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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 Countess of Bute
III
By Lady Mary Wortley Montagu (1689–1762)
 
SEPTEMBER 30th, 1757.    
*        *        *        *        *
DAUGHTER! daughter! don’t call names: you are always abusing my pleasures, which is what no mortal will bear. Trash, lumber, sad stuff, are the titles you give to my favorite amusement. If I called a white staff a stick of wood, a gold key gilded brass, and the ensigns of illustrious orders colored strings, this may be philosophically true, but would be very ill received. We have all our playthings: happy are they that can be contented with those they can obtain; those hours are spent in the wisest manner that can easiest shade the ills of life, and are the least productive of ill consequences. I think my time better employed in reading the adventures of imaginary people, than the Duchess of Marlborough’s, who passed the latter years of her life in paddling with her will, and contriving schemes of plaguing some and extracting praise from others, to no purpose; eternally disappointed and eternally fretting. The active scenes are over at my age. I indulge, with all the art I can, my love for reading. If I would confine it to valuable books, they are almost as rare as valuable men. I must be content with what I can find. As I approach a second childhood, I endeavor to enter into the pleasures of it. Your youngest son is perhaps at this very moment riding on a poker with great delight; not at all regretting that it is not a gold one, and much less wishing it an Arabian horse, which he would not know how to manage. I am reading an idle tale, not expecting wit or truth in it; and am very glad it is not metaphysics to puzzle my judgment, or history to mislead my opinion. He fortifies his health by exercise: I calm my cares by oblivion. The methods may appear low to busy people; but if he improves his strength, and I forget my infirmities, we attain very desirable ends.
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