hart, hath
not nor never had soe much as a promise, that I
would keepe his counsell. He taught me by the Example
of Samuell that one might pretend on errand, and ~
deliver an other wth a safe conscience By the Example
of Sampson that one might, (and if they be not to foolishe
to live in the world) must speake riddles to their friends,
and trye the truth of offered Loue, and vnsuspected friends
in some matter, if they deale vnfaythfully in it shall but
make their ridiculous mallice appeare to their owne
discreditt and noe mat manner of hurt to others. He
assured me her Mats offence would be converted into
Laughter, when her Maty should see the honest cunninge
of the contriver, to such an end as wilbe highly to her
Mats likinge and your Laps and my good many wayes ~
He tould me he would haue me enter into some great action
to wynn my self reputation, try her Mats Loue towards
me though nether of vs doubted of it, try what my freinds
would doe for me, and how I could imploy my freinds and,
servants, and make strangers to me effect my desyres
wthout beeinge behouldinge to them: and buyldinge my hopes
vppon the Rocke lett the wynds and billowes and tempests ~
shew that though my buyldinge be Low, yet it is not buylded
vppon the sand
[page break]
for then I had been ruyned; but like the wise Architect,
who first draweth his plott, and afterwards make an estimate
of his charges givinge some allowance more then he thinkes
wilbe needfull, and then fyndinge him self able to goe ~
through cherefully setteth his woorkmen to their severall
workes. Soe we did first deliberately consult and after
speedily execute that wch we knew would for a short tyme
be offensive to her Maty, your Ladyship, the Erle of Hartford
and divers others and woorke an effect wch I am ^most^ assured ~
will be most acceptable to her Maty and it ^is^ even the best
service that ever Lady did her Souveraigne and Mistresse.
I am more desyrous her Maty should vnderstand every part
and parcell of the devise, every Actour, every action, every
woord and siliable of that her Maty hath vnder my hand
or Ihon Goods, then your Lap is, because I know more
then your Lap doth or shall (because it is most for your La
honour and good it should be soe) till her Maty be acquaynted
and fully satisfyed, that I have donne nothinge foolishely rashely
or falsely, or vnworthy of my self. Therefore I doe
humbly thanke her Maty for that liberty it pleased her Highnes
to allow me, by the wch I may conferr wth my freinds wthout
wch I could not discouver the truth soe soone and soe well
to her Maty as I trust to doe if it ... her Maty to
allow me the space of one moneth to cleare ... my self in, and
liberty to send to any privy counsellour, I will be accomptable
to her Maty but not to your Ladyship, for all that ever I
did in my life or ever will doe. And I will reveale some
secrett of loue concerninge my self, and some others wch
wilbe delightfull to her Maty to vnderstand I will send some
to complayne of themselfes, I will informe her Maty of some
matters whereof her Maty hath yet noe manner of suspicon.
I will offend noone but my vncle of Shrewsbury, my Aunt
and my vncle Charles, and them I will anger, as much as
ever they angred me, and make my self as merry at them
as the last Lent they did at their owne pleasant device (for
soe I take it of the Gentleman wth the redd eyes. And
if they
[page break]
will as they ought in duty reconcyle themselfes to your Laps
your La shall command me to forgett all Iniuryes they haue
done me, one only excepted, and that is the wronges they
have done this most worthy Gentleman, for whom I ~
haue allready forsaken Parents, kynn and all the world
her Maty onely excepted For I vow as I shall be saued
he tells me playnly, he will not offend her Maty for my
sake, and will rather forsake me for ever then incurr her
Mats displeasure, though the tyme be ned never soe short
And therefore though I haue kept his counsell theise many
yeares, and will doe whylst I liue, if it may be the ~
least hurtfull to him or any of his (for I never did
acquaynt any of myne one or other I take God to wittness)
soe I thinke it longe till I may lett her Maty know his name,
whoe soe farr exceedeth all examples of her Highnes best
favoured, that he dare not see nor but by stealth send
to her that he loues as well as ever they did any And
if it please her Maty soe to accept of him, I shall thinke my
self most happy if her Maty will grace him wth her favour
and wynn his hart from me if it be possible, and I will dayly
pray for her Maty and him, that he may dayly deserue ~
her Mats favour, more and more as I know he will endevour
and if it please her Maty to give me but libertye to send
to him and hear from him (wch in truth) I must doe and
he will doe, though it offend your Ladyship, and can doe whosoe=
=ever oversee vs, I will shew your Ladyship every letter of
his I shall hereafter receaue, and be content your Ladyship
shall reveale all that to your Laps knowledge passeth ~
betwixt vs not only to her Maty but to all the world,
for I am ^soe^ farr from beeinge ashamed of my choyce, that
even for my owne honour sake I could fynde in my hart
to reveale him, but that in truth I dare not, wthout his
consent, and he dare not till he haue his pardon for ~
him self and his freinds, signifyed vnto me by her
Mats lre, wch after I am to send to him and heare from
him agayne, and then he shall ether himself by what
meanes pleaseth
[page break]
him acquaynt her Maty wth his fearefull presumption, or
I will tell your Ladyship vppon condition, it may please ~
your La to ioyne wth me in begginge her Mats most gracous
Pardon to certayne offendours whose pennance shalbe to ~
make confession first to her Maty and after to your La
how gladly they would haue offended your Ladyship, and how
farr they haue offended her Maty for my sake, and if they
receaue the sentence of death out of her Mats mouth I
dare answere for them they shall dye content, but I trust
her Highnes will wth a smile deryde their faults follyes,
^and^ at one of their hands accept a poore present, I am in hand
wth for her Maty give another leaue to deliver a lre or secrett
message to her ^sacrid^ Maty from me her then fully absolued handmayde
and give vs all leaue to impart [deletion] our ioy at her Mats pardon
to vs all, one to an other, and devise the best manner how ~
to represent to her Maty the ioy we conceaue thereof, and
make our selfes merry wth makinge our selfes pfect in
our parts, wch for want of conference we haue partly
forgotten, and partly vnderstand not, and her Maty more
merry if it please her Highnes to keepe our counsell,
and I will instruct them and send them to her Maty
one after an other, and noone livinge shall vnderstand my
drift but her Maty, the noble gentleman (whose name I
conceale) and whom it pleaseth them two to aquaynt
wth out lymitation. One only sute will I make to her
Maty, wherein I most humbly craue your Lap to assist and
^further^ ayde me, that it that it that it may please her Maty to suspend
her Highnes iudgment of me, till her Maty see the
end, wch cannot be soe soone, as I could wishe, for I
thinke every mynute longe but shalbe hastned as much as
may be, I assure your Lap on my fayth, and surcease
her dspleasure to my selfe, and all those wth whom I doubt
for my sake her Highnes is offended, and suffer noone of
them whose names her Maty hath vnder my hand to come
or send to me, vnles I send for them, and whoe soever
come to me
[page break]
at my request [deletion] or vnsent for, ether I will acquaynt your
La or send them vpp post, or cause them to advertise
some privy counsellour, what they doe at my request, to what
end I trust I haue fully satisfyed your La that I am
nether soe disobedient nor inconsiderate as your Ladyship
might thinke me, and because I report many thinges ~
wch to your La seeme impossible your La next vnder her
Maty shall censure ^all^ my proceedinges, when your La by her
Mats gracous lre or messenger vnfouldeth theise darke
speaches, wch (lett others doe as please them) I will
never reveale but to her Maty, neyther will I presume
to present my vnworthy service to her Maty till it
shall please her Highnes., to command it, for some reasons
wherewth I will wth all speed, advertise her Maty Whom
the Lord blesse and prosper for ever every way.

Arbella Stuart

Lady Arbellas ^Stuart her^ first Declara=


Developed by

Developed by The University of Glasgow

Technical Development

Technical development by The Digital Humanities Institute

Funded by

Funded by the AHRC

'Bess of Hardwick's Letters' was developed by The University of Glasgow with technical development provided by The Digital Humanities Institute at The University of Sheffield
Version 1.0 | ISBN 978-0-9571022-3-1
© 2013 The University of Glasgow
Contact Us | Copyright and Citation Guide