Lady Mary Wortley Montagu to her Husband
[Enclosed, September 24, 1714.]
“Though I am very impatient to see you, I would not have you, by hastening to come down, lose any part of your interest. I am surprized you say nothing of where you stand. I had a letter from Mrs. Hewet last post, who said she heard you stood at Newark, and would be chose without opposition; but I fear her intelligence is not at all to be depended on. I am glad you think of serving your friends; I hope it will put you in mind of serving yourself. I need not enlarge upon the advantages of money; every thing we see, and every thing we hear, puts us in remembrance of it. If it was possible to restore liberty to your country, or limit the encroachments of the prerogative, by reducing yourself to a garret, I should be pleased to share so glorious a poverty with you; but as the world is, and will be, ’tis a sort of duty to be rich, that it may be in one’s power to do good; riches being another word for power, towards the obtaining of which the first necessary qualification is impudence, and (as Demosthenes said of pronunciation in oratory) the second is impudence, and the third, still, impudence. No modest man ever did or ever will make his fortune. Your friend Lord H[alifa]x, R. W[alpo]le, and all other remarkable instances of quick advancement, have been remarkably impudent. The Ministry is like a play at Court; there’s a little door to get in, and a great crowd without, shoving and thrusting who shall be foremost: people who knock others with their elbows, disregard a little kick of the shins, and still thrust heartily forwards, are sure of a good place. Your modest man stands behind in the crowd, is shoved about by every body, his cloaths tore, almost squeezed to death, and sees a thousand get in before him, that don’t make so good a figure as himself.
“I don’t say it is impossible for an impudent man not to rise in the world; but a moderate merit, with a large share of impudence, is more probable to be advanced, than the greatest qualifications without it.
“If this letter is impertinent, it is founded upon an opinion of your merit, which, it if is a mistake, I would not be undeceived in: it is my interest to believe (as I do) that you deserve every thing, and are capable of every thing; but nobody else will believe you if they see you get nothing.”
[Postmark, October 6, 1714.]
“I cannot imagine why you should desire that I should not be glad, though from a mistake, since, at least, it is an agreeable one. I confess I shall ever be of opinion, if you are in the Treasury, it will be an addition to your figure and facilitate your election, though it is no otherwise advantageous; and that, if you have nothing when all your acquaintance are preferred, the world generally will not be persuaded that you neglect your fortune, but that you are neglected.”
[Endorsed, October 9, 1714.]