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Lady Mary Wortley Montague - Her Life and Letters (1689-1762)
by Lewis Melville
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The Duchess of Kendal at the time of the accession of George I was forty-seven years of age. The King's mother, the Electress Sophia, had commented on her to Mrs. Howard: "Look at that mawkin, and think of her being my son's passion." If a family portrait, now in the possession of Count Werner Schulenburg, may be trusted, she was what is called "a fine figure of a woman"; she had blue eyes and fair hair. She was so tall that she was nicknamed in England "the May-pole." She was certainly determined to make the most of her opportunities, and the more eager because at the beginning of the reign she was very doubtful whether George I would not have hurriedly to retire to Hanover for good and all. So doubtful of the likelihood of the duration of the Hanoverian line in this country was she that at first she declined to accompany the Elector, and she only changed her mind when she found the Baroness von Kielmansegg had decided to go to England. She was in high favour with George, and took every advantage of her influence. She left an immense fortune, which was acquired in ways into which an eulogistic biographer of the lady would not enquire. Certainly, she received for her good offices large sums of money from the promoters of the South Sea Act, she accepted bribes to secure peerages, and, it is said on the authority of Sir Robert Walpole, that Bolingbroke presented her with L11,000 to endeavour to secure his restoration to the royal favour. It may be remarked, en passant, that Spence records that Lady Mary Wortley Montagu said to him: "I would never be acquainted with Lord Bolingbroke, because I always looked upon him as a vile man."

Duchess of Kendal was not content with indulging her passion for money; she, in matters of politics, acted as the hidden hand behind the throne—any services that she rendered were, it is certain, adequately remunerated. Her ascendancy over the King was unquestionable, and Walpole was compelled to admit that she "was in effect as much Queen of England as ever any was, that he did everything by her." She not only used her power in connection with home affairs, but also in matters of foreign policy, and the Count de Broglie, French Minister of the Court of St. James, was urgent in his endeavours to secure her support.

"As the Duchess of Kendal seemed to express a wish to see me often, I have been very attentive to her, being convinced that it is highly essential to the advantage of your Majesty's service to be on good terms with her, for she is closely united with the three ministers who now govern," the Count wrote to Louis XV on July 6, 1724, and four days later returned to the subject: "The more I consider state affairs, the more I am convinced that the Government is entirely in the hands of Mr. Walpole, Lord Townshend, and the Duchess of Newcastle, who are on the best terms with the Duchess of Kendal. The King visits her every afternoon from five till eight, and it is there that she endeavours to penetrate the sentiments of his Britannic majesty for the purpose of consulting the three ministers, and pursuing the measures which may be thought necessary for accomplishing their designs. She sent me word that she was desirous of my friendship, and that I should place confidence in her. I assured her that I would do everything in my power to merit her esteem and friendship. I am convinced that she may be advantageously employed in promoting your Majesty's service, and that it will be necessary to employ her, though I will not trust her further than is absolutely necessary." To these letters Louis replied on July 18: "There is no doubt that the Duchess of Kendal, having a great ascendancy over the King of Great Britain, and maintaining strict union with his ministers, must materially influence their principal resolutions. You will neglect nothing to acquire a share of her confidence, from a conviction that nothing can be more conducive to my interests. There is, however, a manner of giving additional value to the marks of confidence you bestow on her in private, by avoiding in public all appearances which might seem too pointed, by which means you will avoid falling into the inconvenience of being suspected by those who are not friendly to the Duchess, at the same time that a kind of mysteriousness in public on the subject of your confidence, will give rise to a firm belief of your having formed a friendship mutually sincere."

The case of Lady Darlington was different. It was assured generally that she, too, was a mistress of the King, a view that Lady Mary Wortley Montagu accepted, and one which was endorsed by the historians and biographers for more than a century. The first English writer to discover the truth was Carlyle, who in his Life of Frederick the Great said: "Miss Kielmansegg, Countess of Darlington, was, and is, believed by the gossiping English to have been a second simultaneous Mistress of His Majesty's, but seems after all to have been his Half-Sister and nothing more." She was, in fact, a daughter of the Countess of Platen (nee Clara Elizabeth von Meysenbach), not, indeed, by that lady's husband, but by Ernest Augustus, Duke (afterwards Elector) of Hanover, the father of George I. Only Lady Cowper seems to have known this, and to have accepted it as a fact. Yet there was no secrecy concerning the paternity of the Countess, and it was, of course, well-known in the German Courts. Further, it was overlooked that in the patent of nobility in 1721 there is a reference to the royal blood of the recipient of the title, and actually the patent, in addition to the Great Seal, had a miniature of the King and the arms of the houses of Platen, Kielmansegg, and Great Britain (Brunswick-Lueneburg) with the bar-sinister.[2]

[Footnote 2: Refutation of the scandal is to be found in a work published in Hanover in 1902: "Briefe des Hertzogs Ernst August zu Braun schweig-Lueneburg an Johann Franz Diedrich von Wendt aus dem Jahren 1705 bis 1726," edited by Erich Graf Kielmansegg.]

All this at this time must have been very distressing to Lady Darlington, for she was very careful of her reputation, as the following amusing incident, given in Lady Cowper's Diary (February 4, 1716) indicates: "Madame Kielmansegg had been told that the Prince, afterwards George II, had said that she intrigued with all the men at Hanover. She came to complain of this to the Princess, who replied, she did not believe the Prince had said so, it not being his custom to speak in that manner. Madame Kielmansegg cried and said it had made her despised, and that many of her acquaintance had left her upon that story, but that her husband had taken all the care she could to vindicate her reputation, and thereupon she drew forth a certificate under her husband's hand, in which he certified, in all the due forms, that she had always been a faithful wife to him, and that he had never had any cause to suspect her honesty. The Princess smiled, and said she did not doubt it at all, and that all the trouble was very unnecessary, and that it was a very bad reputation that wanted such a support."

In appearance, Lady Darlington was a contrast to the Duchess of Kendal. She was in her youth a good-looking woman, but as the years passed she became immensely corpulent, and Horace Walpole, who saw her at his mother's when he was a child, thus described her: "Two fierce black eyes, large and rolling between two lofty arched eye-brows, two acres of cheeks spread with crimson, an ocean of neck that overflowed, and was not distinguished from the lower part of her body, and no part restrained by stays." He christened her "Elephant and Castle."

For a while, Lady Mary was popular also with the Prince of Wales, who was attracted by her looks and her vivacity. It is recorded that on one occasion when Lady Mary appeared in a gown more than usually becoming the Prince called his wife from the card table to admire her. The Princess came, looked, and then said calmly, "Lady Mary always dresses so well," and went on with her game.

It was impossible, however, even for the most tactful person in the world to be on good terms with the King and the Prince of Wales. It is said of George I that he was of an affectionate disposition and that throughout his life he hated only three people in the world: his mother, who was dead, his wife, who was imprisoned at Ahlden, and his son. It has been said that the trouble began when in his early youth the Prince expressed sympathy with his mother; it may be that it started from the fact that the Prince was the son of a woman who had sullied the honour of the Royal House. It is, however, unnecessary to look for reasons; to hate the heir-apparent was a tradition with the Georges.

Matters did not improve after the accession of George I to the British throne. He disliked his daughter-in-law, Caroline, daughter of John Frederick, Margrave of Brandenburg-Anspach, and spoke of her as "Cette diablesse Madame la Princesse." The opposition was not slow to take advantage of the rift, and planted itself on the side of his Royal Highness. It proposed, on the Civil List vote, a separate revenue of L100,000 for the Prince—which infuriated the King, as it was intended to do.

In 1716 George was anxious to visit his beloved Hanover, but he was torn between the desire to do so and the dislike to leave his son in England as Regent during his absence. Indeed, he almost decided not to go, unless he could join others with the Prince in the administration and limit his authority by the most rigorous restriction. To this, however, the Government could not consent, and Townshend stated that "on a careful persual of precedents, finding no instance of persons being joined in commission with the Prince of Wales, and few, if any, restrictions, they were of opinion that the constant tenour of ancient practice could not conveniently be receded from."

Lady Mary, like the rest of the world, found the Court dull, and she much preferred to spend her time in the more congenial society of men of letters. Addison, she knew, and Steele, and Arbuthnot, and Jervas, and Gay, who presently paid her a pretty compliment in Mr. Pope's Welcome from Greece, wherein he inserted tributes to the ladies of the Court:

"What lady's that to whom he gently bends? Who knows her not? Ah, those are Wortley's eyes. How art thou honour'd, number'd with her friends; For she distinguishes the good and wise."

Pope, too, wrote of her with appreciation:

TO LADY MARY WORTLEY MONTAGU

I

In beauty or wit, No mortal as yet To question your empire has dared. But men of discerning Have thought that in learning, To yield to a lady was hard.

II

Impertinent schools, With musty dull rules, Have reading to females denied; So Papists refuse The Bible to use Lest flocks should be wise as their guides.

III

Twas woman at first (Indeed she was curst) In knowledge that tasted delight, And sages agree The laws should decree To the first possessor the right.

IV

Then bravely, fair dame, Resume the old claim, Which to your whole sex does belong; And let men receive From a second bright Eve The knowledge of right and of wrong.

V

But if the first Eve Hard doom did receive, When only one apple had she, What a punishment new Shall be found out for you, Who tasting, have robb'd the whole tree!

The acquaintance with Pope began shortly after Lady Mary came to town in the autumn of 1714. It soon developed into friendship. "Lady Mary Wortley," Jervas wrote to the poet, probably in 1715 or early in the following year, "ordered me by express this morning, cedente Gayo et ridente Fortescuvio, to send you a letter, or some other proper notice, to come to her on Thursday about five, which I suppose she meant in the evening."

There appeared in March, 1716, a volume bearing the title Court Poems, the authorship being attributed to "A Lady of Quality," who, it soon became known, was Lady Mary. The book was issued by Roberts, who had received the three sets of verses contained in it from the notorious piratical publisher, Edmund Curll. How the manuscript "fell" into the hands of Curll it is not easy to imagine. Curll's account is that they were found in a pocket-book taken up in Westminster Hall on the last day of the trial of the Jacobite Lord Winton. Anyhow, however it came about, the volume was published in 1716, when it was found to contain "The Basset Table," "The Drawing Room," and "The Toilet."

Curll was an excellent publicity agent for his wares. He wrote, or caused to be written, a most intriguing "advertisement" about the authorship of the poems:

"Upon reading them over at St. James' Coffee House, they were attributed by the general voice to be the productions of a lady of quality. When I produced them at Button's, the poetical jury there brought in a different verdict; and the foreman strenuously insisted upon it that Mr. Gay was the man. Not content with these two decisions, I was resolved to call in an umpire, and accordingly chose a gentleman of distinguished merit, who lives not far from Chelsea. I sent him the papers, which he returned next day, with this answer: "Sir, depend upon it these lines could come from no other hand than the judicious translator of Homer." Thus, having impartially given the sentiments of the Town, I hope I may deserve thanks for the pains I have taken in endeavouring to find out the author of these valuable performances, and everybody is at liberty to bestow the laurel as they please."

Pope was furious, and there is a story that he invited Curll to drink wine with him at a coffee-house, and put in his glass some poison that acted as an emetic. What is certain is that the poet wrote a pamphlet with the title, "A full and true Account of a horrid and barbarous Revenge by Poison on the body of Edmund Curll."

The three pieces in Court Poems were claimed by Lady Mary as her own, but this claim was disputed. Pope declared himself the author of "The Basset Table," and it was printed among his works, and he asserted that "'The Toilet' is almost wholly Gay's," there being "only five or six lines in it by that lady." "The Toilet" is included in his collected edition of Gay's poems.

The whole matter is best explained by that sound student of the eighteenth century, "George Paston," who suggests that the truth seems to be that the verses were handed round in manuscript to be read and corrected by the writer's literary friends, and therefore they owe something to the different hands. "George Paston" goes on to say: "Lady Mary was not unaware of the danger of this proceeding, for Richardson the painter relates that on one occasion she showed Pope a copy of her verses in which she intended to make some trifling alterations, but refused his help, saying, 'No, Pope, no touching, for then whatever is good for anything will pass for yours, and the rest for mine.'"



CHAPTER VIII

THE EMBASSY TO THE PORTE—I (1716)

Montagu loses his place at the Treasury—His antagonism against Walpole—Lady Mary, "Dolly" Walpole, and Molly Skerritt—The Earl and Countess of Mar leave England—Montagu appointed Ambassador to the Porte—Leaves England for Constantinople, accompanied by his wife—Letters during the Embassy to Constantinople—Rotterdam—Vienna— Lady Mary at Court—Her gown—Her interest in clothes—Viennese society—Gallantry—Lady Mary's experience—Count Tarrocco—Precedence at Vienna—A nunnery—The Montagus visit the German Courts—A dangerous drive—Prince Frederick (afterwards Prince of Wales)—Herrenhausen.

Edward Wortley Montagu did not long hold office. Lord Halifax, First Lord of the Treasury in the Townshend Administration, died in May, 1715, when his place was taken by Lord Carlisle, who, however, held it only until the following October. Carlisle was succeeded by Sir Robert Walpole, promoted from the less important but far more lucrative post of Paymaster-General. In the new Commission of the Treasury Montagu's name did not appear. Why Montagu was removed has not transpired; it may, indeed, be that he resigned, for he had a strong dislike for the new Minister. There may also have been some family sentiment in the matter, for while Lady Mary was an intimate friend of Walpole's harum-scarum sister, "Dolly," who was now Lady Townshend, Lady Walpole was very decidedly her enemy. Lady Mary presently had her tit-for-tat with Lady Walpole by "taking up" Walpole's mistress, Molly Skerritt.

It may be here mentioned that Lady Mar was at this time living with her husband at Paris, at St. Germain, and that she remained abroad for the rest of her life. She had left England owing to the conduct of Lord Mar in taking an active part in the rebellion of '15. He had set up the Pretender's standard at Braemar, had suffered defeat at Sheriffmuir, and had been so fortunate as to escape with his master to Gravelines. In gratitude for his services, the Pretender created Lord Mar a Duke. Mar lived until 1732, dying at the age of fifty-seven, and he spent the years in losing the confidence of the Jacobites and endeavouring to ingratiate himself with the Hanoverian Kings of England—in which latter quest he was markedly unsuccessful. His Scotch estates were confiscated, and his title attained—the attainder of the earldom was not reversed until 1824.

Montagu, having tasted the sweets of office, even so minor a place as that of a Lord of the Treasury, was not content to enjoy such pleasures as a private life could afford. He desired to be somebody. Probably he worried the Government of the day, possibly he pointed out to the leaders of the Whig Party that he was possessed of parts that should not, in justice to his country, be ignored. He may even have approached the Throne. It is not inconceivable that he made himself a nuisance to all concerned.

Anyhow, it was ultimately decided that something must be done with him. But what? Austria and Turkey were at war in 1716; what better than to send Montagu as Ambassador to the Porte, with a mission to endeavour to reconcile the protagonists? He was appointed to this post on June 5.

It was while accompanying her husband on this mission that Lady Mary wrote her famous "Letters during the Embassy to Constantinople," which constitute a very important document on the state of Europe at the time. It is by no means certain, however, that, in the first instance, these reflections were all cast in letter-form; it is much more likely that some were written in a diary. The letters appear as addressed to the Countess of Bristol, to the Princess of Wales, to Mrs. Thistlethwayte, to Lady Rich, to Alexander Pope, to the Abbe Conti, to Miss Sarah Chiswell, to Mrs. Hewet, to Lady Mary's sister, the Countess of Mar, and others.

At the beginning of August, 1716, Montagu, with his wife and son, and, it is to be presumed, his suite, left England, and, after a very bad crossing, landed at Rotterdam. From that city, the cleanliness of which surprised and delighted Lady Mary—"you may see the Dutch maids washing the pavement of the street with more application than ours do our bed-chambers"—the party proceeded by way of the Hague, Nimeguen, Cologne, Frankfort-on-the-Main, Wurzberg, and Ratisbon to Vienna, where they arrived during the first week in September.

Lady Mary was all impatient to go to Court, for, as she put it, "I am not without a great impatience to see a beauty that has been the admiration of so many nations," but she was forced to stay for a gown, without which there was no waiting on the Empress. Presently the gown was ready, and Lady Mary was presented.

"I was squeezed up in a gown" (she wrote to her sister, Lady Mar), "and adorned with a gorget and the other implements thereunto belonging: a dress very inconvenient, but which certainly shews the neck and shape to great advantage. I cannot forbear in this place giving you some description of the fashions here which are more monstrous and contrary to all common sense and reason, than 'tis possible for you to imagine. They build certain fabrics of gauze on their heads about a yard high, consisting of three or four stories fortified with numberless yards of heavy ribbon. The foundation of this structure is a thing they call a Bourle which is exactly of the same shape and kind, but about four times as big, as those rolls our prudent milk-maids make use of to fix their pails upon. This machine they cover with their own hair, which they mix with a great deal of false, it being a particular beauty to have their heads too large to go into a moderate tub. Their hair is prodigiously powdered, to conceal the mixture, and set out with three or four rows of bodkins (wonderfully large, that stick [out] two or three inches from their hair), made of diamonds, pearls, red, green, and yellow stones, that it certainly requires as much art and experience to carry the load upright, as to dance upon May-day with the garland. Their whalebone petticoats outdo ours by several yards circumference, and cover some acres of ground.

"You may easily suppose how much this extraordinary dress sets off and improves the natural ugliness with which God Almighty has been pleased to endow them all generally. Even the lovely Empress herself is obliged to comply, in some degree, with these absurd fashions, which they would not quit for all the world."

The above passage is the more interesting because it has so often been asserted that Lady Mary took no interest in dress. As a matter of fact, however, there are several indications in her letters that she thought a good deal about clothes.

"My little commission is hardly worth speaking of; if you have not already laid out that small sum in St. Cloud ware, I had rather have it in plain lutestring of any colour," she wrote in June, 1721, to her sister, Lady Mar, at Paris.

"I would have no black silk, having bought here," she said on another occasion; and again, "My paper is done, and I will only put you in mind of my lutestring, which I beg you will send me plain, of what colour you please." "Dear Sister, adieu," she wrote in 1723. "I have been very free in this letter, because I think I am sure of its going safe. I wish my nightgown may do the same: I only choose that as most convenient to you; but if it was equally so, I had rather the money was laid out in plain lutestring, if you could send me eight yards at a time of different colours, designing it for linings; but if this scheme is impracticable, send me a nightgown a la mode."

Apparently Lady Mar was careless or forgetful of the commission, for a little later Lady Mary was writing pathetically: "I wish you would think of my lutestring, for I am in terrible want of linings."

The account of the Austrian Court of the day, as given by Lady Mary, is invaluable, for there is no other available written by an English person accustomed to another Court.

Lady Mary's descriptions of Viennese society are also delightful, and if she wrote of the royal circle with respect, she bubbled over with merriment when writing of folk less highly placed. A letter of hers to Lady Rich is too delicious to be omitted.

"I have compassion for the mortifications that you tell me befall our little friend, and I pity her much more, since I know that they are only owing to the barbarous customs of our country. Upon my word, if she was here, she would have no other fault but being something too young for the fashion, and she has nothing to do but to transplant hither about seven years hence, to be again a young and blooming beauty. I can assure you that wrinkles, or a small stoop in the shoulders, nay, even grey hair itself, is no objection to the making new conquests. I know you cannot easily figure to yourself a young fellow of five-and-twenty ogling my Lady Suffolk with passion, or pressing to lead the Countess of Oxford from an opera. But such are the sights I see every day, and I don't perceive any body surprised at them but myself. A woman, till five-and-thirty, is only looked upon as a raw girl, and can possibly make no noise in the world till about forty. I don't know what your ladyship may think of this matter; but 'tis a considerable comfort to me, to know there is upon earth such a paradise for old women; and I am content to be insignificant at present, in the design of returning when I am fit to appear nowhere else. I cannot help lamenting upon this occasion, the pitiful case of too many good English ladies, long since retired to prudery and ratafia, whom if their stars had luckily conducted hither, would still shine in the first rank of beauties; and then that perplexing word reputation has quite another meaning here than what you give it at London; and getting a lover is so far from losing, that 'tis properly getting reputation; ladies being much more respected in regard to the rank of their lovers, than that of their husbands.

"But what you'll think very odd, the two sects that divide our whole nation of petticoats, are utterly unknown. Here are neither coquettes nor prudes. No woman dares appear coquette enough to encourage two lovers at a time. And I have not seen any such prudes as to pretend fidelity to their husbands, who are certainly the best-natured set of people in the world, and they look upon their wives' gallants as favourably as men do upon their deputies, that take the troublesome part of their business off of their hands; though they have not the less to do; for they are generally deputies in another place themselves; in one word, 'tis the established custom for every lady to have two husbands, one that bears the name, and another that performs the duties. And these engagements are so well known, that it would be a downright affront, and publicly resented, if you invited a woman of quality to dinner, without at the same time inviting her two attendants of lover and husband, between whom she always sits in state with great gravity. These sub-marriages generally last twenty years together, and the lady often commands the poor lover's estate even to the utter ruin of his family; though they are as seldom begun by any passion as other matches. But a man makes but an ill figure who is not in some commerce of this nature; and a woman looks out for a lover as soon as she's married, as part of her equipage, without which she could not be genteel; and the first article of the treaty is establishing the pension, which remains to the lady though the gallant should prove inconstant; and this chargeable point of honour I look upon as the real foundation of so many wonderful instances of constancy. I really know several women of the first quality, whose pensions are as well known as their annual rents, and yet nobody esteems them the less; on the contrary, their discretion would be called in question, if they should be suspected to be mistresses for nothing; and a great part of their emulation consists in trying who shall get most; and having no intrigue at all is so far a disgrace that, I'll assure you, a lady, who is very much my friend here, told me but yesterday, how much I was obliged to her for justifying my conduct in a conversation on my subject, where it was publicly asserted that I could not possibly have common sense, that I had been about town above a fortnight, and had made no steps towards commencing an amour. My friend pleaded for me that my stay was uncertain; and she believed that was the cause of my seeming stupidity and this was all she could find to say in my justification."

But Lady Mary, though only twenty-seven, and therefore, according to her own account, much too youthful for the gallants of Vienna, yet had an experience:

"But one of the pleasantest adventures I ever met in my life was last night, and which will give you a just idea after what a delicate manner the belles passions are managed in this country. I was at the assembly of the Countess of ——, and the young Count of —— led me down stairs, and he asked me how long I intended to stay here? I made answer that my stay depended on the emperor, and it was not in my power to determine it. Well, madam, (said he), whether your time here is to be long or short, I think you ought to pass it agreeably, and to that end you must engage in a little affair of the heart.—My heart (answered I gravely enough) does not engage very easily, and I have no design of parting with it. I see, madam, (said he sighing,) by the ill nature of that answer, that I am not to hope for it, which is a great mortification to me that am charmed with you. But, however, I am still devoted to your service; and since I am not worthy of entertaining you myself, do me the honour of letting me know whom you like best among us, and I'll engage to manage the affair entirely to your satisfaction.—You may judge in what manner I should have received this compliment in my own country, but I was well enough acquainted with the way of this, to know that he really intended me an obligation, and thanked him with a grave courtesy for his zeal to serve me, and only assured him that I had no occasion to make use of it.

"Thus you see, my dear, gallantry and good-breeding are as different, in different climates, as morality and religion. Who have the rightest notions of both, we shall never know till the day of judgment, for which great day of eclaircissement, I own there is very little impatience in your, &c."

Love-making was indeed one of the principal pastimes at Vienna. There was Count Tarrocco (who was in attendance on the Prince of Portugal), and, as she told Lady Mar, "just such a Roman Catholic as you." "He succeeds greatly with the devout beauties here," she went on to say; "his first overtures in gallantry are disguised under the luscious strains of spiritual love, that were sung formerly by the sublimely voluptuous Fenelon and the tender Madam Guion, who turned the spirit of carnal love to divine objects; thus the Count begins with the spirit and ends generally with the flesh, when he makes his addresses to holy virgins." Presently, she teased her sister about this same young man. "Count Tarrocco is just come in," she wrote. "He is the only person I have excepted in my general order to receive no company—I think I see you smile—but I am not so far gone as to stand in need of absolution; though as my heart is deceitful, and the Count very agreeable, you may think that even though I should not want an absolution, I would nevertheless be glad to have an indulgence.—No such thing. However, as I am a heretic, and you no confessor, I shall make no more declarations on this head.—The design of the Count's visit is a ball;—more pleasure—I shall be surfeited."

The "phlegm of the country" surprised Lady Mary, who declared that it was not from Austria that one could write with vivacity—and by her letters at once disproved her statement. According to her, amours and quarrels were carried on calmly and almost good-temperedly. Strong feelings only came into play when points of ceremony were concerned. A man not only scorned to marry a woman of family less illustrious than his own, but even to make love to her—"the pedigree is much more considered by them than either the complexion or features of their mistresses. Happy are the shes that can number among their ancestors Counts of the Empire; they have neither occasion for beauty, money, or good conduct to get them husbands." How far this passion for rank and precedence went is indicated by an amusing incident related by Lady Mary.

"'Tis not long since two coaches, meeting in a narrow street at night, the ladies in them not being able to adjust the ceremonial of which should go back, sat there with equal gallantry till two in the morning, and were both so fully determined to die upon the spot, rather than yield in a point of that importance, that the street would never have been cleared till their deaths, if the emperor had not sent his guards to part them; and even then they refused to stir, till the expedient was found out of taking them both out in chairs exactly at the same moment; after which it was with some difficulty the pas was decided between the two coachmen, no less tenacious of their rank than the ladies."

Lady Mary herself was, of course, unaffected, because, as the wife of an ambassador, she, by their own customs, had the pas before all other ladies—to the great envy of the town.

Lady Mary, who had had enough of solitude during her long residence in Yorkshire, now in Vienna was determined to enjoy herself and flung herself into all the social gaieties. She went everywhere and met everyone. She dined at the villa of Count Schoenbrunn, the Vice-Chancellor; she attended all the assemblies of Madame Rabutin and the other leaders of society, and all the "gala days"; she danced; she went to the theatre, and, then, as a contrast, to a nunnery, which left her unhappy, as, indeed, she put on record:

"I was surprised to find here the only beautiful young woman I have seen at Vienna, and not only beautiful, but genteel, witty, and agreeable, of a great family, and who had been the admiration of the town. I could not forbear shewing my surprise at seeing a nun like her. She made me a thousand obliging compliments, and desired me to come often. It will be an infinite pleasure to me, (said she, sighing,) to see you; but I avoid, with the greatest care, seeing any of my former acquaintance, and whenever they come to our convent, I lock myself in my cell. I observed tears come into her eyes, which touched me extremely, and I began to talk to her in that strain of tender pity she inspired me with; but she would not own to me that she is not perfectly happy. I have since endeavoured to learn the real cause of her retirement, without being able to get any other account, but that every body was surprised at it, and nobody guessed the reason.

"I have been several times to see her; but it gives me too much melancholy to see so agreeable a young creature buried alive, and I am not surprised that nuns have so often inspired violent passions; the pity one naturally feels for them, when they seem worthy of another destiny, making an easy way for yet more tender sentiments; and I never in my life had so little charity for the Roman-catholic religion as since I see the misery it occasions; so many poor unhappy women! and the gross superstition of the common people, who are, some or other of them, day and night offering bits of candle to the wooden figures that are set up almost in every street. The processions I see very often, are a pageantry as offensive, and apparently contradictory to all common sense, as the pagodas of China. God knows whether it be the womanly spirit of contradiction that works in me; but there never before was so much zeal against popery in the heart of,

"Dear madam, &c."

In November the Montagus interrupted their stay at Vienna to visit some of the German Courts. They went to Prague, where the attire of the ladies amused Lady Mary. "I have been visited by some of the most considerable ladies, whose relations I know at Vienna," she wrote to Lady Mar. "They are dressed after the fashions there, as people at Exeter imitate those of London; that is, the imitation is more excessive than the original; 'tis not easy to describe what extraordinary figures they make. The person is so much lost between head-dress and petticoat, they have as much occasion to write upon their backs 'This is a woman,' for the information of travellers, as ever sign-post painter had to write, 'This is a bear.'" From Prague to Dresden, travelling thither by a most alarming route:

"You may imagine how heartily I was tired with twenty-four hours' post-travelling [to Dresden], without sleep or refreshment (for I can never sleep in a coach, however fatigued). We passed by moonshine the frightful precipices that divide Bohemia from Saxony, at the bottom of which runs the river Elbe; but I cannot say that I had reason to fear drowning in it, being perfectly convinced that, in case of a tumble, it was utterly impossible to come alive to the bottom. In many places the road is so narrow, that I could not discern an inch of space between the wheels and the precipice. Yet I was so good a wife not to wake Mr. Wortley, who was fast asleep by my side, to make him share in my fears, since the danger was unavoidable, till I perceived by the bright light of the moon, our postilions nodding on horseback, while the horses were on a full gallop, and I thought it very convenient to call out to desire them to look where they were going. My calling waked Mr. Wortley, and he was much more surprised than myself at the situation we were in, and assured me that he had passed the Alps five times in different places, without ever having gone a road so dangerous. I have been told since it is common to find the bodies of travellers in the Elbe; but, thank God, that was not our destiny; and we came safe to Dresden, so much tired with fear and fatigue, it was not possible for me to compose myself to write."

From Dresden the travellers visited Leipzig, and then went to Brunswick, and afterwards to Hanover, where they paid their respects to George I. It was there that Lady Mary first made the acquaintance of the eldest son of the Prince of Wales, Frederick Louis, himself presently Prince of Wales and father of George III. He was then nine years of age.

"I am extremely pleased that I can tell you, without either flattery or partiality, that our young Prince has all the accomplishments that it is possible to have at his age, with an air of sprightliness and understanding, and something so very engaging and easy in his behaviour, that he needs not the advantage of his rank to appear charming. I had the honour of a long conversation with him last night, before the King came in. His governor retired on purpose (as he told me afterwards) that I might make some judgment of his genius, by hearing him speak without constraint; and I was surprised at the quickness and politeness that appeared in every thing he said; joined to a person perfectly agreeable, and the fine fair hair of the Princess."

Amazed as Lady Mary was at the size of the Palace at Hanover which, she said, was capable of holding a greater court than that of St. James's, and the opera-house which was larger than that at Vienna, what principally amazed her was the orangery at Herrenhausen and what principally delighted her was the use of stoves, then unknown in England.

"I was very sorry that the ill weather did not permit me to see Herrenhausen in all its beauty; but, in spite of the snow, I thought the gardens very fine" (she wrote with enthusiasm to Lady Mar). "I was particularly surprised at the vast number of orange trees, much larger than I have ever seen in England, though this climate is certainly colder. But I had more reason to wonder that night at the King's table. There was brought to him from a gentleman of this country, two large baskets full of ripe oranges and lemons of different sorts, many of which were quite new to me; and, what I thought worth all the rest, two ripe bananas, which, to my taste, are a fruit perfectly delicious. You know they are naturally the growth of Brazil, and I could not imagine how they could come there but by enchantment. Upon enquiry, I learnt that they have brought their stoves to such perfection, they lengthen the summer as long as they please, giving to every plant the degree of heat it would receive from the sun in its native soil. The effect is very near the same; I am surprised we do not practise in England so useful an invention.

"This reflection naturally leads me to consider our obstinacy in shaking with cold six months in the year, rather than make use of stoves, which are certainly one of the greatest conveniences of life; and so far from spoiling the form of a room, they add very much to the magnificence of it, when they are painted and gilt, as at Vienna, or at Dresden, where they are often in the shape of china jars, statues, or fine cabinets, so naturally represented, they are not to be distinguished. If ever I return, in defiance to the fashion, you shall certainly see one in the chamber of,

"Dear sister, &c."



CHAPTER IX

THE EMBASSY TO THE PORTE—II(1717-1718)

Adrianople—Turkish baths—Lady Mary wears Turkish dress—Her description of the costume—Her views on Turkish women—She becomes acquainted with the practice of inoculation—Her son engrafted—Her belief in the operation—She later introduces it into England—Dr. Richard Mead—Richard Steele supports her campaign—Constantinople—Lady Mary homesick—Exposes the British ignorance of Turkish life—Montagu recalled—Addison's private letter to him—Lady Mary gives birth to a daughter—The return journey—The Montagus at Paris—Lady Mary sees her sister, Lady Mar.

The Montagus returned to Vienna for the new year (1717), but late in January went to Peterwaradin, thence to Belgrade, and arrived at Adrianople at the end of March. It was in Adrianople that Lady Mary made acquaintance with the Turkish Bath, which so impressed her that she sent home a long account of it. It was not until about 1860 that they became popular in England, a century and a half later.

"I went to the bagnio about ten o'clock. It was already full of women. It is built of stone, in the shape of a dome, with no windows but in the roof, which gives light enough, There were five of these domes joined together, the outmost being less than the rest, and serving only as a hall, where the portress stood at the door. Ladies of quality generally give this woman the value of a crown or ten shillings; and I did not forget that ceremony. The next room is a very large one paved with marble, and all round it, raised, two sofas of marble, one above another. There were four fountains of cold water in this room, falling first into marble basins, and then running on the floor in little channels made for that purpose, which carried the streams into the next room, something less than this, with the same sort of marble sofas but so hot with steams of sulphur proceeding from the baths joining to it, it was impossible to stay there with one's clothes on. The two other domes were the hot baths, one of which had cocks of cold water turning into it, to temper it to what degree of warmth the bathers have a mind to.

"I was in my travelling habit, which is a riding dress, and certainly appeared very extraordinary to them. Yet there was not one of them that shewed the least surprise or impertinent curiosity, but received me with all the obliging civility possible. I know no European court where the ladies would have behaved themselves in so polite a manner to a stranger. I believe in the whole, there were two hundred women, and yet none of those disdainful smiles, or satiric whispers, that never fail in our assemblies when any body appears that is not dressed exactly in the fashion. They repeated over and over to me, "Uzelle, pek uzelle," which is nothing but Charming, very charming.—The first sofas were covered with cushions and rich carpets, on which sat the ladies; and on the second, their slaves behind them, but without any distinction of rank by their dress, all being in the state of nature, that is, in plain English, stark naked, without any beauty or defect concealed. Yet there was not the least wanton smile or immodest gesture amongst them. They walked and moved with the same majestic grace which Milton describes of our general mother. There were many amongst them as exactly proportioned as ever any goddess was drawn by the pencil of Guido or Titian,—and most of their skins shiningly white, only adorned by their beautiful hair divided into many tresses, hanging on their shoulders, braided either with pearl or ribbon, perfectly representing the figures of the Graces.

"I was here convinced of the truth of a reflection I had often made, that if it was the fashion to go naked, the face would be hardly observed. I perceived that the ladies with the finest skins and most delicate shapes had the greatest share of my admiration, though their faces were sometimes less beautiful than those of their companions. To tell you the truth, I had wickedness enough to wish secretly that Mr. Jervas[3] could have been there invisible. I fancy it would have very much improved his art, to see so many fine women naked, in different postures, some in conversation, some working, others drinking coffee or sherbet, and many negligently lying on their cushions, while their slaves (generally pretty girls of seventeen or eighteen) were employed in braiding their hair in several pretty fancies. In short, it is the women's coffee-house, where all the news of the town is told, scandal invented, &c.—They generally take this diversion once a-week, and stay there at least four or five hours without getting cold by immediate coming out of the hot bath into the cold room, which was very surprising to me. The lady that seemed the most considerable among them, entreated me to sit by her, and would fain have undressed me for the bath. I excused myself with some difficulty. They being all so earnest in persuading me, I was at last forced to open my shirt, and shew them my stays; which satisfied them very well, for, I saw, they believed I was so locked up in that machine, that it was not in my own power to open it, which contrivance they attributed to my husband."

[Footnote 3: Charles Jervas (1675?-1739), portrait painter and translator of Don Quixote, the friend of Pope.]

Lady Mary was much amused by this last, and referred to the incident in conversation with Joseph Spence. "One of the highest entertainments in Turkey," she told him, "is having you to their baths, and when I was introduced the lady of the house came to undress me, which is another high compliment that they pay to strangers. After she had slipped off my gown and seen my stays she was much struck at the sight of them and cried out to the other ladies in the bath 'Come hither and see how cruelly the poor English ladies are used by their husbands. You need boast indeed of the superior liberties allowed you, when they lock you up in a box!'"

Lady Mary had a Turkish dress made for her, which she frequently wore, when she found that the English costume made her unpleasantly conspicuous. "The ladies at Constantinople used to be extremely surprised to see me go always with my bosom uncovered," she noted. "It was in vain that I told them that everybody did the same thing among us, and alleged everything I could in defence of it. They could never be reconciled to so immodest a custom, as they thought it; and one of them, after I had been defending it to my utmost, said: 'Oh, my Sultana, you can never defend the manners of your country, even with all your wit; but I see that you are in pain for them, and shall, therefore, press it no further.'"

Lady Mary was proud of her appearance in her Turkish clothes, and has given a minute description of them:

"The first piece of my dress is a pair of drawers, very full, that reach to my shoes, and conceal the legs more modestly than your petticoats. They are of a thin rose-coloured damask, brocaded with silver flowers, my shoes are of white kid leather, embroidered with gold. Over this hangs my smock, of a fine white silk gauze, edged with embroidery. This smock has wide sleeves, hanging half way down the arm, and is closed at the neck with a diamond button; but the shape and colour of the bosom very well to be distinguished through it. The antery is a waistcoat, made close to the shape, of white and gold damask, with very long sleeves falling back, and fringed with deep gold fringe, and should have diamond or pearl buttons. My caftan, of the same stuff with my drawers, is a robe exactly fitted to my shape, and reaching to my feet, with very long strait falling sleeves. Over this is the girdle, of about four fingers broad, which all that can afford have entirely of diamonds or other precious stones; those who will not be at that expense, have it of exquisite embroidery on satin; but it must be fastened before with a clasp of diamonds. The curdee is a loose robe they throw off or put on according to the weather, being of a rich brocade (mine is green and gold), either lined with ermine or sables; the sleeves reach very little below the shoulders. The head-dress is composed of a cap, called talpock, which is in winter of fine velvet embroidered with pearls or diamonds, and in summer of a light shining silver stuff. This is fixed on one side of the head, hanging a little way down with a gold tassel, and bound on either side with a circle of diamonds (as I have seen several) or a rich embroidered handkerchief. On the other side of the head, the hair is laid flat; and here the ladies are at liberty to shew their fancies; some putting flowers, others a plume of heron's feathers, and, in short, what they please; but the most general fashion is a large bouquet of jewels, made like natural flowers; that is the buds of pearl; the roses, of different coloured rubies; the jessamines, of diamonds; the jonquils, of topazes, &c., so well set and enamelled, 'tis hard to imagine any thing of that kind so beautiful. The hair hangs at its full length behind, divided into tresses braided with pearl or ribbon, which is always in great quantity."

Much that Lady Mary wrote was of great value in exploding many ill-founded beliefs at home as regards Turkish life, and especially concerning the manners and customs of Turkish women.

"As to their morality or good conduct, I can say, like Harlequin, that 'tis just as it is with you; and the Turkish ladies don't commit one sin the less for not being Christians. Now I am a little acquainted with their ways, I cannot forbear admiring either the exemplary discretion or extreme stupidity of all the writers that have given accounts of them. 'Tis very easy to see they have more liberty than we have. No woman, of what rank soever, being permitted to go into the streets without two muslins; one that covers her face all but her eyes, and another that hides the whole dress of her head, and hangs half way down her back, and their shapes are wholly concealed by a thing they call a ferigee, which no woman of any sort appears without; this has strait sleeves, that reach to their finger-ends, and it laps all round them, not unlike a riding-hood. In winter 'tis of cloth, and in summer plain stuff or silk. You may guess how effectually this disguises them, [so] that there is no distinguishing the great lady from her slave. 'Tis impossible for the most jealous husband to know his wife when he meets her; and no man dare either touch or follow a woman in the street.

"This perpetual masquerade gives them entire liberty of following their inclinations without danger of discovery. The most usual method of intrigue is, to send an appointment to the lover to meet the lady at a Jew's shop, which are as notoriously convenient as our Indian-houses; and yet, even those who don't make use of them, do not scruple to go to buy pennyworths, and tumble over rich goods, which are chiefly to be found amongst that sort of people. The great ladies seldom let their gallants know who they are; and it is so difficult to find it out, that they can very seldom guess at her name they have corresponded with above half a year together. You may easily imagine the number of faithful wives very small in a country where they have nothing to fear from a lover's indiscretion, since we see so many that have the courage to expose themselves to that in this world, and all the threatened punishment of the next, which is never preached to the Turkish damsels. Neither have they much to apprehend from the resentment of their husbands; those ladies that are rich having all their money in their own hands, which they take with them upon a divorce, with an addition which he is obliged to give them.

"Upon the whole, I look upon the Turkish women as the only free people in the empire: the very Divan pays a respect to them; and the Grand Signior himself, when a pasha is executed, never violates the privileges of the harem (or women's apartment), which remains unsearched and entire to the widow. They are queens of their slaves, whom the husband has no permission so much as to look upon, except it be an old woman or two that his lady chooses. 'Tis true their law permits them four wives; but there is no instance of a man of quality that makes use of this liberty, or of a woman of rank that would suffer it. When a husband happens to be inconstant (as those things will happen), he keeps his mistress in a house apart, and visits her as privately as he can, just as it is with you. Amongst all the great men here, I only know the tefterdar (i.e., treasurer), that keeps a number of she slaves for his own use (that is, on his own side of the house; for a slave once given to serve a lady is entirely at her disposal), and he is spoken of as a libertine, or what we should call a rake, and his wife won't see him, though she continues to live in his house.

"Thus, you see, dear sister, the manners of mankind do not differ so widely as our voyage writers would make us believe. Perhaps it would be more entertaining to add a few surprising customs of my own invention; but nothing seems to me so agreeable as truth, and I believe nothing so acceptable to you."

The most fortunate thing that happened to Lady Mary, and through her to England, during her stay in Adrianople, was being made acquainted with the practice of inoculation, then widely in vogue in Turkey. Though she had no medical knowledge, she made enquiries as to its effect, and soon became convinced that it was very highly beneficial. She was the more interested because an attack of small-pox had somewhat dimmed her beauty. It was to Miss Sarah Chiswell that she unburdened herself of the discovery she had made.

"Those dreadful stories you have heard of the plague have very little foundation in truth. I own I have much ado to reconcile myself to the sound of a word which has always given me such terrible ideas, though I am convinced there is little more in it than a fever. As a proof of which we passed through two or three towns most violently infected. In the very next house where we lay (in one of those places) two persons died of it. Luckily for me, I was so well deceived that I knew nothing of the matter; and I was made believe, that our second cook who fell ill here had only a great cold. However, we left our doctor to take care of him, and yesterday they both arrived here in good health; and I am now let into the secret that he has had the plague. There are many that escape it; neither is the air ever infected. I am persuaded it would be as easy to root it out here as out of Italy and France; but it does so little mischief, they are not very solicitous about it, and are content to suffer this distemper instead of our variety, which they are utterly unacquainted with.

"A propos of distempers, I am going to tell you a thing that I am sure will make you wish yourself here. The small-pox, so fatal, and so general amongst us, is here entirely harmless by the invention of ingrafting, which is the term they give it. There is a set of old women who make it their business to perform the operation every autumn, in the month of September, when the great heat is abated. People send to one another to know if any of their family has a mind to have the small-pox; they make parties for this purpose, and when they are met (commonly fifteen or sixteen together), the old woman comes with a nut-shell full of the matter of the best sort of small-pox, and asks what veins you please to have opened. She immediately rips open that you offer to her with a large needle (which gives you no more pain than a common scratch), and puts into the vein as much venom as can lie upon the head of her needle, and after binds up the little wound with a hollow bit of shell; and in this manner opens four or five veins. The Grecians have commonly the superstition of opening one in the midde of the forehead, in each arm, and on the breast, to mark the sign of the cross; but this has a very ill effect, all these wounds leaving little scars, and is not done by those that are not superstitious, who choose to have them in the legs, or that part of the arm that is concealed. The children or young patients play together all the rest of the day, and are in perfect health to the eighth. Then the fever begins to seize them, and they keep their beds two days, very seldom three. They have very rarely above twenty or thirty in their faces, which never mark; and in eight days' time they are as well as before their illness. Where they are wounded, there remain running sores during the distemper, which I don't doubt is a great relief to it. Every year thousands undergo this operation; and the French embassador says pleasantly, that they take the small-pox here by way of diversion, as they take the waters in other countries. There is no example of any one that has died in it; and you may believe I am very well satisfied of the safety of this experiment, since I intend to try it on my dear little son.

"I am patriot enough to take pains to bring this useful invention into fashion in England; and I should not fail to write to some of our doctors very particularly about it, if I knew any one of them that I thought had virtue enough to destroy such a considerable branch of their revenue for the good of mankind. But that distemper is too beneficial to them not to expose to all their resentment the hardy wight that should undertake to put an end to it. Perhaps, if I live to return, I may, however, have courage to war with them. Upon this occasion admire the heroism in the heart of your friend, &c."

The immediate history of inoculation, so far as Lady Mary is concerned, may here briefly be given. She first heard of the practice in March, 1717, and within a year her faith in its effect was so strong that in the spring of the following year she had her son inoculated at Pera—he was the first English person to undergo the operation. "The boy was engrafted last Tuesday," she wrote to her husband the following Sunday, "and is at this time singing and playing, and very impatient for his supper.... I cannot engraft the girl; her nurse has not had the small-pox." It is amusing to learn that the inoculation of the young Edward Wortley Montagu proved presently to have an advantage which was certainly not at the time of the operation present to the mind of the mother. At the age of six or thereabouts, the child ran away from Westminster school—he was always running away from school—and a reward of L20 and expenses was offered to whoever found him. The advertisement gave the following clue: there are "two marks by which he is easily known, viz., on the back of each arm, about two or three inches above the wrist, a small roundish scar, less than a silver penny, like a large mark of the small-pox."

When Lady Mary returned to London, she carried out her intention to introduce the operation. Dr. Maitland, who had been physician to the mission to the Porte, set up in practice and inoculated under her patronage. The "heathen rite" was vigorously preached against by the clergy and was violently abused by the medical faculty. Undismayed by the powerful opposition, however, she persevered in season and out, until her efforts were crowned with success. She was fortunate in enlisting the co-operation of that distinguished doctor, Richard Mead, celebrated by Pope in his "Epistle to Bolingbroke,"

"I'll do what Mead and Cheselden advise."

Mead, in 1720, when an epidemic of the plague was feared in London, published a treatise: "A Short Discourse concerning Pestilential Contagion and the Methods to be used to Prevent it." It was reprinted seven times within a year, and an eighth edition appeased in 1722. Lady Mary obtained permission, in 1721, to experiment on seven condemned criminals. Mead supervised the inoculations, and all recovered. In the following year two members of the royal family underwent the operation successfully. Thereafter, it became, in most circles, fashionable.

"I suppose," Lady Mary wrote with pardonable pride to Lady Mar in the spring of 1722, "that the same faithful historians give you regular accounts of the growth and spreading of the inoculation of the small-pox, which is become almost a general practice, attended with great success." Elated as she was at the success that had resulted from her persistent efforts, she was correspondingly distressed when a young relative died of the disease. "I am sorry to inform you of the death, of our nephew, my sister Gower's son, of the small-pox," she said in a letter to Lady Mar in July, 1723. "I think she has a great deal of regret it, in consideration of the offer I made her, two years together, of taking the child home to my house, where I would have inoculated him with the same care and safety I did my own. I know nobody that has hitherto repented the operation; though it has been very troublesome to some fools, who had rather be sick by the doctor's prescriptions, than in health in rebellion to the college."

Among those who supported Lady Mary's campaign was Steele, who congratulated her upon her "godlike delight" of saving "many thousand British lives every year." He wrote on the subject in the Plain Dealer (July 3, 1724), in an article that attracted much attention:

"It is the Observation of some Historian; but I forget where I met with it: that England has ow'd to Women the greatest Blessings she has been distinguish'd by. In the Case, we are now upon, this Reflection will stand justified.—

"We are indebted to the Reason and Courage of a Lady, for the Introduction of this Art; which gives such Strength in its Progress, that the Memory of its Illustrious Foundress will be render'd Sacred by it, to future Ages.

"This Ornament of her Sex, and Country, who ennobles her own Nobility, by her Learning, Wit, and Vertues, accompanying her Consort into Turkey, observ'd the Benefit of this Practice, with its Frequency, even among those obstinate Proedestinarians; and brought it over, for the Service, and the Safety, of her Native England; where she consecrated its first effects on the Persons of her own fine Children! And has, already, receiv'd this Glory from it, 'That the Influence of her example has reach'd as high as the Blood Royal.' And our noblest, and most ancient Families, in Confirmation of her happy Judgment, add the daily Experience of those, who are most dear to them.

"I Have seen a short Poetical Essay, on the Occasion we are now treating of. I wou'd say, if I meant the Verses an Encomium they shou'd be envied for,' That their Subject need not blush at them!'

On Lady Mary Wortley Montagu's bringing with her, out of Turkey, the Art of Inoculating the Small-Pox.

_When_ Greece, _reviving into short Delight, Felt Pride, and Comfort, at_ Our _Muse's Sight: The Rival'd_ Nine _no sooner saw her Face, But ev'n their_ Envy _gave their_ Wonder _Place! Charm'd into_ Love, _of what eclips'd their Fame! They mak'd_ Apollo, _with her pow'rful Name. See!—God of_ Grecian _Wit!_ Urania _cries, How sweet a_ Muse, _the Western World supplies! Say, shou'd she ask some Favour, from your throne, What could you_ bid _her_ take, _that's not_ her own? _Sparkling in Charms, the heav'nly Stranger view So_ grac'd! _she scarce can owe a_ Beam _to_ You! Beauty, _with Love_, her _Pow'r to_ Yours _prefers: And_ Wit, _and_ Learning, _are already_, Hers! _Rous'd, at her_ name,—_receding from her Eyes, The gazing God rose slow, in soft Surprise! Fair_ Miracle, _he said,—and paus'd a while: Then, thus_,—Sweet Glory, _of your envied Isle! Charm'd, and oblig'd, lest, we ungrateful seem, Bear hence, at least_, one Mark _of our Esteem._ One, _Of my three great Claims_, your _Wish may fit; Whose Voice is_ Musick: _and whose Thoughts are_ Wit! Physick, _alone, remains, to grant you, here— A _Skill! your godlike_ Pity _will_ endear. _Form'd to give_ Wounds, _which must no Ease procure, _ Atone _your Influ'nce, by new Arts, to_ cure, _Beauty's chief Foe, a fear'd, and fierce_ Disease! _Bows, at my Beck; and knows its_ God's _Decrees. Breath'd, in this_ Kiss, _take Pow'r to tame its Rage: And, from its Rancour_, free _the rescu'd Age. High, o'er each Sex, in_ Double _Empire, fit: Protecting_ Beauty, _and inspiring Wit_.

When Lady Mary had been abroad for a year, she became homesick and began to long for England. It was really very dull for her in Turkey, even though she could pass the time of day in the language of the country. Supervising the nurses of her child did not take a large share of her tune; and she found only a mild excitement in going into the bazaar in native woman's attire to collect Oriental rugs and whatnot.

"To say truth, I am sometimes very weary of this singing, and dancing, and sunshine, and wish for the smoke and impertinencies in which you toil, though I endeavour to persuade myself that I live in a more agreeable variety than you do; and that Monday, setting of partridges— Tuesday, reading English—Wednesday, studying the Turkish language (in which, by the way, I am already very learned)—Thursday, classical authors—Friday, spent in writing—Saturday, at my needle—and Sunday, admitting of visits, and hearing music, is a better way of disposing the week, than Monday, at the drawing-room—Tuesday, Lady Mohun's— Wednesday, the opera—Thursday, the play—Friday, Mrs. Chetwynd's, &c., a perpetual round of hearing the same scandal, and seeing the same follies acted over and over, which here affect me no more than they do other dead people. I can now hear of displeasing things with pity, and without indignation. The reflection on the great gulf between you and me, cools all news that come hither. I can neither be sensibly touched with joy nor grief, when I consider that possibly the cause of either is removed before the letter comes to my hands. But (as I said before) this indolence does not extend to my few friendships; I am still warmly sensible of yours and Mr. Congreve's, and desire to live in your remembrances, though dead to all the world beside."

There is no doubt that it was to her pen that Lady Mary had recourse in her endeavours to overcome ennui. A perusal of the letters written during this first sojourn in Europe shows that nothing escaped her eye, trivial or serious, from the washing of the Rotterdam pavements to the dwarfs at the Court of Vienna, from the palaces of the great to the cosmetics used by the women.

Occasionally Lady Mary became impatient at the ignorance of her friends as regards the Near East.

"I heartily beg your ladyship's pardon; but I really could not forbear laughing heartily at your letter, and the commissions you are pleased to honour me with" (she wrote to one of her acquaintances from Belgrade Village in June, 1717).

"You desire me to buy you a Greek slave, who is to be mistress of a thousand good qualities. The Greeks are subjects, and not slaves. Those who are to be bought in that manner, are either such as are taken in war, or stolen by the Tartars from Russia, Circassia, or Georgia, and are such miserable, awkward, poor wretches, you would not think any of them worthy to be your housemaids. 'Tis true that many thousands were taken in the Morea; but they have been, most of them, redeemed by the charitable contributions of the Christians, or ransomed by their own relations at Venice. The fine slaves that wait upon the great ladies, or serve the pleasures of the great men, are all bought at the age of eight or nine years old, and educated with great care, to accomplish them in singing, dancing, embroidery, &c. They are commonly Circassians, and their patron never sells them, except it is as a punishment for some very great fault. If ever they grow weary of them, they either present them to a friend, or give them their freedom. Those that are exposed to sale at the markets are always either guilty of some crime, or so entirely worthless that they are of no use at all. I am afraid you will doubt the truth of this account, which I own is very different from our common notions in England; but it is no less truth for all that.

"Your whole letter is full of mistakes from one end to the other. I see you have taken your ideas of Turkey from that worthy author Dumont, who has written with equal ignorance and confidence. 'Tis a particular pleasure to me here, to read the voyages to the Levant, which are generally so far removed from the truth, and so full of absurdities, I am very well diverted with them. They never fail giving you an account of the women, whom 'tis certain they never saw, and talking very wisely of the genius of the men, into whose company they are never admitted; and very often describe mosques, which they dare not peep into. The Turks are very proud, and will not converse with a stranger they are not assured is considerable in his own country. I speak of the men of distinction; for, as to the ordinary fellows, you may imagine what ideas their conversation can give of the general genius of the people.

"I am more inclined, out of a true female spirit of contradiction, to tell you the falsehood of a great part of what you find in authors; as, for example, in the admirable Mr. Hill, who so gravely asserts, that he saw in Sancta Sophia a sweating pillar, very balsamic for disordered heads. There is not the least tradition of any such matter; and I suppose it was revealed to him in a vision during his wonderful stay in the Egyptian catacombs; for I am sure he never heard of any such miracle here.

"'Tis also very pleasant to observe how tenderly he and all his brethren voyage-writers lament the miserable confinement of the Turkish ladies, who are perhaps freer than any ladies in the universe, and are the only women in the world that lead a life of uninterrupted pleasure exempt from cares; their whole time being spent in visiting, bathing, or the agreeable amusement of spending money, and inventing new fashions. A husband would be thought mad that exacted any degree of economy from his wife, whose expenses are no way limited but by her own fancy. 'Tis his business to get money, and hers to spend it: and this noble prerogative extends itself to the very meanest of the sex. Here is a fellow that carries embroidered handkerchiefs upon his back to sell, as miserable a figure as you may suppose such a mean dealer, yet I'll assure you his wife scorns to wear anything less than cloth of gold; has her ermine furs, and a very handsome set of jewels for her head. They go abroad when and where they please. Tis true they have no public places but the bagnios, and there can only be seen by their own sex; however, that is a diversion they take great pleasure in."

In the meantime, Montagu's conduct of affairs was much criticised at home, and Lord Stanhope's Administration, which had come into power in April, 1717, decided to recall him. This invidious task fell upon his old friend Addison, now Secretary of State for the Southern Department. The recall was notified to those concerned in a circular letter dated October 13. Addison, in a private letter dated September 28, notified him of the impending change:

"Having been confined to my chamber for some time by a dangerous fit of sickness, I find, upon my coming abroad, some things have passed which I think myself obliged to communicate to you, not as the Secretary to the Ambassador, but as an humble servant to his friend.... Our great men are of opinion that your being possessed [of the reversion of certain places] (which they look upon as sure and sudden) it would be agreeable to your inclinations, as well as for the King's service, which you are so able to promote in Parliament, rather to return to your own country than to live at Constantinople. For this reason, they have thought of relieving Mr. Stanyan, who is now at the Imperial Court, and of joining Sir Robert Sutton with him in the mediation of a peace between the Emperor and the Turks. I need not suggest to you that Mr. Stanyan is in great favour at Vienna, and how necessary it is to humour that Court in the present juncture. Besides, as it would have been for your honour to have acted as sole mediator in such a negotiation, perhaps it would not have been so agreeable to you to act only in commission. This was suggested to me the other day by one of our first ministers, who told me that he believed Sir R. Sutton's being joined in a mediation, which was carried on by my Lord Paget singly, would be shocking to you, but that they could be more free with a person of Mr. Stanyan's quality. I find by his Majesty's way of speaking of you, that you are much in his favour and esteem, and I fancy you would find your ease and advantage more in being nearer his person than at the distance you are from him at present. I omit no opportunity of doing you justice where I think it is for your service, and wish I could know your mind as to these several particulars by a more speedy and certain conveyance, that I might act accordingly to the utmost of my powers. Madame Kielmansegg and my Lady Hervey desire me to forward the enclosed to my Lady Mary Wortley, to whom I beg you will deliver them with my most humble regards."

What Montagu's feelings were can only be imagined. It is almost certain that he felt himself vastly aggrieved. Nothing could have been more delicate or complimentary than Addison's letter, but it did not, and could not, disguise the main fact. It was easy for the Secretary of State to suggest that at least one reason for the recall was that Montagu must be anxious to return, but that certainly could not have deceived the Ambassador who was, indeed, so little anxious to get home that he remained at Constantinople until the following June. Likewise, the statement that he would be able to promote the King's service in Parliament, flattering as it read, meant, of course, nothing at all. Certainly, though Montagu sat in the House of Commons until his death, office was never offered him in any Administration.

Lady Mary found herself again with child. Whether this pleased her or not no one can say, but in a letter to Mrs. Thistlethwayte she treated the incident divertingly enough.

"I wish I could return your goodness with some diverting accounts from hence. But I know not what part of the scenes here would gratify your curiosity, or whether you have any curiosity at all for things so far distant. To say the truth, I am, at this present writing, not very much turned for the recollection of what is diverting, my head being wholly filled with the preparations necessary for the increase of my family, which I expect every day. You may easily guess at my uneasy situation. But I am, however, in some degree comforted, by the glory that accrues to me from it, and a reflection on the contempt I should otherwise fall under. You won't know what to make of this speech: but, in this country, it is more despicable to be married and not fruitful, than it is with us to be fruitful before marriage. They have a notion, that, whenever a woman leaves off bringing children, it is because she is too old for that business, whatever her face says to the contrary, and this opinion makes the ladies here so ready to make proofs of their youth (which is as necessary, in order to be a received beauty, as it is to shew the proofs of nobility, to be admitted knight of Malta), that they do not content themselves with using the natural means, but fly to all sorts of quackeries, to avoid the scandal of being past child-bearing, and often kill themselves by them. Without any exaggeration, all the women of my acquaintance that have been married ten years, have twelve or thirteen children; and the old ones boast of having had five-and-twenty or thirty a-piece, and are respected according to the number they have produced. When they are with child, it is their common expression to say, They hope God will be so merciful to them to send two this time; and when I have asked them sometimes, How they expected to provide for such a flock as they desire? they answered, That the plague will certainly kill half of them; which, indeed, generally happens, without much concern to the parents, who are satisfied with the vanity of having brought forth so plentifully.

"The French Ambassadress is forced to comply with this fashion as well as myself. She has not been here much above a year, and has lain in once, and is big again. What is most wonderful is, the exemption they seem to enjoy from the curse entailed on the sex. They see all company the day of their delivery, and, at the fortnight's end, return visits, set out in their jewels and new clothes. I wish I may find the influence of the climate in this particular. But I fear I shall continue an Englishwoman in that affair."

Lady Mary gave birth to a daughter, Mary, in February. "I don't mention this as one of my diverting adventures," she wrote to Lady Mar, "though I must own that it is not half so mortifying here as in England, there being as much difference as there is between a little cold in the head, which sometimes happens here, and the consumptive cough, so common in London. Nobody keeps their house a month for lying in; and I am not so fond of any of our customs to retain them when they are not necessary. I returned my visits at three weeks' end."

So soon as possible after this domestic event, preparations for the return journey were made. The party went by sea to Tunis, thence to Genoa, Turin, Lyons, and Paris. Their arrival at Paris in October was notified by Lady Mar to her husband: "You'll be surprised to hear 657 [i.e., Lady Mary] is here. She arrived the day after me. You may believe how much incognito I am. 'Twas in vain to attempt being so. Twould fill a whole letter to tell you the people that have been to see me. I was very much pleased at seeing 657 and she appeared to be the same." The sisters had not met for three years.



CHAPTER X

A SCANDAL

Montagu re-enters the House of Commons—His miserliness—Pope refers to it—Comments on Society—Lady Mary and a first-class scandal—Remond— His admiration for her—Her imprudent letters to him—The South Sea Bubble—Lady Mary speculates for Remond—She loses money for him—He demands to be re-imbursed—He threatens to publish her letters—She states the case in letters to Lady Mar—Lady Mary meets Pope—His letters to her when she was abroad—He affects to be in love with her—Her matter-of-fact replies—Her parody of his verses, "On John Hughes and Sarah Drew."

Montagu, on his return to England, again entered the House of Commons, where he represented Huntingdon from 1722 to 1734, and then for Peterborough from 1734 to 1747 and from 1754 to 1761. Whether it was lack of ambition or just want of appreciation of his talents by the leaders of his party, there is no evidence. Even with his family connections and his wealth, he was never offered a place in any Administration, nor, it must be confessed, did he in any way distinguish himself in Parliament. As the years passed, his chief pleasure, if indeed it was not his only one, was in the hoarding of money—in this pursuit he was splendidly successful. From references to Lady Mary in contemporary correspondence, it would appear that she too had no small streak of the miser in her. Pope, after his quarrel with her, referred to Montagu as "Worldly," "Shylock," and "Gripus," and in the fourth Epistle of the Essay on Man wrote:

"Is yellow dirt the passion of thy life? Look but on Gripus and Gripus' wife."

Also he lampooned them under the style of Avidieu and Avidieu's wife, who

"Sell their presented partridges or fruits, And humbly live on rabbits and on roots; One half-pint bottle serves them both to dine, And is at once their vinegar and wine. But on some lucky day (as when they found A lost bank note, or heard their son was drowned), At such a feast old vinegar to spare Is what two souls so generous cannot bear: Oil, though it stink, they drop by drop impart, But souse the cabbage with a bounteous heart."

Lady Mary took her place, as of right, as a leader of society, and for a while plunged into the gaieties of the town. "Public places flourish more than ever," she wrote to her sister. "We have assemblies for every day in the week, besides Court, operas, and masquerades. With youth and money, 'tis certainly possible to be well diverted in spite of malice and ill-nature, though they are more and more powerful every day. For my part, as it is my established opinion that this globe of ours is no better than a Holland cheese, and the walkers about in it mites, I possess my soul in patience, let what will happen—and I should feel tolerably easy, though a great rat came and ate half of it." That is a philosophical outlook with a vengeance!

However, Lady Mary managed on the whole to enjoy herself. "The town improves in gaiety every day; the young people are younger than they used to be, and all the old are grown young. Nothing is talked of but entertainments of gallantry by land and water, and we insensibly begin to taste all the joys of arbitrary power. Politics are no more; nobody pretends to wince or kick under their burdens; but we go on cheerfully with our bells at our ears, ornamented with ribands, and highly contented with our present condition; so much for the general state of the nation," she made her comment on polite circles. "We are much mistaken here as to our ideas of Paris—to hear gallantry has deserted it, sounds as extraordinary to me as a want of ice in Greenland. We have nothing but ugly faces in this country, but more lovers than ever. There are but three pretty men in England, and they are all in love with me, at this present writing. This will amaze you extremely; but if you were to see the reigning girls at present, I will assure you, there is very little difference between them and old women."

Lady Mary could never resist a good story, and, indeed, never made any attempt to do so, and she usually wrote them down to amuse Lady Mar.

"'Tis but reasonable I should conclude with a farce, that I may not leave you in ill humour. I have so good an opinion of your taste, to believe Harlequin in person will never make you laugh so much as the Earl of Stair's furious passion for Lady Walpole (aged fourteen and some months). Mrs. Murray undertook to bring the business to bear, and provided the opportunity (a great ingredient you'll say); but the young lady proved skittish. She did not only turn this heroic flame into present ridicule, but exposed all his generous sentiments, to divert her husband and father-in-law. His lordship is gone to Scotland; and if there was anybody wicked enough to write about it, there is a subject worthy the pen of the best ballad-maker in Grub-street."

* * * * *

"Lord Townshend has renewed his lease of life by his French journey, and is at present situated in his house in Grosvenor-street in perfect health. My good lady is coming from the Bath to meet him with the joy you may imagine. Kitty Edwin has been the companion of his [her?] pleasures there. The alliance seems firmer than ever between them, after their Tunbridge battles, which served for the entertainment of the public. The secret cause is variously guessed at; but it is certain Lady Townshend came into the great room gently behind her friend, and tapping her on the shoulder with her fan, said aloud, I know where, how, and who. These mysterious words drew the attention of all the company, and had such an effect upon poor Kitty, she was carried to her lodgings in strong hysterics. However, by the intercession of prudent mediators peace was concluded; and if the conduct of these heroines was considered in a true light, perhaps it might serve for an example even to higher powers, by showing that the surest method to obtain a lasting and honourable peace, is to begin with vigorous war. But leaving these reflections, which are above my capacity, permit me to repeat my desire of hearing often from you. Your letters would be my greatest pleasure if I had flourished in the first years of Henry the Eighth's court; judge then how welcome they are to me in the present desolate state of this deserted town of London."

Lady Mary's own morals were more than once assailed; but this did not prevent her humorous attack on society at large: "Those things [Bills of Divorce] grow more fashionable every day, and in a little time won't be at all scandalous. The best expedient for the public, and to prevent the expense of private families, would be a general act of divorcing all the people of England. You know those that pleased might marry again; and it would save the reputation of several ladies that are now in peril of being exposed every day."

Not long after Lady Mary had returned to England, about the winter of 1720, she, who loved to retail malicious stories about others, found herself, to her great dismay, the subject of a first-class scandal.

When Lady Mary was in Paris, Remond was introduced to her by the Abbe Conti. He had seen a letter or two addressed by her to the Abbe, and expressed himself with enthusiasm of her brilliance as a correspondent. Presently he came to England, and sought out Lady Mary, who was no more immune from flattery than most folk of either sex. How far the intimacy developed from the platonic to the amorous it is impossible to say. That Remond made love to her there can be little doubt. Sir Leslie Stephen holds the view that she did not encourage his passion. Anyhow, it is beyond question that she wrote him imprudent letters, which he was prudent enough to keep.

Lady Mary basked in the admiration of Remond, and thought to reward him for his intelligence, at no cost to herself, by putting him on to "a good thing." Also, getting a little fearsome of his very marked attentions, or perhaps it was only wearying of them, she thought, as she confessed to her sister, the Countess of Mar, it would be the more easy to rid herself of this somewhat turbulent lover.

At this time the famous "boom" known as the South Sea Bubble was at the height of its brief career. The South Sea Company had taken over the National Debt, on terms, and its stock, carefully manipulated, rose by leaps and bounds. In 1714 the stock stood at 85. After the defeat of the rebellion of 1715, it was quoted at prices varying from par to 106. In the autumn of 1719, when rumours of its great scheme were spread about the town, it rose to 126. Early in the following year it could not be purchased for less than 400. It fluctuated wildly, going up and down hundreds of points. On June 2, 1720, it went up in the morning to 890, in the afternoon fell to 640; and many who were speculating in differences were utterly ruined. Later in the day it recovered, though only to 770. Ultimately it rose to 1,000. Of course the prices were fictitious, but everyone in society tried their luck, and while some came out of it with a fortune, the majority lost practically every penny they had. The directors, most of whom were guilty of fraud, made vast sums of money. That astute financier, Robert Walpole, speculated on a vast scale, sold out before the slump, and realised a fortune more than sufficient to enable him to rebuild Houghton and to gather together his famous collection of pictures. On the other hand the Duke of Portland, who held on too long, was so hard hit that he had to solicit the post of Captain-General of Jamaica.

Remond held some South Sea stock, and, acting on Lady Mary's advice, sold out at a considerable profit. Not content with his gains, however, he insisted, just before his departure for France, on leaving in Lady Mary's hands L900 for investment as opportunity should arise. Reluctantly Lady Mary consented—she would probably have agreed almost to anything, so anxious was she that Remond should leave the country.

On August 22, 1720, Pope, with the best intentions in the world, wrote to Lady Mary: "I was made acquainted last night that I might depend upon it as a certain gain to buy the South Sea stock at the present price, which will assuredly rise in some weeks or less. I can be as sure of this as the nature of any such thing will allow, from the first and best hands, and therefore have despatched the bearer with all speed to you." No doubt the phrase "the first and best hands," was intended to convey the fact that his informant was his friend and neighbour, James Craggs the younger, the Secretary of State who was so deeply involved in the affairs of the South Sea Company that when the "bubble" burst he only escaped prosecution by conveniently dying of small-pox. Acting on the hint given by Pope, Lady Mary purchased stock for herself and Remond. The stock fell rapidly—in August it stood at 750 and in December at 130. What she lost is not known, but she had been sufficiently involved to make her desire to sell her diamonds, and more than once she asked Lady Mar if there was a market for the jewels in Paris. Remond's L900 had dwindled to L400. On receiving these distressful tidings, the Frenchman believed, or affected to believe, that he had been swindled, and he threatened, unless he were repaid in full, he would publish Lady Mary's letters to him. Lady Mary's fear was lest the matter should come to the cognisance of her husband: it would certainly be unfair to Montagu to suggest that he might not have forgiven his wife for a love-affair; but he would certainly never have pardoned her any transaction that cost him money.

Many malicious things were said about this business. Walpole gave a version utterly discreditable to Lady Mary, and Pope, after the quarrel, referred to the matter in the second book of the Dunciad:

"Whence hapless Monsieur much complains at Paris Of wrongs from Duchesses and Lady Maries."

The case was put by Lady Mary in a series of letters to her sister, Lady Mar, to whom she could unburden herself freely, and who might be able to influence Remond, who was then at Paris.

[1721.]

"From the tranquil and easy situation in which you left me, dear sister, I am reduced to that of the highest degree of vexation, which I need not set out to you better than by the plain matter of fact, which I heartily wish I had told you long since; and nothing hindered me but a certain mauvaise honte which you are reasonable enough to forgive, as very natural, though not very excusable where there is nothing to be ashamed of; since I can only accuse myself of too much good-nature, or at worst too much credulity, though I believe there never was more pains taken to deceive any body. In short, a person whose name is not necessary, because you know it, took all sorts of methods, during almost two years [sic], to persuade me that there never was so extraordinary an attachment (or what you please to call it) as they had for me. This ended in coming over to make me a visit against my will, and, as was pretended, very much against their interest. I cannot deny I was very silly in giving the least credit to this stuff. But if people are so silly, you'll own 'tis natural for any body that is good-natured to

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