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Alike in nothing but one lust of gold,
While with the silent growth of ten per cent.,
Of all these ways, if each pursues his own,
Up starts a palace, lo, the obedient base
Away, away! take all your scaffolds down,
The fool whose wife elopes some thrice a quarter,
You laugh, half beau, half sloven if I stand,
9 [Dr. Hale, of Lincoln's Inn Fields, a physician employed in cases of insanity.]
Who ought to make me, (what he can, or none)
EDWARD WORTLEY MONTAGU AND HIS SON.
Ver. 49, page 141. Avidien or his wife.] Mr. Wortley, the husband of Lady Mary, was the son of the Hon. Sidney Montagu, and by his mother, Mrs. Anne Wortley, he inherited the large Wortley estate in Yorkshire, where most of his latter years were passed. At the date of Pope's satire, Mr. Wortley and Lady Mary were living together. She went abroad a second time in 1739, and did not return till after the death of her husband in 1761. They seem to have parted by mutual consent; there was nothing domestic in the witty lady's character; but she kept up a friendly correspondence with her husband to the last. Writing to him from Avignon, in 1745, she says, "Since the death of Pope I know nobody that is an enemy to either of us." She was never without enemies, or at least quarrels, the natural result of her own caprice, violence, and proneness to satire. Mr. Wortley continued quietly in his retreat near Sheffield, hoarding up money, and watching over his health. He amassed an immense fortune, nearly a million of money, exclusive of his estates, and lived to a great age. In 1756, Horace Walpole looked in upon him at Wharncliffe. "Old Wortley Montagu," he says, "lives on the very spot where the dragon of Wantley did, only I believe the latter was much better lodged. You never saw such a wretched hovel; lean, unpainted, and half its nakedness barely shaded with harateen, stretched till it cracks. Here the miser hoards health and money, his only two objects. He has chronicles in behalf of the air, and battens on Tokay, his single indulgence, as he has heard it is particularly salutary. But the savageness of the scene would charm your Alpine taste. It is tumbled with fragments of mountains, that look ready for building the world. One scrambles over a huge terrace, on which mountain ashes and various trees spring out of the very rocks; and at the brow is the den, but not spacious enough for such an inmate. However,
I am persuaded it furnished Pope with this line, so exactly it answers to the picture:
'On rifted rocks, the dragon's late abodes.'
I wanted to ask if Pope had not visited Lady Mary Wortley here during their intimacy, but could one put that question to Avidien himself? There remains an ancient odd inscription here, which has such a whimsical mixture of devotion and romanticness, that I must transcribe it,-' Preye for the soul of Sir Thomas Wortley, Knight of the body to the Kings Edward IV., Richard III., Henry VII., Henry VIII., whose faults God pardon. He caused a Lodge to be built on this crag in the midst of Wharncliffe to hear the hart's bell, in the year of our Lord 1510.' It was a chace, and what he meant to hear was the noise of the stags."
Pope alludes (ver. 56) to the son of Wortley and Lady Mary. The allusion is harsh and unjust, for there was no want of proper feeling on the part of the parents towards this most extraordinary and profligate youth. The second Edward Wortley was worthy of a niche in Pope's gallery of originals. He ran off on three separate occasions from Westminster school, sailed as a cabin boy to Spain, was discovered, and restored to his parents. He next travelled with a tutor on the continent, returned to England, and sat for two parliaments in the House of Commons. Extravagance brought debt, and debt forced him abroad; in France he cheated a Jew-a marvellous instance of his adroitness-and was subjected to a short imprisonment; in Italy he adopted the Roman Catholic religion; and in Turkey he became a strict Mahometan. His father deprived him by his will of the succession to the family estate.
"But even this step," says Lord Wharncliffe, "was not taken without a sufficient provision being made for him; and, in the event of his having an heir legitimately born, the estate was to return to that heir, to the exclusion of his sister Lady Bute's children. This provision in Mr. Wortley's will he endeavoured to take advantage of in a manner which is highly characteristic. Mr. Edward Wortley, early in life, was married in a way not then uncommon, namely, a Fleet marriage. With that wife he did not live long, and he had no issue. After his father's death he lived several years in Egypt, and there is supposed to have professed the religion of Mahomet, and indulged in the plurality of wives permitted by that faith. In the year 1776, Mr. E. Wortley, then living at Venice, his wife being dead, through the agency (as is supposed) of his friend Romney the painter, caused an advertisement to be inserted in the Public Advertiser of April 16th in that year, in the following words:
"A gentleman who has filled two successive seats in Parliament, is nearly sixty years of age, lives in great splendour and hospitality, and from whom a considerable estate must pass if he dies without issue, hath no objection to marry a widow or single lady, provided the party be of genteel birth, polite manners, and is five or six months gone in her pregnancy. Letters directed Brecknock, Esq., at Will's Coffee House, will be honoured with due attention, secresy, and every mark of respect.'
"It has always been believed in the family that this advertisement was successful, and that a woman having the qualifications required by it was actually sent to Paris to meet Mr. E. Wortley, who got as far as Lyons on his way thither. There, however, while eating a beccafico for supper, a bone stuck in his throat, and occasioned his death; thus putting an end to this honest scheme."1
The scheme could not have stood an examination in a court of law, but it formed a fitting close to such a life.
Lord Wharncliffe's edit. of Lady Mary W. Montagu's Works.