[Footnote 18: A play by Beaumont and Fletcher, licensed for the stage in 1611.]
“I must add a few words on the Essay on Exile, which I read with attention, as a subject that touched me. I found the most abject dejection under a pretended fortitude. That the author felt it, can be no doubt to one that knows (as I do) the mean submissions and solemn promises he made to obtain a return, flattering himself (I suppose) he need only appear to be at the head of the administration, as every ensign of sixteen fancies he is in a fair way to be a general on the first sight of his commission.
“You will think I have been too long on the character of Atticus. I own I took pleasure in explaining it. Pope thought himself covertly very severe on Mr. Addison by giving him that name; and I feel indignation when he is abused, both from his own merit, and having been your father’s friend; besides that it is naturally shocking to see any one lampooned after his death by the same man who had paid him the most servile court while he lived and was highly obliged by him.”
As a periodical writer she compared Johnson unfavourably with Steele and Addison:
“The Rambler is certainly a strong misnomer; he always plods in the beaten road of his predecessors, following the Spectator (with the same pace a pack-horse would do a hunter) in the style that is proper to lengthen a paper. These writers may, perhaps, be of service to the public, which is saying a great deal in their favour. There are numbers of both sexes who never read anything but such productions, and cannot spare time, from doing nothing, to go through a sixpenny pamphlet. Such gentle readers may be improved by a moral hint, which, though repeated over and over, from generation to generation, they never heard in their lives. I should be glad to know the name of this laborious author.”
LADY MARY ON EDUCATION AND WOMAN’S RIGHTS
The choice of books for children’s reading—The dangers of a narrow education—Lady Mary advocates the higher education of women—Girls should be taught languages—Lady Mary’s theories of education for girls—Women writers in Italy—A “rumpus” made by ladies in the House of Lords—Woman’s Rights—Lady Mary’s views on religion.
In spite of her own fondness for books, Lady Mary was not a wholehearted believer in reading for young folk, unless the choice of volumes was carefully made by some competent person. This point she emphasised in one of her letters to her daughter.