Lady Mary Wortley Montague eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 370 pages of information about Lady Mary Wortley Montague.
for him as a man.  He came into the world greatly favoured both by nature and fortune, blest with a noble birth, heir to a large estate, endowed with a strong constitution, and, as I have heard, a beautiful figure, high spirits, a good memory and a lively apprehension, which was cultivated by a learned education:  all these glorious advantages being left to the direction of a judgment stifled by unbounded vanity, he dishonoured his birth, lost his estate, ruined his reputation, and destroyed his health, by a wild pursuit of eminence even in vice and trifles.

“I am far from making misfortune a matter of reproach.  I know there are accidental occurences not to be foreseen or avoided by human prudence, by which a character may be injured, wealth dissipated, or a constitution impaired:  but I think I may reasonably despise the understanding of one who conducts himself in such a manner as naturally produces such lamentable consequences, and continues in the same destructive paths to the end of a long life, ostentatiously boasting of morals and philosophy in print, and with equal ostentation bragging of the scenes of low debauchery in public conversation, though deplorably weak both in mind and body, and his virtue and his vigour in a state of non-existence.  His confederacy with Swift and Pope puts me in mind of that of Bessus and his sword-men, in the King and no King,[18] who endeavour to support themselves by giving certificates of each other’s merit.  Pope has triumphantly declared that they may do and say whatever silly things they please, they will still be the greatest geniuses nature ever exhibited.  I am delighted with the comparison given of their benevolence, which is indeed most aptly figured by a circle in the water, which widens till it comes to nothing at all; but I am provoked at Lord B.’s misrepresentation of my favourite Atticus, who seems to have been the only Roman that, from good sense, had a true notion of the times in which he lived, in which the republic was inevitably perishing, and the two factions, who pretended to support it, equally endeavouring to gratify their ambition in its ruin.  A wise man, in that case, would certainly declare for neither, and try to save himself and family from the general wreck, which could not be done but by a superiority of understanding acknowledged on both sides.  I see no glory in losing life or fortune by being the dupe of either, and very much applaud that conduct which could preserve an universal esteem amidst the fury of opposite parties.  We are obliged to act vigorously, where action can do any good; but in a storm, when it is impossible to work with success, the best hands and ablest pilots may laudably gain the shore if they can.  Atticus could be a friend to men without engaging in their passions, disapprove their maxims without awaking their resentment, and be satisfied with his own virtue without seeking popular fame:  he had the reward of his wisdom in his tranquillity, and will ever stand among the few examples of true philosophy, either ancient or modern....

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Lady Mary Wortley Montague from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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