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Lady Mary Wortley Montague - Her Life and Letters (1689-1762) by Lewis Melville
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in all sincerity that in June, 1726, she wrote to her sister, Lady Mar:
"The last pleasures that fell in my way was Madame Sévigné's letters:
very pretty they are, but I assert, without the least vanity, that mine
will be full as entertaining forty years hence. I advise you, therefore,
to put none of them to the use of waste paper." And again, later in the
year, she said half-humorously to the same correspondent: "I writ to you
some time ago a long letter, which I perceive never came to your hands:
very provoking; it was certainly a _chef d'oeuvre_ of a letter, and
worthy any of the Sévigné's or Grignan's, crammed with news." That Lady
Mary's belief in herself was well founded no one has disputed. Even
Horace Walpole, who detested her and made attacks on her whenever
possible, said that "in most of her letters the wit and style are
superior to any letters I have ever read but Madame de Sévigné's." A
very pleasant tribute from one who had a goodly conceit of himself as a

Walpole, as a correspondent, was perhaps more sarcastic and more witty;
Cowper undoubtedly more tender and more gentle; but Lady Mary had
qualities all her own. She had powers of observation and the gift of
description, which qualities are especially to be remarked in the
letters she wrote when abroad with her husband on his Mission to the
Porte. She had an ironic wit which gave point to the many society
scandals she narrated, a happy knack of gossip, and a style so easy as
to make reading a pleasure.

Some of the incidents which Lady Mary retails with so much humour may be
accepted as not outraging the conventions of the early eighteenth
century when it was customary to call a spade a spade; when gallantry
was gallantry indeed, and the pursuit of it openly conducted. What is
not mentioned by those who have written about her is that she was
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