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different is the apparition of the from her birth-in the year 1690. heroic Maid or the patriot Queen. We do not pretend that she ever Women crowd closely upon the came up to the ideal of her name ; great highroad of the past. The un- but the young creature was sweet obtrusive domestic creature which and fair, as well as sprightly and is held up to us as the great model full of life, in the early days which and type of the sex, could never be she makes dimly apparent in her guessed at as its representative, did letters. The first incident in her we form our ideas according to ex- story conveys a curious foretaste perience and evidence, instead of and prevision of her whole career. under the happy guidance of the Her mother died when she was a conventional and imaginary. Every child; and her father was one of other kind and fashion of woman, those gay and easy men of pleasure except that correct and abstract who are the sternest and most being, is to be found in history; immovable of domestic tyrants. women who are princes, heroines, He was very fond of her so long martyrs, givers of good and of evil as she was a baby unable to cross counsel, leaders of parties, makers his will-proud of her infant beauty of wars.
Their robes mingle with and wit, and the first rays of an the succincter garments of states- intelligence which was afterwards men and soldiers round them, with one of the keenest and brightest an equality of position and interest of her time. He was a Whig and such as no theory knows. Nor is a man of the highest fashion, the butterfly-woman any commoner and “of course belonged to the than the man - butterfly in the Kitcat Club.”. At one of the world of fashion and gossip dead meetings of this “ gay and gallant and gone. The example we choose community," the object of which
. is of the best kind of the species, a was “to choose toasts for the higher specimen than the twin- year,” Lord Dorchester (such becreature, Horace Walpole, for ex- ing his title at the time; he was afample, who occupies something like terwards Duke of Kingston) nomia similar rank in the unimpassioned nated his little daughter, aged chronicle. There are qualities in eight, declaring that she was far Lady Mary which are quite above prettier than any lady on their the range of her brother gossip, list. The other members of the and a human interest which tran- Club objected that their rules forscends any claim of his; but yet bade the election to such an honthe light which flashes out from our of any unknown beauty, upon her delicate lantern upon every which ensued the following characscene through which she passes, and teristic scene :upon the voiceless, unluminous
" "Then you shall see her!' cried he; mass around her, is the kind of and in the gaiety of the moment sent light to which we have just re- orders home to have her finely dressed ferred-not the illumination from and brought to him at the tavern, above, but the level ray which goes
where she was received with acclamain and out amid the crowd, and tions, her claim unanimously allowed,
her health drunk by every one present, reveals everywhere, in the little
and her name engraved in due form on spot of radiance round her figure, a drinking-glass. The company conthe thronging forms, the half-seen sisting of some of the most eminent faces, the gestures and fashions, men in England, she went from the lap the cries and exclamations of the of one poet, or patriot, or statesman, generation which is past.
to the arms of another, was feasted Mary Wortley Montagu was born
with sweetmeats, overwhelmed with
caresses, and what, perhaps, already Mary Pierrepont, of noble family pleased her better than either, heard and many gifts—Lady Mary, soft- her wit and beauty loudly extolled on est and sweetest of all titles, every side. Pleasure, she said, was
too poor a word to express her senti- She describes herself in one of her ments they amounted to ecstasy; youthful letters as living surroundnever again throughout her whole future ed with dictionaries, and teachlife did she spend so happy a day. Her father carried on the frolic
; and, ing herself the learned tongue we may conclude, confirmed the taste which was so great a distinction by having her portrait painted for the to her in those days. “My own club-room that she might be enrolled education was one of the worst a regular toast.”
in the world,” she says, when This is the first appearance of writing to her daughter nearly the poor motherless child in the half a century after, “ being exgay world she was to amuse and in- actly like Clarissa Harlowe's; her fluence so long. After so ecstatic a pious Mrs Norton so perfectly reglimpse of the triumphs which await- sembling my governess, who had ed her, she was sent back to the ob- been nurse to my mother, I could scurity and seclusion which is the almost fancy the author was accommon fate of young-womanhood quainted with her. She took so in the bud; but which, no doubt, much pains from my infancy to fill after the above scene, was still my head with superstitious tales and more distasteful to the little beauty false notions, it was none of her than it is in general to the cap- fault that I am not at this day tive princesses in their pinafores. afraid of witches and hobgoblins, There is a little controversy as to
or turned Methodist." There were the mode of her education, of which three girls brought up in this way her first polite biographer declares in the family house at Thoresby, that “ the first dawn of her genius which, like all the country houses of opened so auspiciously that her the period, was a place of penance father resolved to cultivate the ad- and suffering to the possessors. vantages of nature by a sedulous “Don't you remember how miserattention to her early instruction. able we were in the little parlour at A classical education was not usu- Thoresby?” Lady Mary writes to ally given to English ladies of her sister Lady Mar, when they quality when Lady Mary Pierre- were both in full possession of the pont received one of the best,” freedom of maturer life, though life adds the courtly historian. · Un- had not turned out so triumphant der the same preceptors as Viscount as the girls supposed. “We then Newark, her brother, she acquired thought marrying would put us the elements of the Greek, Latin, and at once into possession of all we French languages with the greatest wanted," she adds, no doubt with success. When she had made a a sigh over the vain supposition. singular proficiency, her studies And yet the parlour at Thoresby were superintended by Bishop cannot have been so very dull Burnet, who fostered her superior after all, and a pretty picture of talents with every expression of girlish occupation might be made dignified praise.” This is very fine out of the few indications supplied language, and there is a dignified by Lady Louisa Stuart in her inconsciousness throughout the nar- troductory anecdotes to her grandrative that its subject is a person mother's letters. “She possessed of quality, and not to be spoken and left after her the whole library of in the vulgar tongue ; but the of Mrs Lennox’s ‘Female Quixote, fact is very doubtful, and seems to Cleopatra,' Cassandra,' Clelia,' have had no greater foundation "Cyprus,' \Pharamond,' Ibrahim, than the existence of a translation &c. &c., all, like the Lady Arabella's of the 'Enchiridion' of Epictetus collection, ''Englished' mostly by which Lady Mary executed in the persons of honour.” In a blank ambition of her youth, and which page of one of these great folios Bishop Burnet corrected for her. “Lady Mary had written in her
fairest youthful hand the names acquired legitimately under her and characteristics of the chief brother's tutor or by private efforts personages, thus :—' The beautiful of her own. Diana, thé volatile Climene, the When Lady Mary was twenty she melancholy Doris, Celadon the sent her translation of Epictetus to faithful, Adamas the wise,' and so Bishop Burnet, with a letter in on,”—a pretty piece of girlish en- which the charming unconscious thusiasm which everybody who has pedantry of youth breaks out in had to do with such budding crea- curious contrast with the light and tures will appreciate. She “ got by not particularly refined epistles heart all the poetry that came in which at the same period she was her way, and indulged herself in writing to her youthful friends. It the luxury of reading every romance was “the work of one week of my as yet invented," a custom which solitude,” she says; and with simstood her in great stead in after ple artfulness begs her corresponlife, and at the same time did not dent to believe that her sole object prevent the translation of Epicte- in sending it to him was “to ask tus, nor the perusal apparently of your Lordship whether I have unmany grave authors. Besides all
derstood Epictetus ?” “My sex is these labours and recreations, the usually forbid studies of this nagirl, as she grew up, had the duties ture,” adds the girl, with the oftof the mistress of the house laid on
repeated plaint of womankind. her shoulders-no small matter in “ We are taught to place all our those days. No dîner Russe, blessed art in adorning our outward forms, modern invention, had then been and permitted without reproach to thought of. Poor Lady Mary had
carry that custom even to extravato take lessons three times a
gancy, while our minds are entirely week from “a professed carving- neglected, and, by disuse of reflecmaster, who taught the art scienti- tion, filled with nothing but the fically,” in order to be prepared for trifling objects our eyes are daily her father's “public days ;” and entertained with. This custom, so on these public days ate her own long established and industriously dinner alone before the laborious upheld, makes it even ridiculous to social meal came on, to be fortified go out of the common road, and for its duties.
forces one to find as many excuses “Each joint was carried up in its as if it were a thing altogether turn to be operated upon by her, and by criminal not to play the fool in her alone, since the peers and knights concert with other women of quaon either hand were so far from being lity.” The young lady goes on bound to offer their assistance that the very master of the house, posted oppo
to give her reverend counsellor a site to her, might not act as her crou
curious sketch of the manner in pier; his department was to push the which“ any man of sense that finds bottle after dinner. As for the crowd it either his interest or his pleasof guests, the most inconsiderable ure” can corrupt women of quaamong theni—the curate, or subaltern, lity, in consequence of their careor squire's younger brother-if suffered less education, - a matter which through her neglect to help himself to a slice of mutton placed before him, Lady Mary and everybody belongwould have chewed it in bitterness, and ing to her evidently thinks a quite gone home an affronted man, half in- natural and edifying subject for clined to give a wrong vote at the next discussion on the part of a young election."
woman just out of her teens; and Hot from such tedious and trying the letter is concluded by a long labours, no wonder the girl was Latin quotation from Erasmus. glad to take refuge in the Grand But for that one wonderful touch Cyrus, or bury her anatomical woes about the man of sense and the in Latin, whether that Latin was women of quality, the letter is
amusingly natural in its artificial-genius. Few things have ever provness and eager strain after the calm ed more charming to the feminine of learning. It is the only bit of imagination in youth, than that pedantry in the collection. Lady lordly superiority which, alas ! so Mary and her descendants to the seldom stands a closer examination. fourth and fifth generation evi- Female education, Lady Louisa dently bear a modest consciousness Stuart informs us, was at so low an that this ‘Enchiridion' is a feather ebb, “ that Mr Wortley, however in the family cap.
fond of his sister, could have no But she had other things on her particular motive to seek the achands than translations. Among quaintance of her companions.” her friends one of the best-beloved But yet Fate beguiled the young was a certain Mistress Anne Wortley, hero, notwithstanding the debasewhose acquaintance was to deter- ment of womankind, and his own mine Lady Mary's life. Mrs Anne lofty sense of a higher being. This had a brother, young, handsome, and was how his downfall befell: promising—a young man of family and fashion. This hero of the tale the greater when, one afternoon, having
“ His surprise and delight were all was in general, we are told, supę- by chance loitered in her apartment till rior to female society. His grand- visitors arrived, he saw Lady Mary daughter is indignant at the idea Pierrepont for the first time; and on that Mr Edward Wortley was
entering into conversation with her, dull, phlegmatic country gentle-found, in addition to beauty that
charmed him, not only brilliant wit, man, of a tame genius and moderate
but a thinking and cultivated mind. capacity, of parts more solid than
He was especially struck with the disbrilliant," as has been unkindly
covery that she understood Latin, and said. But the fact is, that the im- could relish his beloved classics. Somepression to be derived of Lady thing that passed led to the mention of Mary's husband from the sole re- Quintus Curtius, which she said she cord in which he figures—that in had never read. This was a fair handle which his wife stands out so clear she received a superb edition of the
for a piece of gallantry. In a few days and crisp and vivid—is of the author, with these lines facing the titlevaguest and faintest character. He page :is as indistinct as the hero in a
“ Beauty like this had vanquished Persia lady's novel. Certain general ideas
shown, of truth, straightforwardness, stern- The Macedon had laid his empire down, ness, &c., are shadowed forth in And polished Greece obeyed a barbarous him ; but as to individuality, the Had wit so bright adorned a Grecian
throne. man does not possess such a thing, dame, either from the fault of the writer The amorous youth had lost his thirst for
- which is scarcely to be supposed Nor distant India sought through Syria's -or from his own. This dim being
plain; was, however, young when the two But to the Muses' stream with her bad met. He was, we are told, “a firstrate scholar.” “ Polite literature
And thought her lover more than Am
mon's son." was his passion." He was the friend of Addison, and formed part of the So changed have manners bebrilliant society which encircled that come since those days, that the delicate wit. With all this prestige nearest analogy to this curious surrounding him, and clothed with beginning of courtship must be that indefiniteness of youth which looked for among our housemaids it is so easy to suppose full of hope and the faithful youths who “ keep and promise, no doubt he was a company” with them.
But we striking apparition in the eyes of the suppose it was all right in 1710, or girl who chafed at her own igno- anyhow Lady Mary had no mamma rance, and courted the approach of to do what was proper, and send
back the premature offering. Per parties concerned in whom the haps it was the first time that reader feels any interest, was perQuintus Curtius had served such a emptorily condemned, after all the purpose. The correspondence was pretty preliminaries of her quaint carried on for some time by means courtship, to forget her doctrinaire of Mistress Anne, who is suspected and accept another suitor. The girl of having sent her brother's fervid resisted, but in vain. She begged communications under her own to be but left alone-to be allowed name to her dear Lady Mary. Very to give up both wooers, and remain soon, however, poor Mistress Anne in her father's house—but withdied in the bloom of her beauty out success. The few letters to and youth; and the two, who were her friends which are preserved by this time, in their way, lovers, belonging to this period of her life had to carry on their traffic di- are not more refined than the age ; rectly, without any intermediacy. but her conduct at this crisis is deThen the character of the corre- cidedly more refined and delicate spondence changed. We cannot than was to be expected in the bebut suspect that the lover must ginning of the eighteenth century. have been something of a prig. It is true she kept up a private He who began his wooing by means correspondence with the philosoof Quintus Curtius, soon found out phical Wortley, and finally ran that though he was in love he did away with him; but her letters are not approve of himself for it; nor did free from every taint of coarseness, he at all approve of her, the cause of and full of modest and womanly his unsuitable passion. He loved her sentiment, scarcely to be looked for because he could not helpit; against in the circumstances. A more curi. his will. His taste and his heart ous correspondence between lovers might be satisfied, but the same was never given to the world. On his could not be said for his judgment. side there is no doubt a certain glow His letters are (again) like those of of restrained passion kept in curb the superior hero of a novel, bound by an almost dislike, a sense of to the frivolous, flighty, beautiful superiority and unsuitability, which creature whom he doubts and dis- becomes comical in its seriousness. approves of, but cannot tear him. On hers there is no passion. She self away from. Nor was this all. is grateful for the love by which When he had at last screwed his she has been distinguished by a courage to the point of a proposal, man whom, in her girlish humility, other obstacles came in the way she is ready to take at his own estiMr Wortley was a theorist, a doc- mate, and consider as superior as trinaire, a man of opinions. He he believes himself to be. No was opposed, like the ‘Spectator' doubt Quintus Curtius and the and · Tatler,' to the laws of entail
. classics, and the flattering sense Indeed, his historian insinuates that it was her own superiority to that on this point it must have been most women which had determined he who inspired Steele and Addi- his choice of her, had dazzled the son, neither of these worthies having young creature. She is affectionate, anything to entail-a true piece of and humble in heraffection; puzzled, characteristic contempt for the mere but anxious to do what will please professional writer, worthy of a him, if only he will be candid, and person of quality. But Lord Dor- let her know what he is aiming at. chester did not appreciate Mr It is a virgin soul which speaks, Wortley's fine sentiments. When unmoved by any fiery inspiration every argument had failed to con- of love, tenderly unimpassioned, vince the philosophical lover, the willing to be his wife, most unwiltreaty came to an end, and poor ling to be the wife of another man. Lady Mary, the only one of the Perhaps this calm but anxious con