THE EMBASSY TO THE PORTE—I (1716)
Montagu loses his place at the Treasury—His antagonism against Walpole—Lady Mary, “Dolly” Walpole, and Molly Skerritt—The Earl and Countess of Mar leave England—Montagu appointed Ambassador to the Porte—Leaves England for Constantinople, accompanied by his wife—Letters during the Embassy to Constantinople—Rotterdam—Vienna— Lady Mary at Court—Her gown—Her interest in clothes—Viennese society—Gallantry—Lady Mary’s experience—Count Tarrocco—Precedence at Vienna—A nunnery—The Montagus visit the German Courts—A dangerous drive—Prince Frederick (afterwards Prince of Wales)—Herrenhausen.
Edward Wortley Montagu did not long hold office. Lord Halifax, First Lord of the Treasury in the Townshend Administration, died in May, 1715, when his place was taken by Lord Carlisle, who, however, held it only until the following October. Carlisle was succeeded by Sir Robert Walpole, promoted from the less important but far more lucrative post of Paymaster-General. In the new Commission of the Treasury Montagu’s name did not appear. Why Montagu was removed has not transpired; it may, indeed, be that he resigned, for he had a strong dislike for the new Minister. There may also have been some family sentiment in the matter, for while Lady Mary was an intimate friend of Walpole’s harum-scarum sister, “Dolly,” who was now Lady Townshend, Lady Walpole was very decidedly her enemy. Lady Mary presently had her tit-for-tat with Lady Walpole by “taking up” Walpole’s mistress, Molly Skerritt.
It may be here mentioned that Lady Mar was at this time living with her husband at Paris, at St. Germain, and that she remained abroad for the rest of her life. She had left England owing to the conduct of Lord Mar in taking an active part in the rebellion of ’15. He had set up the Pretender’s standard at Braemar, had suffered defeat at Sheriffmuir, and had been so fortunate as to escape with his master to Gravelines. In gratitude for his services, the Pretender created Lord Mar a Duke. Mar lived until 1732, dying at the age of fifty-seven, and he spent the years in losing the confidence of the Jacobites and endeavouring to ingratiate himself with the Hanoverian Kings of England—in which latter quest he was markedly unsuccessful. His Scotch estates were confiscated, and his title attained—the attainder of the earldom was not reversed until 1824.
Montagu, having tasted the sweets of office, even so minor a place as that of a Lord of the Treasury, was not content to enjoy such pleasures as a private life could afford. He desired to be somebody. Probably he worried the Government of the day, possibly he pointed out to the leaders of the Whig Party that he was possessed of parts that should not, in justice to his country, be ignored. He may even have approached the Throne. It is not inconceivable that he made himself a nuisance to all concerned.