You paid obedience to the Sultan’s love.
Who, fair one, then, was your imperious Lord?
Not Montagu, but Mahomet the word:
Great as your wit, just so is Wortley’s love,
Your next attempt will be on thund’ring Jove,
The little angels you on Bowes bestow.
But gods themselves are only fit for you.”
No writer of verses likes to have fun poked at them, even in the form of friendly banter, but Lady Mary seems to have borne the affliction admirably.
Two persons with such impish humour could not but frequently find themselves at loggerheads, but their liking for each other’s society was genuine, and quarrels were followed by peace-making. “Sophia [as she nicknamed the young man] and I have been quite reconciled, and are now quite broke, and I believe not likely to piece up again,” Lady Mary wrote to her sister. This was in February, 1725, and a little later in the year the breach was widened by the really outrageous conduct of the Duke:
“Sophia and I have an immortal quarrel; which though I resolve never to forgive, I can hardly forbear laughing at. An acquaintance of mine is married, whom I wish very well to: Sophia has been pleased, on this occasion, to write the most infamous ballad that ever was written; where both the bride and bridegroom are intolerably mauled, especially the last, who is complimented with the hopes of cuckoldom, and forty other things equally obliging, and Sophia has distributed this ballad in such a manner as to make it pass for mine, on purpose to pique the poor innocent soul of the new-married man, whom I should be the last of creatures to abuse. I know not how to clear myself of this vile imputation, without a train of consequences I have no mind to fall into. In the mean time, Sophia enjoys the pleasure of heartily plaguing both me and that, person.”
Probably this “immortal quarrel” would have been made up, but at the beginning of July the Duke went abroad never to return. “Sophia is going to Aix-la-Chapelle, and thence to Paris,” Lady Mary wrote to Lady Mar. “I dare swear she’ll endeavour to get acquainted with you. We are broke to an iremediable degree. Various are the persecutions I have endured from her this winter, in all of which I remain neuter, and shall certainly go to heaven from the passive meekness of my temper.”
A FAMOUS QUARREL
Pope and Lady Mary—He pays her compliments—His jealousy of her other admirers—The cause of his quarrel with her—His malicious attacks on her thereafter—Writes of her as “Sappho”—Lady Mary asks Arbuthnot to protect her—Molly Skerritt—Lady Stafford—Lady Mary’s malicious tongue and pen—Mrs. Murray—“An Epistle from Arthur Grey”—Lady Mary, Lord Hervey, and Molly Lepell—Death of the Earl of Kingston—Lady Gower—Lady Mar—Marriage of Lady Mary’s daughter.