Letters from Turkey, by Mary Wortley Montagu

Letter xviii.

Hanover. — Description of the women at Hanover — the traineaus or snow-sledges described — particulars of the empress of Germany.

To the Lady R——.

Hanover, Oct. 1. O. S. 1716.

I AM very glad, my dear lady R—— that you have been so well pleased, as you tell me, at the report of my returning to England; though, like other pleasures, I can assure you it has no real foundation. I hope you know me enough to take my word against any report concerning me. ’Tis true, as to distance of place, I am much nearer to London than I was some weeks ago; but, as to the thoughts of a return, I never was farther off in my life. I own, I could with great joy indulge the pleasing hopes of seeing you, and the very few others that share my esteem; but while Mr W—— is determined to proceed in his design, I am determined to follow him. I am running on upon my own affairs, that is to say, I am going to write very dully, as most people do when they write of themselves. I will make haste to change the disagreeable subject, by telling you, that I am now got into the region of beauty. All the women have (literally) rosy cheeks, snowy foreheads and bosoms, jet eye-brows, and scarlet lips, to which they generally add coal-black hair. Those perfections never leave them, till the hour of their deaths, and have a very fine effect by candle light; but I could wish they were handsome with a little more variety. They resemble one another as much as Mrs Salmon’s court of Great Britain, and are in as much danger of melting away, by too near approaching the fire, which they for that reason carefully avoid, though ’tis now such excessive cold weather, that I believe they suffer extremely by that piece of self-denial. The snow is already very deep, and the people begin to slide about in their traineaus. This is a favourite diversion all over Germany. They are little machines fixed upon a sledge, that hold a lady and gentleman, and are drawn by one horse. The gentleman has the honour of driving, and they move with a prodigious swiftness. The lady, the horse, and the traineau, are all as fine as they can be made; and when there are many of them together, ’tis a very agreeable show. At Vienna, where all pieces of magnificence are carried to excess, there are sometimes machines of this kind, that cost five or six hundred pounds English. The duke of Wolfenbuttle is now at this court; you know he is nearly related to our king, and uncle to the reigning empress, who is, I believe, the most beautiful princess upon earth. She is now with child, which is all the consolation of the imperial court, for the loss of the archduke. I took my leave of her the day before I left Vienna, and she began to speak to me with so much grief and tenderness, of the death of that young prince, I had much ado to withhold my tears. You know that I am not at all partial to people for their titles; but I own, that I love that charming princess, (if I may use so familiar an expression) and if I had not, I should have been very much moved at the tragical end of an only son, born, after being so long desired, and at length killed by want of good management, weaning him in the beginning of the winter. Adieu, dear lady R——; continue to write to me, and believe none of your goodness is lost upon

Your, &c.

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Last updated Friday, March 7, 2014 at 23:09