|C.D. Warner, et al., comp. The Library of the Worlds Best Literature.|
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes. 1917.
|To E. W. Montagu, Esq.|
|By Lady Mary Wortley Montagu (16891762)|
TUESDAY NIGHT. I RECEIVED both your Monday letters before I writ the inclosed, which, however, I send you. The kind letter was writ and sent Friday morning, and I did not receive yours till Saturday noon. To speak truth, you would never have had it else, there were so many things in yours to put me out of humor. Thus, you see, it was on no design to repair anything that offended you. You only show me how industrious you are to find faults in me: why will you not suffer me to be pleased with you?
| I would see you if I could (though perhaps it may be wrong); but in the way that I am here, tis impossible. I cant come to town but in company with my sister-in-law: I can carry her nowhere but where she pleases; or if I could, I would trust her with nothing. I could not walk out alone without giving suspicion to the whole family; should I be watched, and seen to meet a manjudge of the consequences!|| 2|
| You speak of treating with my father, as if you believed he would come to terms afterwards. I will not suffer you to remain in the thought, however advantageous it might be to me; I will deceive you in nothing. I am fully persuaded he will never hear of terms afterwards. You may say, tis talking oddly of him. I cant answer to that; but tis my real opinion, and I think I know him. You talk to me of estates, as if I was the most interested woman in the world. Whatever faults I may have shown in my life, I know not one action in it that ever proved me mercenary. I think there cannot be a greater proof to the contrary than my treating with you, where I am to depend entirely upon your generosity, at the same time that I may have settled on me £500 per annum pin-money, and a considerable jointure, in another place; not to reckon that I may have by his temper what command of his estate I please: and with you I have nothing to pretend to. I do not, however, make a merit to you: money is very little to me, because all beyond necessaries I do not value that is to be purchased by it. If the man proposed to me had £10,000 per annum, and I was sure to dispose of it all, I should act just as I do. I have in my life known a good deal of show, and never found myself the happier for it.|| 3|
| In proposing to you to follow the scheme proposed by that friend, I think tis absolutely necessary for both our sakes. I would have you want no pleasure which a single life would afford you. You own you think nothing so agreeable. A woman that adds nothing to a mans fortune ought not to take from his happiness. If possible, I would add to it; but I will not take from you any satisfaction you could enjoy without me. On my own side, I endeavor to form as right a judgment of the temper of human nature, and of my own in particular, as I am capable of. I would throw off all partiality and passion, and be calm in my opinion. Almost all people are apt to run into a mistake, that when they once feel or give a passion, there needs nothing to entertain it. This mistake makes, in the number of women that inspire even violent passions, hardly one preserve one after possession. If we marry, our happiness must consist in loving one another; tis principally my concern to think of the most probable method of making that love eternal. You object against living in London: I am not fond of it myself, and readily give it up to you; though I am assured there needs more art to keep a fondness alive in solitude, where it generally preys upon itself.|| 4|
| There is one article absolutely necessary: to be ever beloved, one must ever be agreeable. There is no such thing as being agreeable without a thorough good-humor, a natural sweetness of temper, enlivened by cheerfulness. Whatever natural funds of gayety one is born with, tis necessary to be entertained with agreeable objects. Anybody capable of tasting pleasure when they confine themselves to one place, should take care tis the place in the world the most agreeable. Whatever you may now think (now, perhaps, you have some fondness for me), though your love should continue in its full force there are hours when the most beloved mistress would be troublesome. People are not forever (nor is it in human nature that they should be) disposed to be fond; you would be glad to find in me the friend and the companion. To be agreeably the last, it is necessary to be gay and entertaining. A perpetual solitude, in a place where you see nothing to raise your spirits, at length wears them out, and conversation insensibly falls into dull and insipid. When I have no more to say to you, you will like me no longer.|| 5|
| How dreadful is that view! You will reflect for my sake you have abandoned the conversation of a friend that you liked, and your situation in a country where all things would have contributed to make your life pass in (the true volupte) a smooth tranquillity. I shall lose the vivacity which should entertain you, and you will have nothing to recompense you for what you have lost. Very few people that have settled entirely in the country, but have grown at length weary of one another. The ladys conversation generally falls into a thousand impertinent effects of idleness; and the gentleman falls in love with his dogs and his horses, and out of love with everything else. I am not now arguing in favor of the town: you have answered me as to that point.|| 6|
| In respect of your health, tis the first thing to be considered, and I shall never ask you to do anything injurious to that. But tis my opinion, tis necessary, to be happy, that we neither of us think any place more agreeable than that where we are. I have nothing to do in London; and tis indifferent to me if I never see it more. I know not how to answer your mentioning gallantry, nor in what sense to understand you: whoever I marry, when I am married I renounce all things of the kind. I am willing to abandon all conversation but yours; I will part with anything for you, but you. I will not have you a month, to lose you for the rest of my life. If you can pursue the plan of happiness begun with your friend, and take me for that friend, I am ever yours. I have examined my own heart whether I can leave everything for you; I think I can: if I change my mind, you shall know before Sunday; after that I will not change my mind.|| 7|
| If tis necessary for your affairs to stay in England, to assist your father in his business, as I suppose the time will be short, I would be as little injurious to your fortune as I can, and I will do it. But I am still of opinion nothing is so likely to make us both happy, as what I propose. I foresee I may break with you on this point, and I shall certainly be displeased with myself for it, and wish a thousand times that I had done whatever you pleased; but, however, I hope I shall always remember how much more miserable than anything else would make me, should I be to live with you and to please you no longer. You can be pleased with nothing when you are not pleased with your wife. One of the Spectators is very just that says, A man ought always to be upon his guard against spleen and a too severe philosophy; a woman, against levity and coquetry. If we go to Naples, I will make no acquaintance there of any kind, and you will be in a place where a variety of agreeable objects will dispose you to be ever pleased. If such a thing is possible, this will secure our everlasting happiness; and I am ready to wait on you without leaving a thought behind me.|| 8|