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A TALE

OF

THE COURT OF GEORGE I.

“ One thing I have got by the long time I have been here, which is,
the being more sensible than ever I was of my happiness in being Maid of
Honour: I wont say "God preserve me so,' neither ; that would not be
so well."-SUFFOLK CORRESPONDENCE.

IN THREE VOLS.

VOL. I.

LONDON:

HENRY COLBURN, PUBLISHER;

GREAT MARLBOROUGH STREET.

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TO

SIR EDWARD BULWER LYTTON, BART.

AUTHOR OP “PELHAM,” &c. &c.

Op the fair celebrities who have given a title to these volumes, it cannot be unknown to so well read an historical scholar as yourself, that onethe true heroine of the story-has been immortalized by the praises of Pope, Gay, Churchill, Horace Walpole and Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, and has also had the honour of being made the subject of a little poem in the English language from the pen of Voltaire. Indeed Mary Lepel was one of those rare characters formed to be the ornament of her circle, and the boast of her age. Nor have her three fair contemporaries, with whom she is here associated, passed through

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their gay career without leaving some such interesting records. The names of Bellenden, Howe, and Meadows are to be found in many a pleasant verse and gossiping memorandum referring to the Court Beauties of the period.

The society in which they were regarded as such agreeable features, though it existed in this country little more than a hundred years ago, undoubtedly was formed of the most extraordinary materials that ever constituted à civilized community. That segment of it styled the Court, was such a Court, as I think you will readily agree with me, England never saw before, and is not likely to behold again. Yet in this soil, another strange sign of these very strange times, there fourished qualities the most opposite that can by any possibility be conceived; the courtly Chesterfield and the elegant Addison were existing harmoniously with the brutal Wharton and the licentious Buckingham. Never was the Hyperion and Satyr juxtaposition more conspicuous than in the various contrasts of this kind, that were then and there to be met with.

You will, no doubt, as readily perceive that for the numerous historical personages who help to

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fill up my canvass-except now and then in a slight deviation from the exact time, and in the imaginative colouring necessary to all such illustrations—I have had continual reference to published facts and characteristics. Indeed, as respects even the royal group who figure so prominently in the foreground, if they are not such flattering likenesses as are usually found in portraits of royalty, they may be regarded with confidence, as reflecting, according to many able authorities, the features of the very remarkable originals they assume to represent; and as to the eminent literary characters that are introduced, perhaps you may think, with a more evident ambition, it should be observed that they are merely sketched in to complete the general design; in fact, they possess no pretensions beyond back-ground figures.

In dedicating to you the picture I have here delineated of this unique Court, and of the very singular state of society of which the Court circle may be said to have formed the head, I am conscious how unworthy it is to be graced with the name of an artist whose works exhibit so eminent an excellence; but the merit we cannot approach

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