That Will Teach Me To Read Other People’s Letters

I was browsing round part of my book collection that I haven’t visited for some time this morning and came across a copy of The Faber Book of Letters.  The very fact that I have a hardback copy will tell you just how much I love reading other people’s letters.  Not a nice trait, I know, but be honest, I bet you enjoy a quick peep into the daily lives of the great and the good (and not so good) as well.  I’d actually forgotten I had this, so (as you do) I neglected whatever it was that I’d originally been looking for and sat down on the top stair to browse through the opening pages only to immediately have my knuckles rapped by this.

Mr Mollineax,

Few woordes are beste.  My lettres to my Father have come to the eys of some.  Neither can I condemne any but yow for it.  If it be so yow have plaid the very knave with me; and so I will make yow know if I have good proofe of it.  But that for so muche as is past.  For that is to come, I assure yow before God, that if ever I know yow do so muche as reede any lettre I wryte to my Father, without his commandement, or my consente, I wil thruste my Dagger into yow.  And truste to it, for I speake it in earnest.  In the meane time farwell.  From Courte this laste of May 1578.

By me

Philippe Sidney

Well, I didn’t dare read any further.  Blushing to the roots (or possibly rootes) of my hair, I put the book down.

Of course, I shall go back to it, but I have to say that I like the audacity of the editor starting with that particular letter.  I wonder what happened to poor Mr Mollineax.  I hope he learnt his lesson and didn’t give Sir Philip cause to thrust his Dagger into him.  I’ve always thought of Sidney as a rather civilised member of Elizabeth’s court but clearly even the most civilised courtier can get riled when he thinks his post is being tampered with.  A lesson we should all remember.


4 thoughts on “That Will Teach Me To Read Other People’s Letters

  1. I love reading other people’s letters. I have the Katherine Mansfield – John Murry correspondence, and that between Virginia and Vita; Byron, Thomas Merton, Lytton Strachey, D. H. Lawrence, Flaubert, Burney, Proust, Wharton, Austen, Coward, Hughes, Plath, Charlotte Bronte, the Mitfords etc, etc. I just love discovering who they were as people, and I think letters and diaries just spill the beans in a delicious way.

    1. Some of these I’ve read, Violet, but others are new to me. I’m not sure there’s room on that shelf, but my goodness, I’m going to try and find out:)

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