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<Q A 1778 TC MB EMONTAGU>
<X ELIZABETH MONTAGU>
[}ELIZABETH MONTAGU TO THE DUCHESS OF PORTLAND. AUGUST 22 1778. MO 439. }]
Denton Aug ye 22=d=
I should have had the honour & pleasure of writing to your Grace long before this time, but at my first arrival here I was much engaged in business, & then I fell ill, & tho my indisposition abated, I was afraid of bringing back the complaint in my stomach by stooping to write. Last nights post brought me the invaluable favour of your Graces letter. I cannot express how happy I was made by such a proof of your goodness to me, & so favorable an account of your health; may they both continue for the Worlds happiness & mine!
As I love & esteem M=r= Smelt, in the highest degree, I rejoyce that he has had an opportunity of being introduced to your Grace, & I shall be very happy to be the means of cultivating an acquaintance which I really think will be a delight to you both, & an honour to him. You will find in him, the talents you love, & the virtues you
respect. He is indeed a very uncommon Man, but his Fate is more uncommon than he. He has recommended himself at Court by his integrity & sincerity; & to do justice, it is still more rare to find a King & Queen who love such virtues, than a Courtier who practises them. May their Majesties find in their Servants & subjects the fidelity they so well deserve. When the King sent for M=r= Smelt to Windsor, his Majesty graciously assured him, he should always have an apartment near him wherever he was. As I did not know of this intention, I had begged M=r= & M=rs= Smelt to promise me they w=d= accept of an apartment in my new House, as soon as I inhabited it, at such times as he would like to spend a few months with their Friends in London. I was a little hurt that I could not get an absolute promise from them, that they would do so; little did I suspect, that I, a little Widow Gentlewoman had the King of Great Brittain France & Ireland for a competitor in this matter. M=r= Smelt had just finishd a very pretty elegant chearful House, in a most beautiful situation on the River Swale, which he was to inhabit the week after I dined with him in my way to Denton. The Banks
of the Ilyssus could not offer a fitter or a fairer scene for Philosophick contemplation. The House commanded the view of a rich Valley, of which the River Swale seemd so enamoured, that she prolonged her course by deviations in every possible direction, but in so gentle a mode, no part of it could be calld crooked, tho she never persued a straight line; sometimes she seem_d to intend to leave the Valley, then again, as if loth to quit the peaceful rural Scene, to proceed where navigation burthen_d her with Vessels of trade & business, or fall into the turbulent Ocean, she directed her way to the right or left, taught her stream to glide softly & slow, gently murmuring her farewell. distant Villages, the retreats of innocence & peace, decent Churches, built by the Piety, not Pride of the Founders, & Woods, large enough to give dignity & solemnity to compleat the scene, are distinctly beheld; & distant Mountains seem as Natures fortresses to defend all these gentle beauties from violation. There is something peculiarly delightful to the mind, in the contemplation of places where (^Nature plays her virgin fancies.^) Labour, & art, & the contrivances
of Men, being out of the question, the thought rises without impediment to the great & bountiful Creator. Your Grace may imagine, that we prolonged our visit to such Persons, in such a place, as long as the day would permit. The polite and accomplish'd M=r= Smelt, in this charming rural situation, put me in mind of S=r= Callidore wooing Pastorella in the Legend of Courtesy. Tho [\the/] Valley might be worthy of him I grieved to think how many of his qualities would be little understood by his Neighbours, & that it would be long before they became perfectly sensible of his uncommon perfections. I imagined him forever excluded from polite society, & doom'd like the rose of the Wilderness (^to waste his sweetness to y=e= Desart air.^) (^ (\Point de Salut pour les honnêtes gens hors du Capitale\) ^) is a sentiment I perfectly subscribe to. I do not mean that it is necessary, or indeed either pleasant, or proper, to live always in a Croud, or even in the most ingenious & polite circles. Days of retirement, recess & solitude, are necessary, but to be ever confined to the narrow sphere of a Country Neighbourhood is terrible. I am convinced that however Orpheus play_d when he first went into the Woods, he w=d= in time catch
(\un mauvais ton\) from his audience.
I do not wonder that your Grace was so delighted with the Royal family, Royalty, out of the question, it is surely the finest family in the World. I am glad Princess Mary did not escape your particular attention, she answers my idea of the fairy queen, there is a dignity in her little Person that is surprizing.
As Your Grace is so good as to tell me you are now in a place of leisure & solitude, where letters will not be unacceptable, I shall take the liberty to trouble you often. it is very lucky however for your Grace, that I am interrupted by a Visitor, & cannot further abuse your permission by this post.
Miss Gregory presents her best respects & I beg mine to M=rs= Delany. With the most perfect esteem & tender
I am Madam
most obliged & Most Obed=t=