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truths made clear, of which we have now no more idea than the ancients had of the circulation of the blood, or the optics of Sir Isaac Newton."-Vol. v. pp. 15, 16.

HER MORALISINGS.

After observing, that in a preceding letter, her Ladyship declares, that "it is eleven years since she saw herself in a glass, being so little pleased with the figure she was then beginning to make in it," we shall close these extracts with the following more favourable account of her philosophy.

"I no more expect to arrive at the age of the Duchess of Marlborough, than to that of Methusalem; nether do I desire it. I have long thought myself useless to the world. I have seen one generation pass away, and it is gone; for I think there are very few of those left that flourished in my youth. You will perhaps call these melancholy reflections; but they are not so. There is a quiet after the abandoning of pursuits, something like the rest that follows a laborious day. I tell you this for your comfort. It was formerly a terrifying view to me, that I should one day be an old woman. I now find that nature has provided pleasures for every state. Those only are unhappy who will not be contented with what she gives, but strive to break through her laws, by affecting a perpetuity of youth,-which appears to me as little desirable at present as the babies do to you, that were the delight of your infancy. I am at the end of my paper, which shortens the sermon."-Vol. iv. pp. 314, 315.

Upon the death of Mr. Wortley in 1761, Lady Mary returned to England, and died there in October, 1762, in the 73d year of her age. From the large extracts which we have been tempted to make from her correspondence, our readers will easily be enabled to judge of the character and genius of this extraordinary woman. A little spoiled by flattery, and not altogether "undebauched by the world," she seems to have possessed a masculine solidity of understanding, great liveliness of fancy, and such powers of observation and discrimination of character, as to give her opinions great authority on all the ordinary subjects of practical manners and conduct.

After her marriage, she seems to have abandoned all idea of laborious or regular study, and to have been raised to the station of a literary character merely by her vivacity and her love of amusement and anecdote. The great charm of her letters is certainly the extreme ease and facility with which every thing is expressed,

570 LADY MARY W. MONTAGU –

HER WRITINGS.

the brevity and rapidity of her representations, and the elegant simplicity of her diction. While they unite almost all the qualities of a good style, there is nothing of the professed author in them: nothing that seems to have been composed, or to have engaged the admiration of the writer. She appears to be quite unconscious either of merit or of exertion in what she is doing; and never stops to bring out a thought, or to turn an expression, with the cunning of a practised rhetorician. The letters from Turkey will probably continue to be more universally read than any of those that are now given for the first time to the public; because the subject commands a wider and more permanent interest, than the personalities and unconnected remarks with which the rest of the correspondence is filled. At the same time, the love of scandal and of private history is so great, that these letters will be highly relished, as long as the names they contain are remembered;—and then they will become curious and interesting, as exhibiting a truer picture of the manners and fashions of the time, than is to be found in most other publications.

The Fifth Volume contains also her Ladyship's poems, and two or three trifling papers that are entitled her Essays. Poetry, at least the polite and witty sort of poetry which Lady Mary has attempted, is much more of an art than prose-writing. We are trained to the latter, by the conversation of good society; but the former seems always to require a good deal of patient labour and application. This her Ladyship appears to have disdained; and accordingly, her poetry, though abounding in lively conceptions, is already consigned to that oblivion in which mediocrity is destined, by an irrevocable sentence, to slumber till the end of the world. The Essays are extremely insignificant, and have no other merit, that we can discover, but that they are very few and very short.

Of Lady Mary's friendship and subsequent rupture with Pope, we have not thought it necessary to say any thing; both because we are of opinion that no new lights are thrown upon it by this publication, and be

HER RELATIONS WITH POPE.

571

cause we have no desire to awaken forgotten scandals by so idle a controversy. Pope was undoubtedly a flatterer, and was undoubtedly sufficiently irritable and vindictive; but whether his rancour was stimulated, upon this occasion, by any thing but caprice or jealousy, and whether he was the inventor or the echo of the imputations to which he has given notoriety, we do not pretend to determine. Lady Mary's character was certainly deficient in that cautious delicacy which is the best guardian of female reputation; and there seems to have been in her conduct something of that intrepidity which naturally gives rise to misconstruction, by setting at defiance the maxims of ordinary discretion.

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(MAY, 1820.)

The Life of the Right Honourable John Philpot Curran, late Master of the Rolls in Ireland. By his Son, WILLIAM HENRY CURRAN, Barrister-at-Law. 8vo. 2 vols. pp. 970. London:

1819.

THIS is really a very good book; and not less instructive in its moral and general scope, than curious and interesting in its details. It is a mixture of Biography and History - -and avoids the besetting sins of both species of composition-neither exalting the hero of the biography into an idol, nor deforming the history of a most agitated period with any spirit of violence or exaggeration. It is written, on the contrary, as it appears to us, with singular impartiality and temper- and the style is not less remarkable than the sentiments: For though it is generally elegant and spirited, it is without any of those peculiarities which the age, the parentage, and the country of the author, would lead us to expect: -And we may say, indeed, of the whole work, looking both to the matter and the manner, that it has no defects from which it could be gathered that it was written either by a Young man-or an Irishman- or by the Son of the person whose history it professes to record-though it has attractions which probably could not have existed under any other conditions. The distracting periods of Irish story are still almost too recent to be fairly delineated and no Irishman, old enough to have taken a part in the transactions of 1780 or 1798, could well be trusted as their historian- while no one but a native, and of the blood of some of the chief actors, could be sufficiently acquainted with their motives and characters, to communicate that life and interest to the details which shine out in so many passages of the volumes before us. The incidental light which they throw upon

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HIS EARLY HISTORY.

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the national character and state of society in Ireland, and the continual illustrations they afford of their diversity from our own, is perhaps of more value than the particular facts from which it results; and stamp upon the work the same peculiar attraction which we formerly ascribed to Mr. Hardy's life of Lord Charlemont.

To qualify this extraordinary praise, we must add, that the limits of the private and the public story are not very well observed, nor the scale of the work very correctly regulated as to either; so that we have alternately too much and too little of both :-that the style is rather wordy and diffuse, and the extracts and citations too copious; so that, on the whole, the book, like some others, would be improved by being reduced to little more than half its present size-a circumstance which makes it only the more necessary that we should endeavour to make a manageable abstract of it, for the use of less patient readers.

Mr. Curran's parentage and early life are now of no great consequence. He was born, however, of respectable parents, and received a careful and regular education. He was a little wild at college; but left it with the character of an excellent scholar, and was universally popular among his associates, not less for his amiable temper than his inexhaustible vivacity. He wrote baddish verses at this time, and exercised himself in theological discourses: for his first destination was for the Church; and he afterwards took to the Law, very much to his mother's disappointment and mortification -who was never reconciled to the change-and used, even in the meridian of his fame, to lament what a mighty preacher had been lost to the world,—and to exclaim, that, but for his versatility, she might have died the mother of a Bishop! It was better as it was. Unquestionably he might have been a very great preacher; but we doubt whether he would have been a good parish priest, or even an exemplary bishop.

Irish lawyers are obliged to keep their terms in London; and, for the poorer part of them, it seems to be but a dull and melancholy noviciate. Some of his early

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