Lady Mary Wortley Montague eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 308 pages of information about Lady Mary Wortley Montague.

“I am exceedingly glad of your father’s good health:  he owes it to his uncommon abstinence and resolution,” Lady Mary wrote to her daughter, April 11, 1759.  “I wish I could boast the same.  I own I have too much indulged a sedentary humour and have been a rake in reading.  You will laugh at the expression, but I think the liberal meaning of the ugly word rake is one that follows his pleasures in contradiction to his reason.  I thought mine so innocent I might pursue them with impunity.  I now find that I was mistaken, and that all excesses are (though not equally) blamable.  My spirits in company are false fire:  I have a damp within; from marshy grounds frequently arises an appearance of light.  I grow splenetic, and consequently ought to stop my pen, for fear of conveying the infection.”

“My health is very precarious; may yours long continue and see the prosperity of your family.  I bless God I have lived to see you so well established, and am ready to sing my Nunc dimittis with pleasure,” Lady Mary wrote to her daughter in November, 1760; and early in the next year she touched on the same subject in a letter to Sir James Steuart.  “I have not returned my thanks for your obliging letter so soon as both duty and inclination prompted me but I have had so severe a cold, accompanied with a weakness in my eyes, that I have been confined to my stove for many days....  I am preparing for my last and longest journey, and stand on the threshold of this dirty world, my several infirmities like posthorses ready to hurry me away.”

It was in January, 1761, that Edward Wortley Montagu passed away at the age of eighty-three.  He died at Wharncliffe, the family seat of the Wortleys, where he had lived in a most miserly manner.  He had only one luxury—­tokay, of which he was passionately fond.  He left a great fortune, the highest estimate of which was L1,350,000.  Horace Walpole said the estate was worth L600,000.  Walpole gives some particulars of the legacies:  “To his son, on whom six hundred a-year was settled, the reversion of which he has sold, he gives L1,000 a-year for life, but not to descend to any children he may have by any of his many wives.  To Lady Mary, in lieu of dower, but which to be sure she will not accept, instead of the thirds of such a fortune, L1,200 a-year; and after her to their son for life; and then the L1,200 and L1,000 to Lady Bute and to her second son; with L2,000 to each of her younger children; all the rest, in present, to Lady Bute, then to her second son, taking the name of Wortley, and in succession to all the rest of her children, which are numerous; and after them to Lord Sandwich, to whom, in present, he leaves about L40,000.  The son, you perceive, is not so well treated by his own father as his companion Taaffe[22] is by the French Court, where he lives, and is received on the best footing; so near is Fort l’Eveque to Versailles.”

[Footnote 22:  Theodore Taaffe, an Irish adventurer, who, with Edward Wortley Montagu, was imprisoned in Fort l’Eveque, at Paris, for cheating at cards in 1751.  The incident has been given in a pamphlet written by Montagu.]

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Lady Mary Wortley Montague from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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