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Reign of George II. (Continued.) page 9

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The French having now formally declared war with England, entered on the campaign with Flanders in the middle of May with eighty thousand men, and the king taking the nominal command, in imitation of his great grandfather, Louis XIV. Marshal Saxe was the real commander, and with this able general Louis went on for some time reaping fictitious laurels, as his ostentatious predecessor had done. The king of England expected to see the allies muster seventy-five thousand men – a force nearly equal to that of the French; but the Dutch and Austrians had grievously failed in their stipulated quotas, and the whole army did not exceed fifty thousand. Marshal Wade, the English commander, was a general of considerable experience, but no Marlborough, either in military genius or that self-command which enabled him to bear up against tardy movements and antagonistic tempers of the foreign officers. Wade found all the trying opposition and petty jealousy in the Dutch and Austrian leaders which Marlborough had done, but he had not the patience and firm urbanity by which Marlborough conquered them. Consequently, whilst he had to contend with a very superior force, he was hampered by his coadjutors - lost his temper, and, what was worse, lost battles, too. The French went on, as in Louis XIV.'s time, taking town after town and fortress after fortress. In six weeks they had made themselves masters of Courtray, Menin, Ypres, Fort Knoque, and Furnes, and spread a terrible consternation through the whole of. Holland itself.

But this career of victory was destined to receive a check. Prince Charles of Lorraine, at the head of sixty thousand men, burst into Alsace, and marched without any serious obstacle to the very walls of Strasburg. This diversion was effectual. Louis left Saxe to contend with the allies With half the army, and at the head of the other half marched to the relief of Strasburg. Had the allies been united, they might now have struck a decided blow at the diminished French army; but their feuds were incurable, they continued quarrelling with Wade instead of with Saxe, and thus they did nothing. On the other hand, the hurry of the march towards Alsace overthrew the feeble constitution of the French king. He was seized at Metz with a violent fever, which made so rapid an advance, that in a few days the utmost alarm was entertained for his life. The queen and royal family were summoned in all haste, and expecting scarcely to reach him whilst he was alive, arrived to find the crisis past, and the king recovering. Louis had led a life of mere laziness and voluptuousness, but at the approach of death he became very penitent, dismissed his reigning mistress, Madame de Chateauroux, and promised all sorts of good things to his people. As he recovered, he as quickly returned to the wallowing in the old mire, sent for his mistress back again, and thought no more about the people. The people, who had shown the most sincere concern during his illness, soon came to entertain a juster feeling towards him, and instead of Louis le Bien Aime, as they had called him, grew, as lord Chesterfield observed, to hate and despise him - a thing rarely happening to the same man.

Whilst Louis lay ill at Metz, France received an unexpected relief. Prince Charles was hastily recalled to cope with Frederick of Prussia, who, in violation of his treaty, of public oaths and private promises, had again, in his insatiable cupidity, burst into the territories of Maria Theresa. It is true that this "great" monarch was bound by all the sacred obligations that can be imposed to attempt nothing further against the queen of Hungary; but Frederick was an admiring disciple of Voltaire and the infidel school of France, and on such men all moral restrictions are lost. The successes of Austria had alarmed him, and, apprehensive that Maria Theresa would ere long be attempting to recover Silesia, he, to the delight of France, had made fresh overtures in that quarter, and also encouraged the emperor simultaneously to strike a blow for his lost Bavaria. Frederick burst into Bohemia at the head of sixty thousand men, sending another division of his army into Moravia. He found in Prague a garrison of fifteen thousand men, yet by the 15th of September he had reduced the "place, after a ten days' siege. At the same time marshal Seckendorf, the imperial general, entered Bavaria, which was defended only by a small force, and quickly reinstated Charles on the throne of Munich. Vienna itself was in the greatest alarm, lest the enemies uniting should pay it a visit. But this danger was averted by the rapid return of prince Charles of Lorraine from before Strasburg. He had to pass the very front of the French army; nevertheless, he conducted his forces safely and expeditiously to the frontiers of Bohemia, himself hastening to Vienna to consult on the best plan of operations. Maria Theresa again betook herself to her heroic Hungarians, who, at her appeal, once more rushed to her standard; and Frederick, in his turn alarmed, called loudly on the French for their promises of assistance, but called in vain. The French had no desire for another campaign in the heart of Austria. The Prussian invader, therefore, soon found himself menaced on all sides by Austrians, Croatians, and Hungarian troops, who harassed him day and night, cut off his supplies and his forages, and made him glad to retrace his steps in haste. He abandoned his garrisons at Prague, Tabor, &c., to their fate. That at Prague, under general Einsiedel, would, he imagined, hold out, but they were compelled to march off towards the end of November, pursued and distressed by the enemy. They were obliged to abandon their artillery, and of the eleven thousand men six only reached Silesia in a deplorable condition. Frederick himself had a narrow escape of being made prisoner on his march: he was compelled to take his way through the mountains, insultingly assailed by the people he had invaded, his troops awfully decimated by hardships and the enemy, and reached Silesia in the beginning of December, in a state of befitting retribution for his breach of faith. The defeat, however, had only roused the more doggedly the thirst of revenge and conquest; and whilst his diminished army wintered in Silesia, he hastened to Berlin to raise fresh troops.

A singular fortune befel the two French envoys sent to concert with Frederick of Prussia the plans of war against Austria. On their way they ventured to make a short cut through Hanover, but were discovered and seized at Elbingerode. They turned out to be marshal Belleisle, next to Tencin considered to be the grand promoter of the war, and his brother. They were immediately sent to England, where, refusing to give their parole in the form required, they were committed to close custody in Windsor Castle. The emperor complained of their arrest as a breach of the privileges of the empire, and the prisoners demanded their exchange by cartel, as prisoners of war; but the king declared them to be spies, and detained them as state prisoners. After much negotiation George resolved to refer the question to marshals Stair, Cobham, and Wade, who decided them to be prisoners of war, and they were accordingly exchanged.

The campaign in Italy had been, on the whole, in favour of the French and Spaniards. The prince of Conti entered Piedmont, and joining the Spaniards under the infant Don Philip, they routed the king of Sardinia with great slaughter near the town of Coni. Their success was, notwithstanding, of short duration. They had ruthlessly laid waste the fields of the peasantry, who, burning for vengeance, cut off all their supplies, and attacked them in a desultory but exterminating warfare, which compelled them precipitately to retreat through the Alpine defiles in Savoy. On the other hand, prince Lobkowitz, with thirty-five thousand men, drove the Spaniards from Rimini, and pursued them to the very frontiers of Naples. As they took refuge in the Neapolitan territory, Lobkowitz called on Don Carlos to maintain the neutrality which he had pledged himself to commodore Martin; but Don Carlos, refusing to allow the extermination of his own countrymen, on his side complained of Austrian invasion of his kingdom, and marched twenty thousand Neapolitans to the aid of the Spaniards. The united Spanish and Neapolitan force now considerably outnumbered that of Lobkowitz. The combined army under Don Carlos' own command advanced to Velletri, a large city in the papal territory, where Lobkowitz attempted to Surround him, and, if possible, seize his person. On the 10th of August the Austrians set fire to the suburbs of Velletri; but their attack was met with such spirit that they were, the next day, repulsed with great slaughter, and Lobkowitz retreated behind the Po. There he was attacked by famine and malaria, and on the 1st of November recommenced his retreat, pursued by the Spaniards and Neapolitans as far as the Tiber, after which Don Carlos, satisfied with his success, went to pay his respects to the pope, and then marched home again.

In the month of October died the duchess of Marlborough. She had nearly reached her ninetieth year, and had retained all her wit, her causticity, and imperious temper to the last. She had worn out both friends and enemies, and ranked some of her own descendants amongst the worst of them. Pope, who had described her as Atossa, "cursed with every granted prayer, childless with all her children," preceded her to the tomb only by five months. She retained most affection for her dogs, which, she said, had "gratitude, wit, and good sense - things very rare in this country." She bequeathed the mass of her enormous wealth to her grandson, John Spencer, the ancestor of lord Spencer, and also considerable sums to the leaders of the opposition; to lord Chesterfield twenty thousand pounds, and the reversion of an estate at Wimbledon; to Pitt ten thousand pounds, for "preventing the ruin of his country."

On the same day died lady Granville, the mother of lord Carteret, who, by this event, became earl Granville. Carteret - or Granville, as we must now style him - still retained the favour of the king precisely in the same degree as he had forfeited that of the people and the parliament, by his unscrupulous support of all the king's Hanoverian predilections. Elated with the favour of the king, Granville, who was a hard drinker, insisted on exercising the same supreme power in the cabinet which Walpole had done. This drove Pelham and his brother, Newcastle, to inform the king that they or Granville must resign. George, unwilling to part with Granville, yet afraid of offending the Pelham party, and risking their support of the large subsidies which ho required for Germany, was in a great strait. He sent for lord Orford up from Houghton, who attended, though in the extreme agonies of the stone, which, in a few months later, brought him to his end. Walpole, notwithstanding the strong desire of the king to retain Granville, and that also of the prince of Wales - who on this and all points connected with Hanover agreed with the king, though on none else - decided that it was absolutely necessary that he should resign; and accordingly, on the 24th of November, Granville sullenly resigned the seals, and they were returned to his predecessor, the earl of Harrington.

The fall of Granville became the revolution of all parties. The Pelhams, in order to prevent his return to the ministry through the partiality of the king, determined to construct a cabinet on what they called a broad bottom - that is, including some of both sections of the whigs, and even some of the tories. They opened a communication with Chesterfield, Gower, and Pitt, and these violent oppositionists were ready enough to obtain place on condition of uniting against Granville and Bath. They agreed that the war should continue, but that some way should be contrived to get rid of directly holding the Hanoverians in pay, on which topic they had been so eloquent. The difficulty was to reconcile the king to them. He had not forgotten Chesterfield's connection with the duchess of Kendal, and his endeavours to bring the suppressed will of his father to light. George would not consent to admit him to any post near his person, but permitted him, after much reluctance, to be named lord lieutenant of Ireland. As for Pitt, he was even more repugnant to the king than Chesterfield, and Pitt, on his part, would accept nothing less than the post of secretary at war. The Pelhams advised him to have patience and they would overcome the king's reluctance; but when they proposed that the tory Sir John Hynde Cotton should have a place, George, in his anger, exclaimed, " Ministers are kings in this country!" - and so they are for the time. After much negotiation and accommodating of interests and parties, the ministry was ultimately arranged as follows: - Lord Hardwicke remained chancellor; Pelham, first lord of the treasury and chancellor of the exchequer; the duke of Newcastle one secretary of state, lord Harrington the other; the duke of Devonshire remained steward of the household; the duke of Bedford first lord of the admiralty, with lord Sandwich as second lord; lord Gower was made privy seal; lord Lyttleton a member of the treasury board; Mr. Grenville a junior lord of the admiralty; Sir John Hynde Cotton treasurer of the chamber in the royal household, and Bubb Doddington contrived to be included as treasurer of the navy. Lords Cobham and Hobart had also appointments; and the duke of Dorset was made president of the council.

This wonderful coalition being effected, it was surprising with what facility even such men as Pitt could veer round in their opinions, and see the things which had formerly moved their highest indignation in a new and tolerant light. Pitt, not yet in place, but pretty sure of it, was brought to the house, though suffering severely from gout, on the opening of the year 1745, and he then exclaimed, "I perceive a dawn of salvation for my country breaking forth, and I will follow it as far as it will lead me. I should consider myself the greatest dupe in the world if those now at the helm did not mean the honour of their master and the good of the nation." It will scarcely be believed that the occasion of this burst of patriotism and satisfaction with the government was to carry the motion for the continuance of the army in Flanders - the very object which had called forth the perpetual and unmitigated censure of the opposition! There was no opposition now, except from Sir R. Newdigate, who styled it an old measure from a new ministry, and from lord Strange; but Pitt, by his "fulminating eloquence," as it was called, silenced this atom of dissent. In fact, so thoroughly were the old elements of opposition neutralised by the recent appointments, that it was said to the king, " Your majesty may look around the house of commons, and you will find no man of business, or even of weight, left capable of heading or conducting an opposition." And, indeed, so thoroughly was opposition frustrated, that till the death of Pelham in 1754, the debates in parliament dwindled into insignificance.

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