1789 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Elizabeth Montagu

Anonymous, "Sketch of the Character of Mrs. Montague" New London Magazine 5 (November 1789) 546.



Amongst the many accomplished characters which do honour to the fair sex, Mrs. Montague may justly be reckoned. This lady is possessed of a sprightly genius, a sound judgment, and an unprejudiced understanding. She is visited by almost all the literati of the age, who know too well what they owe themselves not to respect her; she is admitted to the houses and assemblies of the great, who are too sensible of her worth to neglect her. — Yet, while this lady receives all these marks of respect from persons of the greatest note, she preserves the most modest and engaging deportment towards every one, and is equally friendly, courteous, and charitable.

As a proof of Mrs. Montague's literary abilities, her Essay on the Genius and Writings of Shakespeare will be handed down to future generations; — as a proof of her benevolence, it will be at the same time recorded, that she appropriated the profits of that well-finished performance to wipe the tear from the cheek of sorrow, to comfort the distressed and afflicted: — she bestowed the moneys which arose from the sale of her book in relieving a poor widow, whose necessities rendered her a real object of such a charity.

It is superfluous to add more here concerning a character which is its own panegyric; what has been said is such a tribute paid to truth, as all that now this excellent lady can testify, as none but the envious and ungenerous can entertain a thought or wish to suppress.