“A woman that adds nothing to a man’s fortune ought not to take from his happiness. If possible I would add to it; but I will not take from you any satisfaction you could enjoy without me.”
“If we marry, our happiness must consist in loving one another: ’tis principally my concern to think of the most probable method of making the love eternal.”
“There is one article absolutely necessary—to be ever beloved, one must be ever agreeable.”
“Very few people that have settled entirely in the country but have grown at length weary of one another. The lady’s conversation generally falls into a thousand impertinent effects of idleness, and the gentleman falls in love with his dogs and horses and out of love with everything else.”
And so on.
Possibly if Lady Mary had had less brains and more passion, if she had not so calmly worked out the permutations and combinations of married life, the alliance might have been more successful. She, with all her intelligence, did not seem to realise that matrimony is not an affair of rules and regulations, of aphorisms and epigrams, nor that the lines on which husband and wife shall conduct themselves to a happy ending can be settled by a study of vulgar fractions.
Anyhow, the plunge was at last taken—with some not unnatural trepidation on the part of the twenty-three-year-old bride. On Friday night, August 15, 1712, she wrote to Montagu:
“I tremble for what we are doing.—Are you sure you will love me for ever? Shall we never repent? I fear and I hope. I forsee all that will happen on this occasion. I shall incense my family in the highest degree. The generality of the world will blame my conduct, and the relations and friends of —— will invent a thousand stories of me; yet, ’tis possible, you may recompense everything to me. In this letter, which I am fond of, you promise me all that I wish. Since I writ so far, I received your Friday letter. I will be only yours, and I will do what you please.
“You shall hear from me again to-morrow, not to contradict, but to give some directions. My resolution is taken. Love me and use me well.”
The wedding licence is dated August 16, and the marriage took place in a day or two.
The bride had the active assistance of her uncle, William Feilding, who may have been present at the ceremony; and the full sympathy of her brother, Lord Kingston, who, however, did not accompany her, perhaps deeming it impolitic to quarrel with his father.
The family must have thought that Lord Dorchester would examine Lady Mary’s papers, for her sister, Lady Frances destroyed all she could find, including, unfortunately, a diary that Lady Mary had kept for several years.
EARLY MARRIED LIFE (1712-1714)