1812 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Lady Mary Chudleigh

John Nichols, in Literary Anecdotes of the XVIII Century (1812-15) 1:12-13n.



This philosophic and poetic lady was Mary, daughter of Richard Lee of Winsloder in Devonshire, Esq. and wife to Sir George Chudleigh, Bart. [m. 1674], by whom she had several children; among the rest Eliza-Maria, who dying in the bloom of life, caused her mother to pour out her grief in a poem entituled, A Dialogue between Lucinda and Marissa. She wrote another poem, called The Ladies Defence, occasioned by an angry sermon preached against the fair sex. These, with many others, were collected into the above volume [Poems, 1703], which was printed a third time in 1722. She published also a volume of Essays upon Several Subjects in Verse and Prose in 1710, which have been much admired for delicacy of style. These were dedicated to the Princess Sophia, Electress and Dowager of Brunswick; on which occasion that Princess, then in her 80th year, honoured her with a very polite epistle. This lady is said to have written other things, as tragedies, operas, masques, &c. which, though not printed, are preserved by the family. She died in 1710, in her 55th year. She was a woman of great virtue as well as understanding, and made the latter subservient to the former. She had an education in which literature seemed but little regarded, being taught no other than her native language; yet her fondness for books, great application, and uncommon abilities, enabled her to figure among the literati of her time. But though she was perfectly in love with the charms of poetry, yet she dedicated some part of her time to the severer studies of philosophy. This appears from her excellent essays upon knowledge, pride, humility, life, death, fear, grief, riches, self-love, justice, anger, calumny, friendship, love, avarice, solitude, in which (to say nothing of her manner of writing, which is pure and elegant) she discovers an uncommon degree of piety and knowledge, and a noble contempt of those vanities which the generality of both sexes so much regard, and so eagerly pursue.