Lady Mary Wortley Montague eBook

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

The career of Evelyn was undistinguished.  Born in 1711, his aunt, Lady Mary, said of him at the age of fifteen:  “The Duke of Kingston has hitherto had so ill an education, ’tis hard to make any judgment of him; he has his spirit, but I fear will never have his father’s sense.  As young gentlemen go, ’tis possible he may make a good figure among them.”  Than which it would be unkind to say anything more cutting.  Of course, honours came to him.  He was created Knight of the Garter in 1741, in which year he was appointed a Lord of the Bedchamber.  He rose to the rank of colonel in the army in 1745, and twenty-seven years later was promoted General; but it does not appear that he saw any service.  The second Duke of Kingston will, however, always be remembered for his marriage in 1769 with the beautiful and notorious Elizabeth Chudleigh, who was nine years his junior.  She had in 1744 married secretly Augustus John Hervey, afterwards sixth Earl of Bristol, who survived until December, 1779.  She had long been living with the Duke, but in 1769 she obtained a divorce a mensa et thoro, which she believed erroneously annulled the marriage.  The Duke died in 1773, when all his titles became extinct.  His Duchess was in the following year tried before the House of Lords for bigamy, found guilty, but, pleading benefit of peerage, was discharged.  Thus, she carried out the prognostication of Lord Chief Justice Mansfield, who had opposed the prosecution.  “The arguments about the place of trial suggest to my mind the question about the propriety of any trial at all,” he said in a debate in the House of Lords. “Cui bono?  What utility is to be obtained?  Suppose a conviction to be the result?—­the lady makes your lordships a courtesy, and you return a bow.”  She survived, living on the continent, until 1788.  As an epitaph for her there can be nothing better than a remark of Horace Walpole:  “I can tell you nothing more extraordinary, nor would any history figure near hers.  It shows genius to strike anything so new as her achievements.  Though we have many uncommon personages, it is not easy for them to be so superiorly particular.”

More generally interesting than these domestic matters was the political situation.  Queen Anne’s life had for some time been hanging in the balance.  It was thought that she might linger for some time, but there was no hope of her recovery.  The fight that was carried on between the supporters of the Hanoverian succession and the adherents of the Pretender is, of course, a matter of history.  On August 5, 1714, came to the Elector of Hanover, James Craggs, junior, with a letter from the Privy Council, dated July 31, announcing the precarious state of Anne’s health, and conveying assurances that in the event of her demise every precaution would be taken to safeguard the rights of George Lewis.  The same night messengers arrived at Hanover from London with the news of the death of the Queen, who had passed away on July 31, shortly after the departure of Craggs.

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Lady Mary Wortley Montague from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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