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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
 
To the Abbé X——
By Lady Mary Wortley Montagu (1689–1762)
 
CONSTANTINOPLE, May 19th, O. S., 1718.    
*        *        *        *        *
YOU see, sir, these people are not so unpolished as we represent them. ’Tis true their magnificence is of a very different taste from ours, and perhaps of a better. I am almost of opinion they have a right notion of life. They consume it in music, gardens, wine, and delicate eating, while we are tormenting our brains with some scheme of politics, or studying some science which we can never attain, or if we do, cannot persuade other people to set that value upon it we do ourselves. ’Tis certain what we feel and see is properly (if anything is properly) our own: but the good of fame, the folly of praise, are hardly purchased; and when obtained, a poor recompense for loss of time and health. We die or grow old before we can reap the fruit of our labors. Considering what short-lived, weak animals men are, is there any study so beneficial as the study of present pleasure? I dare not pursue this theme; perhaps I have already said too much, but I depend upon the true knowledge you have of my heart. I don’t expect from you the inspired railleries I should suffer from another in answer to this letter. You know how to divide the idea of pleasure from that of vice, and they are only mingled in the heads of fools. But I allow you to laugh at me for the sensual declaration, in saying that I had rather be a rich effendi with all his ignorance, than Sir Isaac Newton with all his knowledge!
I am, sir, &c., &c.            
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