Here lies John Hughes and Sarah Drew;
Perhaps you’ll say, what’s that to you?
Believe me, friend, much may be said
On this poor couple that are dead.
On Sunday next they should have married;
But see how oddly things are carried!
On Thursday last it rain’d and lighten’d;
These tender lovers, sadly frighten’d,
Shelter’d beneath the cocking hay,
In hopes to pass the storm away;
But the bold thunder found them out
(Commissioned for that end, no doubt),
And, seizing on their trembling breath,
Consign’d them to the shades of death.
Who knows if ’twas not kindly done?
For had they seen the next year’s sun,
A beaten wife and cuckold swain
Had jointly curs’d the marriage chain;
Now they are happy in their doom,
For P. has wrote upon their tomb.
“I confess, these sentiments are not altogether so heroic as yours; but I hope you will forgive them in favour of the two last lines. You see how much I esteem the honour you have done them; though I am not very impatient to have the same, and had rather continue to be your stupid living humble servant, than be celebrated by all the pens in Europe.
“I would write to Mr. Congreve, but suppose you will read this to him, if he enquires after me.”
The Montagus take a house at Twickenham—Lady Mary’s liking for country life—Neighbours and visitors—Pope—Bononcini, Anastasia Robinson, Senesino—Lord Peterborough—Sir Geoffrey Kneller—Henrietta Howard—Lord Bathurst—The Duke of Wharton—His early history—He comes to Twickenham—His relations with Lady Mary—Horace Walpole’s reference to them—Pope’s bitter onslaught on the Duke—An Epilogue by Lady Mary—“On the death of Mrs. Bowes”—The Duke quarrels with Lady Mary.
Pope went to live at Twickenham in 1718, and it was generally believed that it was by his persuasion that the Montagus rented a house in that little riverside hamlet. It was not until 1722 that they bought “the small habitation.”
Lady Mary divided her time between London and Twickenham, but apparently enjoyed herself more at her country retreat. “I live in a sort of solitude that wants very little of being such as I would have it,” she wrote to her sister, Lady Mar, in August, 1721. As a matter of fact, the solitude was more imaginary than real, for round about there was a small colony of friends.
She was, indeed, very rarely lonely. “My time is melted away in almost perpetual concerts,” she told her sister. “I do not presume to judge, but I’ll assure you I am a very hearty as well as an humble admirer. I have taken my little thread satin beauty into the house with me; she is allowed by Bononcini to have the finest voice he ever heard in England. He and Mrs. Robinson and Senesino lodge in this village, and sup often with me: and this easy indolent life would make me the happiest in the world, if I had not this execrable affair [of Remond] still hanging over my head.” To Anastasia Robinson there is more than one allusion in Lady Mary’s correspondence, and she gives a most amusing account of an incident in that lady’s career.