« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »
schemes of escape. The king landed on the 7th at Vaert, in Hok land. On the 8th he proceeded on his journey, leaving the duchess of Kendal on the Dutch frontier. On the gth, he slept at Delden; and was again in his coach at four o'clock in the morning of the ioth, accompanied by two official persons of the court of Han.
In the forenoon of that day he was struck by apoplexy. He refused to stop at Ippenburen, as his attendants wished. His hands fell; his eyes were heavy; but his will was strong.
“ Osnabruck! Osnabruck!” he exclaimed. His one surviving brother, the prince bishop, had his palace at Osnabruck. The king's voice grew fainter. He murmured in his death-sleep, “ C'est faite de moi” (All is over with me). All was over. When the bishop was roused by the gallop of horses in his court-yard at midnight, George, king of Great Britain, and elector of Hanover, was dead. He was buried at Hanover.
ACCESSION OF GEORGE II.
Accession of George 11.-Walpole confirmed in power-Frederick, the heir-apparent.
Course of foreign policy.- The Stuarts.--Arrival in England of prince Frederick.Townshend leaves office.- What is History?–The Dissenters.-Inquiry into the state of the Gaols.-Law proceedings in English.—Party Quarrels and Libels.Parliamentary Opposition.-The Salt-tax.—The Excise Scheme.--Wars in Europe.Neutrality of Great Britain. - Motion for the Repeal of the Septennial Act.-Wyndham's character of Walpole.- Walpole's character of Bolingbroke.—Bolingbroke quits England.
SIR ROBERT WALPOLE is seated at dinner in his villa at Chelsea on the 14th of June, 1727. An express arrives from lord Townshend, who has accompanied George I. to the Continent as Secretary of State. The king is dead. The First Commissioner of the treasury is instantly in the saddle on his road to Richmond, where the prince of Wales is staying. The prince of Wales has dined and is asleep in his bed-chamber, the princess sitting by his side: Sir Robert Walpole must see the prince immediately. At that moment the great minister probably regarded his tenure of power as more uncertain than when the duchess of Kendal was intriguing with Bolingbroke against him. The prince looked upon his father's chief adviser with suspicion and resentment. “I am come to acquaint your Majesty with the death of your father," was Walpole's hasty communication. He then asked certain questions about the king's pleasure as to the Council being summoned, and as to other necessary formalities. Go to Chiswick, and take your directions from sir Spencer Compton,” was the uncourteous reply.* Sir Spencer Compton was Treasurer to the prince of Wales. He was Speaker of the House of Commons and Paymáster to the Army—"a plodding heavy fellow, with great application, but no talents,” says lord Hervey. Walpole told Compton it was clear that the king meant him for his minister. Walpole professed that he had no desire of power for himself—a small office in the household would be sufficient to show that he was not disgraced. The minister expectant, who was “always more concerned for the man
• "The Memoirs of John, Lord Hervey, from the Accession of George II. to the Death of queen Caroline, edited by Mr. Croxer, and first published in 1848, have drawn aside the veil from many a courtly scene, although the mutilation of the MS. has left some enigmas yet unsolved'
ner and form in which a thing was to be done than about the propriety or expediency of the thing itsell," was charmed with the moderation of the man who had been the ruler of England. He asked Walpole to make for him a draught of a speech to be delivered by the king to the Council, while he went to the king at Leicester House. When he returned, the speech was ready. Sir Spencer made a copy of it; and went back to Leicester House. One passage in the speech was objected to by the king; and sir Spencer, not seeing his way to alter it, requested sir Robert to see his Majesty and implore him to leave it as originally drawn. The shrewd Caroline of Anspach, who was the firm friend of Walpole -"a better judge than her husband of the capacities of the two - men, and who had silently watched for a proper moment for overturning the new designations,—did not lose a moment in observing to the king how prejudicial it would be to his affairs to y reser a man in whose own judgment his predecessor was the fittest person to execute the office."* The next day, when the son-in-law of Walpole was displaced from his office of Master of the Robes, all "thought the fall of the ministry was certain. The king had been known, in his father's time, to speak of Walpole as a rogue; of his brother, Horace, as a dirty buffoon ; of Newcastle, as an impertinent fool ; of Townshend as a choleric blockhead. But the *king made no decided movement towards a new administration. The courtiers flocked around sir Spencer; they got out of the way of sir Robert. The Civil List was to be settled by Parliament in a fortnight. The Court moved to Kensington; “ where the king," says Hervey, " by the audiences that were asked, and the offers that were made to him by the great men of all denominations, found himself set up at auction, and every one bidding for his favour at the expense of the public.” Walpole outbid his rivals. He proposed in Parliament that the entire revenue of the Civil List should be settled on the king, being an increase of about 130,000l. ; and that queen Caroline should receive a jointure of 100,000l. Not a voice was raised against the proposal, but that of Shippen. Walpole and his party continued in power. Compton was consoled with the Presidency of the Council, and a peerage. Horace Walpole, as well as lorel Hervey, attributing the triumph of Walpole to the strong influence which the queen possessed over her husband, intimate that Walpole's political opponents, and even some of those who acted with him, thought that the prince's favourite mistress, Mrs. Howard (afterwards Lady Suffolk) would be the dispenser of court favours in the new reign. “Sir Robert's
• Horace Walpole, " Reininiscences.".
sagacity discerned that the power would be lodged with the wife, not with the mistress; and he not only devoted himself to the princess, but totally abstained from even visiting Mrs. Howard." *
Queen Caroline's jointure, and an addition of a hundred and thirty thousand pounds to the royal income, provoked only the remonstrance of Shippen. He did not even find a seconder to his amendment. The time was not yet ripe for agitating the question of a distinct provision for the eldest son of the king, independent of any allowance the Crown might bestow upon bim, Frederick was about twenty years of age; was not a resident in England; and was not yet created Prince of Wales. The case of his father was different, when he was Prince of Wales. He was thirty-two years
of age; he came to England at the accession of George I. ; and he lived here with his wife and daughters. Unhappily, both on the part of the father and the mother of Frederick, there was a deep rooted antipathy towards this eldest son-an unhappy circumstance which probably interfered with such an arrangement as would not have left him wholly dependent upon what lord Hervey terms “the discretion and generosity of his father.” George II. was not very discreet, and he was very far from generous. The unkingly passion of avarice was predominant in bis most trivial disbursements. But this precise little man had one supreme royal virtue, that of an inflexible love of justice. Personal courage he signally possessed-it is an attribute of his race. He fought under Marlborough at Oudenärde in 1708. He' headed the charge of his infantry at Dettingen in 1743. In queen Caroline, George, for ten years of his reign, had such an adviser and friend as few sovereigns have ever been blessed with. She possessed the rare wisdom-difficult even in private life, but far more difficult in the relations of a king and his consort-of governing her husband without appearing to govern. She never offered an opinion when any matter of state was discussed between the king and his ministers in her presence; but her opinion was ever certain to prevail. Queen Caroline and Robert Walpole perfectly understood the system under which the succession of the house of Brunswick became less and less assailable. Expediency was their great principle-let well enough alone-quieta non movere. Keep, the nation as much as possible at peace with its neighbours. Abstain from asserting any prerogative that might appear to interfere with parliamentary government. Secure a majority in parliament, even at the cost of pandering to the cupidity of the dishonest ånd time-serving. Surrender even what you know to be right, if
Horace Walpole, "Reminiscences.
the danger of popular clamour against a measure be greater than the good which it proposes to accomplish. These are not noble maxims of government; but they were not without their beneficial results upon a nation that had been disturbed by confljcting prin. ciples for nearly a century. The consequence of this policy was that there are fewer stirring events in the first fourteen years of the reign of George II. than in any period of like duration in our history. Happy is the family which is reared without any adventures to record beyond the “migrations from the blue bed to the brown.” Happy the nation which has little to offer to the notice of the historian, during the period of half a generation, but its steady progress in the arts of industry; its growth of capital ; its abundant provision of the funds for sustaining labour; its general contentment, which some silly outbreak of popular prejudice only renders more remarkable ; its leisure to examine into social evils, which chiefly affect those masses of the people that politicians have been too apt to neglect, till they have become dangerous in their impatience of intolerable abuses.
The foreign policy of England had ceased to be perplexed with apprehensions of insurrection and invasion for restoring the Stuart family. At the accession of George 11. there was a momentary hope amongst the Jacobites that something might be done. Atterbury, who had thrown off all disguise, described to James the spirit of caution and fear which possessed his friends at home,”—how nothing could be expected of them without foreign assistance. The British and French governments were in entire accord. Spain, although still grumbling about Gibraltar, had consented to a peace. All unsettled questions with the Emperor and others were to be referred to a Congress at Soissons. Eighteen months were the Deputies at this Congress, pretending to debate about The Prag. matic Sanction,* and other nice points of diplomatic subtlety. "The cooks of the Plenipotentiaries," says lord Hervey, “had much more business there than their secretaries.” The ministry of George became tired of a state of things which was neither peace nor war; and, when their patience was worn out by the never-ending discussions of Soissons, they, in conjunction with France and Holland, concluded the Peace of Seville with Spain, leaving the Emperor to fight his own battle. Some sixteen months later, by the Treaty of Vienna with Great Britain and Holland, there was obtained a guarantee of the Pragmatic Sanction, by which Charles, the Emperor, who had no sons, had provided that the succession to the hereditary estates of Austria should rest in
• See Table of Treaties, ante, vol. v. p. 364.