Letters from Turkey, by Mary Wortley Montagu

Letter xix.

Blankenburg. — Motive of Lady M’s journey to Blankenburg — her reception by the duchess of Blankenburg — the description of Hanover continued — perfection to which fruit is brought by means of stoves at Herenhausen — recommendation of chamber-stoves.

To the Countess of ——.

Blankenburg, OCT. 17. O. S. 1716.

I RECEIVED your’s, dear sister, the very day I left Hanover. You may easily imagine I was then in too great a hurry to answer it; but you see I take the first opportunity of doing myself that pleasure. I came here the 15th, very late at night, after a terrible journey, in the worst roads and weather that ever poor traveller suffered. I have taken this little fatigue merely to oblige the reigning empress, and carry a message from her imperial majesty to the duchess of Blankenburg, her mother, who is a princess of great address and good-breeding, and may be still called a fine woman. It was so late when I came to this town, I did not think it proper to disturb the duke and duchess with the news of my arrival; so I took up my quarters in a miserable inn: but as soon as I had sent my compliments to their highnesses, they immediately sent me their own coach and six horses, which had however enough to do to draw us up the very high hill on which the castle is situated. The duchess is extremely obliging to me, and this little court is not without its diversions. The duke taillys at basset every night; and the duchess tells me, she is so well pleased with my company, that it makes her play less than she used to do. I should find it very difficult to steal time to write, if she was not now at church, where I cannot wait on her, not understanding the language enough to pay my devotions in it. You will not forgive me, if I do not say something of Hanover; I cannot tell you that the town is either large or magnificent. The opera house, which was built by the late elector, is much finer than that of Vienna. I was very sorry that the ill weather did not permit me to see Hernhausen in all its beauty; but in spite of the snow, I thought the gardens very fine. I was particularly surprised at the vast number of orange trees, much larger than any I have ever seen in England, though this climate is certainly colder. But I had more reason to wonder that night at the king’s table, to see a present from a gentleman of this country, of two large baskets full of ripe oranges and lemons of different sorts, many of which were quite new to me; and what I thought worth all the rest, two ripe ananasses, which, to my taste, are a fruit perfectly delicious. You know they are naturally the growth of Brazil, and I could not imagine how they came here, but by enchantment. Upon inquiry, I learnt that they have brought their stoves to such perfection, they lengthen their summer as long as they please, giving to every plant the degree of heat it would receive from the sun in its native soil. The effect is very near the same; I am surprised we do not practise in England so useful an invention. This reflection leads me to consider our obstinacy in shaking with cold, five months in the year rather than make use of stoves, which are certainly one of the greatest conveniencies of life. Besides, they are so far from spoiling the form of a room, that they add very much to the magnificence of it, when they are painted and gilt, as they are at Vienna, or at Dresden, where they are often in the shapes of china jars, statues, or fine cabinets, so naturally represented, that they are not to be distinguished. If ever I return, in defiance to the fashion, you shall certainly see one in the chamber of,

Dear sister, your, &c.

I WILL write often, since you desire it: but I must beg you to be a little more particular in your’s; you fancy me at forty miles distance, and forget, that, after so long an absence, I can’t understand hints.

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