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. (Concluded) page 2


Pages: 1 <2> 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15

The year 1748 opened with a stagnant parliament and a struggling and discordant ministry. The earl of Chesterfield was vehement against the war, but found scarcely any of his colleagues to support him. He had hoped to influence the king through his mistresses, as had been the practice in George I.'s time with ministers, and as had been attempted with George II., but with little success. He had formerly won a powerful ascendancy over lady Suffolk, and he now possessed the same over lady Yarmouth, by his commanding abilities and polished address; but in both cases he failed in moving the stolid mind of the king through that medium. George did not consult his mistresses on matters of diplomacy. Whilst he was defeated in this public object, he found himself equally unsuccessful in his personal ones. He failed in every attempt to promote the interests of his own friends and relatives. Newcastle, afraid of his diplomatic talents, jealously guarded against his ascendancy by such means. Finding himself thus alone in his advocacy of peace in the cabinet, and being refused his application for a regiment for his cousin, George Stanhope, the youngest son of the late favourite minister, he determined to resign, and tendered the seals to the king on the 6th of February. George expressed great regret at his retirement, though it is certain he could feel none, and offered to create him a duke, which honour Chesterfield declined.

Newcastle caballed to secure the office of secretary of state thus vacated by Chesterfield for his pliant friend lord Sandwich, but as he did not venture to name him directly, he talked of the duke of Bedford, not imagining that he aspired to the post, but would recommend Sandwich, for which he gave the cue. But Bedford had already shown that there was no man alive more keenly looking after his own interests. The affair of the regiments to be raised and maintained by himself and other peers had pretty well opened the eyes of the public to that. Fox observed that Newcastle thought of using Bedford as a shoeing horn for Sandwich, but Bedford was too subtle for him. He pretended that he only took the office for six months, but, once in, he had no intention of vacating it for Sandwich or any one else. Sandwich was, however, installed in the post which Bedford vacated at the head of the admiralty, and Chesterfield succeeded better now out of office than he did whilst in, by obtaining for John Stanhope, his youngest brother, a seat at the admiralty board, under Sandwich. Pitt, meantime, was steadily looking upwards, watching the jarrings betwixt the duke of Newcastle and his brother Pelham, and at the same time that he hoped to step into the gap that he foresaw must ere long open between them, still keeping in the highest favour with both. Thus working his way upwards, he did not hesitate to support all the measures which he had won his great reputation by opposing, and, consequently, became excessively unpopular, both with parliament and people. Proud, haughty, and repellant in manner, he yet remained in the house of commons, where the real seat of influence lay, and possessed in himself the magical means of moulding even hostile minds and elements to his purpose - a stupendous eloquence.

The congress had opened at Aix-la-Chapelle early in the spring, but it did not begin its sittings till the 11th of March, Sandwich being dispatched thither as our plenipotentiary. The campaign, however, opened simultaneously, and, could Cumberland and the king have managed it, war would soon have overturned the hopes of peace; but circumstances were too much for them. The prince of Nassau, ambitious as lie was of military renown, failed to bring into the field his Dutch levies; the thirty thousand Prussians, as Pelham had expected, did not appear. The Dutch, so far from furnishing the sums they had engaged for, sent to London to raise the loan of a million sterling; but London itself had ceased to be a money-lending place. The war had drained even its resources. "Money," says lord Chesterfield, in one of his letters, "never was so scarce in the City, nor the stocks so low, even during the rebellion, as now. Twelve per cent, is offered for money, and even that will not do." To complete the dead lock, marshal Saxe advanced into the field, and showed to the world that, though Cumberland might beat an army of a few famine-exhausted Highlanders, he was no match for him. He completely outgeneralled him; made false demonstrations against Breda, where the allied army lay, and then suddenly concentrated his forces before Maestricht, which, it was evident, must soon fall into his hands. Maestricht secured, the highway into Holland was open.

The king and his war cabinet were now compelled to sue for peace to France, which it had so freely offered the year before. Newcastle wrote to Sandwich in April, saying, the impossibility of arresting the progress of the French army, the discordant pretensions of the allies, and their gross neglect of their engagements, rendered it absolutely necessary to make peace. Sandwich was to communicate this necessity to the plenipotentiaries of the allies, and if they declined to assent to it, to sign the preliminaries without them. The ministers of the allies still refused to join; it suited them very well to receive vast subsidies to fight their own battles, and yet to leave England to fight them. On the other hand, count St. Severin, the plenipotentiary of France, now felt his vantage-ground, and offered far worse terms than before, and, to make them necessary, threatened that, if they were not accepted without delay, the French would leave the fortifications of Ypres, Namur, and Bergen- op-Zoom, and march directly into Holland. The treaty was signed by England, France, and Holland on the 30th of April, N. s. The general conditions were those already stated as offered last year. All the nations were placed very much in statu quo, except that Prussia had got Silesia, and Sardinia had lost Placentia and Finale. ńs for England, she had got nothing, except an expenditure of fifty-four million pounds on this war, of which remained twenty-nine millions added to the national debt, and on which interest has been paid during the hundred and eleven years which have since transpired, amounting to one hundred millions! The whole burden of this war, utterly useless to England, having cost to this kingdom, up to this moment, one hundred and fifty-four millions sterling! Besides this, we had sacrificed at least fifty thousand of our subjects on the bloody plains of Flanders and Germany; and for what result? - none whatever, except national poverty and disgrace. It was not till October that all the allies could be brought to sign the treaty, when we had fallen so low that we were called upon by France to send two hostages to Paris to guarantee the surrender of Cape Breton, whilst not a single hostage was demanded for the surrender of the possessions which France engaged to relinquish. The earl of Sussex and lord Cath- cart were the noblemen selected for this humiliating purpose, which, when prince Charles heard of, he expressed the highest indignation, declaring that, if he ever mounted the throne of his ancestors, he would never rest till all Europe had seen France sending hostages to England.

The original causes of this war had been to demand from Spain compensation for damages done to our commerce, and to resist the right of search which she claimed on all British vessels appearing in South American waters. This war had been forced on Sir Robert Walpole, who resisted it as long as possible, and then gave way, declaring that it would be prolific of miseries. None distinguished themselves so much in urging on this war as Pitt and Bath. Pitt, in glowing harangues from year to year, had declared that peace ought never to be made till Spain had paid ample compensation, and renounced the right of search for ever. Now, Pitt was in the cabinet consenting to a treaty in which no mention whatever was made of either of these claims. We had spent fifty-four millions of money and fifty thousand lives, and the sole causes of the war were quietly passed over! Pitt had now the audacity to praise the wisdom of Walpole - a wisdom which he had for long years described as infatuation, and denounced as treason! Such are the laurels of the proudest orators and statesmen, dyed in the blood, and heavy with the ruin, of their country!

We are now called to a fresh notice of the young pretender. The treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle stipulated for his expulsion from the isle of France, and George II. lost no time in calling on Louis to observe the engagement. On Charles's return to France both the king and the people had received him with much cordiality, and he had obtained commissions in the army for his most faithful followers, Lochiel, Ogilvie, and others, as well as forty thousand livres yearly for the relief of the rest. But, from the first moment, the court refused to listen to his urgent application for a military force. Tencin once hinted that the king, perhaps, might not be disinclined to assist him, on condition that Ireland should be made over to France, but Charles rejected the proposal with indignation; on which Tencin told him that it was merely his own suggestion; that the idea did not come from the king. Finding that France would do nothing, Charles, early in 1747, hastened to Spain, and procured an interview with the king and queen. The timid new king, Ferdinand VI., terrified at giving offence to the British court, desired him to make the best of his way to France. Charles begged to be introduced to the queen-dowager and the rest of the royal family; but Ferdinand evaded the request, and repeated his desire that he should immediately quit Madrid. Charles then saw Carvajal, the minister, but he only reiterated the royal injunction. Charles was greatly insulted by the Italian musician, Farinelli, who came up dressed like a grandee, and wearing the cross of Calatrava, and shook hands with him, Charles mistaking him for a nobleman.

Charles was obliged to quit Madrid the next day. He hastened back to France, where he proposed to remain in private till some new chance turned up. In April he dispatched Sir John Graham to Berlin to propose to Frederick a match with one of his sisters or nieces, the king having no children of his own, declaring that he never meant to marry any but a protestant princess, and that, if he declined the alliance, he would be obliged by his naming a suitable alliance for him, as he regarded Frederick as the 'wisest prince in Europe. Whether the king of Prussia amused Charles with any hopes in order to alarm George IL does not appear; but it is probable, as, in 1753, the duke of Newcastle wrote to the lord chancellor, that the king of Prussia was then avowedly the principal, if not the sole, supporter of the Jacobite cause.

Immediately after this, a circumstance took place calculated to give a great shock to that cause. Charles's brother quitted Paris unknown to him, and returned to Rome; and on the 13th of June Charles received a letter from his father to inform him that his brother would be made a cardinal on the 3rd of July, which took place. This intention, the old pretender informed his son, they had purposely kept from his knowledge, because they did not expect that he would approve of it; but that, as his brother was resolved upon it, and as it must be, it was better and kinder that he should not know of it until it was too late to prevent it. He could then truly say to the partisans of their cause that it was both unknown to him, and contrary to his wishes. This reasoning, however, by no means satisfied Charles, and, from that time, there was a great estrangement betwixt himself, his brother, and father.

France, at the peace of Aix-la-Chapelle, proposed to establish Charles at Fribourg, with the title of prince of Wales, a company of guards, and a handsome pension; but he refused to listen to this reasonable proposal, and - still worse - when France was compelled, by the conditions of the treaty, to request him to leave France, he positively refused. Though his father wrote, commanding him to obey the order, he paid no regard to the letter. He flattered himself that the king would not employ force, but he was deceived. As he was going to the opera on the 11th of December, his coach was stopped by a party of the royal guards, he was bound hand and foot, and conveyed to the prison of Vincennes, and, according to his own account, thrust into a dungeon only seven feet wide and eight long. In a few days he was removed thence, conveyed to Pont de Beauvoisin, on the frontier of Savoy, and dismissed.

The outcast prince first directed his course to the papal city of Avignon, whence, in a few weeks, accompanied only by colonel Goring, and under a fictitious name, he took his departure, no one knew whither. From that time, for many years, his movements were involved in profound mystery; all his correspondence passed through the hands of Mr. Walters, his banker in Paris. His most zealous partisans were ignorant of his retreat, and when he wrote to his father, which was very seldom, he gave no clue to his abode. He is supposed to have spent the bulk of his life during these years, with his friend the duke of Bouillon, in the forest of Ardennes, his chief amusement being the chase of the wolf and the wild boar in that waste and lonely region. From the Stuart Papers, however, light has since been cast on some points of his existence during this period. He visited Italy and Germany, resided some time in Vienna, and even in Paris, in strictest incognito. He made a secret journey to London in 1750, another in 1754, and it is believed that he was actually present at the coronation of George III.

Wherever Charles Edward had passed his life, his disappointed ambition and the contumely which he met with in all directions had led him to habits of intoxication. He is supposed to have laid the foundation of this habit during his hardships in the Highland campaign and wanderings, when he found whisky too ready a temptation to raise his spirits, and the society of one Kelly, an Irish friar, had confirmed him in it. Hence, when he returned to Rome after the death of his father in 1766, he was grievously changed. But nothing contributed so much to wean from him the Jacobites as his connection with Miss Walkinshaw. This lady, with whom he is said to have become acquainted on his Scotch expedition, had acquired the greatest influence over him, so that she was trusted with his profoundest secrets, at the same time that her sister was housekeeper to the dowager princess of Wales. The Jacobites, alarmed at this, sent over Mr. Macnamara to apprise him of the apprehensions of his friends, and entreat him to separate from this lady, who was suspected of being in the pay of the English government; but in vain. This was the finishing blow to his cause, the chief remaining Jacobites hastening to make their peace with the reigning dynasty. At the age of fifty- two Charles, forgetting his vow to marry only a protestant, married a German catholic, the princess Louisa of Stolberg, a girl of only twenty. This marriage was a miserable one, and without issue; and in 1780 his wife, worn out with his harshness and ill-temper, eloped with the poet Alfieri. The only friend or relative left to cheer his old age were his brother the cardinal, and his daughter by Miss Walkinshaw, whom he created duchess of Albany, and who only survived him a year. With his wife he had resided some years at Florence; with his daughter he returned to Rome in 1785. To the last, and in his dotage, he continued to dream of his restoration to the throne of England, and under his bed always stood a strong-box containing twelve thousand sequins ready for his journey to the land of his ancestors. He died on the 30th of January, 1788, and his brother the cardinal succeeded to the mock dignity of the style and title of Henry IX. of England, the last royal hope of that fatal line dying with him.

<<< Previous page <<< >>> Next page >>>
Pages: 1 <2> 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15

Pictures for Reign of George II. (Concluded) page 2

Attack on Bergen-op-Zoom
Attack on Bergen-op-Zoom >>>>
Arrest of the young pretender in Paris
Arrest of the young pretender in Paris >>>>
Death of the Prince of Wales
Death of the Prince of Wales >>>>
Horace Walpole
Horace Walpole >>>>
Fleet Marriages
Fleet Marriages >>>>
View of the river Ohio
View of the river Ohio >>>>
Death of Braddock
Death of Braddock >>>>
Plymouth
Plymouth >>>>
Frederick the Great of Prussia
Frederick the Great of Prussia >>>>
Execution of Admiral Byng
Execution of Admiral Byng >>>>
General Wolfe
General Wolfe >>>>
View of the city of Quebec
View of the city of Quebec >>>>

Home | Privacy Policy | Copyright | About