Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 38.djvu/268

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been validated.
Montagu
Montagu
262

ance, her 'impudence,' avarice, and absurdity (Walpole, Letters, ed. Cunningham, i. 55, 57). She visited Rome and Naples, and at the end of 1741 crossed the Alps to Geneva and Chambéry. In 1742 she settled at Avignon, where the town gave her a piece of land with an old mill, which she patched up for a house. The 'increase of Scottish and Irish rebels' (to the Countess of Oxford, 29 Nov. 1747) in 1746 made the place unpleasant to her, and she moved to Brescia, where she bought the shell of an old palace, fitted it up, and stayed for some years, spending her summers at Lovere, on the Lago d'Iseo. She thought Lovere 'the most beautifully romantic place' she ever saw, and compares it to Tunbridge Wells (to Lady Bute, 21 July 1747). She made occasional excursions elsewhere, and in 1758 settled at Venice. She corresponded with her daughter, Lady Bute, reporting her impressions of Italian society and of the books which she read. She admired Fielding and Smollett, but despised Richardson, though she could not help crying over him. She wished her granddaughters to acquire some learning, but hoped that they would not marry, and that their mother would 'moderate her fondness' for them. In the last years of her stay she became intimate with Sir James Denham Steuart [q. v.], who dedicated to her the first two books of his 'Inquiry into the Principles of Political Economy.' Lady Mary's husband died in January 1761, aged 83. Horace Walpole describes him living at Wharncliffe, the seat of the Wortleys,in 1756, in the most miserly fashion, his only indulgence being tokay (Walpole, Letters, in. 29). He was reported to have left 1,350,000l. (ib. iii. 377; and Gray to Wharton, 31 Jan. 1761). Pope (Horace, bk. ii. sat. ii. 11. 49-60) satirised the pair as 'Avidien and his wife,' fend Montagu appears to have done little beyond saving money in later years. Walpole rightly prophesied that Lady Mary would return to England.

Her daughter's husband was now in power (secretary of state 25 March 1761), and Lady Bute begged her mother to come to her. Lady Mary's health was breaking, but she left Venice in the autumn, and reached England in the beginning of 1762. She died on 21 Aug. following. A cenotaph was erected to her memory in Lichfield Cathedral, commemorating her introduction of inoculation.

Lady Mary had herself suffered from smallpox, which 'deprived her of very fine eyelashes' and impaired her beauty. The portrait painted by Kneller in 1719, apparently for Pope, came into the possession of Lord Bute. A portrait painted by Charles della Rusca in 1739, and presented by her to the Countess of Oxford, is at Wortley Hall. A third portrait, by Jonathan Richardson, belongs to the Earl of Wharncliffe, and another of Lady Mary by Highmore is in the possession of T. Humphry Ward, esq. An enamel by Zincke (1738), engraved by Vertue, is at Welbeck. A miniature in possession of Lord Harrington is engraved in the editions of her 'Works' by Wharncliffe and Thomas.

Lady Mary's 'Town Eclogues' were first published piratically as 'Court Poems' in 1716 (misdated 1706 on title-page). They were republished, with others, by Dodsley in 1747, and again in his 'Miscellany.' They were edited by Isaac Reed in 1768, and are included in his 'Works.' Lady Mary's letters from the East were given by her when at Rotterdam in 1761 to a Mr. Sowden, minister of the English church there, with a note by herself, stating that she authorised him to use them as he pleased. He is said to have sold them to her daughter for 500l. Another copy, given by Lady Mary to Mr. Molesworth, also came into possession of Lord Bute. An edition appeared in 1763, in 3 vols. 12mo, as 'Letters of Lady M——y W———y M———,' said to have been edited by the disreputable John Cleland [q. v.] A fourth volume appeared in 1767, of doubtful authority, and probably forged by Cleland, though reprinted by later editors. A story is told by Dallaway of a device by which the manuscript of the letters was surreptitiously copied while in Sowden's possession; but Mr. Moy Thomas says that this edition follows the Molesworth MS., which differs considerably from the other. It is doubtful how far the letters were sent as they now appear, or made out of a diary kept at the time; they were, previous to 1763, handed about in manuscript.

In 1803 an edition of the 'Works,' including the above, with other letters and poems, was published by James Dallaway [q. v.], with materials supplied by Lord Bute, and a memoir. A second edition, with letters to Mrs. Hewitt, appeared in 1817. A new edition, in 3 vols. 8vo, edited by Lady Mary's great-grandson, Lord Wharncliffe, was published in 1837. To this were added the very interesting 'Introductory Anecdotes' by Lady Louisa Stuart, Lady Bute's daughter. The last edition, by Mr. Moy Thomas, in 2 vols. 8vo, with a new life, appeared in 1861. The correspondence with Pope is in Pope's 'Works' (Courthope and Elwin, ix. 339-415).