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February 1963

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

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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