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Adieu therefore ten thousand times my dearest dear, and since I must never see you more, take this prayer May your faith be so strengthened, that your constancy may continue, and then I hope heaven will receive you, where grief and love will in a short time after, I hope, translate, my dear, your sad but constant wife, even to love your ashes when dead.'
Your children beg your
blessing and present their duties' to you."+
This is indeed a noble epistle! abounding in charm of style, and beauty of thought. Here is refinement mixed with Christian love. Is it not the mirror of their wedded lives? We may see reflected there the affection and faith of both growing through time to eternity, and feel certain she would have pledged her own existence for his. She did not lose "her devoir." What a comfort must this letter have been to the dying man! "The sweetest thought the last;" there were George, Tom, and Jane to rally round her in the hour of trial.
The effort of writing no doubt was great. Her frame enfeebled by long and heavy anxieties, fatiguing journies, and night watches. We see her struggling on amidst prayers and tears, her grief at times almost overwhelming her, but perchance she gained strength as she wrote, feeling that despatch was necessary, for she did not know how soon her husdand might be summoned to execution, and that he should die without receiving it, was terrible to contemplate. "Haste, post haste, must you gallop, good and faithful friend! Speed thee to catch up His Highness's messenger!" But time was found
Words "with you
erased after "prayer."
+ The fac-simile which will be found opposite this page, contains in addition the words "Eleven o'clock at night-May 3rd," which are not at present on the original, but only on the sheet of paper on which it is preserved. Mr. Charles Penruddock, the present owner of Compton, believes he has seen them on it. That there has been a small piece most unluckily shorn off the foot of this highlyinteresting document is clear from its appearance, some word or words having been cut through, and thus become indecipherable.
The pamphlet of July 2nd, 1655 (King's Pamplets, Sm. Qto., Vol. 652-" Illegal Proceedings "), which has often been mentioned, contains both sentences; and is followed by Sir Richard Steele. It would therefore appear that the date of the foot of the letter, as given by Sir Richard Hoare (Hund. Dunw., p. 85), viz., “May 15th," is incorrect. The latter appears never to have seen Mrs. Penruddock's original letter. That it could have been written and sent from London, at midnight on the 15th of May, and reach Exeter on the morning of the 16th, in time for Colonel Penruddock to have answered it, is impossible. If it were written on that day it must have been written at Exeter, but this I do not believe. The compiler of the pamphlet must have known the facts and could have no reason for giving the date as the 3rd if it were not so. Moreover the pamphlet gives the answer of Colonel Penruddock as dated "May 6th." Sir Richard Hoare said he took the letters from "The Lover," but that, as has been already mentioned, gives the date as the 3rd of May. See "The Lover," p. 20, Harrison's Brit. Classics, vol. 6.
I the note in the good old-fashioned three-cornered shape of a illet doux, and it appears to have been marked by tears. Are those of John and Arundel Penruddock?
proceeding with our narrative, we unfortunately come upon a culty, for copies of two answers of his to it are extant, the inals of which, I have been unable to discover. The first is in pamphlet of July 2nd, 1655:
y dearest heart,
I even now received thy farewell letter; each word whereof represents o me a most lively emblem of your affection drawn with thy own hand in ter colour, to the figure of a death's head. My dear, I embrace it as coming t from God, and then from man: for what is there done in the City that the Lord th not permitted? I look upon every line of thine as so many threads isted together into that of my life, which being now woven, my meditations I me will make a fit remnant for my winding sheet. Upon the reading th’of say with the Prophet, I should have utterly fainted, but that I verily believe see the goodnesse of the Lord in the land of the living.
As this is mine my dear, so let it be thy consolation. When I think what a ife and what children I go from and look no further, I begin to cry, O! retched man that I am! But when my thoughts soar higher, and fix themelves upon those things which are above, where I shall find God my Creatour, o my Father, and his Son my Redeemer to my Brother (for so they have vouchafed to term themselves) then I lay aside those relations and do of all love, my lear, desire thee not to look towards my Grave, where my Body lies, but toward the heaven, where I hope my soul shall gain a mansion in my Father's house. I do steadfastly believe that God hath heard the prayer of my friends and thine and mine, and how knowest thou, woman, whether thou hast not saved thy husband? Let those considerations raise thy spirits, I beseech thee, and that for God's sake and mine though I ly among the children of men, that are set on fire against me; yet under the shadow of the Almightie's wing I will hide myself till this tyranny be overpast. The greatest conflicte I have had in this extremetie was my parting with thee; the next encounter is to be with Death, and my Saviour hath so pulled out the sting thereof, that I hope to assault it without fear. Though the armies of men have been too hard for me, yet am I now lifting myself under the conduct of my Sovereign, and an army of martyrs, that the gates of hell cannot prevail against.
My dear, I have now another subject to think on, therefore you must excuse the imperfections you find here. I have formerly given you directions concerning my children, to which I shall referre you. May the blessing of Almighty God be upon thee and them, and may there not want a man of my name to be ready to be a sacrifice in this cause of God and his Church so long as the sun and moon shall endure. I now shall close up all with desiring you to give a testimony for me to the world that I die with so much charity as to forgive my enemies. I will joyne them in my last prayers for my friends; amongst which you and my children are for my sake obliged to pay a perpetual acknowledgment. To Mr. Rolles* and
Mr. Rolles-Lord Chief Justice Rolles, no doubt.
his Lady, and my cousin, Mr. Sebastian Izaack for their great solicitations on my behalf. If I could forget this city of Exeter for their civilities to my own self in particular indeed to all of us, I should leave a reproach behind me, I will give them thanks at my death and I hope you and yours will do it when I am dead. My dear Heart, I onc more bid thee adieu, and with as much love and sincerity as can be imagined.
I subscribe myself,
Thy dying and loving husband,
Exon, May 7, and the last year and day of my date being the year of my Saviour, 1655.
Note. When this letter was writ Colonel Penruddock did not know other than that he was to die the same day.
Note. Mr. S. Izaack, though he seemed very sollicitous for Colonel Penruddock in his life, since his death hath been very unworthy to his memory (contrary to his promise to the said Colonel in his life) and hath done contrary to the will of the dead, the trust reposed in him, the principles of honour, and much unbecoming a gent." †
The second appeared in an essay in "The Lover" for March 13th, 1714. The author (Sir Richard Steele) after giving Mrs. Penruddock's letter as above, thus proceeds :
"I do not know that I have ever read anything so affectionate as that line, 'Those dear embraces which yet I feel.'
Mr. Penruddock's answer has an equal tenderness which I shall recite also, that the town may dispute whether the man or the woman expressed themselves the more kindly, and strive to imitate them in less circumstances of distress; for from all no couple upon earth are exempt."
Then follows his version of the answer :
"Dearest Best of Creatures,
I had taken leave of the world when I received yours: It did at once recall my fondness for life and enable me to resign it. As I am sure I shall leave none behind me like you, which weakens my resolution to part from you; so when I reflect I am going to a place where there are none but such as you I recover my courage. But fondness breaks in upon me; and as I would not have my tears flow tomorrow, when your husband and the father of our dear babes is a public spectacle; do not think meanly of me, that I give way to grief now in private, when I see my sand run so fast, and I within few hours am to leave you helpless and exposed to the merciless and insolent, that have wrongfully put me to a shameless death, and will object that shame to my poor children. I thank you for all your goodness to me, and will endeavour so to
So May 7th was his birthday; and in the spirit of the age, so full of divination he thought it was to be his death-day.
+ I know not Mr. Izaack's misdeeds, including those against the writer of the pamphlet,