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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 Mar
By Lady Mary Wortley Montagu (1689–1762)
I AM very glad, dear sister, to hear you mention our meeting in London. We are much mistaken here as to our ideas of Paris: to hear that gallantry has forsaken it, sounds as extraordinary to me as a want of ice in Greenland. We have nothing but ugly faces in this country, but more lovers than ever. There are but three pretty men in England, and they are all in love with me at this present writing. This will surprise you extremely; but if you were to see the reigning girls at present, I will assure you there is little difference between them and old women. I have been embourbé in family affairs for this last fortnight. Lady F. Pierrepont, having £400 per annum for her maintenance, has awakened the consciences of half her relations to take care of her education: and (excepting myself) they have all been squabbling about her; and squabble to this day. My sister Gower carries her off to-morrow morning to Staffordshire. The lies, twattles, and contrivances about this affair are innumerable. I should pity the poor girl, if I saw she pitied herself. The Duke of Kingston is in France, but is not to go to the capital: so much for that branch of your family. My blessed offspring has already made a great noise in the world. That young rake, my son, took to his heels t’other day, and transported his person to Oxford; being in his own opinion thoroughly qualified for the University. After a good deal of search, we found and reduced him, much against his will, to the humble condition of a schoolboy. It happens very luckily that the sobriety and discretion is of my daughter’s side; I am sorry the ugliness is so too, for my son grows extremely handsome.
  I don’t hear much of Mrs. Murray’s despair on the death of poor Gibby, and I saw her dance at a ball where I was two days before his death. I have a vast many pleasantries to tell you, and some that will make your hair stand on an end with wonder. Adieu, dear sister: conservez-moi l’honneur de votre amitié, et croyez que je suis toute à vous.  2
  I cannot deny but that I was very well diverted on the Coronation Day. I saw the procession much at my ease, in a house which I filled with my own company, and then got into Westminster Hall without trouble, where it was very entertaining to observe the variety of airs that all meant the same thing. The business of every walker there was to conceal vanity and gain admiration. For these purposes some languished and others strutted; but a visible satisfaction was diffused over every countenance as soon as the coronet was clapped on the head. But she that drew the greatest number of eyes was indisputably Lady Orkney. She exposed behind, a mixture of fat and wrinkles; and before, a very considerable protuberance which preceded her. Add to this, the inimitable roll of her eyes, and her gray hairs, which by good fortune stood directly upright, and ’tis impossible to imagine a more delightful spectacle. She had embellished all this with considerable magnificence, which made her look as big again as usual; and I should have thought her one of the largest things of God’s making if my Lady St. J—n had not displayed all her charms in honor of the day. The poor Duchess of M—se crept along, with a dozen of black snakes playing round her face; and my lady P—nd (who is fallen away since her dismission from court) represented very finely an Egyptian mummy embroidered over with hieroglyphics. In general, I could not perceive but that the old were as well pleased as the young; and I, who dread growing wise more than anything in the world, was overjoyed to find that one can never outlive one’s vanity. I have never received the long letter you talk of, and am afraid you have only fancied that you wrote it. Adieu, dear sister; I am affectionately yours,
M. W. M.    

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