Dear Visitor, These dilemmas are often highly salacious, so forgive me for asking:
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I do have your best interests at heart, trust me...

Yours, Chiffinch

Anne Hyde discussing her husband's infidelities with a Lady in Waiting Henry Sidney propositions Anne Hyde

My husband cheats relentlessly – now I’m pursued by the most handsome man at Court

— Dear Chiffinch,

Everyone knows that my husband, best viagra the King’s brother, cheats on me relentlessly – and his mistresses aren’t even beautiful.

Before we married I was his mistress too. Whilst I was Maid of Honour to his brother’s wife he seduced me, promising to marry me, and I became pregnant. Despite some jealous people spreading terrible lies about my youthful ‘indiscretions’, he was true to his word.

I’ve come to accept all this; I do live a good life. Recently, however, I’ve been relentlessly pursued myself. My Master of the Horse, Henry Sidney – whose nickname is ‘Handsome’! – claims his infatuation is making him quite ill.

What should I do?

— Yours, Anne Hyde
— Dear, Anne Hyde

You have, I am sure, been the most wonderfully patient and dutiful servant to your Lord, the Duke, for many a long year. Your loyalty and service are without question, and not without provocation. It is of course, a universal truth that, despite such provocation, a gentlewoman must remain true to her husband and Lord. It is God’s law.

However, I have also heard it argued, by a notable divine, that a lady’s grace and compassion should also be extended to those in need. If the noble Lord’s case is as dire and desperate as I have heard, then you have a duty to alleviate his pain. God will not, I am told, judge you harshly for it. Although I would urge discretion, just in case.

It would be improper for me to dwell in detail on how you should act. Perhaps I could instead encourage you to recall some of the stories I once heard tell of a certain Lady’s own adventures before her marriage in a small private closet at Court, when she was uncertain of her present Lord’s attentions. I am sure you will not judge me too harshly for reminding you of them, and of how the said Lady’s nuptials continued despite such youthful indiscretions.

— Yours, Chiffinch

What was the outcome?

Anne Hyde, Duchess of York, first wife of the future James II, started her own Court career as Maid of Honour to her future sister-in-law, the Princess Royal. She was accused of all manner of infidelities at the time of her marriage to the Duke of York, a particular favourite location being a certain closet built over the water, witnessed by three or four swans. This was, in this case, part of a scarcely credible attempt to dissuade James from marrying beneath him.

Frequently, though, women’s reputations were discussed, judged and trashed according to family loyalties, matrimonial competition and political expediency. It might be added, however, that Anne Hyde’s relationship with her Master of the Horse, ‘Handsome’ Henry Sidney,  later became the subject of Court rumour; Anthony Hamilton claimed that Sidney became infatuated with the Duchess, and she acted simply to ‘alleviate his pain’, a justifiable action, it was said, given the Duke’s own relentless infidelities.

Do you agree?

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