OREALD.COM - An Old Electronic Library
eng: a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z

Reign of George II. (Continued.) page 7

Pages: 1 2 3 4 5 6 <7> 8 9 10 11

Meanwhile, in the camp of the allies at Hanau, not merely this treaty had been in agitation, but councils of war were held for the prosecution of the campaign. Prince Charles of Lorraine and count Khevenhöller were present, and the arguments of Stair, that the enemy should be briskly pursued, for a time prevailed. The battle of Dettingen had raised the expectations of the allies to a high pitch, and accordingly both the king of England and the prince of Lorraine crossed the Rhine, and took up their separate positions on the left bank of that river, George at Worms and the prince near Breisach. There, however, the difference of councils again prevailed. Stair urged active advance on the French, the German generals advised delay, considering the season too far spent, or the French too strong for any decided advantage over them. This threw Stair into the most violent anger. He complained loudly of the continual disregard of his advice, and he proceeded so far as to address a memorial to the king, asserting that everything was sacrificed to Hanoverian councils, and tendering his resignation. This was immediately accepted, the king showing his indignation at the language of the memorial. The duke of Marlborough, second in command, and other English officers, however, shared the sentiments of Stair, and threw up their commissions in avowed disgust at the selfishness and overbearing conduct, as well as slowness, of the Hanoverian generals, who were all-powerful with the king. These officers hastened home in high dudgeon, and the king did not stay long after them. In this confusion the campaign closed, and the British troops were sent again into Flanders for the winter.

Before quitting Germany, however, George had signed a treaty betwixt himself, Austria, and Sardinia, in which Italian affairs were determined. The Spaniards under count Gages and the infant Don Philip had made some attempts against the Austrians in Italy, but with little effect. By the present treaty, signed at Worms on the 13th of September, the king of Sardinia engaged to assist the allies with forty-five thousand men, and to renounce his pretensions to the Milanese, on condition that he should command the allied army in Italy in person, should receive the cession of Vigevenasco and the other districts from Austria, and a yearly subsidy of two hundred thousand pounds from England. This was also negotiated by lord Carteret on the part of king George, and without much reference to the ministers in England, who, on receiving the treaty, expressed much dissatisfaction, but, as it was signed, they let it pass. But there was another and separate convention, by which George agreed to grant the queen of Hungary a subsidy of three hundred thousand pounds per annum, not only during the war, but as long as the necessity of her affairs required it. This not being signed, the English ministers refused to assent to it, and it remained unratified.

In all these transactions Carteret showed the most facile disposition to gratify all the Hanoverian tendencies of the king, in order to ingratiate himself and secure the premiership at home. But in this he did not succeed; he was much trusted by George in foreign affairs, and in them he remained. Lord Wilmington, prime minister, had died two months before the signing of the treaty at Worms, and the competitors for his office were Pelham, brother of the duke of Newcastle, and Pulteney. Pelham was supported by Newcastle, lord chancellor Hardwicke, and still more powerfully by the old minister under whom he had been trained - lord Orford, who, though out of office, was consulted in everything relating to it. Pulteney and Pelham had both, according to their friends, neglected the necessary steps for succeeding Wilmington. Pulteney had declined any office, vainly hoping that his great popularity would enable him to guide public affairs. His friends reminded him that, had he taken the treasury on Walpole's resignation, he would now have been still at the helm. Pelham's great adviser, lord Orford, said to him, "If you had taken my advice, and held the exchequer under Wilmington, the whole had dropped into your mouth." Pelham, however, received the appointment from the king, and this was communicated in a letter from Carteret, who candidly told him that, as the old friend and colleague of Pulteney, lord Bath, he had done all in his power to secure the office for him, but now he would support Pelham cordially, notwithstanding.

Pelham was at this period forty-seven years of age, of far inferior talent to Orford, but pursued his cautious principles and acted under his advice. It was necessary for the king at this juncture, when the English generals were incensed against the Hanoverian officers, that he should have a powerful majority in the commons. This he could not expect with the unpopular Pulteney, but Pelham, «supported by all the adherents of both Newcastle and Orford, might carry him through. Orford gave Pelham the most able advice. "Gain time," he said, "strengthen yourself, and enter into no hasty engagements." To strengthen himself he found places for his friend Henry Fox, and for lord Middlesex, the friend of the prince of Wales. He bestowed the post of paymaster of the forces, which he now vacated, on lord Winnington, and assuming that of chancellor of the exchequer, he satisfied Sandys, who held it, by a peerage and a place in the household. In December the lords Gower and Cobham resigned in disgust, because the Hanoverian troops were still retained, and Pelham then gave the privy seal, which Gower had held, to lord Cholmondeley, though Bath strained every nerve to procure it for lord Carlisle.

The course of events co-operated with Pelham. At this juncture died lord Hervey and the duke of Argyll, by which the opposition was greatly weakened in the house of peers. Argyll had forfeited much of his once great reputation by his frequent changes, and by his late Jacobite tendencies; but his brother, the earl of Isla, who succeeded him, was a far meaner character. He was of a singularly base mind, and his countenance, according to Sir Hanbury Williams, denoted it.

On the return of the king and Carteret, parliament was opened on the 1st of December. The first trial of the opposition was on the address, on which occasion its real strength was not called forth, and this was carried by two hundred and seventy-eight votes against one hundred and forty-nine. But the subject of Hanoverian troops and Hanoverian measures soon displayed its extent and virulence. There was a vehement feeling against everything relating to Hanover, and Pitt lost no time in denouncing Carteret and his measures in the most bitter terms. On the very first night of the session he declared that he was "an execrable, a sole minister, who seemed to have drunk of the potion which poets described, as causing men to forget their country." On a subsequent occasion he denominated him "the Hanover troop minister," a "flagitious task-master," with the sixteen thousand Hanoverians as his placemen, and with no other party. The thunder of Pitt was echoed by others, and the scene in the commons was described by a spectator as like nothing but a tumultuous Polish Diet.

There was a determined resolve to force the dismissal of the Hanoverian troops, though France, irritated by the treaty of Worms, determined now no longer to act as auxiliaries merely, but to declare hostilities against both Austria and England, and take the field with still increased forces. Night after night the Hanoverian troops and Hanoverian measures were attacked by motions of varied form but like intent, and by speeches of the most outspoken character. The ministerial majorities betrayed a strong feeling on the subject, even amongst the supporters of government, whilst the public out of doors were fiercely inflamed against Hanover, bestowing on that electorate the deepest execrations. Toasts of "No Hanoverian King!" were heard in companies which were usually styled loyal, and Carteret received the full, concentrated abuse of the whole kingdom. He was accused of being a traitor, a drunkard, and a madman. "He is never sober," wrote Horace Walpole, "and his rants are amazing, but so are his parts and his spirit." Carte, the Jacobite historian, wrote to the pretender that Carteret was doing infinite service to his cause, and had been absurd enough to boast openly that it was impossible to govern England except by corruption.

Such was the ferment amid which opened the year 1744. The furious storm which was raging against everything Hanoverian, quailed ministers. Pelham was afraid of standing up for the continuance of the foreign troops, and his brother, the duke of Newcastle, was, from a zealous advocate for them, converted into as zealous an opponent of them. At this crisis lord Orford, roused by the danger, when France was not only preparing for a determined war, but was again encouraging an invasion by the pretender, suddenly quitted his retreat at Houghton, at the urgent request of the king, and appeared in his place in the house of lords. Though he had been a member of that house for some time, he had never spoken there, declaring to his brother Horace that he had left his tongue in the house of commons; he now determined to break silence. It was time; except Carteret, all the other ministers had come to the conclusion that it was necessary to drop all mention of the foreign troops, and to sacrifice the king's honour by leav ing unvoted the money necessary for the foreign subsidies, Orford first exerted his influence with the cabinet. He commended the firmness of Carteret, he encouraged Pelham and the rest of the timid members of the privy council. He reminded them of the statement of the king to both houses on the 18th of February; that he had received intelligence of unquestionable truth, that the pretender's eldest son had arrived in Paris, and was concerting an invasion under engagement of the French government, to support him with a fleet. Having revived their drooping courage, he then rose in the house of peers; and though suffering under an acute disease, he spoke with an animation which never was surpassed in his best years. He declared that he could never have believed that it would be necessary for him to appear amongst them on such an occasion as that; that he should be called upon to remind their lordships and the country of their danger, and their obligations to their king and the nation. Nothing but the wind, he declared, had at this moment preserved us from an invasion. "I have indeed," he continued, "particular reasons to express my astonishment and my own uneasiness. I feel my breast fired with the warmest gratitude to a gracious and royal master, whom I have so long served; my heart overflows with zeal for his honour, and ardour for the lasting security of his illustrious house. But, my lords, the danger is common; an invasion equally involves all our happiness, all our hopes, and all our fortunes. It cannot be thought consistent with the wisdom of your lordships to be employed in determining private property when the security of the whole kingdom demands your attention; when it is not known that at this instant the enemy has not set foot on our coast, is ravaging our country with fire and sword, and threatening us with no less than extirpation and servitude."

Walpole never presented so noble and patriotic a figure in the whole long and remarkable career of statesmanship. This speech had an instantaneous effect on the whole house. The prince of Wales, forgetting his deep enmity of many years, quitted his seat, and, taking Walpole by the hand, expressed his gratitude. He declared that had not lord Orford come to town, the foreign troops would have been lost, and the country left exposed to the most imminent danger. Not another word was said, even by the opposition, about the Hanoverian troops; all joined to ward off the common danger. Pitt, who had been so noted, led the way, and voted for measures of defence. The duke of Marlborough, notwithstanding his recent resignation, hastened up to London to move a loyal address in the peers. The earl of Stair forgot in an instant all his complaints, and offered his services in any station; and his offer was met in a corresponding spirit - he was immediately again appointed commander-in-chief. The Jacobites, who were expecting a speedy demonstration of their party, had the sense to avoid any open opposition in parliament, and, in consequence, the supplies were promptly voted. The extraordinary sum of ten millions of pounds was granted for the year, including the subsidies of three hundred thousand pounds to Austria, and two hundred thousand pounds to Sardinia.

Lord Orford, having rendered so great a service to his country, retired again to Houghton, oppressed with disease and anxiety for the fate of the nation. The Habeas Corpus Act was suspended for two months. A bill was brought in by the opposition, providing that the penalties for correspondence with the pretender should be extended to correspondence with his children; and on reaching the peers two additional clauses were added on the lord chancellor's motion - one to attaint the sons of the pretender in case of their attempting to land, and the other to extend the penalties of the act to the posterity of those who should be convicted under it, during the lifetime of both the young pretenders. Both of these clauses passed, the first unanimously, the second not without strong opposition, especially from the duke of Bedford and lord Chesterfield in the peers, and from Pitt and lord Strange in the commons. The magistrates of Edinburgh offered themselves six thousand pounds for the apprehension of the pretender or his eldest son.

A proclamation was issued, enforcing the laws against papists and non-jurors. Lord Barrymore and colonel Cecil were arrested and examined, but they were soon again released. Troops were sent by forced marches to the southern coast, and an express dispatch to Holland for the six thousand auxiliaries stipulated for by treaty. Loyal addresses poured in from all quarters, but not so the more essential requisite of men. Only seven thousand Englishmen could be assembled in arms for the defence of the capital and the neighbouring counties. On the other hand, the preparations of the Jacobites were never more extensive and complete. A modern historian asserts that the fate of England at this juncture "hung suspended on the winds and waves." Fortunately it depended on a higher Power, whom the winds and the waves obey. And as it was said of the Spanish Armada, so of these dangers - Afflavit Deus, et dissipantur.

<<< Previous page <<< >>> Next page >>>
Pages: 1 2 3 4 5 6 <7> 8 9 10 11

Pictures for Reign of George II. (Continued.) page 7

Home | Privacy Policy | Copyright | About