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for Lady Mary Wortley Montague's Writings: Selection I
Lecture or Handouts:
- What famous philosopher did Lady Montague
- Lady Montague’s
daughter, Mary Godwin, later married what famous English poet from the Romantic
What famous science fiction work did this author write?
- What foreign city
did Lady Montague live in when her husband was
the British ambassador?
- What (in general) sort of
advice was Lady Montague giving the Countess of
Bute regarding the education
of the Countess’ daughter? What relationship
does Lady Montague have to the Countess of Bute, and accordingly, what
is the familial
relationship between Bute’s daughter and Lady Montague?
Identify the following characters:
Lady Mary Wortley Montague, the Countess of Bute
Reading Questions: (Answer
these questions as you read along to make sure you understand
- “To the Countess of Bute, Lady Montague’s
is Montague pleased to hear that the child is skilled
- In the second paragraph, why does Montague
say that Bute’s
education had to differ from that of the granddaughter?
asserts that “Learning, if she has a real
taste for it . . . will not only make her contented,
but happy in it.” What reasons does Montague give
to support this assertion?
- In the third paragraph, Montague
issues two “cautions” or
warnings about education. What is the first warning
when it comes to classical languages? In the next paragraph,
what is the second warning when it comes to public knowledge
about the girl’s education?
- Who are “perhaps
the most ignorant fellows upon earth” according
- Montague gives an unusual reason why a young
girl should know English poetry. Why is it advantageous
Why has “many a young damsel . . . been ruined
by a fine copy of verses”?
- According to Montague,
how will the public generally react to a display of learning
in a woman? Accordingly,
what should the grand-daughter do with any education
- Montague states what fraction or percentage
of the general population acquainted with the daughter
will be composed
of “he- and she-fools”?
- According to Montague,
what should Bute keep in mind when it comes to the calculations
of Isaac Newton?
- What missing skill would Montague find “scandalous” in
a woman? Does that seem dated today?
- What missing skill
would Montague find “scandalous” in
a man? Does that seem dated today?
- What does Montague
think is the source of her poor eyesight in later years?
Passages for Identification/Discussion:
A. Learning, if she has a real
taste for it . . . will not only make her contented, but
happy in it.
B. Languages are more properly to be called
vehicles of learning rather than learning itself, as may
be observed in many
schoolmasters, who, though perhaps critics in grammar,
are the most ignorant fellows upon earth.
C. [M]any a young
damsel . . . been ruined by a fine copy of verses, which
she would have laughed at if she had known
it [the poetry] had been stolen from Mr. Waller.
D. The second
caution to be given here (and which is most absolutely
necessary) is to conceal whatever learning she
attains, with as much solicitude as she would hide crookedness
or lameness; the parade of it can only serve to draw on
her the envy, and consequently the most inveterate hatred,
of all he- and she-fools, which will certainly be at least
three parts in four of all her acquaintances.
E. The ultimate
end of your education was to make you a good wife (and
I have the comfort to hear that you are one):
hers ought to be to make her happy in a virgin states.
I will not say it is happier; but it is undoubtedly safer
than any marriage. In a lottery, where there are (at
the lower end of computation) ten thousands blanks to a
it is the most prudent choice not to venture.