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Letter from Blois

justify the reproach of Pope, that he could not issue an order without losing his time in quest of fine expressions.'


DEAR SIR,-I was very sorry to hear in your last letter that you were so terribly afflicted with the gout, though for your comfort I believe you are the first English poet that has been complimented with the distemper. I was myself at that time sick of a fever, which I believe proceeded from the same cause; but at present I am so well recovered that I can scarce forbear beginning my letter with Tully's preface, Si vales bene est, ego quidem valeo. You must excuse me for giving you a line of Latin now and then, since I find myself in some danger of losing the tongue, for I perceive a new language, like a new mistress, is apt to make a man forget all his old ones. I assure you I met with a very remarkable instance of this nature at Paris, in a poor Irishman that had lost the little English he had brought over with him, without being able to learn any French in its stead. I asked him what language he spoke; he very innocently answered me, 'No language, Monsieur,' which, as I afterwards found, were all the words he was master of in both tongues. I am at present in a town where all the languages in Europe are spoken except English, which is not to be heard, I believe, within fifty miles of the place. My greatest diversion is to run over in my thoughts the variety of noble scenes I was entertained with before I came hither. I don't believe, as good a poet as you are, that you can make finer landscapes than those about the King's houses, or, with all your descriptions, build a more magnificent palace than Versailles.

to Mr. Congreve.


I am, however, so singular as to prefer Fontainebleau to all the rest. It is situated among rocks and woods, that give you a fine variety of savage prospects. The King has humoured the genius of the place, and only made use of so much art as is necessary to help and regulate nature without reforming her too much. . . . But I begin to talk like Dr. Lister. To pass, therefore, from works of nature to those of art in my opinion, the pleasantest part of Versailles is the gallery. Every one sees on each side of it something that will be sure to please him, for one of them commands a view of the finest garden in the world, and the other is wainscoted with looking-glass. The history of the present King to the year 16,1 is painted on the roof by Le Brun, so that his Majesty has actions enough by him to furnish another gallery much longer than the first. He is represented with all the terror and majesty that you can imagine in every part of the picture, and sees his young face as perfectly drawn in the roof as his present one in the side. The painter has represented his Most Christian Majesty under the figure of Jupiter throwing thunderbolts, and striking terror into the Danube and Rhine, that lie astonished and blasted with lightning a little above the cornice. I believe by this time you are afraid I shall carry you from room to room, and lead you through the whole palace; truly, if I had not tired you already I could not forbear showing you a staircase that they say is the noblest in its kind; but after so tedious a letter, I shall conclude with the petition to you, that you would deliver the enclosed to Mr. Montague, for I am afraid of interrupting him with my impertinence when he is engaged in more serious affairs. Tu faciles aditus et mollia tempora nôvis.—I am, etc. BLOIS, 10br, 1699.

1 The sixteenth year of his reign is supposed to be meant.


Lady Mary Wortley Montagu. Familiarly acquainted with both Addison and Pope was Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, the eldest daughter of Evelyn Pierrepoint, Earl (afterwards Duke) of Kingston, who appears to have received a classical education. At the age of twenty-two (1712), she married Mr. Edward Wortley Montagu,1 ambassador to Constantinople, whom she accompanied to the East; and on her journey, and during her residence in the Levant, she wrote those celebrated letters which form one of the most delightful books in the English language. Keep my letters,' she writes to one of her correspondents, 'they will be as good as Madame de Sévigné's forty years hence;' and her prediction has been amply fulfilled. It has been alleged that the essential difference between these two celebrated letterwriters is this, that the Frenchwoman speaks out of the abundance of her heart, and the Englishwoman out of the clearness of her head.' Probably many of her numerous admirers will not altogether concur in the opinion expressed by Leigh Hunt in his apostrophe to Lady Mary Loveable, indeed, thou wert not, what

1 Son of the Hon. Sydney Montagu, and grandson of the Earl of Sandwich.

Letter to her Intended.'


ever thou mightest have been rendered; but admirable thou wert, and ever wilt thou be thought so.' She at first adopted the prevailing style of the wits of the day, but her own good sense, as well as foreign travel and extended commerce with the world, ultimately induced her to abandon their formality and affectation; and accordingly her later letters have generally been regarded as her most brilliant productions. The most interesting of these are addressed to the Countess of Oxford, to her own daughter (the Countess of Bute), and to Sir James Steuart. A third edition of her Life and Letters-in two volumes 8vo,-edited by her great-grandson, the late Lord Wharncliffe, appeared in 1861.


I tremble for what we are doing. Are you sure you shall love me for ever? shall we never repent? ... Reflect now for the last time in what manner you must take me. I shall come to you with only a nightgown and petticoat, and that is all you will get by me. . . . 'Tis something odd for a woman that brings nothing to expect anything; but after the way of my education, I dare not pretend to live but in some degree suitable to it. I had rather die than return to a dependency upon relations I have disobliged. Save me from that fear if you love




Letters to her Sister, etc.



I don't know very well how to begin. I am perfectly unacquainted with a proper matrimonial style. After all, I think 'tis best to write as if we were not married at all. I lament your absence as if you were still my lover, and I am impatient to hear that you have fixed a time for your return. (After alluding to the children of the family in which she was residing, she thus proceeds :-) It furnishes my imagination with agreeable pictures of our future life; and I flatter myself with the hopes of one day enjoying with you the same satisfactions, and that, after as many years together, I may see you retain the same fondness for me as I shall certainly do for you, when the noise of a nursery may have more charms for us than the music of an opera.

TO HER SISTER (cir. 1727).

My cure for lowness of spirits is not drinking nasty water, but galloping all day, and a moderate glass of champagne at night in good company; and I believe that this regimen, closely followed, is one of the most wholesome that can be prescribed, and may save a world of filthy doses, and more filthy doctor's fees at the year's end. I rode to Twickenham last night, and, after so long a stay in town, am not sorry to find myself in my garden; our neighbourhood is something improved by the removal of some old maids, and the arrival of some fine gentle



(cir. 1750).

To say truth, I think myself an uncommon kind of creature, being an old woman without superstition, peevishness, or censoriousness. I am so far from thinking

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