Letters from the Right Honourable Lady Mary Wortley Montagu 1709 to 1762

Letters from the Right Honourable Lady Mary Wortley Montagu 1709 to 1762

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Letters from the Right Honourable Lady Mary Wortley Montagu 1709 to 1762

Letters from the Right Honourable Lady Mary Wortley Montagu 1709 to 1762

Read FREE!

Excerpt

The "Letters of Lady Mary Montagu," like many another literary classic, are constantly quoted and seldom read. Every man is well aware that the correspondence of distinguished persons in the eighteenth century should be found on his library shelves, and that her letters are an important part of this priceless collection. Yet they have only once been reprinted in a popular form, and their characteristics are familiar to the student alone.

It happens, however, that--besides presenting a vivid picture of manners in a picturesque age--they contain a unique series of impressions from foreign courts seldom visited and nowhere else so intimately described. Lady Mary was the wife of a popular ambassador and, wielding the charm of a strong personality, was enabled to see and hear many things of which the ordinary traveller, or resident abroad, knew--and knows-- little or nothing. Originally written, for the most part, to her sisters, her daughter, or to very intimate friends, her Letters are unusually detailed and frank. She was a keen observer, not superior to the love of gossip, with a quick eye for the telling features of a story or a situation, and an easy, effective style. It appears, in fact, that much of the correspondence as we now have it was deliberately prepared for publication; and the consciously ingenuous comparison of her own Letters with those of Madame Sévigné must have been retained, if not originally inspired, to disarm the critic: "The last pleasure that fell in my way was Madame Sévigné's letters; very pretty they are, but I assert, without the least vanity, that mine will be full as entertaining forty years hence. I advise you, therefore, to put none of them to the use of waste-paper." The flattering verdict was evidently accepted by her contemporaries, and has never been reversed.

In her own days, Lady Mary's Letters were valued chiefly for their revelations of Turkish life; and these, in fact, must . . .

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