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her brother so cherished her memory, that, in after times, his little girl knew it to be the highest mark of his favour, when, pointing at herself
, he said to her mother, “ Don't you think she grows like my poor sister Anne ?"
Lady Mary had Lord Byron's fate. She wrote a journal of her life; she became the historian of her own genius, her youthful love, and her young trials. It chanced to be her fate, that the one into whose hands her manuscript fell, considered it her duty (wisely and affectionately, or not, is immaterial for our purposes) to doom it to be a work of destruction. It is hard for genius that it cannot find an executor who regards the future in preference to the present; who cannot absolve himself from immediate ties, living incumbrances, pressing prejudices, conceived personalities,– to yield immortality its due !-who, in fact, in the blindness of temporary fears and temporary associations, classes that which he holds, erringly as that of the age,—which should be, and in its spirit was destined to be, “ for all time.” We have mentioned two immortal names; and before we pass into the three volumes, we cannot help endeavouring to connect them in the minds of our readers, as they are by their spirit connected in ours. Lord Byron was a moody, fiery, brooding child, full of passion, obstinacy, and irregularity, in his teens ;-Lady Mary was a single-thinking, classical, daring, inspired girl long under one-andtwenty. Lord Byron at a plunge formed his own spreading circles on the glittering still-life lake of fashionable society : Lady Mary with her beauty and her genius effected the same result by the same impetuosity. Lady Mary made, as it would appear, a cold unsatisfactory marriage, but, it must be admitted, with one possessed of a patience untainted by genius :-Lord Byron iced himself into the connubial state, but shuddered at its coldness. The press, and the poets, and the prosers united with serene ferocity against both. Both, alas! were
“ Souls made of fire and children of the sun,
With whom revenge was virtue !" Their revenge was mutual-minded. Misunderstood, calumniated, they quitted the land which was not worthy of them. Genius-borne, they both passed to the east; and to them we owe the most sensible,—the most passioned,—the most voluptuous—and the most inspired pictures of " the land of the citron and myrtle,” that have ever waked the wish and melted the heart of us southron readers. A mysterious divorcement from the marital partner marked the absence—the long last absence of each ! Mind-banished, -person-expatriated,- they vented upon their country that revenge of which injured genius can alone be capable. And looking at the calumnies upon the one, and the female animosities towards the other,—regarding the banishment of mental beauty and magic power in both,—we cannot better convey to our readers the revenge which genius gave, and must ever give, than by making a common cause of the two, and explaining it in the inimitable lines of the one.
“And if my voice break forth, 'tis not that now
I shrink from what is suffered ; let him speak
Not in the air shall these my words disperse,
And pile on human heads the mountain of my curse.
“ That curse shall be forgiveness !” — This is indeed the inspiration of forgiveness. We feel an awe after reading this humane and lofty imprecation, which calls for a pause. There is the same feeling upon us from which we cannot escape, as that to which we are subject when we wander under the arched roof and sculptured aisles,-in the breathing, breathless, cathedral silence,-in the awful stone repose,-in the contemplation of
“ The uplifted palms, the silent marble lips !" The similarity between the genius of Byron and that of Lady Mary, and their fates,-except as to the death and duration of life of the two, (the one dying at the age of thirty-seven, and the other at the age of seventy-three,-a sad and strange reverse of figures !)—are singularly interesting and affecting. The one,-sexually to distinguish them,-was Rousseau with a heart,—the other was De Staël with one. -But we grow serious, critical, and minute. We are not certain that we are not growing anatomical. We shall therefore enter upon our conversazione with our charming, high-born, easy caftan,-Minerva,Lady Mary Wortley Montagu!
We pass silently over her biography, and at once commence with the unmarried Lady Mary Pierrepont and the married Montagu! What can be livelier than the following York-picture. It is Hogarthian !--and let it not be forgotten that the lady was only twenty, and unwedded. TO MRS. WORTLEY.
“1710. “I RETURN you a thousand thanks, my dear, for so agreeable an entertainment as your letter in our cold climate, where the sun appears unwillingly-Wit is as wonderfully pleasing as a sun-shiny day; and, to speak poetically, Phoebus is very sparing of all his favours. I fancied your letter an emblem of yourself: in some parts I found the softness of your voice, and in others the vivacity of your eyes : you are to expect no return but humble and hearty thanks, yet I can't forbear entertaining you with our York lovers. (Strange monsters you 'll think, love being as much forced up here as melons.) In the first form of these creatures, is even Mr. Vanbrug. Heaven, no doubt, compassionating our dulness, has inspired him with a passion that makes us all ready to die with laughing : 'tis credibly reported that he is endeavouring at the honourable state of matrimony, and vows to lead a sinful life no more. Whether
pure holiness inspires the mind, or dotage turns his brain, is hard to find. 'Tis certain he keeps Monday and Thursday market (assembly day) constantly; and for those that don't regard worldly muck, there's extraordinary good choice indeed. I believe last Monday there were two hundred pieces of woman's flesh (fat and lean): but you know Van's taste was always odd: his inclination to ruins has given him a fancy for Mrs. Yarborrougb : he sighs and ogles so, that it would do your heart good to see him; and she is not a little pleased in so small a proportion of men amongst such a number of women, that a whole man should fall to her share. My dear, adieu. My service to Mr. Congreve.
“ M. P."
There is a charming poem by Lady Mary, which is singularly supported by her letters. It certainly acknowledges a love of pleasure which is not “ quite correct;" but it is so unaffected,--so melodious, —so heartfelt,—so confiding,—that we could read it, and read it," for ever and a day!"
« THE LOVER: A BALLAD.
“ TO MR. CONGREVE.
Take, Congreve, at once the inside of my breast.
This delightful epistle to Congreve appears to have been written at the time she resided at Twickenham,—ured there by the quiet and loveliness of that classic spot, and the fascination of Pope's society. The following letter would seem to confirm the sincerity of these racy verses ;—and the presence of “ Doctor Swift and Johnny Gay,”— ballad-writing too,-must have had some influence over the pen of the poetess.
TO THE COUNTESS OF MAR.
“ Twickenham, 17—, “ DEAR Sister,—I was very glad to hear from you, though there was something in your letters very monstrous and shocking. I wonder with what conscience you can talk to me of your being an old woman ; 1 beg I may hear no more on't. For my part 1 pretend to be as young as ever, and really am as young as needs to be, to all intents and purposes.
I attribute all this to your living so long at Chatton, and fancy a week at Paris will correct such wild imaginations, and set things in a better light. My cure for lowness of spirits is not drinking nasty water, but galloping all day, and a moderate glass of champaign at night in good company; and I believe this regimen, closely followed, is one of the most wholesome that can be prescribed, and may save one a world of filthy doses, and more filthy doctor's fees at the year's end. I rode to Twickenham last night, and, after so long a stay in town, am not sorry to find myself in my garden ; our neighbourhood is something improved by the removal of some old maids, and the arrival of some fine gentlemen, amongst whom are Lord Middleton and Sir J. Gifford, who are, perhaps, your acquaintances : they live with their aunt, Lady Westmoreland, and we endeavour to make the country agreeable to one another.
“ Doctor Swift and Johnny Gay are at Pope's, and their conjunction has produced a ballad," which, if nobody else has sent you, I will, being never better pleased than when I am endeavouring to amuse my dear sister, and ever yours,
“M. W, M.” What a picture we have of Mrs. Lowther! How the Mall is revived with its strollers of fashion and beauty !
“ I am yet in this wicked town, but purpose to leave it as soon as the parliament rises. Mrs. Murray and all her satellites have so seldom fallen in my way, I can say little about them. Your old friend Mrs. Louther is still fair and young, and in pale pink every night in the parks."
To the name of Mrs. Lowther is appended the following note,– and we do not know that we ever remember an anecdote, in years, better set off.
“Mrs. Lowther was a respectable woman, single, and, as it appears by the text, not willing to own herself middle-aged. Another lady happened to be sitting at breakfast with her when an awkward country lad, new in her service, brought word that there was one as begged to speak to her.'— What is his name?Don't know.'* What sort of person ? a gentleman ?'—'Can't say rightly.'—'Go and ask him his business. The fellow returned gripning. Why, madam, he says as how-he says he is—’_Well, what does he say, fool ?' — He says he is one as dies for your ladyship.' — “ Dies for
* Published in Swift's Works.
me!' exclaimed the lady, the more incensed from seeing her friend inclined to laugh as well as her footman,-' was there ever such a piece of insolence ? Turn him out of my house this minute. And hark ye, shut the door in his face. The clown obeyed; but going to work more roughly than John Bull will ever admit of, produced a scuffle that disturbed the neighbours and called in the constable. At last the audacious lover, driven to explain himself, proved nothing worse than an honest tradesman, a dyer, whom her ladyship often employed to refresh her old gowns.”
Can the following trifle of whipt fashion and satire be surpassed even by the pointed and light pleasantries of Walpole?
“Cavendish-square, 1727. “My Lady Stafford* set out towards France this morning, and has carried half the pleasures of my life along with her; I am more stupid than I can describe, and am as full of moral reflections as either Cambray or Pascal. I think of nothing but the nothingness of the good things of this world, the transitoriness of its joys, the pungency of its sorrows, and many discoveries that have been made these three thousand years, and committed to print ever since the first erecting of presses. I advise you, as the best thing you can do that day, let it happen as it will, to visit Lady Stafford : she has the goodness to carry with her a true-born English woman, who is neither good nor bad, nor capable of being either ; Lady Phil Prat by name, of the Hamilton family, and who will be glad of your acquaintance, and you can never be sorry for hers.t
“Peace or war, cross or pile, makes all the conversation ; this town never was fuller, and, God be praised, some people brille in it who brilled twenty years ago. My cousin Buller is of that number, who is just what she was in all respects when she inhabited Bond-street. The sprouts of this age are such green withered things, 'tis a great comfort to us grown up people: I except my own daughter, who is to be the ornament of the ensuing court. I beg you will exact from Lady Stafford a particular of her perfections, which would sound suspected from my hand; at the same time I must do justice to a little tvig belonging to my sister Gower. Miss Jenny is like the Duchess of Queensberry both in face and spirit. A propos of family affairs: I had almost forgot our dear and amiable cousin Lady Denbigh, who has blazed out all this winter; she has brought with her from Paris cart-loads of riband, surprising fashion, and of a complexion of the last edition, which naturally, attracts all the she and he fools in London ; and accordingly she is surrounded with a little court of both, and keeps a Sunday assembly to shew she has learned to play at cards on that day. Lady Frances Fieldingt is really the prettiest woman in town, and has sense enough to make one's heart ache to see her sur
Claude Charlotte, daughter of Philibert, Count of Grammont (author of the celebrated Memoirs), and “ La Belle Hamilton,” eldest daughter of Sir George Ilamilton, Bart. was married to Henry Stafford
Earl of Stafford, at St. Germain's-en-laye, 1694.
+ Lady Philippa IIamilton, daughter of James Earl of Abercorn, and wife of Dr. Pratt, Dean of Downe.
1 Youngest daughter of Basil fourth Earl of Denbigh ; married to Daniel seventh Earl of Winchelsea ; died Sept. 17, 1734.