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Sir Walter Raleigh


Sir Walter Raleigh’s dying letter to his wife:

You shall now receive (my deare wife)

my last words in these last lines. My love

I send you that you may keep it when I am

dead, and my councell that you may remember

it when I am no more. I would not by my will

present you with sorrowes (dear Besse) let

them go to the grave with me and be buried in

the dust. And seeing that it is not Gods will that

I should see you any more in this life, beareit

patiently, and with a heart like thy selfe.


First, I send you all the thankes which my

heart can conceive, or my words can rehearse

for your many travailes, and care taken for me,

which though they have not taken effect as

you wished, yet my debt to you is not the lesse:

but I pay it I never shall in this world.


Secondly, I beseech you for the love you beare

me living, do not hide your selfe many dayes,

but by your travailes seeke to helpe your

miserable fortunes and the right of your poor

childe. Thy mourning cannot availe me, I am

but dust.


Thirdly, you shall understand, that my land

was conveyed bona fide to my childe; the

writings were drawne at midsumer was twelve

months, my honest cosen Brett can testify

so much, and Dolberry too, can remember

somewhat therein. And I trust my blood will

quench their malice that have cruelly

murthered me: and that they will not seek

also to kill thee and thine with extreme poverty.


To what friend to direct thee I know not,

for all mine have left me in the true time

of tryall. And I perceive that my death was

determined from the first day. Most sorry I

am God knowes that being thus surprised

with death I can leave you in no better estate.

God is my witnesse I meant you all my office

of wines or all that I could have purchased

by selling it, halfe of mystuffe, and all my

jewels, but some one for the boy, but God

hath prevented all my resolutions. That great

God that ruleth all in all, but if you live

free from want, care for no more, for the

rest is but vanity. Love God, and begin

betimes to repose your selfe upon him, have

travailed and wearied your thoughts over

all sorts of worldly cogitations, you shall

but sit downe by sorrowe in the end.


Teach your son also to love and feare God

while he is yet young, that the feare of God

may grow with him, and then God will be

a husband to you, and a father to him;

a husband and a father which cannot be

taken from you.


Baily oweth me 200 pounds, and Adrian

Gilbert 600. In Jersey I also have much

owing me besides. The arrearanges of the

wines will pay my debts. And howsoever

you do, solues sake, pay all poore men.

When I am gone, no doubt you shall be

sought for my many, for the world thinkes

that I was very rich. But take heed of the

pretences of men, and their affections,

for they last not but in honest and worthy

men, and no greater misery can befall you

in this life, than to become a prey, and

afterwards to be despised. I spoke not this (

God knowes) to dissuade you from

marriage, for it will be best for you, both

in respect of the world and of God.

As for me, I am no more yours, nor you

mine, death hath cut us asunder:

and God hath divided me from the world,

and your from me.


Remember your poor childe for his father's

sake, who chose you, and loved you in his

happiest times. Get those letters (if it be

possible) which I write to the Lords, wherein

I sued for my life: God is my witnesse it

was for you and yours that I desired life,

but it is true that I disdained my self for

begging of it: for know it (my deare wife)

that your son is the son of a true man,

and one who in his owne respect despiseth

death and all his misshapen & ugly formes.


I cannot write much, God he knows how

hardly I steale time while others sleep,

and it is also time that I should separate

my thoughts from the world. Begg my

dead body which living was denied thee;

and either lay it at Sherburne (and if the

land continue) or in Exeter-Church,

by my Father and Mother; I can say no

more, time and death call me away.


The everlasting God, powerfull, infinite,

and omnipotent God, That Almighty God,

who is goodnesse it selfe, the true life

and true light keep thee and thine:

have mercy on me, and teach me to

forgive my persecutors and false accusers,

and send us to meet in his glorious

Kingdome. My deare wife farewell.

Blesse my poore boy. Pray for me, and let

my good God hold you both in his arms.


Written with the dying hand of s

ometimes thy Husband, but now alasse overthrowne.


Yours that was, but now not my own.
Walter Rawleigh


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