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UNIVERSITY 
LIBRARY 



BOUGHT WITH THE INCOME 
OF THE SAGE ENDOWMENT 
FUND GIVEN IN 1891 BY 

HENRY WILLIAMS SAGE 



Cornell University Library 
DA 483.M75D69 





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the Cornell University Library. 

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the United States on the use of the text. 



http://www.archive.org/details/cu31924027991862 



A LADY 

OF THE 

LAST CENTURY 

(MRS. ELIZABETH MONTAGU): 
ILLUSTRATED IN HER UNPUBLISHED LETTERS; 

COLLECTED AND ARRANGED, 
WITH A BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH, AND A CHAPTER 

ON BLUE STOCKINGS. 



DR. DORAN, F.S.A., 

Author of " Table Traits^ and Something on Tliem ;" " Lives of the Qn 
. of England of the House of Hanover" &>c. 




LONDON- 

RICHARD BENTLEY AND SON, 

Publishers in ©rBirarg to get JMajestB, 
1873- 



LONDON : 
PRINTED BY WILLIAM CLOWES AND SONS, 

STAMFORD STREET AND CHARING CROSS. 



TO 

ANDREAS J. G. HOLTZ, ESQ. 

(twyford abbey), 

this "bit of mosaic" is dedicated, with sentiments 

of the most sincere esteem and 

cordial regard. 



PREFACE. 



In the year 1809, Mr. Matthew; Montagu published 
the first two of four volumes of letters of his aunt, 
Elizabeth Montagu. He was not only her nephew, 
he was also her adopted son and her executor. 
On the 5th of December in that year, the cele- 
brated statesman William Windham was reading 
those volumes, "in the evening, up-stairs;" and 
he subsequently recorded the following judgment 
of them in his Diary : — " I think very highly of 
them. One of their chief merits is series junctu- 
raque. Nothing can be more easy and natural 
than the manner in which the thoughts rise one 
out of the other, even where the thoughts may 
appear rather forced, nor is the expression ever 
hard or laboured. I see but little to object to in 



PREFACE. 



the thoughts themselves, but nothing can be more 
natural or graceful than the manner in which they 
are put together. The flow of her style is not less 
natural, because it is fully charged with shining 
particles, and sparkles as it flows." 

In 1 8 13, Mr. Matthew Montagu published two 
more volumes of his aunt's correspondence. The 
press generally received them with pleasant testi- 
mony of approval. It not only endorsed the 
judgment of the eminent statesman quoted above, 
but it especially pointed out that the letters were 
genuine and authentic, which could not be said of 
a similar collection of letters then challenging the 
censure of the town. Mrs. Montagu's letters were 
read with great avidity, and readers, for the most 
part, came to the same conclusion as the statesman 
and the critics. 

The last letter in the series is addressed to 
Mrs. Elizabeth Carter. The date is September, 
1 761. The writer lived nearly forty years after 
that date. During that time, she maintained a 
lively correspondence ; her letters were copied and 



PREFACE. 



circulated. After her death, a few, with fragments 
of others, found their way into various periodicals. 
The correspondence which Mrs. Elizabeth Mon- 
tagu kept up with her sister-in-law, Mrs Robinson, 
wife of the Rev. William Robinson, and a few other 
friends, between 1761 and the close of the last 
century, was long in the possession of the late 
Mr. Richard Bentley, who purchased them at a sale 
of autographs. These form the chief portion of the 
present volume. 

In a note to the letters published by Mr. Mon- 
tagu, the editor states that they are " intended to 
convey in them the biography of the writer, which 
the editor thinks he could not so well exemplify by 
any remarks of his own as by the letters themselves." 
Mr. Montagu gave to his aunt's readers every 
word of every epistle, from the salutation to the 
signature. 

From the letters now printed for the first time 
there have only been omitted vain repetitions, 
formal compliments, and the nothings that may 
have once been somethings, but which are now 



PBEFACK 



mere dust and ashes, from which little of value 
is to be sifted. There have been retained all that 
could further " convey the biography of the writer," 
with addition of such anecdotal illustration from the 
printed letters and from contemporary records, as 
might serve to show more completely the character 
and surroundings of a Lady of the Last Century. 

London. Nov. 1872. 



CONTENTS. 



CHAPTER I. 
Birth and parentage of Mrs. Montagu. — Long • 
Tom Robinson. — Dr. Conyers Middleton. — Early 
training of Mrs. Montagu. — Funeral at York 
Cathedral. — Mrs. Makin. — Her system of female 
education. — School at Tottenham High Cross- 
Early habits of Mrs. Montagu. — The Duchess 
of. Portland. — Mary-le-bone Gardens. — "La petite 
Fidget " at Bath, at Tunbridge Wells. — Lord Noel 
Somerset. — Bath life in 1740.— Lord Lyttelton. — 
Scarlet beaux and country Polyphemuses.— Modern 
marriages. — Garrick's Richard the Third. — Offers 
of marriage to Miss Robinson . . . Page 1 to 31 

CHAPTER II. 

Edward Montagu. — Wedding tour. — Allerthorpe.— 
Pursuits there. — Lord Dupplin. — Character of 
Mrs. Montagu's neighbours. — Unwelcome visitor. — 
Habits of mind. — Life in London. — Birth of a son. — 
Little "Punch." — Death of her son. — Visits Tun- 
bridge Wells.— Doctor Young and Colley Cibber 
there. — The Vicar of Tunbridge. — The Rebellion 
of 1745.— Death of Mrs. Montagu's mother.— Wilton. 
— Death of her brother. — Mode of life at Bath. — 
Mrs. Gilbert West.— Mrs. Montagu's tastes.— Love 
of books. — Her analysis of Clarissa Harlowe. — Mrs. 
Pilkington. — Lady Sandwich. — Miss Chudleigh at 
the masquerade. — Letter to Mr. Montagu Page 32 to 58 

b 



CONTENTS. 



CHAPTER III. 

Visits London.— George Lewis Scott.— Marries Mrs. 
Montagu's sister. — Their separation. — Death of a 
friend.— Lady Hester Pitt.— The refugee, Bower.— 
Lady Townshend's ball. — Lady Essex. — " Blue 
Stockings."— Mr. Benjamin Stillingfleet — Rumours 
of war. — Life in the country. — Mrs. Elizabeth 
Carter.— Mr. Montagu succeeds to a rich inherit- 
ance. — Dangerous mistake. — Doctor Monsey. — Dr. 
Johnson. — Mrs. Ogle's benefit. — Mrs. Montagu's 
character of Burke.— Writes a criticism and misses 
a ball. — Dissipations and diversions. — Two old 
lovers. — Mrs. Montagu as an authoress. — "Dia- 
logues of the Dead." — French in the shades. — 
Female education.— Longing after rest.— Accession 
of George the Third. — House in Hill Street. — 
Furniture in fashion.— Mrs. Montagu a political 
economist. — Anecdote of an old Scotch woman. — 
"The Penitents." — Warburton. — His treatment of 
Shakespeare. — William Robinson. — His life of 
inaction. — Sir Charles Williams. — Hammond's 
" elegies " . . Page 59 to ; 

CHAPTER IV. 

Anecdote of the young king. — Lord Anson. — Retire- 
ment of Mr. Speaker Onslow. — Death of Beau Nash. 
—Mr. Pitt.— His character.— Lord Bute. — Marriage 
of the king. — Portrait of Queen Charlotte. — Lord 
Hardwicke reads an account of her in public. — 
Preparations for the coronation.— Arrival of the 
queen. — Dr. Young's new poem. — London on the 
night of the coronation. — duke of ancaster. — lady 
Hardwicke.— Regret at Mr. Pitt's resignation. — His 
reception in the city. — speech in the commons. — 
George Grenville.— Bon mot of Lady Townshend. — 



CONTENTS. 



" Millennium Hall."— Kitty Hunter.—" The School 
for Lovers."— Change of costume.— Lord Clive at 
b ath Page 89 to 115 

CHAPTER V. 

Retirement of the Duke of Newcastle.— The King's 
purchase of Buckingham House. — Violent distemper 
in London.— Death of the Duke of Portland and 
Mrs. Donellan. — Lord Halifax. — Death - of Sir 
Edward Dering. — Mr. Harrison's watch. — Bon- 
mot of the Duke of Newcastle. — His character. — 
Declines a pension. — Pension to Dr. Johnson. — Birth 
of " the first gentleman in Europe." — The Duke of 
Bedford.— Englishmen naturally politicians. — In- 
stalment of the ■ Knights of the Garter — Return 
to England of Lady Mary Wortley Montagu. — Her 
death. — Her character. — Her reception of Mrs. 
Montagu. — Lady Mary leaves her son one guinea. — 
His singular character. — Gathering at Hagley. — ■ 
The new cold, " l'influenza." — Mrs. Montagu visits 
Oxford, Blenheim, Kenilworth, Warwick Castle. — 
Mrs. Montagu at Sandleford. — Lord Bath proposed 
to. — His death. — His great wealth.— Mrs. Montagu 
visits Alnwick, Edinburgh, Glasgow, the Trosachs. 
— The Vale of Glencoe. — Visit to Lord Kames. — 
Literary evenings in Edinburgh. — The poet Gray. — 
His reserve. — The art of conversation. — Lady 
Corn ewall abroad Page 116 to 147 

CHAPTER VI. 

Critical state of public affairs.— Voltaire's attack 
on Shakespeare.— Mrs. Montagu's defence.— Recep- 
tion of her essay.— Countess Gower's criticism.— 
Dr. Johnson's opinion of it.— Garrick— Cowper's 
opinion. — Mrs. Montagu falls ill.— Visits Edin- 
burgh. — Mrs. Chapone.— Lord Buchan.— Lord Kin- 



CONTENTS. 



noul.— Lord Breadalbane. — Lord Kames. — Scotch 
hospitality. — death of george grenville. — ru- 
MOURS of war. — The King's speech. — Lord Chatham. 
—Conversations of Lord Kames and Mrs. Montagu. 
— Voltaire's abuse of Lord Kames. — William Emer- 
son. — Cheated by his father-in-law. — Burke. — 
George Grenville — Death of the Duke of Bedford. 
—His character, wealth, and political influence. 
— Legacies.— Foreign politics.— Ladies' schools 

Page 148 to 170 

CHAPTER VII. 

The Duchess of Portland. — Fineness of the weather. 
— Visit to Winchester. — Smuggling. — Visit to Mr. 
Burke at Beaconsfield.— Character of Mr. Burke. 
—Lord Temple.— Lord Nuneham. — Mrs. Montagu's 
relations.— Gray the poet. — Compared to Pindar. — 
Changes in newspapers. — Extinction of letter 
writing. — Failure of Sir George C e. — Bad state 

OF THE COUNTRY. — GOOD LUCK IN SMUGGLING.— REQUIRE- 
MENTS OF A YOUNG LADY IN 1773-— CHRISTMAS FES- 
TIVITIES. — Character of Mrs. Montagu's niece. — 
Lord Stanhope. — Lord Mahon. — Observations on 
the bringing-up of children.— mlss gregory. — the 
price of a dull man. — dr. johnson. — mrs. montagu 
settles an annuity on mrs. williams. — serious 
illness of Mr. Montagu. — His love of mathematics. 
— His death.— Prospects of his widow. — Horace 
Walpole to Mason Page 171 to 194 

CHAPTER VIII. 

Mrs. Montagu's attention to her affairs. — Visits 
Sandleford and Denton. — Visits her estate at 
Burniston. — Entertains her tenants. — Drought in 
1775. — Charitable institutions. — Visits her col- 
lieries. — Difference between her Northumbrian 



CONTENTS. 



and Yorkshire tenantry. — Anecdote of Walter 
Scott. — Lord Villiers acts Lord Townley. — The 
French ambassador. — Lord Granby. — Mrs. Montagu 
in Paris. — Voltaire sends a paper to the Academy 
against Shakespeare.— Mrs. Montagu is present at 
the reading. — Her ready reply to M. Suard. — A 
judicious idleness. — Quantity of rouge used in 
Paris. — The Emperor of Austria. — " The School for 
Scandal." — The Duchess of Devonshire. — Run of 
bad weather— Sir William Temple. — Dr. Robinson's 
History of America. — Lord Shelburne. — Abb£ 
Raynal. — Prevalence of influenza. — Engagement 
of Lady Mary Somerset.— Death of Morris Robin- 
son. — Jack the painter. — Dr. Dodd. — Lord Chester- 
field. — Lady Strathmore's conduct at the elections. 
— Stoney Bowes Page 195 to 224 

CHAPTER IX. 

Nuneham. — Society there.— The French ambassador. 
— The taking of Ticonderoga. — Morris Robinson's 
widow. — Building of the Haymarket Theatre.— Mrs. 
Montagu's heir. — The minuet.— Family affairs. — 
Kindness to Mrs. Morris Robinson.— Accident to 
Mrs. Scott.— Lord Percy's divorce.— The Duke of 
Hamilton. — Miss Burrell. — False report of the 
death of Mrs. Montagu's father.— Accident to Lord 
Chatham.— His appearance in the House of Lords. 
— Speech there in reply to the Duke of Richmond. 
— Sinks' speechless in a fit. — Mothers and daughters 
in 1778 Page 225 to 241 

CHAPTER X. 

Character of Miss Coke.— The new singer at the 
Pantheon. — Society at Tunbridge Wells. — The 
minuet goes out of fashion.— Decay of Mrs. Mon- 
tagu's father.— The camp at Coxheath.— Prosperity 



CONTENTS. 



of the north of england.— lord kames.— victory of 
> Lord Rodney.— Completion of the Circus at Bath. — 
Commencement of the Crescent there. — Life in 
Bath.— Cards the chief business there.— Mr. Anstey. 
— Four by honours. — Riots in England. — The Nabobs. 
—Marriage of Mrs. Montagu's niece.— Mrs. Mon- 
tagu's new house. — Corruption of London society 
in 1779. — Three divorces in one session. — Lord 
Percy.— Lord Carmarthen. — Lord Derby. — The Duke 
of Dorset.— Mrs. Macaulay ... . Page 242 to 263 

CHAPTER XI. 

The Blue Stockings. — Mrs. Chapone as Lady Racket in 
the " Rambler."— The " Rambler " attacks card-play- 
ing.— Sunday-night parties. — Madame du Bocage. — 
Card-parties at the Duke of Richmond's. — A break- 
fast at Mrs. Montagu's. — Frederick Prince of 
Wales.— His accomplishments. — Breakfast parties 
yield to evening coteries. — origin of " blue stock- 
ING." — Mr. Stillingfleet.— Eminent persons who met 
at the assemblies of mrs. montagu, mrs. vesey, 
and Mrs. Ord.— The Club.— Sir Joshua Reynolds. — 
Dr. Johnson.— Hawkins. — Beautiful ceiling and 
chimney-piece at Mrs. Montagu's. — Lord Chester- 
field's new house. — Dangers surrounding it in 1748. 
—Dr. Johnson at Montagu House.— Soame Jenyns' 
epitaph on Johnson. — Mrs. Garrick. — Manner of her 
first appearance on the stage. — Lady Clermont's 
al fresco gatherings. — syllabubs in berkeley 
Square. — Footpads on Hay Hill. — Garrick recites 
from Macbeth at Lady Montagu's.— Lady Spencer's 
eyes. — Dr. Johnson at Mrs. Vesey's— Contest of 
gallantry with Mrs. Buller. — Miss Monkton, after- 
wards Lady Cork.— Conversation of Mrs. Montagu. 
— Walpole on Blue Stockings. — Hannah More's 
description of the bas-bleu meetings. — The people 



CONTENTS. 



WHO ATTENDED THE BLUE-STOCKING ASSEMBLIES. — JOHN- 
SON'S QUARREL WITH MRS. MONTAGU. HlS LIFE OF 

Lyttelton.— Horace Walpole. — His criticism on 
Mrs. Montagu. — "Chateau Portman." — The Par- 
nassus at Batheaston. — Introduction of bouts- 
rim£s. — Walpole's satirical account of the Par- 
nassus fair.— Mrs. Montagu in Montagu House- 
Mrs. Montagu as Vanessa, in " The Observer."— Mrs. 
Siddons.— Miss Mitford on the Batheaston meet- 
ings Page 264 to 302 

CHAPTER XII. 

Queen Charlotte.— Miss Burney.— The new house in 
Portman Square.— Improvements in her property- 
Character of the French, Dutch, and English.— 
Lord Edward Bentinck. — Miss Cumberland.— Lord 
Bristol. — Mr. Brown's improvements at Sandleford. 
— Bishop of Durham.— Madame de Genlis. — Mrs. 
Montagu's "new palace."— The Harcourts.— Mrs. 
Montagu's advice to a niece.— Johnson's " Lives of 
the Poets.''— Sir Richard Jebb — Mrs. Montagu sets 
up a new sort of carriage by the advice of slr 
Richard Jebb.— Miss Gregory.— Letter to Morris 
Robinson's widow.— Air balloons.— The Prince of 
Wales.— Is hissed at the theatre.— The French 
ambassador. — French bribery in England. — Dr. 
Johnson's testimony to Mrs. Montagu . Page 303 to 322 

CHAPTER XIII. 

Air balloons. — Fire at Sandleford. — Feather-work. 

Mrs. Montagu at the drawing-rooms.— Mr. Jer- 

ningham's lines on the occasion of her fall there. 

Engagement of her heir and nephew to Miss 

Charlton. — Character of her nephew. — Of Miss 
Charlton.— Mr. Pitt.— Marriage of Mrs. Montagu's 



CONTENTS. 



heir.— Breakfast at Salt Hill.— Lord Lansdowne. — 
Lady Sutherland. — Lord Trentham. — Declining 
health of mrs. vesey.— lady spencer.— lord grim- 
ston.— Mrs. Montagu visits her Newcastle property. 
— Lord Mount-Stewart. — Lord Carlisle. — Lord 
Ravensworth. — Sir Henry Liddell.— Cowper's verses 
on Mrs. Montagu. — Employments of young Mr. 
Montagu. — His maiden speech answered by Mr. 
Fox. — Wraxall's allusion to it. — General Mon- 
tagu Matthew.— His disclaimer of connection with 
Matthew Montagu. — Southampton. — London in 
winter. — The commencement of troubles in France. 
— The Duke of Dorset introduces a " the." — Des- 
cribed by Hannah More. — The King's illness.— Mr. 
Fox's illness. — Lord Mount Edgcumbe. — Bath. — 
Mr. Montagu. — Lord Harrowby.— Party at Mrs. 
Montagu's, at which Burke is present. — Mac- 
kenzie, author of " The Man of Feeling."— Wilber- 
force. — Great dinners to great people. — Mrs. 
Montagu's failing health. — Mrs. Carter. — Educa- 
tion of girls. — Mrs. Montagu's interest in the 
subject.— Summary of her life and character, 

Page 323 to 356 



u 



A LADY OF THE LAST CENTURY. 



CHAPTE R L. 



Mgaw^.f z-rr. 



EKKATUM. 

Page 3, line 9, for Kichard, read William ; add, " and sub- 
sequently to the next brother, Bichard." 



-±- urKsirae,- rrom oir ± nomas JvoKeDy;' wnose ances- 
tors had held it from the time of the Conquest. 
Her father, Matthew Robinson, was an only son of 
a cadet branch of the Robinsons. He was a mem- 
ber of the University of Cambridge, where he wooed 
the Muses less ardently than he did Miss Elizabeth 
Drake, a beautiful heiress, whom he married when 



CONTENTS. 



heir.— Breakfast at Salt Hill.— Lord Lansdowne. — 
Lady Sutherland. — Lord Trentham. — Declining 

HEALTH OF MRS. VESEY.— LADY SPENCER.— LORD GRIM- 

ston.— Mrs. Montagu visits her Newcastle property. 
— Lord Mount-Stewart. — Lord Carlisle. — Lord 
Ravensworth. — Sir Henry Liddell. — Cowper's verses 
on Mrs. Montagu. — Employments of young Mr. 
Montagu.— His maiden speech answered by Mr. 
Fox. — Wraxall's allusion to it. — General Mon- 
tagu Matthew.— His disclaimer of connection with 
Matthew Montagu. — Southampton. — London in 
winter.— The commencement of troubles in France. 
— The Duke of Dorset introduces a "the." — Des- 



' A LADY OF THE LAST CENTURY. 



CHAPTER I. 

Elizabeth Robinson, who became so well-known, 
subsequently, as Mrs. Montagu, belongs altogether 
to the eighteenth century. She was born at York, 
in October, 1720. She died in the last year of that 
century, 1800. Miss Robinson was of a family, 
the founder of which, William Robinson, a London 
merchant, but a descendant of a line of Scottish 
Barons, bought, in 1610, the estate of Rokeby, in 
Yorkshire, from Sir Thomas Rokeby, whose ances- 
tors had held it from the time of the Conquest. 
Her father, Matthew Robinson, was an only son of 
a cadet branch of the Robinsons. He was a mem- 
ber of the University of Cambridge, where he wooed 
the Muses less ardently than he did Miss Elizabeth 
Drake, a beautiful heiress, whom he married when 



A LADY OF TEE LAST CENTURY. 



he was only eighteen years of age. The very young 
couple settled at Edgeley, in Yorkshire; but the 
husband (owner, through his wife, of more than one 
estate in the country) preferred the shady side of 
Pall Mall to fields of waving corn or groves vocal 
with nightingales. 

Of the twelve children of this marriage, seven 
sons and two daughters survived their youth. The 
daughters, Elizabeth and Sarah, were endowed with 
the same literary tastes. Sarah wrote the more 
books, but Elizabeth is the better remembered. The 
church, the law, politics, and commerce attracted 
one or other of the sons. 

In 1730, the head of the elder branch of the 
Robinsons, Thomas, was created a baronet. He 
was that famous Long Tom Robinson of whom 
so many well-known stories are told. Chesterfield 
slightly touched him in an epigram, and Walpole 
seldom referred to him without a sarcasm. At the 
coronation of George the Third, Sir Thomas was 
trie mock Duke of Normandy, who, with an equally 
English and mock Duke of Aquitaine, was sup- 
posed to indicate that the King of England was as 
much King of France, by the grace of God, as he 



A LADY OF TEE LAST CENTURY. 3 

pretended to be. Long Sir Thomas was so truly 
an Englishman that he went to France, and into 
French society, in his hunting suit. A satirical 
French abbe, hearing his name and looking at his 
marvellous attire, gravely asked him if he were 
Robinson Crusoe. 

Long Sir Thomas Robinson sold Rokeby to the 
Morritts in 1769. When he died, in 1777, his 
title went to his next surviving brother, Richard. 
This Richard was an English clergyman, who, in 
173 1, had commenced a successful career in 
Ireland, as chaplain to two viceroys, and he was 
successively Bishop of Killala, of Leighlin and 
Ferns, and of Kildare. Finally, he was raised to 
the dignity of Archbishop of Armagh, Primate of 
Ireland. In the year that Sir Thomas died, 
Richard was created an Irish peer, Baron Rokeby 
of Armagh, with remainder to Mrs. Montagu's 
father, Matthew Robinson. The father did not 
live to succeed to the title, but his son Matthew 
did. The present Lord Rokeby is Mrs. Montagu's 
great grand-nephew, and was born when she was yet 
living, a.d. 1798. The first lord figures largely in 
this lady's letters. His good works made him 

b 1 



A LADT OF THE LAST CENTURY. 



popular in Ireland, which his grace found to be a 
fine country to live out of, as much as was, more or 
less, consistent with duty. He was one of the best- 
known characters at Bath during successive seasons ; 
he also suffered much from the gout; but he 
endured with alacrity all the port and claret that 
were necessary to keep it out of his archiepiscopal 
stomach. 

Thus much for Mrs. Montagu's family. She 
derived from it a certain distinction ; but she 
enjoyed greater advantage, for a time at least, from 
the marriage of her maternal grandmother, who took 
for her second husband the learned and celebrated 
Dr. Conyers Middleton. Dr. Middleton's home 
was at Cambridge, where a few of Miss Robinson's 
youthful years were profitably and curiously spent. 

Curiously — from the method which the biographer 
of Cicero took with the bright and intelligent girl. 
Among the divines, scholars, philosophers, travellers, 
men of the world who were, „ together or in turn, to 
be met with at Dr. Middleton's house, the figure of 
the silent, listening, and observant little maid was 
always to be seen. Her, presence there was a part of 
her education. Dr. Middleton trained her to give 



A LADY OF THE LAST CENTURY. 5 

perfect attention to the conversation, and to repeat 
to him all that she could retain of it, after the 
company had dispersed. When she. had to speak 
of what she did not well understand, Dr. Middleton 
enlightened his little pupil. This process not only 
filled her young mind with knowledge, but made 
her eager in the pursuit of more. 

How readily she received impressions at an early 
age, and how indelibly they were stamped on her 
memory, she has herself recorded. " One of the 
strongest pictures in my mind," she wrote to Lord 
Lyttelton, in 1759, "is the funeral of a Dean of 
York, which I saw performed with great solemnity 
in the Cathedral, when I was about four years old. 
Whether the memory of it, added to the present 
objects, may not have made the place appear the 
more awful to me, I do not know ; but I was never 
so affected by any edifice." She loved York, and 
in her early Yorkshire home, the plan of education 
went far in advance of the views, and perhaps 
of the powers, of family governesses. Masters, as 
well as mistresses, were there for the instruction of 
both sons and daughters ; but Elizabeth's father 
sharpened and stimulated her intellect by en- 



A LADY OF THE LAST CENTUBY. 



couraging her to make smart repartees to his own 
witty or severe judgments. In this cudgelling of 
brains, Matthew had great delight till he found that 
his daughter was too much for him at his most 
favourite weapons. Matthew then bit his lips, and 
ceased to offer challenge or give provocation. 

Matthew Robinson's wife seems to have been 
educated, according to the traditions of a school 
founded in 1673, for the purpose of raising women 
to the dignity and usefulness which distinguished 
their ancestresses. The lady, Mrs. Makin, who 
originated this school for English maidens, stated 
her object in an Essay, of which a few words may 
be said, as illustrative of a system of female education 
in England, which, founded nearly half a century 
before Elizabeth Robinson was born, had not lost 
all its influence till after she herself was to be 
reckoned, among learned young ladies. The work 
in question was called "An Essay to revive the 
Ancient Education of Gentlewomen in Religion, 
Manners, Arts, and Tongues : With an Answer to 
the Objections against this way of Education." 
In the Dedication to the Lady Mary, daughter 
of James Duke of York, the author says : " The 



A LADY OF TEE LAST GENTVBY. 7 

barbarous custom to breed women low is grown 
general amongst us, and hath prevailed so far, that it is 
verily believed that women are not endowed with such 
reason as man." Of old, Mrs. Makin says, women 
were highly educated ; but now, " not only learning, 
but virtue itself, is scorned and neglected as pedantic 
things, fit only for the vulgar." The remedy en- 
joined for this matter is thus stated : " Were a 
competent number of schools erected to educate 
Ladies ingeniously, methinks I see how ashamed 
men would be of their ignorance, and how in- 
dustrious the next generation would be to wipe 
off the reproach ! " The author adds : " Let not 
your Ladyship be offended that I do not, as some 
have wittily done, plead for female pre-eminence. 
To ask too much, is the way to be denied 
all." 

To prove that women were formerly educated in 
Arts and Tongues, the author names a score and 
more of Greek, Roman, and other ladies celebrated 
for their proficiency in those respects. 

" How," asks the author, " could the Sibyls have 
invented heroic, or Sappho 'sapphick,' or Corinna 
have thrice beaten Pindar at lyric verses, if they had 



A LADY OF THE LAST CENTURY. 



not been highly educated ?" And to prove that the 
young ladies of both Greece and Rome were in- 
structed in all kinds of good literature, the writer 
refers to a learned duel between twenty ladies 
a side, from each nation, in which the Grecian 
women came off the better in philosophy, and the 
Roman superior in oratory. 

As instances of admirably-educated English- 
women, the following persons are named, with 
much eulogistic comment : — 

The Lady Jane Gray. The " present Duchess of 
Newcastle, who, by her own genius, rather than 
any timely instruction, overtops many grave Gown- 
men." The Countess Dowager of Huntingdon, a 
pupil of Mrs. Makin's ; " well she understands 
Latin, Greek, Hebrew, French, and Spanish" and 
"what a proficient she is in arts subservient to 
Divinity, in which (if I durst, I would tell you) 
she excels." The Princess Elizabeth, daughter to 
King Charles the First, to whom Mrs. Makin was 
tutoress, " at nine years old, could write, read, and in 
some measure understand Latin, Greek, Hebrew, 
French, and Ltalicin : had she lived, what a 
miracle she would have been of her sex. Mrs. 



A LADY OF THE LAST CENTUBY. 9 

Thorold, daughter of the Lady Car, in Lincolnshire, 
was excellent in philosophy, and all sorts of learning. 
I cannot, without injury, forget the Lady Mildmay 
and Dr. Love's daughters : their worth and ex- 
cellency in learning is yet fresh in the memory of 
many men." Finally, as the greatest sample of all, 
the author describes Queen Elizabeth at some 
length, who, " according to Ascham, read more 
Greek in a day than many of the Doctors of her 
time did Latin in a week." 

In the Postscript to the above essay, the following 
passages occur : — 

" If any enquire where this education may be 
performed, such may be informed that a school 
is lately erected for Gentlewomen, at Tottenham 
High Cross, within four miles of London, on the 
road to Ware, where Mrs. Makin is governess, 
who was formerly tutoress to the Princess Eliza- 
beth, daughter to King Charles the First. Where, 
by the blessing of God, Gentlewomen may be 
instructed in the Principles of religion, and in all 
manner of sober and virtuous Education : more 
particularly in all things ordinarily taught in other 
schools. 



10 A LADY OF THE LAST CENTURY. 



" As Works of all sorts 
Dancing. . . . 
Musick .... 
Singing .... 
Writing .... 
Keeping accompts 



Half the time to be 
spent in these 
things. 



" The other half to be employed in gaining the 
Latin and French tongues ; and those that please 
may learn Greek and Hebrew, the Italian and 
Spanish: in all which this Gentlewoman hath a 
competent knowledge. 

" Gentlewomen of eight or nine years old, that 
can read well, may be instructed in a year or two 
(according to their parts) in the Latin and French 
tongues ; by such plain and simple Rules, accom- 
modated to the Grammar of the English tongue, 
that they may easily keep what they have learned, 
and recover what they shall lose ; as those that 
learn Musick by Notes. 

" Those that will bestow longer time may learn 
the other languages afore-mentioned, as they please. 

" Repositories also for Visibles shall be prepared ; 
by which, from beholding the things, Gentlewomen 
may learn the Names, Natures, Values, and Use of 



A LADY OF TEE LAST CENTURY. 11 

Herbs, Shrubs, Trees, Mineral-pieces, Metals, and 
Stones. 

"Those that please may learn Limning, Pre- 
serving, Pastry, and Cookery. 

" Those that will allow longer time may attain 
some general knowledge in Astronomy, Geography, 
but especially in Arithmetick and History. 

"Those that think one language enough for a 
Woman, may forbear the Languages, and learn 
only Experimental Philosophy, and more or fewer 
of the other things aforementioned, as they incline. 

" The Rate certain shall be 10I. per annum : 
But if a competent improvement be made in the 
Tongues, and the other things aforementioned, as 
shall be agreed upon, then something more will be 
expected. But the parents shall judge what shall be 
deserved by the Undertaker. 

" Those that think these Things Improbable, or 
Impracticable, may have further account every 
Tuesday, at Mr. Mason's CofFee-house, in Cornhill, 
near the Royal Exchange ; and Thursdays, at the 
" Bolt and Tun," in Fleet Street, between the hours 
of three and six in the afternoon, by some person 
whom Mrs. Makin shall appoint." 



12 A LADY OF THE LAST CENTURY. 



Mrs. Makin's school, under herself and her suc- 
cessors, and her system, adopted by imitators, had 
good influences in their "little day." Those in- 
fluences continued beyond that period in families 
like that of Mrs. Robinson, where every variety of 
knowledge was accounted valuable. It was a period 
when grace of carriage was held by others to be as 
necessary as a well-stored mind; and very popular 
in some English households was a little volume from 
the French, called " The Art of being Easy at all 
Times and in all Places, written chiefly for the use of 
a Lady of Quality." 

In the Robinson family, personal grace came 
naturally ; but the mind was cultivated. Indeed in 
that household, the wits were not allowed to rust. 
It was the delight of those bright girls and boys to 
maintain or to denounce, for the sport's sake, some 
particular argument set up for the purpose. Oc- 
casionally the pleasant skirmish would develope 
into something like serious battle. The triumphant 
laugh of the victor would now and then bring tears 
to the eyes of the vanquished. At such times 
there was a moderator of the excited little assembly. 
The mother of the young disputants sat at a table 



A LADY OF TEE LAST CENTUBY. 13 

close at hand. She read or worked ; sometimes she 
listened smilingly ; sometimes was not without ap- 
prehension. But she was equal to the emergency. 
Her children recognized her on such occasions as 
" Mrs. Speaker ;" and that much-loved dignitary 
always adjourned the house when victory was too 
hotly contested, or when triumph seemed likely to 
be abused. 

It is hard to believe that Elizabeth Robinson, 
who was the liveliest of these disputants, assumed or 
submitted to the drudgery of copying the whole of 
the " Spectator," when she was only eight years of 
age. Her courage and perseverance, however, were 
equal to such a task ; but her energies were often 
turned in another direction. She was as unre- 
servedly given to dancing, she tells us, as if she had 
been bitten by a tarantula. She as ardently loved fun 
— " within the limits of becoming mirth " — as she 
devotedly pursued learning. 

"My mind used to sleep," she writes to Lord 
Lyttelton, " eight or ten hours without even the visi- 
tation of a dream, and rose in the morning, like 
Aurora, throwing freshness and joy on every object, 
tricked itself out in sunbeams, and set in gay and 



14 A LADY OF THE LAST CENTUBY. 



glowing colours." With a head furnished with 
knowledge beyond that possessed by most girls of 
her age ; with feet restless and impatient to join any 
dance anywhere ; she had a heart most sisterly and 
tenderly attuned to love for, and sympathy with, her 
brothers. " I have seven of them," she wrote while 
she was yet in her teens, " and would not part with 
one for a kingdom. If I had but one, I should be 
distracted about him. Surely, no one has so many 
or so good brothers." This is only one out of a 
score of such testimonies of sisterly affection. 

There are some significant traces of the effects of 
this lady's early training in the letters which she 
wrote from the time she was twelve years of age till 
she had reached her twenty-second year, when she 
married. These letters were addressed to a friend 
older than herself, Lady Margaret Cavendish Harley, 
who in 1734, became Duchess of Portland. They 
are sprightly and forcible, but they are not " girlish." 
In one of the earliest, written at Horton, near Hythe, 
Kent (one of the estates which Matthew gained by 
his marriage), she says : — " My papa is a little 
vapoured, and last night, after two hours' silence, he 
broke out into a great exclamation against the 



A LADY OF THE LAST CENTURY. 15 

country, and concluded by saying, that living in the 
country was sleeping with one's eyes open. He has 
ordered me to put a double quantity of saffron in his 
tea." For what purpose this remedy was ordered, 
may be guessed from a passage in a comedy of 
Charles the Second's time, by Howard. " SafFron- 
posset-drink is very good against the heaviness of 
the spirits," says Mrs. Arbella, in " The Committee." 
Young Miss Robinson was fond of illustrating 
her early letters by images taken from life, and set 
up after the fashion of popular novelists. One of 
these figures occurs in a letter addressed to the 
Duchess of Portland, in May 1734, when the lively 
writer had not yet completed her fourteenth year: — 
" I am surprised that my answer to your grace's 
letter has never reached your hands. I sent it 
immediately to Canterbury, by the servant of a 
gentleman who dined here ; and I suppose he 
forgot to put it in the post. ... If my letter were 
sensible, what would be its mortification, that, instead 
of having the honour to kiss your grace's hands, 
it must live confined in the footman's pocket, with 
greasy gloves, rotten apples, mouldy nuts, a pack of 
dirty cards, and the only companion of its sort — a 



16 A LADY OF TEE LAST CENTUBY. 



tender epistle from his sweetheart, ' tru till Deth ;' 
perhaps, by its situation, subject to be kicked by his 
master every morning, till at last, by ill-usage and 
rude company, worn too thin for any other use, it 
may make its exit by lighting a tobacco-pipe." 

The young writer of the above was not only 
remarkably observant of all that passed around her, 
but generally showed her reading, by a quotation 
that should give force to the description of what 
she observed. Thus, in writing to her dear duchess, 
who had been suffering from fever (a.d. i 734) Miss 
Robinson remarks : — " I shall put on as musty a face 

at your grace's fever as Miss W could make 

at the face of Dr. Sandys, to describe the horror of 
which would require at least as tragic a bard as 
Lee ; for then she would look, good gods ! how she 
would look ! " This may smack of priggishness ; 
but there was nothing of that, nor of false prudery, 
in Elizabeth Robinson's character. Before she was 
fifteen, she had some experiences not likely to fall 
to the lot of young ladies of the present day. " I 
have in winter," she writes to Mrs. Anstey, " gone 
eight miles to dance to the music of a blind fiddler, 
and returned at two o'clock in the morning, 



A LADY OF THE LAST CENTURY. 17 

mightily pleased that I had been so well enter- 
tained." Indeed, young ladies seem to have been 
thoroughly emancipated, and to have been abroad 
in the " wee sma' hours 'ayont the twal " enjoying 
all the perils consequent on such rather wild 
doings. In 1738, when our young lady was not 
quite eighteen, she went, with two of her brothers 
and her sister, eight miles to the play, from her 
Kentish home; and she tells the Duchess of 
Portland, " After the play, the gentlemen invited all 
the women to a supper at the inn, where we stayed 
till two o'clock in the morning, and then all set out 
for our respective homes." The frolicksome damsel 
adds, "Before I had gone two miles, I had the 
pleasure of being overturned, at which I squalled 
for joy." It was, perhaps, this indulgence in fun 
and late hours, joined to much solid reading, that 
made this youthful reveller and student hate early 
morning hours as she hated cards. But her 
"quality" was favourably shown in her ready 
observance of the law and custom of the house in 
which she happened to be a sojourner. There is 
no better proof than this of what is understood by 
" good breeding." She would rather have gone 

c 



18 A LADY OF THE LAST CENTURY. 

down to breakfast at noon than at nine ; but if the 
breakfast-hour of her entertainers was at eight, 
there was the young guest at table, fresh as the 
rose and brighter than the dawn. She amusingly 
illustrated this matter once, by writing from a 
house where she was tarrying, " Six o'clock in the 
morning ; New Style ! " 

In fact, few things came amiss to her. No doubt 
she preferred Mary-le-bone Gardens to those at 
Edgeley or at Horton. She was happy in both, but 
happier in the fashionable gardens nearer London ; 
for Mary-le-bone was still out of town. Elizabeth 
Robinson's day is described, on one of these oc- 
casions, as breakfasting in Mary-le-bone Gardens at 
ten ; giving a sitting to Zincke after mid-day, for 
her well-known miniature portrait as Anne Boleyn ; 
and spending the evening at Vauxhall. At the 
nobility's private balls given in the first-named 
suburban paradise, Elizabeth Robinson was amongst 
the gayest and fairest of the revellers. Before the 
dances began in, those days, the ladies' fans were 
thrown upon a table, and the men then drew them 
for partners, each taking for his own the lady to 
whom the fan which he had drawn, and which he 



A LADY OF THE LAST CENTURY. 19 

presented to her, belonged. It was not all break- 
fasting and dancing in those gardens. There was 
a large plunging-bath there, much used by fashion- 
able Naiads, who rose from silken couches, donned a 
bathing dress, took headers into the waters, gambolled 
n and under them till they were breathless, and 
then went home to dress for other enjoyments. 
When the Duchess of Portland heard of her young 
friend's plunging delights, she expressed herself 
"frightened out of her wits." But, on the other 
hand, Lord Dupplin wrote a couple of verses on 
this particular Naiad, and in honour of the poet, the 
laughing nymph again and again took headers 
into the glad waters of Mary-le-bone. 

The home scenes of her life in the country come 
out strong in contrast with those of her life in 
London. In a lively sketch of one of these scenes, 
drawn for the duchess's amusement, the youthful 
artist thus joyously describes herself and her doings : 

" One common objection to the country is, one 
sees no faces but those of one's own family; but 
my papa thinks he has found a remedy for that, by 
teaching me to draw ; but then he husbands these 
faces in so cruel a manner, that he brings me some- 

c 2 



20 A LADY OF TEE LAST CENTURY. 

times a nose, sometimes an eye, at a time ; but on 
the king's birthday, as it was a festival, he brought 
me out a whole face, with its mouth wide open." 
In another letter, she says : " I would advise you not 
to draw old men's heads. It was the rueful counte- 
nance of Socrates or Seneca that first put me out 
of conceit with it. Had my papa given me the 
blooming faces of Adonis and Narcissus, I might 
have been a very apt scholar ; and when I told him 
I found their great beards difficult to draw, he gave 
me St. John's head in a charger. So, to avoid the 
speculation of dismal faces, which, by my art, I dis- 
malized ten times more than they were before, 
I threw away my pencil. If I drew a group of 
little figures, I made their countenances so sad and 
their limbs so distorted, that from a set of laughing 
Cupids, they looked like the tormented infants in 
Herod's cruelty, and smiling, became like Rachel 
weeping for her children." After more in this strain, 
she calls herself the best hospital painter ; " for I 
never drew a figure that was not lame or blind, and 
they had all something of the horrible in their 
countenances . . . you would have thought they had 
seen their own faces in the glass." 



A LADY OF THE LAST CENTURY. 21 

Her failure in the above respect at home found 
ample compensation in successes at Tunbridge 
Wells, at Bath, and at county races, at all of which 
Elizabeth Robinson's beauty attracted all eyes ; her 
vivacious wit charmed or stung all ears. At these 
places, she studied life quite as much as she enjoyed 
its pleasures ; and she could not go down a dance 
at the Wells or at "The Bath," without making 
little mental epigrams on the looks of newly-mar- 
ried people, the manners of lovers, and the doings 
of eccentric folk. These found their way, in writing, 
to her ducal friend, who had already bestowed on 
the restless maiden the nick-name of " La Petite 
Fidget." 

At Bath, she was as restless, as observant, and as 
epigrammatic as at Tunbridge Wells. She de- 
scribes Bath life, in 1740, as consisting all the 
morning of " How d'ye does ? " and all night of 
" What's Trumps ? " The women, in the " Ladies' 
Coffee House," talk only of diseases. The men, 
" except Lord Noel Somerset, are altogether abom- 
inable. There is not one good; no, not one." 
Among the lady eccentrics, was a certain dowager 
duchess, who, said Miss Robinson, "bathes, and, 



22 A LADY OF THE LAST CENTURY. 



being very tall, had nearly drowned a few women in 
the Cross Bath ; for she had ordered it to be filled 
till it reached her chin ; and so all those who were 
below her stature, as well as her rank, were obliged 
to come out or drown." 

The glance thus obtained into the Bath itself 
only gives, as it were, a momentary view of the 
fashionable people in those fashionable waters. 
They who compare old accounts with what is now 
to be seen, will agree that he who looks, at the 
present day, into the dull, dark, and simmering 
waters, can have no conception of the jollity, frolic, 
riot, dissipation, and indecorum which once reigned 
there. There was a regular promenade in the 
waters, and the promenaders were of both sexes. 
They were in bathing costumes, and walked with the 
water nearly up to their necks. The heads of the 
shorter people appeared to be floating. At the same 
time, they were frolicking, or flirting, or otherwise 
amusing themselves. Those who came for sanitary 
purposes were hanging on by the rings in the wall, and 
were sedulously parboiling themselves. The Cross 
Bath was the famous quality bath. Handsome 
japanned bowls floated before the ladies, laden with 



A LADY OF THE LAST CENTURY. 23 



confectionary, or with oils, essences, and perfumery for 
their use. Now and then one of these bowls would 
float away from its owner, and her swain would float 
after it, bring it again before her, and, if he were in 
the humour, would turn on his back and affect to 
sink to the bottom, out of mere rapture at the 
opportunity of serving her. The spectators in the 
gallery looked on, laughed, or applauded till the 
hour for closing came. Therewith came half-tub 
chairs, lined with blankets, whose owners plied for 
fares, and carried home the steaming freight at a 
sharp trot and a shilling for the job. 

Elizabeth Robinson's friendship with Lord Lyttel- 
ton is well known. At a court assembly, at St. 
James's, in 1740, the gentleman in question was 
present. He was then plain Mr. Lyttelton, son and 
heir of Sir Thomas, and about a year over thirty. 
The young lady observed him in the brilliant scene 
more closely and more approvingly than she did 
others. " The men were not fine," she writes to her 
grace ; but she makes exception. " Mr. Lyttelton 
was, according to Polonius' instruction, rich, not 
gaudy ; costly, but not exprest in fancy." In her 
eyes and to her mind, he was a perfect gentleman 



24 A LADY OF TEE LAST CENTURY. 

and scholar. " Mr. Lyttelton has something of an 
elegance in all his compositions, let the subject be 
ever so trifling. . . . Happy is the genius that can 
drink inspiration at every stream and gather simi- 
lies with every nosegay." Alas ! the elegance of the 
last century embraced much that was otherwise. 
The present Lord Lyttelton would not dare to read 
aloud to a company of ladies and gentlemen the 
once popular and elegant poem which his ancestor 
addressed to Belinda ! 

In the days here referred to, there were two cir- 
cumstances to which all maidens looked forward as 
their probable, but not equally desirable lot, namely, 
marriage and the small-pox. The latter fell on 
Elizabeth Robinson's sister Sarah, when the family 
were resident at Horton, near Hythe. The elder 
sister was sent to a neighbouring gentleman-formers, 
so called solely because he tilled a few acres of his 
own. Here, the Iphigenia aroused unwonted sym- 
pathies in the breast of the Squire Cymons. She 
would have nothing to do with furthering the 
humanizing process of those dull and thirsty clods. 
Their scarlet waistcoats did not impress her like 
Mr. Lyttel ton's birthday suit at court. One 



A LADY OF THE LAST CENTURY. 25 

heaving swain, she thought, would make an admi- 
rable Polyphemus ! He stared at her just as the 
calves did ; but the calves had instinct enough not 
to say anything to her. They were preferable to 
the squire, to whom the young girl, with her bright 
intellect, could not be persuaded " to lend out her 
liking on land security." There is a world of mean- 
ing in what she wrote on that occasion to her cor- 
respondent : " I liked neither him nor myself any 
better for all the fine things he said." She was a 
creature not to be wooed or won by a tippling, 
fox-hunting clown, rich in the possession of dirt. 
She had finely-strung sensibilities, which would not 
attune themselves to " the loud laugh which speaks 
the vacant mind." Mrs. Pendarves, who saw much 
of her in the town and country mansions of the 
Duchess of Portland, recognized the above fact. 
" Fidget," she wrote, in the year last named, " is a 
most interesting creature ; but I shall not attempt 
to draw a likeness. . . . There are some delicate 
touches that would foil the skill of a much abler 
artist than I pretend to be." 

Just then her fears for her sister were even 
stronger than her antipathies for her Kentish lovers. 



26 A LADY OF THE LAST CENTUBY. 



In order to satisfy her eagerness to be assured that 
the sister she loved was out of danger, the latter 
was allowed to walk veiled into the fields, within 
speaking distance of the other. Veiled, because she 
had cruelly suffered, and it was thought better not 
to shock the elder sister by a sight of the devas- 
tation which the foul disease had worked tem- 
porarily on the beauty of the younger. Thus, the 
sisters stood, for a brief time, speaking all that love 
and hope suggested, and the sound of the con- 
valescent sister's voice fell like delicious music on 
the heart of the listener. 

With renewed health came uninterrupted hap- 
piness, and gay mingling in gay society, and 
audacity of expression when describing it. Eliza- 
beth Robinson had felt almost as much contempt 
for the fops among the soldiers of her day, as 
disgust for the country Polyphemuses who made 
her wrathful with their wooing. Very severe was 
she on " the scarlet beaux," who were ordered to 
Flanders. " I think," she says, " they will die of a 
panic and save their enemies' powder. Well ! they 
are proper gentlemen. Heaven defend the nun- 
neries ! I will venture a wager Flanders increases 



A LADT OF THE LAST CENTURY. 27 

in the christenings more than in the burials of the 
week." 

In describing changes in fashion, she makes 
singular application of her historical knowledge. 
In 1 741, she wrote to her sister, from town: "I do 
not know what will become of your fine shape, for 
there is a fashionable make which is very strange. 
I believe they look in London as they did in Rome 
after the Rape of the Sabines !" 

As this fair young Elizabeth remembered her 
history on one occasion, so did she show on another 
that she had not forgotten her church catechism. 
"As for modern marriages," wrote the lady, just 
then going out of her teens, "they are great in- 
fringers of the baptismal vow ; for it is commonly 
the pomps and vanities of this wicked world on one 
side, and the sinful lusts of the flesh on the other." 

There are traces throughout Miss Robinson's 
early letters of how it went with her own heart 
and its sympathies. In her eighteenth year, she 
wrote to the Duchess of Portland : " I never saw 
one man that I loved." She added to this assertion 
such an endless list of virtues, merits, qualities, &c, 
which she expected to find in that happy individual, 



28 A LADY OF TEE LAST CENTURY. 



as to lead to the conclusion that a monster so 
faultless would never be created. She even half 
acknowledged as much ; for she wrote, " I am like 
Pygmalion, in love with a picture of my own 
drawing; but I never saw an original like it in 
my life. I hope when I do, I shall, as some poet 
says, find the " statue warm." In her nineteenth 
year, she gave utterance to a pretty petulance in 
these words : " I wish some of our neighbours had 
married two and twenty years ago ; we should have 
had a gallant young neighbourhood ; but they 
have lost time, and we have lost lovers by that 
delay." To a remark of her sister's, that, if she were 
not heedful, some handsome fool would win her 
in spite of herself, she replied, that, to win her heart, 
"it must be rather fair-spoken than fair-faced." 
She was not much moved when rivals in beauty 
passed into the married state before her. In 1741, 
there are the following autobiographical details in 
letters to the wife of the Rev. Mr. Freind, of 
Canterbury : — " I saw some fine jewels that are to 

adorn my fair enemy, Mrs. S . I beheld them 

without envy, and was proud to think that a 
woman who is thought worthy to wear jewels to 



A LADY OF TEE LAST CENTUBY. 29 

adorn her person, should do me the honour to envy 
and hate me. . . . Surely of all vanities, that of 
jewels is the most ridiculous ; they do not even tend 
to the order of dress, beauty, and cleanliness ; for a 
woman is not a jot the handsomer or cleaner for 
them." And again : " I am confined again by a 
little feverishness. I thought, as it was a London 
fever, it might be polite, so I carried it to the' 
Ridotto, court, and opera, but it grew perverse and 
stubborn, so I put it into a white hood and double 
handkerchief, and kept it by the fireside these three 
days, and it is better ; indeed, I hope it is worn out. 
On Saturday, I intend to go to Goodman's Fields, 
to see Garrick act Richard the Third, that I may get 
one cold from a regard to sense. I have sacrificed 
enough to folly, in catching colds at the great 
puppet-shows in town." 

Subsequently, she would have her friend's hus- 
band believe that she was another fair vestal of 
the west, who meant to pass through the world in 
maiden meditation, fancy free. She writes to the 
Rev. Dean of Canterbury : " I have lately studied 
my own foibles, and have found that I should make 
a very silly wife and an extremely foolish mother, 



30 A LADY OF THE LAST CENTURY. 

and so have as far resolved as is consistent with 
deference to reason and advice, never to trouble 
any man or to spoil any children." This was but 
banter. Only the year before, her sister having 
made a jest of her love for heroes of antiquity, 
Elizabeth Robinson, oracularly answered, " I believe 
I shall do my errand before many people think ; but 
prudence shall be my guide. A living man," 
exclaims the wise virgin, " is better than a dead 
hero!" 

In 1 741, this decided young lady was wooed by a 
fashionable lover, and also by a noble lover who 
was her senior by a good many years. The former 
was dismissed, and the young lady wrote to her 
sister in the above year : " Poor M. B. takes his 
misfortune so to heart, that I really pity him ; but I 
have no balsam of heart's-ease for him. If he should 
die, I will have him buried in Westminster Abbey, 
next to the woman who died with the prick of a 
finger, for it is quite as extraordinary ; and he shall 
have his figure languishing in wax, with 'Miss 
Robinson fecit,' written over his head. I really 
compassionate his sufferings and pity him ; but 
though I am as compassionate, I am as cold as 



A LADY OF THE LAST CENTURY. 31 



charity. He pours out his soul in lamentations to 
his friends, and all 

' But the nymph that should redress his wrong, 
Attend his passion, and approve his song !' 

... I am glad he has such a stock of flesh to 
waste upon . . , I am really quite fat ; and if there 
were not some hope that I might get lean again, by 
raking in town, I should be uneasy at it. I am 
now the figure of Laugh-and-be-fat, and begin to 
think myself a comely personage. Adieu ! Supper 
is on table? 

And the saucy Nymph " really did her errand " 
before many thought. She declined the offer of 
the man of fashion, and said " Yes " to the suit of the 
older scholar and gentleman. 

The practical conclusion came in due time. In 
the " Gentleman's Magazine " for August, a.d. 1742, 
there is the record of eleven marriages. Four of them 
saucily chronicle the fortunes of the brides. Among 
the other seven, may be read this brief announce- 
ment : — "August 5. Edward Montagu, Esq., mem- 
ber for Huntingdon, to the eldest daughter of 
Matthew Robinson, of Horton, in Kent, Esq." 



( 32 ) 



CHAPTER II. 

Edward Montagu was the son of Charles, who was 
the fifth son of the first Earl of Sandwich. He was 
a well-endowed gentleman, both intellectually and 
materially, and he adopted the Socratic maxim, that 
a wise man keeps out of public business. He is 
described as being " of a different turn from his 
wife, fond of the severer studies, particularly 
mathematics." Under his influences, the bounding 
Iambe from Horton gradually grew into the 
" Minerva," as she was called by friends as well as 
epigrammatists. Mr. Montagu was a mathematician 
of great eminence; and a coal-owner of great 
wealth. He was a man of very retired habits and 
great amiability. He loved to puzzle fellow ma- 
thematicians with problems, and he did not dislike 
coals to be high in price ; but he urged other owners 
to incur the odium of " making the advance." 



A LADY OF THE LAST CENTUBY. 33 

Mr. and Mrs. Montagu were married in London, 
and did not immediately leave it. Mr. Freind offi- 
ciated at the marriage ceremony. The bride, in a 
note to Mrs. Freind, expressed her infinite obliga- 
tion to him, " for not letting the knot be tied by 
the hands of an ordinary bungler." On Friday, 
August 6, the day after her marriage, the bride 
wrote to the Duchess of Portland : " If you will be' 
at home to-morrow, at two O'clock, I will pass an 
hour with you ; but pray send me word to Jermyn 
Street at eleven, whether I can come to you without 
meeting any person at Whitehall but the Duke ; to 
every one else pray deny your dressing-room. Mr. 
Freind will tell your grace I really behaved mag- 
nanimously ; not one cowardly tear, I assure you, did 
I shed at the solemn altar; my mind was in no 
mirthful mood indeed. I have a great hope of 
happiness. The world, as you say, speaks well of 
Mr. Montagu, and I have many obligations to him 
which must gain my particular esteem ; but such a 
change of life must furnish one with a thousand 
anxious thoughts." 

Shortly after, the newly-wedded pair travelled to 
one of Mr. Montagu's estates in the north; but not 

o 



34 A LADY OF THE LAST GENTUBT. 

alone. They were accompanied by the bride's sister. 
The custom of sending a chaperon with a young 
married couple prevailed. Indeed, down to a com- 
paratively recent period, some husbands and wives, 
who were married in Yorkshire, may remember that 
to have started on their wedding trip or their 
jdurney home, without a third person, would have 
been considered lamentable indecorum. 

The bride thus speaks of the journey and the new 
home. To Mrs. Freind, she writes : — 

"We arrived at this place (Allerthorpe, Yorkshire), 
after a journey of six days through fine countries. 
Mr. Montagu has the pleasure of calling many 
hundred pounds a year about his house his own, 
without any person's property interfering with it. I 
think it is the prettiest estate and in the best order 
I ever saw : large and beautiful meadows for riding or 
walking in, and all as neat as a garden, with a pretty 
river (the Swale) winding about them, on which we 
shall sometimes go in boats. I propose to visit 
the almshouse very soon. I saw the old women, 
with the bucks upon their sleeves at church, and the 
sight gave me pleasure. Heraldry does not always ' 
descend with such honour as when charity leads her 



A LADY OF THE LAST CENTURY. 35 

by the hand." A little later, Mrs. Montagu writes 
thus to the duchess : — 

" The sun gilds every object, but I assure you, 
it is the only fine thing we have had ; for the house 
is old and not handsome : it is very convenient, and 
the situation extremely pleasant. We found the 
finest peaches, nectarines, and apricots that I have 
ever eat." Then comes a dash of the old sauciness. 
She rejoices at the news the duchess had communi- 
cated to her, that Lord Dupplin, who once wrote 
verses on her taking a header into the Mary-le-bone 
plunging baths, was the father of an heir to his title 
and estate. " I think no man better deserves a child. 
The end justifies the means ; else, what should one 
say for his extreme, surprising, amazing fondness for 
the lady? ... I am glad Lord Dupp enjoys his 
liberty and leisure. The repose a gentleman takes 
after the honour of sending a son into the world, may 
be called ease with dignity." 

Further evidences of the course of her married life 
are thus afforded by herself. On the 24th of 
August, Mrs. Montagu tells the duchess : — 

" It must be irksome to submit to a fool. The 
service of a man of sense is perfect freedom. 

d 2 



36 A LADY OF THE LAST CENTURY. 

Where the will is reasonable, obedience is a pleasure ; 
but to run of a fool's errand all one's life is terrible." 
And three days later, she writes to Mrs. Freind: 
"I think we increase in esteem, without decaying in 
complaisance ; and I hope we shall always remember 
Mr. Freind and the 5th with thankfulness." 

Early in October, Mr. Montagu left his wife, 
parliamentary business calling him to town. She 
dreaded the invasion of condoling neighbours, and not 
without reason. " We have not been troubled with 
any visitors since Mr. Montagu went away ; and 
could you see how ignorant, how awkward, how 
absurd, and how uncouth the generality of people are 
in this country, you would look upon this as no small 
piece of good fortune. For the most part, they are 
drunken and vicious, and worse than hypocrites — 
profligates. I am very happy that drinking is not 
within our walls. We have not had one person 
disordered by liquor since we came down, though 
most of the poor ladies in the neighbourhood have 
had more hogs in their drawing-room than ever they 
had in their hog-sty." One visitor was unwel- 
comely assiduous. She thus hits him off to the 
duchess, as a portrait of a country beau and wit : — 



A LADT OF THE LAST CENTUBY. 37 

"Had you seen the pains this animal has been taking 
to imitate the cringe of a beau, you would have pitied 
him. He walks like a tortoise and chatters like a 
magpie. . . . He was first a clown, then he was sent 
to the Inns of Court, where first he fell into a red 
waistcoat and velvet breeches, then into vanity. His 
light companions led him to the playhouse, where he 
ostentatiously coquetted with the orange wenches, 
who cured him of the bad air of taking snuff*. . . . 
He then fell into the company of the jovial, till want 
of money and want of taste led this prodigal son, if 
not to eat, to drink with swine. ... At last . . .he 
returned to the country, where . . . people treat 
him civilly . . . and one gentleman in the neighbour- 
hood is so fond of him as, I believe, to spend a great 
deal of money and most of his time upon him." 

There are parts in the letter, from which the 
above is an extract, which show a knowledge of 
London life and of the consequences of leading it, 
which is marvellous. In more lively strain, this Lady 
of the Last Century moralized on marriage, under all 
its aspects, to the duchess ; and she joked upon and 
handled the same subject, in her letters to Mrs. 
Donellan, with an astounding audacity, which was, 



38 A LADY OF THE LAST CENTURY. 



however, not unnatural, in the days when mothers 
read Aphra Behn aloud, and sons and daughters 
listened to that arch-hussey's highly-flavoured come- 
dies. Mrs. Montagu alludes to similar reading 
when drawing an " interior " for the duchess's good 
pleasure, while Mr. Montagu was away. " I cannot 
boast of the numbers that adorn our fireside. My 
sister and I are the principal figures ; besides, there 
is a round table, a square skreen, some books, and a 
work-basket, with a smelling bottle, when morality 
grows musty, or a maxim smells too strong, as 
sometimes they will in ancient books." She loved 
such books, nevertheless, much better than she did 
the neighbours that would be friendly. 

" I do hourly thank my stars," she says, " that I 
am not married to a country squire or a beau ; for 
in the country, all my pleasure is in my own fireside, 
and that only when it is not littered with queer 
creatures. One must receive visits and return them 
. . . and if you are not more happy in it in Notting- 
hamshire than I am in Yorkshire, I pity you most 
feelingly. . . . Could you but see all the good folks 
that visit my poor tabernacle, oh, your grace would 
pity and admire !" 



A LADY OF THE LAST CENTURY. 39 

There was neither " squire " nor " beau " in the 
quiet, refined gentleman she had married. The 
wife might well be sorry for the absence of such a 
companion. He had left her, as she expressed it, 
to her mortification, but with her approbation. 
She desired him to go, yet half-wished him to stay ; 
but at last "got out honour's boots, and helped 
him to draw them on." " Since I married," she 
writes to Mrs. Freind, " I have never heard him 
say an ill word to any one ; nor have I received 
one matrimonial frown." For a matrimonial life, 
begun in August, clouds and showers in October, 
would have been an early prodigy indeed. To the 
duchess, who asked more as to her characteristic 
doings than her feelings, Mrs. Montagu replied : — 

Dec. 1 742 — " Your grace asks me if I have left 
off footing and tumbling downstairs. As to the 
first, my fidgetations are much spoiled ; sometimes 
1 have cut a thoughtless caper, which has gone to 
the heart of an old steward of Mr. Montagu's, who 
is as honest as Trusty in the play of ' Grief a la 
mode.' I am told that he has never heard a hop 
that he has not echoed with a groan." 

At another of Mr. Montagu's houses, Sandleford, 



40 A LADY OF THE LAST GENTUBY. 

near Newbury, Berks, his wife found more genial 
neighbours than in the north. She especially dis- 
liked the rough Yorkshire folk, and she did not 
conceal the little sympathy she had with " agreeable 
company." She felt it a misfortune that she found 
in few people the qualities that pleased her. Like 
him who thanked God that he had not a heart that 
had room for many, she was thankful that she could 
love only the chosen few ; but she could bear with 
twenty disagreeable people at once, while a tete-a- 
tete with a single one she disliked, made her sick. 
At Sandleford, she played the farmer's wife's part 
without laying aside that of the lady, or, indeed, of 
the student. She could rattle off the gayest de- 
scription of a country-fair, losing no one of its 
characteristic features, and next write a long and 
thoughtful dissertation over Gastrell, Bishop of 
Chester's "Moral Proof of the Certainty of a 
Future State." The spirit of this dissertation, con- 
tained in a long letter to her friend the duchess, 
is that of what would now be called a Free Inquirer. 
She will not bow her intellect to any authority of 
mortal man. She has hope, but lacks knowledge 
— except that God is the loving Father of all — and 



A LADT OF THE LAST CENTURY. 41 

beyond that she evidently thinks the bishop knows 
no more than she does. 

The ladies around her, at Sandleford, were neither 
so well endowed intellectually as herself, nor seem- 
ingly cared to be. Grottos and shell-work showed 
the bias of their tastes. Mrs. Montagu speaks of 
visiting one in Berkshire, which was the work of nine 
sisters (Leah), who in disposition, as well as number, 
bore "some resemblance to the Muses." Lord 
Fane's grotto at Basildon was one of the mild wonders 
of the county. When she goes thence to London, 
depreciation of the latter shows a growing love for 
rural life. She describes life in London as being — 
all the morning at the senate, all the night at play. 
Party politics were her aversion. They were " pur- 
sued for the benefit of individuals, not for the good 
of the country." The factious heads in London she 
described as being very full of powder and very 
empty of thought. Happy in her own home, she 
could mingle jesting with sympathy when referring 
to sorrows which other people had to bear. "I 
pity Miss Anstey," she wrote, "for the loss of her 
agreeable cousin and incomparable lover. For my 
part, I would rather have a merry sinner for a 



42 A LADY OF THE LAST CENTURY. 

lover than so serious a saint !" Her own husband, 
however, was not mirthful. He stuck to his mathe- 
matics, understood his business as a coal-owner, 
loved his wife, and found life a pleasant thing, 
particularly where his lines had fallen. 

With the birth of a boy came new occupations, 
fresh delights, and hitherto unknown anxieties. The 
nursing mother, remembering her old gay time, 
declared that " for amusement there is no puppet- 
show like the pleasant humour of my own Punch 
at Sandleford." She fancied a bright futurity for 
the boy ; but her passing ecstacy was damped by the 
thought of the perils and temptations by which life 
is beset. " Pity," she wrote, " that a man thinks it 
no more necessary to be as innocent as woman than 
to be as fair." 

In March, 1744, when Mrs. Montagu and her 
sister thought it a remarkable feat to travel from 
Sandleford, near Newbury, to Dover Street, Lon- 
don, in one day, with only two breaks down, Mrs. 
Montagu left her boy in the Berkshire house. " It 
was no such easy matter," she said, " to part with little 
Punch, with whom we played and pleased ourselves 
as long as we could afford time." On her return 



A LADY OF THE LAST CENTURY. 43 

to Sandleford, in July, the natural beauty of the 
place seemed centred in little Punch's person. " He 
is now an admirable tumbler. I lay him down on 
a blanket on the ground every morning, before he 
is dressed, and at night when he is stripped, and 
there he rolls and tumbles about to his great delight. 
If my god- daughter," adds the Last Century Lady to 
Doctor Freind, referring to his daughter, " be not a 
prude, I should recommend the same practice to her." 
The mother's dreams and duties were soon brought 
to a melancholy close. In September, 1744, the 
little heir had his first severe experience of life, and, 
perhaps happily, it was too much for him. He 
died of convulsions while cutting his teeth. A few 
joyous tumbles on the blanket, a few kisses, a few 
honied words, and much pain at last, made up all 
that he knew of life. Mrs. Montagu tempered her 
heavy grief with much active occupation and study. 
She meekly attributed the loss of her son to God's 
visitation on her confidence in her own care and 
watchfulness. She may be said to have lost with 
him her hopes, her joys, and her health for a con- 
siderable period. In September, 1744, she wrote 
to the duchess : — 



44 A LADY OF THE LAST CENTURY. 

"Poor Mr. Montagu shows me an example of 
patience and fortitude, and endeavours to comfort 
me, though undoubtedly he feels as much sorrow- 
as I can do ; for he loved his child as much as ever 
parent could do." She discovered all the virtues 
in Mr. Montagu that adversity needs, and adversity 
only can show. " I never saw such resignation and 
fortitude in any one ; and in the midst of affliction 
there is comfort in having such a friend and as- 
sistant. It was once my greatest happiness to see 
him in possession of the dearest of blessings. It is 
now my greatest comfort to see he knows how to 
resign it, and yet preserve the virtue and dignity 
of his temper." They never had another child; 
and, if they were not altogether as happy as before, 
they were, at least, as cheerfully resigned as heirless 
rich people could persuade themselves to be. Occa- 
sionally, however, she envied happier mothers. Re- 
ferring to one of these, nearly twenty years later, 
who was then stricken by a profounder grief, Mrs. 
Montagu wrote to Lord Lyttelton : " Poor Mrs. 
Stone, between illness and affliction, is a melancholy 
object. I remember that after my son was dead, 
I used to envy her her fine boy ; but not being 



A LADY OF THE LAST GENTUBT. 45 

of a wicked disposition, did earnestly wish she might 
not lose him. Poor woman! her felicity lasted 
longer than mine, and so her grief must be greater ; 
but time is a sure comforter." 

Mrs. Montagu found relief for her sorrows, as 
well as for indisposition, from which she suffered 
greatly at intervals, at Tunbridge Wells and in 
small country gaieties. Thus, in 1745, at a country 
fair (ladies went to such sports in those days), Mrs. 
Montagu was not more surprised to see a ginger- 
bread Admiral Vernon lying undisturbed on a 
basket of Spanish nuts, than she was at Tunbridge 
Wells to behold grave Doctor Young and old 
Colley Cibber on the most intimate terms. Mrs. 
Montagu, on the Pantiles, asked the doctor how 
long he intended to stay, and his answer was, " As 
long as your rival stays." When this riddle was 
explained, the " rival " proved to be the sun. People 
from all ends of the world then congregated at 
the Wells, and Mrs. Montagu sketched them 
smartly, and grouped them cleverly, in pen and 
ink. One of the best of these outline sketches 
is that of a country parson, the vicar of Tun- 
bridge, to whom she paid a visit in company with 



46 A LADY OF THE LAST CENTUBY. 

Dr. Young and Mrs. Rolt. "The good parson offered 
to show us the inside of his church, but made some 
apology for his undress, which was a true canonical 
dishabille. He had on a grey striped calamanco 
night-gown ; a wig that once was white, but, by 
the influence of an uncertain climate, turned to a 
pale orange ; a brown hat encompassed by a black 
hat-band ; a band somewhat dirty, that decently 
retired under the shadow of his chin ; a pair of 
grey stockings, well mended with blue worsted, 
strong symptoms of the conjugal care and affection 
of his wife, who had mended his hose with the very 
worsted she had bought for her own." The lively 
lady and her companions declined to take refresh- 
ment at the parsonage, where, she made no doubt, 
they would have been "welcomed by madam, in 
her muslin pinners and sarsnet hood ; who would 
have given us some mead and a piece of cake that 
she had made in the Whitsun holidays, to treat her 
cousins." After dinner at the inn, the vicar joined 
them, " in hopes of smoking a pipe, but our doctor 
hinted to him, that it would not be proper to offer 
any incense but sweet praise to such goddesses 
as Mrs. Rolt and your humble servant. I saw a 



A LADT OF THE LAST CENTUBY. 47 

large horn tobacco-box, with Queen Anne's head 
upon it, peeping out of his pocket." Wherever 
Mrs. Montagu wended during this autumn of 1745, 
she filled her letters with these pen-and-ink sketches 
Of what she saw. But that eventful year brought 
more serious duties. In 1745, when the Jacobites 
were about to invade England, Mr. Montagu went 
from London to York, to aid in raising and arming 
the people. The Yorkshire gentlemen acted with 
great spirit, and stood by their homesteads instead 
of flying to London. " Though it gives me uneasi- 
ness and anxiety," wrote the young wife, " I cannot 
wish those I love to act otherwise than consistently 
with those principles of honour that have always 
directed their actions." The rebellion spoiled the 
London gaieties. Drums and routs had no longer 
a fashionable meaning. " I have not heard of any 
assemblies since I came to town ; and, indeed, I think 
people frighten each other so much when they meet, 
that there is little pleasure arising from society. . . . 
There is not a woman in England, except Lady 
Brown, that has a song or tune in her head, but, 
indeed^ her ladyship is very unhappy at the suspen- 
sion of operas." 



48 A LADY OF TEE LAST CENTURY. 



The death of Mrs. Montagu's mother in the 
following year, drew from her a tender and well- 
deserved tribute of affection in a touching and 
simple letter to Mrs. Freind. In 1747, her friend, 
Mr. Lyttelton, lost his first wife, and wrote a 
monody on her, for the public ear. The monody 
walks on very high stilts, and occasionally falls and 
struggles on the ground. Mrs. Montagu thought 
it had great merit, and that her friend would be 
inconsolable ; but Lyttelton brought out, the same 
year, his " Observations on the Conversion and 
Apostleship of St. Paul," of which Mrs. Montagu 
was a diligent reader and a constant eulogist. In 
less than two years, the widower left unfinished a 
prettily-begun epitaph to his Lucy, with whom he 
had enjoyed six years of conjugal felicity, and 
married a daughter of Sir Robert Rich. With her, 
came a life of warfare, followed by a treaty by which 
each party agreed to live at peace with, and wide 
apart from, the other. 

Meanwhile, Mrs. Montagu made friendly pro- 
gresses to princely mansions in various parts of the 
country. She had hearty welcome at all, from lay 
and ecclesiastical nobles alike. This did not in- 



A LADY OF THE LAST CENTURY. 49 

fluence her critical eye. At Wilton, then and now 
one of the best examples of an English nobleman's 
residence, she writes : " As to the statues and bustos, 
they certainly are very fine, but I think too many. 
Heroes should not have so many competitors, nor 
philosophers so much company ; a respectable 
society may be increased into a mob. I should, if 
they were mine, sell half of their figures to purchase 
their works, which are, indeed, the images of wise 
men." 

A cloud now came, and long rested, between her 
and the sun of her happiness. The death, in 1748, 
of her brother "Tom," a man of wit, taste, and 
judgment, after her own heart ; " the man in 
England for a point of law," as Chief Justice Lee 
remarked ; a man who had accomplished much, 
and who might have reasonably looked to the 
highest position which could be attained in his 
branch of the profession, as his own, — the death of 
such a man, good, bright, aspiring, and qualified 
for success, was a loss to his brilliant sister for 
which she never found compensation. " As for this 
good young man," she wrote : " I hoped it would 
rather have been his business to have grieved for 



50 A LADY OF THE LAST CENTURY. 

me. Mr. Montagu is most careful of us, and I 
cannot, amidst my sorrow, help thanking heaven 
for such a friend." A letter from her husband in 
London confirms this statement : " I long to leave 
this place, and to be with you now, rather than at a 
time when you have less occasion for a friend. Be 
sure that you are constantly in my thoughts, and 
that no accidents of sickness or any other matter 
can work any change in me, or make me be with 
less affection than I have been, my dearest life, 
your most obliged and affectionate E. M." 

Compelled, subsequently, to repair to Bath for 
her health, she despised no innocent amusement. 
" I want mechanic helps," she said, " for my real 
happiness, God knows, is lessened; and, though I 
have many relations left, I reflect that even this 
circumstance makes me more liable to have the 
same affliction repeated." Then, after a week or 
two of omnivorous reading and friendly intercourse, 
she writes to the duchess : — " Mrs. Trevanion, Lord 
Berkley of Stratton's sister, goes away from us to- 
morrow, which I am sorry for ; she seems very 
agreeable and well-bred, and has a thousand other 
good qualities that do not abound at our morning 



A LADY OF TEE LAST CENTUBT. 51 

coffee-house, where I meet her. Whist and the 
noble game of E. O. employ the evening ; three 
glasses of water, a toasted roll, a Bath cake, and a 
cold walk, the mornings. . . . My physician says three 
months will be necessary for me to drink the 
waters. ... I am forced to dine by myself, not yet 
being able to bear the smell of what common 
mortals call a dinner. As yet I live with the 
fairies. . . . But here is another Mrs. Montagu, 
who is like me, hath a long nose, pale face, thin 
cheeks, and also, I believe, diets with fairies, and 
she is much better than when she came, and many 
people give me the honour of her recovery." 

After returning to Sandleford, she began again to 
need, or to fancy she needed, the restoring waters of 
Tunbridge. To Mrs. Anst.ey she wrote : — 

"I may, perhaps, trouble you to seek me some 
house about Mount Elphinstone ; for, to tell you 
the truth, I get as far from the busy haunts of the 
place as I can ; for it agrees neither with my 
inclination nor health to be in the midst of what 
are called the diversions of the place. An evehing 
assembly in July is rather too warm ; and, tell it 
not in the regions of politeness, I had rather see a 

E 2, 



52 A LADY OF TEE LAST CENTUBT. 



few glow-worms on a green in a warm summer's 
evening than belles adorned with brilliants or 
beaux bright with clinquant. I cannot be at 
Tunbridge before the beginning of July. I am 
engaged to the nightingale and cuckoo for this 
month." 

Although continued ill-health kept Mrs. Montagu 
much in retirement after she first went to Tun- 
bridge, the Wells had their usual effect. She was 
the centre of a circle of admiring friends ; and when 
, established for months together at Tunbridge Wells, 
her coterie was a thing apart from those of the 
Jews, Christians, and Heathens of all classes who 
crowded the Pantiles or the assembly-rooms. Her 
letters sparkle with the figures that flit through them. 
Some contemporary ladies of the last century are 
thus sharply crayoned : " I think the Miss Aliens 
sensible, and I believe them good; but I do not 
think the graces assisted Lucina at their birth. . . . 
Lady Parker and her two daughters make a very 
remarkable figure, and will ruin the poor mad 
woman of Tunbridge by out-doing her in dress. 
Such hats, capuchins, and short sacks as were never 
seen! One of the ladies looks like a state-bed 



A LADY OF TEE LAST CENTUBT. 53 

running upon castors. She has robbed the valance 
and tester of a bed for a trimming. They have 
each of them a lover. Indeed, as to the dowager, 
she seems to have no greater joys than E. O. and 
a toad-eater can give her." That word " toad-eater " 
was still in its novelty as a slang term. In 1742, 
Walpole calls Harry Vane, afterwards Earl of 
Darlington, " Pulteney's toad-eater." In 1744, 
Sarah Fielding, in " David Simple," speaks of it as 
"a new word." To Mr. Montagu, his wife thus 
wrote: — 
" My dearest, 

" I had, this morning, the pleasure of your letter, 
which was in every respect agreeable, and in none 
more so than your having fixed your time for going 
to Sandleford, as I shall the sooner hope to see my 
best and dearest friend here. ... I shall wish I 
could procure wings to bring me to you on the 
terrace at Sandleford, where I have passed so many 
happy hours in the conversation of the best of 
companions and kindest of friends ; and I hope you 
will there recollect one who followed your steps as 
constantly as your shadow. I am still following 
them, for there are few moments in which my 



54 A LADY OF THE LAST CENTURY. 



thoughts are not employed in you, and ever in the 
best and tenderest manner. . . . The charms of 
Sandleford are strongly in my remembrance, but 
still I would have you find that they want your 
little friend." 

From the gaieties of Tunbridge Mrs. Montagu 
went to the residence of a sage, Mr. Gilbert West. 
She found less pleasure among the sculpture and 
paintings of Wilton than under Gilbert West's 
modest roof at Wickham, in whose master she saw 
" that miracle of the moral world, a Christian poet ;" 
and in Mrs. West, something more than a tenth 
Muse or a fourth Grace. To conversations with 
West are attributed the deeper convictions of the 
truth of revealed religion which Mrs. Montagu 
entertained henceforward. She did not cease to be 
cheerful because on one point she was more serious. 
In a cottage which she hired near West's house, she 
playfully offered to her lady visitors wholesome 
brown bread, sincerity, and red cow's milk. With 
tastes that could find gratification wherever she 
might be, Mrs. Montagu was one of the happiest 
of women. Most happy, not when she was queen, 
or one of the queens, of society, but when she was 



A LADY OF THE LAST CENTURY. 55 

among her books. She was an indefatigable reader. 
She reflected as deeply as she read carefully. The 
literature of the world was known to her, in the 
original text, or in translations, of which she would 
read three or four of the same work ; and, if she had 
a preference, she would give an excellent reason for 
it. Her criticisms on the works she read are always 
admirable, whether she treats of a Thucydides in 
a French dress, of Cowley's imperfections as an 
amatory poet, of Melmoth's " Pliny's Letters," or of 
writers like Richardson, whose " Clarissa Harlowe " 
is analysed in one of the printed letters with a skill 
and insight that might be envied by the best writers 
of the times that have succeeded to her own. 
Fictitious and real personages, she dissects both, 
with the hand of an operator who loves the work in 
which he excels. She is equally great when treat- 
ing of the heroes of antiquity, or of the notorious 
Mrs. Pilkington, whose fie ! fie ! ways seem to war- 
rant her slapping her with her fan ; but whose talent, 
pleasant audacity, and suffering, soften Mrs. Mon- 
tagu's heart and lead her to gently kiss both cheeks 
of the erring Laetitia. 

At the close of 1750, her brother Robert went in 



56 A LADY OF THE LAST CENTUBY. 



search of fortune to China, where, however, he found 
a grave. In the following year, she writes to her 
husband, who was on private business in the north : 
"I have sat so constantly in Lady Sandwich's 
chimney-corner, I can give you little account of the 
world." She playfully says to her absent lord : " I 
am glad you are so far tired of your monastic life 
as to think of returning to the secular state of a 
husband and member of parliament." She adds : 
" You have too many virtues for the contracted 
life of a monk, and, I thank my stars, are bound 
in another vow, one more fit for you, as it is 
social, and not selfish." From Lady Sandwich's 
chimney-corner, and from much study, mixed with 
every-day duties, it is pleasant to see her surrounded 
by the Ladies Stanhope and Mrs. Trevor, who were 
adjusting her dress when she went as the " Queen- 
Mother " to the subscription masquerade. The dress 
was " white satin, with fine new point for tuckers, 
kerchief and ruffles ; pearl necklace and earrings, and 
pearls and diamonds on the head, and my hair curled 
after the Vandyke picture." Mr Montagu was so 
pleased with her appearance that, said the lady, " he 
has made me lay by my dress, to be painted in when 



A LADY OF THE LAST CENTURY. 57 

I see Mr. Hoare again." Better than her own 
presentment is her picture of the too famous Miss 
Chudleigh at this masquerade : " Miss Chudleigh's 
dress, or rather undress, was remarkable. She was 
Iphigenia for the sacrifice ; but so naked, the high 
priest might easily inspect the entrails of the victim. 
The maids of honour (not of maids the strictest), 
were so offended, they would not speak to her." 

It was with happy facility Mrs. Montagu turned 
from the studies she loved and the duties which she 
came to consider as her privilege, to the gayest scenes 
of life. "Though" says she, "the education of 
women is always too frivolous, I am glad mine had 
such a qualification of the serious as to fit me for 
the relish of the belles bagatelles" No one better 
understood the uses of money. When her husband 
was in the north furthering his coal interests, she 
wrote to him : " Though the coldness of our climate 
may set coals in a favourable light, I shall be glad 
to see as many of them turned to the precious metal 
as possible. ... I have a very good opinion of Mr. 
Montagu and his wife. I like the prospect of these 
golden showers, and so I congratulate you upon 
them ; but, most of all, I congratulate you upon the 



58 A LADY OF THE LAST CENTURY. 

disposition of mind which made you put the account 
of them in a postscript." The last words of her own 
letters to her husband were invariably affectionate, 
with a sentiment of submission that has a very old- 
fashioned air about it. For example : — 

" Every tender wish and grateful thought wait 
on you, and may you ever as kindly accept the only 
gift in my power, the faithful love and sincere 
affection of your most grateful and obedient wife, 
E. M." Again, in September, 175 1, from Tun- 
bridge Wells : — " To your prayer that we may never 
be so long separated, I can, with much zealous 
fervour, say Amen !" 



( 59 ) 



CHAPTER III. 

In October, Mrs. Montagu was in her town-house, 
in Hill Street, receiving company. Guests of the 
present day wiil read, perhaps with a smile of wonder, 
the following illustration of the times: — "The Duke 
and Duchess of Portland and Lord Titchfield dined 
with me to-day, and stayed till eight o'clock." 

In the year 1752, there was a subpreceptor to 
the Prince of Wales, named George Lewis Scott. 
His baptismal names were those of the King 
George I., at whose court in Hanover, Scott's father 
had held some respectable office. The son was 
recommended for the preceptorship by Bolingbroke 
to Bathurst, who spoke in the candidate's favour to 
the prince's mother, and the king's sanction followed. 
Walpole describes Scott as well-meaning, but in- 
efficient, through undue interference, and as a man 
of no " orthodox odour," as might be expected of a 



60 A LADY OF THE LAST CENTURY. 



protege of Bolingbroke." Mr. Scott had literary 
tastes, and occasionally exercised them with credit. 
Such a man seemed a fitting wooer for Sarah 
Robinson, Mrs. Montagu's clever sister. The 
wooing sped, marriage followed, and separation, from 
incompatability of temper, came swiftly on the heels 
of it. The correspondence throws no light on a 
dark episode; but, in April, 1752, Mrs. Delany 
wrote to Mrs. Dewes, in reference to Mrs. Scott's 
marriage and the separation of herself and husband, 
the following words : — " What a foolish match Mrs. 
Scott has made for herself. Mrs. Montagu wrote 
Mrs. Donellan word that she and the rest of her 
friends had rescued her out of the hands of a very 
bad man; but, for reasons of interest, they should 
conceal his misbehaviour as much as possible, but en- 
treated Mrs. Donellan would vindicate her sister's 
character whenever she heard it attacked, for she was 
very innocent." Perhaps it was the misery that came 
of this marriage that made Mrs. Montagu conclude 
a letter from Heys to her husband, during this year, 
with these words : — " Adieu, my dearest, may you 
find amusement everywhere, but the most perfect 
happiness with her who is by every grateful and 



A LADY OF THE LAST CENTURY. 61 

tender sentiment your most affectionate and faithful 
wife, E. M." The writer herself could find amuse- 
ment everywhere. A country-house, well-furnished 
with books, made Sandleford more agreeable to her 
than the glories within and the dust without her 
house in Hill Street. She speaks deliciously of 
having her writing-table beneath the shade of the 
Sandleford elms, and she thus pleasantly contrasts 
country-house employments with the pleasures of 
reading ancient history, which lightened the burthen 
of those employments : " To go from the toilette to 
the senate-house ; from the head of a table to the 
head of an army ; or, after making tea for a country 
justice, to attend the exploits, counsels, and harangues 
of a Roman consul, gives all the variety the busy 
find in the bustle of the world, and variety and 
change (except in a garden) make the happiness of 
our lives." She read Hooke's " Roman History " as 
an agreeable variety. Her mind was stronger than 
her body. She was now only thirty-two years of 
age ; and she writes to Gilbert West, that ex-lieu- 
tenant of horse, and honest inquirer into theological 
questions : " You will imagine I am in extraordinary 
health, when I talk of walking two miles in a morn- 



62 A LADY OF TEH LAST OENTUBY. 

ing." If she could not walk far, she could read and 
stand anything.- In December, she was again at 
home in Hill Street. On Christmas Eve, 1752, she 
writes : — " I proposed answering my dear Mrs. 
Boscawen's letter yesterday, but the Chinese-room 
was filled by a succession of people from eleven in 
the morning till eleven at night." 

Early in January, 1753, close upon the anni- 
versary of the death of the brother whom she 
dearly loved — her brother "Tom," — who died a 
bachelor, in 1748, an event occurred, the bearing 
of which is only partially told in a letter from Mrs. 
Montagu to Gilbert West: "My mind was so 
shocked at my arrival here, that for some days I 
was insupportably low. I am now better able to 
attend to the voice of reason and duty. A friend- 
ship, begun in infancy, and re-united by our com- 
mon loss and misfortune, had many tender ties. By 
tender care I had raised her from despair almost to 
tranquillity. I had hourly the greatest of pleasures, 
that of obliging a most grateful person. She made 
every employment undertaken for me, and every 
expression of my satisfaction in her execution of 
those employments, a pleasure. I received from her 



A LADT OF TEE LAST CENTURY. 63 

kind offices which, however considerable, fell short 
of the zeal that prompted them. Of this, I do not 
know that there is a pattern left in the world. She 
was much endeared, and her loss embittered to me 
by another consideration, which you may reasonably 
blame, as it shows too fond an attachment to those 
things which we ought to resign to the Great Giver ; 
but while she was under my care, I thought a kind 
of intercourse subsisted between me and a most dear 
and valuable friend whom I lost this time five years. 
Whatever I did for her I thought done for that 
friend on whom my affections, hopes, and pride 
were placed." 

This little romance having come to a sad conclu- 
sion, Mrs. Montagu was soon afterwards in town, 
running, as she said, " from house to house, getting 
the cold scraps of visiting conversation, served up 
with the indelicacy and indifference of an ordinary, 
at which no power of the mind does the honours ; 
the particular taste of each guest is not consulted, 
the solid part of the entertainment is too gross for a 
delicate taste, and the lighter fare insipid. Indeed, I 
do not love fine ladies, but I am to dine with .... 
to-morrow, notwithstanding." Again, in November, 



64 A LADY OF TEE LAST CENTURY. 

1754, she writes from Hill Street the day after her 
arrival : " In my town character, I made fifteen 
visits last night. I should not so suddenly have 
assumed my great hoop, if I had not desired to pay 
the earliest respects to Lady Hester Pitt, who is 
something far beyond a merely fine lady." 

Mrs. Montagu did not seek for friends exclusively 
among the great. With her and with Lyttelton, 
intellect was the chief attraction. They both re- 
ceived into their friendship the refugee Bower, who 
made so much noise in his day. Mrs. Montagu 
and Lyttelton refused to abandon him when he was 
assailed by his enemies. When she was told, in a 
letter from a Roman Catholic, that Bower, the ex- 
Jesuit, whom she had received in her house, was a 
knave, that his wife was a hussey, and that Mrs. 
Montagu herself was an obstinate idolizer and a 
perverse baby for believing in them, she continued 
her trust, despised report, and asked for facts. 

In 1755, Mrs. Montagu affected to detect the 
first sign of her superannuation in her sudden re- 
solution not to go to Lady Townshend's ball, 
though a new pink silver negligie lay ready for the 
donning. Once, she said, her dear friend, Vanity, 



A LADY OF THE LAST CENTUBY. 65 

could lure her over the Alps or the ocean to a ball 
like Lady Townshend's. The day was past since 
she would have gone eight miles, in winter, to 
dance to a fiddle, and would have squalled with joy 
at being upset on her way home. She and Vanity, 
she thought, had now parted. " I really believe she 
has left me as lovers do their mistresses, because I 
was too fond, denied her nothing, and was too com- 
pliant to give a piquancy to our commerce." She 
was as " sharp " in judging others as herself. Of 
Lady Essex (the daughter of Sir Charles Hanbury 
Williams, who married the Earl of Essex in 1754, 
and died in 1759), Mrs. Montagu, in the intervening 
year, 1756, says : "Lady Essex coquettes extremely 
with her own husband, which is very lawful. . . . She 
wants to have the bon ton, and we know the bon ton 
of 1756, is tmpeu equivoque." 

And now, in the year 1757, the celebrated word 
"blue-stockings" first occurs in Mrs. Montagu's 
correspondence. Boswell, under the date 1781, 
tells us in his " Life of Johnson," that " about this 
time, it was much the fashion for several ladies to 
have evening assemblies, where the fair sex might 
participate in conversation with literary and inge- 



66 A LADY OF TEE LAST CENTURY. 



nious men, animated by a desire to please. These 
societies were denominated Blue Stocking Clubs. 
One of the most eminent members of these societies, 
when they first commenced, was Mr. Benjamin 
Stillingfieet, whose dress was remarkably grave, and, 
in particular, it was observed that he wore blue 
stockings. Such was the excellence of his conver- 
sation, that his absence was felt as so great a loss, 
that it used to be said, ' we can do nothing without 
the blue stockings^ and thus by degrees, the title 
was established." Boswell was greatly mistaken, for, 
in 1 78 1, Benjamin Stillingfieet, the highly accom- 
plished gentleman, philosopher, and barrack-master 
of Kensington, had been dead ten years, and he had 
left off wearing blue stockings at least fourteen years 
before he died. This subject will be referred to in a 
subsequent page. Meanwhile, in March, 1 757, when 
rumours of war were afloat, Mrs. Montagu gaily wrote 
to her husband ; " If we were in as great danger of 
being conquered by the Spaniards as by the French, 
I should not be very anxious about my continuance 
in the world ; but the French are polite to the ladies, 
and they admire ladies a little in years, so that I 
expect to be treated with great politeness, and as 



A LADY OF THE LAST CENTURY. 67 

all laws are suspended during violence, I suppose 
that you and the rest of the married men will not 
take anything amiss that happens on the occasion : 
nor, indeed, should it be a much greater fault than 
keeping a monkey if one should live with a French 
marquis for a quarter of a year !" A little later, 
Walpole told George Montagu a story which illus- 
trates the scandal-power of the period. " I was 
diverted," he wrote, "with the story of a lady of 
your name and a lord, whose initial is no further 
from hers than he himself is supposed to be. Her 
postilion, a lad of fifteen, said, ' I'm not such a child 
but I can guess something ! Whenever my Lord 
Lyttelton comes to my lady, she orders the porter 
to let in nobody else, and then they call for pen and 
ink, and say they are going to write history ! ' 
I am persuaded, now that he is parted, that he 
will forget he is married, and propose himself in 
form to some woman or other ! " 

Such scandal as this could not affect either of 
the parties against whom it was pointed. In the 
next following years of the reign of George the 
Second, Mrs. Montagu led her usual life. In 
London, gay ; in the country, busy and thoughtful. 

F 2 



68 A LADY OF THE LAST CENTURY. 

" In London," she asks, " who can think ? Perhaps, 
indeed, they may who are lulled by soft zephyrs 
through the broken pane, but it cannot happen to 
ladies in Chinese-rooms !" In those rooms she 
received all, native and foreign, whose brains or 
other desirable possessions entitled them to a wel- 
come. At Sandleford, she was sometimes reading 
a translation of Sophocles, dear to her almost as 
Shakespeare himself, but as often she was amid 
accounts relative to firkins of butter, tubs of soap, 
and chaldrons of coal. When she left the country, 
it was in the odour of civility ; for Mr. and Mrs. 
Montagu invited a cargo of good folks to dinner, 
and, like Sir Peter Teazle, left their characters 
among them to be discussed till the next season. 
In 1758, Mrs. Montagu became acquainted with 
Mrs. Elizabeth Carter, the translator of Epictetus ; 
and Mr. Montagu, by the death of a relative, 
succeeded to the inheritance of rich possessions in 
the north. Mrs. Montagu thought she had got 
the richer estate, in the learned lady who had 
become her friend. Nevertheless, she bore the 
accession of fortune with hilarious philosophy. 
"As the gentleman from whom Mr. Montagu 



A LADY OF THE LAST CENTURY. 69 

inherits had been mad above forty years, and 
almost bed-ridden for the last ten, I had always 
designed to be rather pleased and happy when he 
resigned his unhappy being and his good estate." 
She only fancied there was neither pleasure nor 
happiness in it, because the " business r appertaining 
to succession was wearisome. 

When she found herself among the great coal- 
owners, she was neither happy nor pleased. They 
could only talk of coal, and of those who had been 
made or ruined by it. " As my mind is not naturally 
set to this tune," she wrote to Mr. Benjamin Stilling- 
fleet, " I should often be glad to change it for a 
song from one of your Welsh bards." She, how- 
ever, intended to turn the occasion to intellectual 
profit by exploring the country, and studying its 
beauties and natural productions, but a little fainting 
fit put an end to this design. An over-zealous 
maid went to her aid, when fainting, with a bottle 
of eau-de-luce, but as she emptied the contents into 
Mrs. Montagu's throat, instead of applying it 
outwardly for refreshment, the lady was nigh upon 
being then and there deprived of upwards of forty 
years of life. She happily recovered, and by-and- 



70 A LADY OF THE LAST CENTURY. 

by, she speaks of herself, in London, as "going 
wherever two or three fools were gathered together, 
to assemblies, visiting days, &c. Twenty-four idle 
hours, without a leisure one among them ! " So she 
said ; but an order to Mrs. Denoyer, at the Golden 
Bible, Lisle Street, for a hundred of the best pens 
and half a ream of the finest and thinnest quarto 
paper, indicates how many hours of the twenty-four 
were employed. She thought, or she affected to 
think, that she grew idler as she grew older. In 
one of her letters to old Doctor Monsey, — a 
grotesque savage and scholar, who, in lugubrious 
jokery, wrote love letters (which she pretended to 
take seriously) at fourscore, — she said, in September, 
1757, just before her thirty-seventh birthday: "I 
shall write to you again when I am thirty-seven ; 
but I am now engaged in a sort of death-bed 
repentance for the idleness of the thirty-sixth year 
of my age ! " She certainly took a wrong view of 
her case when she further said : — " Having spent 
the first part of my life in female vanities, the rest 
in domestic employments, I seem as if I had been 
measuring ribbons in a milliner's, or counting 
pennyworths of figs and weighing sugar-candy in 



A LADY OF THE LAST CENTURY. 71 



a grocer's shop all my life." This was no affec- 
tation. " If you envy me," she added, " or know 
anyone who does, pray tell them . this sad truth. 
Nothing can be more sad. Nothing can be more 
true." 

It would have been sad, if it had been true ; but 
she was severe in her own censure. If she cheer- 
fully plunged into the vortex of fashionable duties, 
she persistently proclaimed her higher enjoyment of 
home privileges. She sneered at her own presence 
wherever two or three fools were gathered together, 
but her honest ambition was to establish friendships 
with the wise and the virtuous. Johnson assured 
her of her " goodness so conspicuous," and was 
proud of being asked to use his influence to obtain 
her support of poor Mrs. Ogle's benefit concert, 
as it gratified his vanity, that he should be " sup- 
posed to be of any importance to Mrs. Montagu." 
With respect, at this time, for Johnson, she had a 
deeper feeling of regard for Burke. " Mr. Burke, a 
friend of mine." There is reasonable pride in the 
assertion, and how tenderly and cleverly she paints 
her " friend ! " — " He is, in conversation and writing, 
an ingenious and ingenuous man, modest and 



72 A LADY OF THE LAST CENTURY. 

delicate, and on great and serious subjects full of 
that respect and veneration which a good mind and 
a great one, is sure to feel ; he is as good and 
worthy as he is ingenious." Her love of books was 
like her love of friends. Dressed for a ball, she 
sat down, read through the "Ajax " and the " Phi- 
loctetes " of Sophocles, wrote a long critical letter on 
the two dramas, and, losing her ball, earned her bed 
and the deep sleep she enjoyed in it. At Tun- 
bridge, she describes the occupation of a single 
morning as consisting of going to chapel, then to 
a philosophical lecture, next to hear a gentleman 
play the viol d'amore, and finally to hold contro- 
versy with a Jew and a Quaker. In 1760, she was 
equally vivacious, in " sad Newcastle." In Sep- 
tember of that year, she writes to Lord Lyttelton, 
that she was taking up her freedom, by entering 
into all the diversions of the place. " I was at a 
musical entertainment yesterday morning, at a 
concert last night, at a musical entertainment this 
morning ; I have bespoken a play for to-morrow 
night, and shall go to a ball, on choosing a mayor, 
on Monday night." But in the hours of leisure, 
between these dissipations, she fulfilled all her 



A LADY OF THE LAST GENTUBY. 73 

duties as a woman of business in connection with 
her steward's accounts and the coal interests, and 
devoted the remainder to the study of works in the 
loftiest walks of literature. " More leisure and 
fewer hours," she says, "had possibly made me 
happier, but my business is to make the best of 
things as they are." She ever made the best of 
two old and wise men who professed in mirth, to 
make love to her in all seriousness. The two wise 
men look, in their correspondence, like two fools. 
Lord Bath, the wiser of the two, looks more of a 
fool than Dr. Monsey, and there is something 
nauseous in the affected playfulness of the aged 
lovers, and also in the equally affected virginal coy- 
ness with which Mrs. Montagu received, encouraged, 
or put aside their rather audacious gallantry. Her 
part in these pseudo love passages was born of her 
charity. It gave the two old friends pleasure 
(Lord Lyttelton himself styled her Ma Donna), and 
it did no harm to the good-natured lady. Lord 
Bath, however, is not to be compared with such a 
buffoon as Monsey. His honest opinion of Mrs. 
Montagu was : that there never was and never 
would be a more perfect being created than 



74 A LADY OF THE LAST CENTURY. 



that lady. And Burke said that the praise was 
not too highly piled. 

It was at this period that Mrs. Montagu first 
appeared as an authoress, but anonymously. Of 
the " Dialogues of the Dead," published under Lord 
Lyttelton's name, she supplied three. They are 
creditable to her, and are not inferior to those by 
my lord, which have been sharply criticised, under 
the name of " Dead Dialogues," by Walpole. In 
" Cadmjjg-' and Mercuity,'" the lady shows that 
strength of mind, properly applied, is better than 
strength of body. There is great display of learn- 
ing ; Hercules, however, talks like gentle Gilbert 
West ; and Cadmus, when he says, that " actions 
should be valued by their utility rather than their 
iclat" shows a knowledge of French which was 
hardly to be expected in him. 

If we are surprised at the cleverness of Cadmus, 
in speaking French, we cannot but wonder at the 
ignorance of Mercury, in the next dialogue, with 
a Modern Fine Lady, in not knowing the meaning 
of bon ton. But the lady's description of it is as 
good as anything in the comedy of the day. As for 
the manners of the period, as far as they regard 



A LADY OF THE LAST CENTURY. 75 

husbands, wives, and children, their shortcomings 
are described with a hand that is highly effective, 
if not quite masterly. 

Mrs. Montagu seems to think that Id on parle 
Franpais might be posted upon the banks of the 
Styx ; for, in the dialogue between Plutarch, Charon, 
and a Modern Bookseller, the first alludes to finesse 
and the second refers to the friseur of Tisiphone. 
But Plutarch had met M. Scuderi in the Shades ! 
On the other hand, he had never heard of Richard- 
son or Fielding ! Nevertheless, the criticisms on 
modern fiction and modern vices, are, if not ringing 
with wit, full .of good sense and fine satire. They 
could only have come from one who had not merely 
read much, but who had thought more : one who 
had not only studied the life and society of which 
she was a part, but who could put a finger on the 
disease and also point out the remedy. 

The first and last dialogues are enriched by 
remarks which are the result of very extensive 
reading. That between Mercury and the Modern 
Fine Lady abounds in proofs of the writer's obser- 
vation, and consequently of illustrations of con- 
temporary social life. The lady pleads her many 



76 A LADY OF THE LAST CENTURY. 



engagements, in bar to the summons of Mercury 

to cross the Styx. These are not engagements to 

husband and children, but to the play on Mondays, 

balls on Tuesdays, the opera on Saturdays, and to 

card assemblies the rest of the week, for two months 

to come. She had indeed found pleasure weary her 

when 1 the novelty had worn off; but " my friends," 

she says, " always told me diversions were necessary, 

and my doctor assured me dissipation was good for 

my spirits. My husband insisted that it was not ; 

and you know that one loves to oblige one's friends, 

comply with one's doctor, and contradict, one's 

husband." She will, however, willingly accompany 

Mercury, if he will only wait for her till the end 

of the season. "Perhaps the elysian fields may 

be less detestable than the country in our world. 

Pray have you a fine Vauxhall and Ranelagh ? I 

think I should not dislike drinking the Lethe waters 

when you have a full season." This fine lady has 

not been destitute of good works. "As to the 

education of my daughters, I spared no expense. 

They had a dancing-master, a music-master, and a 

drawing-master, and a French governess to teach 

them behaviour and the French language." No 



A LADY OF THE LAST GENTUBY. 77 

wonder that Mercury sneered at the fact that the 
religion, sentiment, and manners of those young 
ladies were to be learnt " from a dancing-master, 
music-master, and a chamber-maid." As to the 
last, there soon came in less likely teachers of 
French to young ladies than French chamber- 
maids. General Burgoyne makes his Miss Allscrip 
(in "The Heiress," a comedy first played in 1786) 
remark: "We have young ladies, you know, 
Blandish, boarded and educated, upon blue boards 
in gold letters, in every village ; with a strolling- 
player for a dancing-master, and a deserter from 
Dunkirk to teach the French grammar." 

The dialogues had a great success. The three 
avowedly " by another hand " interested the public, 
as the circumstance gave them a riddle to be solved 
in their leisure hours. They were attributed to 
men of such fine intellect that Mrs. Montagu 
had every reason to be delighted at such an indirect 
compliment. 

If her own account is to be taken literally, she 
had now, at forty, assumed gravity as a grace and an 
adornment. In 1 761, she wrote to Mrs. Elizabeth 
Carter that, whether in London or in the country, 



78 A LADY OF THE LAST CENTUBY. 

" I am become one of the most reasonable, quiet, 
good kind of country gentlewoman that ever was." 
And she closes another letter to the same lady, in 
September of the same year, with the observation, — 
made when she was only forty-one, and had but 
just accomplished half of a career of which she was 
already tired, — " I will own I often feel myself so 
weary of my journey through this world, as to wish 
for more rest, a quiet Sabbath after my working 
days ; but when such time shall come, perhaps some 
painful infirmity may find my virtue employment ; 
but all this I leave to Him who knows what is best." 
While the writer was recording this wish and 
making this reflection, all England was in a frenzy 
of exultation at the accession of the young king, 
George III., and all London in feverish excitement 
at the coming of a young queen. When, so to 
speak, the uproar of festival and congratulation 
culminated at the coronation of the young royal 
couple, the lady who was weary of life and sighed 
for a Sabbath of rest, got into a coach at Fulham 
at half-past four on an October morning, and was 
driven to Lambeth. With her gay company she 
was rowed across the river from Lambeth to the 



A LADY OF TEE LAST CENTURY. 79 

cofferer's office, whence she saw the procession go 
and return, between Westminster Hall and the 
Abbey, and owned that it exceeded her expectations. 
The return to the Hall was made, however, in the 
dark ; and, under shadow of night, the Montagu 
party were rowed to York Buildings, where a car- 
riage waited to take them to Fulham. The lady, 
stirred by a new sensation, which was followed by 
neither fatigue nor indisposition, seemed to have 
resumed the spirit of the nymph who used to take 
headers into the Mary-le-bone Gardens plunging- 
bath, and to be complimented, on her daring, in 
ballads, by Lord Dupplin ! 

When the fashionable world flocked to Mrs. 
Montagu's house in Hill Street, in the middle of 
last century, the street was not paved, and the 
road was very much at the mercy of the weather. 
To get to the house was not always an easy matter. 
When entered, the visitor found it furnished in a 
style of which much was said, and at which the 
hostess herself laughed. " Sick of Grecian elegance 
and symmetry, or Gothick grandeur and magni- 
ficence, we must all seek the barbarious gaudy goUt 



80 A LADY OF THE LAST CENTURY. 

of the Chinese ; and fat-headed pagods and shaking 
mandarins bear the prize from the finest works of 
antiquity ; and Apollo and Venus must give way 
to a fat idol with a sconce on his head. You will 
wonder I should condemn the taste I have com- 
plied with, but in trifles I shall always conform to 
the fashion." 

There were duties connected with her position 
which Mrs. Montagu as scrupulously fulfilled. Re- 
ceiving and returning visits was " a great devoir." 
Resort to assemblies was a " necessary thing ;" the 
duty of seeing and being seen was an indispensable 
duty ; but she had mental resources which enabled 
her to pity the " polite world," which had no way of 
driving away ennui but by pleasure. If in Hill 
Street she was of "the quality," as Chesterfield 
called them, in the country she was not only what 
she loved to call herself, a farmer's wife, but a 
political economist. At Sandleford we see a poor 
wretch standing at the door of the mansion. She 
is hideous from dirt, poverty, and contagious 
disease born of both. The lady-farmer was not 
only charitable but something besides. " I was very 
angry with her," she says, "that she has lately 



A LADY OF THE LAST CENTUBT. 81 

introduced another heir to wretchedness and want. 
She has not half Hamlet's delicacies on the question. 
To be or not to be! The law's delays are very- 
puny evils to those her offspring must endure. 
The world affords no law to make her rich, and 
yet she will increase and multiply over the face 
of the earth." 

Throughout the printed letters, continual ex- 
amples occur of Mrs. Montagu's acute observation 
of character, and of her happy expression when 
she described it. She not only watched closely, 
but spoke boldly of the ladies around her, and of 
their more or less pretty ways. Thus, Mrs. 
Montagu saw that all the ladies courted Dr. Young, 
the poet, but she was sure it was only because they 
had heard he was a genius, and not that they knew 
he was one. When some Misses expressed their 
delight at a particular ball, she remarked that their 
delight was probably increased by the absence of 
Miss Bladen, who became Lord Essex's second 
countess, and who was not there to outshine them ! 
" So strong in women," she said, " was the desire of 
pleasing, each would have that happy power con- 
fined to her own person." It did not escape her 



82 A LADY OF THE LAST CENTURY. 

eye that Lady Abercorn and Lady Townshend, " each 
determining to have the most wit of any person in 
the company, always chose different parties and 
different ends of the room." How gracefully serene 
is the portrait of the Duchess of Somerset, who did 
what was civil without intending to be gracious, 
and who so surprised Mrs. Montagu, in 1749, 
because the princely state and pride the duchess 
had so long been used to, had " left her such an 
easiness of manners." One of her exceptional 
touches was when she described the pious Countess 
of Huntingdon as a " well-meaning fanatic." That 
must have been after Gilbert West and Lord 
Lyttelton had brought her out of the field of Free 
Inquirers, and the Primate of Ireland had made her 
of the religion of the Established Church. At that 
period she would have placed the church above the 
law, resembling the old Scottish woman of the kirk, 
who, on pronouncing that to take a walk on the 
Sabbath was a deadly sin, was reminded that Jesus 
himself had walked in the cornfields on the Sabbath- 
day, to which she replied, " Ah weel, it is as ye say ; 
but I think none the better o' him for it !" 

Adverting to a wicked saying, that few women 



A LADY OF THE LAST CENTUBY. 83 

have the virtues of an honest man, Mrs. Montagu 
maintained that a little of the blame thereof falls on 
the men, " who are more easily deluded than per- 
suaded into compliance. This makes the women 
have recourse to artifice to gain power, which, as 
they have gained by the weakness or caprice of 
those they govern, they are afraid to lose by the 
same kind of arts addressed to the same kind of 
qualities ; and the flattery bestowed by the men on 
all the fair from fifteen, makes them so greedy of 
praise, that they most excessively hate, detest, and 
revile every quality in another woman which they 
think can obtain it." This is. the censure, or judg- 
ment, be it remembered, on Last Century Ladies ! 

When Mrs. Fielding, to benefit those ladies, 
wrote a novel called. " The Penitents," supposed to 
be the history of the unhappy fair ones in the 
Magdalen House, Mrs. Montagu remarked, hesi- 
tatingly, "As all the girls in England are reading 
novels, it may be useful to put them on their guard;" 
but she adds decisively, "If I had a daughter, I 
should rather trust her to ignorance and innocence 
than to the effect of these cautions !" 

Of course, Mrs. Montagu studied the gentlemen 

G i 



84 A LADY OF THE LAST CENTURY. 



as profoundly as the ladies. As one result, she 
gently laughed at Dr. Young's philosophy, which 
brought him to believe that one vice corrects 
another, till an animal made up of ten thousand bad 
qualities grows to be a social creature tolerable to 
live with. Sir William Brown could hardly claim 
this toleration, for he had not discovered (said 
Mrs. Montagu) that the wisest man in the company 
is not always the most welcome, and that people are 
not at all times disposed to be informed. Fancy 
may easily bring before the reader the sort of con- 
versation which Mrs. Montagu was able to hold 
with Mr. Plunket. She says of it : " Some people 
reduce their wit to an impalpable powder, and mix 
it up in a rebus ; others wrap up theirs in a riddle : 
but mine and Mr. Plunket's certainly went off by 
insensible perspiration in small talk." She was so 
satisfied that there was a right place for a wise man 
to play the fool in, that she expressed a hope to 
Gilbert West (who was turning much of her thought 
from this world to the next) and to his wife, that 
"you will, both of you, leave so much of your 
wisdom at Wickham as would be inconvenient in 
town." West feared that, at Sandleford, she sent 



A LADY OF THE LAST CENTURY. 85 

invitations to beaux and belles to fill the vacant 
apartments of her mind. She merrily answered, 
that there was empty space enough there for French 
hoops and echoes of French sentiments ; but she 
also seriously replied, " There are few of the fine 
world whom I should invite into my mind, and fewer 
still who are familiar enough there to come unasked." 
Mrs. Montagu hated no man, but she thoroughly 
despised Warburton. The way he mauled Shake- 
speare by explaining him, excited her scornful 
laughter ; the way in which he marred Christianity 
by defending it, excited much more than angry 
contempt. " The levity shocks me, the indecency 
displeases me, the grossiereti disgusts me. I love to 
see the doctrine of Christianity defended by the 
spirit of Christianity." Bishop Warburton and some 
country parsons were equally silly in her mind. Of 
a poor riddle, she says, "A country parson could 
not puzzle his parish with it, even if he should 
endeavour to explain it in his next Sunday's sermon. 
Though I have known some of them explain a 
thing till all men doubted it." 

From the rule by which she measured all men, she 
did not except any one of her brothers : and never 



86 A LADY OF THE LAST CENTURY. 

did sister love her brothers more tenderly and reason- 
ably. Her brother William, the clergyman, was 
restless in temper from excess of love of ease. 
" My brother Robinson," she wrote to her sister, 
Mrs. Scott, in 1755, "is emulating the great Dio- 
genes ... he flies the delights of London, and leads 
a life of such privacy and seriousness, as looks to the 
beholders like wisdom, but, for my part, no life of 
inaction, deserves that name." Other characters she 
strikes off in a single sentence. That, referring to 
Sir Charles Williams is a very good sample from an 
overflowing measure. " Sir Charles," she said, " is 
still so flighty, that had he not always been a wit, he 
would still pass for a madman ! " When she refers 
to Lord Hyde's printed, but never acted comedy, 
"The Mistakes, or the Happy Resentment," and 
says, " I suppose you will read the play, as it is by 
so great a man," she was probably thinking of Miss 
Tibbs, who, "it is well-known, always showed her 
good breeding by devoting all her attention to the 
people of highest rank in the company." 

Mrs. Montagu was as clever at generalities as 
when sketching individuals and special peculiarities. 
The numerous Jews at Tunbridge Wells, in 1745, 



A LADY OF TEE LAST CENTURY. 87 

she describes as having "worse countenances than 
their friend Pontius Pilate in a bad tapestry-hanging." 
Good farmer's wife, as she said of herself, and also very 
fond of refined luxury, she laughed in her letters at 
those persons who built palaces in gardens of beauty, 
and left, as she said, nothing rude and waste but their 
minds ; nothing harsh and unpolished but their 
tempers. To her, no knowledge came amiss N . 
Amid all the gaieties of the life at Bath, she took 
interest in the chemistry of every-day life. During 
one of her visits, she was initiated into the mysteries 
of making malt ! 

Her very affectations, as they were called, sprung 
from her endowments. Her learning and reading, 
and intercourse with scholars and thinkers, furnished 
her with extraordinary figures and illustrations that 
were applied to very ordinary uses. 

Neither Elizabeth Robinson nor Mrs. Montagu 
would be so common-place as to say, the moon 
shone, but " the silver Cynthia held up her lamp in 
the heavens." She could readily detect and denounce 
this learned affectation, this sacrifice of the natural 
to the classical in others ; and she said with truth 
of Hammond's " Elegies," " They please me much, 



88 A LADY OF THE LAST GENTUBY. 

but, between you and me, they seem to me to have 
something of a foreign air. Had the poet read 
Scotch ballads oftener, and Ovid and Tibullus less, 
he had appeared a more natural writer and a more 
tender lover." These terse sayings are well worth 
collecting. Here is one from a heap that will 
furnish a thousand : " I own the conversation of a 
simpleton is a grievance, but there the disparity of 
a wise man and a fool often ends." 

Here may be closed the illustrations of Mrs. 
Montagu's life, drawn chiefly from her published 
letters. The following sketches of her own life, and 
of that by which she was surrounded, are taken 
from letters, with one or two exceptions, now for 
the first time printed. 



( 89 ). 



CHAPTER IV. 

The unpublished letters take up the glorious theme 
previous to the last incident named in the published 
correspondence. The earliest is from Mrs. Mon- 
tagu's sister, Mrs. Scott, to the wife of their 
brother, the Rev. W. Robinson, at Naples. The 
two sisters, Elizabeth and Sarah, loved each other 
with intense affection. The younger went long by 
the nick-name of Pea, from her extraordinary like- 
ness to her elder sister, who used, before Sarah's 
unhappy marriage, to rally her on the obesity of her 
lovers and her cruelty in reducing them to con- 
sumptiveness and asses' milk. 

March 28th, 1761. Mrs. Scott to Mrs. Ro- 
binson, Naples. — "The Tories are in high spirits. 
The king has declared that as they are possessed 
of the greatest part of the property of the king- 



90 A LADY OF TEE LAST CENTURY. 

dom, they ought to have a great share in the 
government, and accordingly many are taken into 
place. The king was asked what orders he would 
have given to the dockmen against the approach- 
ing election. His majesty answered, ' No orders 
at all.' He would have them left to themselves. 
Lord Granville said, ' That was leaving them to be 
directed by the First Lord of the Admiralty' (Lord 
Anson). The king replied, ' That was true ; he 
had not considered that ; they must, therefore, be 
told to vote for the Tories, to be sure.' The late 
Speaker and the parliament took a most tender 
farewell of each other. They thanked and he 
thanked, and then they re-thanked, and in short, 
never were people so thankful on both sides ; and 
then they recommended him to the king, to do 
more than thank him ; but he refused any reward. 
Only, his son, it is said, will have a pension of aooo/. 
per annum — a good, agreeable compliment, and yet 
what no one will disapprove." 

Walpole describes Onslow's retirement, after hold- 
ing the office of Speaker during thirty years, in 
five successive parliaments, in these words : " The 
Speaker has taken leave and received the highest 



A LADY OF THE LAST CENTURY. 91 

compliments, and substantial ones, too. He did 
not over-act, and it was really a handsome scene. 
Onslow accepted a pension of 3000/. a year for his 
own life and that of his son — afterwards Lord 
Onslow." 

After noticing the changes in the ministry, and 
conferring of honours on, and the granting of 
pensions to persons of no great public importance, 
Mrs. Scott turns to the death of the great master 
of the ceremonies at Bath, Beau Nash, and to the 
conduct of the great statesman, Mr. Pitt. " Mr. 
Nash, I believe, died since I wrote to you, and all 
his effects are to be sold for the benefit of his 
creditors, but will not prove sufficient to pay his 
debts. Collett now officiates as his successor, 
though others are talked of for that noble post; 
but as neither the corporation nor the keeper of 
the rooms seem disposed to annex any salary 
to it, I imagine Collett will continue in posses- 
sion; for I think no one else will do it without 
other reward than the honour and profit arising 
therefrom." 

Collett, after brief possession of the post so long 
held by Nash, was succeeded by Derrick, an ad- 



92 A LADY OF THE LAST CEN1 UBT." 

venturer in whom Bath was as much interested as 
England was in Pitt, of whom, Mrs. Scott thus 
writes: — "Mr. Pitt still continues in his post. 
Without connections of any sort, without the 
power of conferring honours or places, he com- 
mands imperiously, and forces obedience from 
mere superiority of parts and integrity. As a 
statesman he is self-existent, and depends on none, 
nor has any dependent on him. He does not see 
his oldest friends but when they have business to 
impart, obliges none by private benefits, nor en 
gages any by social intercourse. His mind seems 
too great for any object less than a whole nation. 
There is something very new and extremely sur- 
prising in his conduct. He is an Almanzor in 
politicks. He is himself alone. How long he 
can stand thus, only time can show. As there was 
scarcely ever an instance of the like, we have no 
precedents by which to form conjectures. Na- 
tional prejudices about Scotchmen are lulled asleep. 
Lord Bute is high in favour ; the city is pleased 
with him; the Tories much attached to him. 
The king is still generally applauded. Our sex 
went in such numbers to the House of Lords 



A LADY OF THE LAST CENTUBY. 93 

at the closing of the session, to see his majesty on 
the throne, that good part of the company fainted 
away, and not above three lords had room to sit 
down. . . . 

" My brother Matt is at present prosecuting the 
minister of Lyminge for non-residence, in revenge 
for some offence he has given him about the 
tithes ; and my father bids fair for being engaged 
in prosecuting a clergyman at Canterbury, for 
saying he was in the Rebellion in the year '16. 
. . . Report says that the Duchess of Richmond 
and some other ladies, whose husbands are going or 
gone to Germany, are going there likewise, and are 
to be at Brunswick. I much question whether their 
husbands will rejoice in their company, but cer- 
tainly Prince Ferdinand will not be fond of such 
auxiliaries. It is the oddest party of pleasure I ever 
heard of. Thomas Diaforus, who invites his mis- 
tress to the lively amusement of making one at a 
dissection, would be an agreeable lover to these 
ladies. . . . Perhaps they think Germany may afford 
them more of their husbands' company than they 
can obtain in England; for some among them 
would think that a valuable acquisition, and pos- 



94 A LADY OF TEE LAST CENTURY. 

sibly they may not be mistaken, for a drum that 
leads to battle may not be so powerful a rival to 
a wife as one that leads its followers only to co- 
quetry." 

Mrs. Scott's reference to Pitt, Secretary of State 
and soul of the ministry of which the old imbecile 
Duke of Newcastle was the nominal head, seems to 
have been made with Almanzor's lines in her 
memory. 

" Know, that I alone am king of me ! 
I am as free as Nature first made man, 
Ere the base laws of servitude began, 
When wild in woods the noble savage ran. 
I saw th' oppress'd, and thought it did belong 
To a king's office to redress the wrong,'' &c. 

The public mind, however, was not so much 
occupied with men of mark as with a ceremony 
which had not been witnessed in England for very 
many years. In a letter from Batheaston, Sep- 
tember 14, 1761, written by Mrs. Scott to her 
sister-in-law, at Naples, she describes the time as 
one of general madness, and continues as follows : — 

" One would imagine that no king had ever 
married or any state ever had a queen before. 
The nation has for some time been and will still 



A LADY OF TEE LAST CENTURY. 95 

longer be absolutely frantic. The expected princess 
was to be all perfection, both in person and mind, 
and I believe few ever took so much pleasure in 
the possession of their own wives as they have in 
his majesty's having obtained so rare a blessing. I 
don't think so great a compliment has been paid to 
matrimony for many years past. Miss Arnold, 
who is gone up to my brother Morris, in order 
to be ready for the coronation, has had a sight of 
her majesty ^ and from her, as well as others, I 
understand she is very far from handsome. Her 
mouth fills a great part of her face. When Miss 
Arnold saw her, which was only in passing, she 
was talking and laughing, which would shew it in 
its full dimensions, and she says she could see no 
other feature ; but we are assured she is extremely 
good-natured, very lively, and has an extraordinary 
understanding. The first part, her youth renders 
probable; for the last article, we may rather sup- 
pose it affords a reasonable ground for expecta- 
tion than that it has come to any perfection. She 
has been learning French since she knew she was 
to leave Mecklenburgh ; and I suppose must have 
endeavoured to obtain some English, as the more 



96 A LADY OF THE LAST CENTURY. 

necessary thing. It is said that Lord Hardwicke 
wrote over an account to his wife of her personal 
defects, which her ladyship read in a large com- 
pany. This was repeated to his majesty, who is 
greatly offended. Certainly, it was highly im- 
prudent in the one, and not less foolish in the 
other ; and I wonder his lordship, after having been 
married near thirty years, should not know his wife 
better than to put it in her power to commit such 
a folly, as he might have known how likely she was 
to use it to his disadvantage. I suppose the poor 
man went over in full expectation of seeing a Venus, 
and was so amazed that he could not contain his 
disappointment. 

" As many persons as Greenwich would hold waited 
there for many days, to see her majesty arrive, and 
at last, after having been exposed to those storms, 
she landed in Suffolk, and, consequently, did not 
make her appearance on the Thames. The rooms 
at Greenwich let for half a guinea a day, and the 
poorest little casement brought in the owner a daily 
crown. I hope it has enriched many poor people. 
Of all the taxes ever levied in this kingdom, that 
which will be raised this year on folly, will be by far 



A LADY OF THE LAST CENTUBY. 97 

the highest. I hear there is scaffolding enough 
erected against the coronation to hold two millions 
of people. Almost all the kingdom will be in 
London ; and many, I suppose, will be reduced to 
scanty meals for a whole year to come, by the 
expenses on this occasion ; and if the day should 
prove rainy, which the season of the year renders 
very probable, those who are not in Westminster 
Hall or the Abbey will see nothing ; for there is an 
awning prepared, to be carried over the heads of 
those who walk in the procession, in case of rain. 
The finery of every one who intends to appear at 
court is beyond imagination. This kingdom, or 
perhaps any other, scarcely ever saw the like. 

"The queen's clothes are so heavy that, by all 
accounts, if she be not very robust, she will not be 
able to move under the burden ; but I hope her 
constitution is not very delicate, for she did not 
arrive in London till three o'clock ; and, besides the 
fatigue of her journey, with the consequences of the 
flutter she could not avoid being in, she was to dress 
for her wedding, be married, have a Drawing-room, 
and undergo the ceremony of receiving company, 
after she and the king were in bed, and all the night 

H 



98 A LADY OF THE LAST CENTURY. 

after her journey and so long a voyage. Nothing 
but a German constitution could have undergone 
it." . . . 

Poor Queen Charlotte's plainness was — as North- 
cote subsequently described it, in speaking of her 
portrait by Reynolds, namely — an elegant, and not 
a vulgar plainness. She had a beautifully-shaped 
arm, and was fond of exhibiting it. " She had a 
fan in her hand," said Northcote ; " Lord ! how she 
held that fan !" Of literary news this letter con- 
tains the following item : — ■ 

..." Dr. Young has written a poem on ' Resig- 
nation,' and dedicated it to Mrs. Boscawen. I have 
not seen it, but have heard it much praised, and 
am told he wrote it at the desire of my sister 
Montagu and Miss Carter, who requested it in a 
visit they made him on their road to Tunbridge, 
where my sister spent the summer." 

Municipal authorities, more gallant than Mrs. 
Scott and the female critics, spoke of the queen, 
in their addresses, as " amiably eminent for the 
beauties of her mind and person." Many parties 
who drove into town to witness the coronation, were 
made to "stand and deliver" their valuables by 



A LADY OF TEE LAST GENTUBY. 99 

highwaymen, who infested all the roads leading into 
London. Those who escaped and got as far as 
Charing Cross, could go no further, unless the 
gentlemen fought way for their ladies and them- 
selves, which some bold spirits ventured to do. 
While the great show was in progress, press-gangs 
picked up youths likely, however unwilling, to serve 
the king ; and the city at night was in the hands of 
a mob, which did with London, Londoners, and their 
possessions very much as they pleased. Many lives 
were sacrificed, and very little was thought of them. 
The night after the wedding, there was a ball at 
court, so grand that nothing like it, so it was said, 
had ever been seen in England. The king and 
queen retired at the early hour of eleven. One 
great feature of the night was that the Duke of 
•Ancaster, whose wife was mistress of the robes to 
the queen, appeared in the dress which the king had 
worn the whole day before at the coronation, and 
which his majesty had condescendingly given to his 
grace ! A pleasanter feature was to be seen in the 
group of bridesmaids, who "danced in the white- 
boddiced coats they had worn ,at the wedding." 
Liquor and illuminations prevailed outside. " Ah !" 

h a 



100 A LADY OF THE LAST CENTURY. 



said an observant Smithfield dealer; "what with 
plays, fairs, pillories, and executions, London has 
more holidays than there are red days in the 
almanack!" In truth, London was drunk and 
rampant. It could be both at small outlay; for 
mutton was selling at one shilling a stone (in the 
carcase), and Cognac could be had for nine shillings 
a gallon ! 

Lord Hardwicke, named in the above letter, was 
the son of an attorney, and rose to the dignity of 
Lord Chancellor by his merits. When he was 
plain Philip Yorke, he made an offer of marriage to 
an heiress, a young widow, with a jointure, whose 
father asked him for his rent-roll ! The handsome 
barrister replied that he had " a perch of ground in 
Westminster Hall." The young fellow's suit pre- 
vailed ; and the happy couple began life in a small 
house near Lincoln's Inn, the ground floor of which 
served for the husband's offices. The lady was 
connected with the family of Gibbon the historian ; 
and she was a wife so good, prudent, and so wise, 
that Mrs. Scott's sneer at her seems quite gratuitous. 
The poor lady died three days before the coronation ; 
and her husband in 1764. 



A LADt OF THE LAST CENTUBY. 101 

Dr. Young's " Resignation " was the dying song 
of a man above fourscore. Its object was to 
console Mrs. Boscawen for the loss of her heroic 
husband, the admiral. In the last century, English 
heroes were singularly respected. The Suffolk 
ladies, of whatever rank, voluntarily yielded pre- 
cedence to Mrs. Vernon, " great Admiral Vernon's " 
wife. 

Mr. Pitt resigned the foreign secretaryship on 
October 5th, 1761. He and his friends were for 
declaring war against Spain. Lord Bute and a 
majority opposed it, the king agreeing with them. 
Pitt's fall was made tolerable by the pension of 3000/. 
a year for the lives of himself, son, and wife. The 
latter was created Baroness of Chatham ; and in 
three months war was declared with Spain ! 

Mrs. Scott to her brother at Naples. Nov. 2,8, 
1 76 1.—. . . "Lord Bath and Lord Lyttelton were 
both at Tunbridge, and Miss Carter was with my 
sister ; so, you may imagine, the place was agreeable, 
and wit flowed more copiously than the spring. The 
room she has so long been fitting-up is not yet 
finished, but the design of it is so much improved that 
I really believe it will be the most beautiful thing 



102 A LADY OF TEE LAST CENTURY. 

ever seen, and proportionably expensive. Taste, you 
know, is not the cheapest thing to purchase. Use 
and convenience may be provided for at a moderate 
charge, but great geniuses are above being contented 
with such matters. 

" I suppose you have heard much of the general 
lamentations for Mr. Pitt's resignation. It is by 
many thought that his resuming his post is unavoid- 
able, and, indeed, I suppose it must be so, if affairs 
take the turn which appearances give reason to 
expect. He is more popular than ever in the city. 
The procession of the royal family on the Lord 
Mayor's day was broke in a manner that puzzled 
people much, as they could not account for it; 
but it has since been said it was occasioned by a 
multitude of sailors, who forced their way through 
the crowd in search of Mr. Pitt's chariot, from 
which they intended to have taken the horses, and 
to have drawn it themselves to the Mansion House. 
The post of honour is not often a place of safety, 
but I think it was seldom more dangerous than it 
would have proved in this case, had they efFected 
their design ; but they could not find him, so he got 
there with whole bones, and was received with 



A LADY OF THE LAST CENTURY. 103 

greater acclamations than were bestowed on any 
other person. He endeavoured to get away pri- 
vately, but the mob were so very kind that they 
very near overturned Lord Temple's chariot, in 
which he was, by crowding about it, and hanging 
on the doors ; and a very long time he was in 
getting home. I will not say it was tedious, for the 
sweetest music is deserved praise. He did not 
attend the House of Commons till some days after 
its first meeting; but when he did, spoke, by all 
accounts, beyond what he or any other man ever 
did, with perfect calmness and modesty, and, with 
few words, silenced every one who endeavoured to 
oppose him. G. Grenville attempted to answer 
him, but a general buz obliged him to sit down. 
However, the press is loaded with his abuse. These 
events are happy for hireling scribblers. They get 
a dinner, and can do him no essential harm. So 
it's very well. It would be cruel to grudge them 
their morsel. I hope it will fatten many a starving 
author. 

" But to mention those who do not write for bread, 
and those who contrive to get both bread and fame 
together, Lord Lyttelton's second volume quarto 



104 A LADY OF THE LAST CENTURY. 



of Henry the Second is in the press. . . . Mallett 
has published a poem called 'Truth in Rhyme,' 
dedicated to Lord Bute. ... I am glad he can tell 
truth in either rhyme or prose. ... I have heard a 
bon mot of Lady Townshend's, of which no one will 
deny the truth. Somebody expressed their surprise 
that Lady Northumberland should be made lady 
of the bed-chamber. ' Surely,' said she, ' nothing 
could be more proper. The queen does not under- 
stand English, and can anything be more necessary 
than that she should learn the vulgar tongue?' " 

It was at this period that Mrs. Scott became an 
authoress, in whole or in part, of a successful, but 
now utterly forgotten, novel, called " Millennium 
Hall." This book, a single volume, went through 
four editions. In the first edition, 1762, the first 
word of the title is spelt throughout with one n, 
and in all the editions it is said to be by a gentle- 
man on his travels. Common report assigned the 
authorship to Mrs. Scott, shared, as far as some 
small help went, by her friend and companion for 
years, Lady Barbara Montagu. A copy of the 
second edition (1764), which once belonged to 
Horace Walpole, is now in the British Museum. 



A LADY OF THE LAST CENTUBY. 105 

On the back of the title-page, Walpole corrects the 
above sharing of literary labour in the following 
words, written in his well-known hand : — " This book 
was written by Lady Bab Montagu (the sister of 
George Montagu Dunk, Earl of Hallifax) and 
Mrs. Scott, daughter of Matthew Robinson, Esq., 
and wife of George Scott, Esq." It was continued 
to be published as the work of a gentleman, in the 
two succeeding editions ; but Mrs. Scott is still 
accredited with the greatest share in the labour. 
"Millennium Hall" is generally described as a 
novel. It is a series of stories of the romantic lives 
of four or five ladies who, having been bitterly 
disappointed in love, and handsomely solaced by 
riches, retire from the world and establish them- 
selves in the hall which gives its name to the novel. 
It is a name which would lead one to suppose that 
there is a sort of millennium peace and happiness 
achieved there, such as will be found on earth 
generally only in the millennium period. The 
wealthy and love-lorn ladies of the hall, however, 
have only founded a female school and society 
in advance of contemporary ideas, but having 
nothing wonderful, though now and then some- 



106 A LADY OF THE LAST CENTUBY. 

thing eccentric, if weighed by our present standards. 
The real interest of the volume lies in the romantic 
biographies, and these are narrated with lady-like 
grace, elegance, tenderness, and, occasionally, tedious 
prolixity. 

The story represented, with some exaggeration, 
the lives led by Lady Bab and Mrs. Scott in their 
" conventual house " at Batheaston. Both boys 
and girls were well trained by those ladies at that 
place. Mrs. Montagu, in reference to Mrs. Scott's 
good works, so loved her sister as to render her 
uncharitable to other people. " Methodist ladies," 
she said, " did out of enthusiasm what Mrs. Scott 
did out of a calm sense of duty, and gratitude that 
the employment was a solace to one who had been 
cruelly tried by affliction." No credit was given 
to poor Lady Bab, but her happy temperament 
could well afford to do without it. Strange as the 
stories were which illustrate " Millennium Hall," 
they were not nearly so strange as one which, in 
March, 1762, Mrs. Scott related to her brother at 
Rome, in a letter from Bath : " Those who deal in 
the small wares of scandal will not want subjects. 
Miss Hunter, daughter to Orby Hunter, has lately 



A LADY OF TEE LAST CENTURY. 107 

furnished a copious topic. . . . She and Lord Pem- 
broke, in spite of winds, waves, and war, left this king- 
dom for one where they imagined they may love with 
less molestation, — where they cannot see a wife weep 
nor hear a father rage. They set off in a storm 
better suited to travelling witches than flying 
lovers, but were so impeded by the weather, that 
a captain sent out a boat and took the lady 
prisoner ; but after he had set her on shore, he found 
that, as she was of age, it was difficult to assume 
any lawful authority over her; and, after having 
spent a night in tears and lamentation, she was re- 
stored to Lord Pembroke. . . . His lordship resigned 
his commission and his place of lord of the bed- 
chamber, and wrote a letter to Lady Pembroke, 
acknowledging her charms and virtues and his own 
baseness (an unnecessary thing, since the latter she 
must long have known, and was probably not ab- 
solutely ignorant of the former), but assuring her 
Miss Hunter was irresistible ; that he never in- 
tended to return into England, and had taken care 
that 5000/. should be paid her yearly. As Lady 
Pembroke is so handsome and amiable, perhaps his 

conduct will be seen by the world in a true light, 
» 



108 A LADT OF THE LAST CENTURY. 

without any fashionable palliations. A report was 
spread, that they were taken by a privateer, but I 
can hear of none but of a very different capture — 
the clay cold corpses of Lord and Lady Kingstone, 
which were on their way to England for interment." 
The elopement of Miss Hunter (a maid of 
honour, too !) from Bath with the Earl of Pem- 
broke, formed one of the most delicious bits of 
scandal ever discussed in the Rooms, on the Parade, 
or in the Meadows. The excitement attendant 
thereon was shared by the whole country ; for Kitty 
Hunter was a well-known, and not at all suspected, 
beauty of the day. Her father, Orby Hunter, was, 
at the time of the elopement, one of the lords of 
the admiralty. The vessel that brought back the 
fugitives was a privateer, commanded by a friend 
of Mr. Hunter's. Kitty's father declined to receive 
her, and she accompanied Lord Pembroke abroad. 
The earl was a married man. His wife was Eliza- 
beth, daughter of the Duke of Marlborough. Her 
exemplary husband wrote to her from Italy a letter, 
in which he politely informed her, that though 
he had lived with her so many years, he regretted 

to say he had never been able to love her so well 

4 



A LADY OF THE LAST CENTURY. 109 



as she deserved, so thought it best to leave her. 
Subsequently, he had the assurance to invite Lady- 
Pembroke to accompany them on the continent. 
"And she," says Walpole, "who is all gentleness 
and tenderness, was with difficulty withheld from 
acting as mad a part from goodness as he had acted 
from guilt and folly." He had tried to make his 
wife hate him, but in vain. It is one of the illus- 
trations of social feeling in the last century, that 
neither the rascal earl nor the light-o'love maid of 
honour was thought much the worse of for their 
shameless conduct. A " Peerage," of ten years subse- 
quent to the elopement, edited by a clergyman, 
too ! the Rev. Frederick Barlow, vicar of Burton, 
thus speaks of my lord, who was then living : — " His 
lordship distinguished himself in the annals of 

gallantry with Miss H about ten years ago, 

and since that time," it goes on to speak plainly 
of the earl's gallantry, " with several ladies of less 
note ;" adding, " his lordship is universally esteemed 
as an accomplished nobleman and a brave officer." 
Mrs. Scott happily goes on to treat of a plainer 
but much honester woman than Kitty Hunter : — 
" The queen gives • daily less satisfaction, and the 



110 A LADY OF TEE LAST CENTURY. 

people who at first found her out to be pleasing, 
seem now to be insensible to the discovery they 
then made. Her husband, however, seems fond of 
her. . . . Report says the Prince of Mecklenburg, a 
very pretty sort of man, with an agreeable person, 
is fallen desperately in love with Miss Bowes — a 
prudent passion ; and the girl has no ambition if 
she does not choose to be a princess. I fancy, 
should she become such, he would be richer than 
the duke, his elder brother. . . . Lady Raymond is 
going to be married to Lord Robert Bertie, — an 
union wherein no acid will enter ; for they are' both 
famed for good temper. Mr. Whitehead's play has 
been acted and published, and a poor performance 
it is. The dialogue flat and un genteel, and the 
plot poor enough." 

Whitehead's play was a comedy, "The School 
for Lovers," in which Garrick played Sir John 
Dorilant. The main attraction was the ever 
youthful Mrs. Cibber, who, at nearly fifty years 
old, acted Caelia, a girl of seventeen ; yet Victor 
says: "She was admitted by the nicest observers 
to become the character. This was entirely owing 
to that uncommon symmetry and exact proportion 



A LADY OF THE LAST CENTUBY. Ill 

in her form, that happily remained with her to her 
death." But there were more extraordinary comedies 
being enacted in real life than on the stage. 

In a letter from Mrs. Scott to her brother, at 
Naples, dated April 10, 1762, there are profuse 
congratulations on the birth of his son, and a 
wonderful amount of speculation on mothers, nurses, 
and on babies generally, possible and impossible, 
expected and not expected, over tardy or too hasty, 
and all in as plain language as the subject could 
admit. The writer then refers to the report of the 
queen affording promise of an heir ; " but as she is 
no great favourite with the nation, it does not seem 
to afford any great joy." This leads to a subject 
that made a stir among last century ladies who 
were privileged to go to court. "A court dress 
(sic) is going to take place at St. James's, the same 
as in France, which greatly distresses the old ladies, 
who are quite clamourous on the occasion, and at a 
loss how to cover so much neck as the stiffened- 
bodied gowns are made to show, and which they are 
sensible is not very appetissante after a certain age ; as 
likewise how to supply the deficiency which churlish 
time has made in their once flowing tresses. Some 



112 A LADY OF THE LAST CENTURY. 



younger ladies, to whom nature has been rather a 
stepdame than a kind mother, join in their lamenta- 
tions, and London is in an uproar. The exultation 
of those who, conscious of their charms, rejoice in 
laying aside as much covering as possible, being as 
little silent at the distress of the others. They 
look on this allowed display as a sort of jail delivery 
to their long-imprisoned attractions ; and as beauty 
is nature's boast, insist that it should be showed 
at courts, and feasts and high solemnities, where 
most may wonder at the workmanship; and that 
fashion has been hitherto unjust in concealing 
part of the superiority nature has bestowed upon 
them. The consumption of pearl-powder will 
certainly be much increased ; for where there is such 
a resource, even fourscore will exhibit a snowy breast, 
and the corpulent dowagers will unite the lilies of 
the spring with all the copious abundance of a 
later season. 

..." Lord Pembroke, after he got to Holland, 
wrote to his lady, to desire her to come to them, 
assuring her Miss Hunter would be assiduous in 
her endeavours to oblige her, and that they should 
form a very happy society, if she would bring over 



A LADY OF THE LAST CENTUBY. 113 

her guitar, two servants who play on the French 
horn, and his dog Rover ! This polite invitation 
she, Emma like, was exceeding ready to comply 
with, but the Duke of Marlborough had rather too 
much sense to permit it. His lordship has since 
written her word, he shall never be happy till he 
lives with her again. Absurd as all this is, it is 
certainly fact, and some add, that he has advised 
Miss Hunter to turn nun ! To be sure he best 
knows how fit she is to take a vow of chastity ! 
That he may by this time wish she would take any 
vow that might separate her from him, is, I think, 
very probable." 

The general scramble for honours which usually 
marks a new reign had not yet ceased. Mrs. Scott 
thus refers to the part which some of her own 
family took in it. 

Mrs. Scott to the Rev. W. Robinson. May 16, 
1 762. — " I cannot forbear wishing you could have 
an Irish bishopric, but your profession are too 
watchful to suffer such things to be vacant. I 
hear our cousin Robinson does not much like his 
promotion to Kildare. I suppose he does not 
entirely relish rising step by step. All travelling 



114 A LADY OF TEE LAST GENTUBY. 

is expensive, and I believe none more so than the 
passing through the various stages of bishoprics ; 
but I think he may be contented to rise a petits pas. 
His rising at all seems to proceed only from a want 
of anything to stop him, according to the philoso- 
phical axiom, that put a thing in motion and it will 
move for ever, if it meets with nothing to obstruct 
its course. Nature went but a slow pace when she 
made him, and did not jump into one perfection. 
Sir Septimus is ..tolerably contented with his fate 
in a world/so regardless of real merit, and there- 
fore littler likely to reward his superlative merits. 

I hear 1/hat a week before he had this black rod 

V 
given hm (a proper reward for a preceptor), he 

declared that whoever would eat goose at court 

must swallow the feathers ; but now they have been 

so well stroked down, he finds them go down easily 

enough." 

In a subsequent letter to her sister-in-law at 
Naples, Mrs. Scott lightly sketches a celebrated 
character at Bath. 

" This place is by no means full, but it contains 
much wealth. Colonel Clive, the Nabob maker 
(is not that almost as great a title as the famous 



A LADY OF THE LAST CENTURY. 115 

Earl of Warwick's ?), lives at Westgate House, 
with all the Clives about him. He has sold his 
possessions in India to the East India Company 
for 30,000/. per annum, a trifling sum, which he 
dedicates to the buying of land. In a time when 
property is so fluctuating, I think he may see 
himself possessor of the whole kingdom, should his 
distempers allow him a long life ; but his health is 
bad, and he purposes, when peace is made, at latest, 
to show at Rome the richest man in Europe. He 
lives in little pomp; moderate in his table, and 
still more so in equipage and retinue." 

Mrs. Scott now disappears for awhile, to make 
way for her more celebrated sister. 



1 2, 



( 116 ) 



CHAPTER V. 

The first letter of Mrs. Montagu's in the hitherto 
unpublished series is addressed " To Mr. Robinson." 
the writer's brother. It is dated from " London, 
a8th of May, 1762." Mr. Robinson was then 
residing at Naples, where his wife had recently- 
given birth to a son. After the usual congratula- 
tions, Mrs. Montagu says : " I would have answered 
your letter the day after I received it, but was 
obliged to wait for the letter of recommendation 
to Mr. Pitt. Neither Lord Lyttelton or the Bishop 
of Carlisle are related to or acquainted with Mr. 
Pitt. Their sister married a distant cousin of 
Mr. George Pitt's, and was parted from him, I 
believe, long before Mr. George Pitt was a man, 
and they have not ever had the least commerce with 
him." After this explanation, the writer refers to 
the news of the day, and to one of the leading men 



A LADY OF THE LAST CENTURY. 117 

of the time : " The Duke of Newcastle is about 
to resign his office and retire to the joys of private 
life. I am afraid he will find that the mind used 
to business does not find quiet in idleness. There is 
hardly a greater misfortune than to have the mind 
much accustomed -to the tracasseries of the world. 
A country gentleman can amuse himself by angling 
in a trout stream, or venturing his neck in a fox 
chase ; a studious man can enjoy his books in soli- 
tude, and, with tranquill pleasure, 'woo lone quiet 
in her silent walk;' but chiefs out of war and 
statesmen out of place, like all animals taken out of 
their proper climate, make a miserable affair of 
rural life. I dare say his Grace of Newcastle will 
fall to serpentizing rivers, and then wish himself 
again a fisher of men. Aurora may put on her 
finest robe to unbar the gates of Morn ; he will 
still sigh that his folding doors are not to open 
to a crowded levee. The notes of Philomel are 
not sweet to ears used to flattery ; and what is the 
harvest home to a man used to collect the treasure 
of England?" 

"The king has purchased Buckingham House, 
and is going to fit it up elegantly for his retired 



118 A LADY OF THE LAST GENTUBY. 

hours. Her majesty promises to give us an heir 
very soon. Princess Amelia has purchased Gun- 
nersbury House. The Duke of Portland dyed 
about ten days ago, and the Duke of Manchester 
last week. 

" There has been a cold and fever in town, as 
universal as a plague,. but, thank God! less fatal. 
Mr. Montagu had it violently, and we had ten ser- 
vants sick at the same time. This distemper is not yet 
over. It grows more fatal, but I hope we shall have 
some rain, which will probably put a stop to it. . . . 
My poor friend Mrs. Donellan dyed of it .the day 
before yesterday. She had been ill all the winter, 
and was unable to struggle with a new distemper. . . . 
We propose to go to Sandleford very soon, and 
I hope to have my sister Scott's company there, 
which will make me very happy. Lady Bab Mon- 
tagu has lost her sister, Lady Charlotte Johnson, 
who dyed in childbed. 

"Lord Hallifax is returned with great glory 
from his Lord Lieutenancy in Ireland. He pleased 
all people; he united all parties; he contented 
those he was sent by and those he was sent to ; and 
has shown it is possible to please the government and 



A LADY OF THE LAST CENTURY. 119 

to be popular there. ... I suppose you have heard 
of the death of Sir Edward Dering, which was 
sudden. He has entailed everything on his grand- 
son, and left but very small fortune to his younger 
children. People seem to think that by making 
one person in their family rich, they can make one 
very happy ; but, alas ! human happiness cannot be 
carried beyond a certain pitch. Competency will 
make every one easy : great wealth cannot make 
any one happy. It is strange, parents should seem 
to feel only for one child, or, indeed, that the heir 
should be dearer than the child ; for it is as heir 
they show their regards to one of the family. No 
personal merit, no tender attachment, no sympathy 
of disposition can overrule that circumstance. Sir 
Edward Dering dyed very rich. . . . 

"Mr. Harrison's watch" (the fourth and most 
perfect time-keeper, for ascertaining the longitude 
at sea, invented by the Yorkshire carpenter's son, 
by which he ultimately received 24,000/.) " has suc- 
ceeded beyond expectation ; navigation will be im- 
proved by it, which all who have the spirit of 
travelling shall rejoice at. The wives of some of 
our general officers are gone to Lisbon with their 



120 A LADY OF THE LAST CENTURY. 

husbands, which I tell you for the honour of the 
fair sex. Lord Anson is in a very bad state of health. 
I am told Rome is the best place to get books at ; I 
should be glad to have Muratori ' Sopra le cose delli 
secoli passi.' I have his ' Annals of Italy.' . . . My 
love to my sister and dear little godson. . . . Pray 
remember, you owe me a god-daughter still." 

Mrs. Scott's letter, in June, to Mr. W. Robinson, 
has two passages in it which are like notes to her 
sister's epistle. 

"You will find few commoners in England. We 
make nobility as fast as people make kings and 
queens on Twelfth Night, and almost as many. . . . 
Lady Townshend says, she dare not spit out of 
her window for fear of spitting on a lord." 

..." The Duke of Newcastle, after his resigna- 
tion, had a very numerous levee, but somebody 
observed to him, there were but two bishops present. 
He is said to have replied, that bishops, like other 
men, were too apt to forget trreir maker. I think 
this has been said for him, or the resignation of 
power has much brightened his understanding ; for 
of whatever he may be accused, the crime of wit 
was never laid to his charge." 



A LADY OF THE LAST CENTUBY. 121 

Walpole states, with regard to the prelates at the 
old duke's levSe: "As I suppose all bishops are 
prophets, they foresee that he will never come into 
place again ; for there was but one that had the 
decency to take leave of him, after crowding his 
rooms for forty years together : it was Cornwallis." 
The duke went out on finding he had no chance 
of carrying a pecuniary aid to Prussia. If he was 
almost a fool, as some kind friends said, he had 
the wisdom to keep in place longer than any of 
his contemporaries. He was succeeded as Prime 
Minister by Lord Bute. Cornwallis, Bishop of 
Lichfield and Coventry, reaped the reward of his 
fidelity. He was promoted to the Archbishopric 
of Canterbury in 1768. It should be added, to 
the honour of the duke, who, however mentally ill- 
endowed and eccentric, was a gentleman in practice, 
that he declined a pension on his retirement. He 
might be incapable of serving his country, he said, 
but England should certainly not find him a bur- 
then. Chesterfield cites, as an example of his 
timidity, the duke's childish fear at Lord Chester- 
field's bill for correcting the calendar, and, as a 
proof of his integrity, the fact that " he retired from 



122 A JjABY OF THE LAST CENTURY. 

business above four hundred thousand pounds poorer 
than when he engaged in it." 

The duke left "business" in a considerable 
amount of confusion. In a letter dated July 27, 
1762, Mrs. Scott writes to Mr. Robinson at Rome, 
after much small talk on babies and jokes on pro- 
phesied lyings-in, in these words : — 

" Political disputes never ran so high in print as 
at present. The periodical papers are numerous 
and abusive to the greatest degree. By what I 
hear, the lawyers find it some substitution for the 
decay of business in the courts ; for the minority 
papers regularly undergo the inspection of council 
learned in the law before they are published, that 
the authors who stand on the very verge of treason 
may not, by some inadvertency, make a faux pas 
that will throw them down the precipice ; and some 
persons of consequence are under engagements to 
the printer to indemnify him should the heavy 
hand of authority oppress him. . . 

..." The king has given Johnson a pension of 
300/. per annum — a necessary step for one who 
wishes to be thought the patron of literature, and 
what every one must approve." 



A LADY OF THE LAST CENTUBY. 123 

"The North Briton" was not of Mrs. Scott's 
opinion with regard to Johnson's merits. " I hope," 
says Wilkes (No. u,Aug. 14), "Johnson is a writer 
of reputation, because, as a writer, he has just got a 
pension of 300/. per annum. I hope, too, that he 
has become a friend to this constitution and the 
family on the throne, now he is thus nobly provided 
for ; but I know he has much to unwrite, more to 
unsay, before he will be forgiven by the true friends 
of the present illustrious family for what he has 
been writing and saying for many years." 

In the last-named month, occurred that great 
event, the birth of " the first gentleman in Europe." 
Mrs. Scott thus speaks of mother and child : — 

Aug. 13, 1762. Mrs. Scott to Mrs. Robinson, 
Rome. — " On Thursday, the queen was brought to 
bed of a son, and both, we are told, are well. Many 
rejoiced, but none more than those who have been 
detained during all this hot weather in town to be 
present at the ceremony. Among them, no one was 
more impatient than the Chancellor, who, not con- 
sidering any part of the affair as a point of law, 
thought his presence very unnecessary. His lord- 
ship and the Archbishop must have had a fatiguing 



124 A LADY OF THE LAST CENTURY. 



office ; for, as she was brought to bed at 7 in the 
morning, they must have attended her labour all 
night, for fear they should be absent at the critical 
moment of delivery. I wish they were not too 
much out of humour before the prince was born, 
to be able to welcome it properly. . . . The lady's 
person is not the only thing that displeases. There 
is a coarseness and vulgarity of manners that disgust 
much more. She does not seem to choose to 
fashion herself at all. . . . Ned Scott's wife is to 
suckle the Prince of Wales — an employment which 
in all probability will prove as good nourishment to 
her own family as to the royal babe ; for her 
numerous offspring can scarcely fail of being pro- 
vided for after she has served in such an office. 

..." Peace is being much talked of, tho' the 
terms are unknown. The Duke of Bedford is 
spoken of as the person who is to go to Paris to 
transact it. I hope much will not depend on secret 
articles ; for I think he gave a proof, when old Bussy 
was here, that his old nurse could not be a greater 
blab !" 

The Chancellor, who was present on the above 
occasion, was "cursing Lord Northington," — a coarse' 



A LADY OF THE LAST CENTURY. 125 

witty man, married to a fool, who became the 
mother of the witty Lady Bridget Fox Lane. 
Northington, like Newcastle, had his fling at the 
bishops. In serious illness, he was counselled to 
send for a certain prelate. " He will never do," said 
the patient. " I should have to confess that I 
committed my heaviest sin when I made him a 
bishop !" The primate who attended at the birth of 
the Prince of Wales was Seeker ; and as he was 
originally a dissenter, and was never baptized in the 
Church of England, there were anxious church- 
women who thought that his christening George 
Prince of Wales would never make a Christian of 
him. And it can't be said that it did ! Meanwhile, 
how things were otherwise going in England, Mrs. 
Scott relates to her brother, in Rome, in a letter 
dated September, 1762.. 

"The lowest artificer thinks now of nothing but 
the constitution of the government. . . . The 
English always seemed born politicians, but were 
never so universally mad on the subject as at 
present. If you order a mason to build an oven, he 
immediately inquires about the progress of the 
peace, and descants on the preliminaries. A carpen- 



126 A LADY OF TEE LAST CENTURY. 

ter, instead of putting up a shelf to a cupboard, talks 
of the Princess Dowager, of Lord Treasarre, and of 
secretaries of state. Neglected lie the trowel and the 
chisel ; the mortar dries and the glue hardens while 
the persons who should use them are busied with 
dissertations on the government. 

. . . "The Duke of Marlborough and Lady 
Caroline Russell were married eight and forty hours 
after his grace declared himself a lover. The Duke 
of Bedford was always known to be a man of busi- 
ness, but he never despatched a matter quicker than 
this. He gave to Lady Caroline 50,000/. down, and 
is to give as much more at his death." 

The next letter, written at Sandleford, October 
the 8th, 1762, is addressed to the writer's sister-in- 
law, " Mrs. Robinson, Recommende a. Monsieur 
Jenkins, Gentilhome Anglois au Caffe Anglois, 
sur la Place di Espana, Rome." It commences 
with " My dear Madam," and after a very prolix 
argument on the lack of interest in home news sent to 
travellers abroad, Mrs. Montagu refers with pride to 
the English triumphs at the Havanna and Martinico, 
and thus continues. ..." But we are not much the 
nearer to a peace; for, as ambition subsides or 



A LADY OF TEE LAST CENTURY. 127 

crouches in the House of Bourbon, it rises in the 
Court of Aldermen, in London. When we shut 
the Temple of Janus, we shut up the trade of 
Change Alley, and the city finds its account in 
a war, and they clamour against any peace that will 
not give us the commerce of the whole world ! . . . 
" We have lately had a very fine public ceremony, 
the instalment of the new Knights of the Garter at 
Windsor. The king, assuming the throne of 
sovereign of the order, gave great lustre to the 
spectacle. I should have liked to have seen so 
august a ceremony ; and my Lord Bath was so 
good as to ask me to go to Windsor with him, 
from his house at Maidenhead Bridge; but Mr. 
Montagu, not being fond of public shows, and 
apprehending his lordship offered to go out of 
complaisance, I declined it, and my lord spent 
three days here ; so it was plain, his politeness to us 
was his only inducement to go to the instalment. 
I must own I should have taken some pleasure in 
being led back into former ages and the days of 
our great Plantagenets. I have a reverence, too, for 
the institutions of Chivalry. The qualities of a 
Knight were valour, liberality, and courtesy, and to 



128 A LADY OF THE LAST CENTURY. 

be sans peur et sans reproche. And though the 
change of government and manners make this 
knightly character now appear a little extravagant, 
the Redresser of wrongs was a respectable title 
before a regular police and a good system of laws 
secured the rights and properties of the weak. I 
hear the late instalment was extremely brilliant. 
The helmets of the knights were adorned with 
gems ; military honours, indeed, did not sit proudly 
on their crests ; but if they have the virtues suited to 
the times we live in, we will be contented. The 
knights of Edward ye Third were, indeed, very 
great men. The assembly of British Worthies 
might have disputed personal merit with, perhaps, 
the greatest Heroes of antiquity, considering them 
singly and independently ; but to enjoy an extensive 
or a lasting fame, men's actions must be tyed to 
great events ; then they swim down Fate's innavigable 
tyde, otherwise, they soon sink into oblivion." . . . 
In the February of this year, 1762, Lady Mary 
Wortley Montagu had returned to England, after 
many years of absence. In October, in the same year, 
she died. Of her appearance on her return, Mrs. Mon- 
tagu wrote as follows to her sister-in-law at Naples : — 



A LADY OF THE LAST CENTUBY. 129 

Feb. 16th, 1762. — "You have lately returned to 
us from Italy a very extraordinary personage, Lady 
Mary Wortley. When Nature is at the trouble of 
making a very singular person, Time does right in 
respecting it. Medals are preserved, when common 
coin is worn out ; and as great geniuses are rather 
matters of curiosity than of art, this lady seems 
reserved to be a wonder for more than our gene- 
ration. She does not look older than when she 
went abroad, has more than the vivacity of fifteen, 
and a memory which, perhaps, is unique. Several 
people visited her out of curiosity, which she did 
not like. I visit her because her cousin and mine 
were cousin-germans. Though she has not any 
foolish partiality for her husband or his relations, I 
was very graciously received, and you may imagine 
entertained, by one who neither thinks, speaks, acts, 
or dresses like anybody else. Her domestick is made 
up of all nations, and when you get into her drawing- 
room, you imagine you are in the first story of the 
Tower of Babel. An Hungarian servant takes your 
name at the door : he gives it to an Italian, who 
delivers it to a Frenchman ; the Frenchman to a 
Swiss, and the Swiss to a Polander ; so that, by the 

K 



130 A LADY OF THE LAST GENTUBY. 

time you get to her ladyship's presence, you have 
changed your name five times, without the expense 
of an act of parliament." 

In October, the same writer thus wrote of Lady 
Mary's death, and of the son who survived his 
mother : — 

" Lady Mary Wortley Montagu returned to Eng- 
land, as it were, to finish where she began. I wish 
she had given us an. account of the events that filled 
in the space between. She had a terrible distemper ; 
the most virulent cancer I ever heard of, which car- 
ried her off very soon. I met her at Lady Bute's, in 
June, and she then looked well. In three weeks, 
at my return to London, I heard she was given 
over. The hemlock kept her drowsy and free from 
pain ; and the physicians thought if it had been 
given early, might possibly have saved her. She 
left her son one guinea. He is too much of a sage 
to be concerned about money, I presume. When 
I first knew him, a rake and a beau, I did not 
imagine he would addict himself at one time to 
Rabbinical learning, and then travel all over the 
East, the great Itinerant Savant of the World. One 
has read .that the believers in the transmigration of 



A LADY OF THE LAST CENTURY. 131 

souls suppose a man, who has been rapacious and 

cunning, does penance in the shape of a fox. 

Anothef, cruel and bloody, enters the body of a 

wolf; but I believe my poor cousin, in his pre- 

existent state, having broken all moral laws, has 

been sentenced to suffer in all the various characters 

of human life. He has run through them all 

unsuccessfully enough. His dispute with Mr. 

Needham has been communicated to me by a 

gentleman of the Museum, and I think he will gain 

no laurels there ; but he speaks as decisively as if he 

had been bred in Pharaoh's court, in all the learning 

of the Egyptians. He has certainly very uncommon 

parts, but too much of the rapidity of his mother's 

genius. 

..." I am sure my brother will be glad to hear 
that Mrs. Scott, of Scottshall is wet-nurse to our 
Prince of Wales, and is much liked by our king 
and royal family ; so that I hope she will be able 
to make interest to establish all her children. A 
little of the royal favour and protection will bring 
them forward in professions, and the girls may have 
little places in the household; and I hope the 
scheme which I forwarded to the utmost of my 

K 2 



132 A LADY OF THE LAST CENTUBY. 

power, will save an ancient, honourable family from 
ruin. She is vastly pleased and happy in her situa- 
tion, and her royal nursling is as fine and healthy 
a child as can be. 

..." I have rambled a good deal this summer, 
much to my amusement and the amendment of 
Mr. Montagu's health, ;who was greatly out of 
order in the spring. We went to Lord Lyttelton's, 
in Worcestershire, with a large party consisting of 
my Lord Bath, Mr. and- Mrs. Vesey, and Doctor 
Monsey. Lord Lyttelton had his daughter, his 
sister, Mrs. Hood, and the Bishop of Carlisle (his 
brother) with him, so we made a pretty round 
family. The weather was fine, and the place is 
delightful beyond all description. I should do it 
wrong, if I were to attempt to describe it. Its 
beauties are summed up in the lines of my favourite 
Italian poet — 

' Culte pianure e delicati colli, 
Chiare acque, ombrose ripe, e prati molli.' 

These lines seem to have been written for Hagley ; 
but, besides these soft beauties, it has magnificent 
prospects of distant mountains, and hills shaded 
with wood. The house is magnificent and elegant ; 



A LADY OF TEE LAST GENTUBY. 133 

we had several agreeable entertainments of musick 
in different parts of the Park, and adapted to the 
scenes. In some places, the French horns re- 
verberated from hill to hill. In the shady parts 
near the cascades, the soft musick was concealed and 
seemed to come from the unseen genius of the 
wood. We were all in great spirits, and enjoyed 
the amusements prepared for us. Mr. Montagu 
grew better every day, by the air and exercise, and 
returned to London quite well, though he had been 
much pulled down by the fashionable cold called 
Finfluenza. 

..." He carried me to see Oxford, which, indeed, 
I had been at before ; but when there are so many 
cities built for trade and commerce, it is always so 
pleasant to me to see there are places dedicated to 
the improvement of the human mind and the 
nobler commerce with the Muses ; and tho' it is 
easy to find fault in everything, yet I think these 
places of education and study must have been of 
great service in advancing the noblest interests of 
mankind, the improvement of knowledge, and har- 
monizing the mind. 

" We went to Blenheim, which I saw with great 



134. A LADY OF THE LAST CENTUBY. 

pleasure, as the monument of England's foreign 
glory and national gratitude. In our return to 
town, we saw Warwick Castle, the seat of the great 
Neville, surnamed 'the Make-King.' We visited 
his tomb and the monuments of Beauchamps, 
Nevilles, and Brookes. I walked an hour under 
some trees, on a beautiful terrass where Lord 
Brooke and Sir Philip Sydney used to take their 
morning's walk, blending, I dare say, as in his 
Arcadia,' Wisedom of state and schemes of great 
enterprize with rural talk. 

" In our next stage, we saw Kenilworth Castle, 
once the strong place of Simon de Montfort, 
since the seat of the Earl of Leicester. He en- 
tertained Queen Elizabeth there in all the pageantry 
of the old times of chivalry. From the lake a 
lady came, who told the queen, in rude rhime, 
that she had been confined there ever since the 
days of Merlin, but her majesty's power had set her 
free. The lake is now dry'd up. The place no 
longer belongs to ambition or luxury. Laughing 
Ceres re-assumed the land, and what the proud 
rebel and the assuming favorite left is enjoy'd 
by a farmer. There are great remains of the 



A LADY OF TEE LAST CENTURY. 135 

stately castle, made more venerable by the finest 
ivy I ever saw. I could wish this object placed 
rather at the edge of a bleak mountain, and that it 
frowned on a desert, but it unhappily overlooks a 
sweet pastoral scene ; however, the memory of the 
illustrious persons it has belonged to gives the 
mind that serious solemn, disposition its situation 
wants. 

"But you who walk on classic ground will despise 
my Gothick antiquities. I will own my Nevilles and 
Montforts dare not stand equal with your Gracchi, 
nor my Earl of Leicester with any of the favorites 
of Augustus ; but, perhaps, to the rough virtues 
and untamed valour of these potent rebels, we 
owe part of our present liberty and happiness, and 
even our taste for the venerable remains of ancient 
Rome. ... I desire my most affectionate love to my 
brother ; and to my nephew and godson, my best 
wishes ; and I desire he will be a Roman, not an 
Italian. I beg him to go back as far as before the 
ruin of Carthage for his morals." . . . 

In a fragment of a letter written in 1763, Mrs. 
Montagu says : — 

" Miss Hunter has come back in the character of 



136 A LADY OF TEE LAST CENTUHY. 



the Fair Penitent. Her lover was soon tired of an 
engagement which had not the sanctions of virtue 
and honour. Shame and a fatherless babe she has 
brought back. I hope her miserable fate will deter 
adventurous damsels from such experiments." Kitty- 
Hunter's fate was far from being miserable. She 
married Captain Clarke, who became Field Mar- 
shal Sir Alured Clarke ; and the once audacious 
maid of honour died in the odour of fashion, a.d. 
1810. 

In 1764, Mrs. Montagu was an invalid — one 
who would fulfil the duties of her position, but who 
was glad to withdraw from them to the repose of 
Sandleford. Supremely admired as she was in 
society for the brilliancy of her talents, Mrs. 
Montagu was seen to the greatest advantage when 
at home with one or a very few choice friends. 
After Mrs. Elizabeth Carter had spent some time 
with her at pleasant Sandleford, she wrote to Mrs. 
Vesey. ..." For most part of the time we were 
entirely alone. . . . Our friend, you know, has talents 
which must distinguish her in the largest circles ; 
but there it is impossible for one fully to discover 
either the beauties of her character or the extent 



A LADY OF THE LAST CENTUBY 1ST 

— i ___ 

and variety of her understanding, which always 
improves on a more accurate examination and on a 
nearer view. . . . The charm is inexpressibly height- 
ened when it is complicated with the affections of the 
heart." Mr. Pennington, Mrs. Carter's nephew and 
editor of her correspondence, states that those who 
did not know Mrs. Montagu in her exclusive home 
character were ignorant of the real charms of her 
understanding, the strength of her mind, and the 
goodness of her heart. 

One of her great trials visited her this year-^— 
the death of her constant and venerated friend, 
the Earl of Bath. There is no letter in the unpub- 
lished collection which bears any reference to Lord 
Bath's death — Walpole's great enemy, and Mrs. 
Montagu's most devoted and admiring friend. It 
would be difficult to say whether this accomplished 
nobleman, or the good Lord Lyttelton, or the 
profound Lord Karnes, or discerning Burke had 
the greatest veneration for the mental endowments 
of Mrs. Montagu. It may be here added, as a 
sample of one or two other ladies of the last century, 
that after Lord Bath was a widower, and had been 
made childless by the loss of his gallant son, un- 



138 A LADY OF THE LAST CENTURY. 

attached ladies made offers of marriage to him, he 
being one of the wealthiest men of the day. They 
proposed seriously, like Mrs. Anne Pitt, or by 
strong inuendo, like Lady Bell Finch. The latter, 
on Lord Bath returning to her half a crown which 
he had borrowed, wished he could give her a crown. 
Lady Bell replied, that though he could not give 
her a crown, he could give her a coronet, and that 
she was ready to accept it! Lyttelton celebrated 
the friendship which existed between Mrs. Mon- 
tagu, Lord Bath, and himself in 1762, in a little 
poem called " The Vision." The noble poet told 
how a bard appeared to him, and how the minstrel 
sang of the superiority of the myrtle to the oak, 
then — 

" closed the bard his mystic song, — his shade 



Shrunk from my grasp and into air decay'd, 
But left imprinted on my ravish'd view, 
The forms of Pult'ney and of Montagu." 

After the earl's death, his will was as much the 
subject of conversation as his decease. Chesterfield 
calculated, that in money and land he left to the 
value of 2,400,000/., and made his sole legatee 
the brother, General Pulteney, whom he never 



A LADY OF THE LAST CENTURY. 139 

loved. " The legacies he has left are trifling ; for, in 
truth, he cared for nobody. The words give and 
bequeath were too shocking for him to repeat, and 
so he left all in one word, to his brother." In 1767 
General Pulteney died. 

The next letter is dated from Mrs. Montagu's 
Northumberland residence, Denton Castle (or Hall), 
December 7th, 1766. It is addressed to Mrs. 
Robinson, and contains long and premature con- 
gratulations on the expected birth of her sister-in- 
law's next baby, and then continues : — " I am still 
in the northern regions, but I hope in a fortnight 
to return to London. We have had a mild season, 
and this house is remarkably warm, so that I have 
not suffered from cold. Business has taken up 
much of my time, and as we had farms to let against 
next May-day, and I was willing to see the new 
colliery begin to trade to London before I left the 
country, I had the prudence to get the better of 
my taste for society. I had this day the pleasure of 
a letter from Billingsgate (a polite part of the world 
for a lady to correspond with) that the first ships 
which were then arrived were much approved. At 
Lynne they have also succeeded, and these are the 



140 A LADY OF THE LAST CENTUBY. 

two great coal-markets. So now, as soon as I can 
get all the ends and bottoms of bur business wound 
up, I shall set out for Hill Street. 

" I spent a month in Scotland this summer, and 
made a further progress than Mr. Gray did. An 
old friend of Mr. Montagu's and mine came to 
us here, and brought his daughter the end of July, 
and summoned me to keep a promise I had made 
him, of letting him be my knight-errant and escort 
me round Scotland. 

" The i st of August we set forward. I called on 
the Duke and Duchess of Northumberland at Aln- 
wick Castle, in my way. It is the most noble 
Gothick building imaginable. Its antique form is 
preserved on the outside. Within the apartments 
are also Gothick in their structure and ornaments, 
but convenient and noble ; so that modern elegance 
arranges and conducts antique strength and grandeur, 
leaves its sublimity of character, but softens what 
was rude and unpolished. 

" My next day's journey carried me to Edinburgh, 
where I staid about ten days. I passed my time 
there very agreeably, receiving every polite attention 
from all the people of distinction in the town. I 



A LADY OF THE LAST CENTURY. 141 

never saw anything equal to the hospitality of the 
Scotch. Every one seemed to make it their 
business to attend me to all the fine places in the 
neighbourhood, to invite me to dinner, to supper, 
&c. As I had declined an invitation to go to 
Glasgow, the Lord Provost of Glasgow insisted 
on my coming to his villa near the town, instead of 
going to a noisy inn. I staid three days there to see 
the seats in the environs, and the great cathedral, 
and the college and academy for painting, and then 
I set out for Inverary. I should first tell you, 
Glasgow is the most beautiful town in Great 
Brittain. The houses, according to the. Scotch 
fashion, are large and high, and built of freestone ; 
the streets very broad, and built at right angles. 
All dirty kinds of business are carried on in separate 
districts, so that nothing appears but a noble and 
elegant simplicity. 

"My road from Glasgow to Inverary lay by 
the side of the famous lake called Loughlomon. 
Never did I see the sublime and beautiful so united. 
The lake is in some places eight miles broad, in 
others less ; adorned with many islands, of which 
some rise in a conical figure, and are covered with 



142 A LADY OF THE LAST CENTURY. 

fir-trees up to the summit. Other islands are flatter. 

Deer are feeding in their green meadows. In the 

lontananza rise the mountains, on whose barren 

breast 

' The labouring clouds do seem to rest.' 

The lake is bright as crystal, and the shore consists 
of alabaster pebbles. Thus I travelled near twenty 
miles, till I came to the village of Leess, where I 
lay at an inn, there being no gentleman's house 
near it. The next morning I began to ascend the 
Highland mountains. I got out of the chaise to 
climb to the top of one, to take my leave of the 
beautiful lake. The sun had not been long up ; its 
beams danced on the lake, and we saw this lovely 
water meandering for twenty-five miles. Imme- 
diately after I returned to my chaise, I began to be 
inclosed in a deep valley between vast mountains, 
down whose furrowed cheeks torrents rushed im- 
petuously, and united in a river in a vale below. 
Winter's rains had so washed away the soil from 
some of the steep mountains, there appeared little 
but the rock which, like the skeleton of a giant, 
appeared more terrible than the perfect form. 
Other mountains were covered with a dark brown 



A LADY OF THE LAST CENTUBY. 143 

■ 9 ^ 

moss. The shaggy goats were browsing on their 
sides. Here and there appeared a storm-struck tree 
or blasted shrub, from whence no lark ever saluted 
the morn with joyous hymn, or Philomel sooth'd 
the dull ear of night ; but from thence the eagle 
gave the first lessons of flight to her young, and 
taught them to make war on the kids. 

"In the Vale of Glencoe, we stopp'd to dine 
amidst the rude magnificence of nature rather 
than in the meanest of the works of art, so did 
not enter the cottage which called itself an inn. 
From thence, my servant brought me fresh herrings 
and bread ; and my Lord Provost's wife had fill'd 
my maid's chaise with good things ; so very luxu- 
riously we feasted. I wish'd Ossian would have 
come to us, and told a tale of other times. How- 
ever, imagination and memory assisted, and we 
recollected many passages in the very places that 
inspired them. I staid three hours listening to the 
roaring stream, and hoped some ghost would come 
on the blast of the mountain and show us the three 
grey stones erected to his memory. After dinner, 
we went on about fourteen miles, still in the valley ; 
mountain rising above mountain till we ascended to 



144 A LADY OF TEE LAST CENTURY. 

— .—^ 

Inverary. There we at once entered the vale where 
lies the vast lake called Lough Fine, of whose 
dignity I cannot give you a better notion than by 
telling you the great leviathan had taken his 
pastime therein the night before I was there. 
Tho' it is forty miles from the sea, whales come 
up there often in the herring season. . . . 

"At Inverary, I was lodged at a gentleman's house, 
invited to another's in the neighbourhood, and 
attended round the Duke of Argylle's policy (such 
is called the grounds dedicated to beauty and orna- 
ment). I went also to see the castle built by the late 
duke. It appears small by the vast objects near it. 
This great lake before — a vast mountain covered 
with flrr and beech behind — it, so that, relatively, 
the castle is little. I was obliged to return back 
to Glasgow the same way, not having time to 
make the tour of the Highlands. Lord Provost 
had an excellent dinner and good company ready 
for us. The next day I went to Lord Karnes', near 
Sterling, where I had promised to stay a day. I 
pass'd a day very agreeably there, but could not 
comply with their obliging entreaties to stay a 
longer time, but was obliged to return to Edin- 



A LADY OF THE LAST GENTUBT. 145 

burgh. Lord Kames attended me to Stirling 
Castle, which is on the road, and from thence to 
the iron works at Carron. Then again I was on 
classical ground. We dined at Mr. Dundass's. At 
night, I got back to Edinburgh, where I rested 
myself three days, and then, on my road, lay at 
Dr. Gilbert Elliot's, and^ spent a day with him and 
Lady Elliot. They facilitated my journey by lend- 
ing me relays, which the route did not always fur- 
nish ; so I sent my own horses a stage forward. 
I crossed the Tweed again ; dined and lay at the 
Bishop of Carlisle's, at Rose Castle, and then came 
home much pleased with the expedition, and grate- 
ful for the infinite civilities I had received. 

" My evenings at Edinburgh passed very agreeably 
with Dr. Robertson, Dr. Blair, Lord Kames, and 
divers ingenious and agreeable persons. My friend, 
Dr. Gregory, who was my fellow-traveller, tho' he 
is a mathematician, has a fine imagination, an elegant 
taste, and every quality to make an agreeable com- 
panion. . . . He came back to Denton with me, but 
soon left us. I detain'd his two daughters, who are 
still with us ; they are most amiable children. . . . 

" I was told Mr. Gray was rather reserved when he 



146 A LADY OF THE LAST CENTURY. 

was in Scotland, tho' they were disposed to pay 
him great respect. I agree perfectly with him, that 
to endeavour to shine in conversation and to lay 
out for admiration is very paltry. The wit of the 
company, next to the butt of the company, is the 
meanest person in it. But at the same time, when 
a man of celebrated talents disdains to mix in 
common conversation, or refuses to talk on ordi- 
nary subjects, it betrays a latent pride. There is a 
much brighter character than that of a wit or a 
poet, or a savant, which is that of a rational and 
sociable being, willing to carry on the commerce of 
life with all the sweetness and condescension, decency 
and virtue will permit. The great duty of con- 
versation is to follow suit, as you do at whist. If 
the eldest hand plays the deuce of diamonds, let 
not his next neighbour dash down the king of 
hearts, because his hand is full of honours. I do 
not love to see a man of wit win all the tricks in 
conversation, nor yet to see him sullenly pass. I 
speak not this of Mr. Gray in particular ; but it is 
the common failing of men of genius to assert a 
proud superiority or maintain a prouder indolence. 
I shall be very glad to see Mr. Gray whenever he 



A LADT OF THE LAST CENTURY. 147 

will be pleased to do me the favour. I think he 
is the first poet of the age ; but if he comes to my 
fireside, I will teach him not only to speak prose, but 
to talk nonsense, if occasion be. ... I would not 
have a poet always sit on the proud summit of the 
forked hill. I have a great respect for Mr. Gray 
as well as a high admiration." . . . 

Whenever Mrs. Montagu got up to ride a simile, 
there was ground for anxiety on the part of her 
friends ; some among them, too, must have wished 
that she had called a nightingale a nightingale, 
and not "philomel." In travel, however, she saw 
what she saw, which many travellers never do. She 
was not at all like the wife of Sir George Cornewall, 
mentioned by Lady Malmesbury, in a letter to her 
son, written at Chambery, 1 8 1 6 : " She never looks 
at anything, but works in the carriage all day long. 
She will not even go to Chamouni ;" or that other 
lady who, passing through the sublimest of moun- 
tain scenery, kept her eyes shut, declaring that it was 
too beautiful to look at. 



L 2 



( 148 ) 



CHAPTER VI. 

In 1769, the critical state of public affairs drew 
from Mrs. Montagu the following reflection : — " I 
hope I shall see all my friends safe and well at my 
return to town ; but, indeed, a wicked mob and a 
foolish ministry may produce strange events. It 
was better in old times, when the ministry was 
wicked and the mob foolish. . . . Ministers, however 
wicked, do not pull down houses, nor ignorant mobs 
pull down government. A mob that can read and 
a ministry that cannot think are sadly matched.' 

In truth, however, Mrs. Montagu was engaged 
during this year on a work which was not only 
praiseworthy for the motive which induced her to 
undertake it, but honourable to her for its execu- 
tion, and, it may almost be added, glorious to her 
personally in its results. 

In 1769, Mrs. Montagu published, anonymously, 



A LADY OF THE LAST CENTURY. 149 

her " Essay on the Writings and Genius of Shake- 
speare." This work, once widely famous, may still 
be read with pleasure. It was written in reply to 
Voltaire's grossly indecent attack on our national 
poet. Some previous allusion which he had made, to 
Shakespeare, to show his own learning, had directed 
the notice of French readers to a new dramatic 
literature which soon won their admiration. Vol- 
taire's jealousy induced him to denounce what he 
had before extolled, and he did this in the spirit of 
the tiger and the monkey— the component elements, 
according to his own mendacious saying, of all 
Frenchmen. He had no deep knowledge of the 
subject he affected to criticise, and was not made of 
the stuff that could lead him to feel sympathy with 
the lofty sentiments, or to be stirred by the search- 
ing wit of the greatest of dramatic poets. Voltaire 
could no more appreciate Shakespeare than he 
could estimate the divine character of Joan of Arc. 
If Joan's own countrymen betrayed her, Voltaire 
stands foremost among Frenchmen as the beastly 
polluter of her spotless reputation. 

Mrs. Montagu makes the following playful allusion 
to her authorship, in a letter to Lord Lyttelton, 



150 A LADY OF THE LAST CENTUBY. 

December, 1769: — "I am sorry to tell you that a 
friend of yours is no longer a concealed scribbler. I 
had better have employed the town crier to proclaim 
me an author ; but, being whispered, it has circu- 
lated with incredible swiftness. I hear Mr. Andrew 
Stone is very indulgent to my performance, which 
much flatters my vanity. Mr. Melmoth, at Bath, 
flatters me ; but I am most flattered that a brother 
writer says, the book would be very well if it had not 
too much wit. I thought there had been no wit at 
all in it ; and I am as much pleased as M. Jourdain 
was when his preceptor told him he spoke prose. If 
my wit hurts anybody or anything, it is chance- 
medley — no premeditated malice ; neither art nor 
part has my will therein. I don't love wit : it is a 
poor, paltry thing, and fit only for a Merry Andrew. 

" I look very innocent when I am attacked about 
the essay, and say, ' I don't know what you mean !' 
I shall set about? a new edition as soon as your 
lordship comes to town ; for the first thousand is in 
great part sold, tho' the booksellers have done me 
all the prejudice in their power." The new edition 
was even more successful than the first. 

Mrs. Montagu's defence may appear a little too 



A LADY OF THE LAST GENTUBY. 151 

apologetic now ; but it is marked by good taste, 
by evidences of deep thought, by flashes of wit, and 
by the grasp she has, firmly and gracefully, on her 
subject. She deals with dramatic poetry and the 
historical drama, examines the first and second 
parts of " Henry IV.," treats of the preternatural 
beings of Shakespeare, and ends by a comparison of 
" Cinna " and " Julius Caesar." If any may differ 
with her in respect to Corneille, whose third act of 
" Cinna " is worthy of the great French dramatic 
poet, no reader will hesitate to praise the earnestness 
and delicacy with which this Lady of the Last 
Century has executed her noble task. 

A French translation appeared in Paris in 1777, 
the year before Voltaire died. In England, six 
editions of the essay were published, the last in 18 10. 
In 1827, it had the honour of being noticed with 
high praise, by M. Villemain, in his "Nouveaux 
Melanges Historiques et Litteraires ;" and in 1 840, 
an edition in Italian was published in Florence. 

Few English readers had read Voltaire so 
thoughtfully as Mrs. Montagu, and perhaps none 
reflected more on what they read than she did, 
or gave more graceful expression to consequent 



152 A LADY OF THE LAST GENTUBY. 

judgment. One side of Voltaire's character she 
described (while the witty Frenchman was preparing 
his attack on Shakespeare) to Lord Karnes. 

"Voltaire sent a tragedy to Paris, which he said 
was composed in ten days. The players sent it back 
to him to correct. At threescore and ten one should 
not think his wit would outrun his judgment ; but 
he seems to begin a second infancy in wit and 
philosophy, — a dangerous thing to one who has such 
an antipathy to leading strings." It was Voltaire's 
self-praise that offended Mrs. Montagu as much 
as his offensive condescension to, and disparagement 
of, Shakespeare. When she was told that Voltaire 
had said boastingly : " C'est moi qui autrefois 
parlai le premier de ce Shakespeare. C'est moi qui 
le premier montrai aux Franqais quelques perles 
que j'avais trouye dans son fumier." " Ah !" re- 
plied Mrs. Montagu, with great readiness, " C'est 
un fumier qui a fertilise une terre bien ingrate." 
French fashionable circles, which loved wit and 
cared not a jot who suffered by it, received and 
repeated the saying of the accomplished English 
lady as if it had been ten times more brilliant than 
it was in reality. 



A LADY OF THE LAST CENTURY. 153 

Mrs. Montagu's defence of Shakespeare was not too 
tenderly treated by her own friends. All the frank- 
ness of friendship was cheerfully given to it. The 
plain-spoken Dowager Countess Gower thus wrote 
soon after the appearance of the Vindication : — 

1769. — "Fortune has blest this forest with the 
geniuses of the age ; Mrs. Montagu, Mrs. Carter, 
Mrs. Dunbar, &c, &c, and Lord Lyttelton are at 
Sunning Wells, and sport sentiment from morn 
till noon, from noon till dewy eve. I molest 'em 
not; contenting myself in my rustic simplicity. 
Tis a stupidity that may be felt, I don't doubt, 
but not by me. Mrs. Montagu has commenced 
author, in vindication of Shakespeare, who wants 
none; therefore her performance must be deemed 
a work of supererogation. Some commend it. I'll 
have it, because I can throw it aside when I'm tired." 
Johnson treated it with greater brutality. He had 
once compared Mrs. Montagu with Queen Elizabeth, 
and had recognized in the former the greater quali- 
fications. Now, he denounced the essay when he 
had only looked into it. He had taken up an end of 
the web, and finding pack-thread, thought it useless, 
as he said, to go further in search of embroidery. 



154 A LADY OF THE LAST CENTURY. 

Reynolds thought it did her honour, which John- 
son allowed, but he spoiled the admission by asserting 
that it would do honour to no one else. Garrick 
said she had pointed out Voltaire's blunders; to 
which Johnson replied, that it wasn't worth while, 
and that there was no merit in the way of doing it. 
Subsequently, he declared : " Neither I, nor Beau- 
clerk, nor Mrs. Thrale could get through the 
book !"— a declaration which was unfounded, as far 
as Mrs. Thrale was concerned; for she protested 
that she had read it with pleasure. The great man, 
in short, talked nonsense, but dressed it in fine 
words. " There was no real criticism in it," he said, 
" showing the beauty of thought, as formed in the 
workings of the human heart." Mrs. Montagu 
did not feel called on to exhibit any such beauty 
or any such superstructure. She exposed the blun- 
dering arrogance of Voltaire, who first praised Shake- 
speare, for the annoyance of his own countrymen, 
and then, finding the French inclined to accept 
the praise, aspersed brutally the poet whom he had 
pillaged without mercy. 

Johnson thought little of Garrick, probably 
because Garrick approved the object of Mrs. Mon- 



A LADY OF THE LAST CENTUBY. 155 

tagu's Shakespearian essay, and because the lady 
gave very high praise to Garrick as an actor. John- 
son thought it was fit that she should say much, 
and that he should say nothing, in Garrick's praise. 
Accomplished Bruin, however, said much to the 
great player's disparagement. He maintained that 
Garrick had been overpaid for what he had done for 
Shakespeare. " Sir, he has not made Shakespeare 
better known. He cannot illustrate Shakespeare !" 
When Johnson afterwards wrote to Mrs. Thrale, 
that speaking of " Shakespeare and Nature " rightly 
brought Mrs. Montagu into his mind, he is supposed 
to be inconsistent, when he was, it may be, only 
satirical. He certainly uttered a judgment on the 
essay, which is not to be gainsaid, when he main- 
tained, according to Mr. Seward, that the work was 
" ad hominem, conclusive against Voltaire," and that 
" she had done, sir, what she intended to do." 

The greatest praise which the essay received was 
awarded to it by Cowper many years after it was 
published. Writing in May 27th, 1788, to Lady 
Hesketh, Cowper said : — " I no longer wonder that 
Mrs. Montagu stands at the head of all -that is 
called learned, and that every critic veils his bonnet 



156 A LADY OF THE LAST CENTURY. 

to her superior judgment. I am now reading and 
have reached the middle of her essay on the genius 
of Shakespeare — a book of which, strange as it may 
seem, though I must have read it formerly, I had 
absolutely forgot the existence. 

" The learning, the good sense, the sound judg- 
ment, and the wit displayed in it fully justify, not 
only my compliment, but all compliments that either 
have been already paid to her talents or shall be 
paid hereafter. Voltaire, I doubt not, rejoiced that 
his antagonist wrote in English, and that his 
countrymen could not possibly be judges of the 
dispute. Could they have known how much she 
was in the right, and by how many thousand miles 
the Bard of Avon is superior to all their dramatists, 
the French critic would have lost half his fame 
among them." 

While honour was being showered on the writer 
of the essay, ill health, from which she suffered long 
and frequently, marred her triumph. 

Writing to Mrs. W. Robinson, from Hill Street, 
Nov. the 19th, 1770, she says : — . . . "I fell ill on my 
journey to Denton, or rather, indeed, began the 
journey indisposed, and only aggravated my com- 



A LADY OF THE LAST CENTURY. 157 

plaints by travelling. Sickness and bad weather 
deprived me of the pleasure of seeing the beauties 
of Derbyshire. However, I got a sight of the stately 
Palace of Lord Scarsdale, where the arts of antient 
Greece and the delicate pomp of modern ages unite 
to make a most magnificent habitation. It is the 
best worth seeing of any house, I suppose, in Eng- 
land. But I know how it is that one receives but 
moderate pleasure in the works of art. There is a 
littleness in every work of man. The operations of 
nature are vast and noble, and I found much greater 
pleasure in the contemplation of Lord Breadalbane's 
mountains, rocks, and lakes than in all the efforts 
of human art at Lord Scarsdale's." 

Mrs. Montagu's illness increasing at Denton, she 
'writes: — "Dr. Gregory came from Edinburgh to 
make me a visit, and persuaded me to go back with 
him. The scheme promised much pleasure, and, I 
flattered myself, might be conducive to health, as 
the doctor, of whose medical skill I have the highest 
opinion, would have time to observe and consider 
my various complaints. I was glad also to have an 
opportunity of amusing my friend, Mrs. Chapone, 
whom I carried into the north with me. We had a 



158 A LADY OF THE LAST CENTURY. 

pleasant journey to Edinburgh, where we were most 
agreeably entertained in Dr. Gregory's house, all the 
literate and polite company of Edinburgh paying 
me all kind of attentions ; and, by the doctor's 
regimen, my health improved greatly ; so that I was 
prevailed upon to enjoy my love of prospects by 
another trip to the Highlands, my good friend and 
physician still attending me. The first day's 
journey was to Lord Buchan, brother to Mr. 
Charles Erskine, who was the intimate companion 
and friendly competitor of my poor brother Tom. 
Each of them was qualified for the highest honours of 
their profession, which they would have certainly 
attained, had it pleased God to have granted longer 
life. Lord Buchan had received great civilities at 
Horton when he was pursuing his law studies in 
England ; so he came to visit me as soon as I got to 
Edinburgh, and, in the most friendly manner, pressed 
my passing some days at his house in Perthshire. I 
got there by an easy day's journey, having also 
walked a long time about the castle of Stirling, 
which commands a very beautiful prospect. 

" Lord Buchan's place is very fine and in a very 
singular style. His house looks to the south, over 



A LADY OF THE LAST CENTURY. 159 

a very rich valley, rendered more fertile as well as 
more beautiful by the meanderings of the river 
Forth. Behind his house rise great hills covered 
with wood, and over them stupendous rocks. The 
goats look down with an air of philosophic pride 
and gravity on folks in the valley. One in par- 
ticular seemed to me capable of addressing the 
famous beast of Gavaudan, if he had been there, 
with as much disdain as Diogenes did the great 
conqueror of the East. Here I passed two days very 
agreeably, and then his lordship and my doctor 
attended me to my old friend Lord Kinnoul's. You 
may imagine my visit there gave me a great deal of 
pleasure besides what arose from seeing a fine place. 
I was delighted to find an old friend enjoying that 
heartfelt happiness which attends a life of virtue. 
Lord Kinnoul is continually employed in encourag- 
ing agriculture and manufactures, protecting the 
weak from injury, assisting the distressed, and 
animating the young people to whatever in their 
various stations is most fit and proper. . . . He 
appears more happy in this situation than when he 
was whirled about in the vortex of the Duke of 
Newcastle. The situation of a Scottish nobleman 



160 A LADY OF THE LAST CENTUBY. 



of fortune is enough to fill the ambition of a reason- 
able man, for they have power to do a great deal of 
good. 

"From Dupplin we went to Lord Breadalbane's, at 
Taymouth. Here unite the sublime and beautiful. 
The house is situated in a valley where the verdure 
is the finest imaginable ; noble beeches adorn it, and 
beautiful cascades fall down the midst of it. 
Through this valley you are led to a vast lake. On 
one side of the lake there is a fine country ; on the 
other, mountains lift their heads or hide them in the 
clouds. In some places ranges of rocks look like 
vast fortifyed cittadels. I passed two days in this 
fine place, where I was entertained with the greatest 
politeness and kindest attentions, Lord Breadalbane 
seeming to take the greatest pleasure in making 
everything easy, agreeable, and convenient. 

" My next excursion was to Lord Karnes'; and then 
I returned to Edinburgh. With Lord Karnes and 
his lady I have had a correspondence ever since I 
was first in Scotland, so I was there received with 
cordial friendship. I must do the justice to the 
Scottish nation to say, they are the most politely 
hospitable of any people in the world. I had 



A LADY OF THE LAST CENTURY. 161 



innumerable invitations of which I could not avail 
myself, having made as long a holiday from my 
business in Northumberland as I could afford. 

" The newspapers will inform you of the death of 
Mr. George Grenville. I think he is a great loss to 
the publick ; and tho' in these days of ribbaldry and 
abuse he was often much calumniated, I believe 
time will vindicate his character as a publick man : 
as a private one, he was quite unblemished; I 
regret the loss to myself. I was always pleased and 
informed by his conversation. He had read a vast 
deal, and had an amazing memory. He had been 
versed in business from his youth ; so that he had a 
very rich fund of conversation, and he was good- 
natured and \ery friendly. 

" The King's Speech has a warlike tone. But still 
we flatter ourselves that the French king's aversion to 
war may prevent our being again engaged in one. . . . 
Lord Chatham was to have spoken in the House of 
Lords to-day, if poor Mr. Grenville's death, which 
happened at seven this morning, had not hindered 
his appearing in publick. . . . 

" Mr. Montagu did not leave Denton till almost 
a week after I came away ; and he was stop'd at 

M 



162 A LADY OF THE LAST CENTUBT. 

Durham by waters being out ; but I had the pleasure 
of hearing yesterday that he got safe to Darlington, 
where he was to pass a few days with a famous 
mathematician, but I expect him in town the end 
of this week. My nephew, Morris, has got great 
credit at Eton already. . . . My doctors order me to 
forbear writing, but this letter does not show my 
obedience to them. . . . The celebrated coterie will 
go on, in spite of all remonstrances, and there is to 
be an assembly thrice a week for the subscribers to 
the opera, so little impression do rumours of wars 
and apprehensions of the plague make in the fine 
world. . . . 

" I am in your debt for my pretty neice's dancing- 
master, which I forgot when I had the pleasure of 
seeing you. I shall hope to supply her, as oppor- 
tunity offers, with all the assistance of that sort 
which her happy genius will make of great use to 
her; but your constant care will supply many 
better things than those the artists teach, and I do 
not doubt of her making an amiable and valuable 
woman. With the most sincere regard, I am, dear 
madam, your very affectionate sister, and faithful 
friend, and humble servt., E. M. . . . I know you 



A LADY OF THE LAST CENTUBY. 163 

will be very glad to hear I left everything in such 
order in the north, that I shall not pay my devotions 
to ye pole-star again for some years." 

No two people had more delight in mutual con- 
versation than Mrs. Montagu and Lord Kames. 
They were so agreed upon one subject, — the in- 
sincerity, ignorance, and meanness of Voltaire, as to 
make their conversation most lively when it turned 
upon the Frenchman who denied the character of 
the most glorious of Frenchwomen, Joan of Arc, — 
who heaped abuse upon Shakespeare and on those 
who defended him, — and who hated and miscalled 
Lord Kames for having weighed his " Henriade " 
in the scales of criticism, and for having found it 
"wanting." Over this reply of Voltaire to Lord 
Kames, that judge and philosopher, reading it aloud, 
laughed himself, and raised irrepressible laughter in 
the lady who listened to him. The reply is in one 
of Voltaire's "Lettres a un Journaliste." "Permit 
me to explain to you some whimsical singularities of 
' The Elements of Criticism,' in three volumes, by 
Lord Makames {sic), a justice of peace in Scotland. 
That philosopher has a most profound knowledge 
of nature and art, and he uses the utmost efforts to 

M 1 



164 A LADY OF THE LAST CENTURY. 



make the rest of the world as wise as himself. He 
begins by proving that we have five senses ; and 
that we are less struck by a gentle impression made 
on our eyes and ears, by colours and sounds, than 
by a knock on the head or a kick on the leg. Pro- 
ceeding from that to the rules of time and space, 
M. Home concludes with mathematical precision, 
that time seems long to a lady who is about to be 
married, and short to a man who is going to be 
hanged. M. Home applies doctrines equally extra- 
ordinary to every department of art. It is a sur- 
prising effect of tib^ progress of the human mind, 
that we should now receive from Scotland rules for 
our taste in all matters, from an epic poem down to 
a garden. Knowledge extends daily, and we must 
not despair of hereafter obtaining performances in 
poetry and oratory from the Orkney Islands. 
M. Home always lays down his opinions as a law, 
and extends his despotic sway far and wide. He is 
a judge who absorbs all appeals." 

The famous mathematician to whom Mrs. Mon- 
tagu refers in the above letter was William Emerson, 
of whom Mr. Montagu is believed to have been 
the original patron. Mr. Montagu may, in some 



A LADY OF TEE LAST CENTUBY. 165 

degree, have helped that poor and eccentric scholar, 
but the energies of the once idle Yorkshire dreamer 
were really developed by an injustice. He had 
married the niece of a clergyman, who basely cheated 
the bride out of her dowry of 500/. Whereupon 
the proud and angry husband sent back the whole of 
his wife's wardrobe, with the message that he would 
" scorn to be beholden to such a fellow for a rag !" 
When Mr. Montagu married Elizabeth Robin- 
son, Emerson had just ready for the press the work 
which gave him a place in the highest rank of 
mathematicians — his " Doctrine of Fluxions." The 
distinction neither affected his eccentricity nor 
softened his audacity. He was wont to sign his 
mathematical solutions with a name that might 
have made Minerva breathless— " Philofiuentime- 
chanelgegeomastrolonzo," and he lived to shock 
Mrs. Edward Montagu by snapping his fingers at 
the Royal Society, and damning the fellows and 
their fellowships ! 

George Grenville and Burke are among the best 
samples of the men whom Mrs. Montagu appre- 
ciated, and who could thoroughly appreciate Mrs. 
Montagu. Burke has spoken in the highest terms 



166 A LADY OF THE LAST CENTURY. 

of both. Of the statesman who, five years before 
his death, resigned all his offices, Burke said: 
"With a masculine understanding and a stout 
and resolute heart, he had an application undis- 
sipated and unwearied. He took public business, 
not as a duty he was to fulfil, but as a pleasure he 
was to enjoy ; and he seemed to have no delight 
out of the house, except in such things as in some 
way related to the business that was to be done 
within it. If he was ambitious, I will say this for 
him, that his ambition was of a noble and generous 
strain. It was to raise himself, not by the low, 
pimping politics of a court, but to win his way to 
power through the laborious gradations of public 
service, and to secure himself a well-earned rank in 
parliament, by a. thorough knowledge of its con- 
stitution and in perfect practice in all its business." 
Mrs. Montagu might justly be proud of the good 
opinion of a friend who could express such a judg- 
ment of another friend like Grenville, for whom 
she herself entertained the highest esteem. 

Mrs. Montagu to Mrs. Robinson. — "January 17, 
1 77 1. . . . I have kept very well all this frost, and 
what is more strange in a town lady, I have been very 



A LADY OF THE LAST GENTUBY. 167 

discreet. I have improved upon Lady Grace's plan of 
doing very soberly. I have been serious, and solemn, 
and retired, and have sat as quietly at my fireside 
as any antiquated dowager when her quadrille party 
was gone into the country. But I have said enough 
upon such an atom, and I will now talk of ye great 
persons and things of this world. The Duke of 
Bedford died of a fit of the asthma. He departed 
singing the 104th Psalm. This shows he had some 
piety, but I think his grace sang out of tune ; so 
I am not an admirer of his singing." (Walpole 
says he " had lost his sight, and almost his speech 
and limbs.") " I like a Psalm-singing cobler in 
death as well as in life. A poor man who has main- 
tained a wife and children by his labour, has kept 
the ten commandments, has observed the Sabbath, 
kept the laws of the community, and lived kindly 
with his neighbours, may sing his own requiem 
with a comfortable and cheerful assurance. Of 
him to whom little is given, little shall be required. 
But the debtor and creditor of a long account is 
not so easily settled. Wealth, titles, power, give a 
great influence in society. Have the poor been 
relieved, the weak protected, the industrious been 



168 A LADY OF TEE LAST CENTURY. 



encouraged, virtue countenanced, merit brought 
forth to view, the profligate discouraged, the com- 
monwealth served equal to its great demands on 
a Duke of Bedford, the proprietor of a vast estate ? 
I mean not to intimate that he was to dye in despair, 
for his Judge is merciful, but in his sight no man 
living shall be justified; so that, unless there is 
an uncommon merit or innocence of character, 
I see no reason for this kind of jollity. His grace 
has left enough to make the duchess's jointure 
6000/. a year. She is to keep up the houses at 
Bloomsbury and at Wooburn. Her grace, Mr. 
Palmer, and the Duchess of Marlborough are 
trustees for the young duke. . . . 

" As the late duke was sometimes headstrong, the 
court will have an advantage in having the duchess 
to deal with, as Lord Sandwich is her guide in 
politicks. The duke left Mr. Rigby 5000/., a sum 
for which he had Mr. Rigby's bond. He has left 
a sum of fourscore pound a year to Miss Wrot- 
tesley ; a year's wages to servants. I hear not of 
other legacies. It is believed Lord Suffolk will 
not accept of any place. . . . 

" It is believed we shall have a Peace. The King 



A LADY OF THE LAST CENTURY. 169 

of Prussia and the Emperor joined to get a peace 
for the Turks. These potentates design to keep 
the French in order and to defend Germany. The 
Emperor wishes to recover Lorraine and Alsace. 
So it is supposed the French will sit quiet even if 
the Spaniards should go to war with us. I am 
not afraid of the Dons, if not assisted by French 
vivacity. All our family is well, and the pere de 
famille best of all. . . . Mr. M. is pure well." 

The following letter to Mrs. Robinson, the 
writer's sister-in-law, whose father, Mr. Richardson, 
was a private gentleman of Kensington, contains 
a reference to the Kensington " ladies'-school " of 
the writer's early time, and one to the Chelsea 
school, where she visited Mrs. William Robinson's 
daughter in 1772. These references are valuable 
illustrations of the female scholastic life of the 
two periods. " I called on my pretty neice at 
Chelsea, who I had the pleasure of finding in 
perfect health, with a little addition of embonpoint 
extremely becoming. She received me very politely, 
and her governesses spoke much in her praise. 
Indeed, she is a very good subject for them, appear- 
ing to have much good-humour, docility, and 



170 A LADY OF THE LAST CENTURY. 

everything I could wish." The young Sarah Eliza- 
beth's extremely becoming embonpoint induced her 
sagacious aunt to look at her stays. " I found fault 
with her stays," she writes, "which lift up her 
shoulders ; and they say they had your leave to get 
others, but I could not understand why they had 
neglected to do it. I was pleased' to find my 
neice perfectly clean and neat, tho' I called on ye 
Saturday, which is usually only the eve of cleanli- 
ness. I remember at Mrs. Robartes', at Kensington, 
the girls used to be so dirty, sometimes one could 
not salute them !" 



( 171 ) 



CHAPTER VII. 

Mrs. William Robinson, who, with her husband 
and children, had been so long abroad, had now re- 
turned to England, and had visited Mr. and Mrs. 
Montagu. Late in the year, Mrs. Montagu wrote 
to her sister-in-law : — 

"August ye 9th, 1772. ... I am quite ashamed to 
think how ungrateful I must have appeared to you 
and my brother for your kind visit and obliging letter, 
in letting so long a time pass before I returned my 
thanks. Your visit appeared to us like a pleasant 
dream, from which we were sorry to awake and find 
ourselves deserted by such agreable guests. The 
Duchess of Portland arrived in two or three days 
after your departure. She made me rather a longer 
visit than you did, but still a much shorter than 
I wished it. Her grace submitted with infinite 



172 A LADY OF THE LAST CENTURY. 

good-humour to all the awkwardnesses of a Tun- 
bridge lodging. We had, happily, that kind of 
weather which makes pastoral life agreable. I was 
delighted to find that time had not robbed her grace 
of her pleasing vivacity, and We laugh'd as heartily 
as we used to do in our younger days. Her grace 
gave me as a fairing the most beautiful, rich, and 
elegant snuff-box I ever saw, for which I could only 
return her thanks ; for I thought it would be putting 
myself too much upon a par with her, to make 
a return in kind. If I could get any natural 
curiosity to add to her collection, it would make me 
very happy. 

" Every day after you left us the place began to fill 
with company. 

..." We have had the finest weather I ever saw 
for any long continuance. As a farmer, I have some 
fault to find with it. Our wheat, and barley, and 
turnips have all suffered by drought. We had not 
any reason to complain of our hay, but the grass is 
very much burnt. The dearness of all kinds of 
provisions have reduced our poor neighbours to a 
state of wretchedness which I never saw before in 
England. . . . My father has been ill, but I believe his 



A LADY OF THE LAST CENTUBY. 173 



complaints were nervous, and partly the effects of 
hot weather. I wonder how he can endure to live 
in a brick-oven all the summer season. 

... "I went the other day to Winchester, and 
dined with Dr. Warton, and saw the school. The 
doctor allowed me to ask a play for the boys, which 
made them very happy, and gave him leisure to 
pass the time with me. My sweet, lovely Miss 
Gregory and I set out very early in -the morn- 
ing, so that we got to Winchester before eleven 
o'clock, and staid there till between six and seven, 
and were at home in good time. . . . Miss Gregory 
and Mrs. Morgan are much your humble servants. 
. . . When you have an opportunity to get the 
nankeen, tea, and handkerchiefs, I can pay what is 
due for them to your banker. If a blue tafety, or 
a white of a very fine colour should come in your 
way and seem a pennyworth, please to add it, or 
anything you may have offered that is plain. . . . 
Cheap, pretty, plain muslin for gowns would not 
come amiss. But, as smuggling is a dangerous 
trade, much counterband goods must not travel in 
the same box. All possible love to my dear 
nephew and neices, with whom I hope to make a 



174 A LADY OF TEE LAST GENTUBY. 

more intimate acquaintance before they have dis- 
posed of all their love and friendship." 

Aug. 15, 1772. Mrs. Montagu to Mrs. Ro- 
binson. ..." I was very sorry that your races 
happened so untowardly, that I could not edge in 
my visit without being complicated in them. I 
remember the time when the said races would 
have a very different effect than deterring me 
from the neighbourhood ; but we change to every- 
thing and everything changes to us. I cannot say 
that as one grows older, one grows so much wiser 
as to despise foolish amusements, but one likes 
new kinds of follies. I mean we always like some 
of those things severe and frowning wisdom calls 
follies. 

" I had the pleasure in finding Mr. Montagu in 
extreme good health, which gave me the higher 
satisfaction, as I 'had been alarmed about him some 
time before. 

" I went a few miles out of my road to Sandleford, 
to fulfill my old promise to Mr. Burke to spend a 
day or two with him and Mrs. Burke, at Beaconsfield. 
I was sorry that I could not continue there longer 
than one whole day, as I was then not so assured 



A LADY OF THE LAST CENTURY. 175 

that Mr. Montagu was in perfect health. When 
the talents of a man of genius, the acuteness of a 
politician, the alert vivacity of a man of business 
are all employed to make conversation agreable 
and society pleasant, one passes one's time very 
delightfully in such company. 

"At Beaconsfield, Mr. Burke is an industrious 
farmer, a polite husband, a kind master, a charitable 
neighbour, and a most excellent companion. The 
demons of ambition and party who hover about 
Westminster do not extend their influences as far 
as the villa. I know not why it is, but these busy 
spirits seem more tranquil and pleased in their days 
of retreat than the honest, dull justice of the 
quorum, who never stretched forth his hand to 
snatch the sceptre of power, or raised his voice in 
publick to fill the trumpet of fame. A little mind is 
for ever in a tracasserie, because it is moved by little 
things. I have always found that nothing is so 
gentle as the chief out of war, nor so serene and 
simple as the statesman out of place. If it were fit 
to name names and certify places, I would bring 
many examples to justify my assertion. I so much 
delight in these working master-spirits in their 



176 A LADY OF TEE LAST CENTURY. 



holiday humour, that I had rather play at tee-totum 
or cross and pile with Julius Caesar than with Sar- 
danapalus. The first would have the easy indif- 
ference that belongs to play ; the other, the serious- 
ness and anxiety which belong to business. 

" I am now preparing for a little excursion in which 
I shall see some of the busy folks of the great 
world ; so I expect to enjoy my time in the more 
joyous tranquility. On Friday, I am to go to 
Stowe, Lord and Lady Temple having given me 
repeated invitations there. I am much afraid the 
weather will not favour my excursion ; however, as I 
shall stay four days at Stowe, I hope to see those 
superbe gardens while I am there in favourable 
gleams of sunshine. I have not seen Stowe since 
I first married. Lord Temple, I hear, has much 
improved them. 

" I shall have the pleasure of making a visit at 
another fine place which I never yet saw, which is 
Lord Nuneham's, in Oxfordshire. . . . Mr. Herbert 
has given me a very agreable neighbour in Lady 
Elizabeth. She has been very well educated, and I 
dare say will always behave with great propriety. 
Mr. Herbert is a young man of uncommon un- 



A LADY OF THE LAST CENTURY. 177 



derstanding and merit. He has come early, and 
not too early, into ye possession of an ample for- 
tune. 

..." I am much pleased to hear my neice is so 
tractable and good; a disposition to oblige her 
Parents, and to do what those who love her advise 
her to, will make her much happier than wilful- 
ness and obstinacy. . . . My nephews, Morris and 
Matthew, are just arrived. They are fine boys. 
Morris grows very handsome, and he has a very 
good character amongst his school-fellows. These 
little men will be a great amusement to Mr. Mon- 
tagu in my absence. I passed my time very well 
at Tunbridge, having so agreable a companion at 
home as my sister; so that I depend on the great 
world for nothing more than vagrant amusement at 
idle hours ; and this is all one can reasonably expect 
of the great world. One should have one's solid 
comforts at home. One makes a good meal ; the 
other a pleasant dessert. 

. . . "I regret that poor Mr. Gray is now no 
more than Pindar. One fatal moment sets two or 
three thousand years aside, and brings the account 
equal. I really believe our British Pindar not 

N 



178 A LADY OF THE LAST CENTUBY. 

unequal in merit to the bard of Thebes. I hope 
Mr. Gray has left some works yet unpublished." 

Walpole, who never appears in a more favourable 
light than when he speaks with affectionate rever- 
ence of Gray, supplemented Mrs. Montagu's hopes 
by saying, " I should earnestly wish, if he has 
destined anything for the public, to print it at my 
press. It would do me honour and give me an 
opportunity of expressing what I feel for him. 
Methinks, as we grow old, our only business here 
is to adorn the graves of our friends or dig our 
own." 

From these reflections, Mrs. Montagu takes her 
readers back to life and its varieties, in a letter 
without date, but it is endorsed in a hand, not 
hers, 1773. 

" In the early part of my life I was a most punc- 
tual correspondent ; but of late I have been as 
much too remiss as I was formerly too diligent in 
writing letters. I have at length discovered that 
writing letters is idleness without ease, and fatigue 
without a purpose. When newspapers only told 
weddings, births, and burials, a letter from London 
bore some value ; but now that the public papers 



A LADY OF THE LAST CENTURY. 179 

not only tell when men are born and dye, but 
every folly they contrive to insert between those 
periods, the literary correspondent has nothing left. 
Lies and dulness used to be valued in manuscript, 
but printing has assumed a right over the lies of the 
day and the amusement of the hour. On stamped 
paper and by authority are publish'd what Lady 

B L e says of a fat alderman, and how 

Miss Biddy Bellair was dress'd at the last masque- 
rade. I can, however, tell you some news from 
St. Vincent, which I had just now from a gentleman 
in a public office, which is, that an account has just 
arrived from Colonel Dalrymple, with news of the 
total reduction of the Caribs, in St. Vincent, and a 
treaty concluded with them, with small loss on our 
side. I could find in my heart to say ' poor 
Caribs !' 

" I suppose you are not very deeply interested in 

Sir George C ke's affairs. ... I hope no one 

will lose anything of such importance as to affect 
them essentially, as this disaster has been so long 
expected. It was said the other day, his effects 
amounted to 700,000/., his debts to 300,000/. ; but 
his contracts and dealings have been so universal, 

N 2, 



180 A LADY OF THE LAST CENTUBY. 

that I presume no one can tell ye just sum of 
the one or the other. Part of his effects are hemp 
and alum. Never was so much of the first used 
at Tyburn, nor of the second at the bakers', as at 
this moment ; but as I presume those commodities 
do not bear a settled price, a just estimate cannot be 
made. In ye present lack of specie and of con- 
fidence, paper, estates and houses must sell badly. 
I hope his unmarried sister will not lose anything, 
and that his family will not fall from affluence to 

narrow circumstances. I hear Lady C ke has 

an estate in Jamaica of 4000/. per annum settled 
upon her. It is said the Irish Bank has only 
stopped for awhile, and that nothing will be lost. 
The state of that country is very bad. The poor 
are wretched, and all people discontented. The 
condition of Scotland is not much better. The 
bankruptcies there are numerous, and ye manu- 
factories are stopped. I wish the bankruptcies here 
may not have as bad an effect on our trade. I 
rejoice that my brother Robinson has returned to 
his native land, and wish he would come and visit 
his friends in town. 

. . . "Mr. Montagu has (in the main) had a 



A LADY OF THE LAST GENTUBT. 181 

pretty healthful winter. His cough is at present 
troublesome to him, but I hope the warm weather 
we have now a right to expect will soon cure 
him. 

"The Archbishop of York's second son, a fine 
youth, dyed of a milliary fever this morning. I 
lament the young man, and am heartily concerned 
for his family. 

" As I have good luck in smuggling, I will wait 
for my gown till you come to town, and will send 
you a black silk, for which it may serve as a lining. 
The taffety will serve for another year, if it be 
too warm for this season, when it comes to London. 

" I am glad you intend to send my eldest neice 
to a boarding-school. What girls learn at these 
schools is trifling, but they unlearn what would 
be of great disservice — a provincial dialect, which 
is extreamly ungenteel, and other tricks that they 
learn in the nursery. The carriage of the person, 
which is of great importance, is well attended to, 
and dancing is well taught. As for the French 
language, I do not think it necessary, unless for 
persons in very high life. It is rarely much culti- 
vated at schools. I believe all the boarding-schools 



182 A LADY OF THE LAST CENTURY. 

are much on the same plan, so that you may place 
the young lady wherever there is a good air and 
a good dancing-master. I dare say you will find 
great improvement in her air and her speech by 
the time she has been there a year, and these are 
points of great importance. The Kentish dialect is 
abominable, tho' not so bad as ye Northumber- 
land and some others ; but in this polish'd age, it 
is so unusual to meet with young Ladies who have 
any patois, that I mightily wish to see my neice 
cured of it. 

" The Duke of Gloucester is relapsed into a bad 
state of health. Miss Linley, who I suppose you 
have seen at Bath, is much in vogue. I am to 
hear her sing to-morrow morn at ye Bishop of 
Bristol's. 

..." Papa bears Sir G. C 's shutting shop 

very patiently. If his money is safe, he has no 
objection to its being locked-up. I do not imagine 
we shall lose anything. I am only sorry for him 
and for his family, as these things must be very 
unpleasant. There is a great deal of poverty and 
distress in London and in the southern counties. 
I wish very much to see my brother Robinson 



A LADY OF THE LAST CENTURY. 183 

after his long absence. I rejoice that his health 
is so good. I wish you could persuade him to come 
to London. He improves society, and it is a pity he 
should not live in it." 

Another of the writer's nieces is referred to in 
the following discursive, letter : — 

"January ye ist, 1774. Dear Madam, — I was 
very glad to hear that my pretty little friend got 
safe to you. I dare say the holidays will pass with 
her and her brother and sister in all the gayety 
and jolly mirth which belong'd to them in former 
times. When our maccaronic beaux and cotterie 
dames go into the country to pass the Christmas 
holydays, I have no great opinion of the festivity 
and joy of the party. Mirth belongs to youth 
and innocence. When the World was young and 
innocent, its laugh was hearty, and its mirth sincere, 
and festivals were gay. Old Father Christmas must 
now be content to gambol in the nursery ; but 
such is the force of custom, that many persons go at 
this dreary season to their dreary mansions to keep 
their Christmas, who will not laugh till they return 
to London. 

..." I think the fish will come safest by my 



184 A LADY OF THE LAST GENTUBY. 

neice, as it will escape being rummaged by the 
custom-house officers, who will be apt to suspect 
it has a pudding of Brussels lace in it. I thank 
you for two pound more of excellent tea. I think 
it full as good as that which costs me 16s. a 
pound. . . . My pretty neice is so good-humoured : 
she is never troublesome. She is a mighty orderly 
person; folds up her things very nicely. She will 
be both a notable housewife and a good-humoured 
woman, and therefore will make an excellent wife. 
Happy will be the man to whose lot she will fall. 
It is very rarely that one sees these characters meet. 
A good housewife is generally an anxious, peevish 
thing ; and a good-humoured woman is too often 
careless and unmindful of her family. As she is 
your daughter, I do not wonder at her uniting per- 
fections that are but rarely united. My brother 
William was a favourite of my mother's, and she 
certainly made his whole christening suit of that 
part of her linnen which is supposed to derive matri- 
monial blessings on the son. For what mother's 
darling my neice is reserved I do not know, but 
I hope one who will deserve her. 

" I believe you will hardly be able to read my 



A LADY OF THE LAST CENTVBY. 185 

scrawl, which is even worse than usual ; for I have 
almost put my eyes out with accounts, of which 
our steward brings a plentiful quantity at this time 
of year. He is a very diligent Person, and expects 
that I will apply many hours in the day. Our 
affairs go on very prosperously and in great order, 
so that I have as little trouble as is possible in a 
case where so many and large accounts are to be 
look'd over. 

..." It is said that gaming is carried on with 
greater spirit among the fine people than ever was 
known. I desire my most affectionate compliments 
to my brothers of Horton, Denton, and Canter- 
bury. . . . My best love to ye dear little ones who 
adorn your fireside, and best wishes for the year 
begun, and for all succeeding years, to the parents 
and the babes." 

It was in this year, 1774, that Mrs. Montagu 
wrote the following to Mrs. Robinson, from Sandle- 
ford, September the 5th, 1774: — 

. . . "I had intended writing to you as soon 
as I could get a frank. . . . All frothy matter 
takes up a great deal of space, and my letters always 
run over the fourth side, and incur double taxes 



186 A LADY OF THE LAST CENTURY. 



at the post-office. By mistake, I had left my 
franks to you in London, so I waited till I could 
see Mr. Congreve, the only member of parliament 
in our neighbourhood. 

..." The wet weather has hurt me as a valetudina- 
rian, and mortified me as a farmer, so that I cannot 
say, in the pert fashionable phrase, it has not made 
me sick nor sorry, but more of the first than the 

last, and not greatly either We have a prodigious 

crop of barley, and there seems to be a great plenty 
of it everywhere, and yet the maltsters are contract- 
ing for it already at 305. per quarter. I suppose the 
ensuing elections will raise the price of malt. I wish 
our poor people ate more and drank less. 

" I am extremely mortified at Lord Mahone's too 
great vivacity. Lord Stanhope brought him to 
Tunbridge to spend a day with me. I was pleased 
with his conversation and manners, and particularly 
in not finding him so exotick as I expected. His 
sentiments and language appear to me perfectly 
good English, such as suited the heir of an English 
peer, and not borrow'd from un bourgeois de 
Geneve, which, with all due respect to Jean Jacques, 
I take to be much inferior in nobleness of mind as 



A LADY OF THE LAST CENTURY. 187 

well as dignity of office. But his lordship's attack 
on Mr. Knight and his presenting articles to a 
candidate, looks as if he had steep'd his patriotism 
in the Lake of Geneva. Lord Stanhope is a very 
respectable man ; has great virtues and great talents. 
These, under the military discipline of worldly war- 
fare, do great things, while they lead and command 
regiments of inferior minds which fight under them. 
But in our days the unconnected patriot makes just 
such a figure in the political system as the preux 
chevalier would do now in the military. Nothing 
is to be done in these days by single combat. 
Neither the patriot nor the champion would be 
able to effect the abolition of the exorbitant toll 
of a bridge. If I had a son, I should desire him 
never to wander single in quest of adventures. 
Virtue, wisdom, honours, prosperity, happiness, are all 
to be found on the turnpike-road, or not to be 
found at all. . . . 

" I had strong inclinations to make you and my 
brother at Horton a visit when I left Tunbridge ; 
but as a northern journey was then in contempla- 
tion, I durst not propose such a measure to Mr. 
Montagu. He still talks of our going to Northum- 



188 A LADY OF THE LAST CENTUBY. 

berland, but delays setting out. In the mean- 
time, winter approaches. He is in very good health 
and spirits, but extremely feeble ; goes to bed every 
afternoon by five o'clock, and seems by no means 
equal to so fatiguing a journey; so I hope it will 
end in talk. . . . Mr. Montagu loves delay so well, 
he intends not to set out till a fortnight after me. 
He did not leave London till the middle of August, 
tho' he had not any business to detain him. 

..." If I had children, I should be much more 
solicitous about their temper than talents. As 
many hours in the day as a man of the finest parts 
is peevish or in a passion, he is more contemptible 
than a blockhead, and suffers (though he does not 
know it) the internal scorn and contempt of every 
rational creature that is in good humour. We are, 
too, much earlier able to judge of a child's temper 
than capacity. Minds ripen at very different ages. 
If the understanding is naturally slow, preceptors 
should be patient, and not put it too much out of 
its natural pace. Some children apprehend quick ; 
others acquire everything with difficulty. In the 
latter case, they should be encouraged, led, and not 
driven." 



A LADY OF THE LAST CENTURY. 189 

Miss Gregory (a friend and companion of the 
writer) was very much liked at Cambridge. " Her 
sweet temper, good sense, and elegant simplicity of 
manners much charm every one who is well 
acquainted with her. She is perfectly free from 
missy pertnesses, airs, and minanderies, which put 
many of our girls of fashion upon a line with 
milliners' apprentices. Though she has lived so 
much with me, I never saw her out of humour. 
She seems as pleased with retirement as in a publick 
place ; and is as sober and discreet in a publick place 
as in retirement. 

" There is a report that Captain Darby is going to 
be married to a widow worth fourscore thousand 
pounds. It seems her first husband was a good- 
humoured, quiet, dull man. Elle s'en trouvait bien, 
and is going to take such another ; but still, four- 
score thousand pounds is a great price for a dull 
man. . . . Miss Snell is married to a gentleman of 
good character and six thousand pounds. 

" I beg my best respects and most affectionate 
compliments to my brother Robinson. Will he never 
let us have the pleasure of seeing him ? I wish he 
would visit the farmer and farmeress of Sandleford." 



190 A LADY OF TEE LAST CENTURY. 



In the course of the above year, 1774, when an 
invitation to Mrs. Montagu's house in Hill Street 
was not lightly sent and was highly esteemed, she 
despatched a card of invitation to Dr. Johnson. The 
philosopher neither went to her assembly nor acknow- 
ledged the invitation. In a subsequent apologetic 
note, he said : " Having committed one fault by inad- 
vertency, I will not commit another by sullenness. 
. . . The favour of your notice can never miss 
a suitable return but from ignorance or thought- 
lessness ; and to be ignorant of your eminence is 
not easy but to him who lives out of reach of 
the public voice." Allegiance could not be more 
perfect! But Mrs. Montagu was not influenced 
by it, when, in 1775, she settled a small annuity 
on Dr. Johnson's friend, Mrs. Williams, saving her 
from misery ; for which rescue Mrs. Williams ex- 
pressed her thanks in words almost of divine adora- 
tion. Dr. Johnson was moved by the generous act, 
when he subsequently heard that Mrs. Montagu 
was in town, ill. He wrote like a gallant. "To 
have you detained among us by sickness is to enjoy 
your presence at too dear a rate." He wishes she 
may be " so well as to be able to leave us, and so 



A LADY OF THE LAST CENTURY. 191 

kind as not to be willing." . . . Here is more : 
"All that the esteem and reverence of mankind 
can give you, are already yours ; and the little I can 
add to the voice of nations will not much exalt. 
Of that little, however, you are, I hope, very certain." 
The poor lady had now more serious matters 
claiming her attention than quarrels or compliments 
with Johnson. Her kind-hearted and now aged 
husband had long been slowly dying. His last 
hour seemed now approaching. In May, 1775, 
Mrs. Chapone, in a letter to Mrs. Delany, described 
Mrs. Montagu as being " in a most distressful 
situation." Mr. Montagu, " instead of sinking easily, 
as might have been expected from so long and 
gradual a decline, suffers great struggle, and has 
a fever attended with deliriums, which are most 
dreadfully affecting to Mrs. Montagu. If this 
scene should continue, I tremble for the effects of it 
on her tender frame ; but I think it must very soon 
have an end, and she will then reconcile herself to a 
loss so long expected, tho' I doubt not she will 
feel it very sincerely. He is entitled to her highest 
esteem and gratitude, and, I believe, possesses them 
both." 



192 A LADY OF THE LAST CENTURY. 

The aged philomath might have been the original 
of the legendary mathematician, who, having been 
induced to read " Paradise Lost," asked, on reaching 
the last line of the poem, "Well, what does it 
prove ?" Mr. Montagu's wonted fires and ruling 
passion partook exclusively of a mathematical ar- 
dour. His wife, who had, previous to her hus- 
band's fatal illness, passed from the most sincere 
spirit of free inquiry into the equally sincere ac- 
ceptance of orthodoxy, was very anxious that her 
husband should be of the same faith with herself 
before they were parted for ever. She begged 
Beattie to effect this desired consummation, if it 
were possible. The aged mathematician was too 
much, however, for the minister and his clever wife 
together. "To her great concern," says Beattie, 
in a letter to Dr. Laing, " he set too much value 
on mathematical evidence, and piqued himself too 
much on his knowledge in that science. He took 
it into his head, too, that / was a mathematician, 
though I was at a great deal of pains to convince 
him to the contrary." Mr. Montagu died in May, 
1775. The poor gentleman's death was immediately 
made the opportunity for speculation on the part of 



A LADY OF THE LAST CENTURY. 193 

his friends, as to the prospects of his widow. " Mr. 
Edward Montagu is dead," wrote Mrs. Delany. 
" He has left his widow everything, both real and 
personal : only charging it with a legacy of 3000/. 
If her heart prove as good as her head, she may do 
an abundance of good. Her possessions are very 
great." Walpole speculated in another fashion on 
this gentleman's demise. He wrote to Mason : " The 
husband of Mrs. Montagu, of Shakespearshire, is 
dead, and has left her an estate of 7000/. a year 
in her own power. Will you come and be candi- 
date for her hand ? I conclude it will be given to 
a champion at some Olympic games ; and were I 
she, I would sooner marry you than Pindar !" 

Johnson fully illustrated the charitable side of 
Mrs. Montagu's character, when he said, in 1776, 
in reply to a hint that her liberality was pharisaical, 
" I have seen no beings who do as much good from 
benevolence as she does from whatever motive." 
Johnson subsequently was less charitable and less 
accurate. Mrs. Montagu's letters abound with 
references to her complete ignorance of Greek 
and her small knowledge of Latin. "But," said 
Johnson, "she is willing you should think she 



194 A LADY OF THE LAST CENTURY. 

knows them, but she does not say she does." A 
hundred times she wrote that she did not. Johnson's 
were hardly the " respectful sentiments " he professed 
to have when he begged for a copy of her engraved 
portrait, as a reward for his love and adoration. 



( 195 ) 



CHAPTER VIII. 

Mrs. Montagu respected her gentle husband's 
memory in the way he would have approved — by 
attending to the business which his death left on 
her hands. She withdrew to San die ford, not to 
cover her face, but to woo the fresh air. She then 
travelled to Denton Castle, to plunge into occu- 
pation, and to show her steward that her recent 
grief had not rendered her insensible to her in- 
terests. From the castle, or hall (it is called by 
both names), she wrote on July the ioth, 1775, the 
following, not at all woe-begone, but sensible, letter 
to her sister-in-law : — 

..." I know your good-nature will have sug- 
gested to you, and accepted as an excuse for my 
long delay of writing, the various business which 
my present situation occasions. My long and very 
melancholy confinement much affected my health 

o 2 



196 A LADY OF THE LAST CENTURY. 

and spirits. The fresh air and constant exercise 
at Sandleford, proved of great service to me, and 
encouraged me to venture on a much longer 
journey. On the 30th of June, I set out on my 
expedition to Northumberland, and, on the 3rd of 
July, at noon, I got as far as my estate at Burniston. 
Exactly opposite to some of my land, there is a 
tolerable inn. I eat a hasty dinner, and taking my 
steward with me, went over as many of the farms 
as I could r that night, and sent invitations to my 
tenants to dine with me the next day. 

"Mine Host, by sending to the neighbouring 
markets, assembled together sirloins of beef, legs of 
mutton, loins of veal, chickens, ducks, and green 
peas, which, with ham, pigeon-pie, tarts, and cus- 
tard, fill'd up every chink of table, and, I believe, 
of stomach. Unfortunately, there was not a room 
large enough to contain all my good friends, so the 
women and the young lasses dined with me, and the 
men with the steward. 

" As Mr. Montagu had been always a very good 
landlord, I thought it right to show the good people 
they would have a kind landlady, and therefore I 
would not pass by without taking notice of them. 



A LADY OF THE LAST CENTURY. 197 

Several of them enquired after the young gentlemen 
that came from Horton to Allerthorpe. I assured 
them Mr. William Robinson was a profound divine, 
and Mr. Charles a sage counsellor at law. They re- 
joyced that Master Willie was happy in a good 
and rich wife, and had three fine Bairns. In the 
evening I went on to Darlington, where part of 
my estates come down to the turnpike-road. I 
stopped at a tenant's who has a pretty large house, 
desired them to dress a dinner the next day for me 
and my tenants. . . . Darlington was rather too far for 
the women to reach. I lay at Darlington, and early 
ye next day went over to this Estate, and passed 
the whole day there with great pleasure. A fine, 
rapid river, woody bank, and some of the most 
stately oaks and beech in Yorkshire, would recom- 
mend it sufficiently to the eye that does not behold 
it with the complacency of a proprietor, and you 
will believe it loses nothing of its charms by that 
circumstance. After dinner I wandered again about 
the place, visited most of my tenants' houses, and 
did not take leave of Eryholme (?) till night drew 
her sable curtain, which gave me occasion to re- 
collect that the day of my life must soon close, 



198 A LADY OF THE LAST CENTUBY. 



and all these things be hid from me ; but if I make 
a proper use of them while they are mine, it is all 
I ought to be solicitous for, as I am not amongst 
those unhappy Persons whose views are bounded to 
the short day of human life. 

" I was much pleased with all my tenants in York- 
shire. They are a very different sort of people 
from the farmers in ye south. They are alert 
in their business and interests, and far from the 
stupid state of savage. At the same time, they do 
not ape the manners nor imitate the dress of the 
fine folks. The farmer's wife spins her husband's 
shirts, and the daughters make butter and cheese 
at the hours our southern women work catgut and 
dress wire caps. Some of my tenants have been 
above fifty years on the estate ; have married their 
sons to girls worth many hundred pounds, and 
have got their sons into their farms, and they are 
retired on a decent subsistence, gained by many 
years of frugal industry. They all pay duely on 
their rent-days. No complaint, on the part of 
the tenants, of poverty ; or, on the landlord, of 
arrears. The land is in good condition, and by 
having been long settled, they have acquired an 



A LADY OF TEE LAST CENTUBY. 199 

affection for the farm they are placed upon, and 
will always give as good a rent as it deserves ; and 
they know the nature of the undertaking too well 
to give more. It is a folly to let farms too cheap ; 
and it is both wickedness and folly to let them too 
dear. This year has been particularly unfavourable 
to my tenants, as the estates are chiefly meadow 
and pasture ; and yet, though these estates had been 
lately raised, they did not ask any indulgence or 
favour. They said there had not been such a dry 
season these fifty years ; and, with great good- 
humour, said they hoped the next would be better. 
Indeed, the drought is terrible for the dairy-farms. 
Hay here will be at an excessive price. The coal- 
owners who are not provident with stocks of it 
will be at vast expenses. I have always two years' 
stock in hand. The further north, the greater the 
drought. I believe there has not been any material 
rain since the 18th of March. Cows there (and 
here) are obliged to be driven to the rivers to drink. 
Our little streams are all dry'd. My cows go every 
day to the Tyne to get drink. The Tyne Vale, 
where I live, used to look green and pleasant. The 
whole country is now a brown crust, with here and 



200 A LADY OF THE LAST CENTUBT. 

there a black hole of a coal-pit, so that I cannot 
boast of the beauty of our prospects. As to Denton, 
it has mightily the air of an ant-hill : a vast many 
' black animals for ever busy. Near fourscore families 
are employ'd on my concerns here. Boys work in 
the colliery from seven years of age. I used to give 
my colliery people a feast when I came hither, but 
as the good souls (men and women) are very apt 
to get drunk, and, when drunk, very joyful, and 
sing, and dance, and hollow, and whoop, I dare 
not, on this occasion, trust their discretion to behave 
with proper gravity ; so I content myself with killing 
a fat beast once a week, and sending to each family, 
once, a piece of meat. It will take time to get 
round to all my black friends. I had fifty-nine 
boys and girls to sup in the court-yard last night 
on rice pudding and boil'd beef; to-morrow night 
I shall have as many. It is very pleasant to see 
how the poor things cram themselves, and the 
expense is not great. We buy rice cheap, and 
skimmed milk and coarse beef serve the occasion. 
Some have more children than their labour will 
cloathe, and on such I shall bestow some apparel. 
Some benefits of this sort, and a general kind 



A LADY OF THE LAST CENTURY. 201 

behaviour, gives to the coal- owner, as well as to 
them, a good deal of advantage. Our pitmen are 
afraid of being turned off, and that fear keeps an 
order and regularity amongst them that is very 
uncommon. 

"The general coal trade and my concerns in it 
are, at present, in a thriving way, and if all goes 
on so well two years longer, and I live till then, 
I will establish a spinning, knitting, and sewing 
school for ye girls. When I say establish, I mean 
for my life, for one cannot be charitable longer. 
When the night cometh no man can work. Cha- 
ritable institutions soon fall into neglect and abuse. 
I made a visit at Burniston to my Uncle Robinson's 
alms-houses. I gave each of the old people a 
guinea. I have sometimes sent them money ; for 
what my uncle appointed near a hundred years 
ago is hardly a subsistence. Indeed, they would 
starve if they had not some helps. 

" I have not been one moment ill since I set out 
on my journey. I walk about my farms, and down 
to my colliery, like a country gentlewoman of the 
last century. I rejoyce in the great improvement of 
my land here by good cultivation, but I do not like 



202 A LADY OF THE LAST CENTURY. 

my tenants so well as those in Yorkshire. We 
are here a little too rustick, and speak a dialect that 
is dreadful to the auditor's nerves ; and as to the 
colliery, I cannot yet reconcile myself to seeing my 
fellow-creatures descend into the dark regions of 
the earth ; tho', to my great comfort, I hear them 
singing in the pits. ... If I did not think you 
kindly interested yourself, I would not trouble you 
with this long history of myself. 

" I had the pleasure of seeing my neice in great 
good-humour, beauty, and health ; and these are 
the fairest features of youth. Long may they 
dimple and bloom on her cheek. I approve much 
of my little nephews going to a school of a private 
sort at first. I think boys of a gentle and bashful 
disposition are discouraged at being thrust at once 
into the prodigious racket of a great school. . . . 

" I think my sister Scott greatly mended by James's 
powders. I was very uneasy about her before she 
went to Bath, but Dr. Moisy has done great things 
for her. ... I have not seen her look so well for some 
years. ... I expect Dr. Beattie and his wife every 
day. I propose to return to the south the end 
of this month, in order to take some weeks at 



A LADY OF THE LAST CENTURY. 203 

Tunbridge. ... I believe I shall pass the winter 
in the south of France, but have not yet determined, 
as all human projects are uncertain ; but it is my 
wish to do so." 

Illness delayed the realization of this wish. Mrs. 
Montagu was in Hill Street in November, receiving 
only a few of her most intimate friends. " I called 
on Mrs. Montagu," writes Mrs. Boscawen to Mrs. 
Delany, in the above month ; " only Lady Towns- 
hend was there, and in her best way, very chatty." 

In 1775-6, among the visitors at Bath occa- 
sionally seen by Mrs. Scott, was a little lame 
Scottish boy, between four and five years old. 
When he had bathed in the morning, got through 
a reading lesson at an old dame's near his lodging 
on the Parade, and had a drive over the Downs with 
the author of " Douglas " and Mrs. Home, the 
boy was sometimes to be seen in the boxes of the 
old theatre. On one such occasion, witnessing " As 
you Like It," his interest was so great, that in the 
middle of the wrestling-scene in the first act, he 
called out, " A'n't they brothers ?" The boy, when 
he had become a man, said in his autobiography, 
"A few weeks' residence at home convinced me, who 



204 A LADY OF THE LAST CENTURY. 



had till then been an only child in the house of my 
grandfather, that a quarrel between brothers was a 
very natural event." This boy's name was Walter 
Scott. Much of the other company at Bath was 
then about to withdraw from the stage which the 
boy was to occupy with such glory to himself, and 
to the lasting delight of his countrymen. 

The year 1778 opens with the following letter to 
Mrs. Robinson : . . . " I wish I could thank you for 
your letter in as fair characters as my neice returned 
hers for the books. I have ostentatiously shewed 
her letter to many of my friends. My sister and I 
have not let my brother share in the honour ; for 
we confess no Robinson ever wrote so well ; so that 
she inherits this, with many other good things, from 
her Mama. If she can compose a sermon as well 
as her brother, and writes it in her own hand, it 
will retrieve the honour ofjmanuscript-sermons, which 
of late years have sold cheaper than even any other 
goods. . . . 

" The town is very empty, and I know not how we 
who are here contrive to be as much engaged as at 
other seasons. The Bath has been very full of 
pei sons ot distinction. 



A LADY OF THE LAST CENTURY. 205 

" Lord Villiers (the prince of maccaronies) gave, a 
few days ago, a play in a Barn. He acted Lord 
Townley ; Miss Hodges, Lady Townley. I suppose 
the merit of this entertainment was, that people were 
to go many miles, in frost and snow, to see in a 
barn what would have been every way better at the 
theatre in Drury Lane or Covent Garden. There 
was a ball also prepared after the play, but the barn 
had so benumbed the vivacity of the company, and 
the beaux' feet were so cold, and the noses of the 
belles were so blue, many retired to a warm bed at 
the inn at Henley, instead of partaking of the dance. 
M. Texier acted Monsieur Pigmaleon, and Miss 
Hodges the Statue. Modern nymphs are so warm 
and yielding, that less art than that of M. Texier 
might have animated the nymph. My neice will 
never stand still to be made love to before a numer- 
ous audience. Miss Hodges' father is lately dead ; her 
mother is dying. How many indecorums the girl 
has brought together into one petite peice ! 

" I dare not send you any publick news, as my 
brothers are engaged to the Congress and American 
Independency. 

" I think the fine world goes on as usual at this time 



206 A LADY OF TEE LAST CENTURY. 



of the year. "Caractacus " has succeeded very well on 
the stage, tho' it is more calculated for the study 
than the theatre. 

"Our French ambassador pleases all people, of 
course, by his conversation and manners. By his 
splendour of living and polite attentions at table, he 
charms the great vulgar ; so that he is in general 
esteem, and, indeed, deserves to be so. He dined with 
us ye other day, and I am to dine with him on 
Sunday. Mme. de Noailles cannot come to me 
till she is brought to bed. She is extremely sensible 
and agreable. 

" Lord Granby very thoughtlessly carried his lady 
to Brussels, on a jaunt of amusement, soon after 
she was brought to bed, and, by getting cold, she is 
most dangerously ill. She is much better ; but the 
duchess dowager is so uneasy about her, I am afraid 
we shall not be able to dissuade her from going to 
Brussels, tho' this weather makes sea voyages and, 
indeed, land journey s very terrible. 

..." My brother Charles told me the good folks 
in Kent were angry with me or your consort for 
making a justice of peace of Dr. Pennington ; but, 
indeed, I never heard the doctor had an ambition to 



A LADY OF THE LAST CENTURY. 207 

be of the worshipful quorum till my brother men- 
tioned it. As it is not Greek and Hebrew, but lands 
and tenements and such solid property, which give 
a title to be justice of peace, I should not in any way 
have assisted the doctor's project, if I had had it in 
my power. I am so far from being a favourer of 
the Alliance of Church and State, I think the 
further they keep asunder the better — a two-edged 
sword is a terrible weapon." 

In the summer of 1776, Mrs. Montagu was to be 
seen in Paris, welcomed to the first circles as a happy 
sample of an accomplished English lady. Voltaire, 
then in his dotage, took the opportunity of her 
presence to send to the Academy a furious paper 
against Shakespeare. The lady had a seat of 
honour among the audience while the vituperative 
paper was read. When the reading came to an end 
Suard remarked to her, " T think, madam, you 
must be rather sorry at what you have just heard !" 
The English lady, Voltaire's old adversary, promptly 
replied, " I, sir ! not at all. I am not one of M.Vol- 
taire's friends !" She subsequently wrote : — " I felt 
the same indignation and scorn at the reading of 
Voltaire's paper, as I should have done if I had 



208 A LADY OF THE LAST CENTUBY. 

seen harlequin cutting capers and striking his 
wooden sword on the monument of a Caesar or 
Alexander the Great." 

In October, after her return to Hill Street, she 
thus described to Garrick the influence exercised 
over her by French tragedy and French trage- 
dians : — 

..." Mrs. M. cannot help intimating that she 
never felt such pity and terror, which it is the busi- 
ness of tragedy to excite, as at the French theatre, 
where M. le Kain roars like a mad bull, and Mole 
rolls his eyes, and has all the appearance of a man in 
a phrensy . . . persons of real taste seem convinced 
of the false taste prevalent in their tragedies." 

The " flutter of Paris " was almost more than her 
strength could bear. The idea of its being succeeded 
by the "racket of London" alarmed her. She 
avoided the "racket," and recovered from the 
" flutter," by spending a season of rest at Sandle- 
ford, where she dreamed over Voltaire's address 
against Shakespeare, became a rural cottager, feeder 
of pigs, cultivator of potatoes, or pretended to be so, 
and " did idleness." " There is as much an idleness 
to be done," she wrote to Garrick, " as there is a 



A LADY OF THE LAST CENTURY. 209 



darkness that may be visible, and is, like the other, a 
state and a condition, and a very pleasant and gentle 
one, when the working-day of bustle and hurry is 
over. ... I came to do idleness, and it is not all 
done." 

The visit to Paris is alluded to among an " infinite 
deal " of other subjects, in a letter to her brother 
William, dated Sandleford, June 9, 1777. 

" It would be with much greater pleasure I should 
take up my pen to tell you I am at Sandleford, if I 
could flatter myself with the hope of alluring you 
to it: you would find me in the character of 
a housewife. The meagre condition of the soil 
forbids me to live in the state of a shepherdess- 
queen, which I look upon as the highest rural 
dignity. The plough, the harrow, and the spade 
remind us that the golden age is past, and sub- 
sistence depends on labour ; prosperity on indus- 
trious application. A little of the clay of which 
you complain, would do us a great deal of good. 
I should be glad to take my dominions here from 
the goddess Ceres to give them to the god Pan, and 
I think you will agree with me in that taste ; for ( 
wherever he presides, there Nature's republick is 

p 



210 A LADY OF THE LAST CENTURY. 



establish'd. The ox in his pasture is as free and as 
much at his ease as the proprietor of the soil, and 
the days of the first are not more shorten'd to feed 
the intemperance of others, than the rich landlord's 
by the indulgence of his own. I look upon the 
goddess Ceres as a much less impartial and uni- 
versally kind deity. The antients thought they 
did her honour by ascribing to her the invention 
of laws. We must consider her also as the mother 
of law-suits and all the divisions, dissentions, and 
distinctions among mankind. Naturalists tell us 
all the oaks that have ever been, were contain'd in 
the first acorn. 1 believe we may affirm, by the 
same mode of reasoning, that all arts and sciences 
were contain'd in the first ear of corn. To 
possess lasting treasure and exclusive prosperity, has 
been the great business and aim of man. At 
Sandleford, you will find us busy in the care of 
arable land. By two little purchases Mr. Mon- 
tagu made here, my farm contains six hundred 
acres. As I now consider it an amazonian land, I 
affect to consider the women as capable of assisting 
in agriculture as much as the men. They weed 
my corn, hoe my turnips, and set my Pottatoes ; and 



A LADY OF THE LAST GENTVBY. 211 

by these means promote the prosperity of their 
families. A landlord, where the droit du seigneur 
prevailed, would not expose the complexions of his 
female vassals to the sun. I must confess my ama- 
zons hardly deserve to be accounted of the fair sex ; 
and they have not the resources of pearl-powder and 
rouge when the natural lilies and roses have faded. 

"You are very polite in supposing my looks 
not so homely as I described them ; but tho' my 
health is good, the faded roses do not revive, and I 
assure you I am always of the colour of la feuille- 
morte. My complexion has long fallen into the 
sere and yellow leaf; and I assure you one is as 
much warned against using art, by seeing the ladies 
of Paris, as the Spartan youths by observing the 
effects of intoxicating liquors on the Helots. The 
vast quantity of rouge worn there by the fine ladies 
makes them hideous. As I always imagine one is 
less looked at by wearing the uniform of the society 
one lives in, I allowed my frizeuse to put on 
whatever rouge was usually worn. But a few years 
ago, I believe, my vanity could not have submitted 
to such a disfiguration. As soon as I got to Dover, 
I return'd to my former complexion. I own I 

P 2 



212 A LADY OF THE LAST CENTURY. 



think I could make that complexion a little better 
by putting on a little rouge ; but at my age, any 
appearance of solicitude about complexion is absurd, 
and therefore I remain where age and former ill 
health have brought me ; and rejoice that I enjoy the 
comforts of health, tho' depriv'd of its pleasing looks. 
" I am very glad to find my neice has recovered 
her health. I was much afraid of a consumption 
for her. ... It has given me great pleasure to 
hear your health is pretty good. . . . but if St. 
Anthony's fire should menace, remember that his 
distemper, as well as his temptation, is most dan- 
gerous in a desart or wilderness, and repair to the 
city of Bath. Tho' I say this, I was never in 
my life more sensible of the charms of rural life 
and the blessings of tranquility, but at the same 
time I am sensible that my relish of them is much 
quickened by having been for a twelvemonth past 
in a very different mode of life. I regret very much 
that the emperor did not come to Paris last sum- 
mer, tho' I suppose, among the French nobility, 
I met with men as polite ; among the academicians 
with men more learned, ingenious, and witty ; yet, as 
I am a Virtuoso in what relates to the human cha- 



A LADY OF THE LAST CENTURY. 213 

racter, and love to see how it appears in various 
situations, I should have seen an ■ emperor, as an 
emperor is an unique in human society at present ; 
and the Austrian family has always had a strongly- 
marked personal character. All my French corre- 
spondents assure me that his imperial majesty veils 
his dignity on all occasions under the character of 
Count de Falkenstein. He sleeps at his ambassador's, 
but dines with the two noblemen of his Court who 
attend him at an Hotel garnie. When he goes 
to Versailles to visit his sister, he refuses to lodge in 
the palace, and lodges at a bagnio. He goes some- 
times to Versailles in his coach ; at others, in a 
fiacre, or walks. The French, who are much struck 
with everything that is new, are full of wonder 
and respect at the publick spectacles. They give a 
thunder of applause whenever he appears. In pri- 
vate society, his majesty is easy and affable, and, 
by what I can understand, glad to show be is 
more conversant in the common affairs of common 
life than princes usually are. The objects of his 
curiosity and the subjects of his discourse are such 
as seem to indicate he is a man of sense. Whether 
he has talents for empire, time must show. Without 



214 A LADY OF THE LAST CENTURY 



understanding the doctrine of chances as well as 
Demeri (?), one may pronounce the chances are 
nearly infinite he has not. I am glad, however, 
princes begin to travel. One has a chance of 
meeting these itinerant monarchs somewhere ; and 
they amuse, at least, as well as stufFd eagles or lions 
in a museum. I was in great hopes that you would 
have come to town to hear Lord Chatham, in sup- 
port of his motion, the other day." 

In the following month, the letter below was 
written at Sandleford, July the 9th, 1777: — 

..." As she " (one of Mrs. Montagu's nieces) 
"was not the worse for the ball, I am glad she par- 
took of the pleasure of it. If she resembles a certain 
Miss Robinson who lived in the neighbourhood 
some years ago, she will reckon a ball amongst the 
first enjoyments of human life. Considering her 
state of health, I do not know whether it was very 
prudent in her brother to carry her there, but I am 
sure it was very amiable ; the error should always 
be rather on the side of indulgence. We should 
consider that, though there will be dancing as long 
as the world endures, it is but a short time that an 
individual will dance. . 



A LADY OF THE LAST CENTUBY. 215 

..." The warmth of the weather prevented my 
seeing the ' School for Scandal,' but every one 
agrees with you to commend it. Of all the vices 
of the human disposition, a love of scandal and 
detraction is the most contemptible. It is now got 
from the gossips' tea-table to the press. The 
scriblers weekly let fly their pop-guns at the Duchess 
of Devonshire's feathers. Her grace is innocent, 
good-humoured, and beautifull; but these adders 
are blind and deaf, and cannot be charmed. How- 
ever, the scriblers are all of them hungry ; but the 
circulators of scandal, who have neither hunger for 
their excuse, nor wit to give it a seasoning, are sad 
vermin, and I am glad Mr. Sheridan has so well 
exposed them. 

"The uncertainty of human life is certainly a 
discouragement to every enterprize, but to none less, 
I think, than to building a house. If it is a good 
one, there will be somebody to live in it and enjoy 
its comforts ; if otherwise, its inconveniences will 
not make one uneasy in the tomb. To undertake 
a trust which, by not fulfilling, may be detrimental 
to some person ; to bring children into the worla 
when it is too late in life to hope to see them edu- 



216 A LADY OF THE LAST CENTURY. 

cated and established, are things about which a 
prudent person may hesitate ; but even in this case, 
we can never do wrong when we follow the general 
principles by which the author of our nature has 
intended we should be directed. The shortness and 
uncertainty of life would discourage all great un- 
dertakings ; and, as the human race is to continue, 
providence has ordered we should act as if we were 
to live for ever. 

" We have had a series of the worst weather I ever 
knew since I came here, at this time of year. Sir 
William Temple says, the three greatest blessings 
are health, peace, and fine weather. The first two 
are the most important and I have enjoyed them in 
so perfect a degree, that I have well endured the 
want of the third. Dr. Robinson's ' History of 
America' has amused me by my fireside, when 
wind and rain have combined against my amuse- 
ments abroad. A long deprivation of the quiet 
joys of rural life gave me a quick relish for them. 
If I had staid in town, the great numbers of 
foreigners who have lately arrived there, who have 
all brought letters of recommendation to me, or 
who would have been naturally introduced by my 



A LADY OF THE LAST CENTURY. 217 



previous acquaintance with them abroad, must have 
taken up much of my time and attention. 

"Lord Shelburne called here the other day to 
invite me to Bowood, to meet 1' Abbe Raynal, who 
I knew at Paris, and two French countesses who 
brought letters to me from some of the beaux 
esprits there; so to them I shall have an oppor- 
tunity of expressing my regret at being out of town. 
But there is a Spanish Baron de Castille and some 
others who were also recommended to me, who I 
fear will depart with a bad opinion of my hospitality ; 
for, twenty to one, my English porter in Hill Street 
could not make them understand, when they deli- 
vered their letters, that I was in the country. At 
present my scheme is to go to London for the 
melancholy pleasure of taking leave of the Lord 
Primate and my friend Mrs. Vesey. . . . When 
these friends leave London, I believe I shall set out 
for Mount Edgecumbe, having long promised Lady 
Edgecumbe a visit, and shall carry Montagu with 
me, who is a school-fellow of Mr. Edgecumbe, and is 
much invited. . . . Mr. and Mrs. Vesey are going 
to Mr. Burke's, at Beaconsfleld, who has kindly 
asked me to be of the party ; but I shall be a good 



218 A LADY OF THE LAST CENTURY. 



while absent from Sandleford, and have many do- 
mestick matters to settle before I depart. I had a 
most polite, entertaining letter the other day from 
my Brother Robinson. I wish we two honest 
farmers lived nearer together with brotherly love 
and rural sincerity. I natter myself we should be 
very happy ; but in this short life, how short a time 
does one enjoy the friends one loves. 

..." In spite of my cure and Dr. Fothergill's 
skill, I have made but a poor progress towards 
health. . . . My nerves mend, but I cannot better 
bear the noise of a cannon now than I could the 
report of a pistol when I first return'd to Hill 
Street. My doctor keeps me very quiet. He will 
not allow me to see the wise, the witty, or the 
fashionable world. I have not dined below stairs 
these four or five days. The doctor has to-day 
begun to try a new medicine ; but I have as little 
faith in doctors of physick as some of my family 
have in doctors of divinity. I imagine my fever at 
Canterbury was the influenza, which has lately raged 
so much. It leaves people very weak, and much 
affects the nerves. Some have lost their speech for 
a few days; others their hearing. My North- 



A LADY OF TEE LAST CENTURY. 219 

umberland steward and my brother who left 
London when I did, were both taken ill on the 
road. I believe fatigue of preparation for my 
foreign journey did me some harm ; but I believe 
my principal illness was owing to contagion in the 
air. My servants have all been sick. None of 
my family have escaped but Miss Gregory and 
Matt. 

"The patriots are rather in despair of changing the 
ministry. This may damp their ambition, but will 
keep their patriotism in its vigour. There is some- 
thing so mortal to patriotism in a place, that one 
can never wish those who have assumed that 
character to sacrifice it to the emoluments of an 
employment. . . . 

"Mr. Burke is kept from the House of Com- 
mons by the death of his father-in-law. Lady Mary 
Sommerset has recovered her health, and her nuptials 
will soon be celebrated. Hymen may exult, for the 
pair are lovely. Miss Gregory often spends the 
evening with Lady Mary and Lady Betty. As 
Lord Granby is of the party, you may suppose 
Lady Betty and Miss Gregory attend most to each 
other. . . . Tell my neice I have not forgotten her 



220 A LADY OF THE LAST CENTURY. 

doll, but have not been well enough to accomplish 
an affair of such importance as dressing a lady. My 
nephews both shall come with the doll, thus teach- 
ing by allegory, that men are to be learned, and 
ladies elegant." 

In Mrs. Scott's letter which now follows, the 
details refer to the death of the brother most dearly 
loved by both his sisters — Morris Robinson, who 
married Jane, daughter of John Greenland, of 
Lovelace. His two sons, Morris and Matthew, 
succeeded, in the order indicated, to the barony of 
Rokeby. Matthew was at this time domiciled with 
Mrs. Montagu, whose name he had taken as her 
acknowledged heir. 

Mrs. Scott to Mrs. Robinson. — "Nov. 16, 1777. 
. . . The world has indeed become a very dif- 
ferent scene to me since we parted. It has lost the 
greatest charm it had for me. The loss is not only 
a brother, but, as Solomon expresses it, that friend 
that was more than a brother, one with whom I had 
lived full forty years in the tenderest affection, in 
the most perfect harmony ; never interrupted even 
by a mere dispute, except on his first connexion 
with his present widow. It is totally irreparable. I 



A LADY OF THE LAST GENTVUY. 221 

own 1 loved nothing so well ; and though I am not 
so new to misfortune as not to have learnt to bear 
patiently, and to see, while I lament the loss of a 
blessing, that I ought to be grateful for having 
so long enjoyed one so uncommon ; yet the sense 
of it must ever lie a sorrow at my heart. There 
was a loveliness of nature in him that I never saw 
equalled. ... I do not think he had a fault, except the 
weakness of complying with one who was not satis- 
fied with that degree of expense which was proper 
for them ; and for that he might make the same 
excuse that the great Duke of Marlbrough did 
when told he was too complying a husband : 
' Friend, can a man live without sleep ?' His own 
disposition did not lead him either to vanity or 
extravagance. I confess, therefore, he was guilty of 
a weakness, but it was one founded on the extreme 
sweetness of his temper ; an unfortunate effect of a 
most amiable cause. However, she to whom it is 
owing is now much to be pitied. She would not 
believe what he frequently told her, but is now sadly 
awakened to the truth of it." 

In the subjoined fragment of a letter from Mrs. 
Montagu, reference is made to the Scotch thief 



222 A LADT OF THE LAST CENTURY. 

and deserter, John Aitkin, the incendiary, otherwise 
known as Jack the painter, who was hanged, in 
1777, for attempting to set fire to Portsmouth Dock- 
yard and shipping. 

..." I was mortified to hear the dreadful box 
which was intended to destroy Portsmouth was 
made at the respectable city of Canterbury. Mr. 
Silas Deane will make no very respectable figure 
when John Painter's story is produced in public. 
If Dr. Franklin had been an incendiary, he would 
have been a more dangerous man than Mr. Deane ; 
for you know he can bottle-up lightning; but 
philosophers are honester men than politicians. . . . 
Lord Temple has been very useful in getting this 
horrid affair of John the painter brought to light. . . . 
Dr. Dodd's affair is almost forgot. Some suppose 
that, for want of some formality on his trial, he will 
escape hanging. Lord Chesterfield has behaved 
with great kindness to the doctor's brother, who is 
a worthy man, and to Mrs. Dodd's nephew. . . . 

" The match between Lord Powis and Miss 
Warren is not to take place, the young lady having 
expressed a predilection for Lord Bulkely, who is to 
have her. 



A LADY OF THE LAST GENTUBY. ' 223 

" Lady Strathmore's conduct at Newcastle, in the 
election, is, perhaps, not generally known. Her lady- 
ship sits all day in the window at a public-house, from 
whence she sometimes lets fall some jewels or trin- 
kets, which voters pick up, and then she gives them 
money for restoring them — a new kind of offering 
bribes. What little interest I have I gave to Sir 
John Trevelyan, who, we hope, will carry the elec- 
tion by a good majority. My steward tells me he 
is very weary of the bustle and treating the voters ; 
and that the town is in a wild uproar. Mr. Stoney 
Bowes has sold 5000/. a year of his lady's income for 
her life, to procure himself 40,000/. I believe this 
gentleman will revenge the wrongs Lord Strathmore 
suffered from her ladyship. It is said Sir Thomas 
Robinson died worth above 10,000/., but it is sup- 
posed he has left it to his natural daughter." 

Lady Strathmore had the misfortune to be an 
heiress, Mary Eleanor Bowes. Lord Strathmore 
took her, her money, and her name, in 1767. In 
nine years, he was removed by death ; his widow 
soon after married Mr. Stoney, an Irish heiress- 
hunter, who adopted the name of Bowes, and 
thoroughly avenged the wrongs and sufferings of 



224 • A LADY OF THE LAST CENTURY. 



the first husband. But Stoney Bowes was sorely 
mauled in the cruel and scandalous struggle. It is 
a disgraceful story, from which the reader may well 
turn to a few plain lines from Mrs. Scott, in a frag- 
ment of a letter of this date : " I shall be very 
glad of my niece's company on her way to White- 
lands, and if I can find out any amusement for her, 
she shall have it. Plays, which I think are the best, 
it is so difficult for those to get places at, who do 
not give largely to the box-keepers, that I am dis- 
couraged from attempting, by having no hopes of 
success (but I shall try when my niece comes), 
tho' I feel no degradation to my dignity from 
sitting in a front box, and like it just as well as the 
side, if not further back than the second row. I 
went with my sister to ' Percy,' and that is the only 
one I have seen." 

The side boxes ranked then as the orchestra stalls 
do now — the most fashionable, but among the very 
worst seats in the house. Mrs. Montagu, in the 
letter opening the next chapter, takes her correspon- 
dent to houses of a more agreeable quality. 



( 225 ) 



CHAPTER IX. 

"Sandleford, Sep. 26, 1777. . . . Nuneham "is a 
very fine place, and the owners of it are so amiable 
and agreable, that one passes one's time very plea- 
santly. It sometimes resembles a congress of all 
the ambassadors in Europe ; for Lord Harcourt, 
having been in a publick capacity, all the ambas- 
sadors, and, indeed, all the foreigners of distinction 
come thither. I remember passing three days there 
once without hearing a syllable of English spoken. 
Had every one of the company spoken his mother- 
tongue, it would have resembled Babel. Monsieur 
and Madame de Noailles are most agreable persons, 
and I wish we may not have any other foreigners 
while they stay. 

..." I do not know any one who makes his house 
so agreable to his friends as my brother (William). 
His parts and knowledge make him an excellent 



226 A LADY OF THE LAST CENTURY. 

companion ; and his apparent benevolence, integrity, 
and virtues endear his talents. ... I agree entirely 
with the Primate that your rev. consort would 
grace a Stall ; but he is of so unambitious a spirit, I 
believe he will not take any pains to get into one. 
Dean of Canterbury would suit him very well. A 
dean is not obliged to fast or pray, nor has the 
troublesome care of any soul but his own. 

. . . "We are now very busy with the arvest. 
We had a great deal of hay, and, fortunately, very 
little of it was spoiled. We have a prodigious crop 
of Wheat this year, and I dare say our neighbours 
have the same ; and yet old wheat sold at ys. 6d. a 
bushel last week ; and some new wheat for 8s. I 
hope, though I am a farmer, that the prices will 
soon fall, for the poor labourers cannot earn a sub- 
sistence for their families when bread bears such a 
price. I have about forty reapers at work, at pre- 
sent, to take advantage of the fine weather. I 
brewed seven hogsheads of small beer for them, 
and fear it will not last till the end of harvest. The 
poor reapers and haymakers bring nothing but 
water into the field, which, with bad cheese and fine 
bread, is their general fare. I think our northern 



A LADY OF THE LAST CENTUBY. 227 

people are much more notable. Their meals are 
more plentiful and less delicate. They eat coarse 
bread, and drink a great deal of milk, and have 
often salt beef. 

..." I must not congratulate you on the taking 
of Ticonderoga, as I imagine all the prophecies 
in your House foretold it would not be taken.; and 
I observe, in general, if people have predicted a 
misfortune, they had rather it should happen than 
have their prediction fall into discredit." 

London life began to try her strength. In a 
note to Garrick, at the close of the year : " I'm hur- 
ried to death with assemblies," is the form of her 
excuse for not calling on Mrs. Garrick ; " and 
I am forced to manage mon souffle de vie." She 
hardly dares hope to secure Lord Lyttelton's com- 
pany to meet Garrick, unless on a Saturday or 
Sunday; "for the peers are as inactive as Jews on 
Saturday, and as jolly as the idlest Christians on 
Sunday." 

The shadow of the loved brother Morris falls 
on the following letter : — 

""Jany. 8th, 1778. . . . My spirits felt a great 
damp at first returning to London, where I used 

a 2 



228 A LADT OF THE LAST CENTURY. 

to enjoy the friendly converse of my poor de- 
parted brother. Death, disasters, and incidents 
have reduced a large fireside to a small circle. A 
few years, indeed, shows me that the flattering hopes 
one entertained in the nursery, of living in social 
gaiety and freedom with those nearly allied in 
blood, were mere pleasing delusions. If other 
things do not sever these natural connections, the 
fatal scissors cuts their thread. 

" Tho' my poor brother never had opportunity 
of amassing great wealth, I was in hopes he would 
have left some thousands more behind him; but 
the easiness and flexibility of his temper, and a 
certain placid indolence, made him give into more 
expense than was prudent. The world lays the 
whole blame on him, and is loud in compassionate 
lamentations for his widow. Indeed, her present con^ 
dition is very lamentable, and I pity her extremely; 
but certainly she loved expense better than he did, 
I imagine, poor man, he thought her fine dress and 
appearance raised her in the eyes of the world. 
There is no end of the bad consequences of an 
improper marriage. When men and women make 
an indiscreet match, they say it is no concern of 



A LADY OF THE LAST CENTUBY. 229 

any one ; but when any distress is the consequence, 
the friends who were thought impertinent if they 
troubled themselves about the match, are thought 
cruel if they take no part of the evil. 

..." M. de Jarnac, who married an Irish beauty, 
in the mistaken opinion that she was also a fortune, 
has been stock-jobbing here prodigiously; but if we 
should really have a French war, he will be bit. 

" A very superb theatre is going to be built in the 
Haymarket. It is to be in prices the same as the 
opera ; no places taken, and the play to begin at 
eight o'clock, which certainly suits better the pre- 
sent hour of dining. Once a week, each of the 
other theatres, on certain conditions, are to lend 
their actors ; so they will each save the expence 
of a sixth part at least of their theatrical shows. 
The other five nights their houses will be the fuller. 
If ye London apprentices of these days are half as 
bold as he who kill'd the lion, I think they will 
assault our new theatre. Neither its price, hours, 
nor situation will suit them. The town has been 
very sickly. Lady George Germaine has been dan- 
gerously ill of the measles, but is better. 

. . . "Montagu" (her nephew and heir) " is in fine 



230 A LADY OF THE LAST CENTURY. 

health ; and as to spirits, he never wants them. He 
rides in the manege from eleven till twelve, and 
then his tutor sets him on Pegasus. The day 
before yesterday was the first time he had attain'd 
the honour of riding between the pillars, and he 
was as proud of it as Alexander when he had tamed 
Bucephalus. He dances, under the care of the 
celebrated M. Valonys, early every morning. These 
exercises make a boy more healthy as well as more 
graceful. On Tuesday he returns to Harrow, where 
his master tells me he does very well. I carried 
him to-day to see Mr. Lever's museum. The col- 
lection of birds, both as to their variety and pre- 
servation, exceed that in the King of France's 
collection of natural curiosities ; but, not being 
shown me by M. de Buffons and Monsr. D'Auben- 
ton, I did not see them with so much pleasure. 
The finest as well as rarest bird being a wise and 
learned man. Mr. Lever is gone into the country, 
and I was disappointed at not seeing a man who 
would sell in exchange an acre of good land for 
an extraordinary fungus." 

Hill Street. Feb. 21, 1778. . . . "The town is 
now full of company ; full of bustle. Real busi- 



A LADY OF THE LAST CENTURY. 231 

ness and serious occupation have their hours of 
retreat and rest, but the pursuits of pleasure have 
no intermissions. The change of objects is the 
delassement in that case. As to me, I am, like 
other light and insignificant matters, whisked about 
in the whirlwind. 

"I approve my dear neice's ambition to excel 
in dancing a minouet ; not that dancing a minouet 
is a matter of great importance ; but a desire to 
do' everything well will carry her on to perfections 
of a higher kind. ... A little ball, a frolick now and 
then, is very good for young persons, but I think 
you and my brother judged very well in not carry- 
ing my neice to assemblies. In our silly, dissipated 
town, girls never are produced into assemblies till 
after seventeen, and, indeed, they would never have 
anything but absurdity and affectation, if they were 
introduced into the world in their infancy. 

..." I am glad my father has agreed to allow 
Mrs. (Morris) Robinson an hundred pounds a year, 
to which I have added fifty. She now knows that 
she will have a subsistence, and must accommodate 
herself to it. So far it is comfortable to her, and 
I am sure it is happy for the family that the world 



232 A LADY OF TEE LAST CENTUBY. 

should not have a reason to be talking about it. 
Mr. Danne, Mr. Wilmot, and several persons of 
credit in the law and in other professions, came 
to me with strong remonstrances at the cruelty 
of letting Mr. Morris Robinson's widow be des- 
titute. So that, for the honour of the family, I 
would have given her what she now has, if my 
father had refused it. I have had only a thousand 
pounds out of my family, and for Mrs. (Morris) 
Robinson I have no partiality ; but in Italy you 
have heard the most powerful of all arguments 
to do right, it is the address of beggars, their ' Fate 
ben per voi !' To be justifying bad things by 
others' faults is never graceful ; but in family con- 
nections there is great folly in it, and it is only 
giving people occasion to throw disgrace when 
it comes too near one. 

" It has been a great mortification that Mrs. 
(Morris) Robinson's name has been often men- 
tioned at this end of the town lately. I was always 
desirous that it might remain on the other side 
Temple Bar ; but my brother was so generally 
beloved, that, out of respect to him, his widow was 
an object of compassion." 



A LADY OF THE LAST CENTURY. 233 

The subject is pursued in the next letter to Mrs. 
William Robinson. 

"Feb. 28th, 1778. ... I am sure you who have 
a feeling and a generous heart will.be pleased with 
Mr. Thomas Harris and Mrs. Harris's behaviour 
to Mrs. M. Robinson. Besides paying her all 
kinds of civilities, Mr. Harris desired that when 
she went to a new habitation, he might present 
her with a hundred pounds towards furnishing it. 
Bad as the world is, and tho' selfishness makes 
so great a part of the human composition, yet a 
social, kind character like my poor brother's makes 
its impression on tempers of the like kind, and, 
indeed, one has a comfort in seeing his memory so 
much beloved and respected. Mrs. M. Robinson 
has continually some marks of attention paid to 
her. As hard hearts love to insult adversity, tender 
ones endeavour to console it. The civilities the 
poor woman receives are paid, not to her merits, 
but to her distress or my brother's memory. In 
either case, they do honour to human nature." 

An incident that might have cost Mrs. Scott 
her life, from her cap having caught fire, is cheer- 
fully noticed in a letter, dated Saturday, March/ 1, 



234 A LADY OF THE LAST CENTURY. 

1778, from Mrs. Scott to Mrs. Robinson: "I am 

burned pretty deep in the back of my neck From 

thence to my face, I have reason to hope, will be 
more speedy of cure, and the little damage my 
face received is well already, except an abridgment 
of eyebrow and eyelash, which, perhaps, may never 
come again, and I am perfectly indifferent whether 
they do or no ; for at fifty-five (at least), half an 
eyebrow is just as good as a whole one. I have 
reason to think myself most happy in having come 
off so well as I did, considering all the very horrid 
circumstances of the affair." . . . 

Of one of her nephews, she significantly adds : — 
" I think how much better a good dull man is than 
a Charles Fox and many others, whose talents and 
vices have grown together in a superlative degree." 
And in a subsequent letter she treats of her young 
niece and what young nieces love : — 

May 7, 1778. Mrs. Scott to Mrs. Robinson.— 
" I had the pleasure of seeing your daughter on 
Monday look very well and dance a good minuet. 
. . . Her mantua-maker is certainly the most insa- 
tiable of that insatiable tribe. She requires two 
yards more of lutestring, tho' she has already had 



A LADY OF THE LAST CENTLBY. 235 

twenty-three, which is most shameful ; and her art 
gives her no right to be so, for it is not well made ; 
at least, the sleeves set abominably. . . The ball 
was resplendent — was full, and the children's dresses 
extremely expensive, and very pretty and whimsical ; 
but I could not forbear being sorry to see so much 
extravagance used, to breed girls as early as possible 
to the love of it, as if it would not come quite soon 
enough ; though my niece's dress was not charge- 
able with that fault : being white, it looked very 
nice and genteel, and became her. . . . 

" It is reported that Lord Percy's haste for a divorce 
is increased by his having fallen violently in love 
with Miss Burrell. It is so like a story to be made 
that the truth appears to me doubtful." . . . 

The same writer subsequently touches on a variety 
of subjects : " Mrs. (Morris) Robinson tells me 
she finds a good dinner more necessary than ever ; . . . 
and as she is determined to live in London, tho' 
she should be able to afford but one room, yet she 
has friends who will often invite her to a good 
house and a good dinner. 

..." Her resentment appears to me very un- 
reasonable, but her anger was always more ready 



236 A LADY OF THE LAST CENTURY. 

at call than her reason, and, by her present distresses, 
seems to have gained superior strength. Had the 
late misfortunes softened her temper into mildness, 
she might justly have said, It is good for me that 
I have been afflicted !" 

In speaking of a tutor recommended for young 
Morris Robinson, Mrs. Scott writes : "At Mrs. 
Cockerell's he taught the young ladies to read, had 
a few pupils of his own, and read and preached well 
as curate in Chelsea Church. . . . The only blot 
in Mr. Sympson's character is that he was, I pre- 
sume, two or three years married before he acknow- 
ledged it, in order to keep his fellowship ; for when 
he brought his wife to Chelsea, she had a child or 
two. Though necessity ought not to be without 
law (we are told it is so), it may justly be pleaded 
as some alleviation of the breach of law. As his 
wife, on this account, came among us under a little 
cloud, the quality of Chelsea did not visit her, except 
Mrs. Freind and one or two more who spoke well 
of her. . . . The other Miss Burrell (one, you know, 
married Lord Algernon Percy) is going to be mar- 
ried to Duke Hamilton, and they are v going to 
consummate their unfinished loves on ship-board ; 



A LADY OF THE LAST CENTUB7. 237 

for she is to accompany him to America, where 
it is very proper he should go, as the amplest field 
for him to indulge his passion for shooting. He 
has exercised himself with shooting across Hanover 
Square out of a wind-gun, to the utter dismay of 
old Lady Westmoreland and Sir Thomas Fredericks. 
A bullet whistled by the ear of the latter, as he sat 
in his dining-room, and lodged in the wainscot ; two 
more penetrated into other parts. Surprized at so 
dangerous an incident, he ran to the window, and 
there saw the duke, his vis a. vis, at his window, 
with a gun in his hand. He immediately sallied 
forth to give his grace a deserved chiding, but 
during the time, the duke, having had leisure to 
charge again, he shot dead a favorite dog which 
bore Sir Thomas company." 

In a later letter, Mrs. Montagu, referring to the 
above marriage, says : " Miss Burrell has no reason 
to be afraid of Duke Hamilton. He might boyishly 
fire off a gun, but he has the character of a very 
good-humoured young man. He has no vic£s, 
is handsome, and is, in all respects, like other 
people. He does not make any great eclat ; but the 
next best thing to great and good reputation is, to 



238 A LADY OF TEE LAST CENTURY. 

be little spoken of. When there are not talents for 
the first, there is prudence in the latter. 

. . . " I suppose you know there was a report of 
my father's death. My porter had a very fatiguing 
morning with messages. I had promised to intro- 
duce the Dowager Duchess of Beaufort to the 
French ambassadress on Wednesday night. So, 
tho' the weather was terrible, I went out, and 
such was the report of poor papa, that I was stared 
at as a ghost as I enter'd the room, and the ser- 
vants below were very busy questioning my foot- 
men. To-day I had a message from Lady Anne 
and Lady Betty Finch, with an apology, that not 
having heard of that melancholy event till to-day, 
they had not sent their enquiries. All this while 
the old gentleman is in as good health as he has 
been this twelvemonth." 

This purely private subject is followed, in a letter 
of April ioth, 1778, by one of public importance. 

..." I am sure you will be desirous to hear a 
true account of Lord Chatham's accident in ye 
House, and of his present condition of health. The 
newspapers are in but little credit in general, but their 
account of that affair has been very exact. His 



A LADT OF THE LAST CENTURY. 239 

lordship had been long confined by a fit of the gout, 
so was debilitated by illness and want of exercise. 
The House was invaded by numbers who went to 
hear him on so critical a state of affairs. The 
thunder of his eloquence was abated, and the light- 
ning of his eyes was dimmed in a certain degree, 
when he rose to speak ; but the glory of his former 
administration threw a mellow lustre around him, 
and his experience of publick affairs gave the force 
of an oracle to what he said, and a reverential silence 
reigned through the senate. He spoke in answer 
to the Duke of Richmond. The Duke of Rich- 
mond replied. Then his lordship rose up to speak 
again. The genius and spirit of Britain seemed 
to heave in his bosom, and he sank down speech- 
less. He continued half an hour in a fit. His 
eldest and second sons and Lord Mahon were in 
great agony, waiting the doubtful event. At last, 
he happily recovered ; and though he is very weak 
still, I am assured by his family, that he looks better 
than he did before this accident. The next day, 
Lord Shelburne and the Duke of Richmond carried 
on the same debate, and Lord Shelburne's speech 
was much admired. 



240 A LADY OF THE LAST CENTURY. 



..." It is said my friend, Mr. Pulteney, has been 
twice at Paris, negotiating with Dr. Franklin ; but 
the result is not known. Mrs. Pulteney was here 
last night, but I was too discreet even to mention 
the affair. 

..." Montagu came home to-day. The school 
in a manner broke up yesterday, but as the wea- 
ther is hot, the town sickly, and I was to have an 
assembly, I would not.ibring him home. He goes 
to bandleford on Tuesdiay, and I am to follow him 
on Wednesday. The weather is inviting, and I hate 
this season of the year in London. If T am here, 
1 am obliged often to h/wit^''^}'"' )and my eating- 
room is not large enough nor high enough for large 

dinners and numerous guests. 

..." Dr. Robinson, who call'd on me this 

morning, told me, a gentleman he met in Berkely 

Square just before, assured him the French had 

taken two of our armed ships. The doctor is an 

historian of great veracity, but in an affair of this 

kind, he could not examine the evidence. 

..." Lord Kerry's fine furniture sold very dear 

these bad times. I bought a large glass at the 

French ambassador's sale, and some other things 



A LADY OF TEE LAST CENTUBY. 241 

for my new house, pretty cheap. I suppose so 
great a sale just before made the second sale more 
reasonable. 

Oct. 10, 1778. Mrs. Scott to Mrs. W. Robinson. 
..." He" (Rev. Wm. Robinson, who had published 
a political pamphlet,) " has won the heart of the wax- 
worker, Mrs. Wright. Mr. Roweller went to see her 
performances, and, in conversation, asked her if she 
had seen the pamphlet. She told him she ' was 
charmed with it, had sent over a great number into 
her country, and assured him the author would be 
adored there ; and desired, if he knew him, that he 
would tell him, that if he liked her or either of her 
daughters, they were entirely at his service. One of 
the girls cried out, ' Lord, mamma, we never saw 
the gentleman. We may not like him !' ' I don't 
care a farthing for that,' replied Mrs. Wright ; ' if 
he likes you, you shall marry him !' " 

Ladies of another quality come upon the stage 
in the following chapter. 



( 242 ) 



CHAPTER X. 

Dec. 20, 1778. Mrs. Scott to Mrs. Robinson, 
Denton. ..." Miss Coke is a most extraordinary 
character, and, in my opinion, a most contemptible 
one, though I suppose she thinks herself a heroine. 
I have great compassion on one who blushes at her 
frailties, or rather her vices, for I hate those mincing 
names, designed only to palliate wrong actions ; but 
I detest a woman who glories in her shame, and sets 
the world at defiance. Such desperate spirits should 
not be clad in feminine bodies. They are fit only 
for Sixteen-string Jack and his brother ruffians. 
Your daughter may in due time fall in love ; nay, 
tho' not very probable, she may even fall, in a stronger 
sense of the word ; . . . but I will venture to answer for 
her never being one of those intrepid damsels who 
brazen out their vices, and, without any change of 
countenance, raise blushes on the cheeks of all their 



A LADY OF THE LAST GENTUBT. 243 



sex. If she ever does ill, she will do it sneakingly ; 
will feel the censure of others, and, suffering for her 
own, will rectify her errors. However, I am apt to 
believe she will escape clear of any of this nature." 

..." The new singer at the Pantheon is said to 
be the most extraordinary that ever was heard; 
unlike every one that ever sang before ; very much 
like a bird, and the compass of her voice far above 
whatever was known. She has one hundred 
guineas a night. When, in infancy, she was 
taken out of a ditch, after a boar or a hog had 
devoured one fesse, — car elle est aussi mal partagee 
que la suivante de la Princesse Cunegonda, — who 
would have imagined she could ever be so great a 
lady ? All her charms are centered in her voice ; 
for she is exceedingly ugly." 

Dec. 31, 1778. Mrs. S. to Mrs. R. — "On my 
brother (William) Robinson's return from Burfield, 
he will be in better spirits, as a light heart and a 
thin pair of breeches is a conjunction he has little 
notion of. I fancy when he feels the gain of godli- 
ness in his pocket, he will be mighty alert and 
joyous, and have a better idea of a merry Christmas 
than he has ever yet formed." 

r 2, 



244: A LADY OF TEE LAST CENTUBT. 



Mrs. Montagu's letters now succeed. . 

To Mrs. Robinson.— " Tunbridge Wells. 1778 
.... I love London extremely, where one has 
the choice of society, but I hate ye higgledy- 
piggledy of the watering places. One never sees an 
owl in a flock of wild geese, nor a pigeon in the 
same company as hawks and kites. I leave it to 
the naturalists to determine on ye merit of each 
species of fowl. All I assert is, that nature has 
designed birds of a feather should flock together. 
On the menagerie of the Pantiles there is not so 
just an assortment. However, I have been fortunate 
now in finding Lady Spencer, Lady Clermont, Mrs. 
Boughton, Mr. and Mrs. Wedderburne, and many 
of my voluntary London society here. There was 
a pretty good ball last Tuesday ; and Lady Spencer 
and the Duchess of Devonshire were so good as to 
chaperone Miss Gregory; so I did not think it 
necessary for me to sit and see the graces of Messrs. 
L'Epy Valhouys and Mile. Heinel exhibited by 
the misses. I understand there are not above three 
dancing men, and the master of the ceremonies 
makes one of this number. 

" Minouet dancing is just now out of fashion ; and, 



A LADY OF THE LAST GENTUBY. 245 



by the military air and dress of many of the ladies, 
I should not be surprised if backsword and cudgell 
playing should take place of it. I think our en- 
campment excellent for making men less effeminate ; 
but if they make our women more masculine, 
the male and female character, which should ever 
be kept distinct, will now be more so than they 
have been. 

..." We still have fine weather here, and I agree 
with you, that the dust and other little incon- 
veniences that attend a dry season are not to be put 
in any account. I would have months of dust for 
one fine day. 

..." I have not said anything yet to you of my 
poor father. The subject is a very melancholy one. 
At present, all one can hope for him is an easy exit. 
The great decay of his mental powers has for some 
time rendered him an object of great pity ; yet, to 
my unspeakable indignation, I was told by a gentle- 
man here, that one of ye whist-party at the coffee- 
house some months ago, had not only refus'd to 
pay a debt of eighteen guineas, which he owed my 
father, but had triumphed over him in a shocking 
manner, asserting his loss of memory and imbecillity. 



246 A LADY OF THE LAST CENTUBY. 



What a wretch must it be that would insult an old 
man. Extream old age is little to be coveted. In 
a long life one must outlive one's friends, and, 
perhaps, oneself. I imagine by the accounts of to- 
day, that the great deliverer from human woes has 
before this time given him his release. My porter 
calls every night, just before the last letter bell, to 
let me know how he does. . . . 

" It is much the fashion here to go and see the 
camp at Coxheath. . . . My father's illness would 
make it impossible for me to go ; and I had much 
rather have the honour of seeing their majesties at 
St. James's. Of all fields, the field of Mars is that 
I like least. The fields which sustain manhood are 
pleasant objects ; those in which they are destroyed, 
suggest melancholly ideas. 

"The fine condition in which I found my estates in 
Northumberland and in Yorkshire, and the universal 
prosperity there, made me wish we might enjoy our 
plenty in peace, run no new hazards, and incur no 
new taxes. The labouring people in the north do 
not suffer the poverty we see in the same rank in 
the south, and our parish rates are very low. 

..." Lord Karnes and Mrs. Drummond, his 



A LADY OF TEE LAST OENTUBY. 247 

wife, came from Edinburgh, which is an hundred 
miles from Denton, on purpose to spend a few days 
with me. His lordship is a prodigy. At eighty-three 
he is as gay and as nimble as he was at twenty-five. 
His sight, hearing, and memory perfect. He has a 
great deal of knowledge and a lively imagination, 
and is a most entertaining companion. I have 
promised to return his visit two years hence. I 
think as he has not grown old in the space of eighty- 
three years, two years more cannot have much effect. 
If it should abate a little of his vivacity, he would 
still have enough left." 

"Sandleford. Feb. ioth, 1779. ... I am in- 
form'd that our minister at Lisbon sends an account 
that Admiral Rodney fell in with the Spanish fleet 
in the Gulf of Gibraltar, has blown up the admiral's 
ship of ninety guns, taken four or five ships, and 
only one has got into Cadiz. This news is but 
just arrived. Rule, Brittannia, rule the waves. 
There is an admirable work of Mr. Anstey's just 
published called ' Speculation ; or, a Defence of 
Manhood,' a poem. 

..." Montagu is still at Harrow. . . . His master 
says more of him than it becomes me to repeat ; so 



248 A LADY OF TEE LAST CENTUBY. 

I will, for once in my life, show more discretion 
than vanity." 

To Mrs. Robinson. — " Sandleford. June ye 13th, 
1779. ■ • • As I had not been to Bath since the 
Circus was finished and the' Crescent began, I was 
much struck with the beauty of the town. In 
point of society and amusement, it comes next (but 
after a long interval) to London. There are many 
people established at Bath who were once of the 
polite and busy world, so they retain a certain 
politeness of manner and vivacity of mind which 
one cannot find in many country towns. All con- 
tracted societies, where there are no great objects of 
pursuit, must in time grow a little narrow and un 
peu fade ; but then there is an addition of com- 
pany by people who come to the waters, from all 
the active parts of life, and they throw a vivacity 
into conversation which we must not expect from 
persons whose chief object was the odd trick or a 
sans prendre. Cards is the great business of the 
inhabitants of Bath. The ladies, as is usual in little 
societies, are some of them a little gossiping and apt 
to find fault with the cap, the gown, the manner, or 
the understandings of their neighbours. But that 



A LADY OF THE LAST CENTUBY. 249 

does not much concern the water-drinkers, who not 
being resident, are not the objects of their envy ; 
and, I must say, they are all very obliging to 
strangers. As the primate of Ireland was at Bath 
almost all the time, I was there, I had the daily 
pleasure of passing my time in the most agreable 
society ; for such is that of a person of his noble 
mind, endeared still more by his friendship to our 
family. 

" I did not go at all to the publick rooms, 
which are hot and noisy. As much as I could, I 
excused myself from private assemblies. So, when 
the primate, Lord Stormont, and some others of 
my acquaintance who happened to be at Bath, 
had an idle hour, they bestowed it on me. The 
Bishop of Peterborough, very unluckily for me, 
went away the day I came to Bath. We just met 
at Marlbro'. Another agreable acquaintance of 
mine, the Provost of Eton, arrived only just before 
I came away. Mr. Anstey was often with me, and 
you will believe he is very droll and entertaining ; 
but what recommends him more, is his great atten- 
tion to his family. He has eight children. He in- 
structs his boys in the Greek and Latin, so that 



250 A LADY OF TEE LAST CENTUBY. 

they are fitted for the upper forms of Eton School, 
where their education is finished. He has a house 
in the Crescent, at which he resides the greatest part 
of the year. Mrs. Anstey is a very sensible, amiable 
woman, and does not deal in the gossip of the place. 
There is also Mr. Hamilton in the Crescent. He 
is very polite, agreable, and has been much abroad 
and lived much in the great world. 

" I should dislike the Bath much less, if the houses 
were larger. I always take the largest that can be 
got in the Circus or Crescent. On the outside it 
appears a good stone edifice ; in the inside, it is a 
nest of boxes, in which I should be stifled, if the 
masonry were not so bad as to admit winds at many 
places. The society and mode of life are infinitely 
preferable to what one can find in any other country 
town, but much less agreable than London. I 
believe if I was to act the part of Minos in this 
World, I should use it as a kind of purgatory, to 
which I should send those who had not the taste or 
qualifications which deserved to be put into the 
capital city, nor were yet so disagreably unsoci- 
able as to merit suffering the terrors and horrors of 
a long winter in the country." 



A LADY OF TEE LAST CENTUBY. 251 



The devotion of Bath visitors to cards has been 
satirized in many an epigram, more or less pointed. 
There were certain individuals among them who 
were not likely to come under the eye of Mrs. 
Montagu but who did not escape the notice of 
Fielding. "I have known a stranger at Bath," he 
says, in the first volume of " Amelia," " who has 
happened fortunately (I might almost say un- 
fortunately) to have four by honours in his hand 
almost every time he dealt for a whole evening, 
shunned universally by the whole company the next 
day !" 

" Mr. Anstey, in a little excursion from home, 
called here on his way to London, where he arrived 
just to behold the horrors of the conflagration. On 
his return back, he made me another visit, and his 
countenance bore the impression of horror, from 
the dreadful things he had beheld. He got back 
to Bath just in time to be present at ye riots 
there. 

"Tho' I am not personally acquainted with 
the family of Sir E. Knatchbull, I cannot help 
being glad the heir of it has made so proper a 
match. I have heard a good character of the young 



252 A LADY OF THE LAST GENTUBY. 

lady. She has a noble fortune, and, by her mother, 
must be allied to the best families in Kent. Com- 
merce has so enriched this kingdom, that in every 
county there are some new gentry who eclypse those 
ancient families which once had the superiority, and 
I must own I love to see it return to them. The 
mellow dignity of a gentleman is infinitely pre- 
ferable to the crude pride of a nabob. I believe 
you are acquainted with Sir Archer and Lady Croft. 
They are now come to live in their house in this 
neighbourhood. It had been lett to a mad West 
Indian, who ruined his fortune and then shot him- 
self; after that, to a nabob. I never visit the West 
Indians in my neighbourhood, because they would 
teach my servants to drink rum ; nor the nabobs, 
lest they should teach them to want to eat turtle 
and rich dainties. So I had not been at Dun- 
stan till the other day since the old proprietor 
left it. 

" I find the lower kind of neighbours are not 
pleased with Sir A. and Lady Croft, because they 
are not so profuse as the West, nor magnificient as 
the East, Indian ; but they seem to me very well bred 
people. 



A LADY OF THE LAST CENTUBY. 253 



"My nephew Robinson, according to the pri- 
mate's advice, is studying hard at Cambridge this 
vacation. He has very good sense and an uncom- 
mon memory, so he will reap great advantage from 
application to study. The generality of young 
people in these days spend all their time in travelling 
from place to place. Such a life may fit them to 
be surveyors of high roads, or, if very ingenious, to 
make maps of England, but for nothing better. 
An uniformity of life goes far in forming a con- 
sistency of character. 

" It would have done no harm to Montagu to have 
practised lessons of idleness rather than study ; 
from the last, there is not anything to divert him 
here. 

" I am very sorry I have not a frank in Denton. 
However, that my double letter may not put your 
pocket, as well as patience, to double expence, I 
convey it to London in a frank, to save half the 
charges." 

To Mrs. Robinson. — " Sandleford. Aug. 18, 1779. 
Montagu's master wrote me a letter on my ne- 
phew's leaving Harrow, giving him every praise I 
could have wish'd, and desiring me to give him 



254 A LADY OF THE LAST CENTURY. 



his portrait to hang up with those of four of his 
distinguish'd scholars who had left his school there. 
Those young men have since had a considerable 
reputation at the university, and I hope my young 
friend will have the same. But one fears for youth 
in every new stage it is to pass through. He was this 
summer admitted of Trinity College. I should 
have preferr'd St. John's, as the discipline there is 
stricter ; but his tutor, Mr. Gilbank, being of Trinity, 
I could not continue my nephew under his daily 
inspection if he was not at the same college ; and 
tho' the salary I give the tutor makes a consider- 
able difference in the expence, yet if parents are to 
be pardon'd who spoil the child by sparing the rod, 
they are not so who spoil the child to spare the 
guinea." 

Referring to the marriage of the daughter of her 
brother Charles, she says . ..." I imagine this week 
my neice at Canterbury is made a happy bride, and 
what is better, in the probability of being a happy 
wife. Mr. Hougham has a very good character, 
and I believe my neice is very amiable. Discretion 
and good-humour are the great sources of domestick 
happiness. ..." I dare say my dear neice (Mary) 



A LADY OF TEE, LAST CENTURY. 255 

adorned the ball at Canterbury with a charming 
minouet. I believe the present Miss Robinsons ex- 
cell by far in that respect the former Miss Robinsons. 
And I heartily wish all the steps they take in life 
may be with more smoothness and more graces. 

" I am impatient to have my new house fit for 
habitation, as I think the large and high rooms and 
its airy situation will be of great service to my 
health ; and I am sure such noble apartments will 
be a great addition to my pleasures. In the winter 
of the year and the winter of our life, our principal 
enjoyments must be in our own house. ... I sup- 
pose I shall be advised to take some Bath waters 
before the winter sets in. ... I will get the better 
of my passion for my new house, which is almost 
equal to that of a lover to a mistress whom he 
thinks very handsome and very good, and such as 
will make him enjoy the dignity of life with ease, 
yet I will give as much of the autumn as I shall 
be advis'd to the Bathwaters. ... I have found 
much more benefit from Bath waters than I have 
from Tunbridge for some years past; and the 
accommodations at Bath are infinitely preferable. 
There are not above two houses on Mount 



256 A LADY OF THE LAST CENTURY. 



Ephraim and Mount Pleasant that are not mere 
hovels ; the bed-chambers so low and small that one 
is stifled ; and, if the weather is bad, one is confin'd 
all day in a little parlour not much larger than a 
bird-cage ; so that unless one goes to Tunbridge 
at the beginning of the season, one is miserably 
accommodated. 

" The airings round Bath are delightful. From 
every window of my house in the Crescent I had the 
most beautiful prospects imaginable ; so that I en- 
joyed the sweet face of the fair month of May in 
all her blooming charms. 

... "I am very far from laughing at you, as 
you suppose, for indulging reveries about your sons 
marrying. I often allow my fancy to dance at 
Montagu's wedding ; and the times are such I can 
hardly restrain it from attending his divorce bill 
through the Houses of Lords and Commons. 
However, it is better to suppose the times will 
mend. We do more wisely, when we sweeten pre- 
sent cares with the prospect of future pleasures, 
than when we embitter present pleasures with future 
apprehensions." 

When Mrs. Montagu made the last reflection, 



A LADY OF THE LAST CENTURY. 257 

she probably had in her mind the lines in her 
favourite " Comus :" — 

" Be not over exquisite 



To cast the fashion of uncertain evils ; 
For grant they be so, while they rest unknown, 
Why need a man forestall his date of grief, 
And run to meet what he would most avoid ?" 

..." I have two objects in a daily state of im- 
provement — my nephew Montagu and my new 
house. Many people would say my pleasure in 
both will be less when they are arriv'd at their state 
of perfection, but I am not of that opinion. The 
pleasures of expectation and of possession are dif- 
ferent, but the quiet serenity of the latter is, me- 
thinks, the best. 

To Mrs. Robinson. "Dec. ye 29th, 1779. . . . 
O.ur town amours present us with every thing that 
is horrible. Women without religion or virtuej 
and men, void even of a sense of honour. Never 
till now did one hear of three divorces going 
forward in one session, in which the ladies of the 
most illustrious rank and families in Great Britian 
were concern'd. Lady Percy was the wife of a 
nobleman of a most distinguished merit, who had a 

s 



258 A LADY OF TEE LAST CENTUBY. 

mind too noble to be satisfied with the greatest 
hereditary wealth and honours, has, merely to serve 
his king and country, exposed himself to all the 
difficulties and dangers of military service. Lord 
Carmarthen is the prettiest man in his person ; 
the most polite and pleasing in his manners, with 
a sweet temper and an excellent Understanding, 
happily cultivated. As to Lord Derby, to be 
sure, he has nothing on his side but the seventh 
commandment ; but that should be sufficient, and 
was sufficient, in former times. Her family, it is 
said, triumph that this divorce is only an ugly step 
to an elevation of title. However, the name of an 
adulteress will surely blot whatever shall be written 
over it, even were it an imperial title. It is said, 
however, that Lord D. will be only divorced in the 
Spiritual Court ; and, in that case, he will have the 
vevenge of keeping her in her present awkward situa- 
tion ; but while he is punishing the faithless Wife, 
he is doing the greatest service to her gallant (the 
Duke of Dorset), whom he prevents from incurring 
infamy and also getting a most extravagant wife. 

" I approve much of your getting a dance once 
a week for the young folks, and I am particularly 



A LADY OF THE LAST CENTUBY. 259 

glad my nephew is of the party. Grace of person 
is more important for a woman than a man ; but 
the capacity of dancing a minouet is more service- 
able to a young man, for, by so doing, he obliges 
many young ladies, while the minouet miss seldom 
pleases any girl but herself. Unless a girl is very 
beautiful, very well-shaped, and very genteel, she 
gives little pleasure to the spectators of her mi- 
nouet ; and, indeed, so unpolite are the setters-by in 
all assemblies, that they express a most ungrateful 
joy when the minouets are over. For my part, 
tho' I feel as great ennui as my neighbours on 
those occasions, I never allow myself to appear so ; 
for I look upon a minouet to be generally an act of 
filial piety, which gives real pleasure to fathers, 
mothers, and aunts. ... In France, good minouets 
are clapped ; but I believe no nation arrived at such 
a degree of civilization as to encore them. 

..." I do not know whether I am more stupid 
than other people, but I neither find any of the vexa- 
tion some find in building, nor the great amuse- 
ment others tell me they experience in it. Indeed, 
if it were not that a house must be building before it 
can be built, I should never have been a builder. . . . 

s a 



200 A LADY OF THE LAST CENTUBY. 

I have not had a quarter of an hour's pain or 
pleasure from the operation. I have not met with 
the least disappointment or mortification. It has 
gone on as fast and well as I expected, and, when 
it is habitable, I shall take great pleasure in it ; for 
it is an excellent house, finely situated, and just 
such as I have always wish'd, but never hoped, to 
have. 

..." I know that in some little alterations we 
made at Sandleford, the country workmen were 
so tedious, we were obliged to send for carpenters 
from London ; but here we have such plenty of 
Hands, that everything goes continually on. 

. . . ■' I was grieved to see Scott's Hall advertised 
to be sold. It is a pity such an ancient family 
should be rooted-up to plant some upstart nabob 
in its place. 

..." I suppose your consort was concerned at 
the indiscretion of his Pallas, Mrs. Macaulay. Had 
she married a great-great-grandson of one of the 
regicides, however youthful he had been, it might 
have been pardonable; but the second mate of a 
surgeon to an < Indian man-of-war, of twenty-two, 
seems no way accountable. If ye Minerva she 



A LADY OF THE LAST CENTURY, 261 

carried on the outside of her coach had been con- 
sulted, no doubt but the sage goddess, even in 
effigy, would have given signs of disapprobation. 
I have sent you some verses of Mr. Anstey's on 
the subject. The first copy he put into the urn, 
at Mrs. Millar's, at Batheaston ; and being desired, 
when he drew them, to read them a second time, 
instead of so doing, he read the other copy." 

"Bath. Nov. ye 21, 1780. ... It was time 
for Montagu to go to Cambridge, where I had 
rather he had lectures and took degrees under alma 
mater than under the goddess of folly and dissipa- 
tion here. In these water-drinking places, every one 
is more idle and more silly than at their respective 
homes, where all have some business, and many 
most important pursuits. I consider, really, life 
here as a mere dream. Some walk very gracefully, 
and talk very agreably in their sleep ; but a young 
man should not begin life by acting Le Sonam- 
bule. It is very well to do so between the acts 
of a busy drama, or, alas ! as a farce, when the 
chief catastrophe is over, and the curtain is dropped 
between the busy world and us. . . . The primate 
of Ireland is here. He very kindly sent to my 



•262 A LADY OF THE LAST CENTUBY, 

nephew Morris to come to him. Under such pro- 
tection, I think Bath as good a place as any he can 
be in. The advantage of domestick society with the 
primate is the greatest imaginable ; nor could any 
parent behave with more real kindness to the young 
man, whose gratitude and deference to his grace 
make .the best return that can be to such good- 
ness. . . . My Nephew very wisely and laudably 
pursued, with the greatest application, the course 
of classical studies the primate wish'd him to fall 
into ; and it is with great satisfaction I hear his 
grace speak of what he has done, with the highest 
approbation. 

..." My new house is almost ready. ... I 
propose to move all my furniture from Hill Street 
thithdr, and to let my house unfurnished till a 
good purchaser offers. Then, should I get a bad 
tenant, I can seize his goods for rent ; and such 
security becomes necessary in these extravagant 
times. 

..." Dr. Moisey being dead, I applied to Dr. 
de la Cour, your friend, when I had my cold, to 
know if I might drink the waters. The poor doctor 
is very sickly, and, perhaps, from that reason, he is 



A LADY OF THE LAST CENTUBY. 263 

the most inattentive physician I ever knew or 
heard of. He is very agreable in conversation, 
but does not remember for a whole day what 
he has ordered. He suits me very well at pre- 
sent; for I want no medical help, and I always 
love a lively companion. He took three guineas 
of me, for which I had some saline draughts and 
a long direction as to food, the quantity of water 
to be taken. . . . The saline draughts were very 
good and the food was very wholesome ; but as 
I knew before that those drafts were good for a 
cold, and mutton and chicken easy of digestion, 
I rather regret my three guineas. But this is 
between ourselves ; for I never say what may hurt 
a man in his profession ; so that, when others 
complain of a loss of memory and inattention, I am 
silent." 

The period has now arrived in which some notice 
is required of the Blue Stockings, of the date of 
whose origin Boswell has made an erroneous state- 
ment. 



( 264 ) 



CHAPTER XI. 

THE BLUE STOCKINGS. 

To Mrs. Montagu, Mrs. Vesey (a warm-hearted 
Irish lady), and Mrs. Ord (daughter of an eminent 
surgeon, named Dillingham, and subsequently a 
wealthy widow,) is generally ascribed the merit of 
having founded parties where conversation should 
form the chief, if not only, occupation. But there 
was a lady much connected with the above, and, 
indeed, with all the Blues, to whom may be assigned 
the honour of first attacking what it was the object 
of the Blue Stockings to overthrow, namely, Miss 
Mulso, better known to us as Mrs. Chapone, — a 
name which she acquired by marriage in 1760. 
When this lady was about twenty-three (1750), 
she, in concert with Johnson, wrote the tenth 
number of the "Rambler." Under the character 
of Lady Racket, she sent compliments to that 



A LADY OF THE LAST CENTUBT. 265 

censor of manners, and " lets him know she will 
have cards at her house every Sunday, . . . where 
he will be sure of meeting all the good com- 
pany in town. . . . She longs to see the torch of 
truth produced at an assembly, and to admire the 
charming lustre it will throw on the jewels, com- 
plexions, and behaviour of every dear creature 
there." 

Of course, this note was written as a text to which 
Johnson might append a comment that should 
sharply censure that card-playing against which 
intellectual ladies were beginning to set their faces 
and close their doors. Accordingly, the " Rambler " 
remarks: "At card-tables, however brilliant, I have 
always thought my visit lost; for. I could know 
nothing of the company but their clothes and their 
faces. I saw their looks clouded at the beginning 
of every game, with a uniform solicitude now and 
then in its progress, varied with a short triumph ; 
at one time wrinkled with cunning; at another, 
deadened with despondency, or, by accident, flushed 
with rage at the unskilful, or unlucky play of a 
partner. From such assemblies ... I was quickly 
forced to retire ; they were too trifling for me when 



266 A LADY OF THE LAST CENTUBT. 



I was grave, and too dull when I was cheerful." 
When Johnson suggests to Lady Racket to " light 
up her apartments with myrtle" he seems to have 
made the suggestion which ladies of sense and 
means adopted, and for which, they were ridiculed 
and nick-named by persons as brainless as any of 
the figures staring stupidly at nothing on the court 
cards. 

There already existed, however, conversation par- 
ties that were as little attractive to persons of 
good taste, as the ruinous card-tables were to 
persons of prudence. ... In one of the few 
letters of Mrs. Scott which survived her unfor- 
tunate request that all should be destroyed, she 
thus wrote of card-parties and " conversations," in 
the very year, 1750, that Johnson and Miss Mulso 
combined in the "Rambler," to reform both : — 

" I find no objection to large companies, except 
the want of society in them. ... I have not the 
natural requisite for society — the love of cards. . . . 
I excuse myself from card-parties by saying I have 
a great dislike to sitting by a card-table, which no 
one can .pretend is unreasonable ; and I find nothing 
is so useful as asserting one's liberty in these cere- 



A LADY OF THE LAST CENTURY. 267 

monious points : it gives little offence, and without 
it, one may remain all one's life the suffering slave of 
a painful civility. ... I am glad, by-the-bye, there 
are such things as cards in the world ; for otherwise 
one would be teazed by eternal conversation parties, 
which are terrible things. I seldom venture into a 
Sunday-night circle, and I quite disclaimed them a 
year before I left London. The principal speakers are 
always those to whom one is the least inclined to 
attend. Every day in the week would be as much 
taken up with these parties, if cards did not conquer 
even the love of talking." 

Mrs. Montagu, a year before she acquired that 
name, had expressed her distaste for the flashy con- 
versation of her time. In a letter to her sister 
Sarah, she describes one of the " talkers " with great 

vivacity. " Mr. B 's wife put out her strength 

to be witty, and, in short, showed such a brilliant 
genius, that I turned about and asked who it was 
that was so willing to be ingenious ; for she had 
endeavoured to go off two or three times, but had 
unhappily flashed in the pan." In 1750, Mrs. 
Montagu and some other ladies attempted to reform 
manners, by having parties where cards could not 



268 A LADY OF THE LAST CENTURY. 

be thought of, and where the mental power was 
freshest for conversation. 

In that year, 1750, there was a charming French 
lady taking notes amongst us. Madame du Bocage, 
in her " Letters on England, Holland, and Italy," 
notices Mrs. Montagu ; and from the notice may 
be learned, that the last-named lady was already 
giving entertainments of a nature to benefit society. 
While, at the Duke of Richmond's, as many as 
eighteen card-tables were " set for playing " in the 
gallery of his house near Whitehall, with supper and 
wine to follow, for the consolation of the half-ruined, 
and congratulation of the lucky, gamblers, Mrs. 
Montagu gave breakfasts. Madame du Bocage 
thus speaks of them and of the hostess : — 

"In the morning, breakfasts, which enchant as 
much by the exquisite viands as by the richness of the 
plate on which they are served up, agreeably bring 
together the people of the country and strangers, 
We breakfasted in this manner to-day, April 8, 
1750, at Lady Montagu's" (as Madame du Bocage 
mistakenly calls her), " in a closet lined with painted 
paper of Pekin, and furnished with the choicest 
movables of China. A long table, covered with 



A LADY OF THE LAST CENTUBY. 269 

the finest linen, presented to the view a thousand 
glittering cups, which contained coffee, chocolate, 
biscuits, cream, butter, toasts, and exquisite tea. 
You must understand that there is no good tea to 
be had anywhere but in London. The mistress of 
the house, who deserves to be served at the table of 
the gods, poured it out herself. This is the custom, 
and, in order to conform to it, the dress of the 
English ladies, which suits exactly to their stature, 
the white apron and the pretty straw hat, become 
them with the greatest propriety, not only in their 
own apartments, but at noon, in St. James's Park, 
where they walk with the stately and majestic gait 
of nymphs." 

Mrs. Montagu was not the only lady who gave 
those literary breakfasts. Lady Schaub (a foreign 
lady who would marry Sir Luke) received company 
at those pleasant repasts. Madame du Bocage 
met Frederick Prince of Wales at one of them. 
The prince, who, with all his faults, was an accom- 
plished gentleman, came incog., so as to enjoy and 
to allow greater freedom. Madame du Bocage 
treated him as an ordinary gentleman, and was 
perfectly delighted with his conversation, as well as 



270 A LADY OF THE LAST CENTUBY. 

with his thorough knowledge of the literature of her 
own country. They gossipped beneath the Sigis- 
munda (one of many fine pictures possessed by Sir 
Luke), which stirred Hogarth to paint the same 
subject, in rivalry, as he thought, with Corregio ; but 
the picture was since discovered to be by Farini. 

When the breakfasts gave way to the evening 
coteries for conversation (with orgeat, lemonades, 
tea, and buscuits) is not known. After these had 
lasted a few years, the word " Blue-stocking " occurs 
for the first time in Mrs. Montagu's letters. 
Writing, in March, 1757, to Dr. Monsey, she says: 
" Our friend, Mr. Stillingfleet, is more attached to 
the lilies of the field than tp the lilies of the town, 
who toil and spin as little as the others, and, like the 
former, are better arrayed than Solomon in all his 
glory. I assure you, our philosopher is so much a 
man of pleasure, he has left ofF his old friends and 
his blue stockings, and is at operas and other gay 
assemblies every night ; so imagine whether a sage 
doctor, a dropsical patient, and a bleak mountain 
are likely to attract him." Mr. Benjamin Stilling- 
fleet used to be seen as often at Mrs. Vesey's 
gatherings as at Mrs. Montagu's. " Blue Stock- 



A LADY OF THE LAST CENTUEY. 271 

ing " was not a term exclusively applied to Mrs. 
Montagu's assemblies. To all assemblies where 
ladies presided and scholars were welcomed, the 
name seems to have been given. A " Blue Stocking 
club " never existed. The title was given in derision 
by persons who, as before said, lacked the brains, or 
who were not distinguished by other merits that 
would have entitled them to an invitation. The 
assemblies of Mrs. Montagu, Mrs. Vesey, and Mrs. 
Ord were spoken of indifferently as bas-bleu assem- 
blies. 

Sir William Forbes, in his " Life of Beattie," states 
that the society of eminent friends who met at Mrs. 
Montagu's, originally consisted of Mrs. Montagu, 
Mrs. Vesey, Mrs. Boscawen, Mrs. Carter, Lord 
Lyttelton, the Earl of Bath (Pulteney), Horace 
Walpole, and Mr. Stillingfleet. Around these some 
of the most distinguished persons of intellect used 
to assemble. Mrs. Vesey (daughter of the Bishop 
of Ossory and wife of Agmondesham Vesey), says 
Sir William, was another centre of pleasing and 
rational society. Without attempting to shine her- 
self, she had the happy secret of bringing forward 
talents of every kind, and for diffusing over the 



272 A LADY OF THE LAST-CENTUBY. 

society the gentleness of her own character. Mrs. 
Boscawen (nee Granville, wife of the renowned 
admiral), unknown to the literary world, but made 
familiar to modern readers by her pleasant letters in 
the Delany correspondence, made herself welcome by 
" the strength of her understanding, the poignancy 
of her humour, and the brilliancy of her wit." 
Sir William adds, that Stillingfieet was a learned 
man, negligent in his dress, and weaving grey stock- 
ings, which attracted Admiral Boscawen's notice, 
and caused the gallant seaman to call the assembly 
of these friends the Blue Stocking Society, as if to 
indicate that when those brilliant friends met, it was 
not for the purpose of forming a dressed assembly. 

To one of the so-called Blue Stocking Ladies, the 
once renowned Literary Club owed its name. Sir 
Joshua Reynolds proposed the formation of such a 
club; Johnson joyfully acceded, and" The Club" was 
formed. Hawkins, one of the members, has left on 
record that " a lady, distinguished by her beauty 
and taste for literature, invited us two successive 
years to dinner at her house." Hawkins does not 
name the hostess (opinion is divided between Mrs. 
Montagu, Mrs. Vesey, and Mrs. Ord) ; but he 



A LADY OF THE LAST CENTURY. 273 

ascribes her hospitality to curiosity as to a desire to 
intermingle with the conversation of the members 
the " charms of her own." This idea of " conver- 
sation," in place of gambling and other fashionable 
follies, was the leading idea with the ladies who 
share the merit of having founded the Blue Stock- 
ing assemblies. The hostess who received the club 
" affected," says Hawkins, " to consider the mem- 
bers as literary men ;" and he thinks it probable 
that the club thence derived an appellation which it 
never arrogated to itself. The Blue Stockings andthe 
Literary Clubbists seem to have had this in common : 
their discourse was miscellaneous, chiefly literary : 
politics were alone excluded. The last, however, 
were sometimes quietly discussed in one or other of 
the groups into which the assemblies under the 
leadership of ladies divided themselves. 

Mrs. Montagu, being a thorough woman of 
business as well as a recognized leader in social life, 
did not make her house in Hill Street a " court for 
the votaries of the Muses " all at once. She had a 
wholesome horror of being in debt, and she indulged 
her tastes only when her purse authorized the out- 
lay. In 1767, she completed the Chinese-room 

T 



274 A LADT OF THE LAST CENTUBT. 

which had charmed Madame du Bocage years 
before. " Mr. Adams," as Mrs. Montagu informed 
Lord Karnes, " has made me a cieling, and chimney- 
piece, and doors which are pretty enough to make 
me a thousand enemies. Envy," she said, jestingly, 
" turns livid at the first glimpse of them." 

At this time, Mrs. Montagu had been living in 
Hill Street more than thirty years. It was not 
even at the later period the well-macadamized and 
broadly -pave d street it now is. A few of the 
original and noble houses still dignify the street. 
Mrs. Montagu began to reside there a short time 
before Lord Chesterfield removed from Grosvenor 
Square to Chesterfield House; namely, in 1748. 
In the June of that year, Chesterfield wrote to Mr. 
Dayrollts : " I am now extremely busy in moving to 
my new house, where I must be before Michaelmas 
next. ... As my new house is situated among a 
parcel of thieves and murderers, I shall have occa- 
sion for a house-dog." Chesterfield House is within 
a stone's throw of Hill Street. The " thieves and 
murderers " were among the butchers of May Fair 
and Sheppard's Market — not then cleared out for 
such streets as have since been erected on the site. 



A LADY OF THE LAST CENTURY. 275 

Park Lane was then Tyburn Lane, and, what with 
the fair of six weeks' duration (with blackguardism 
and incidents of horror that will not bear repeating), 
and the monthly hangings at Tyburn, from which 
half the drunken and yelling spectators poured 
through May Fair, Hill Street, and adjacent outlets 
on their way to home and fresh scenes of riot, — be- 
tween the fair, the gallows, and the neighbouring 
rascalry, — the district was not to be entered after 
dark without risk of the wayfarer being stripped by 
robbers. Footpads were as common between Hay 
Hill and Park Lane as highwaymen between Houns- 
low and Bagshot. Now, Hill Sti eet, looks as if no 
mounted gentleman of the road had ever quietly 
ridden through it on a summer's evening westward, 
on felonious thoughts intent. Chesterfield House 
stands, but new mansions occupy its once brilliant 
gardens, whence all the gay spirits have been driven, 
In that locality no longer can it be said that — 

" round and round the ghosts of beauties glide, 



Haunting the places where their honour died !" 

In 1770, Hill Street, still unpaved, was most 
crowded with the carriages of visitors to Mrs. Mon- 

t 2. 



276 A LADY OF THE LAST GENTUBT. 

tagu's rooms. In the assemblies held there, the 
hostess had words for all, but she had no special 
idols ; and this was not always gratifying to those 
who looked for idolatry. Boswell notices one night 
when "a splendid company had assembled, con- 
sisting of the most eminent literary characters. I 
thought he (Johnson) seemed highly pleased with 
the respect and attention that was shown him, and 
asked him on our return home if he were not 
highly gratified by his visit. 'No, sir,' said he; 
' not highly gratified, yet I do not recollect to 
have passed many evenings with fewer objections.' " 
How " objectionable " Johnson could be to others 
is well known; but they took it good-naturedly. 
Soame Jenyns having been roughly treated by the 
doctor on one of these occasions, revenged himself 
by writing an anticipatory epitaph. It was pro- 
bably read aloud at one of Mrs. Montagu's coteries. 
The original is preserved, with half a hundred 
sprightly letters by Garrick, among the MSS. be- 
longing to Earl Spencer. 

" Here lies poor Johnson ! Reader, have a care, 
Tread lightly, lest you rouse a sleeping bear ! 
Religious, moral, generous, and humane 
He was ; but, selfrsufficient, rude, and vain. 



A LADY OF TEE LAST CENTUBY. 277 

Ill-breed, and over-bearing in dispute, 
A scholar, and a Christian, and a brute. 
Would you know all his wisdom and his folly, 
His actions, sayings, mirth, and melancholy, 
Boswell and Thrale, retailers of his wit, 
Will tell you how he wrote, and talked, and 
coughed, and spit !" 

Mrs. Garrick was among the ladies who met 
in Mrs. Montagu's drawing-room, and she remained 
the fast friend of the latter till death parted them. 
About a quarter of a century had elapsed since, as 
Eva Violetti, Mrs. Garrick, had made her first ap- 
pearance on the stage as a dancer. In what guise she 
made her debut was, doubtless, laughingly alluded 
to by the Blue Stockings. The Earl of Strafford, 
who died childless, in 1791, has left a record of 
the fact in an unpublished letter (March, 1746) 
in the Cathcart collection. "She surprised her 
audience at her first appearance on the stage ; for 
at her beginning to caper, she showed a neat pair 
of black velvet breeches, with roll'd stockings ; but 
finding they were unusual in England, she changed 
them the next time for a pair of white drawers." 
This was a joke for the more intimate circle in Hill 
Street. It is probable that it was at the more 



278 A LADY OF THE LAST CENTUBY. 

exclusive gatherings at Mrs. Montagu's, that the 
satirists, who had no title to enter, flung their shafts. 
" Beattie used to dwell with enthusiasm and delight," 
says Sir William Forbes, " on those more private 
parties into which he had had the happiness of being 
admitted at Mrs. Montagu's, consisting of Lord 
Lyttelton, Mrs. Carter, and one or two other most 
intimate friends, who spent their evenings in an 
unreserved interchange of thoughts ; sometimes on 
critical and literary subjects ; sometimes on those 
of the most serious and interesting nature." 

Mrs. Montagu's assemblies were held within- 
doors. Other ladies varied the character of their 
entertainments. Lady Clermont (for example) 
was not more remarkable for her conversational 
parties than for her al fresco gatherings. In May, 
1773, when living in St. James's Place, she issued 
invitations to three hundred dear friends, " to take 
tea and walk in the Park." It is said that the 
Duchess of Bedford, who then resided on the site 

1 

now occupied by the north side of Bloomsbury 
Square, sent out cards to " take tea and walk in 
the fields." It was expected that syllabubs would 
soon be milked in Berkeley Square, around the 



A LADY OF THE LAST CENTURY. 279 

statue of his majesty. Walpole speaks of being 
invited to Lady Clermont's conversation pieces. 
These conversation pieces led to such easy manners, 
that etiquette was sometimes disregarded when it 
was most expected. Lady Clermont, for instance, 
being at a card-party at Gunnersbury, with many 
royal personages, and many witty ones, including 
Walpole, she remarked aloud, that she was sure 
the Duke of Portland was dying for a pinch of 
snuff! and she pushed her own box towards him, 
across the Princess Amelia. Her fluttered royal 
highness, remembering that my lady had been 
much favoured by the Queen of France, said: 
" Pray, madam, where did you learn that breeding ? 
Did the Queen of France teach it to you ?" 

The district around Berkeley Square, Hay Hill, 
Hill Street, &c, continued to be a dangerous 
district. Lord Cathcart, in an unpublished letter 
to his son William, dated December, 1774, affords 
an instance of the peril which people ran on their 
way to the houses of Mrs. Montagu, Lady Cler- 
mont, Lady Brown, and other residents of that 
neighbourhood. Lord Cathcart tells his son, that 
as his sisters and Mr. Graham (afterwards Lord 



280 A LADY OF THE LAST CENTUBT. 

Lyndoch) were going to Lady Brown's, in a coach, 
they were attacked by footpads on Hay Hill. One 
opened the door and demanded the company's 
money. The future Lord Lyndoch showed the 
stuff of which that gallant soldier was made. He 
upset the robber who addressed them, then jumped 
out and secured him. The confederate took to his 
heels. 

One night in the autumn of 1776, the house in 
Hill Street was crowded. The French ambassador 
and Mme. de Noailles were there, but the hero of the 
night was Garrick, who electrified his audience by 
reciting scenes from Macbeth and Lear. " Though 
they had heard so much of you," Mrs. Montagu 
wrote to Roscius, "they had not the least idea 
such things were within the compass of art and 
nature." Lady Spencer's eyes were more expressive 
than any human language. . . . She amazed them 
with telling them how you could look like a simple- 
ton in Abel Drugger, and many comic arts equally 
surprising, when murderous daggers and undutiful 
daughters were out of the question." Mme. de 
Noailles was so profuse, as she descended the stairs, 
in thanks for the great intellectual enjoyment, that 



A LADY OF THE LAST CENTURY. 281 

Mrs. Montagu was afraid she would forget herself, 
and, by a false step, break her neck. She fervently 
hoped, too, that Garrick had not caught cold by 
going out into the air, " when warmed with that fire 
of genius which animated every look and gesture." 

In March, 1 779, Johnson wrote to Mrs. Thrale : 
" On Monday, I came late to Mrs. Vesey. Mrs. 
Montagu was there. I called for the print" (of 
Mrs. Montagu, in the costume of Anne Boleyn) 
"and had good words. The evening was not 
brilliant, but I had thanks for my company." In 
October of the same year, Johnson wrote to Mrs. 
Thrale : " I have been invited twice to Mrs. Vesey's 
conversation, but have not gone." 

Johnson has described a scene at one of the Blue 
Stocking assemblies (Mrs. Ord's), where, as he wrote 
to Mrs. Thrale : " I met one Mrs. Buller, a travelled 
lady of great spirit and some consciousness of her 
own abilities. We had a contest of gallantry an 
hour long, so much to the diversion of the com- 
pany, that at Ramsay's, last night, in a crowded 
room, they would have pitted us again. There 
were Smelt, and the Bishop of St. Asaph, who 
comes to every place, and Lord Monboddo, and 



282 A LADY OF TEE LAST CENTURY. 

Sir Joshua, and ladies out of tale." On another night 
he was at Miss Monkton's, the then young lady 
whom many may remember as the old and eccentric 
Lady Cork. Mr. Langton, in a letter to Boswell, thus 
paints the groups of Blue Stockings at the house of 
the lady who shared with Mrs. Montagu the glory 
of being their founder. ..." The company consisted 
chiefly of ladies, among whom were the Duchess 
Dowager of Portland, the Duchess of Beaufort, 
whom, I suppose, from her rank I must name before 
her mother, Mrs. Boscawen, and her eldest sister, Mrs. 
Lewson, who was likewise there, Lady Lucan, Lady 
Clermont, and others of note, both for their station 
and understandings. Amongst other gentlemen 
were Lord Althorp, Lord Macartney, Sir Joshua 
Reynolds, Lord Lucan, Mr. Wraxall (whose book 
you have probably seen, the ' Tour to the Northern 
Parts of Europe,' a very agreeable, ingenious man), 
Dr. Warren, Mr. Pepys the master in chancery, 
and Dn Barnard the Provost of Eton. As soon 
as Dr. Johnson had come in and had taken the 
chair, the company began to collect round him 
till they became not less than four, if not five, deep, 
those behind standing and listening over the heads 



A LADY OF THE LAST CENTUBY. 283 

of those that were sitting near him. The con- 
versation for some time was between Dr. Johnson 
and the Provost of Eton, while the others contri- 
buted occasionally their remarks." How well Mrs. 
Montagu could converse, Johnson has pourtrayed in 
a few comprehensive words to Mrs. Thrale : " Mrs. 
Montagu is par pluribus. Conversing with her, 
you may find variety in one." These assemblies 
were miscalled and sneered at only by the blockheads. 
Walpole was scarcely sincere when he affected to 
laugh at them. He not only attended them, but 
.stirred others to do so. Four years after this, he 
writes to Hannah More : " When will you blue 
stocking yourself and come among us ?" 

In 1 78 1, Hannah More took the Blue Stockings 
for a theme for her sprightly little poem, which she 
entitled " Bas Bleu," and dedicated to Mrs. Vesey. 
In a few introductory words, the author explained 
the origin and character of the assemblies to which 
tne well-known epithet was given. " Those little 
societies have been sometimes misrepresented. They 
were composed of persons distinguished in gene- 
ral for their rank, talents, or respectable charac- 
ter, who were frequently at Mrs. Vesey's and a 



284 A LADY OF TEE LAST CENTUBY. 

few other houses, for the sole purpose of conver- 
sation, and were different in no respect from other 
parties, but that the company did not play at 
cards." 

Hannah More describes the hours she passed 
at these parties as " pleasant and instructive." She 
states that she found there learning without pe- 
dantry, good taste without affectation, and con- 
versation without calumny, levity, or any censurable 
error. 

From the following lines, the names of the foun- 
ders of the new assemblies may be learnt. Their 
object was to rescue — 

" Society o'errun 



By Whist, that desolating Hun /' 

and from despotic Quadrille, the c Vandal of col- 
loquial wit." Three ladies, according to Hannah 
More, effected the reformation. 

" The vanquish'd triple crown to you, (Mrs. Vesey) 
Boscawen sage, bright Montagu, 
Divided fell. Your cares in haste, 
Rescued the ravaged realms of taste.'' 

Among the genial and the lofty spirits found 
in the rooms of those ladies, and of Mrs. Ord 



A LADY OF THE LAST CENTURY. 285 

and others, Hannah More names accomplished 
Lyttelton, witty Pulteney, polished, sometimes sar- 
castic, Walpole, with humourists who charmed and 
never wounded, critics who recorded merits before 
they looked for defects, Christian poets, skilled 
physicians, honest lawyers, men of all shades of 
politics, with princes of the church, ladies of ton, 
and "reasonable beauties." Roscius (Garrick), 
Mars (Mason), Cato (Johnson), and Hortensius 
(Burke), are recorded amongst those who, at those 
intellectual gatherings, at various times, led the 
conversation, and made it as glorious as Hannah 
More, who shared therein, proceeds to describe it. 

The chief incident in Mrs. Montagu's life in the 
year 1781, one which threw a shade over several 
succeeding years, was her quarrel with Dr. Johnson, 
founded on certain depreciatory passages in Johnson's 
" Life of Lyttelton." When Johnson sent to Mrs. 
Montagu his MS. of the life before it went to 
press, the homage implied that he submitted it to 
her judgment for approval or correction. Mrs. 
Montagu disapproved the tone, and Johnson sent 
his copy to press without altering a word or modi- 
fying a sentiment. 



286 A LADT OF THE LAST CENTUBT. 

Nevertheless, Johnson's account of Lyttelton 
seems fair enough to readers of the present day, 
though it greatly offended the lady who paid 
Lyttelton a homage of reverential affection. John- 
son duly records Lyttelton's precocity at Eton, and 
his creditable attempt in his " Blenheim," to become 
a poet, at Oxford. His . political career, as the 
opponent of Walpole, by whose fall Lyttelton came 
into office, is told without passion, and Lyttelton's 
honest progress from honest doubt to honest con- 
viction of the truth of Christianity is delicately and 
sympathetically narrated. His merits as a landlord, 
his good fortune as a politician, his fidelity as a 
friend, and his anxiety to be at least accurate as 
an historian, are chronicled without reserve. The 
details of Lyttelton's dignified death might have 
made his best friend forget and forgive the criti- 
cisms on some of his writings. Mrs. Montagu 
might forget a part, but she could not forgive an 
expression of compassionate contempt, which was 
worse than adverse criticism. She might forget 
that Johnson spoke of " The Progress of Love " as 
verses that " cant of shepherds and flocks, and 
crooks dressed with flowers." She may have been 



A LADY OF TEE LAST CENTUBY. 287 

only momentarily stung by the censurer's remark 
that, in the " Persian Letters," the ardour for liberty 
which found expression there, was only such " as a 
man of genius always catches when he enters the 
world, and always suffers to cool as he passes for- 
ward." She might herself have sneered at Johnson's 
praise of the "Advice to Belinda," on the score of 
its purity, truth, vigour, elegance and prudence, 
whereas, with some merits, it is a poem which no 
one now would dare to read aloud, where it was 
meant to be read, to Belindas of the time being. 
The paragraph in the Life which gave Mrs. Mon- 
tagu such exquisite pain was the following, in refer- 
ence to the " Dialogues of the Dead :" — " When they 
were first published, they were kindly commended by 
the critical reviewers ; and poor Lyttelton, with 
humble gratitude, returned his acknowledgments in 
a note which I have read ; acknowledgments either 
for flattery or justice." This paragraph gave the 
great offence. The words " poor Lyttelton " ren- 
♦ dered it almost unpardonable. Notwithstanding 
. the offence, Mrs. Montagu subsequently invited 
Johnson to dinner ; but she could not treat him 
with her old cordiality, nor would she fall into 



288 A LADY OF TEE LAST CENTUBY. 

conversation with him. General Paoli sat next to 
the doctor. Johnson turned to him and remarked, 
" You see, sir, I am no longer the man for 
Mrs. Montagu ! " He was not indifferent to this 
condition of things. " Mrs. Montagu, sir," he 
afterwards said to a friend, " has dropt me. Now, 
sir, there are people whom one should like very well 
to drop, but would not wish to be dropt by." 

Good-natured friends embittered the quarrel. 
Mrs. Vesey " sounded the trumpet," as was remarked 
by Walpole, who added : " It has not, I believe, 
produced any altercation ; but at a blue-stocking 
meeting, held by Lady Lucan, Mrs. Montagu and 
Johnson kept at different .ends of the chamber, and 
set up altar against altar there. She told me, as 
a mark of her high displeasure, that she would 
not ask him to dinner again. I took her aside and 
fomented the quarrel, and wished I could have 
made Dagon and Ashtaroth scold in Coptic." 
Walpole (who in this quarrel was quite as malicious 
as Mrs. Vesey, whom he affected to laugh at, was 
indiscreet) called Johnson in another letter refer- 
ring to this quarrel, " Demagorgon," and sa*ys that 
the doctor and the lady kept aloof " like the west 



A LADY OF THE LAST CENTURY. 289 

from the east." He states that Lady Lucan, whose 
house was the scene of the comedy, " had assembled 
a blue-stocking meeting in imitation of Mrs. Vesey's 
Babels. « It was so blue, it was quite mazarin blue. 
There were Soame Jenyns, Persian Jones, Mr. Sher- 
lock, the new court, Mr. Courtenay, besides the out- 
pensioners of Parnassus." — And besides those named, 
every man of whom was a man of intellect, there 
was Mr. Horace Walpole himself, who certainly was 
present, because he knew he would not be among 
fools, though he pretended to go as if he found 
amusement in their folly. He seems, in the above 
extract, to recognise the good-natured Irish lady 
Mrs. Vesey (whose house in Bolton Row, or sub- 
sequently in Clarges Street, was hospitably open to 
people of merit — proved or promised) as the founder 
of assemblies to which the slang name of bas-bleu 
assemblies was given. Referring to Mrs. Montagu, 
with whom he was very glad to dine, he says (in 
this year, 1781), " She is one of my principal enter- 
tainments at Mrs Vesey's, who collects all the 
graduates and candidates for fame, where they vie 
with one another till they are as unintelligible as 
the good folks at Babel." We should honour any 



290 A LADY OF TEE LAST CENTURY. 

lady of the present century who, like Mrs. Vesey 
Mrs. Montagu, Mrs. Ord, Lady Lucan, and others 
in the last century, welcomed to their houses, not 
only all the graduates, but also the candidates for 
fame. Johnson himself was annoyed when not 
invited to those intellectual meetings. In 1780, he 
writes, " I told Lady Lucan how long it was since 
she sent to me ; but she said, I must consider how 
the world rolls about her." From the lips of the 
guests whom Walpole met at the houses indicated 
he could not carry away the stories that he loved 
so well as to insert them, in his most exquisite hand, 
into folios carefully arranged. These still exist ; 
they illustrate phases of life among high-born 
women and men of the last century who were gra- 
duates, not in fame, but in infamy. Nothing could 
well be worse, except the infamy of him who must 
have passed many a night in penning that unut- 
terably horrible and scandalous chronicle. The 
chronicler, on the other hand, is not to be blamed 
for noting the little affectations of those whom he 
encountered, as in the following example, the date 
of which is 1781 : — "I met," he says to Lady 
Ossory, " Mrs. Montagu the other night at a visit. 



A LADY OF TEE LAST CENTUBY. 291 

She told me she had been alone the whole pre- 
ceding day, quite hermetically sealed. I was very 
glad she was uncorked, or I might have missed that 
piece of learned nonsense." However, " Mrs. Mon- 
tagu," writes Mrs. Boscawen to Mrs. Delany, " is in 
perfect health and spirits in her Chateau Portman." 
But, in Montagu House, Portman Square, the so 
called Blue-Stockings were much less at home than 
in Hill Street. Nevertheless, there, and at similar 
houses supposed to be of a blue-stocking class, Wal- 
pole was much more amused than when he was 
at the Princess Amelia's, at Gunnersbury, with the 
' cream of the cream ' of Europe, and playing com- 
merce with the grandest of them. He never had to 
say of himself at Mrs. Montagu's, as he did of his 
doings at the Princess's, ' Played three pools of com- 
merce till ten. I am afraid I was tired, and gaped ! ' " 
There died in this year, 178 1, a provincial Blue 
Stocking, — who has been delicately praised by Miss 
Seward, and furiously attacked and ridiculed by 
Horace Walpole, — Mrs. Miller, the neighbour of 
Mrs. Scott and Lady Bab Montagu at Batheaston. 
There is an old story that Walpole, declining to 
recognise a man in London whom he had known 

u 2 



292 A LADY OF THE LAST CENTURY. 

at Bath, explained himself by saying, that he would 
be happy to know the same individual again — at 
Bath ! So, with regard to literary or bas-bleu 
assemblies, he acknowledged those only of London. 
Provincial meetings he treated as shams and covered 
them with ridicule. Mrs. Miller's house, — to which 
she invited a rather mixed assembly of persons distin- 
guished for intellectual merit, or persons who were 
distinguished only by the accident of birth, — Walpole 
mis-named the "puppet-show Parnassus at Bath- 
easton" (or Pindus) — "a new Parnassus, composed 
of three laurels, a myrtle tree, a weeping willow, and 
a view of the Avon, which has been new-christened 
Helicon" Miss Rich, Lady Lyttelton's sister, took 
Walpole to dine there. ... He ridiculed his hosts, 
described Captain Miller as officious, though good- 
natured, who, with his wife, had caught "taste," 
and outlived their income. . Having (like wise 
and honest people) recovered themselves by living 
economically abroad, they resumed their old home 
with improved habits. " Alas ! " . says Walpole, 
"Mrs. Miller is returned a beauty, a genius, a 
Sappho, a tenth Muse, as romantic as Mademoiselle 
de Scuderi, and as sophisticated as Mrs. Vesey. 



A LADY OF THE LAST CENTUBY. 293 

They have introduced bouts-rimes as a new dis- 
covery. They hold a Parnassus fair every Thursday, 
give out rhymes and themes, and all the flux and 
quality of Bath contend for the prizes. A Roman 
vase, decked with pink ribbons and myrtle, receives 
the poetry, which is drawn out every festival. Six 
judges of these Olympic games retire and select the 
brightest compositions, which the respective suc- 
cessful acknowledge, kneel to Mrs. Calliope Miller, 
kiss her fair hand, and are crowned by it with 
myrtle. . . . The collection is printed, published, — 
yes, on my faith, there are bout-rimes on a buttered 
muffin, by her grace the Duchess of Northumber- 
land, receipts to make them, by Corydon the 
Venerable, alias George Pitt ; others, very pretty, by 
Lord Palmerston ; some by Lord Carlisle ; many by 
Mrs. Miller herself, that have no fault but wanting 
metre. . . . There never was anything so enter- 
taining or so dull." — It may be added here, that 
Lord Palmerston's lines " On Beauty," are more than 
" very pretty," and that the duchess could not avoid 
the subject laughed at, since two of the rhymes 
given to her were " puffing " and " muffin," and 
she came out of the difficulty with skill and 



294. A LADY OF THE LAST CENTURY. 

dexterity. There, are, perhaps few people in a mixed 
company at the present time, who could more plea- 
santly dance such an intellectual hornpipe in similar 
fetters. 

Miss Seward modifies Walpole's satirical account 
without disturbing the main facts. She adds, with 
reference to the volumes of these prize poems then 
published : " The profits have been applied to the 
benefit of a charity at Bath, so that Lady Miller's 
institute" (her husband had been knighted) "was 
not only calculated to awaken and cultivate in- 
genuity, but to serve the purposes of benevolence 
and charity." Walpole suppressed the fact that 
any one profited by the assemblies at Lady Miller's, 
of whom and of whose husband, who presumed to 
have Walpole's predilection for virtu, Horace says : 
"They make themselves completely ridiculous, which 
is a pity, as they are good-natured well-meaning 
people." 

Some fine spirits contributed to the Batheaston 
vase, and their contributions, for which the writers 
generally had a fortnight's notice, — the one theme 
being given to all competitors, — are often marked by 
power, grace, fancy, and, in the comic pieces, rough 



A LADY OF THE LAST CENTURY. 295 

humour. On one occasion, some scandalous verses 
were dropped into the vase, the reading of which 
in the very first lines called up blushes on the 
cheeks of the modest, and caused suspicion to rest 
on the rather audacious Christopher Anstey. "An 
enemy hath done this," was the sum of the general 
comment. Lady Miller's death soon followed. 
Miss Seward has generously spoken of her really 
intellectual friend, though she begins with a curious 
figure of speech. " Lady Miller," she says, " was 
surrounded by a hornet's nest," which was, as she 
goes on to state in more common-sense style, " com- 
posed of those who were disappointed in their ex- 
pectations of being summoned to her intellectual 
feast, and of others whose rhyming offerings could 
neither obtain the wreath, nor be admitted to a 
place in her miscellany. " Who knows not the 
active malice of wounded vanity to blot the fairest 
worth and blast the brighest fame ?" From its 
venom, excellence cannot even find repose in the 
grave, and it never fails to descend upon those who 
dare defend the claims of the deceased!" 

Reference has been made, in a previous page 
(see p. 65) to Boswell's error in stating that the 



296 A LADY OF THE LAST CENTURY. 

Blue Stocking Clubs were originally established 
about this time, 1781, when Hannah More was 
writing of them as institutions the chief members of 
which had already passed away. The amiable philo- 
sopher and thoroughly honest, modest, and accom- 
plished man Benjamin Stillingfieet (the grandson of 
the bishop), from whom they are supposed to derive 
their name, had been dead ten years. In his early 
days, he made the ascent of Mont Blanc ; his last 
were spent in Kensington Barracks, where his salary 
as barrack-master satisfied his wants and left him 
wherewith to help those who were in need. He 
contributed towards the social reform commenced 
by Johnson, Miss Mulso (Chapone), and Mrs. 
Montagu in 1750, a poem on " Conversation." It 
rings with echoes of Pope, and lays down some very 
excellent rules that, implicitly followed, would make 
conversation impossible. Boswell refers to Hannah 
More's poem on the Blue Stockings without 
noticing her record that so many of the persons 
named in it were then dead. The institution, in 
fact, was in " the sere, the yellow leaf," and one, at 
least, of its old leaders was weary. In 1782, when 
Mrs. Montagu was established in her palace (as 



A LADY OF THE LAST CENTUBY. 297 

Wraxall says the Italians would call, and as many- 
English people did call, it) in Portman Square, her 
assemblies were more crowded than ever. She 
herself, queening it beneath the cieling painted by 
Angelica Kaufmann, felt, or affected to feel, a little 
weary of her splendour. 

"I think," she wrote to Lord Karnes, in 1782, 
" the calm autumn of life, as well as of the year, 
has many advantages. Both have a peculiar serenity 
— a genial tranquility. We are less busy and agitated, 
because the hope of the spring and the vivid de- 
lights of the summer are over ; but these tranquil 
seasons have their appropriate enjoyments, and a 
well-regulated mind sees everything beautiful that is 
in the order of nature." 

In 1785, Cumberland^ took the new assemblies, 
at Montagu House, for the subject of an essay 
in "The Observer." He places Mrs. Montagu, 
under the name of Vanessa, in the fore-ground, and 
mingles praise with mockery. He does not refer to 
the slang word by which the assemblies conducted 
by ladies were known ; he calls Vanessa's assembly 
the Feast of Reason. Throughout life, according to 
this essayist, Vanessa had been a beauty or a wit, 



298 A LADY OF THE LAST CENTURY. 



whose vanity had this good quality, namely, that it 
stimulated her to exercise charity, good nature, 
affability, and a splendid hospitality — qualities which 
carried her into all the circles of fine people, and 
crowded all the fine people into hers. ... In her 
saloons there was a welcome for every follower of 
science, every sort of genius, — a welcome which 
extended, so the satirical essayist affirms, from the 
manufacturer of toothpicks to the writer of an epic 
poem. Authors looked to her for fees in return 
for dedications ; and players, for patronage and pre- 
sents on their benefit nights. 

According to Cumberland, the lady of Montagu 
House was seated, like the statue of Athenian 
Minerva, incensed by the breath of philosophers, 
poets, orators, and their intellectual brethren. 
Hannah More states, on the contrary, that at the 
original blue stocking parties, previous to 1781, 
the company, instead of being a formal unity, were 
broken up into numberless groups. Something too 
of this fashion seems to be referred to by Cumber- 
land, who describes Vanessa as going from one 
to another, making mathematicians quote Pindar, 
persuading masters in chancery to write novels, 



A LADY OF TEE LAST CEJSTVBY. 299 

and Birmingham men to stamp rhymes as fast as 
buttons. 

We are further told that the books on Vanessa's 
table (and Mrs. Montagu often complained of the 
number of presentation copies which were sent to 
her) indicated who were among her guests. This 
little civility is sneered at, and she from whom it 
emanated was also occasionally sneered at by some 
of her guests ; which would have been more natural 
than courteous if the lady of the house ever dressed 
herself, as Cumberland describes her with bound- 
less exaggeration, in a dress on which were em- 
broidered the ruins of Palmyra! The same 
exaggeration is applied to the description of the 
company, among whom figure cracked philosophers 
and crazy dreamers, with Johnson alone grand, 
powerful, majestic, eloquent, and ill-mannered. 

Next, and perhaps equal with Johnson, is the un- 
mistakable presence of Mrs. Siddons, who, since the 
October night of 1782, when she took the town by 
the passion and pathos of Isabella, had been the idol 
of the time. There she sits at Mrs. Montagu's, on 
a sofa, leaning on one elbow, in a passive attitude, 
counting, or seeming to count, the sticks of her fan, 



300 A LADY OF TEE LAST CENTURY. ' 

as homage and compliments are profusely laid at 
her feet. To silly questions she has sensible replies — ■ 
replies which indicate the queries : " I strove to do it 
the best I could ; I shall do as the manager bids 
me ; I always endeavour to make the part I am 
about my best part ;" and, " I never study anything 
but my author." There is, probably, no exaggeration 
in this ; and the more fantastic side of Mrs. Mon- 
tagu's character is not overcharged in the incident 
that follows. The hostess introduces a " young 
noviciate of the Muses," in a white frock. A fillet 
of flowers crowns her long hair, and the novice 
advancing to Melpomene, addresses her with — 

" O thou, whom Nature's goddess calls her own, 
Pride of the stage, and fav'rite of the town ;" 

which puts poor Mrs. Siddons to the blush, and 
half of those who are within hearing to flight. 

In 1 790, the so-called Blue Stocking Club puzzled 
dwellers in country places. Nestor, of Bark Place, 
Salop, was sadly perplexed as to what the club was, 
and also as to the meaning of another slang term 
then prevailing. He writes to Sylvanus Urban ac- 
cordingly, with a sort of apology for being old and 
living in remote Shropshire. Among others, he 



A LADY OF THE LAST CENTUBY. 301 

frequently meets with the term "white bear," 
applied to many characters of eminence ; and often 
reads of " the Blue Stocking Club," which he knows 
consists chiefly of the literati. But being ignorant 
of the derivation and propriety of application of 
those terms, he will be much obliged to any corre- 
spondent who will condescend to inform him. It 
does not appear that any correspondent, not even 
the editor himself, could enlighten Nestor, either as 
to the bear or the club. 

Among the latest writers who have, as Hannah 
More, said, misrepresented these intellectual parties 
is Miss Mitford. She speaks of Batheaston in her 
"Recollections of a Literary Life" (a.d. 1857) as 
" memorable for the blue-stocking vagaries of a cer- 
tain Lady Miller, a Somersetshire Clemence Isaure, 
who, some seventy years ago offered prizes for the 
best verses thrown into an antique urn ; the prize 
consisting, not of a golden violet, but a wreath of 
laurel, and the whole affair producing, as was to be 
expected, a great deal more ridicule than poetry." 
In Lady Miller's case, the original object, " conver- 
sation," was lost sight of; and some vanity was 
mixed up with the doings of the Batheaston Muse. 



302 A LADY OF TEE LAST CENTUBT. 

But to stir up even dull minds to make an attempt 
to write some sort of poetry was an intellectual 
exercise at least as beneficial as the process which 
counts honours, and eternally asks — " What's 
trumps ?" 



( 303 ) 



CHAPTER XII. 

Returning to the year 1781, it is to be observed 
that after that year, the blue stocking assemblies 
gradually died out. Cumberland's caricature of them 
excited the displeasure of good Queen Charlotte; 
and Miss Burney, who recognized herself as alluded 
to under the guise of an Arcadian nymph, has given 
a description of a breakfast at the palace in Portman 
Square, which did not the least resemble that which 
was described, a generation earlier, by Madame 
du Bocage. The later breakfast was sumptuous, 
gorgeous, over-crowded. In splendour of company, 
banquet, and locality, it could not be surpassed; 
and hundreds were there. But we miss the more 
select number of intellectual people, who used to 
fill the smaller house in Hill Street, where the Blue 
Stockings met, and dignified their place of meeting. 
From the year 1781, Mrs. Montagu's letters take 



304 A LADY OF THE LAST CENTURY. 

a graver tone, which is occasionally enlivened by- 
some of her old brilliancy of expression. The fol- 
lowing letter is without date of the year, but it was 
written when Hill Street was about being abandoned 
for the palace in Portman Square. 

"Hill Street. 2nd March, 178 . . . . You will 
find this town more gay and splendid than ever ; so 
little effect has the combined evil of wars, and devas- 
tation, and hurricanes. The profuse liberality to 
Vestris, ye dancer, and the enthusiastic admiration of 
his capers exceeds all the folly I ever knew. Making 
a visit to a wife of one of the corps diplomatique, 
the other night, I had the mortification of overhear- 
ing a group of foreigners ridiculing the English for 
the bustle made about Vestris 

..." I have already on my chimney-piece a mul- 
titude of cards for assemblies for every day till near 
the end of passion week. I hope some of the fine 
people will spend the Easter holidays in ye country ; 
for such a succession of assemblies is tiresome. 

..." I have, greatly to my satisfaction, got my 
new house finished and fit for habitation ; and I 
should have taken possession at this very time, but 
the wise people and the medical people say it would 



A LAD7 OF THE LAST CENTUBY. 305 

be dangerous to go into a new house just after the 
winter damp. ... As I always leave London early 
in May, I was convinced it was not worth while to 
run hazard for a few weeks' pleasure. It is much 
the fashion to go and see my house, and I receive 
many compliments upon its elegance and magnifi- 
cence, but what most recommends it to me is its 
convenience and cheerfulness. A good house is a 
great comfort in old age and among the few felicities 
that money will procure. 

..." I shall be much obliged to you if you will 
bring to London Thou's History, which I lent to 
your caro sposo five years ago. I suppose he has 
long done with it, and I want to read it." 

"London. Dec. ye 4th, 178 1. . . . At this time 
of ye year, the great city is solitary, silent, and 
quiet. Its present state makes a good preface to the 
succeeding months of crowd, noise, and bustle. . . 
One always finds some friends in town ; a few agre- 
able people may at any time be gathered together ; 
and, for my own pajt, I think one seldom passes 
the whole of one's time more agreably than before 
the meeting of parliament in January ; and this 
never appeared more strongly to me than this 

x 



306 A LADY OF TEE LAST CENTURY. 

year, when so excellent a house was ready to 
receive me. 

..." As age is apt to bring with it a certain 
degree of melancholy and discontent, I endeavour 
to prevent its having that effect, by sympathising in 
the joy of my young friends and of improving the 
objects about me. ... As fast as time wrinkles my 
forehead, I smooth the grounds about Sandleford, or 
embellish my town habitation. In a little while, I 
shall never see anything belonging to me that is not 
pretty, except when I behold myself in the looking- 
glass. ... At Sandleford, I can assure you, Mr. 
Brown has not neglected any of its capabilities. 
He is forming it into a lovely pastoral — a sweet 
Arcadian scene. In not attempting more, he adapts 
his scheme to the character of the place and my 
purse. We shall not erect temples to heathen 
gods, build proud bridges over humble rivulets, or 
do any of the marvellous things suggested by 
caprice, and indulged by the wantonness of wealth. 
The noble rooms which Mr. Wyatt was build' 
ing when you were at Sandleford are now finishing 
with the greatest simplicity. 

..." To-morrow is look'd to with anxious ex- 



A LADY OF THE LAST CENTURY. 307 

pectation, as it will in some measure declare on what 
terms peace may be obtain'd. I believe all the 
belligerent powers are tir'd of the war. But what 
difficulties the cunning of statesmen, the pride of 
kings, or the caprice of the people may put in the 
way, one cannot tell. The Spaniards are proud, the 
French are petulant, the Dutch are avaricious, and 
the English are a happy compound of all these 
things. 

..." My steward (from Northumberland), who 
made his annual visit to me in November, told me 
that north of my estates there were many fields of 
oats and barley lying under the snow. I have been 
very busy with him, settling our year's accounts, for 
these ten days past. 

" Lord Edward Bentinck is going to be married 
to Miss Cumberland. The Bishop of St. Asaph's 
eldest daughter to the learned and ingenious Mr. 

J 5? 

ones. 

"Portman Square. Jany. ye 17th, 1782. . . . 

Montagu," she writes to her sister-in-law, " returns 

to me only at Christmas and the long vacation. 

The last is spent entirely at Sandleford ; for I think 

the worst thing one can do by young persons is to 

x 2 



308 A LADY OF THE LAST GENTUBT. 

give them a habit of restlessness, which is now so 
prevalent in the fine world, that all domestick duties, 
even the tender parental attentions, are neglected 
for it. . . . 

" I think you did wisely, as well as kindly, in letting 
my neice partake of the pleasures of your neigh- 
bourhood. To be within the sound of a ball, and 
not allow'd to go to it, must seem a hardship 
to a young person. . . . Life never knows the re- 
turn of spring, and I am always an advocate for 
their gathering the primroses of their time. A 
young person not allow'd to please himself, some- 
times will lose any desire to please others. 

" I think it would be very desirable for my brother 
to be a prebend of Canterbury. There is a local 
dignity in it, and a clergyman in the neighbour- 
hood of Canterbury ought to have a stall in the 
cathedral, in which he can take a nap with decorum. 
I should think from the kind disposition the primate 
has shown for the family, he will lend a favorable 
ear to my brother's application. ... So great is his 
respect and tenderness for his brother, Sir William, 
that perhaps the request, supported by him, would 
have additional force. 



A LADY OF THE LAST CENTURY. 309 • 

..." I am glad my good friend, Mr. Brown, is 
employed by so rich a person as Lord Bristol. 
Such an income as his lordship's cannot be an- 
nually expended on domestick expenses without 
foolish prodigality and waste. ... I am very glad 
Mr. Brown likes me as a correspondent ; for I am 
obliged to make a very paltry figure to him as 
an employer. He is narrowly circumscrib'd, both 
in space and expense ; but he really gives the poor 
widow and her paltry plans as great attention as 
he could bestow on an unlimited commission and 
an unbounded space. He has made a plan to make 
my grounds, in prospect of the house and new 
rooms, very pleasing, and will execute as much of 
it every year as I choose, the expense being agreed 
upon, which will keep pace with the improvements. 
The only way to cheat old Time is, while it robs 
us of some enjoyments and pleasures, to be pro- 
viding new ones. I am a great deal younger, I 
think, since I came into my new House, from its 
cheerfulness; and, from its admirable conveniences 
and comforts, less afraid of growing old. My friends 
and acquaintances are much pleased with it, . . . and 
I am not afraid to confess the pleasure I take in their 



310 A LADY OF THE LAST CENTUBY. 

finding it agreable and commodious for company. 
But the great satisfaction I feel, as its inhabitant, I 
dare confess to few ; for few would hear it without 
envy. People are not very envious at any advan- 
tages they see another possess, if they do not per- 
ceive those advantages add to the happiness of the 
possessor. Many a wrinkled old virgin makes it 
a necessary article of merit in a blooming girl, that 
she should not know she is handsome. 

..." The Bishop of Durham is going to be 
married to Miss Boughton. She is a very proper 
Person for a wife to a grave bishop — a woman of 
good family, good character, and good temper. 

..." Pray have my neices read " Le Theatre de 
i'Education," by Mme. de Genlis? If they have 
not, I will get it for them. ... I think it is one 
of the prettiest books that has been written for 
young persons. The author is governess to the 
Due de Chartres' children." 

Even Walpole acknowledged the beauty of the 
house which Mrs. Montagu had built for her old 
age and for her heirs — till Lord Eokeby vacated it 
recently, the ground lease having " fallen in," and 
the edifice passing to the ground landlord. "I 



A LADY OF THE LAST CENTUBT. 311 

dined," writes Walpole to Mason, in February, 1782, 
" On Tuesday with the Harcourts, at Mrs. Mon- 
tagu's new palace, and was much surprised. Instead 
of vagaries, it is a noble, simple edifice. Magnificent, 
yet no gilding. It is grand, not tawdry, not larded, 
and embroidered, and pomponned with shreds, and 
remnants, and clinquant, like all the harlequinades 
of Adam, which never let the eye repose an instant." 

The next letter is addressed to the writer's niece, 
Miss Robinson. 

"July ye 9th, 1782. ... I was, in my youth, 
directed in the choice of friends by their solid 
merit and establish'd character, which was oftener 
found in persons older than myself than in my 
contemporaries. If from hence I have often wept 
for dying, I have never been obliged to blush for 
my living, friends. . . . The chief honour and felicity 
of my life has been derived from the superior merit 
of my friends ; and, from my experience, I would, 
above all things, recommend to every young person 
to endeavour to connect themselves with persons 
whom they can esteem, and, indeed, reverence, rather 
than with those whose understandings and virtues 
they think merely on a level with, or, perhaps 



312 A LADY OF THE LAST GENTUBY. 

inferior to, their own. . . . Principles, opinions, and 
habits are acquired and formed from those with 
whom we live and converse most. ... Be cautious, 
be delicate, be a little ambitious, my dear neice, 
in the choice of your friends. I would be far from 
inculcating a supercilious contempt for persons of 
weak understanding, or a censorious condemnation 
of their levity of manners. Humility and charity 
are the greatest virtues, and let them ever guide 
your manners and regulate your conversation. . . . 
Be assured that the wisest persons are the least 
severe, and the most virtuous are the most charit- 
able." 

"Sandleford. July 9, 1782. ... I had a great 
deal of occupation of a more important kind, which 
was the examination and payment of ye workmen 
who had been employed in building and adorning 
the said house. ... As I got everything accom- 
plished before I left London, I had the satisfaction 
of getting a receit in full of all demands from the 
various artificers. I will own my taste is unfashion- 
able, but there is to me a wonderful charm in those 
words ' in full of all demands' My house never 
appeared to me so noble; so splendid, so pleasant, 



A LADY OF THE LAST CENTURY. 313 

so convenient, as when I had paid off every shilling 
of debt it had incurred. The worst of haunted 
houses, in my opinion, are those haunted by duns. 

..." Mr. Wyatt has nearly completed what be- 
longed to the architect ; and Mr. Brown, by re- 
moving a good deal of ground and throwing it 
down below, to raise what was too low, while he 
sank what was too high, has much improved the 
view to the south ; and, having, at my request, made 
a fanlight over the east window, so that, the arch 
formed by the trees is now visible, these rooms are 
the most beautiful imaginable. With the shelter, 
comfort, and convenience of walls and roofs, you 
have a beautiful passage and the green shade of a 
grove. . . . The celebrated Mr. Brown has already 
beautified our pastoral scenes extreamly. 

..." I can easily give you credit when you say 
you love society, because I know society loves you, 
and I am perfectly of the opinion of the common 
maxim, that nobody lives out of the world who 
is fit to live in it. Now your husband's party 
have got into power, I have no doubt but they 
will bestow a prebendary upon him, if he asks 
them. However, his income will very well afford 



314 A LADY OF TEE LAST €ENTUBY. 

your spending some months in London every 
winter." 

"Sandleford. June ye i6th, 1783. . . . You must 
know, as many authors with whom I have not 
any personal acquaintance do me the favour to 
send me their works, I found the carriage of them 
to be amongst my weekly expenses during the 
summer. So, of late, if I make a short excursion 
into the country, I order the literature to wait 
until my return. Or, if I go for a longer time, 
to be sent down at proper opportunities, with the 
tea, or groceries, or some other df the vulgar 
necessaries of life. So my dear nephew's letter 
was supposed, to come with a pamphlet from a 
bookseller's shop, and my porter kept it, with 
other things from the same source, till my return 
from Bath. 

..." I found Sandleford improv'd by the atten- 
tions of the great Mr. Brown. My pleasure in 
those improvements was mix'd with regret for his 
death. . . . Brown was certainly a man of great 
genius. . . . Happily for me, he made a plan for 
all that is intended to be done here. As I do not 
allow my yearly expenses to exceed my yearly 



A LADY OF THE LAST CENTURY. 315 

income, I go on softly ; so that the plan will hardly 
be completed by this time two years. 

..." I dare say my brother has read with great 
pleasure Mr. Potter's " Enquiry into some Passages 
of Dr. Johnson's Lives of the Poets." Mr. Potter 
has also ably vindicated his friend Mr. Gray's 
Odes, &c, from cruel and unjust criticism, and this 
is done with great wit, taste, and good manners, — 
ingredients rarely put into the bitters of criticism. 
Modern witts and modern orators are apt to fall 
into the Billingsgate style, and from every kind of 
chastisement, made more severe and outrageous than 
the fault it should correct, one takes the part of 
the culprit against the harshness of the corrector." 

"Sandleford. Sept. ye 30th, 178 . . . . We are 
all very well and very happy ; these are the best 
articles a country journal can contain, and most 
likely to be found in a journal when ambitious pur- 
suits and tumultuous pleasures are perfectly excluded. 

..." There is a mode of taking exercise which, 
from my own experience, I think I shall recommend 
to all my friends who are not riders, and that is a 
one-horse chair. Sir Richard Jebb, just before I 
left London, advis'd me to the use of this carriage. 



316 A LADY OF THE LAST CENTURY. 

I objected to it, as unpleasant and unsafe. He 
assur'd me, that would I allow him to order me 
one of his coachmaker, after a model of one he had 
used on every kind of roads, he would answer for 
my finding it easy and secure. To this I consented, 
and, in a very obliging manner, he attended almost 
daily to see it was properly constructed, and, about 
six weeks ago, he wrote me word it was finished. 
I sent to London for it ; and I find it the most 
delightful way of taking exercise imaginable. I 
take an airing sometimes of sixteen or seventeen 
miles (ye going and return included), and I am 
never weary while abroad, nor fatigued when I get 
home. My machine is hung so low, I am exalted 
but little above the grazing herds, and at ye same 
time can hear distinctly the song of the skylark 
above my head. No rural sight or rural sound is 
intercepted. Miss Gregory is my charioteer : she 
prides herself more on caution than dexterity, so 
avoids every thing that could alarm me. As my 
driver is young, I chose an old horse to draw me ; 
but so much has every danger been obviated by 
the construction of the carriage, I believe I should 
be very safe with a steed of more vivacity and spirit. 



A LADY OF THE LAST CENTURY. 317 

If the weather is doubtful, my post chaise follows, 
that we may take shelter against its inclemencies. 
I am much pleased with this prescription of Sir 
Richard Jebb's. 

. . . "We are doing a great piece of work in 
feathers. Every sort of feather is useful ; so shall 
be much obliged if you can collect some for me." 

The old formality towards her sister-in-law never 
changed, as the following letter will show : — 

"Nov. 26th, 1783. . . . You mention, my dear 
madam, with regret that you had not asked me to 
dine ; but you wrong your hospitality, for you 
offered me a very comfortable dinner ; but know- 
ing, in your unsettled state at Burfield, dining guests 
must be very troublesome, I had calculated and 
contrived all things so as to make you merely a 
noonday visit. To tell you the truth, I am so afraid 
of my postillion and servants getting a too great 
dose of ale at the houses of gentlemen in a country 
neighbourhood, that I make a rule never to dine 
from home. I have enjoy'd your kind and elegant 
hospitality at your house in Kent, and am sure the 
same spirit would ever exert itself to give an 
agreable welcome to your friends. 



318 A LADY OF THE LAST CENTURY. 

..." Mr. Barret has been very judicious in his 
choice of Mr. Wyatt for his architect. He has a 
most happy art of improving an old house. Where 
a part is to be extended beyond the first intention, the 
additions should be Gothick ; for symmetry not being 
the object of the Gothick architects, irregularity 
is not considered an imperfection in their designs. 
Additions made to houses in any other taste destroy 
the intended proportions, and introduce confusion 
and deformity.'-'! am more a friend to the Gothick 
on the outside than within ; for, unless by great 
expense and care, the Gothick fitting-up is clumsy 
and gloomy. Mr. Walpole tells me Mr. Wyatt 
has made a most beautiful design for Mr. Barret. 
I shall make my ingenious friend show it to me 
when he has leisure. 

" Pray do you not begin to entertain hopes that 
you may one day sail in the air to our planet? 
Miss Gregory went yesterday to see our air balloon 
launched. I had letters to write, and expected 
company to dine with me and to stay the evening, 
so I could not find time to attend this aerial 
machine. All the philosophers at Paris are busy, 
making experiments on their balloons, and their 



A LADY OF THE LAST CENTURY. 319 

beaux esprits are making verses and uttering des 
bons mots on them, A friend of mine brought me 
a dialogue, written at Paris, between the cock, the 
duck, and the sheep, which made the air voyage 
together. The cock was the only animal that 
seem'd the greater coxcomb for his travels. It is 
impossible to say whether this new invention may 
not lead to discoveries of importance. At present, 
it is merely a philosophical shuttle-cock for the 
amusement of old children. As we are not so 
eager for new playthings as our lively neighbours 
the French, we do not make such a bustle about 
these balloons as they do ; for I understand they are 
the subject of conversation in all the polite circles 
at Paris. 

... "Of the many obligations I have received 
from Mr. Montagu, I do not reckon it among the 
least that he permitted me to have my younger 
brothers to dine with me every Sunday while they 
were at Westminster School ; and, after the death of 
my mother, to have them at Sandleford during 
holydays and vacations. Whether these attentions 
make any impression on those who receive them or 
not, the person who has paid them must ever reflect 



320 A LADY OF THE LAST CENTUBY. 

with pleasure on having done their part. Fate ben 
per voi, do good for your own sake, is an admirable 
moral maxim. 

. . . "The Prince of Wales has given many 
brilliant entertainments, but his present bad con- 
dition of health will suspend, at least, those gaieties. 
It is thought he has an abscess forming in his side. 
It is said he suffers a great deal, but if those suffer- 
ings bring him into a habit of temperance, it will 
be good for him to have been afflicted. His poli- 
tical engagements have been productive of some 
salutary chastisements. He has been hiss'd a. toute 
outrance at the theatres. 

" The French ambassador has fitted up his house 
with much gayety and splendor. He is much con- 
nected with that party which is at present very 
unpopular. It is affirmed that his court has 
remitted 70,000/. lo him, to support the party in 
elections. The French Cabinet has ever made use 
of bribery whenever they could introduce it for their 
purposes ; and alas ! there are few places or persons 
to whom gold does not find access ! 

... "I think your evening readings must be 
very improving to my neice. History presents 



A LADY OF TEE LAST CENTURY. 321 

to young persons many good examples, and will 
counteract the impressions of our newspapers, which 
give an account of the vices, follies, and extrava- 
gances of ye times. It is much better for a young 
lady to read the characters of the Lucretias and 
Portias than to defile her mind with paragraphs of 
crim. con., elopements, &c. 

..." My health has not been interrupted by the 
bad weather we have had. I believe Portman Square 
is the Montpellier of England. I never enjoy'd 
such health as since I came to live in it." 

"1784. Sandleford. . . . The improvements out 
of doors have advanced greatly from the time I 
left Sandleford last August. What I left a little 
rivulet had assumed the air of a river. Charming 
walks on its banks and through the wood make me 
often think with gratitude of the late Mr. Brown, 
by whose plans all these things were accomplish'd. 
. . . We are now embellishing the grounds to the 
south and making an approach to the house, which 
will be far preferable to the present. Mr. Wyatt 
has built me a large bed-chamber and dressing- 
room, which command a beautiful prospect. . . . 
Mrs. More and Mrs. Garrick are now with me, 

Y 



322 A LADY OF TEE LAST CENTURY. 

and, I flatter myself, will not leave me before I may 
hope for my lord primate's return." 

It was in the above year that Johnson gave the 
following testimony to the quality of Mrs. Mon- 
tagu's intellect : — " Mrs. Montagu, sir, does not make 
a trade of her wit ; but Mrs. Montagu is a very ex- 
traordinary woman ; she has a constant stream of 
conversation, and it is always impregnated — it has 
always meaning." He further said, " That lady exerts 
more mind in conversation than any person I ever 
met with. Sir, she displays such powers of ratioci- 
nation, such radiations of intellectual eminence, as 
are amazing." . . . 



( 323 ) 



CHAPTER XIII. 

To Mrs. W. Robinson.—" Sandleford. Feb. 3, 
1784. . . . The air-balloons, without a pun, may 
be said to rise higher and higher, by every ex- 
periment. Messrs. Roberts performed a journey of 
150 miles in six hours. By this mode of travelling 
I might go hence to my house in Northumberland 
in twelve hours ; but till the aerial navigation is 
more ascertained, I shall not attempt it ; lest, instead 
of finding myself at the verge of my coal-pits, the 
end of my journey, I should alight on the summit 
of a Welsh mountain. 

"Montagu had last night the pleasure of re- 
ceiving a very kind and sensible letter from your 
son, and every stroke of his pen sets ye mark of a 
good heart. I think you will have great comfort 
in him. The most brilliant persons are not always 
the happiest or most esteem'd ; more rarely still the 
best-beloved. Too much presumption in their own 

y a 



324 A LADY OF TEE LAST CENTURY. 

excellencies, too little indulgence to the defects of 
others, if it does not totally destroy our admiration, 
certainly eliminates our affection ; and it is far 
better to be beloved than admired. 

. . . " As to the new plantations (at Sandleford), 
their progress to perfection will be so much slower 
than mine to decay, I cannot expect to see much 
advance there ; but the hope of their giving plea- 
sure to those I love, when I am no more, will ren- 
der them objects of pleasant contemplation. ... If 
you have seen the Recorder lately, he would perhaps 
tell you that we had an alarm of fire one night, but 
it was extinguished and all danger over in less than 
an hour. The fire began from my old dressing- 
room. It is the second time it has happened there. 
The first accident was many years ago. You may 
imagine we no longer hazard making a fire in a 
chimney which has such communication with tim- 
ber. I assure you, on the cry of Fire ! in the house 
at four in the morning, Montagu jump'd out of 
bed, rush'd into my room, and begg'd that he 
might immediately conduct me down stairs, with a 
tender zeal, equal to that of the pious iEneas to 
the old Anchises. The end of the passage, from the 



A LADY OF THE LAST CENTUBY, 325 

dressing-room to my bed-chamber, appeared to be 
in flames, but we had one staircase at a distance, 
which promised a safe retreat ; so that really I was 
not so much agitated, or he any way disordered. 
Montagu, by his alacrity, was of infinite use. The 
first water thrown on the flames boil'd up ; but he 
and a blind man whom I have kept ever since he 
lost his sight, which is about fifteen years since, 
were more useful than all the rest of the family. I 
sent to Newtown, to call up the workmen employ'd 
at my new offices, and they pull'd up the beams and 
rafters as soon as the flames were quench'd. My 
Newtown neighbours behav'd with great neigh- 
bourly kindness, but all the assistance had been in 
vain, if I had not been awake and rais'd the family 
at the first crackling of the fire ; for it made very 
rapid advances. I was much complimented on my 
courage, from which my composure was suppos'd 
to arise, but I confess that composure had its rise in 
cowardice. I was so glad to find our lives were 
not in danger, that ye consequences threatened 
to my property made little impression. The 
coward's declaration, ' Spare my life and take all I 
have!' seem'd to be the expression of my mind. 



326 A LADY OF THE LAST CENTURY 



Thank God! the damage has been in all respects 
very trifling. I am very glad that this alarm did 
not happen after my lord primate and Sir W. 
Robinson arrived. A fire is the worst fete champetre 
one can treat one's friends with. 

..." Business will detain me here for a fortnight 
longer. ... I shall then go to Bath for about a 
month, to enjoy the primate's society, who generally 
spends the evening with me. I have not any pre- 
tence to drink the waters, being perfectly well. I 
may take a little of them, perhaps, as I love to fall 
in with the customs of the place in which I reside. 

..." My great piece of feather-work is not yet 
compleated ; so, if you have an opportunity of get- 
ting me any feathers, they will be very acceptable. 
The brown tails of partridges are very useful, tho' 
not so brilliant as some others." 

At sixty-five, Mrs. Montagu did not consider 
herself too old to figure at court. The poets had 
not ceased to take interest in her and to make her 
the subject of their rhymes. " Have you seen 
Mr. Jerningham's lines on Mrs. Montagu falling 
down stairs at the Drawing-room ?" asks little Miss 
Port of her father, in a letter dated February, 1785, 



A LADY OF THE LAST CENTUBT. 327 

in the Delany correspondence. " In case you should 
not, I will send them to you." 

" Ye valiant Fair ! ye Hebes of the day, 
Who heedless laugh your little hours away ! 
Let caution be your guide, whene'er you sport 
Within the splendid precincts of the Court. 
The event of yesterday for prudence calls, 
'Tis dangerous treading where Minerva falls f' 

Minerva's sympathies were now aroused by a 
family incident, thus narrated to Mrs. Robinson : — 
"March ye 15, 1785. ... I know my brother and 
you and your daughters will be glad to hear Mon- 
tagu is going to be married, in a manner which is 
agreable to himself and to me. The young lady 
is so form'd and qualified as to please both the 
fancy and the judgment, and her fortune such as to 
content any reasonable wishes. She has 45,000/. in 
present ; 3000/. more is to remain in the funds to 
secure an annuity to a very old person during his 
life, and who has been sometime bedridden ; so it 
will soon come into Miss Charlton. She has also 
an annuity of 300/. a year on the life of a young 
prodigal ; but the regular payment of this is not to 
be depended upon. She has also some other little 
contingencies ; so that her fortune is not esti- 



328 A LADY OF THE LAST CENTURY. 



mated at less than fifty thousand pounds, by her 
guardians. 

"From Montagu's good character, those guardians 
and her relations are very desirous of the match, 
which will take place when the lawyers compleat the 
settlements — an affair which I fear will take up no 
small time, as they have no mercy on the im- 
patience of lovers. She is a ward of Chancery, so, 
many forms are necessary. You may imagine 
pretty large settlements in land, both present and 
future, will be required from me ; but, as Montagu's 
happiness and prosperity is my great object, I shall 
comply with every reasonable condition. Miss 
Charlton's excellent understanding, and her gentle 
and unaffected manners, render her very agreable. 
She has a very pleasing countenance, and tho' 
rather little, is finely made and remarkably genteel. 
She is an orphan, but is with her grandmother — a 
very sensible, well-bred woman, and who is almost 
as much in love with Montagu as her grand- 
daughter is. It adds much to my satisfaction that 
those who were at Mrs. Terry's boarding-school 
with Miss Charlton, are very fond of her, and speak 
highly of her good temper; to which, indeed, 



A LADY OF THE LAST GENTUBY. 329 

her guardians and intimate acquaintance give ye 
strongest testimony. As good humour is the great 
ingredient of human happiness, it gives me much 
delight to find my dear Montagu will find it in his 
partner. His own temper is the happiest I ever 
knew. We dined yesterday at the Bishop of Salis- 
bury's. I was glad his lordship did not ask how 
many months in the year your caro sposo spent at 
Burfield. . . . Mr. Pitt is thought to gain ground 
daily, and the opposition babble is little attended to 
in the House. The town is very gay. The balls are 
protracted to seven in the morning. Montagu 
danced till that hour the other night at the Duchess 
of Bolton's, but he yawned so horribly the next 
morning, I think when he is Benedict ye married 
man, he will not caper at that hour to please ye young 
ladies. He din'd to-day at ye young lady's guardians, 
and is not come home, or would send his duty." 

"July ye iath, 1785. . . . You would know by 
various sources of intelligence how our matrimonial 
negotiations went forward, and the day on which they 
were happily compleated. So I will begin my history 
where your information ended, — our getting into our 
carriages at the door of Marybonne Church. 



330 A LADY OF TEE LAST GENTUBY. 

" Venus no longer sends her car and doves ; but 
a post chaise with four able horses and two brisk 
postillions do as well. At Salt Hill, we stopp'd 
to take some refreshment. I eat a good deal of 
cold ham and chicken. The lovers sigJid and 
looUd, sigKd and looEd, and sigk'd again, and 
piddled a little on a gooseberry tart. At Reading, 
we drunk tea, and there Lord Lansdowne, being 
also on the road, came to us and made his com- 
pliments, but with so much delicacy as not to bring 
ye maiden's blush into ye cheeks of the bride. 
Indeed, for fear of distressing her, I did not present 
her to his lordship, so he only made her a low 
bow, accompanied by an emphatical look. To the 
bridegroom, he wished joy. At eight, we arrived at 
Sandleford. Our soup and bouillie had been ready 
for some hours ; the rest was soon dress'd. We 
avoided passing through the town of Newbury; so 
the bells there, which were jangling on the happy 
occasion, did not give us any disturbance. The 
decent dignity of the bride's behaviour and the deli- 
cacy of the bridegroom's did them honour, and gave 
me great pleasure ; and we are three as happy people 
as can be found in any part of the habitable globe. 



A LADY OF TEE LAST CENTURY. 331 

" Mrs. Matthew Montagu is much pleased with 
Sandleford. It was always the favorite of her hus- 
band ; and now he has got a fair Eve, it appears 
to him a Paradise. I am in perfect health and 
perfect content, which is enough for me. Joy and 
rapture are for youth. 

..." The Bath is a dull place. Tunbridge has 
a pert character. The Pantile Walk in summer is 
pleasanter than the Pump Room at Bath in ye win- 
ter; and as anything original pleases more than a 
bad imitation, I must own I pass'd my time there 
with less ennui than in the city of Bath, where the 
London life is awkwardly imitated. 

... "It is believed that Lady Sutherland will 
marry Lord Trentham ; and some suppose Miss 
Pulteney will be bestow'd on Lord Morton. I am 
glad, for the credit of our sex, neither of these ladies 
make a scamper to Gretna Green. 

..." Our brother, the Recorder, has acted in 
a very friendly and generous manner towards us, — 
bestow'd without favour or reward much patience 
and skill on the voluminous settlements, which the 
mercenary spirit of the lawyers employ'd to draw 
them had extended over, as many acres of parch- 



332 A LADY OF THE LAST CENTURY. 

ment as, converted into green land, would make 
a pretty little farm ; and for which, 1 suppose, they 
will charge as much as would purchase a tolerably 
good one. To effect this, they were so tedious in 
their proceedings ; for my proposals were imme- 
diately and perfectly approved both by the Lord 
Chancellor and Master in Chancery. 

. . . "The bride and bridegroom beg you all 
to accept their proper respect." 

The following descriptive letter, addressed to Mrs. 
Robinson, Castle Street, Reading, was franked by 
Mr. Matthew Montagu, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, 
September the 22nd, 1786: — 

..." I arrived at Mrs. Garrick's, at Hampton, 
the evening of the day on which I visited you at 
Reading, and spent five days with her; making, 
indeed, almost every day an excursion to London, 
to visit my poor friend, Mrs. Vesey, whom I found 
in a very declining state of health. From Hampton 
I went to the Dowager Lady Spencer's, at St. Albans, 
where I passed two days very agreably, and re- 
gretted that my business here would not allow me 
to prolong my visit. The history of La Fee 
Bienfaisante is not half so delightful as seeing the 



A LADY OF TEE LAST CENTURY. 333 



manner in which Lady Spencer spends her day. 
Every moment of it is employed in some act of 
benevolence and charity. Her ladyship carried me 
to see the remains of the seat of the great Lord 
Bacon, at Gorhambury, where remains, but is soon 
to be pulled down, the gallery in which he passed 
those hours of study which pointed out the road 
to science, and investigation of the works of nature. 
The estate is now in the possession of Lord Grim- 
ston, who has built a fine house there ; but I could 
not help sighing at the reflection that the posterity 
of the ridiculous author of "Love in a Hollow 
Tree," should build on the ruins of Lord Bacon's 
habitation. 

"From St. Albans I struck into the high road 
at Welling, not without paying the tribute of a 
sigh to the memory .of my old friend Dr. Young. 
From that place till I got into Yorkshire, I did not 
see any interesting objects but the mile-stones. . . . 
Here, at my Gothick mansion near Newcastle, the 
naiads are dirty with the coal-keels, and the dryads' 
tresses are torn and dishevelled with the rough 
blasts of Boreas. My lot has not fallen on a fair 
ground, but it would be ungrateful not to own 



334 A LADY OF THE LAST CENTURY. 

it is a goodly heritage, and makes a decent figure 
when it arrives at ye shop of Hoare and Co., in 
Fleet Street. A week after me, arrived in perfect 
health my nephew and neice Montagu. We are 
always here plagued with high winds, and this 
season they have raged with great violence; but 
as this house was built in 1620, I hope it will not 
now yield to storms it has braved for now two 
hundred years. The walls are of immense thickness? 
having been built of strength to resist our Scottish 
neighbours, who, before the Union made frequent 
visits to this part of the world. My Gothick win- 
dows admit light, but exclude prospect ; so that, when 
sitting down, I can see only the tops of the trees. 

..." I observe with great pleasure that Mon- 
tagu has a happy turn for business, and applies 
himself to learning the science of coal-mine-working, 
of which many coal-owners are ignorant entirely, 
but none ought to be so. Without working in 
the mines, the process may be, to a certain extent, 
understood by any one who possesses any mathe- 
matical knowledge. The late Duke of Northum- 
berland was very able in all those matters. Lord 
Mount-Stewart is now at Newcastle attending the 



A LADY OF THE LAST CENTUBY. 335 



business of the collieries he acquired by his marriage 
with Lord Windsor's daughter. Lord Carlisle never 
comes into Northumberland, but leaves his affairs 
entirely to agents. Lord Ravensworth was very 
attentive to his collieries, but his heir, Sir Henry 
Liddell, is of a very different character. He amused 
himself and neighbours with the exhibition of two 
Lapland women whom he imported. He collects 
all sorts of wild beasts ; and his ale-cellars make beasts 
of men. It is strange that Lord Ravensworth should 
prefer such a nephew to his grandsons. 

..." I am obliged to you for your kind atten- 
tion to my feather-work. The neck and breast 
feathers of the stubble goose are very useful, and 
I wish your cook would save those of the Michael- 
mas goose for us. Things homely and vulgar are 
sometimes more useful than the elegant, and the 
feathers of the goose may be better adapted to some 
occasions than the plumes of the phoenix." 

Mrs. Montagu was ever touching and re-embel- 
lishing her famous " feather-hangings." Cowper has 
told in song how — 

" The birds put off their every hue, 
To dress a room for Montagu." 



336 A LADY OF THE LAST CENTURY. 



Peacock, pheasant, swan, and " all tribes beside of 
Indian name," says the poet, contributed plumage 

of— 

" splendour ever new, 

Safe with protecting Montagu." 

To 'her court,' thus decorated, resorted Genius, 
Wit, Philosophy, Learning, and Fancy : 

" All these to Montagu's repair, 
Ambitious of a shelter there. 
She thus maintains divided sway, 
With yon bright regent of the day ; 
The plume and poet both, we know, 
Their lustre to his influence owe ; 
And she, the works of Phcebus aiding, 
Both poet saves, and plume, from fading.'' 

To Mrs. Robinson. — " Portman Square. Feb. 8, 
1787. ... I have been in town almost three 
weeks, in all which time I have not had three hours 
of leisure. At my arrival in Portman Square, my 
porter presented me with an infinite number of cards 
of invitation, letters, notes, and not a few books, 
presents from their authors. I flattered myself that 
in four or five days this bustle would begin to sub- 
side, but another cause of receiving visits and writing 
notes and letters began. The occasion was, indeed, 
such as gave me great pleasure, even that on which 



A LADY OF THE LAST OENTUBY. 337 

you so obligingly congratulated me. So good- 
natured was the world to the old aunt, that many 
members of the House of Commons who had heard 
his speech, and many of the House of Lords who 
had heard of it, called in the morning to congratu- 
late me, and, indeed, for several mornings, I had a 
levee like a minister. Nothing ominous ; I hope 
that ye young man who was the occasion, will never , 
be in that situation which, I perfectly agree with my 
friend Soame Jenyns, is the most miserable of any, 
except that of king in a free country. Ladies wrote 
me congratulatory notes from all quarters of the 
town, and I have since had letters from my distant 
correspondents in the country, on the subject of 
the Drawing-room. I received many compliments, 
but those which most nattered my vanity were from 
the greatest lady there, the first minister, the 
Lord Chancellor, and some distinguished persons in 
the opposition. However, as these glories soon fade 
away, and such a kind of speech is forgotten in a 
few days, the most heartfelt joy I had, arose from 
the delight his brother express'd on his success. 
The wise man says, A brother is born for the day 
of adversity ; and, indeed, there are few men so 

z 



338 A LADY OF TEE LAST CENTURY. 

wicked as not to pity and assist a brother in misfor- 
tune. But the good and great mind alone takes 
delight in the success and fame of a brother. The 
envious think they can escape censure when they 
neglect a friend or relative in prosperity, and indulge 
their malice safely in giving little hints to their 
disadvantage; but my nephew show'd a different 
kind of spirit. As soon as the House was up, he ran 
to Mrs. M. Montagu, to his mother, and to me, 
and with a most joyous countenance, and in a most 
expressive manner, told me in what manner our 
young orator's speech had been received in the House. 
Montagu felt this instance of fraternal affection 
with the tenderness and gratitude it deserved, and I 
hope they will be through life an honour and happi- 
ness to each other. You rightly imagine the wife 
and aunt are not without anxiety, lest parliamentary 
exertions and attendance should hurt our young 
man's health, but at present he is perfectly well. 

..." The only thing that induces the primate to 
prolong his stay at Bath is that he is not lame. The 
dumb gout, as he calls it, which used to make him 
so, has for some months in a manner forsaken him, 
andhe thinks it prudent to endeavour to bring it back. 



A LADY OF THE LAST CENTURY. 339 

..." I should have been very anxious if such a 
cargo as the virtues and amiabilities of dear Miss 
Arnold had been put on board the horrid mail 
coach ; so, I am obliged, to her for complying with 
my entreaties to take a slower but safer conveyance. 
... I write in much hurry ; the letter-bell tinkles." 

The speech referred to in the above letter was 
made by Mr. Matthew Montagu, when seconding 
the motion on the royal address with which par- 
liament was opened. The speech was warmly 
eulogistic of Mr. Eden's commercial treaty. Fox 
praised the young speaker and tore his argument to 
pieces. 

Wraxall, referring, in the " Memoirs of his own 
Time," to Mrs. Montagu's nephew, Matthew Ro- 
binson, says : — "The celebrated Mrs. Montagu, his 
aunt, who so long occupied the first place among 
the 'gens de lettres,' in London, having adopted 
him as her heir, he received her husband's name. 
At her feet he was brought up, — a school more 
adapted to form a man of taste and improvement 
than a statesman or a man of the world. After this 
gentleman entered the House of Commons, there 
was some difficulty in distinguishing between him 

z i 



340 A LADY OF THE LAST CENTUBY. 



(Matthew Montagu) and Montagu Matthew. Gene- 
ral Matthew himself defined the distinction. 'I 
wish it to be understood,' said he, 'that there is 
no more likeness between Montagu Matthew and 
Matthew Montagu than between a chesnut-horse 
and a horse-chesnut.' " 

To Mrs. Robinson. — " Sandleford. July 14, 1 787. 
. . . That I was delighted at becoming a grand- 
mother, for such I account myself to the dear babe, 
cannot be doubted ; and surely it is the most agre- 
able and becoming office of old age. I have always 
wonder'd at the wild and rash ambition which 
impell'd men to wish and seek for conditions and 
offices to which they were not by talents or circum- 
stances well adapted ; but I may say without vanity, 
I have the age, the experience, the wrinkles, the 
foibles which form the compleat character of grand- 
mother ; and I long to be in full office, but it will 
be above a fortnight before father, mother, child, 
and cradle will be fix'd at Sandleford. ... I should 
have been under dreadful anxieties if she had not 
been so well ; for she is the most amiable, agreable, 
and valuable young woman I ever knew. She is 
a mere mortal, and, I suppose, she must have some 



A LADY OF THE LAST CENTURY. 341 

faults ; but tho' I have watched her continually, I 

have never been able to discover any in her. 

..." I am not interested in the Christmas quarter. 

When one is too old to play at blind man's buff 

and hunt the whistle, I think one cannot pass a 

merry Christmas in the country. 

' Tower'd cities pleased us then, 
And the busy haunts of men.' 

Good society and the animated circle of a great 
town supply all that the winter season deprives us of. 

..." I was much pleas'd with a work of Mr. 
Morgan's, your son's tutor, which he had the good- 
ness to send me. I think it not only very ingenious 
and well-written, but that it will have a very good 
effect upon the shallow wits and foolish pedants who 
affect to be infidels by way of showing their parts and 
learning. ... I have visited and been visited by the 
Pocock family, settled here.. They seem very good 
kind of people." 

"Friday, Sept. ye 14th, 1787. To Mrs. Robinson, 
at Mr. Baker's Circulating Library, Southampton. 
— I think there is greater variety in the environs of 
Southampton than in any part of England perhaps ; 
and all in the noble style, — the great ocean, the wide 



342 A LADY OF THE LAST CENTURY. 

forest, and scenes of rural beauty are all within 
reach of our airing. So, as the humour points to 
the allegro or the penseroso, you may direct your 
jaunts, and find the nereids, or the dryads, or 
Pomona receive you with their best graces and 
softest smiles. 

.. . . " The lord primate departs from Bristol to- 
day, and intends to come to Sandleford the begin- 
ning of next week. His grace had appointed a day 
for doing me that favour six weeks ago ; but the 
journey caused a return of the gravel, and he was 
oblig'd to stop at Marlbro', and sent a servant to 
tell us of the disappointment. So Mrs. Scott and I 
went to him and staid two days, at the end of 
which he was able to return to Bristol by gentle 
journeys, and return to the use of the Bristol waters, 
which, indeed, his physician was very loth he should 
quit ; and, thank God, he has not since had any 
return of the complaint. 

..." I have had a succession of company in my 
house ; attention to them, and morning airings, and 
domestick business have engross'd my time. In the 
present state of my house, I have only one spare 
room, which was first occupied by Dr. and Mrs. 



A LADY OF THE LAST CENTURY. 343 

Wharton ; then by Dr. Beattie ; then by Mr., and 
Mrs. Smelt and their neices. 

..." Montagu set out for Denton on Monday 
last, to give his attention to opening a new seam of 
coal. It gave me great pleasure' »tb see him apply 
to the knowledge of collieries, which not above two 
or three of our gentlemen, interested in those valu- 
able possessions, will take the trouble to do. 

..." You will find Sandleford embellish'd since 
you saw it. I have now thirty men at work, making 
a piece of water down to ye river from ye water on the 
side of the wood. It will have a very beautiful effect. 

..." Will you pardon my making a bold and 
impertinent petition. The trout season being now 
over, I shall be distress'd how to provide fish for the 
primate. If any day after Wednesday next, you 
would let one of your servants purchase the finest 
dish of fish the sea produces and direct it, accom- 
panied by a crab and a lobster, to me, to be left at 
the turnpike at Newtown, Hants, I will not grudge 
any price for it. I would not be thus troublesome 
for any guest I did not so much wish to indulge as 
the primate. . . . Mrs. M. Montagu desires her 
most respectful compliments to you." 



344 A LADY OF THE LAST CENTUBY. 

"Portman Square. Jany. ye ioth, 1788. . . . 
I found London on my arrival, the nth of 
November, according to the old song, 'A fine 
town and a gallant city.' I never knew it so full 
of the fine world at that season of the year. At 
Christmas it is the Ton to go into the country for 
the holydays; but yet, on New Year's Day, the 
Drawing-room was as much crowded as it used to be 
during the sitting of the parliament ; but what adds 
most to the pleasure of society is the satisfaction all 
people express at our triumphs over the ungrateful 
Dutch and the insidious French. The Mynheers 
and the Mounseers bow before us, and all this ob- 
tain'd without any bloodshed, and at little expense. 

"I cannot by the best information form any 
conjecture how the fermentations in France will 
end. I rather think the spirit of liberty they have 
imported from America will be beat up into the 
froth of remonstrances and satires, than have any 
solid effect. A nabob has purchas'd Mr. Saw- 
bridge's house, who, being as prudent in domestick 
as sagacious in publick affairs, is oblig'd to give it 
up to his creditors." 

In 1788, Mrs. Montagu adopted a fashion which 



A LADY OF THE LAST CENTURY. 345 

had been introduced by the Duke of Dorset, of 
giving a the. The Duke had been our ambas- 
sador in France, and had brought thence a fashion, 
reasonable enough, of offering a tea at eight to 
people who dined at two ; but unreasonable in 
England, where the hour for dinner, in great houses, 
was six o'clock. Hannah More describes the teas as 
Mme. de Bocage, nearly forty years before, had 
described Mrs. Montagu's breakfasts. From fifty 
to a hundred guests were seated at a long table or 
made up little parties at small ones. The cloth was 
laid as at breakfast, and the tea was made by the 
company. Every one had a napkin, as at a 
public breakfast. The table was covered with hot 
buttered-rolls, muffins, bread and butter, and wafers. 
Hannah More adds to her description, made in nearly 
the above words : " Of all nations under the sun, as I 
take it, the English are the greatest fools." At the 
breakfasts in Hill Street there was appetite with clear 
intellects ; at the " Blue-stocking " coteries there, 
a select circle, and not a fool among them; but 
what wit could there be among people eating 
buttered muffins two hours after a heavy dinner 
and strong port wine ? 



346 A LADY OF THE LAST CENTURY. 

"December, 1788. — My dear Neice. As I 
was indebted to you for the favour of a letter, when 
I left Sandleford, I should have fulfill'd my pro- 
mise of sending you whatever news I could collect 
in the great metropolis ; but instead of finding this 
town the seat of gayety, I found it the abode of 
melancholly. Every countenance (except of the 
fox kind) looked dejected. The king's illness and 
our country's danger occupied every mind, and 
tinctured every conversation with melancholly and 
anxiety. The reports of his majesty's condition 
for these three days have been much more favor- 
able than any time since he was first taken ill ; so the 
hopes of being again under the government of a 
good king are revived, and the dread of a bad set of 
men who wanted to usurp his power, has, from the 
spirited conduct of the houses of parliament, much 
abated. 

" Mr. Fox is in a very bad state of health. His 
rapid journeys to England, on the news of the king's 
illness, have brought on him a violent complaint 
in the bowels, which will, it is imagined, prove 
mortal. However, if it should, it will vindicate his 
character from the general report that he has no 



A LADY OF THE LAST GENTUBY. 347 

bowels, as has been most strenuously asserted by his 
creditors. 

"After I left Mrs. Boscawen's, at Richmond, I 
passed a week very agreably with my dear friends at 
Shooter's Hill ; and should have prolonged my stay 
there if I had not been afraid to meet December in 
the country. The weather has justified my appre- 
hensions. Weather makes small part of the com- 
forts of a London life, and I have pass'd my time 
very comfortably. Twice or thrice a week, I invite 
seven or eight agreable persons to dine with me. 
On other days, I often prevail on some intimate 
friend to partake of my mutton and chicken, which, 
with the visits of such of my acquaintance as are in 
town, give me enough of society. I have not been 
out of my house above four times since I came to 
town, the ist of December, for I am afraid to expose 
my weak eyes to the northern blast. 

" My nephew Robinson set out for Horton on 
Christmas Day. Montagu and his family intend to 
continue at Shooter's Hill till ye parliament meet 
daily. . . . He comes up in a morning to attend the 
House, and returns the next morning, but gives 
me the pleasure of seeing him when he comes to 



348 A LADY OF THE LAST CENTUBY. 

town. ; and a kind visit I had also from her yes- 
terday. Few of the gentlemen of either House of 
Parliament have yet brought their ladies to London, 
so you will not wonder there is little news stirring 
but of the political kind. However, there is a 
marriage going forward, at which I am rejoyced, 
as it will add to the happiness of two persons whose 
paternal conduct well deserves that reward. Many 
in our town dissipate the estates they inherited from 
their ancestors, and suffer their noble mansions to 
fall to ruin ; but Lord and Lady Mount Edgcumbe, 
by prudent conduct, have retrieved the family 
estates, which his lordship's elder brother had 
embarrass'd ; all which will now be secured by 
settlements and inherited by their posterity. Mr. 
Edgcumbe is going to be married to Lady Sophia 
Hobart. Lord Mount Edgcumbe behaves very 
generously in his settlements. . . . The joy those 
good parents express at seeing their son now out of 
danger of any imprudent choice or vicious con- 
nection is great. Indeed, a parent's satisfaction in 
his son can never be compleat till the important 
point of his marriage is accomplish'd ; for, if he 
marries a trumpery girl, she not only does not bring 



A LADY OF TEE LAST CENTURY. 349 

any addition to the family property, but the eleva- 
tion of her situation so much above her birth, will 
probably make her extravagant and fall into absurd 
method that will ruin it." 

To her niece. — "Portman Square. Dec. 31, 1789. 
. . . The kind of life one leads at Bath, tho' it offers 
but few amusements, allows no leisure. Sauntering 
is the business of the place. Beaux in boots, and 
misses in great coats, visit all the morning, and, 
having nothing better to do themselves, will not 
suffer others to do anything that is better. My 
evenings are always agreably engaged with my 
friends. The Bath is chiefly fill'd with Irish, but 
there were many persons there with whom I live 
in a great degree of intimacy when in London. 
I had the pleasure of finding and leaving the primate 
and Sir William Robinson in perfect health. I 
expect his grace will be in town in a few days. Sir 
William will remain at Bath and pursue the warm 
bathing, which he finds very beneficial. 

. . . "My nephew Robinson was so good as 
to be with me at Bath. ... I came to town yes- 
terday sennight. The cold lodging-houses at Bath, 
and the chill journey, made me feel myself wonder- 



350 A LADY OF TEE LAST CENTURY. 

fully comfortable in this good and substantial man- 
sion. Ever since I first inhabited it, I have been 
sensible how much a good habitation softens the 
severity and enlivens the gloom of winter. 

" Montagu is gorte to Lord Harrowby's to spend 
ye holydays. He acquitted himself admirably of all 
his devoirs at Bath. He danced as many minouets, 
caper'd as many cotillions, and skipp'd as many 
country-dances as any young gentleman at ye place. 
He usually open'd the ball and danc'd to the last. 
Indeed, with a great deal of prudence and discretion, 
he has as lively, gay spirits as any one I ever knew ; so, 
he is happy at all times and in all places, and makes 
those who are with him so. 

..." We all imagine Mr. Pitt will have little to 
fear from the opposition. I do not hear any news. 
It would be doing too much honour to ye slanders 
of the newspapers to contradict them. 

..." You did my letters undeserved honour in 
taking the trouble to copy them. As I am arrived 
at an age to look back on my past life with more 
pleasure, perhaps, than to future expectations, I 
have found some satisfaction in the recollection of 
former days, which letters then written present to 



A LADY OF TEE LAST CENTURY. 351 

the mind in a more distinct and lively manner than 
memory can do. Whatever gave one great joy or 
great grief, leaves strong marks on the mind, 
but the soft, gentle pleasures, like ye annual flowers 
in a garden, pass away with ye season, unless thus 
preserved." These reflections denote the way whither 
this Lady of the Last Century was going. Hannah 
More noted, in 1790, the change that had come 
over the old order of things. In April, she chroni- 
cles, indeed, " a pleasant party," at Mrs. Montagu's, 
including Burke, " a sufficiently pleasant party of 
himself," and Mackenzie, " the man of feeling ;" but 
she also adds, " the old little parties are not to be 
had in the usual style of comfort. Every thing is 
great, and vast, and late, and magnificent, and dull." 
Wilberforce, too, was one of the welcome guests, 
and so intimate, that Mrs. Montagu called him by 
a pseudonym " the Red Cross Knight." But the 
splendid stage, the superb style, the pillars of verd 
antique, the room of feathers, these could not com- 
pensate for the less showy, but more real, delights of 
the old Blue Stocking days in Hill Street. But the lady 
of the house had still the same inexhaustible spirits, 
the same taste for business and magnificence. Three 



352 A LADY OF THE LAST CENTURY. 



or four great dinners in a week with Luxembourgs, 
Montmorencies, and Czartoriskis. " I had rather," 
said the sage Hannah, " for my part, live in our 
cottage at Cheddar. She is made for the great world, 
and is an ornament to it. It is an element she was 
born to breathe in." 

Hannah Mores duties were consistent with 
cottage life ; but Mrs. Montagu held her fortune 
in trust, and spent it in gratifications, the cost of 
which made glad hearts in a hundred homes. At 
some of her assemblies, eccentric as well as intel- 
lectual people seem now to have been admitted. 
Miss Burney notes, in 1792, having encountered at 
Montagu House, "a commonish, non-nothingish sort 
of a half good-humoured and sensibilish woman !" 
Soon, however, increasing infirmities weakened Mrs. 
Montagu's powers and afFected her spirits. But 
she who was, as Fanny Burney said, so " magnifi- 
cently useful " in her generation, kept up her magni- 
ficence and tried to maintain her usefulness to the 
last. Her supreme effort to get together the little, 
comfortable, intellectual parties that delighted Han- 
nah More, was made in 1798. " I have been at 
one bit of Blue there," wrote Dr. Burney to his 



A LADY OF THE LAST CENTURY. 353 

daughter. " Mrs. Montagu is so broken down as not 
to go out. She is almost wholly blind and very 
feeble." 

In the succeeding year, Mrs. Carter wrote to 
Hannah More : . . . " She has totally changed her 
mode of life, from a conviction that she exerted 
herself too much last year, and that it brought on 
the long illness, by which she suffered so much. . . . 
She never goes out except to take the air of a 
morning ; has no company to dinner (I do not call 
myself company) ; lets in nobody in the evening, 
which she passes in hearing her servant read, as 
her eyes will not suffer her to read herself." Mrs. 
Carter hopes that " a taste for the comfort of living 
quietly will, for the future, prevent her from mix- 
ing so much with- the tumults of the world, as to 
injure her health." 

Her interest in the education of girls was not 
affected by her decaying powers. After Mrs. 
Hannah More had published her celebrated work 
on that subject, and it had been read to Mrs. 
Montagu, the latter wrote to the author a letter, in 
which is the following passage : — ■" Sandleford. May, 
1799. You have most judiciously pointed out the 

2 a. 



354 A LADY OF THE LAST CENTURY. 

errors of modern education, which seems calculated 
entirely to qualify young women for whatever their 
god-fathers and god-mothers had renounced for 
them at their baptism ; and what is most shocking 
is, that a virtuous matron and tender mother values 
herself much on not having omitted anything that 
can fit her daughter for the world, the flesh, and 
the devil." This was the final judgment of a lady, 
who, in her own girlhood, had expressed herself in 
much the same terms, and who, later in life, had laid 
it down as a law for her own niece, that to dance a 
minuet well was of more importance than to have a 
knowledge of a foreign language. She had escaped 
perils herself, because she was always occupied. If, 
when a nymph, she so sported in the Marylebone 
waters, that lords wrote sonnets on her, she forgot 
the homage in her higher enjoyments of native and 
foreign literature. If she went joyously any num- 
ber of miles to a ball, danced with the very love of 
dancing, and shrieked with delight at being upset 
on her way home, the next day she had purer 
enjoyment in reading, analysing, and judging a 
translation of a Greek play or a volume of ancient 
or modern history. She did not despise being 



A LADY OF THE LAST CENTURY. 355 

^tractive, but she dressed her mind even more 
:arefully than she did her person. As she grew in 
rears, she was as ready for increasing duties as for 
ncreasing delights, and looked as fascinating among 
ler Berkshire farm-servants and her Northumbrian 
pitmen as she did, blazing with diamonds and 
lively spirits, in the Throne-room at St. James's. 
She never had a fool for an acquaintance, nor ever 
an idle hour, in the sense of idleness. Mistress of 
an ample fortune, she lived up to her income, and 
never beyond it. All around her profited by such 
stewardship. She is said to have done all things 
with a grace, and most things with ease. It was not 
more difficult for her to vanquish Voltaire than to 
make a grouse-pie for Garrick. When she passed 
to her rest, in 1800, she was prepared to go that 
way thankfully. Some few of her acquaintances 
dwelt, as such candid persons will, upon her little 
faults. But there was one good woman who re- 
membered only her great merits. "With Mrs. 
Montagu's faults," wrote Hannah More to Dr 
Whalley, in 1 808, " 1 have nothing to do. Her fine 
qualities were many. From my first entrance into 
a London life till her death, I ever found her an 

1 A 2 



356 A LADY OF THE LAST CENTURY. 

affectionate, zealous, and constant friend, as well as 
a most instructive and pleasant companion. Her 
3 r outh and beauty were gone long before I knew 
her." 

But even in the days of her maidenhood, when 
she was glad in her youth and in her beauty, 
and conscious of her intellect, yet unconscious of 
the pleasures, duties, and trials before her, yet 
when she feared she might live idle and die vain, 
she said, " If ever I have an inscription over me, 
it shall be without a name, and only, — Here lies one 
whom, having done no harm, no one should cen- 
sure ; and, having done no good, no one can com- 
mend ; who, for past folly, only asks oblivion." She 
lived, however, to do much good, to make great 
amends for small and venial follies, and by the 
magnificent usefulness, which Little Burney has 
recorded, to merit such pains as it may cost a 
poor chronicler to rescue her name and deeds from 
the oblivion which she asked in the pleasant days of 
her bright youth and her subduing beauty. 



AN INDEX OF PERSONS MENTIONED 
IN THIS VOLUME. 



\bercorn, Lady, 82. 

\dams, Mr., 274, 311. 

Wtkin, John, 222. 

Alexander the Great, 208, 239. 

\llen, Misses, 52. 

Almanzor, 92, 94. 

Mthorp, Lord, 282 (see Earl Spencer). 

Vmelia, the Princess, 118, 279, 291. 

Vncaster, Duke of, 99. 

Inne, Queen, 47. 

\nson, Lord, 90, 120. 

Vnstey, Mr., 247, 249, 251, 261, 295. 

, Mrs., 16, 51, 250. 

— , Miss, 41. 
Lquitaine, Duke of, 2. 
Lrmagh, Archbishop of, 3. 
irnold, Miss, 95, 339. 
ischam, Roger, 9. 
mgustus, 135. 

aeon, Lord, 333. 

aker, Mr., 341. 

arnard, Dr., 282, 283. 

arret, Mr., 318. 

ath, Earl of, 73, 101, 132, 137, 138, 271. 

athurst, Lord, 59. 



358 AN INDEX OF PERSONS 

Beattie, Dr., 192, 202, 243. 

, Mr., 271, 278. 

Beauchamp family, 134. 
Beauclerk, Mr. Topham, 154. 
Beaufort, Duchess of, 238, 282. 
Bedford, Duke of, 124, 126, 167, 168. 

, Duchess of, 278. 

Behn, Mrs. Aphra, 38. 

Bentinck, Lord Edward, 307. 

Berkley, Lord, 50. 

Bertie, Lord Robert, 1 10. 

Bladen, Miss [Lady Essex], 81. 

Blair, Dr., 145. 

Bocage, Madame du, 268, 269, 274, 303, 345. 

Boleyn, Queen Anne, 18, 281. 

Bolingbroke, Viscount, 59, 60. 

Bolton, Duchess of, 329. 

Boscawen, Admiral, 272. 

, Hon. Mrs., 62, 98, 101, 203, 271, 272, 282, 284, 291, 347. 

Boswell, James, 65, 66, 263, 276, 282, 295, 296. 
Boughton, Mrs., 244. 

, Miss, 310. 

Bower, the ex-Jesuit, 64. 
Bowes, Mr. Stoney, 223, 224. 

, Miss Mary [Lady Strathmore], 1 10, 223. 

Breadalbane, Lord, 157, 160. 
Bristol, Bishop of, 182. 

, Earl of, 309. 

Brooke family, 134. 

Brown, Mr., 306, 309, 313, 314, 321. 

, Lady, 47, 279, 280. 

Browne, Sir William, 84. 

Buchan, Earl of, 158. 

Buffon, Count de, 230. 

Bulkely, Lord, 222. 

Buller, Mrs., 281. 

Burgoyne, General, 77. 

Burke, Mr., 71, 74, 137, 165, 166, 174, 175, 217, 219, 285, 351. 



MENTIONED IN THIS VOLUME. 359 

Burke, Mrs., 174. 
Burney, Dr. Charles, 352. 

, Miss Frances [Madame d'Arblay], 303, 352, 356. 

Burrell, Miss, 235, 236. 

, Miss [sister of above], 236, 237. 

Bussy, Mons., 124. 

Bute, Earl of, 92, 101, 104, 121. 

, Countess of, 130. 

Canterbury, Archbishop of, alluded to, 308, 342. 

Car, Lady, 9. 

Carlisle, Bishop of, 116, 132, 145. 

, Earl of, 293, 335. 

Carmarthen, Lord, 258. 

Carter, Mrs. Elizabeth, 68, 77, 136, 137, 153, 271, 278, 353. 

, Miss, 98, 161. 

Cathcart, Lord, 277, 279. 

, Hon. William, 279. 

Chapone, Mrs. Hester [Miss Mulso], 157, 191, 264, 266, 296. 
Charles I., 8, 9. 

II., 15. 

Charlotte, Queen, 97, 303. 

Charlton, Miss, 327, 328 (see Mrs. Matthew Montagu). 

Chartres, Due de, 310. 

Chatham, Earl of, 161, 214, 238. 

, Baroness, 101. 

Chesterfield, Earl of, 2, 80, 121, 138, 222, 274. 
Chudleigh, Miss [Duchess of Kingston], 57. 
Cibber, Colley, 45. 

, Mrs., no. 

Cicero, 4. 

Clarke, Sir Alured, 136. 

, Lady (see Miss Hunter). 

" Clarissa Harlowe," 55. 
Clermont, Lady, 244, 278, 279, 282. 
Clive, Colonel, afterwards Lord, 114. 
Cockerell, Mrs., 236. 
Coke, Miss, 242. 



360 AN INDEX OF PEBSONS 

Collett, Mr., 91. 

Congreve, Mr., 186. 

Cork, Countess of [Miss Monkton], 282. 

Cornewall, Sir George, 147. 

Cornwallis, Bishop, 121. 

Corregio, 270. 

Cour, Dr. de la, 262. 

Courtenay, Mr., 289. 

Cowley, Abraham, 55. 

Cowper, William, 155. 

Croft, Sir Archer, 252. 

, Lady, 252. 

Cumberland, Richard, 297, 298, 299, 303. 

, Miss, 307. 

Czartoriski, Prince, 352. 

Dalrymple, Colonel, 179. 

Danne, Mr. 232. 

Darby, Captain, 189. 

Darlington, Earl of, 53. 

D'Aubenton, Mons., 230. 

Dayrolles, Mr., 274. 

Deane, Silas, 222. 

Delany, Mrs., 60, 191, 193, 203, 272, 291, 327. 

Denoyer, Mrs., 70. 

Derby, Earl of, 258. 

Dering, Sir Edward, 119. 

Derrick, Mr., 91. 

Devonshire, Duchess of, 215, 244. 

Dewes, Mrs., 60. 

Diaforus, Thomas, 93. 

Dillingham, Mr., 264. 

Diogenes, 86, 159. 

Dodd, Dr. William, 222. 

, Mrs., 222. 

Donellan, Mrs., 37, 60, 118. 
Dorset, Duke of, 258, 345. 
Drake, Miss Elizabeth, 1. 



MENTIONED IN THIS VOLUME. 361 

Drummond, Mrs., 246. 

Dunbar, Mrs., 153. 

Dundas, Mr., 145. 

Dunk, George Montagu, Earl of Halifax, 105. 

Dupplin, Lord, 9, 35, 79, ['6°]- 

Durham, Bishop of, 310. 

Eden, Mr., 339. 

Edgecumbe, Earl of Mount, 348. 

, Countess of Mount, 217, 348. 

, Mr., 217, 348. 

Edward III., 128. 

Elizabeth, Princess (daughter of Charles I.), S, 9. 

, Queen, 9, 134, 153- 

Elliot, Dr. Gilbert, 145. 

Emerson, William, 164, 165. 

Epictetus, 68. 

Erskine, Mr. Charles, 158. 

Essex, Earl of, 65. 

, Countess of (first wife), 65 ; (second wife), 81. 

Falkenstein, Count, 213. 
Fane, Lord, 41. 
Farini, 270. 
Ferdinand, Prince, 93. 
Ferns, Bishop of, 3. 
Fielding, 75, 251. 

, Sarah, 53, 83. 

Finch, Lady Anne, 238. 

, Lady Elizabeth, 238. 

, Lady Isabella, 138. 

Forbes, Sir William, 271, 278. 
Fothergill, Dr., 218. 
Fox, Mr. Charles, 234, 339, 346. 
France, King of, 2. 

, Queen of, 279. 

Franklin, Dr., 222, 240. 

Fredericks, Sir Thomas, 237. 1 



362 AN INDEX OF PEBSONS 

Freind, Rev. Mr., 28, 33, 36, 43. 
, Mrs., 33, 34, 36, 39, 48, 236. 

Garrick, Mr. David, 29, no, 154, 155, 208, 227, 276, 280, 281, 285, 

355- 

, Mrs., 227, 277, 321, 332. 

Gastrell, Bishop, 40. 
Genlis, Madame de, 310. 
George I., 59. 

,11., 67. 

, III., 2, 78, v. Prince of Wales. 

Germaine, Lady George, 229. 

Gibbon, Edward, 100. 

Gilbank, Mr., 254. 

Gloucester, Duke of, 182. 

Gower, Countess of, 153. 

Graham, Mr., 279 (see Lord Lyndoch). 

Granby, Earl of, 206, 219. 

Granville, Lord, 90. 

, Hon. Miss, 272, v. Mrs. Boscawen. 

Gray, Mr. Thomas, 140, 145, 146, 147, 177, 178, 315. 
Greenland, Mr. John, 220. 

, Miss Jane, 220. 

Gregory, Dr., 145, 157, 158. 

, Miss, 173, 189, 219, 244, 316, 318. 

Grenville, Mr. C, 103. 

, Mr. George, 161, 165, 166. 

Grey, Lady J ane, 8. 
Grimston, Lord, 333. 

Halifax, Earl of, 105, 118. 
Hamilton, Duke of, 237. 

, Mr. 250. 

Hammond, Mr. 87. 

Harcourt, Lord, 225, 311. 

Hardwicke, Lord, 96, 100. 

Harley, Lady Margaret, 14 (see Duchess of Portland). 

Harris, Mr. Thomas, 233. 



MENTIONED IN THIS VOLUME. 363 

Harris, Mrs. 233. 
Harrison, Mr., 119. 
Harrowby, Lord, 350. 
Hawkins, Mr., 272, 273. 
Heinel, Mile., 244. 
Henry II., 104. 

, IV., 151. 

Herbert, Mr., 176. 
Hesketh, Lady, 155. 
Hoare, Mr., 57. 

, Messrs., 334. 

Hobart, Lady Sophia, 348. 
Hodges, Miss, 205. 
Hogarth, William, 270. 
Home, Mrs., 203. 
Hood, Mrs., 132. 
Hooke, Mr. Nathaniel, 61. 
Hortensius, 285. 
Hougham, Mr., 254. 
Howard, the Comedian, 15. 
Hunter, Mr. Orby, 106, 108. 

, Miss, 106, 107, 108, 109, 112, 113, 135, 136. 

Huntingdon, Countess of, 8, 82. 

, Member of Parliament for, 31. 

Hyde, Lord, 86. 

Isaure, Clemence, 301. 

James, Dr., 202. 

Jane, Queen of England, 8. 

Jarnac, Mons. de., 229. 

Jebb, Sir Richard, 315, 317. 

Jenkins, Mr., 126. 

Jenyns, Mr. Soame, 276, 289, 337. 

Jerningham, Mr., 326. 

Joan of Arc, 149, 163. 

Johnson, Dr. Samuel, 65, 71, 122, 123, 153, 154, 155, 190, 191, 193, 

264, 265, 266, 272, 276, 281, 282, 283, 285, 286, 287, 288, 290, 

296, 299, 315, 322. 



364 AN INDEX OF PERSONS 



Johnson, Lady Charlotte, 118. 
Jones, Mr., 289, 307. 
Jourdain, Mons., 150. 

Kain, Mons. le, 208. 

Kames, Lord, 137, 145, 152, 160, 163, 246, 274, 297. 

Kaufmann, Angelica, 297. 

Kerry, Lord, 240. 

Kildare, Bishop of, 3, 113. 

Killala, Bishop, 3. 

Kingstone, Lord, 108. 

, Lady, 108. 

Kinnoul, Lord, 159. 
Knatchbull, Sir E., 251. 
Knight, Mr., 187. 

Laing, Dr., 192. 
Lane, Lady Fox, 125. 
Langton, Mr., 282. 
Lansdowne, Lord, 330. 
■Lee, Chief Justice, 49. 

, the Poet, 16. 

Leicester, Earl of, 134, 135. 
Leighlin, Bishop of, 3. 
Lever, Mr., 230. 
Lewson, Mrs., 282. 
Lichfield, Bishop of, 121. 
Liddell, Sir Henry, 335. 
Linley, Miss, 182. 
Love, Dr., 9. 
Lucan, Lord, 282. 

, Lady, 282, 288, 289, 290. 

Lucretia, 321. 
Luxembourg, Due de, 352. 
Lyndoch, Lord, 279, 280. 

Lyttelton, Lord, 5, 13, 23, 24, 44, 48, 64, 67, 72, 73, 74, 82, 101, 103, 
116, 132, 137, 138, 149, 153, 227, 271, 278, 285, 286, 287. 

, Lady, 292. 

, Sir Thomas, 23. 



MENTIONED IN THIS VOLUME. 365 

Macartney, Lord, 282. 

Macaulay, Mrs,., 260. 

McKenzie, Mr., 351. 

Mahon, Lord, 186, 239. 

Makin, Mrs., 6, 7, 8, 9, 1 1, 12. 

Mallett, Mr., 104. 

Malmesbury, Lady, 147. 

Manchester, Duke of, 1 18. 

Marlborough, Duke of, 108, 113, 126, 221. 

, Duchess of, 168. 

Mason, Mr., 11, 193, 285, 311. 

Matthew, General, 340. 

Mecklenburg, Prince of, no. 

Melmoth, Mr., 55, 150. 

Middleton, Dr. Conyers, 4, 5. 

Mildmay, Lady, 9. 

Miller, Captain, 292. 

, Mrs. (afterwards Lady), 261, 291, 292, 293, 294, 295, 301. 

Mitford, Miss, 301. 

Moisy, Dr., 202, 262. 

Mole", Mons., 208. 

Monboddo, Lord, 281. 

Monkton, Miss [Countess of Cork], 282. 

Monsey, Dr., 70, 73, 132, 270. 

Montagu, Barbara, Lady, 104, 105, 106, 118, 291. 

, Charles, 32. 

, Edward, 31, 32, 33, 34, 36, 38, 39, 44. 47, 5°, 53, 56, 57, 68, 

118, 127, 132, 133, 140, 161, 164, 165, 171, 174, 175, 177, 180, 
187, 188, 191, 192, 193, 196, 319. 

, Elizabeth (n<fe Robinson), 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 13, 15, 16, 18, 21, 23, 

26, 27, 30, 33, 35, 38, 39, 41, 42, 43, 44, 45, 47, 48, 52, 54, 55, 57, 
59, 60, 62, 63, 64, 65, 66, 67, 68, 69, 71, 73, 74, 75, 77, 81, 82, 83, 
84, 85, 86, 87, 88, 89, 106, 116, 126, 128, 135, 136, 137, 138, 139, 
147, 148, 149, 150, 151, J52, 153, 154, 155, J57, 163, 165, 166, 
171, 174, 178, 185, 190, 191, 193, 195, 203, 207, 210, 214, 220, 
221, 224, 237, 244, 251, 256, 264, 267, 268, 269, 270, 271, 272, 
273, 274, 275, 276, 277, 278, 279, 280, 281, 282, 283, 284, 285, 
286, 287, 288, 289, 290, 291, 296, 297, 298, 299, 300, 303, 310, 
311, 322, 326, 335, 336, 339, 344, 345, 35 1, 352, 353, 355- 



366 AN INDEX OF PERSONS 



Montagu, George, 67. 

, Mary Wortley, Lady, 128, 129, 130. 

, Matthew (ne Robinson), 177, 217, 219, 220, 229, 240, 247, 253, 

256, 257, 261, 307, 323, 324, 325, 327, 328, 329, 332, 334, 338, 

339, 34°, 343, 35°- 

, Matthew, Mrs., 327, 328, 331, 334, 338, 343, 347- 

, Miss, 98. 

, Mrs. (no relation), 51. 

Montford, Simon de, 134, 135. 

Montmorenci, Due de, 352. 

More, Mrs. Hannah, 283, 284, 285, 296, 298, 301, 321, 345,3s 1 , 352, 

353, 355- 
Morgan, Mr., 341. 

, Mrs., 173. 

Morrit, family, 3. 

Morton, Lord, 331. 

Mount-Stewart, Lord, 334. 

Mulso, Miss (see Mrs. Chapone), 264, 266, 296. 

Muratori, Signor, 120. 

Nash, Beau, 91. 

Needham, Mr., 131. 

Neville (see Earl of Warwick). 

Newcastle, Duke of, 94, 117, 120, 125, 159. 

, Duchess of, 8. 

Noailles, Mons. de, 225, 280. 

, Madame de, 206, 225, 280. 

Normandy, Duke of, 2. 
Northcote, James, 98. 
Northington, Lord, 124, 125. 
Northumberland, Duke of, 140, 334. 

, Duchess of, 104, 140, 293. 

Nuneham, Lord, 176. 

Ogle, Mrs., 71. 

Onslow, Lord (son of the speaker), 91. 

, the Speaker, afterwards Lord, 90, 91. 

Ord, Mrs., 264, 271, 272, 281, 284, 290. 



MENTIONED IN THIS VOLUME. 3GY 



Ossian, 143. 

Gssory, Bishop of, 271. 

, Lady, 290. 

Ovid, 88. 

Palmer, Mr., 168. 

Palmerston, Lord, 293. 

Paoli, General, 288. 

Parker, Lady, 52. 

Pembroke, Earl of, 107, 108, 112. 

, Countess of, 107, 109. 

Pendarves, Mrs., 25. 
Pennington, Mr., 137, 206. 
Pepys, Mr., 282. 
Percy, Lord Algernon, 235, 236. 

, Lady, 258. 

Peterborough, Bishop of, 249. 
Pilkington, Mrs. Letitia, 55. 
Pindar, 7, 177, 193, 298- 
Pitt, Lady Hester, 64. 

, Mr., 91, 92, 94, 101, 102, 116, 329, 350. 

, Mrs. Anne, 138. 

, Mr. George, 116, 293. 

Pliny, 55. 

Plunket, Mr., 84. "- 

Plutarch, 75. 

Pocock family, 34 1. 

Pope, Alexander, 296. 

Port, Miss, 326. 

Portland, Duke of, 33, 59, 118, 279. 

, Duchess of, 14, 15. l 7, '9, 25, 27, 33, 59, *7h 282. 

Potter, Mr., 315. 
Powis, Lord, 222. 
Pulteney, General, 138, 139. 

, Miss, 331. 

, Mr., 53, 240, 285. 

, Mrs., 240. 

" Punch," 42, 43- 



368 AN INDEX OF PEBSONS 

Ramsay, Mr., 281. 

Ravensworth, Lord, 335. 

Raymond, Lady, no. 

Raynal, Abb£, 217. 

Reynolds, Sir Joshua, 98, 154, 272, 282. 

Rich, Sir Robert, 48. 

, Miss, 292. 

Richard III., 29. 

Richardson (the Novelist), 55, 75. 

, Mr., 169. 

Richmond, Duke of, 239, 268. 

— — , Duchess of, 93. 

Rigby, Mr., 168. 

Robartes, Mrs., 170. 

Roberts, Mrs., 323. 

Robertson, Dr., 145. 

Robinson, Charles, 197, 206, 254. 

, Dr., 216, 240. 

, Elizabeth, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 13, 15, 16, 18, 21, 23, 26, 27, 30, 87, 

165, 214 (see Mrs. Montagu). 

, Mary, 254, 255, 311. 

, Matthew (father of Mrs. Montagu), 1, 3, 6, 14, 31, 93, 105. 

, Matthew, Mrs. (mother of Mrs. Montagu), 1, 12. 

, Matthew (brother of Mrs. Montagu), 3, 93. 

, Matthew (son of Morris Robinson, and heir of Mrs. Montagu, 

whose name he assumed), 177, 217, 219, 220, 229, 240, 247, 253, 
256, 257, 261, 307, 323, 324, 325, 327, 328, 329, 332, 334, 338, 

339) 34°, 343, 347, 35°- 

, Morris, 95, 220, 227, 332. 

, Morris, Mrs., 220, 231, 232, 233, 235. 

, Morris (son of the above), 162, 177, 220. 236, 253, 262, 347, 

349- 

, Richard, Rev., 3. 

, Robert, 55. 

, Sarah, 2, 24, 60 (see Mrs. Scott). 

, Sarah Elizabeth (niece of Mrs. Montagu), 170. 

, Thomas, 49, 62, 158. 

, Thomas, Sir, 2, 3, 223. 



MENTIONED IN THIS VOLUME. 369 

Robinson, William, I. 

, William, Rev., 86, 89, 113, 116, 120, 122, 180, 182, 184, 189, 

197, 209, 225, 241, 243. 
, William, Mrs., 123, 126, 139, 156, 166, 169, 171, 174, 185, 204, 

233, 234, 241, 242, 243, 244, 248, 253, 257, 323, 327, 332, 336, 

34o, 341- 

, William, Sir, 326, 349. 

" Robinson Crusoe," 3. 
Robinson's Almshouses, 201. 
Rodney, Admiral, 247. 
Rokeby, Lord, 3, [220], 310. 

, Sir Thomas, 1, 3. 

Rolt, Mrs., 46. 
" Roscius " (see Garrick). 
Rousseau, Jean Jacques, 186. 
Roweller, Mr., 241. 
Russell, Lady Caroline, 126. 

Saint Asaph, Bishop of, 281, 307. 

Salisbury, Bishop of, 329. 

Sandwich, Earl of, 32, 168. 

, Countess of, 56. 

Sandys, Dr., 16. 

Sappho, 7, 292. 

Sawbridge, Mr., 344. 

Scarsdale, Lord, 157. 

Schaub, Sir Luke, 269. 

, Lady, 269. 

Scott, Edward, 124. 

, Edward, Mrs., 131. 

, George Lewis, 59, 60, 105. 

, George, Mrs. (Sarah Robinson), 2, 24, 60, 86, 89, 91, 92, 94, 

98, 100, 101, 104, 105, 106, 109, in, 113, 114, 115, 118, 120, 122, 
123, 125, 202, 220, 224, 233, 234, 236, 241, 242, 243, 266, 267, 
291, 342. 

, Sir Walter, 203, 204. 

Scuderi, Mons., 75. 

— — , Madame, 292. 

2 B 



370 AN INDEX OF PEBSONS 

Seeker, Bishop, 125. 
Seneca, 20. 
Seward, Mr., 155. 

, Miss, 291, 294, 295. 

Shakespeare, William, 68, 85, 149, 150, 152, 153, 154, 155, 156, 163, 

207, 208. 
Shelburne, Lord, 217, 239. 
Sheridan, Mr., 215. 
Sherlock, Mr., 289. 
Siddons, Mrs., 299, 300. 
Smelt, Mr., 281, 343. 

, Mrs., 343. 

Snell, Miss, 189. • 
Socrates, 20, 32. 
Somerset, Duchess of, 82. 

, Lady Elizabeth, 219. 

, Lady Mary, 219. 

, Lord Noel, 21. 

Sophocles, 68, 72. 
Spenser, Earl, 276. 

, Countess of, 244, 280, 332, 333. 

Stanhope, Earl of, 186, 187. 

, Countess of, 56. 

Stillingfleet, Mr. Benjamin, 66, 69, 270, 271, 272, 296. 
Stone, Mr. Andrew, 150. 

, Mrs., 44. 

Stormont, Lord, 249. 
Strafford, Earl of, 277. 
Strathmore, Lord, 223. 

, Lady, 223. 

Suard, Mons., 207. 
Suffolk, Earl of, 168. 
Sutherland, Countess of, 331. 
Sydney, Sir Philip, 134. 
Sympson, Rev. Mr., 236. 

Temple, Lord, 103, 176, 222. 
, Lady, 176. 



MENTIONED IN THIS VOLUME. 371 

Temple, Sir William, 216. 

Terry, Mrs., 328. 

Texier, Mons., 205. 

Thorold, Mrs., 9. 

Thou, Mons. de, 305. 

Thrale, Mrs., 154, 155, 281, 283. 

Thucydides, 55. 

Tibullus, 88. 

Titchfield, Lord, 59. 

Townshend, Lady, 64, 65, 82, 104, 120, 203. 

Trentham, Lord, 331. 

Trevanion, Mrs., 50. 

Trevelyan, Sir John, 223. 

Trevor, Mrs., 56. 

" Urban, Sylvamis," 300. 

Valonys (or Valhouys), Mons., 230, 244. 
Vandyke, 56. 

Vane, Hon. Henry [Earl of Darlington], 53. 
Vernon, Admiral, 45, 101. 

, Mrs., 101. 

• Vesey, Mr. Agmondesham, 132, 217, 271. 

, Mrs., 132, 136, 217, 264, 270, 271, 272, 281, 283, 284, 288, 289, 

290, 292, 332. 
Vestris, Madame, 304. 
Victor, M., no. 
Villermain, Mons., 151. 
Villiers, Lord, 205. 
Violetti, Eva (See Mrs. Garrick). 
Voltaire, 149, 151, 152, 154, 155, 156, 163, 207, 208, 355. 

Wales, Prince of [Frederick], 269. 

, [George III.], 59. 

, [George IV.], 124, 125, 131, 320. 

Walpole, Horace, 2, 53, 59, 67, 74, 90, 104, 105, 109, 121, 137, 167, 

178, 193, 271, 279, 283, 285, 286, 288, 289, 290, 291, 292, 294, 

310, 311, 318. 
Warburton, Bishop, 85. 
Warren, Dr., 282. 



372 AN INDEX OF PEBSONS, &c. 

Warren, Miss, 222. 
Warton, Dr., 173, 342. 

, Mrs., 342. 

Warwick, Earl of, 115, 134, 135. 
Wedderbourne, Mr., 244. 

, Mrs., 244. . 

West, Mr Gilbert, 54, 61, 62, 74, 82, 84. 

, Mrs., 54. 

Westmoreland, Countess of, 237. 

Whalley, Dr., 355. 

Wharton (see Warton). 

Whitehead, Mr., no. 

Wilberforce, Mr., 351. 

Wilkes, Mr. (Editor of "The North Briton,") 123. 

Williams, Sir Charles, 86. 

, Sir Hanbury, 65. 

, Mrs., 190. 

Wilmot, Mr., 232. 
Windsor, Lord, 335. 
Wraxall, Mr., 282, 297, 339. 
Wright, Mrs., 241. 
Wrottesley, Miss, 168. 
Wyatt, Mr., 306, 313, 318, 321. 

York, Archbishop of, 181. 

, Duke of, 6. 

Yorke, Mr. Philip (see Lord Hardwicke). 
Young, Dr., 45, 46, 81, 84, 98, 101, 333. 

Zincke (Miniature Painter), 18. 



THE END. 



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