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Dateline: February, 1547


"Dear Harry" column ends

It is with the greatest sorrow imaginable that the editors announce that the noble, wise and gracious advisor of the lovelorn, an illustrious gentleman of most highest honor and esteem, who hath so ably counseled those yearning for advice and knowledge of matters pertaining to the subject of courtly love, holy matrimony, and the raising of industrious and honorable children for so many years, is no longer of this earth. This most humble and moderate gentleman, preferring to remain anonymous, was content to sign his learned missives of advice as "Harry", and he shall retire from this earth with the modesty he so desired, and notwithstanding entreaties, pleas, or threats, we are determined not to divulge this excellent man's identity. However, we thought it appropriate at this time to submit a retrospective of this great man's most sagacious, grave and judicious pronouncements in response to the entreaties of his supplicants, which are most faithfully recorded as follows:


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From 1510:

Dear Harry,

Sir, you have intimated that you yourself are a most happily married bridegroom, who has had the great fortune to find an intelligent, beautiful and noble lady to share your bed and board. I therefore appeal to you to give me advice concerning my own impending betrothal. My parents are set upon betrothing me to a young heiress in the county, and she is a gracious lady indeed! Howevermethinks her just a bit too elderly for my taste. There is nearly six years difference in our age, which would be a good thing, verily, if it 'twas me who was the elder, since the husband should be the master and teacher of the wife. But, unfortunately, 'tis the lady who holds a higher score of years within her hand. And, though she be comely enough now, shall not her beauty fade with alacrity, while mine shall increase with the natural ripening from boyhood into the full lustiness of manhood? What dost thou advise?

Sincerely,

A Youth


Dear impudent and foolish youth,

Dost thou think only of the marriage bed and not the holy sacrament which is the gateway to it? If the lady be fine and admirable, 'tis no difference if she is the elder by such a small amount as you state. After all, look at how our noble and gracious lord, King Henry, delights in his marriage with the virtuous Queen Katherine, though she be slightly his elder. Dare you to doubt that this happy pair will live in total harmony and will present to England a score of fine Princes and Princesses to attest to the noble and holy union that they have entered within? Remember, above all, that it is one's duty to marry with one who will bring you dignity and honor, not to fulfill that base animal lust which is the scourge of all who do not pursue a holy and virtuous life! Would you prefer an empty-headed, light and buxom young lass over a gracious, grave and gentle woman to be the mother of the heirs God may grant you? Listen to and obey your parents, as they be your just and wise lords even as the good King Henry has, by the graciousness of the almighty, been appointed the guardian over all of this land.

Harry


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From the same year:

Dear Harry,

I am but a poor parish priest, but do humbly attempt to be a wise and learned teacher to those who look to me as one of God's anointed representatives upon the Earth. There has been such celebration and feasting upon learning the news not only of our noble King Henry's accession to the throne, but also of his marriage to the most fair and gracious Queen Katherine. However, a small number of my parish, having taken upon themselves to learn enough Latin as to allow them to read a few passages from the Holy Bible, are somewhat concerned regarding this union. What shall I say to those who look upon the passages in Leviticus forbidding the marriage of a man to his brother's wife, the Pope's dispensation notwithstanding?

Anxiously awaiting your advice in this matter,

Father Robert


Rob,

Thou must indeed be a poor priest if you can not at least think to quote to them from Deuteronomy, wherein it states clearly that it is the duty of a man to marry his brother's widow! How dare any man, no matter of what rank or learning, be bold enough to infer that the Pope would not have the authority to grant a dispensation, or that good King Henry would ever enter into a union that was incestuous. And wouldst thou also call our gracious Queen a liar, and doubt that she came a virgin to our sovereign's bed? It has been proclaimed that the fair Queen already holds a prince within her belly, so what would you make of the curse of childlessness which would descend upon such a forbidden union? I suggest, priest, that you tend to your parishioners, and let those who God has placed over you tend to issues such as this!

Harry


[Editor's note: As a matter of curiosity, the following message, which appears to be from the same Father Robert was received in 1529.]


Dear Harry,

Now that a legatine court has been convened at Black Friars it appears that our noble King Henry himself has doubts as to the validity of his marriage. Though God be praised for taking the blinders off of our benevolent Prince's eyes regarding this matter, there are evil whispers about that he intends to wed that notorious lady, Anne Boleyn, once the annulment is obtained. It is common knowledge that her sister, Mary Boleyn, was the King's mistress for some time. If he is truly concerned over the legality of his marriage due to the question of incest, how could he contemplate marriage to a Lady who is so certainly forbidden to him upon the same theological grounds?

Father Robert


[Unfortunately, dear readers, Harry apparently did not have time to reply to this question, as no response was to be found despite a thorough search of his papers. Shortly afterwards, Father Robert seems to have mysteriously disappeared from his parish.]


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From 1518:

Dear Harry,

I have been wed a number of years, and my good wife hath conceived and delivered upon the childbed on many occasions, but only a daughter hath managed to thrive above infancy. Although she is an obedient child, I sometimes think of sending her away out of my sight so as not to be a constant reminder that I lack a male heir. My wife is of the opinion that we should educate the lass, but I say it would be an affront to God to favor a lowly female with too much learning. What sayeth my wise advisor?

Sincerely,

A Country Gentleman


Dear Sir,

I do so heartily sympathize with you upon the lack of a son at this point, but remember God is gracious, and if He hath sent you a healthy daughter, sons may yet follow. In the meantime, look to the example of our most wise and sober King Henry. He and his Queen are of the mind to educate their fair daughter the Princess Mary so that she may be a bright and illustrious ornament of the English court. A daughter is a precious gift from God, and thou should cherish and protect her from all injustices, and if she show sign of good intellect and temperament, should be encouraged to pursue such an education that would be a good reflection upon yourself. Lastly, I would admonish you to remember that the bond between a mother and daughter is a most holy and noble one, and a separation of the two because of your uncharitable petulance would be indeed heartless and cruel.

Harry


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From 1520:

Dear Harry,

I blush to write such a missive, but I am greatly troubled by a matter that I can not discuss with any of my friends. I have been happily married to my good wife for a number of years, and though she remains a gracious lady, her bed does not hold the same charms it did for me so many years ago. Although God forbids adultery, I confess I have stumbled into it upon a rare occasion with one or two willing and bold maidens who have tempted me to forget my holy vows of matrimony. And lately, I admit I have been having most unpure thoughts about a certain wild, pretty and flirtatious lady who has come to live near me. The problem, my dear advisor, is that, for some unknown reason (for I am a handsome and wealthy man in the prime of life), though she will banter and court with me, she hath so far refused me entry to her bedchamber. The more she shies, the more I am attracted to her. I have tried enticing her with sweet words, both spoken and written and trinkets of increasing value, yet she continues to refuse me. You seem a man of the world, who would understand the need of a man for the feminine comfort his wife is not always able to provide him. How shall I woo her?

A Forlorn Suitor


Oh, foolish, foolish man,

There is not a sadder sight in this world than that of a foolhardy, heartsick man pursuing a maiden who takes advantage of his unrequited love! Yes, even the most loving and virtuous of husbands may have, on occasion, strayed into a coupling with a ripe maiden, but such pursuits should always be conducted as discreetly as possible. You, sir, are tempting fate and making a fool of yourself in the eyes of those around you, and no doubt tongues are already wagging with derision at the sight of a prosperous man prostrating himself in front of a vain and foolish girl. If she will not have you, find another. For myself, I have found that any maid 'tis much the same as another once the heat of wooing and bedding has abated, so it be certainly not worth the disgrace you are bringing upon yourself and your poor wife in such a vain pursuit of a heartless coquette.

Harry


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From 1536:

Dear Harry,

My good wife of many years has, alas, been called from this earth as of yesterday morning, and I will, sadly, be compelled to seek out a new wife as soon as possible as I do not have a son to inherit my property. My good friend has two daughters who are of a marrying age, and has offered that I may have my choice of either one. It is a difficult decision for me to make, for they are as unlike as night and day to one another.
One is tall, with brunette hair and a fiery manner, and many a man has fallen prey to her dark beauty, (though I am sure she remains a chaste maiden.) Her wit is sharp and her tongue, I confess, even sharper. She is proud and disdainful, yet she arouses a passion within in that I can not deny, and that grows daily.
The sister is an estimable woman, small of stature, fair of hair and complexion, and of a manner meek, yielding and submissive, and is most certainly a virgin for there hast never been a serious suitor for her in all the years I have been acquainted with the family. But, truthfully, I fear I would soon be sated with her placidity.

Both women have declared their love for me, the one boldly, the other shyly, though a few close friends have dared to suggest that the ladies are more intent upon claiming the honor, clothes and estate of my late wife than being desirous of myself as a bridegroom.

Kind sir, which one wouldst thou choose?

An Uncertain Beau


Dear Sir:

So, the one hath had many suitors, but remains a virgin? Tread carefully, sir-many a wicked woman hath portrayed herself to be the very paragon of purity to disguise her true colors of a whore, denying herself to one man while wantonly dispensing her favors upon others. One must be quite careful and judicious in choosing a wife, as the qualities that make a mistress exciting become rapidly tiresome in a spouse. You fear you would be sated with the one's placidity? Be more afraid that the other would be a shrew who would tire you out with her endless nagging, for it was never a good thing for a woman to have such control over a man! It is also a great puzzle to choose between two sisters, for verily, a man may first have a great preference for one only to find later that the other is much more desirous. I would counsel, if you must choose between the two, to select the more pliable, conformable and agreeable sister. But, be not despaired-after all, has not our good King Henry has at last found a true and perfect wife in the form of the gracious Queen Jane, after being so woefully deceived in his previous matrimonial endeavors?

Harry


Dear Harry,

I began to lay with women at an early age, and have always boasted of my stamina and robustness in the arena of physical love. Lately, I am ashamed to confess, I have begun to experience, only from time to time of course, some little trouble in fulfilling my connubial obligations, and wonder if thou knowest where I may find help to restore me to my former vigor and potency?

An Embarrassed Man


Dear Man,

I, fortunately, have no personal knowledge of such an embarrassing state of affairs, but it is well known that when a man is having problems, he is oftimes under the spell of a malevolent witch. Be assured, if you are having any problems in this area, it is caused by some deficiency in the lady you are bedding with, and is not an insufficiency on your part. When you find the right lady, all will again be well with you again.

Harry


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From 1539:

Dear Harry,

I am a sad widower, and have been quite content to go without a wife for some time now. Lately, though, divers of my friends have been advising me to marry again, saying it is not good for man to live so alone and to think on the fact that I have but a lone son as an heir. I have sadly concluded that it is doubtless my duty to marry again, but I confess I fear I have neither the heart nor physical prowess to go about wooing a maiden again. Several suitable ladies have been suggested to me, but, unfortunately, all of them live far away from my home. I must be sure that my future bride is suitably agreeable to me, yet I have no wish at my age to go traipsing about the country to have a look at them. Unfortunately, the ladies, for their part, seem loath to come traveling to meet me without a firm betrothal already in hand. Dost thou have any advice for me?

A Lonely Widower


Dear Sir,

I understand your concern perfectly, for though physical beauty is not the most important quality to consider in choosing a wife, neither do you wish to walk blindfolded into such an important matter as matrimony. Do you have no trusted friends or advisors who could meet with the ladies and guide you in choosing the most amiable one? Perhaps you could arrange to have portraits painted of the most promising ladies, for an excellent artist can capture not only the comeliness of the face, but also the splendor of the soul, which I have no doubt would be a great help to you in making this most important decision.

Harry


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From 1540:

Dear Harry,

I am a grown woman, who respects and loves her aged, widowed father as the law and God's commandments require; yet I am at the moment mortally ashamed of him. I have just found out that he intends to take as his new bride a foolish, simple-minded snip of a girl, barely in her teens. I fear he will be laughing stock of the village. How can I make him see reason?

A Dutiful Daughter


Dear Miss,

If there art indeed a dutiful daughter, it would be well for thee to hold thy tongue and respect that your father is the better judge of the situation than you are. For though a woman's beauty blooms early and fades all too quickly, it is common knowledge that the older the man, the more attractive and wise he becomes. Therefore, it is only natural that a man who has doubtless suffered many misfortunes in his life seek out a comely and youthful partner with whom he may spend the last years of his life. No doubt your father will feel an invigorating rejuvenation of both spirit and body upon coupling himself with such a fresh and adoring damsel, and he can be further contented that by taking such a young maiden as a wife, he can be assured of her chastity and virtue.

Harry


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From 1543:

Dear Harry,

I am a young gentlewoman who has been twice married and twice widowed, both of my husbands being a great many years older than I. My family has been urging me to marry again, and I find myself torn between two suitors. One is a bold and impudent young man, near my age, who hath many fine qualities, but little money. My other suitor is an older man, who is greatly endowed with worldly goods, but for whom I bear little, if any, love for. And he is beset with such physical impediments that I fear I should be more nursemaid than wife to him. Also, I have already raised a great deal of stepchildren, and long to carry a babe of my own rather than try to be stepmother again to the assortment of children from his previous marriages. I am afraid that, although the younger man hath many times professed his love for me, he lives in fear of the elder's man's power and influence, and will soon withdraw his suit. Sometimes I think I shall not remarry at all, but pursue my love of reading and learning. What do you advise me to do?

An Unhappy Woman


Dear Woman,

I would advise you to marry the elder, for no doubt he will love and cherish you more than that churlish youth, for if he would so timidly withdraw his suit, he is probably covetous of your wealth and not your personage. Who knows, if the man is as sick as you fear, he will make little demands upon you, and may leave you soon enough a widow for the third time, albeit richer than before. And as for babes, it is common knowledge that a man in his fifth or sixth decade of life is perfectly capable of getting a woman with child. Your stepchildren are ample proof that your were the barren partner madam, as is almost always the case (look at how our poor, unfortunate King Henry has suffered because of the inability of his wives, other than the sainted Queen Jane, to provide him with a legitimate heir.) As for your reading and learning, take care not to pride yourself upon them overmuch, as you should always accede to the greater facility of men over women in all realms, including scholarship.

Harry


Therein ends our column, dear readers. But, despair not, for negotiations are underway and we hope to soon present a new columnist who will answer to letters addressed to "Dear Eddy".