Monday, August 20, 2012

Lady Mary: The Elopement Continues

Here is Mary Pierrepont again, on the verge of becoming Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, as she and her Sir Edward continue the escapade of their elopement, in a letter dated 300 years ago today, 20 August 1712..
We have more ill Luck than any other people. Had you write in your first Letter where you intended to  be etc. I could have ris up by  my selfe at 4 a clock and come to your chamber, perhaps undiscover'd.  At worst you could but have done what you resolv'd on at first if it had been known, which could not  have been till  after it was over, all our people being in bed.  After my woman was up,she watch'd me so much it was impossible; she apprehended you was in the house, but I beleive has now lost that thought.  Had I not been sick and gone to bed sooner than usual, I should have seen your Gentleman, and then he would have told me where you was.--All things conspire against the unfortunate, but if you are still determin'd, I still hope it may be possible one way or another. Write to me allways what contrivance you think on; I know best what is practicable for me.  I have since ask'd my B[rother] what he could have done if I had been marry'd in that way. He made answer, he durst not have taken me with him, we must have staid in the Inn, and how odd that would have been!

If there had been any Robbery lately committed, you had been taken up.  They suspected you in the House for Highway men.   I hop some time of our Lives we may laugh together at this Adventure, tho' at this minute tis vexatious enough.

Do what is most convenient for your own Affairs, but if you intend to go to the Spaw, we are very near a a sea port here, tho' if possible I would delay my flight till the Night I come to Acton, or I must come quite alone.  I should not much care to have this said, but if you judge it most convenient I will drop that scrupule, and in every thing prefer you to the world.  I am (?) of what you do for me, and my thoughts (?) it are all you would have them.

Pray write.  If possible I would do what you desire, and say No, tho' they brought a parson, but I hope we shall not be put to that hard Necessity, for I fear my own woman's weaknesse.

Adieu.  I am entirely yours if you please.
In fact they were married; Isobel Grundy, editor of the Penguin edition gives a date of 23 August.  One is tempted to say "and they lived happily ever after," to which the reader may be excused for responding "yeh, and good luck with that."  Well:  in point of fact, she left him to go abroad from England in 1739, and never saw him again; he lived until 1761, she until 1762.  Yet remarkably, they seem to have remained on civil throughout; as late as 17 February 1760, she is writing to him a civil and consolatory letter.  Apparently he fears that he is going blind; she writes "If I could be of any Service to you ... I  shall think my last remains of Life well employ'd."  It may be that they were one of those couples who can cary on with civility because they have simply outgrown each other.  Their children--a son and a daughter-are a far more complicated story.  Her daughter, in a crowning irony, eloped with a man of whom Lady Mary did not approve.

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