1763 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Lady Mary Wortley Montagu

Anonymous, in Review of Montagu, Letters; Critical Review 15 (June 1763) 426.



It has frequently been observed, and with great truth, that there is an ease and simplicity, an undefinable grace and elegance in the letters of women, which make then infinitely preferable to those written by men, which indeed are generally very stiff and laboured: the truth of this remark has, perhaps, never been more fully exemplified than in the three little volumes now before us, which we are certain were never excelled, we might venture to say, never equalled by any letter-writer of any sex, age, or nation. They are, to say the truth, so bewitchingly entertaining, that we defy the most phlegmatic man upon earth to read one without going through with them, or after finishing the third volume, not to wish there were twenty more of them; for (as the author of the preface to them observers) "besides the vivacity and spirit which enlivens every part, and that inimitable beauty which spreads through the whole; besides the purity of the style, which it may be justly accounted the standard of the English tongue; the reader will find a more true and accurate account of the customs and manners of the several nations, with whom this lady conversed, than he can in any other author."