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ried my complaisances lo you farther than I oughi. You make new scruples: yuu have a great deal uf fancy! and your distruste, being all of your own making, are more immovable than if there were Borne real ground lor them. Our aunts and grandmothers always tell us, that men are a sort of animals, that if ever they are constant, 'tis only where they are ill-used. 'Twasa kitid of paradox I could never believe: but experience has laught me the truth of it. You are the first I ever had a correspondence with; and I thank God. I have done with u for all my lite. You needed not 10 have told me you are not what you have been; one must be stupid not tu find u difference in your letters. You eeeni, in one part of your last, lo excuse yourself from having done me any injury in point ot fortune. Do I accuse you of any (
"I have nul spirits to dispute any longer with you. You say you are not yet determined. Let me determine lor you, and save you ihe trouble of writing again. Adieu for eve.r; make no answer. I wish, among the variety of acquaintance, you may find some one to please you: and can't help the vanity ot thinking, should you try them all, you wonl find one that will be so sincere in iheir treatment, ill.nigh a thousand more deserving, and every one happit-r." — Vol. i. pp. 219—221.
These are certainly very uncommon productions for a young lady of twenty; and indicate a strength and elevation of character, that does not ;ilways appear in her gayer and more ostentatious performances. Mr. WortIcy was convinced and ^-assured by them; and they were married in 1712. The concluding part of the iirst volume contains her j letters to him for the two following years. There is not much tenderness in these letters; nor very much interest indeed of any kind. Mr. Wortley appears to have been rather indolent and unambitious; and Latly Mary takes it upon her, with all delicacy and judicious muiiairemeiit however, to Etir him up to some degree of activity and exertion. There is a good deal of election-news and small politics in these epistles. The best of tliem, we think, is the following exhortation to impudence.
"I am ¡find you tliink of serving your friends. I hope it will pin you in mind of serving yourself. 1 need not enlarge upon ihe advantages of money; every thing wo see, und every thing we hear, pni8 us in remembrance of it. If il were possible lo re«tore liberty lo your country, or limii the encroachments of ihe prerogative, by reducing yourself lo a garret, I should be pleased to sluire so glorious a poverty with you: But as ihe world is. and will be, 'tis a sort of duty lo be rich, that it may be in one's power lo do good; riches being another word lor power ; low urds ihe obtaining ol which, the first necessary qualifícalion is Impudence, and (as Demosthenes said of pronunciation in oratory) ihe second ie impudence, and the third, still, impudence! No modest man ever did, or ever will make his fortune. Your friend bord Halifax, R. Walpole, and ¡ill other remarkable instances of
3uick advancement, have been remarkalily impuent. The ministry, in short, is like a play Hi court: There's я little door to get in, and a gréai crowd without, shoving and thrusting who shall he turemos!; people who knock oihere wiih iht-ir elbows, disregard a liitle kick of the shins, nnd siill thrust heuruly forwards, are sure of я good place. Your modest man stands behind in the crowd, is shoved about by every body, hisclothes lorn, almost «queezed to deaih, and sees a thousand get in belon: him, that don't make so good a figure as himself. "If this letter is impertinent, it is founded upon 90
an opinion of your merit, which, if it is a mistake. I would not be undeceived. Il is my interest to believe (as I do) that you deserve every ihing. and are capable of every thing; but nobody else will believe il, if they see you get nothing."—Vol. i. pp. 250—252.
The second volume, and a part of the third, are occupied with those charming letters, written during Mr. Wortley's embassy tc Constantinople, upon which tue literary reputation of Lady Mary has hitherto been exclusively founded. It would not become us to say any thing of productions which have so long engaged the admiration of the public. The grace and vivacity, Ihe ease and conciseness, of the narrative and the description which they contain, still remain unrivalled, we think, by any epistolary compositions in our language; and are but slightly shaded by a sprinkling of obsolete tittle-tattle, or womanish vanity and affectation. The authenticity of these letters, though at one time disputed., has not lately been called in question; but the secret history of their first publication has never, we believe, been laid before the public. The editor of this collection, from the original papers, gives the following account of it.
"In the later periods of Lady Mnry'e life, she employed her leisure in colliding copies of (lie letters she had written during Mr. Uortley'sembassy, and hud transcribed them herself, in two small volumes in quarto. They were, without doubt, sometimes shown lo her literary friends. Upon her return to England for the last time, in 1761, she gave these books loa Mr. Snowden, a clergyman of Rotterdam, and wrote the subjoined memorandum on the cover of them: 'These two volumes are given to the Reverend Benjamin Snowden, minister a! Rotterdam, to be disposed of as he thinks proper. This is the will and design of M. \Vortley iMontngu, December 1!, 1761.'
"After her dealh, the late Earl of Bute commissioned a gentleman Ю procure them, and to oner Mr. Snowden a considerable remuneration, which he accepted. Much to the surprise of lhat nobleman and Lady Bute, the manuscripts wore scarcely sate in Kiigland, when three volumes of Lady Mary Won ley Montagu's Letters were published by Beekeit ; and il has since appeared, that a Mr. Cleland w;is the editor. The same gentleman, who had negotiated before, was again despatched to Holland; and could gain no further intelligence Irom Mr. Snowden, iban that a short time before he parted with the MS.S. two English gemlemen called on him to see the Letters, and obtained iheir request. They bid previously contrived that Mr. Snowdcn should be culled iiwny during ibeir perusal ; and In found on his return that tbev had dieappeared with ihe books. Their residence was unknown to him ; but on the next day they brought back the precious deposit, with many apologies. It may be fairly presumed, lhat the intervening night was consumed in copying these letters by several amanuenses."—Vol. i. pp. 2У—32.
A fourth volume of Lady Mary's Letters, published in the same form in 1767. appears now to have been a fabrication of Cleland's; as no corresponding MSS. have been found among her Ladyship's papers, or in the hands of her correspondents.
To the accuracy of her local descriptions, and the justness of her representations of oriental manners, Mr. Dallaway. who followed her footsteps at the distance of eighty years, and resided for several months in the very Зк2
palace which she had occupied at Pera, bears a decided and respectable testimony; and, in vindication of her veracity in describing the interior of the seraglio, into which no Christian is now permitted to enter, he observes, that the reigning Sultan of the day, Achmed the Third, was notoriously very regardless of the injunctions of the Koran, and that her Ladyship's visits were paid while the court was in a retirement that enabled him to dispense with many ceremonies. We do not observe any difference between these letters in the present edition, and in the common copies, except that the names of Lady Mary’s correspondents are now given at full length, and short notices of their families subjoined, upon their first introduction. At page eighty-nine of the third volume, there are also two short letters, or rather notes, from the Countess of Pembroke, that have not hitherto been made public; and Mr. Pope's letter, describing the death of the two rural lovers by lightning, is here given at full length; while the former editions only contained her Ladyship's answer, in o we have always ho that her desire to be smart and witty, has intruded itself a little ungracefully into the place of a more amiable feeling. The next series of letters consists of those written to her sister the Countess of Mar, from 1723 to 1727. These letters have at least as much vivacity, wit, and sarcasm, as any that have been already published; and though they contain sittle but the anecdotes and scandal of the time, will long continue to be read and admired for the brilliancy and facility of the composition. Though Lady Mary is excessively entertaining in this correspondence, we cannot say, however, that she is either very amiable, or very interesting. There is rather a negation of good affection, we think, throughout; and a certain cold-hearted levity, that borders sometimes upon misanthropy, and sometimes on indecency. The style of the following extracts, however, we are afraid, has been for some time a dead language. “I made a sort of resolution, at the beginning of my letter, not to trouble you with the mention of what passes here, since you receive it with so much coldness. But I find it is impossible to forbear telling you the metamorphoses of some of your acquaintance, which appear as wondrous to me as o in Ovid. oo:: any one believe that Lady H*****ss is a beauty, and in love 1 and that Mrs. Anastasia Robinson is at the same time a prude and a kept mistress The first of these ladies is tenderly attached to the polite Mr. M***, and sunk in all the joys of happy love, notwithstanding she wants the use of her two hands by a rheumatism, and he has an arm that he cannot move. I wish I could tell you the particulars of this amour; which seems to me as curious as that between two oysters, and as well worth the serious attention of naturalists. The second heroine has engaged half the town in arms, from the nicety of her virtue, which was not able to bear the too near approach of Senesino in the #. and her condescension in accepting of Lord eterborough for her champion, who has signalized both his love and courage upon this occasion in as many instances as ever Don Quixote did for Dulcinea. Innumerable have been the disorders between the two sexes on so great an account, besides half the House of Peers being put under arrest. By the Providence of Heaven, and the wise care of his
Majesty, no bloodshed ensued. . However, things are now tolerably accommodated; and the fair lady rides thrrough the town in the shining berlin of her hero, not to reckon the more solid advantages of 100l. a month, which 'tis said, he allows her. I will send you a letter by the Count Caylus, whom, if you do not know already, you will thank me for introducing to you. . He is a Frenchman, and no sop; which, besides the curiosity of it, is one of the prettiest things in the world.”-Vol. iii. pp. 120-122. * “I write to you at this time piping-hot from the birth-night; my brain warmed with all the agreeable ideas that fine clothes, fine gentlemen, brisk tunes, and lively dances can raise there. It is to be hoped that my letter will entertain you; at least you will o, have the freshest account of all passages on that glorious day. First, you must know that I led up the ball, which you'll stare at ; but what is more, I believe in my conscience I made one of the best figures there: For, to say truth, people are grown so extravagantly ugly, that we old beauties are forced to come out on show-days, to keep the court in countenance. I saw Mrs. Murray there, through whose hands this epistle will be conveyed; I do not know whether she will make the same compliment to you that I do. Mrs. West was with her, who is a great prude, having but two lovers at a time; I think those are Lord Haddington and Mr. Lindsay; the one for use, the other for show. “The world improves in one virtue to a violent degree—I mean . dealing. Hypocrisy being, as the Scripture declares, a imo sin, I hope our publicans and sinners will be saved by the open profession of the contrary virtue. I was told by a very good author, who's deep in the secret, that at this very minute there is a bill cooking up at a hunting seat at Norfolk, to have not taken out of the commandments, and clapped into the creed, the ensuing session of Parliament. To speak plainly, I am very sorry for the forlorn state of matrimony; which is now as much ridiculed by our young ladies as it used to be by young fellows: In short, both sexes have found the inconveniences of it; and the appellation of rake is as genteel in a woman as a man of quality: It is no scandal to say Miss-, the maid of honour, looks very well now she is out again; and poor Biddy Noel has never been quite well since her last confinement. You may imagine we married women look very silly : We have nothing to excuse ourselves, but that it was done a great while ago, and we were very young when we did it.”—Vol. iii. pp. 142–145. “Sixpenny worth of common sense, divided among a whole nation, would make our lives roll away glibly enough: But then we make laws, and we follow customs. By the first we cut off our own pleasures, and by the second we are answerable for the faults and extravagances of others. All these things, and five hundred more, convince me that I have been one of the condemned ever since I was born ; and in submission to the Divine Justice, I have no doubt but I deserved it, in some pre-existent state. I will still hope, however, that I am only in purgatory; and that after whining and o a certain number of years, I shall be transated to some more happy sphere, where virtue will be natural, and custom reasonable; that is, in short, where common sense will reign. I grow very devout, as you see, and place all my hopes in the next life—being totally persuaded of the nothingness of this. Don't you remember how miserable we were in the little parlour, at Thoresby ? we then thought marrying would put us at once into sion of all we wanted. Then came though, after all, I am still of opinion, that it is extremely silly to submit to ill-fortune. One should pluck up a spirit. and live upon cordials; when one can have no other nourishment. These are my present endeavours; and I run about, though I have five thousand pins and needles in my heart. I try to console myself with a small damsel, who is at pre
sent every thing I like-but, alas! she is yet in a while frock. At fourteen she may run away with ine buller." — Vol. iii. pp. 178—ISO.
"I cannot deny but thai I was very well diverted on ihe coronation-day. I saw the procession much at my ease, in a house which I filled with my own company; and then got into Westminster-hall without trouble, where it was very entertaining to observe the variety of airs that all meant the same thing. The business of every walker there waa to conceal vanity and gain admiration. For these purnoses some languished and others strutted; but a visible satisfaction was diffused over every countenance, as soon as the coronet was clapped on the head. But ehe that drew the greatest number of eyes was indisputably Lady Orkney. She exposed behind, a mixture of fat and wrinkles; and before, a considerable protuberance, which preceded her. Add to this, the inimitable roll of her eyes, and her grey hairs, which by good fortune stood directly upright, and '(is impossible to imagine a more delightiul spectacle She had embellished all this with considerable шацшпсепсе, which made her look as big again a$ usu;il; and I should have thought her one of the largest things of God's making, it my Jjady St. J*"n had not displayed all her charms in nonour of the day. The poor Duchess of M***se crept along with a dozen of black snakes playing round her face ; and my Lady P**nd (who has lallen away since her dismission from Court) represented very finely an Egyptian mummy embroidered over with hieroglyphics. In general, I could nol perceive but mal the old were as well pleased as the young: and I who drend growing wise more than any thing in the world, was overjoyed to find that one can never outlive one's vanity. I have never received the lone letter you talk of, and am afraid that you have only fancied that you wrote it."
Vol. iii. pp. 181—183.
In spite of all this gaiety, Lady Mary does net appear to have been happy. Her discreet biographer is silent upon the subject of her connubial felicity; and we have no desire to revive forgotten scandals; but it is a fact, which cannot be omitted, that her Ladyship went abroad, without her husband, on account of bad health, in 1739. and did not return to Eneland till she heard of his death in 1761. Whatever was the cause of their separation, however, there was no open rupture; and she seems to have corresponded with him very regularly for the first ten years of her absence. These letters, which occupy the latter part of the third volume, and the beginning of the fourth, are by no means so captivating as most of the preceding. They contain but little wit, and no confidential or striking reflections.— They are filled up with accounts of her health and her journeys; with short and general notices of any extraordinary customs she meets with, and little scraps of stale politics, picked up in the pe!ty courts of Italy. They are cold, in short, without being formal; and are gloomy and constrained, when compared with those which were spontaneously written to show her wit, or her affection to her correspondents. She seems extremely anxioue to impress her husband with an exalted idea of the honours and distinction with which she was everywhere received; and really seems more elated and surprised than we should have expected the daughter of an English Duke to be, with the attentions that were ehown her by the noblesse of Venice, in particular. From this correspondence we are not tempted to make any extract.
The last series of letters, which ex tends to the middle of the fifth volume, and comes down to the year 1761, consists of those that were addressed by Lady Mary during her residence abroad, to her daughter the. Countess of Bute. These letters, though somewhat less brilliant than those to the Countess of Mar, have more heart and affection in them than any other of her Ladyship's productions; and abound in lively and judicious reflections. They indicate, at the game time, a very great share of vanity; and that kind of contempt and indifference for the world, into which the veterans of fashion are most apt to sink.— With the exception of her daughter and her children, Lady Mary seems by ihis time to have, indeed, attained to the happy slate of really caring nothing for any human being; and rather to have beguiled the days of her declining life w:ith every sort of amusement, than to have soolhed them with affection or friendship. After boasting of the intimacy in which she lived with all the considerable people in her neighbourhood, she add.-, ¡none of her lettets, "The people I see here make no more impression on my mind than the figures on the tapestry, while they are before my eyes. I know one is clothed in blue, and another in red: but out of sight they are so entirely out of memory, that I hardly remember whether they are tall or short."
The following reflections upon an Italian story, exactly like that of Pamela, are very much in character.
"In my opinion, all these adventures proceed from artifice on one side, and weakness on iheolher. An hottest, tender heart, is often betrayed to ruin by the charms that make the fortune oí n designing head; which, when joined with a beautiful tace, can never fail of advancement—except barred by a WÍ5.C mother, who locks up her daughters from view till nobody cares to look on them. My poor friend the Duchess of Bolton was educated in solitude, with some choice of books, by a saint-like governess: Crammed with virtue and good qualities, she thought it impossible not to find gratitude, though she failed to give passion: and upon this
Elan threw away her estate, was despisi d by her usband. and laughed at by the public. Polly, bred in an alehouse, and produced on the stage, has obtained wealih and title, aud even found ihe way to he esteemed !"—Vol. iv. p. 119, 120.
There is some acrimony, and some power of reviling, in the following extract:'
"I have, only had time to read Lord Orrery's work, which has extremely entertained, and not at all surprised me, having the honour oí being acquainted with him, and knowing him for one of those danglers after wit, who, like those after beauty, spend their whole time in humbly admiring. Dean Swift, by his Lordship's own iccount, was so intoxicated with the love of flattery, that he sought it amongst the lowest of peuple, and the silliest of women; and wag never so well pleased with any companions as those that worshipped him, while he insulted them. His character seems to me a parallel with that of Caligula; and had he had ihe same power, he would have made the same use of it. That Emperor erected a temple to himself, where he was his own high-priest, preferred his horte to the highest honours in the state, professed enmity to the human race, and at last lost his life by a nasty jesl on one of his inferiors, which I dare swear Swift would have made in his place. There can be no worse picture made of the Doctor's morals than he has given us himselt in the letters printed by Pope. We see him vain, trifling, ungrateful to the memory of hU patron, making a servile court where he had any inierrsted views, and meanly abusive when they were disappointed; and, as he says (in his own phrase), flying in the face of mankind, in company with his adorer Pope. It U pleasant to consider, that had it not heen ior the good nature of these very mortals they contemn, these two superior beings were entitled, by their birth and hereditary fortune, to be only a couple of link-boys. I am of opinion, however, that their friendship would have continued, though they had remained in the same kingdom. It had a very strong foundation—the love of flattery on one side. and the love of money on the other. Pope courted with the utmost assiduity all the old men from whom he could hupe a legacy, the Duke of Buckingham, Lord Peterborough. Sir G. Kneller, Lord Bolingbroke. Mr. Wycherly. Mr. Congreve, Lord Harcourt, &.('., and 1 do not doubt projected to sweep the Dean's whole inheritance, it be could have persuaded him to throw up his deanery, and come to die in his house; and his general preaching against money was meant to induce people to throw it away, thai he might pick it up."
Vol. ¡v. pp. 142—147.
Some of the following reflections will appear prophetic to some people ; and we really did not expect to lind them under the date of 1753.
"The confounding of all ranks, and making a jest of order, has long been growing in England; and I perceive, by the books you sent me, has made а тегу considerable progress. The heroes and heroines of the age, are cobblers and kiichenwenches. Perhaps you will say I should not lake my ideas of the manners of the times from such trifling authors; hut it is more truly to be found among them, than from any historian : as they write merely to get money, they always fall into the notions that are most acceptable to the present taste. It has long been the endeavour of our English writer«, to represent people of quality as the vilest and silliest part of the nation, being (generally) тегу low-born lhems.-Ives. [ nm not surprised at their propagating this doctrine; but I am much mistaken if this levelling principle does not, one day or other, break oui in fatal consequences to the public, as it has already done in many private families."
Vol. iv. pp. 223, 224.
She ie not quite so fortunate in her remarks on Dr. Johnson, though the conclusion of the extract is very judicious.
"The Rambler is cer'ainly a strong misnomer: he alwavs plods in the bea'en road of his predecessors, following the Spectator (with the same pace a pack-horse would do a hunter) in the style that is proper to lengthen a p;iper. These writers may, perhaps, be of service to the public, which is saving a great deal in their favour. There are numbers of both sexes who never read any thing bul such productions; and cannot spare time, from doing nothing, to go through a sixpenny pamphlet. Such gentle readers may be improved by a moral hint, which, though repented over and over, from generation to generation, they never heard in their lives. I should be glad to know the name of this laborious author. H. Fielding has given a true picture of himself and his first wife, in the characters of Mr. and Mrs. Booth, some compliments to his own figure excepted; and I am persuaded, several of the incidents he mentions arc real matters of fact. I wonder, however, that he does not perceive Tom Jones and Mr. Booth to be both sorry scoundrels. All this sort of books have the same fault, which 1 cannot easily oardon, being very mischievous.
They place a merit in extravagant pass'tons; ind
encourage young people to hope |..>r impossible events, to draw ihem out of the misery they curxrc« to plunge themselves into; expecting legai íes from unknown relations, and generous benefactors to distressed virtue,—as much out of nature н nary treasures."—Vol. iv. pp. 239, 260.
The idea of the following image, we believe, is not quite new; but il is expressed in a very lively and striking manner.
"The world is past its infancy, and will no long« be contented with spoon-meat. A collective body of men make a gradual progress in understanding, like a single individual. When I reflect on the vast increase of useful as »ell as speculative knowledge, the last three hundred years has produced, and till the peasants ol this age have more conveniences than the first emperors of Rome h:id any пи :чли*. I imagine we may now be arrived at thai реглха which answers to fifteen. I cannot think we ire older; when I recollect the many palpable 'о-Ь-.з which are s:ill (almost) universally persisted m. Among these I place that oí \Var—a». stiuHj ;> is the boxing of school-boys; and whenever we come* to man's esta:e (perhaps a thousand years hence',, [ do not doubt it will appear as ndirulous as the pranks of unlucky lads. Several discoveries will then be made, and several truths made cleir. o;" which we have now no more idea than the агюег.'* had of the circulation of the blood, or the optkaof Sir Isaac Newton."—Vol. v. pp. 15, 16.
After observing, that in a preceding letter, her Ladyship declares, that "it is eleven years since she saw herself in a glass, being so little pleased with the figure she was then beginning to make in it." we shall cloee these extracts with the following more favourable account of her philosophy.
"I no more expect to arrive at the age of the Duchess of Marlborough, than to that ot MeihaHlern; neither do I desite it. I have long tboogbt myself useless to the world. I have ef-n une gentration pass away, and it is gone; for I think tben are very lew of those left that flourished in my youth. You will perhaps call these melarcbolv reflections; but they are not so. There u a quid after the abandoning of pursuits, something hketfae rest that follows a laborious dar. I tell yon ito for your comfort. It was formerly • terrifying view to me. that I should one day be an old womin. 1 now find that nature has provided pleasures t'-T every state. Those only are unhappy who ».л not be contented with w hat she gives, but strive te break through her laws, by arTi-ciing a perpetry of youth,—which appears to n e as little dtrtraMe at present as the babies do to you. that were th* delight of your infancy. 1 am at the end of BJ paper, which shortens the sermon."
Vol. iv. pp. 314, 31i
Upon the death of Mr. Wortley in 1761, Lady Mary returned to England, and died there in October 1762, in the 73d year of her age. From the large extracts which we htve been tempted to make from her correspondence, our readers will easily be enabled to judge of the character and genius oí tbjsejtraordinary woman. A little spoiled by (littery, and not altogether "undebanched by the world," she seems to have posseiafti ^ masculine solidity of understand»):?, créai liveliness of fancy, and such power» of ol> servation and discrimination ot character, a* to ¡rive her opinions great authority on all tie ordinary subjects of practical manners ar-<i conduct. After her marriage, she seem» -ч have abandoned all idea of laborious or regular study, and to have been raised to the station of a literary character merely by her vivacity and her love of amusement and anecdote. The great charm of her letters is certainly the extreme ease and facility with which every thing is expressed, the brevity and rapid ty of her representations, and the elegant simplicity of her diction. While they unite almost all the qualities of a pood style, there is nothing of the professed author in them: nothing that seems to have been composed, or to have engaged the admiration of the writer. She appears to be quite unconscious either of merit or of exertion in what she is doing; and never stops to bring out a thought, or to turn an expression, with the cunning of a practised rhetorician. The letters from Turkey will probably continue to be more universally read than any of those that are now given for the first time to the public; because the subject commands a wider and more permanent interest, than the personalities and unconnected remarks with which the rest of the correspondence is filled. At the same time, thé love of scandal and of private history is so great, that these letters will be highly relished, as long as the names they contain are remembered ;—and then they will become curious and interesting, as exhibiting a truer picture of the manners and fashions of the time, than is to be found in most other publications.
The Fifth Volume contains also her Ladyi-hip's poems, and two or three trifling papers that are entitled her Essays. Poetry, at least
the polite and witty sort of poetry which Lady Mary has attempted, is much more of an aft than prose-writing. We are trained to the latter, by the conversation of good society; but the former seems always to require a good deal of patient labour and application. This her Ladyship appears to have disdained; and accordingly, her poetry, though abounding in lively conceptions, is already consigned to that oblivion in which mediocrity is destined, by an irrevocable sentence, to slumber till the end of the world. The Essays are extremely insignificant, and have no other merit, that we can discover, but that they are very few and very short.
Of Lady Mary's friendship and subsequent rupture with Pope, we have not thought it necessary to say any thing; bolh because we are of opinion that no new lights are thrown upon it by this publication, and because we have no desire to awaken forgotten scandals by so idle a controversy. Pope was undoubtedly a flatterer, and was undoubtedly sufficiently irritable arid vindictive; but whether his rancour was stimulated, upon this occasion, by any thing but caprice or jealousy, arid whether he was the inventor or the echo of the imputations to which he has given notoriety, we do not pretend to determine. Lady Mary's character was certainly deficient in that cautious delicacy which is the best guardian of female reputation ; and there seems to liave been in her conduct something of that intrepidity which naturally irives rise to misconstruction, by setting at defiance the maxim» of ordinary discretion.
The Life of the Right Honourable John Philpot Curran, late Master of the Rolls in Ireland. By his Son, William Henry Curran, Barrister-at-law. 8vo. 2 vols, pp.970. London: 1819.
This is really a very good book; and not less instructive in its moral, and general scope, than curious and interesting in its details. It is a mixture of Biography and History—and avoids the besetting sins of both species of composition—neither exalting the hero of the biography into an idol, nor deforming the history of a most agitated period with any spirit of violence or exaggeration. It is written, on the contrary, as it appears to us, with singular impartiality and temper—and the style is not less remarkable than the sentiments: For though it is generally elegant and spirited, it is without any of those peculiarities м hich the aiie, the parentage, and the country of the author would lead us to expect :—And we may say. indeed, of the whole work, looking bolh to the matter and the manner, that it has no defects from which it could be gathered that it was written cither by a Young man—or an Irishman—or by the Son of the person whose history it professes to record—though it has attractions which probably could riot have
¡ existed under any other conditions. The distracting periods of Irish story are still almost too recent to be fairly delineated—and no Irishman, old enough to have taken a part in the transactions of 1780 or 1798, could weL1 be trusted as their historian—while no one but a native, and of the blood of some of the chief actors, could be sufficiently acquainted with their motives and characters, to communicate that life and interest to the details which shine out in so many passages of the volumes before us. The incidental light which they throw upon the national chaiacter and state of society in Ireland, and the continual illustrations they afford of their diversity from оЛ own, is perhaps of more value than the particular facts from which it results; and stamp upon the woik the same peculiar attraction which we formerly ascribed to Mr. Hardy's life of Lord C'harU mont.
To qualify this extraordinary praise, we must add, that the limits of the private and the public story are not very well observed.