Monday, January 19, 2009

Lady Mary Wortley Montagu - reactions

In the February of this year, 1762, Lady Mary Wortley Montagu had returned to England after many years of absence. In October of that same year, she died. Of her appearance on her return, Mrs. Montagu wrote as follows to her sister-in-law at Naples:

"February 16, 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 generation. 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, nor dresses, like any body 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 time you get to her ladyship's presence, you have changed your name five times, without the expense of an act of Parliament."

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