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ITALIAN MEMOIR, BY LADY MARY
HoRACE WALPOLE says in a letter to Sir Horace Mann, dated August 31, 1751: “Pray tell me if you know anything of Lady Mary Wortley; we have an obscure history here of her being in durance in the Brescian or the Bergamasco.” He goes on to state in broad language that this was only the sequel of a love affair, “and her lover,” he adds, “has taken it into his head to keep her close prisoner, not permitting her to write or receive any letters but what he sees.” In a subsequent letter to Sir Horace (November 22 in the same year) Walpole further observes: “It seems uncertain by your accounts whether Lady Mary Wortley is in voluntary or constrained durance.” When, in 1837, the first Lord Wharncliffe was editing the Works of Lady Mary Wortley, his great grandmother, these statements drew from him some unexpected information. At vol. iii., p. 431, of his
edition, he tells us:— B
“Among Lady Mary's papers there is a long paper written in Italian, not by herself, giving an account of her having been detained for some time against her will in a country house belonging to an Italian Count, and inhabited by him and his mother. This paper seems to be drawn up either as a case to be submitted to a lawyer for his opinion, or to be produced in a Court of Law. There is nothing else to be found in Lady Mary's papers referring in the least degree to this circumstance.” Lord Wharncliffe then proceeds to say that this detention was, “probably, for some pecuniary or interested object;” and he points out, that at the time of this alleged love adventure, Lady Mary was sixtyone years old.
The following correspondence ensued.
Lord Wharncliffe to Lord Mahon.
Curzon Street, MY DEAR LoBD MAHON, Wed., March 22, 1837.
You suggested to me the other day at the Carlton, that I had better publish the Italian manuscript to which I allude in my Appendix to Lady Mary. This has led me to look farther into it than I had done before, not being a very handy Italian scholar, and it appears to me, upon doing so, to be a narrative extending over ten years of her life, during which she lived Dear Brescia, at Gotolengo, and Louvere, from whence her letters, from 1746 to 1756, are dated; and of the
circumstances attending her acquaintance with a certain
Ever yours truly,
Lord Mahon to Lord Wharncliffe.
Grosvenor Place, My DEAR LORD, March 23, 1837.
The Memoir, though not in Lady Mary's handwriting, is evidently, as it purports to be, composed by her; and though in a foreign language, is marked by