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The Fatal Letter

THE following love adventure is recorded in Arthur Wilson’s Life of James I. To clear it of the faults of this author’s vicious style, one must get quit of his expressions.

When the daughter of James the First married the Palatine, many English soldiers of fortune followed her; amongst these gentlemen was one Duncomb, who was an officer in the Earl of Oxford’s company. He left a beautiful mistress behind him in England, to whom he had offered vows of the most faithful passion; accompanied by a promise of marriage. Her fortune was however small, and his father threatened to disinherit him if he carried his design into execution. To alienate his affections from this lady, he sent him to the Palatinate, where he conceived time and absence would efface the impressions which love had made upon his heart. He charged him at his departure never to think of her more, if he wished to be remembered by him. Our lover had been now absent for some time, and his heart breathed with undiminished affection. He resolved to give way to the pressure of his feelings; and for this purpose wrote to his mistress, assuring her, that no threats or anger of his unfeeling parents should ever banish the tender recollection of their reciprocal passion. Our youth, who was a careful lover, but a careless writer, having occasion to write to his father at the same time, addressed his father’s letter, (in which he renounces his mistress for ever) to his mistress; and the letter of his mistress to his father, in which he promises a durable passion. The father, with harsh and cruel indignation, sent to his son a letter of the most unkind nature. Whether it was this letter, or a sense of shame for the mistake that had happened, that she should see he had renounced her; the lover, alive to the finest sensibilities, run himself on his sword, and his death was sincerely lamented by all the English in the Palatinate.