Lady Mary shows an increasing interest in politics—She tries to incite her husband to be ambitious—Montagu not returned to the new Parliament—His lack of energy—Correspondence—The Council of Regency—The King commands Lord Townshend to form a Government—The Cabinet—Lord Halifax, First Lord of the Treasury—Montagu appointed a Lord Commissioner of the Treasury—Correspondence—The unsatisfactory relations between Lady Mary and Montagu.
At the time of the death of Queen Anne Lady Mary began to show an increased interest in polities, at least in so far as the career of Montagu was bound up with it. She began to try to persuade her husband to be, to some extent at least, ambitious. It may be that she was not happy at the thought of being married to a man who was regarded as a nonentity. She was always urging him to put his best foot forward. Sometimes she wrote to him as to a naughty child. “I am very much surprised that you do not tell me in your last letter that you have spoke to my Father,” she said in August, 1714. “I hope after staying in the town on purpose, you do not intend to omit it. I beg you would not leave any sort of business unfinished, remembering those two necessary maxims, Whatever you intend to do as long as you live do as soon as you can; and to leave nothing to be done by another that ’tis possible to do yourself.” What sort of a man must Montagu have been at the age of thirty-six that his wife should deem it necessary to give him such first-aid advice?
Montagu was evidently of a procrastinating turn of mind. He had, as has been said, sat for Huntingdon in the House of Commons from 1705 until 1713. In the latter year Parliament was dissolved on August 8, but Montagu had made no definite plans as regards his future political career—for some reason or other his father reserved for himself the seat for Huntingdon. Montagu found no other constituency, and consequently did not sit in the new Parliament that assembled on the following November 11.
“I suppose you may now come in at Aldburgh, and I heartily wish you was in Parliament,” Lady Mary wrote to him. “I saw the Archbishop [of York]’s list of the Lords Regents appointed, and perceive Lord Wharton is not one of them; by which I guess the new scheme is not to make use of any man grossly infamous in either party; consequently, those who have been honest in regard to both, will stand fairest for preferment. You understand these things much better than me; but I hope you will be persuaded by me and your other friends (who I don’t doubt will be of opinion) that ’tis necessary for the common good for an honest man to endeavour to be powerful, when he can be the one without losing the first more valuable title; and remember that money is the source of power. I hear that Parliament sits but six months; you know best whether ’tis worth any expense or bustle to be in for so short a time.”
Lady Mary’s letters now contain many references to political affairs, anyhow in so far as they directly concern Montagu.