Montagu, on his return to England, again entered the House of Commons, where he represented Huntingdon from 1722 to 1734, and then for Peterborough from 1734 to 1747 and from 1754 to 1761. Whether it was lack of ambition or just want of appreciation of his talents by the leaders of his party, there is no evidence. Even with his family connections and his wealth, he was never offered a place in any Administration, nor, it must be confessed, did he in any way distinguish himself in Parliament. As the years passed, his chief pleasure, if indeed it was not his only one, was in the hoarding of money—in this pursuit he was splendidly successful. From references to Lady Mary in contemporary correspondence, it would appear that she too had no small streak of the miser in her. Pope, after his quarrel with her, referred to Montagu as “Worldly,” “Shylock,” and “Gripus,” and in the fourth Epistle of the Essay on Man wrote:
“Is yellow dirt the passion of thy
Look but on Gripus and Gripus’ wife.”
Also he lampooned them under the style of Avidieu and Avidieu’s wife, who
“Sell their presented partridges
And humbly live on rabbits and on roots;
One half-pint bottle serves them both to dine,
And is at once their vinegar and wine.
But on some lucky day (as when they found
A lost bank note, or heard their son was drowned),
At such a feast old vinegar to spare
Is what two souls so generous cannot bear:
Oil, though it stink, they drop by drop impart,
But souse the cabbage with a bounteous heart.”
Lady Mary took her place, as of right, as a leader of society, and for a while plunged into the gaieties of the town. “Public places flourish more than ever,” she wrote to her sister. “We have assemblies for every day in the week, besides Court, operas, and masquerades. With youth and money, ’tis certainly possible to be well diverted in spite of malice and ill-nature, though they are more and more powerful every day. For my part, as it is my established opinion that this globe of ours is no better than a Holland cheese, and the walkers about in it mites, I possess my soul in patience, let what will happen—and I should feel tolerably easy, though a great rat came and ate half of it.” That is a philosophical outlook with a vengeance!
However, Lady Mary managed on the whole to enjoy herself. “The town improves in gaiety every day; the young people are younger than they used to be, and all the old are grown young. Nothing is talked of but entertainments of gallantry by land and water, and we insensibly begin to taste all the joys of arbitrary power. Politics are no more; nobody pretends to wince or kick under their burdens; but we go on cheerfully with our bells at our ears, ornamented with ribands, and highly contented with our present condition; so much for the general state of the nation,” she made her comment on polite circles. “We