“I expect your orders in relation to his letters.”
Edward was still anxious to join the army, and his parents were not averse to the scheme. Lady Mary, however, thought that certain precautions should be taken in the event of his securing a commission. “It is my opinion,” she wrote to Montagu in January, 1744, “he should have no distinction, in equipage, from any other cornet; everything of that sort will only serve to blow his vanity and consequently heighten his folly. Your indulgence has always been greater to him than any other parent’s would have been in the same circumstances. I have always said so, and thought so. If anything can alter him, it will be thinking firmly that he has no dependence but on his own conduct for a future maintenance.”
Edward obtained a commission, and was present at Fontenoy.
On his return to England, in 1747, he was elected to Parliament for the family borough of Huntingdon. This he held until 1754, when he was returned for the borough of Bossiney, in Cornwall, which he represented for the next eight years.
Of his subsequent career it is not necessary to say anything here, except that his father left him an annuity of L1,000 a year, to be increased to L2,000 on his mother’s death. Lady Mary in her will bequeathed him one guinea.
LADY MARY AS A READER
Her fondness for reading—Her difficulty to get enough books while abroad—Lady Bute keeps her supplied—Lady Mary’s catholic taste in literature—Samuel Richardson—The vogue of Clarissa Harlowe—Lady Mary tells a story of the Richardson type—Henry Fielding—Joseph Andrews—Tom Jones—Her high opinion of Fielding and Steele—Tobias Smollett—Peregrine Pickle—Lady Vane’s Memoirs of a Lady of Quality—Sarah Fielding—Minor writers—Lord Orrery’s Remarks on Swift—Bolingbroke’s works—Addison and Pope—Dr. Johnson.
In her quiet retreat, Lady Mary found plenty of time for books. “I yet retain and carefully cherish my taste for reading,” she wrote to her daughter in 1752. “If relays of eyes were to be hired like post-horses, I would never admit any but select companions: they afford a constant variety of entertainment, and is almost the only one pleasing in the enjoyment and inoffensive in the consequence.”