February 1963

Letters from the Right Honourable Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, 1709 to 1762

Author Affiliations

With an introduction by R. Brimley Johnson. Price, not given. Pp. 551. J. M. Dent & Sons Ltd., London, England, 1906.

Arch Intern Med. 1963;111(2):274-276. doi:10.1001/archinte.1963.03620260134036

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A year ago I bought this battered volume for one shilling at a fair. I had often read that Lady Mary Wortley Montagu (1689-1762) had introduced inoculation against smallpox into Western Europe. I was acquainted too with the story of her friendship and later quarrel with Alexander Pope. In 1717 Pope wrote in the Epistle to Mr. Jervas: Thus Churchill's race shall other hearts surprise, And other beauties envy Wortley's eyes.

After the quarrel Wortley became Worsley, simply by replacing t with s. And Pope could write:

...Agrees as ill with Rufa studying Locke, As Sappho's diamonds with her dirty smock, Or Sappho at her toilet's greasy task, With Sappho fragrant at an evening mask: So morning insects that in muck begun, Shine, buzz and flyblow in the setting sun.

This volume contains a number of letters from her to Pope while she was traveling to Constantinople with her husband

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