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Reign of George I page 27

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The emperor of Germany was delighted at the Spanish offer. He had always felt himself aggrieved by the conditions of the quadruple alliance. He was afraid of France, and hated George of England for his German policy. He had, moreover, embroiled himself with both England and Holland, by establishing at Ostend an East India Company, which was declared to be in violation of the treaty of Westphalia, and was, at all events, regarded with particular jealousy by both England and Holland. This being the case, Ripperda, the envoy of Spain, a Dutch adventurer, who had been the tool of Alberoni, completed with ease a treaty with the emperor at Vienna, which was signed on the 30th of April, 1725.

By this treaty almost everything was given up which had kept Spain and Austria in war and conflict for many years, and by themselves and their allies had steeped Europe in blood. The king of Spain agreed to sanction the Ostend Company, to yield the long-contested point regarding the exclusive mastership of the Golden Fleece. He surrendered the right to garrison with Spanish troops the fortresses of Tuscany. He acknowledged the emperor's right to Naples, Sicily, the Milanese, and Netherlands, and guaranteed what was termed the Pragmatic Sanction, that is, the succession of the hereditary states of Austria in the female line. This was a concession of immense importance to the emperor, who had only daughters, and whose claim to the Flemish and Italian dominions might thus have been contested by Philip on the emperor's death. Thus, before the emotions of a family quarrel, fell at once all the mighty questions which had rent and desolated Europe for a quarter of a century! Both the sovereigns engaged to afford mutual support should either be attacked. Charles agreed to bring into the field twenty thousand foot and ten thousand horse, Philip twenty thousand troops and fifteen ships of war.

The world looked on in astonishment; diplomatists in dread of more secret and momentous compacts, and that not without cause. In the heat of this hastily formed alliance, it was proposed to marry the young archduchess, the heiress of the Austrian states, to one of the infants of Spain - a contract, if carried out, which would probably have overthrown all that had been done at such cost of life and wealth for the establishment of the balance of power. This dangerous project was frustrated by other events, but serious engagements were entered into for compelling England to surrender Gibraltar and Minorca to Spain, and for placing the pretender on the throne of Great Britain. The new allies sought to strengthen themselves by a coalition with Russia. Peter, the czar, was dead, but the czarina, Catherine, who possessed his throne, displayed a spirit nearly as masculine, and carried out all his plans with a high hand. She had married her daughter to the duke of Holstein, whose duchy of Schleswick, George's ally, the king of Denmark, had formally reft from him. She declared herself ready to assert her son-in-law's rights, and thus implicate the king of Hanover in the defence of Denmark, provided she was supplied with money. Large sums were accordingly shipped from Spain to Petersburg, and still larger to Vienna; to the latter capital, it is said, not less than one million three hundred thousand pistoles in fourteen months.

But during these transactions France and England had not been idle.

A new alliance had been signed at Hanover betwixt England, France, and Prussia, to which soon after were added Denmark and Holland. The real objects of this treaty were to counterbalance that betwixt Spain, Austria, and Russia, to compel the dissolution of the Ostend Company, and to prevent the menaced assistance to the pretender. This was the celebrated treaty of Hanover, which was regarded from such opposite points by the English and the Germans. In England it was long and vehemently charged on the government as a treaty made entirely for the defence and benefit of Hanover. Its very name, lord Chatham said, declared its nature, and lord Chesterfield remarks, "Thus rode Hanover triumphant on the shoulders of England!" On the other hand, the Hanoverians were as loudly declaring that it was a treaty for defending England at the expense of their country. There was about as much truth and falsehood in one statement as the other. That it was to defend England was palpable enough when Spain was haughtily demanding the surrender of Gibraltar, and Spain and Austria were avowing their intention of supporting the pretender. Yet in all this Hanover had no concern. There was no demand on her for these objects. On the other hand, the treaty was meant to defend the frontiers of Hanover from the aggressions of Russia, and in such a crisis England would probably have had to furnish aid. Still Hanover had no cause to complain, and England had as much promise of assistance from the allies as fairly counterbalanced any probable demands upon her from Hanover.

These important affairs detained the king abroad till the middle of winter, and it was not till New Year's day of 1726 that he embarked for Harwich. The weather at sea became very tempestuous, the king's yacht was separated from her convoy, and it was not till he had been tossing about a couple of days that he landed at Rye, on the coast of Sussex. The weather on land was, if possible, worse than at sea; and the snow was so deep that he did not reach St. James's till the 9th of January.

The confederacy of Spain, Austria, and Sweden against England, greatly encouraged the pretender and his party. His agents were active in almost every coast in Europe, under the able direction of Atterbury. Mar had continued as weak and vacillating in James's affairs on the continent as he had shown himself in Scotland. Falling into the hands of the English in 1719, through the intervention of the Swiss government, by whom he was arrested at Geneva, he had' made great submission to the king, and was let off with a small pension out of his Scotch estates. He then pretended to become true to the cause of George, but in reality remained true to neither side, yet professing adhesion to both. Finally, he lost the confidence of the pretender, who dismissed him.

About this time Allan Cameron was sent into the Highlands to ascertain the disposition of the clans towards a new rising. He was assured that the zeal of the Jacobites had not cooled, but that no rising was to be expected unless a strong army was sent into England from abroad. But James's own conduct was, as usual, doing him more harm than all his friends could do him good. He had transferred his favour from Mar to colonel John Hay, brother of lord Kinnoul, whom he created earl of Inverness, and James Murray, son of lord Stormont, and brother-in-law of Hay. Murray was made governor of the prince and earl of Dunbar. These two men now ruled everything at the court of the pretender, and excited the greatest dissatisfaction by their arrogant and selfish conduct; and to make matters still worse, James quarrelled with his wife, the princess Clementina Sobieski. She complained of the insolence with which she was treated by Inverness and his wife, a proud, vain woman; and James, with the weakness of his race for favourites, would listen to no complaints against them. Clementina, by the advice of Alberoni, who was now her adviser, quitted the palace, and retired to the Convent of St. Cecilia, at Rome. The complaints of the princess excited the resentment of the emperor and the king of Spain against the pretender. The emperor was related to Sobieski, and the queen of Spain resented in the treatment of the nominal queen of England the injury done to one of her own rank and sex. This was a fatal state of affairs for James, for it was from these two royal houses that he had expected his support against that of Hanover. He endeavoured to mystify his English partisans on the subject, but in vain, for Lockhart of Carnwath, one of his stauchest and most penetrating adherents, plainly told him by letter that his conduct to the queen excited the utmost indignation amongst the English Jacobites, and warned him solemnly to remodel his behaviour towards her; that they held the queen in the highest estimation, and that nothing would induce them to think otherwise.

Two new allies which James acquired at this time did him little service. These were lord North and the duke of Wharton. They went over to the continent, and not only openly avowed themselves as friends of the pretender, but renounced protestantism and embraced popery. Lord North, however, found himself so little trusted at the pretender's court, notwithstanding his apostasy, that he went to Spain, entered its service, and there continued till his death, in 1734. Wharton also arrived at Madrid in April of the present year. Wharton had been very active in the pretender's service before changing his religion, and now he was sent as ambassador to Spain, to vindicate the conduct of James towards his wife, and to assist Ormonde in urging on an expedition for England. There was not much to boast of, however, in the acquisition of such a partisan as Wharton. He was a confirmed drunkard, seldom had his pipe out of his mouth, and was so great a braggart and falker, that there was not much safety in intrusting him with socrets of importance. He intruded himself with singular lack of delicacy on Mr. Keene, the British consul at Madrid, boasting that he was the pretender's prime minister, and that neither Sir Robert Walpole nor king George should have six months' ease so long as he had the honour of holding that employment. An order was delivered to Wharton, under the privy seal of England, commanding him, on his allegiance, to return forthwith on pain of outlawry in case of disobedience but he treated the order with contempt.

At Madrid Wharton fell in with a congenial spirit. This was Ripperda, the renegade Dutchman, now created a duke and made prime minister of Spain. He had lately returned from a mission to Vienna, and was as full of foolish boastings as Wharton himself. He told the officers of the garrison at Barcelona on landing, that the emperor would bring one hundred and fifty thousand men into the field; that prince Eugene had engaged for as many more within six months of the commencement of a war; that in that case France would be pillaged on all sides, the king of Prussia, whom he was pleased to call the grand grenadier, would be chased from his country in a single campaign, and king George out of both Hanover by the emperor, and Great Britain by the pretender; that so long as he was in authority there should never be peace betwixt France and Spain. Yet to Mr. Stanhope he declared, that though he had talked both in Vienna and Spain in favour of the pretender, he was, nevertheless, as sincerely attached to the interests of his Britannic majesty as one of his own subjects; that he would prove that on the first opportunity, and that he only talked as he did to please their catholic majesties, and avoid being suspected for a traitor, and falling into the hands of the inquisition, which he knew kept a sharp eye on him as a recent convert.

Stanhope, of course, did not credit a single word of this prating gasconade, but informed his government that Spain was making active preparations for war; that the fortifications of Cadiz were being increased, artillery, tents, and magazines were preparing, and that the squadron was under orders to put to sea.

The folly of Ripperda, however, had ruined his credit with his own sovereigns and the nation even more than with foreign powers. His swaggering and inflated language, in which he imagined that he was enacting Alberoni, had destroyed all faith in him. At one of his levees he boasted that he had six very good friends, God, the Holy Virgin, the emperor and empress, the king and queen of Spain. It was well that he omitted the people, for they detested him. His fellow ministers and every class of the community despised him. But Iiis final blow came from his own false representations to each other of the preparations for war made by Austria and Spain. Count Königseck was most indignant when he discovered the miserable resources of the Spanish monarchy in comparison of the pompous descriptions made of them by Ripperda at Vienna, and the Spanish court was equally disappointed by a discovery of the real military status of Austria. He was suddenly and ignominiously dismissed on the 14th of May, and he had the meanness on his fall to seek refuge in the house of the British minister, and there consented to reveal the secrets of the state which he had sworn to preserve, and which to that moment he had been serving. He now assured Stanhope that the mutual design of Austria and Spain was nothing less than the utter extirpation of protestantism, and that the king of Spain had declared that for that object he would willingly sell his last shirt.

All the time that this contemptible man was making these revelations, which no doubt were as much exaggerated as his former ones, he presented the most singular contrast to his former haughty pomposity. He was now all creeping humility, and continually burst into tears.

It was not likely that the Spanish government would allow the fallen minister, especially having discovered the falseness of his nature, to remain long in the house of the English ambassador. They sent to demand him of Stanhope, but he refused to give him up, and warned them to beware how they violated in his person the rights of an ambassador and the law of nations. After some further expostulation, however, an alcalde de corte, accompanied by an armed force, came and took him away. Stanhope protested against the act, and sent home Mr. Keene, the consul, with a report of it, and of Ripperda's revelations. Ripperda himself was committed close prisoner to the castle of Segovia.

A revolution of a similar character took place in France within a month of the fall of Ripperda in Spain. The duke of Bourbon had exhibited a gross incapacity for governing France under the young king. He was wholly in the hands of Madame de Prie and her creature, Paris Duverney. At the same time he displayed the most unconquerable jealousy of the proximity of any abler mind. Such a mind, however, was and had long been on the spot, and silently preparing the way for its ascendancy. Bishop - afterwards cardinal - Fleury had, under the regency, been the preceptor to the young monarch, and had by his virtues and amiability excited a powerful attachment towards him in the mind of his pupil. Louis XIV. had made him bishop of Frejus; but Fleury, conscious of his diplomatic powers, received the gift as a sentence of exile, and once signed a jocose letter to cardinal Quirini, "Fleury, bishop of Frejus, by divine indignation." Still, he had conscientiously discharged his duties there, and had won such a general admiration and regard by his wise and benevolent conduct, as pointed him out to the dying monarch as the most fitting preceptor to his grandson and successor. During the regency Fleury conducted himself with such tact and sagacity as to draw no envious observation of his talents from the regent or Dubois. Such was the ascendancy which he had during this time acquired over the mind of his pupil, that when Bourbon came into power, he would always insist that Fleury, too, attended at the conferences. This excited the jealousy of Bourbon and his clique, and he managed to draw over the young queen to his party, and through her made a request to the king that Fleury might be excused attending at the business conferences. Fleury, made aware of this cabal, raised no opposition, but knowing well his influence, addressed a letter to the king in the mildest terms, expressing his desire to occasion no inconvenience, and withdrew to his country seat at Issy. The effect was precisely what Fleury had anticipated. The king was thrown into the greatest concern at his retirement, and commanded Bourbon himself to invite him back to court, which the mortified minister did with many feigned expressions of friendship and wonder at his sudden withdrawal. But this did not last long. Bourbon again commenced his cabals against him, and this time Fleury turned upon him, and, by a candid declaration of the true state of the case to Louis XV., he procured the instant dismissal of Bourbon, and his banishment to Chantilly.

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