Friday, October 22, 2010
Tart of the Week: Sophia Musters
Many smitten men through time have sung the praises and dangers of a beautiful face. One of the legendary beautiful faces of 18th century England was that of Mrs. Sophia Musters whom many found hard to resist.
Fanny Burney described Sophia as "most beautiful, but most unhappy" as well as being the toast of the town. John was happy being a country gentleman but Sophia flourished in a metropolitan environment. She was adorable yet swore like Lady Lade. The men couldn't stay away from the charming Mrs. Musters and who was she to deny them the attention? Once, at a ball, a man approached Sophia with a glass of chalk and water and used this clever pickup line: "Chalk is thought to be a cure for the heartburn; I wonder whether it will cure the heartache?"* No word on whether the line worked. It wasn't long before Sophia threw caution to the wind and dove into numerous love affairs. There was and Penniston Lamb who would go on to marry Caroline St Jules (The illegitimate daughter of the Duke of Devonshire and Lady Bess Foster) and also her first love, George Pitt. Rumors also surfaced about other men as well such as the Prince of Wales (who wasn't he attached to!) and even Joshua Reynolds who spent man hours with the beauty behind closed doors, either painting her or giving her private painting lessons.
Jennifer pointed out in a past post, " It was only in the late '80s that restorers realized what was behind the layers of paint and restored it to it's original form." How ancient Egyptian of him!
Despite the jealousy and deceit earlier in the marriage, somewhere down the road the couple kissed and made up. Perhaps once Sophia got the wild child out of her system and John felt he could forgive her, they realized they could settle down to a contented marriage. When Sophia died at 61 in 1819 John was heartbroken. In her memory, he commission a tomb sculpture portraying a weeping woman so that someone will eternally morn the beautiful Mrs. Musters.
*I've seen other texts saying she had said this to the man, oh gossip!