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and the tears burst out, just at the proper places: we are surprised the moment we weep; and yet upon reflection find the passion so just, that we should be surprised if we had not wept, and wept at that very moment.
How astonishing is it again, that the passions directly opposite to these, laughter and spleen, are no less at his command! that he is not more a master of the great than of the ridiculous in human nature; of our noblest tendernesses, than of our vainest foibles; of our strongest emotions, than of our idlest sensations!
Nor does he only excel in the passions: in the coolness of reflection and reasoning he is full as admirable. His sentiments are not only in general the most pertinent and judicious upon every subject; but by a talent very peculiar, something between penetration and felicity, he hits upon that particular point on which the bent of each argument turns, or the force of each motive depends. This is perfectly amazing, from a man of no education or experience in those great and public scenes of life which are usually the subject of his thoughts: so that he seems to have known the world by intuition, to have looked through human nature at one glance, and to be the only author that gives ground for a very new opinion, that the philosopher and even the man of the world, may be born, as well as the poet.
It must be owned that with all these great excellencies, he has almost as great defects; and that as he has certainly written better, so he has perhaps written worse, than any other. But I think I can in some measure account for these defects, from several causes and accidents; without which it is hard to imagine that so large and so enlightened a mind could. ever have been susceptible of them. That all these contingencies should unite to his disadvantage seems to me almost as singularly unlucky, as that so many various (nay contrary)
talents should meet in one man, was happy and extraordinary. . . .
With all his faults, and with all the irregularity of his drama, one may look upon his works, in comparison of those that are more finished and regular, as upon an ancient majestic piece of Gothic architecture, compared with a neat modern building: the latter is more elegant and glaring, but the former is more strong and more solemn. It must be allowed, that in one of these there are materials enough to make many of the other. It has much the greater variety, and much the nobler apartments; though we are often conducted to them by dark, odd, and uncouth passages. Nor does the whole fail to strike us with greater reverence, though many of the parts are childish, ill-placed, and unequal to its grandeur.-Preface to Tonson Edition of Shakespeare.
LADY MARY WORTLEY MONTAGU.
LADY MARY PIERREPOINT was born, in 1689, at Thoresby, in Nottinghamshire. Her father, the younger brother of the Earl of Kingston, became, in 1715, by creation, Duke of Kingston. As a child, she was much neglected, but her love of books stood her in place of a regular education. She taught herself Latin, and read widely if not well. Ín 1712, she married Mr. Edward Wortley Montagu, who had long been attached to her. He was a man of great ability and cultivation, and in 1716 was appointed Ambassador to the Porte. Lady Mary accompanied him, and her impressions of the country, at that period so little known to English travellers, are recorded in the celebrated series of letters, which constitute her chief claim to literary reputation. While at Pera in 1718 she adopted the Turkish practice of inoculation, until that time unknown in Western Europe, for her own son, and was afterwards the chief means of introducing it into England. In 1719 she returned home with her husband. She was received with the distinction due to her talents and acquirements, and renewed her connexion with the wits of the day, among whom was Pope, whose neighbour she became at Twickenham. In 1739, she again left England, and resided chiefly in the North of Italy. She did not return until her husband's death, in 1761, and in the following year she died.
Lady Mary was at one time the intimate friend of Pope, and it is believed that her kindness induced the poet on some occasions to forget his usual caution in his relations with her and to offer her an affection which she could not return. It is certain that the
friendship was succeeded by a violent quarrel, and that for many years Pope pursued his former ally with malignant animosity. Horace Walpole has also assailed her reputation with all the wit and venom which his practised pen could command. Daring, imprudent, and reckless as Lady Mary was, there seems no adequate reason for the attacks to which she was subjected. The circumstances under which she left England and separated from her husband, were perhaps sufficient ground for much that has been said of her. But of these circumstances little is known. The introduction of inoculation into England was perhaps a doubtful national benefit, but Lady Mary is at least entitled to the praise of moral courage for allowing the experiment to be tried on her own son. Her literary merits have perhaps received exaggerated praise. The Letters from Turkey are full of brilliancy, sparkle, and vivacity, but they fail to impress a generation familiar with productions of a higher tone. The style of Lady Mary is entirely her own. Less artificial than Walpole's, more sustained than Cowper's, her letters resemble Lord Byron's, more nearly perhaps than do those of any other English writer. There are touches of polished wit worthy of Addison or Steele-descriptive passages of the rarest felicity-shrewd apophthegms recalling familiar sayings in greater authors, scattered abundantly throughout the Letters during Mr. Montagu's Embassy to Constantinople.
1. Adrianople (from a Letter to Mr. Pope).
I AM at this present moment writing in a house situated on the banks of the Hebrus, which runs under my chamber window. My garden is all full of cypress trees, upon the branches of which several couple of true turtles are saying soft things to one another from morning till night. How naturally do boughs and vows come into my mind at this minute! and must not you confess, to my praise, that 'tis more than an ordinary discretion that can resist the wicked
suggestions of poetry, in a place where truth, for once, furnishes all the ideas of pastoral. The summer is already far advanced in this part of the world; and for some miles round Adrianople, the whole ground is laid out in gardens, and the banks of the rivers are set with rows of fruit-trees, under which all the most considerable Turks divert themselves every evening; not with walking, that is not one of their pleasures, but a set party of them choose out a green spot, where the shade is very thick, and there they spread a carpet, on which they sit drinking their coffee, and are generally attended by some slave with a fine voice, or that plays on some instrument. Every twenty paces you may see one of these little companies listening to the dashing of the river; and this taste is so universal, that the very gardeners are not without it. I have often seen them and their children sitting on the banks of the river, and playing on a rural instrument, perfectly answering the description of the ancient fistula, being composed of unequal reeds, with a simple but agreeable softness in the sound.
Mr. Addison might here make the experiment he speaks of in his travels; there not being one instrument of music among the Greek or Roman statues, that is not to be found in the hands of the people of this country. The young lads generally divert themselves with making garlands for their favourite lambs, which I have often seen painted and adorned with flowers lying at their feet while they sung or played. It is not that they ever read romances, but these are the ancient amusements here, and as natural to them as cudgelplaying and foot-ball to our British swains; the softness and warmth of the climate forbidding all rough exercises, which were never so much as heard of amongst them, and naturally inspiring a laziness and aversion to labour, which the great plenty indulges. These gardeners are the only happy race