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virtues, and the contempt of death, write well of them in his closet, and talk eloquently of them in company; but you shall never catch him fighting for his country, or laboring to retrieve any national losses. A man that deals in metaphysics may easily throw himself into an enthusiasm, and really believe that he does not fear death, whilst it remains out of sight. But should he be asked why, having this intrepidity, either from nature or acquired by philosophy, he did not follow arms when his country was involved in war; or, when he saw the nation daily robbed by those at the helm, and the affairs of the exchequer perplexed, why he did not go to court, and make use of all his friends and interests to be a Lord Treasurer, that by his integrity and wise management he might restore the public credit, it is probable he would answer that he loved retirement, had no other ambition than to be a good man, and never aspired to have any share in the government, or, that he hated all flattery and slavish attendance, the insincerity of courts and bustle of the world. I am willing to believe him; but may not a man of an indolent temper and unactive spirit say—and be sincere in all this, and at the same time indulge his appetites without being able to subdue them, though his duty summons him to it? Virtue consists in action, and whoever is possessed of this social love and kind affection to his species, and by his birth or quality can claim any post in the public management, ought not to sit still when he can be serviceable, but exert himself to the utmost for the good of his fellow-subjects. Had this noble person been of a warlike genius or a boisterous temper, he would have chose another part in the drama of life, and preached a quite contrary doctrine; for we are ever pushing our reason which way soever we feel passion to draw it, and self-love pleads to all human creatures for their different views, still furnishing every individual with arguments to justify their inclinations.

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[An unauthorized edition of Letters of Lady Mary Wortley Montagu. was published in 1763, and these were republished, with additions, at various dates, to the time of the edition of Mr. Moy Thomas, 1861. The letters from the East (written while Lady Mary's husband was English ambassador to the Porte) were given by her to a Rev. Mr. Sowden; and another copy (not identical) she gave to Mr. Molesworth. It has been suspected that they were edited before being copied, or in some cases made from diary notes. The Sowden text, as printed by Mr. Thomas, is used here; the family letters were also printed by him from original MSS. The Countess of Bute was Lady Mary's daughter, and her constant correspondent during her long residence on the Continent, 1739–62.]


ADRIANOPLE, April 1, 1717.

I DARE say you expect at least something very new in this letter, after I have gone a journey not undertaken by any Christian for some hundred years. The most remarkable accident that happened to me, was my being very near overturned into the Hebrus; and, if I had much regard for the glories that one's name enjoys after death, I should certainly be sorry for having missed the romantic conclusion of swimming down the same river in which the musical head of Orpheus repeated verses so many ages since. . . . Who knows but some of your bright wits might have found it a subject affording many poetical turns, and have told the world, in an heroic elegy, that,

As equal were our souls, so equal were our fates?

I despair of ever having so many fine things said of me, as so extraordinary a death would have given occasion for.

I am at this present writing in a house situated on the banks of the Hebrus, which runs under my chamber window. My garden is full of tall cypress-trees, upon the branches of which several couple of true turtles are saying soft things to one another from morning till night. How naturally do boughs and vows come into my head at this minute! And must you not

confess, to my praise, that 'tis more than ordinary discretion that can resist the wicked suggestions of poetry, in a place where truth, for once, furnishes all the ideas of pastoral? The summer is already far advanced in this part of the world; and, for some miles round Adrianople, the whole ground is laid out in gardens, and the banks of the river set with rows of fruittrees, under which all the most considerable Turks divert themselves every evening; not with walking, - that is not one of their pleasures; but a set party of them choose out a green spot, where the shade is very thick, and there they spread a carpet, on which they sit drinking their coffee, and generally attended by some slave with a fine voice, or that plays on some instrument. . . . The young lads generally divert themselves with making garlands for their favorite lambs, which I have often seen, painted and adorned with flowers, lying at their feet while they sung or played. It is not that they ever read romances, but these are the ancient amusements here, and as natural to them as cudgel-playing and football to our British swains; the softness and warmth of the climate forbidding all rough exercises, which were never so much as heard of amongst them, and naturally inspiring a laziness and aversion to labor, which the great plenty indulges. . . . I no longer look upon Theocritus as a romantic writer; he has only given a plain image of the way of life amongst the peasants of his country, who, before oppression had reduced them to want, were, I suppose, all employed as the better sort of them are now. I don't doubt, had he been born a Briton, his Idylliums had been filled with descriptions of threshing and churning, both which are unknown here, the corn being all trod out by oxen, and butter (I speak it with sorrow) unheard of.

I read over your Homer here with an infinite pleasure, and find several little passages explained, that I did not before entirely comprehend the beauty of; many of the customs, and much of the dress then in fashion, being yet retained; and I don't wonder to find more remains here of an age so distant, than is to be found in any other country, the Turks not taking that pains to introduce their own manners as has been generally practiced by other nations that imagine themselves more polite.

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We travelers are in very hard circumstances. If we say nothing but what has been said before us, we are dull, and we have observed nothing. If we tell anything new, we are laughed at as fabulous and romantic, not allowing for the difference of ranks, which afford difference of company, more curiosity, or the change of customs, that happen every twenty years in every country. But people judge of travelers exactly with the same candor, good nature, and impartiality, they judge of their neighbors upon all occasions. For my part, if I live to return amongst you, I am so well acquainted with the morals of all my dear friends and acquaintance, that I am resolved to tell them nothing at all, to avoid the imputation (which their charity would certainly incline them to) of my telling too much. But I depend upon your knowing me enough to believe whatever I seriously assert for truth, though I give you leave to be surprised at an account so new to you.

But what would you say if I told you that I have been in a harem where the winter apartment was wainscoted with inlaid work of mother-of-pearl, ivory of different colors, and olive wood, exactly like the little boxes you have seen brought out of this country; and those rooms designed for summer, the walls all crusted with japan china, the roofs gilt, and the floors spread with the finest Persian carpets? Yet there is nothing more true; such is the palace of my lovely friend, the fair Fatima, whom I was acquainted with at Adrianople. I went to visit her yesterday; and, if possible, she appeared to me handsomer than before. She met me at the door of her chamber, and, giving me her hand with the best grace in the world, "You Christian ladies," said she, with a smile that made her as handsome as an angel, "have the reputation of inconstancy, and I did not expect, whatever goodness you expressed for me at Adrianople, that I should ever see you again. But I am now convinced that I have really the happiness of pleasing you; and if you knew how I speak of you amongst our ladies, you would be assured that you do me justice if you think me your friend." She placed me in the corner of the sofa, and I spent the afternoon in her conversation, with the greatest pleasure in the world.

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The Sultana Hafiten is, what one would naturally expect to find a Turkish lady, willing to oblige, but not knowing how to go about it; and it is easy to see in her manner that she has lived secluded from the world. But Fatima has all the politeness and good breeding of a court, with an air that inspires at once respect and tenderness; and now I understand her language, I find her wit as engaging as her beauty. She is very curious after the manners of other countries, and has not that partiality for her own, so common to little minds. . . . I assured her that, if all the Turkish ladies were like her, it was absolutely necessary to confine them from public view, for the repose of mankind; and proceeded to tell her what a noise such a face as hers would make in London or Paris. "I can't believe you," replied she, agreeably. "If beauty was so much valued in your country as you say, they would never have suffered you to leave it." Perhaps, dear sister, you laugh at my vanity in repeating this compliment; but I only do it as I think it very well turned, and give it you as an instance of the spirit of her conversation.



. . . Thus you see, sir, these people are not so unpolished as we represent them. "Tis true their magnificence is of a different taste from ours, and perhaps of a better. I am almost of opinion they have a right notion of life, while they consume it in music, gardens, wine, and delicate eating, while we are tormenting ourselves with some scheme of politics, or studying some science to which we can never attain, or, if we do, cannot persuade people to set that value upon it we do ourselves. 'Tis certain what we feel and see is properly (if anything is properly) our own; but the good of fame, the folly of praise, hardly purchased, and, when obtained, a poor recompense for loss of time and health. We die, or grow old and decrepit, before we can reap the fruit of our labors. Considering what short-lived, weak animals men are, is there any study so beneficial as the study of present pleasure? I dare not pursue this theme; perhaps I have already said too much, but I depend upon the true knowledge you have of my heart. I don't expect from you the insipid railleries I should suffer from another, in answer to this letter. You know how to divide the idea of pleasure from that of vice,

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