[ocr errors]

than any lady on their list. The other mem- pable of any degree of inattention and neg. bers demurred, because the rules of the club lect; but we should not perhaps credit too forbade them to elect a beauty whom they entirely all the legends which an old lady had never seen. • Then you shall see her,' recounted to her grandchildren of the incried he; and in the gayety of the moment tellectual difficulties of her youth. sent orders home to have her finely dressed She seems to have been encouraged by her and brought to him at the tavern, where grandmother, one of the celebrated Evelyn she was received with acclamations, her family, whose memory is thus enigmatically claim unanimously allowed, her health drunk but still expressively enshrined in the diary by every one present, and her name engraved of the author of Sylva. “Under this date,” in due form upon a drinking-glass. The we are informed, “ of the 2d of July, 1649, company consisting of some of the most he records a day spent at Godstone, where emipent men in England, she went from the Sir John " (this lady's father) " was on a lap of one poet, or patriot, or statesman, to visit with his daughter ;” and he adds, the arms of another, was feasted with sweet." Mem. The prodigious memory of Sir John meats, overwhelmed with caresses, and, what of Wilts's daughter, since married to Mr. perhaps already pleased her better than W. Pierrepont.” The lady who was thus either, heard her wit and beauty loudly ex- formidable in her youth deigned in her old tolled on every side. Pleasure, she said, age to write frequently, as we should now was too poor a word to express her sensa- say,—to open a "regular commerce of lettions; they amounted to ecstasy: never ters, as was said in that age,—with Lady again, throughout her whole future life, did Mary when quite a girl, which she always she pass so happy a day. Nor, indeed, believed to have been beneficial to her, and could she; for the love of admiration, which probably believed rightly; for she was inthis scene was calculated to excite or in- telligent enough to comprehend what was crease, could never again be so fully grati- said to her, and the old lady had watched fied; there is always some alloying ingre- many changes in many things. dient in the cup, some drawback upon the Her greatest intellectual guide, at least triumphs, of grown people. Her father car- so in after-life she used to relate, was Mr. ried on the frolic, and, we may conclude, Wortley, whom she afterwards married. confirmed the taste, by having her picture - When I was young,” she said, “I was a painted for the club-room, that she might be great admirer of Ovid's Metamorphoses, and enrolled a regular toast.” Perhaps some that was one of the chief reasons that set me young ladies of more than eight years old upon the thoughts of stealing the Latin lanwould not much object to have lived in guage. Mr. Wortley was the only person to those times. Fathers may be wiser now whom I communicated my design, and he than they were then, but they rarely make encouraged me in it. I used to study five themselves so thoroughly agreeable to their or six hours a day for two years in



ther's library; and so got that language, This stimulating education would leave a whilst everybody else thought I was reading weak and vain girl still more vain and weak; nothing but novels and romances." She but it had not that effect on Lady Mary. pursued, however, some fiction also ; for she Vain she probably was, and her father's possessed, till her death, the whole library of boastfulness perhaps made her vainer ; but Mrs. Lennox's Female Quixote, a ponderous her vanity took an intellectual turn. She series of novels in folio, in one of which she read vaguely and widely; she managed to had written, in her fairest youthful hand, acquire some knowledge-how much is not the names and characteristic qualities of clear-of Greek and Latin, and certainly “the beautiful Diana, the Clemene, learned with sufficient thoroughness French the melancholy Doris, Celadon the faithful, and Italian. She used to say that she had Adamas the wise, and so on, forming two the worst education in the world, and that columns." it was only by the “help of an uncommon Of Mr. Wortley it is not difficult, from the memory and indefatigable labor” that she materials before us, to decipher his charachad acquired her remarkable attainments. ter; he was a slow man, with a taste for Her father certainly seems to have been ca- I quick companions. Swift's diary to Stella

[ocr errors]

mentions an evening spent over a bottle of more than that the writer was wholly unsucold wine with Mr. Woriley and Mr. Addison. cessful in all which he tried to do. As to Mr. Wortley was a rigid Whig, and Swift's Mr. Wortley's contributions to the perioditransition to Toryism soon broke short that cals of his time, we may suspect that the jotfriendship. But with Addison he maintained tings preserved at Loudon are all which he an intimacy which lasted during their joint ever wrote of them, and that the style and lives, and survived the marriages of both. arrangement were supplied by more skilful With Steele likewise he was upon the closest writers. Even a county member might furterms, is said to have written some papers nish headings for the Saturday Review. He in the Tatler and Spectator ; and the second might say: Trent British vessel-Amerivolume of the former is certainly dedicated cans always intrusive-Support Government to him in affectionate and respectful terms. -Kill all that is necessary.”

Notwithstanding, however, these conspic- What Lady Mary discovered in Mr. Wortuous testimonials to high ability, Mr. Wort- ley it is easier to say and shorter, for he was ley was an orderly and dull person. Every very handsome. If his portrait can be letter received by him from his wife during trusted, there was a placid and business-like five-and-twenty years of absence, was found, repose about him, which might easily be atat his death, carefully indorsed with the date tractive to a rather excitable and wild young of its arrival and with a synopsis of its con- lady, especially when combined with impostents. “He represented,” we are told, “ at ing features and a quiet sweet expression. various times, Huntingdon, Westminster, He attended to her also. When she was a and Peterborough in Parliament, and ap- girl of fourteen, he met her at a party, and pears to have been a member of that class evinced his admiration. And a little while who win respectful attention by sober and later, it is not difficult to fancy that a literary business-like qualities; and his name is young lady might be much pleased with a constantly found in the drier and more for- good-looking gentleman not uncomfortably mal part of the politics of the time.” He older than herself, yet having a place in the answered to the description given more re- world, and well known to the literary men cently of a similar person: “ Is not,” it was of the age. He was acquainted with the asked, “Sir John - a very methodical classics too, or was supposed to be so; and

Certainly he is,” was the reply, whether it was a consequence of or a prelim“he files his invitations to dinner.” The inary to their affections, Lady Mary wished Wortley papers, according to the descrip- to know the classics also. tions of those who have inspected them, seem Bishop Burnet was so kind as to superin- / to contain the accumulations of similar doc- tend the singular studies—for such they uments during many years.

He hoarded

were clearly thought-of this aristocratic money, however, to more purpose, for he young lady; and the translation of the Endied one of the richest commoners in Eng-chiridion of Epictetus, which he revised, is land; and a considerable part of the now printed in this edition of her works. But marvellous wealth of the Bute family seems even so grave an undertaking could not at first to have been derived from him.

wholly withdraw her from more congenial Whatever good qualities Addison and pursuits. She commenced a correspondence Steele discovered in Mr. Wortley, they were with Miss Wortley, Mr. Wortley's unmarried certainly not those of a good writer. We sister, which still remains, though Miss have from his pen and from that of Lady Wortley's letters are hardly to be called Mary a description of the state of English hers, for her brother composed, and she politics during the three first years of George merely copied them. The correspondence III., and any one who wishes to understand is scarcely in the sort of English or in the . how much readibility depends upon good tone which young ladies, we understand, now writing would do well to compare the two. Lady Mary's is a clear and bright descrip

"It is as impossible," says Miss Wortley, tion of all the superficial circumstances of " for my dearest Lady Mary to utter thought the time ; Mr. Wortley's is equally super- that can seem dull as to put on a look that ficial, often unintelligible and always lum- is not beautiful. Want of wit is a fault bering, and scarcely succeeds in telling us that those who envy you most would not be





my choice.


able to find in your kind compliments. To of esteem for a person one believes capable of me they seem perfect, since repeated assur- having such trifling inclinations ? Mr. Bickerances of your kindness forbid me to question staff has very wrong notions of our sex. I can their sincerity. You have often found that say there are some of us that despise charms the most angry, nay, the most neglectful air of show, and all the pageantry of greatness, you can assume, has made as deep a wound perhaps with more ease than any of the phias the kindest ; and these lines of yours, losophers. In contemning the world, they that you tax with dulness (perhaps because seem to tal pains to contemn it ; we dethey were writ when you was not in a right spise it, without taking the pains to read leshumor, or when your thoughts were else- sons of morality to make us do it. At least where employed), are so far from deserving I know I have always looked upon it with the imputation, that the very turn of your contempt, without being at the expense of expression, had I forgot the rest of your one serious reflection to oblige me to it. I charms, would be sufficient to make me la- carry the matter yet farther , was I to choose ment the only fault you have your incon- of two thousand pounds a year or twenty stancy."

thousand, the first would be To which the reply is

There is something of an unavoidable em

barras in making what is called a great "I am infinitely obliged to you, my dear figure in the world ; [it] takes off from the Mrs. Wortley, for the wit, beauty, and other happiness of life ; I hate the noise and hurry fine qualities, you so generously

bestow upon inseparable from great estates and titles, and Next to receiving them from Heaven, look upon both as blessings that ought only you are the person from whom I would choose to receive gifts and graces: I am

to be given to fools, for 'tis only to them that

they are blessings. The pretty fellows you very well satisfied to owe them to your own delicacy of imagination, which represents but is it impossible to be diverted with what

speak of, I own entertain me sometimes ; to you the idea of a fine lady, and you have

one despises? I can laugh at a puppet-show; good-nature enough to fancy I am she. All this is mighty well, but you do not stop it worth my attention or regard. General

at the same time I know there is nothing in there; imagination is boundless. After giving me imaginary wit and beauty, you folly are thought the best foundations for

notions are generally wrong. Ignorance and give me imaginary passions, and you tell me virtue, as if not knowing what a good wife I'm in love: if l'am, 'tis a perfect sin of is was necessary to make one so. I confess ignorance, for I don't so much as know the that can never be my way of reasoning; as I man's name: I have been studying these three hours, and cannot guess who you mean. done out of malice, i can never think myself

always forgive an injury when I think it not I passed the days of Nottingham races [at] obliged by what is done without design. Thoresby without seeing, or even wishing to Give me leave to say it (I know it sounds see, one of the sex. Now, if I am in love, I vain), I know how to make a man of sense have very hard fortune to conceal it so industriously from my own knowledge, and happy; but then that man must resolve to yet discover it so much to other people. 'Tis have so much esteem for you, I should be

contribute something towards it himself. I against all form to have such a passion as that, without giving one sigh for the matter. for the world I would not be the instrument

very sorry to hear you was unhappy; but Pray tell me the name of him I love, that I may (according to the laudable custom of of making you so; which (of the humor you lovers) sigh to the woods and groves here are) is hardly to be avoided if I am your

wife. You distrust me I can neither be abouts, and teach it to the echo.”

easy, nor loved, where I am distrusted. Nor After some time Miss Wortley unfortu- do I believe your passion for me is what you nately died, and there was an obvious diffi- pretend it; at least I am sure was I in love culty in continuing the correspondence with. I could not talk as you do. Few women out the aid of an appropriate sisterly screen. would have spoke so plainly as I have done ; Mr. Wortley seems to have been tranquil do. I take more pains to approve my con,

but to dissemble is among the things I never and condescending; perhaps he thought duct to myself than to the world ; and would placid tactics would be most effective, for not have to accuse myself of a minute's deLady Mary was not so calm. He sent her ceit. I wish I loved you enough to devote some Tallers, and received, by way of thanks, myself to be forever miserable, for the pleasthe following tolerably encouraging letter :- ure of a day or two's happiness. I cannot "To Mr. Wortley Montagu.

resolve upon it. You must think otherwise

of me, or not all. “I am surprised at one of the Tatlers “I don't enjoin you to burn this letter. I you send me; is it possible to have any sort know you will. "Íis the first I ever writ to


one of your sex, and shall be the last. You upon social ethics not altogether dissimilar must never expect another. I resolve against to those with which the Saturday Review all correspondence of the kind ; my resolu- frequently instructs its readers. One of these tions are seldom made and never broken."

dissertations contained an elaborate exposure Mr. Wortley, however, still grumbled. of the folly of settling your estate upon your He seems to have expected a young lady to unborn children. The arguments were of a do something even more decisive than ask sort very easily imaginable. " Why,” it him to marry her. He continued to hesitate was said, “should you give away that which and pause. The lady in the comedy says, you have to a person whom you do not know; “What right has a man to intend unless he whom you may never see; whom you may states his intentions ?" and Lady Mary's not like when you do see; who may be unbiographers are entirely of that opinion, dutiful, unpleasant, or idiotic? Why, too, They think her exceedingly ill-used, and should each generation surrender its due Mr. Wortley exceedingly to blame. And so control over the next? When the family esit may have been ; certainly a love corre- tate is settled, men of the world know that the spondence is rarely found where activity and father's control is gone, for disinterested filial intrepidity on the lady's side so much con- affection is an unfrequent though doubtless trasts with quiescence and timidity on the possible virtue ; but so long as property is gentleman's. If, however, we could summon in suspense, all expectants will be attentive him before us, probably Mr. Wortley would to those who have it in their power to give have something to answer on his own behalf. or not to give it.” These arguments had It is tolerably plain that he thought Lady converted Mr. Wortley, who is said even to Mary too excitable. "Certainly,” he doubt- have contributed notes for the article, and less reasoned," she is a handsome young they seem to have converted Lady Mary lady and very witty; but beauty and wit are also. She was to have her money, and the dangerous as well as attractive. Vivacity is most plain-spoken young ladies do not comdelightful ; but my esteemed friend Mr. Ad-monly care to argue much about the future dison has observed that excessive quickness provision for their possible children ; the of parts is not unfrequently the cause of subject is always delicate and a little frightextreme rapidity in action. Lady Mary ful, and, on the whole, must be left to themmakes love to me before marriage, and I like selves. But Lord Dorchester, her father, it; but may she not make love also to some felt it his duty to be firm. It is an old sayone else after marriage, and then I shall not ing, that "you never know where a man's like it.” Accordingly, he writes to her tim- conscience may turn up," and the advent of orously as to her love of pleasure, her love ethical feeling was in this case even unusually of romantic reading, her occasional tolera- beyond calculation. Lord Dorchester had tion of younger gentlemen and quicker ad- never been an anxious father, and was not mirers. At last, however, he proposed ; and now going to be a liberal father. He had as far as the lady was concerned, there was never cared much about Lady Mary, except no objection.

in so far as he could himself gain éclat by We might have expected, from a superfi- exhibiting her youthful beauty, and he was cial view of the facts, that there would have not now at her marriage about to do at all been no difficulty either on the side of her more than was necessary and decent in his father. Mr. Wortley died one of the richest station. It was not therefore apparently commoners in England ; was of the first probable that he would be irritatingly obstistanding in society, of good family, and he nate respecting the income of his daughter's had apparently, therefore, money to settle children. He was so, however. He deemed and station to offer to his bride. And he did it a duty to see that "his grandchild never offer both. He was ready to settle an ample should be a beggar,” and, for what reason sum on Lady Mary, both as his wife and as does not so clearly appear, wished that his his widow, and was anxious that, if they mar- eldest male grandchild should be immensely ried they should live in a manner suitable to richer than all his other grandchildren. The her rank and his prospects. But nevertheless old feudal aristocrat, often in modern Europe there was a difficulty. The Tatler had re- so curiously disguised in the indifferent excently favored its readers with dissertations terior of a careless man of the world, was,


[ocr errors]


as became him, dictatorial and unalterable money which he had promised her. And upon the duty of founding a family. Though there is nothing offensive in her mode of he did not care much for his daughter, he expression. “ 'Tis something odd for a wocared much for the position of his daugh- man that brings nothing to'expect anything; ter's eldest son. He had probably stumbled but after the way of my education, I dare on the fundamental truth that “girls were not pretend to live but in some degree suitagirls and boys were boys,” and was disin- ble to it. I had rather die than return to a clined to disregard the rule of primogeniture dependency upon relations I have disobliged. by which he had obtained his marquisate, Save me from that fear, if you love me. If and from which he expected a dukedom. you cannot, or think I ought not to expect

Mr. Wortley, however, was through life a it, be sincere and tell me so. 'Tis better I man, if eminent in nothing else, eminent at should not be yours at all, than, for a short least in obstinacy. He would not give up happiness, involve myself in ages of misery. the doctrine of the Tatler even to obtain I hope there will never be occasion for this Lady Mary. The match was accordingly precaution ; but, however, 'tis necessary to abandoned, and Lord Dorchester looked out make it.” But true and rational as all this for and found another gentleman whom he seems, perhaps it is still truer and still more proposed to make his son-in-law; for he be- rational to say, that if a woman has not lieved, according to the old morality, “ that sufficient confidence in her lover to elope it was the duty of the parents to find a hus- with him without a previous promise of a band for a daughter, and that when he was good settlement, she had better not elope found, it was the daughter's duty to marry with him at all. After all, if he declines to him.” It was as wrong in her to attempt to make the stipulated settlement, the lady choose as in him to neglect to seek. Lady will have either to return to her friends or Mary was, however, by no means disposed to marry without it, and she would have the to accept this passive theory of female obli- full choice between these satisfactory altergation. She had sought and chosen; and natives, even if she asked no previous promto her choice she intended to adhere. The ise from her lover.

any rate, the inconduct of Mr. Wortley would have offended trusion of coarse money among the refined some ladies, but it rather augmented her materials of romance is, in this case, even admiration. She had exactly that sort of more curious and remarkable than usual. irritable intellect which sets an undue value After some unsuccessful attempts, Lady on new theories of society and morality, and Mary and Mr. Wortley did elope and did is pleased when others do so too. She marry, and, after a certain interval, of course, thought Mr. Wortley was quite right not to Lord Dorchester received them, notwith“ defraud himself for a possible infant,” and standing their contempt of his authority, admired his constancy and firmness. She into some sort of favor and countenance. determined to risk a step, as she herself They had probably saved him money by said, unjustifiable to her own relatives, but their irregularity, and economical frailties which she nevertheless believed that she are rarely judged severely by men of fashion could justify to herself. She decided on who are benefited by them. Lady Mary, eloping with Mr. Wortley.

however, was long a little mistrusted by her Before, however, taking this audacious own relations, and never seems to have acleap, she looked a little. Though she did quired much family influence; but her marnot object to the sacrifice of the customary riage was not her only peculiarity, or the inheritance of her contingent son, she by no only one which impartial relations might means approved of sacrificing the settlement dislike. which Mr. Wortley had undertaken at a The pair appear to have been for a little prior period of the negotiation to make upon while tolerably happy. Lady Mary was exherself. And according to common sense citable, and wanted letters when absent, she was undoubtedly judicious. She was and attention when present; Mr. Wortley going from her father, and foregoing the was heavy and slow; could not write letters money which he had promised her; and when away, and seemed torpid in her society therefore it was not reasonable that, by go- when at home. Still these are common ing to her lover, she should forfeit also the troubles. Common, too, is the matrimonial

« ElőzőTovább »