A History of the Four Georges, Volume II (of 4)
by Justin McCarthy
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E-text prepared by Al Haines

Transcriber's note:

Page numbers in this book are indicated by numbers enclosed in curly braces, e.g. {99}. They have been located where page breaks occurred in the original book. For its Index, a page number has been placed only at the start of that section.

In the original volumes in this set, each even-numbered page had a header consisting of the page number, the volume title, and the chapter number. The odd-numbered page header consisted of the year with which the page deals, a subject phrase, and the page number. In this set of e-books, the odd-page year and subject phrase have been converted to sidenotes, usually positioned between the first two paragraphs of the even-odd page pair. If such positioning was not possible for a given sidenote, it was positioned where it seemed most logical.

In the original book set, consisting of four volumes, the master index was in Volume 4. In this set of e-books, the index has been duplicated into each of the other volumes, with its first page re-numbered as necessary, and an Index item added to each volume's Table of Contents.




Author of "A History of Our Own Times" Etc.

In Four Volumes


New York Harper & Brothers, Franklin Square 1901


While this volume was passing through the press, The English Historical Review published an interesting article by Prof. J. K. Laughton on the subject of Jenkins's Ear. Professor Laughton, while lately making some researches in the Admiralty records, came on certain correspondence which appears to have escaped notice up to that time, and he regards it as incidentally confirming the story of Jenkins's Ear, "which for certainly more than a hundred years has generally been believed to be a fable." The correspondence, in my opinion, leaves the story exactly as it found it. We only learn from it that Jenkins made a complaint about his ear to the English naval commander at Port Royal, who received the tale with a certain incredulity, but nevertheless sent formal report of it to the Admiralty, and addressed a remonstrance to the Spanish authorities. But as Jenkins told his story to every one he met, it is not very surprising that he should have told it to the English admiral. No one doubts that a part of one of Jenkins's ears was cut off; it will be seen in this volume that he actually at one time exhibited the severed part; but the question is, How did it come to be severed? It might have been cut off in the ordinary course of a scuffle with the Spanish revenue-officers who tried to search his vessel. The point of the story is that Jenkins said the ear was deliberately severed, and that the severed part was flung in his face, with the insulting injunction to take that home to his king. Whether Jenkins told the simple truth or indulged in a little fable is a question which the recently published correspondence does not in any way help us to settle.

J. McC.



XXI. BOLINGBROKE ROUTED AGAIN . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 XXII. THE "FAMILY COMPACT" . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22 XXIII. ROYAL FAMILY AFFAIRS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 38 XXIV. THE PORTEOUS RIOTS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 56 XXV. FAMILY JARS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 69 XXVI. A PERILOUS VICTORY . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 82 XXVII. "ROGUES AND VAGABONDS" . . . . . . . . . . . . . 93 XXVIII. THE BANISHED PRINCE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 104 XXIX. THE QUEEN'S DEATH-BED . . . . . . . . . . . . . 114 XXX. THE WESLEYAN MOVEMENT . . . . . . . . . . . . . 187 XXXI. ENGLAND'S HONOR AND JENKINS'S EAR . . . . . . . 147 XXXII. WALPOLE YIELDS TO WAR . . . . . . . . . . . . . 170 XXXIII. "AND WHEN HE FALLS——" . . . . . . . . . . . . 185 XXXIV. "THE FORTY-FIVE" . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 199 XXXV. THE MARCH SOUTH . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 308 XXXVI. CULLODEN—AND AFTER . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 231 XXXVII. CHESTERFIELD IN DUBLIN CASTLE . . . . . . . . . 289 XXXVIII. PRIMUS IN INDIS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 253 XXXIX. CHANGES . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 274 XL. CANADA . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 282 XLI. THE CLOSE OF THE REIGN . . . . . . . . . . . . . 292 INDEX . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 306







While "the King's friends" and the Patriots, otherwise the Court party and the country party, were speech-making and pamphleteering, one of the greatest English pamphleteers, who was also one of the masters of English fiction, passed quietly out of existence. On April 24, 1731, Daniel Defoe died. It does not belong to the business of this history to narrate the life or describe the works of Defoe. The book on which his fame will chiefly rest was published just twenty years before his death. "Robinson Crusoe" first thrilled the world in 1719. "Robinson Crusoe" has a place in literature as unassailable as "Gulliver's Travels" or as "Don Quixote." Rousseau in his "Emile" declares that "Robinson Crusoe" should for a long time be his pupil's sole library, and that it would ever after through life be to him one of his dearest intellectual companions. At the present time, it is said, English school-boys do not read "Robinson Crusoe." There are laws of literary reaction in the tastes of school-boys as of older people. There were days when the English public did not read Shakespeare; but it was certain that Shakespeare would come up again, and it is certain that "Robinson Crusoe" will come up again. Defoe had been {2} a fierce fighter in the political literature of his time, and that was a trying time for the political gladiator. He had, according to his own declaration, been thirteen times rich and thirteen times poor. He had always written according to his convictions, and he had a spirit that no enemy could cow, and that no persecution could break. He had had the most wonderful ups and downs of fortune. He had been patronized by sovereigns and persecuted by statesmen. He had been fined; he had been pensioned; he had been sent on political missions by one minister, and he had been clapped into Newgate by another. He had been applauded in the streets and he had been hooted in the pillory. Had he not written "Robinson Crusoe" he would still have held a high place in English literature, because of the other romances that came from his teeming brain, and because of the political tracts that made so deep and lasting an impression even in that age of famous political tracts. But "Robinson Crusoe" is to his other works like Aaron's serpent, or the "one master-passion in the breast," which the poet has compared with it—it "swallows all the rest." "While all ages and descriptions of people," says Charles Lamb, "hang delighted over the adventures of Robinson Crusoe, and will continue to do so, we trust, while the world lasts, how few comparatively will bear to be told that there exist other fictitious narratives by the same writer—four of them at least of no inferior interest, except what results from a less felicitous choice of situation. 'Roxana,' 'Singleton,' 'Moll Flanders,' 'Colonel Jack,' are all genuine offsprings of the same father. They bear the veritable impress of Defoe. Even an unpractised midwife would swear to the nose, lip, forehead, and eye of every one of them. They are, in their way, as full of incident, and some of them every bit as romantic; only they want the uninhabited island, and the charm, that has bewitched the world, of the striking solitary situation." Defoe died in poverty and solitude—"alone with his glory." It is perhaps not uncurious to note that in the same month of the same year, 1731, on {3} April 8th, "Mrs. Elizabeth Cromwell, daughter of Richard Cromwell, the Protector, and granddaughter of Oliver Cromwell, died at her house in Bedford Row, in the eighty-second year of her age."

[Sidenote: 1733—Gay's request]

The death of Gay followed not long after that of Defoe. The versatile author of "The Beggars' Opera" had been sinking for some years into a condition of almost unrelieved despondency. He had had some disappointments, and he was sensitive, and took them too much to heart. He had had brilliant successes, and he had devoted friends, but a slight failure was more to him than a great success, and what he regarded as the falling-off of one friend was for the time of more account to him than the steady and faithful friendship of many men and women. Shortly before his death he wrote: "I desire, my dear Mr. Pope, whom I love as my own soul, if you survive me, as you certainly will, if a stone should mark the place of my grave, see these words put upon it:

"'Life is a jest and all things show it: I thought so once, but now I know it.'"

Gay died in the house of his friends, the Duke and Duchess of Queensberry, on December 4, 1732. He was buried near the tomb of Chaucer in Westminster Abbey, and a monument was set up to his memory, bearing on it Pope's famous epitaph which contains the line, "In wit a man, simplicity a child." Gay is but little known to the present generation. Young people or old people do not read his fables any more—those fables which Rousseau thought worthy of special discussion in his great treatise on Education. The gallant Captain Macheath swaggers and sings across the operatic stage no more, nor are tears shed now for pretty Polly Peachum's troubles. Yet every day some one quotes from Gay, and does not know what he is quoting from.

Walpole was not magnanimous towards enemies who had still the power to do him harm. When the enemy could hurt him no longer, Walpole felt anger no longer; {4} but it was not his humor to spare any man who stood in his way and resisted him. If he was not magnanimous, at least he did not affect magnanimity. He did not pretend to regard with contempt or indifference men whom in his heart he believed to be formidable opponents. It was a tribute to the capacity of a public man to be disliked by Walpole; a still higher tribute to be dreaded by him. One of the men whom the great minister was now beginning to hold in serious dislike and dread was Philip Dormer Stanhope, Earl of Chesterfield. Born in 1694, Chesterfield was still what would be called in political life a young man; he was not quite forty. He had led a varied and somewhat eccentric career. His father, a morose man, had a coldness for him. Young Stanhope, according to his own account, was an absolute pedant at the university. "When I talked my best I quoted Horace; when I aimed at being facetious I quoted Martial; and when I had a mind to be a fine gentleman I talked Ovid. I was convinced that none but the ancients had common-sense; that the classics contained everything that was either necessary, useful, or ornamental to me; . . . and I was not even without thoughts of wearing the toga virilis of the Romans, instead of the vulgar and illiberal dress of the moderns." Later he had been a devotee of fashion and the gambling-table, was a man of fashion, and a gambler still. He had travelled; had seen and studied life in many countries and cities and courts; had seen and studied many phases of life. He professed to be dissipated and even licentious, but he had an ambitious and a daring spirit. He well knew his own great gifts, and he knew also and frankly recognized the defects of character and temperament which were likely to neutralize their influence. If he entered the House of Commons before the legal age, if for long he preferred pleasure to politics, he was determined to make a mark in the political world. We shall see much of Chesterfield in the course of this history; we shall see how utterly unjust and absurd is the common censure which sets him down as a literary and political {5} fribble; we shall see that his speeches were so good that Horace Walpole declares that the finest speech he ever listened to was one of Chesterfield's; we shall see how bold he could be, and what an enlightened judgment he could bring to bear on the most difficult political questions; we shall see how near he went to genuine political greatness.

[Sidenote: 1733—Chesterfield's character]

It is not easy to form a secure opinion as to the real character of Chesterfield. If one is to believe the accounts of some of the contemporaries who came closest to him and ought to have known him best, Chesterfield had scarcely one great or good quality of heart. His intellect no one disputed, but no one seems to have believed that he had any savor of truth or honor or virtue. Hervey, who was fond of beating out fancies fine, is at much pains to compare and contrast Chesterfield with Scarborough and Carteret. Thus, while Lord Scarborough was always searching after truth, loving it, and adhering to it, Chesterfield and Carteret were both of them most abominably given to fable, and both of them often, unnecessarily and consequently indiscreetly so; "for whoever would lie usefully should lie seldom." Lord Scarborough had understanding, with judgment and without wit; Lord Chesterfield a speculative head, with wit and without judgment. Lord Scarborough had honor and principle, while Chesterfield and Carteret treated all principles of honesty and integrity with such open contempt that they seemed to think the appearance of these qualities would be of as little use to them as the reality. In short, Lord Scarborough was an honest, prudent man, capable of being a good friend, while Lord Chesterfield and Carteret were dishonest, imprudent creatures, whose principles practically told all their acquaintance, "If you do not behave to me like knaves, I shall either distrust you as hypocrites or laugh at you as fools."

We have said already in this history that a reader, in getting at an estimate of the character of Lord Hervey, will have to strike a sort of balance for himself between {6} the extravagant censure flung at him by his enemies and the extravagant praise blown to him by his friends. But we find no such occasion or opportunity for striking a balance in the case of Lord Chesterfield. All the testimony goes the one way. What do we hear of him? That he was dwarfish; that he was hideously ugly; that he was all but deformed; that he was utterly unprincipled, vain, false, treacherous, and cruel; that he had not the slightest faith in the honor of men or the virtue of women; that he was silly enough to believe himself, with all his personal defects, actually irresistible to the most gifted and beautiful woman, and that he was mendacious enough to proclaim himself the successful lover of women who would not have given ear to his love-making for one moment. Yet we cannot believe that Chesterfield was by any means the monster of ugliness and selfish levity whom his enemies, and some who called themselves his friends, have painted for posterity. He was, says Hervey, short, disproportioned, thick, and clumsily made; had a broad, rough-featured, ugly face, with black teeth, and a head big enough for a Polyphemus. "One Ben Ashurst, who said few good things, though admired for many, told Lord Chesterfield once that he was like a stunted giant, which was a humorous idea and really apposite." His portraits do not by any means bear out the common descriptions of his personal appearance. Doubtless, Court painters then, as now, flattered or idealized, but one can scarcely believe that any painter coolly converted a hideous face into a rather handsome one and went wholly unreproved by public opinion of his time. The truth probably is that Chesterfield's bitter, sarcastic, and unsparing tongue made him enemies, who came in the end to see nothing but deformity in his person and perfidy in his heart. It is easy to say epigrammatically of such a man that his propensity to ridicule, in which he indulged himself with infinite humor and no distinction, and with inexhaustible spirits and no discretion, made him sought and feared, liked and not loved, by most of his acquaintance; it is easy to say that {7} no sex, no relation, no rank, no power, no profession, no friendship, no obligation, was a shield from those pointed, glittering weapons that seemed only to shine to a stander-by, but cut deep in those they touched. But to say this is not to say all, or to paint a fair picture. It is evident that he delighted in passing himself off on serious and heavy people as a mere trifler, paradox-maker, and cynic. He invited them not to take him seriously, and they did take him seriously, but the wrong way. They believed that he was serious when he professed to have no faith in anything; when he declared that he only lived for pleasure, and did not care by what means he got it; that politics were to him ridiculous, and ambition was the folly of a vulgar mind. We now know that he had an almost boundless political ambition; and we know, too, that when put under the responsibilities that make or mar statesmen, he showed himself equal to a great task, and proved that he knew how to govern a nation which no English statesman before his time or since was able to rule from Dublin Castle. If the policy of Chesterfield had been adopted with regard to Ireland, these countries would have been saved more than a century of trouble. We cannot believe the statesman to have been only superficial and worthless who anticipated in his Irish policy the convictions of Burke and the ideas of Fox.

[Sidenote: 1733—Chesterfield's governing ability]

The time, however, of Chesterfield's Irish administration is yet to come. At present he is still only a rising man; but every one admits his eloquence and his capacity. It was he who moved in the House of Lords the "address of condolence, congratulation, and thanks" for the speech from the throne on the accession of George the Second. Since then he had served the King in diplomacy. He had been Minister to the Hague, and the Hague then was a very different place, in the diplomatist's sense, from what it is now or is ever likely to be again. He had been employed on special missions and had been concerned in the making of important treaties. He was rewarded for his services with the Garter, and was made Lord Steward {8} of the Household. He had distinguished himself highly as an orator in the House of Lords; had taken a place among the very foremost parliamentary orators of the day. But he chafed against Walpole's dictatorship, and soon began to show that he was determined not to endure too much of it. He secretly did all he could to mar Walpole's excise scheme; he encouraged his three brothers to oppose the bill in the House of Commons. He said witty and sarcastic things about the measure, which of course were duly reported to Walpole's ears. Perhaps Chesterfield thought he stood too high to be in danger from Walpole's hand. If he did think so he soon found out his mistake. Walpole's hand struck him down in the most unsparing and humiliating way. Public affront was added to political deprivation. Lord Chesterfield was actually going up the great stairs of St. James's Palace, on the day but one after the Excise Bill had been withdrawn, when he was stopped by an official and bidden to go home and bring back the white staff which was the emblem of his office, of all the chief offices of the Household, and surrender it. Chesterfield took the demand thus ungraciously made with his usual composure and politeness. He wrote a letter to the King, which the King showed to Walpole, but did not think fit to answer. The letter, Walpole afterwards told Lord Hervey, was "extremely labored but not well done." Chesterfield immediately passed into opposition, and became one of the bitterest and most formidable enemies Walpole had to encounter. Walpole's friends always justified his treatment of Chesterfield by asserting that Chesterfield was one of a party who were caballing against the minister at the time of the excise scheme, and while Chesterfield was a member of the Government. Chesterfield, it was declared, used actually to attend certain private meetings and councils of Walpole's enemies to concert measures against him. There is nothing incredible or even unlikely in this; but even if it were utterly untrue, we may assume that sooner or later Walpole would have got rid of Chesterfield. {9} Walpole's besetting weakness was that he could not endure any really capable colleague. The moment a man showed any capacity for governing, Walpole would appear to have made up his mind that that man and he were not to govern together.

[Sidenote: 1733—Walpole's animosity]

Walpole made a clean sweep of the men in office whom he believed to have acted against him. He even went so far as to deprive of their commissions in the army two peers holding no manner of office in the Administration, but whom he believed to have acted against him. To strengthen himself in the House of Lords he conferred a peerage on his attorney-general and on his solicitor-general. Philip Yorke, the Attorney-general, became Lord Hardwicke and Chief-justice of the King's Bench; Charles Talbot was made Lord Chancellor under the title of Lord Talbot. Both were men of great ability. Hardwicke stood higher in the rank at the bar than Talbot, and in the ordinary course of things he ought to have had the position of Lord Chancellor. But Talbot was only great as a Chancery lawyer, and knew little or nothing of common law, and it would have been out of the question to make him Lord Chief-justice. So Walpole devised a characteristic scheme of compromise. Hardwicke was induced to accept the office of Lord Chief-justice on the salary being raised from 3000 pounds to 4000 pounds, and with the further condition that an additional thousand a year was to be paid to him out of the Lord Chancellor's salary. This curious transaction Walpole managed through the Queen, and the Queen managed to get the King to regard it as a clever device of his own mention. It is worth while to note that the only charge ever made against Hardwicke by his contemporaries was a charge of avarice; he was stingy even in his hospitality, his enemies said—a great offence in that day was to be parsimonious with one's guests; and malignant people called him Judge Gripus. For aught else, his public and private character were blameless. Hardwicke was the stronger man of the two; Talbot the more subtle and {10} ingenious. Both were eloquent pleaders and skilled lawyers, each in his own department. Hervey says that "no one could make more of a good cause than Lord Hardwicke, and no one so much of a bad cause as Lord Talbot." Hardwicke lived to have a long career of honor, and to win a secure place in English history. Lord Talbot became at once a commanding influence in the House of Lords. "Our new Lord Chancellor," the Earl of Strafford, England's nominal and ornamental representative in the negotiation for the peace of Utrecht, writes to Swift, "at present has a great party in the House." But the new Lord Chancellor did not live long enough for his fame. He was destined to die within a few short years, and to leave the wool-sack open for Lord Hardwicke.

[Sidenote: 1734—The Patriots]

The House of Commons has hardly ever been thrilled to interest and roused to passion by a more heated, envenomed, and, in the rhetorical sense, brilliant debate than that which took place on March 13, 1734. The subject of the debate was the motion of a country gentleman, Mr. William Bromley, member for Warwick, "that leave be given to bring in a bill for repealing the Septennial Act, and for the more frequent meeting and calling of Parliaments." The circumstances under which this motion was brought forward gave it a peculiar importance as a party movement. Before the debate began it was agreed, upon a formal motion to that effect, "that the Sergeant-at-arms attending the House should go with the mace into Westminster Hall, and into the Court of Bequests, and places adjacent, and summon the members there to attend the service of the House."

The general elections were approaching; the Parliament then sitting had nearly run its course. The Patriots had been making every possible preparation for a decisive struggle against Walpole. They had been using every weapon which partisan hatred and political craft could supply or suggest. The fury roused up by the Excise Bill had not yet wholly subsided. Public opinion still throbbed and heaved like a sea the morning after a storm. {11} The Patriots had been exerting their best efforts to make the country dissatisfied with Walpole's foreign policy. The changes were incessantly rung upon the alleged depredations which the Spaniards were committing on our mercantile marine. Long before the time for the general elections had come, the Patriot candidates were stumping the country. Their progress through each county was marked by the wildest riots. The riots sometimes called for the sternest military repression. On the other hand, the Patriots themselves were denounced and discredited by all the penmen, pamphleteers, and orators who supported the Government on their own account, or were hired by Walpole and Walpole's friends to support it. So effective were some of these attacks, so damaging was the incessant imputation that in the mouths of the Patriots patriotism meant nothing but a desire for place and pay, that Pulteney and his comrades found it advisable gradually to shake off the name which had been put on them, and which they had at one time willingly adopted. They began to call themselves "the representatives of the country interest."

The final struggle of the session was to take place on the motion for the repeal of the Septennial Act. We have already given an account of the passing of that Act in 1716, and of the reasons which in our opinion justified its passing. It cannot be questioned that there is much to be said in favor of the principle of short Parliaments, but in Walpole's time the one great object of true statesmanship was to strengthen the power of the House of Commons; to enable it to stand up against the Crown and the House of Lords. It would be all but impossible for the House of Commons to maintain this position if it were doomed to frequent and inevitable dissolutions. Frequent dissolution of Parliament means frequently recurring cost, struggle, anxiety, wear and tear, to the members; and; of course, it meant all this in much higher measure during the reign of George the Second than it could mean in the reign of Victoria. Walpole had {12} devoted himself to the task of strengthening the representative assembly, and he was, therefore, well justified in resisting the motion made by Mr. Bromley on March 13, 1734, for the repeal of the Septennial Act. Our interest now, however, is not so much with the political aspect of the debate as with its personal character. One illustration of the corruption which existed at the time may be mentioned in passing. It was used as an argument against long Parliaments, but assuredly at that day it might have been told of short Parliaments as well. Mr. Watkin Williams Wynn mentioned the fact that a former member of the House of Commons, afterwards one of the judges of the Common Pleas, "a gentleman who is now dead, and therefore I may name him," declared that he "had never been in the borough he represented in Parliament, nor had ever seen or spoken with any of his electors." Of course this worthy person, "afterwards one of the judges of the Common Pleas," had simply sent down his agent and bought the place. "I believe," added Mr. Wynn, "I could without much difficulty name some who are now in the same situation." No doubt he could.

[Sidenote: 1734—A supposititious minister]

Sir William Wyndham came on to speak. Wyndham was now, of course, the close ally of Bolingbroke. He hated Walpole. He made his whole speech one long denunciation of bribery and corruption, and gave it to be understood that in his firm conviction Walpole only wanted a long Parliament because it gave him better opportunities to bribe and to corrupt. He went on to draw a picture of what might come to pass under an unscrupulous minister, sustained by a corrupted septennial Parliament. "Let us suppose," he said, "a gentleman at the head of the Administration whose only safety depends upon his corrupting the members of this House." Of course Sir William went on to declare that he only put this as a supposition, but it was certainly a thing which might come to pass, and was within the limits of possibility. If it did come to pass, could not such a minister promise himself more success in a septennial than he {13} could in a triennial Parliament? "It is an old maxim," Wyndham said, "that every man has his price." This allusion to the old maxim is worthy of notice in a debate on the conduct and character of Walpole. Evidently Wyndham did not fall into the mistake which posterity appears to have made, and attribute to Walpole himself the famous words about man and his price. Suppose a case "which, though it has not happened, may possibly happen. Let us suppose a man abandoned to all notions of virtue and honor, of no great family, and of but a mean fortune, raised to be chief Minister of State by the concurrence of many whimsical events; afraid or unwilling to trust to any but creatures of his own making, and most of these equally abandoned to all notions of virtue or honor; ignorant of the true interest of his country, and consulting nothing but that of enriching and aggrandizing himself and his favorites." Sir William described this supposititious personage as employing in foreign affairs none but men whose education made it impossible for them to have such qualifications as could be of any service to their country or give any credit to their negotiations. Under the rule of this minister the orator described "the true interests of the nation neglected, her honor and credit lost, her trade insulted, her merchants plundered, and her sailors murdered, and all these things overlooked for fear only his administration should be endangered. Suppose this man possessed of great wealth, the plunder of the nation, with a Parliament of his own choosing, most of their seats purchased, and their votes bought at the expense of the public treasure. In such a Parliament let us suppose attempts made to inquire into his conduct or to relieve the nation from the distress he has brought upon it." Would it not be easy to suppose all such attempts discomfited by a corrupt majority of the creatures whom this minister "retains in daily pay or engages in his particular interest by granting them those posts and places which never ought to be given to any but for the good of the public?" Sir William pictured this minister {14} pluming himself upon "his scandalous victory" because he found he had got "a Parliament, like a packed jury, ready to acquit him at all adventures." Then, glowing with his subject, Sir William Wyndham ventured to suggest a case which he blandly declared had never yet happened in this nation, but which still might possibly happen. "With such a minister and such a Parliament, let us suppose a prince upon the throne, either from want of true information or for some other reason, ignorant and unacquainted with the inclinations and the interest of his people, weak, and hurried away by unbounded ambition and insatiable avarice. Could any greater curse befall a nation than such a prince on the throne, advised, and solely advised, by such a minister, and that minister supported by such a Parliament? The nature of mankind," the orator exclaimed, "cannot be altered by human laws; the existence of such a prince, of such a minister, we cannot prevent by Act of Parliament; but the existence of such a Parliament, I think, we may; and, as such a Parliament is much more likely to exist, and may do more mischief while the Septennial Law remains in force than if it were repealed, therefore I am most heartily in favor of its immediate repeal."

[Sidenote: 1734—An effective reply]

This was a very pretty piece of invective. It was full of spirit, fire, and force. Nobody could have failed for a moment to know the original of the portrait Sir William Wyndham professed to be painting from imagination. It was not indeed a true portrait of Walpole, but it was a perfect photograph of what his enemies declared and even believed Walpole to be. Such was the picture which the Craftsman and the pamphleteers were painting every day as the likeness of the great minister; but it was something new, fresh, and bold to paint such a picture under the eyes of Walpole himself. The speech was hailed with the wildest enthusiasm and delight by all the Jacobites, Patriots, and representatives of the country interest, and there is even some good reason to believe that it gave a certain secret satisfaction to some of those who most {15} steadily supported Walpole by their votes. But Walpole was not by any means the sort of man whom it is quite safe to visit with such an attack. The speech of Sir William Wyndham had doubtless been carefully prepared, and Walpole had but a short time, but a breathing-space, while two or three speeches were made, in which to get ready his reply. When he rose to address the House it soon became evident that he had something to say, and that he was determined to give his adversary at least as good as he brought. Nothing could be more effective than Walpole's method of reply. It was not to Sir William Wyndham that he replied; at least it was not Sir William Wyndham whom he attacked. Walpole passed Wyndham by altogether. Wyndham he well knew to be but the mouth-piece of Bolingbroke, and it was at Bolingbroke that he struck. "I hope I may be allowed," he said, "to draw a picture in my turn; and I may likewise say that I do not mean to give a description of any particular person now in being. Indeed," Walpole added, ingenuously, "the House being cleared, I am sure no person that hears me can come within the description of the person I am to suppose." This was a clever touch, and gave a new barb to the dart which Walpole was about to fling. The House was cleared; none but members were present; the description applied to none within hearing. Bolingbroke, of course, was not a member; he could not hear what Walpole was saying. Then Walpole went on to paint his picture. He supposed, "in this or in some other unfortunate country, an anti-minister . . . in a country where he really ought not to be, and where he could not have been but by an effect of too much goodness and mercy, yet endeavoring with all his might and with all his art to destroy the fountain from whence that mercy flowed." Walpole depicted this anti-minister as one "who thinks himself a person of so great and extensive parts, and of so many eminent qualifications, that he looks upon himself as the only person in the kingdom capable of conducting the public affairs of the nation." {16} Walpole supposed "this fine gentleman lucky enough to have gained over to his party some persons of really great parts, of ancient families, and of large fortunes, and others of desperate views, arising from disappointed and malicious hearts." Walpole grouped with fine freehand-drawing the band of conspirators thus formed under the leadership of this anti-minister. All the band were moved in their political behavior by him, and by him solely. All they said, either in private or public, was "only a repetition of the words he had put into their mouths, and a spitting forth of the venom which he had infused into them." Walpole asked the House to suppose, nevertheless, that this anti-minister was not really liked by any even of those who blindly followed him, and was hated by the rest of mankind. He showed him contracting friendships and alliances with all foreign ministers who were hostile to his own country, and endeavoring to get at the political secrets of English administrations in order that he might betray them to foreign and hostile States. Further, he asked the House to suppose this man travelling from foreign court to court, making it his trade to betray the secrets of each court where he had most lately been, void of all faith and honor, delighting to be treacherous and traitorous to every master whom he had served and who had shown favor to him. "Sir, I could carry my suppositions a great deal further; but if we can suppose such a one as I have pictured, can there be imagined a greater disgrace to human nature than a wretch like this?"

[Sidenote: 1734—An unstable alliance]

The ministers triumphed by a majority of 247 to 184. Walpole was the victor in more than the mere parliamentary majority. He had conquered in the fierce parliamentary duel.

There is a common impression that Walpole's speech hunted Bolingbroke out of the country; that it drove him into exile and obscurity again, as Cicero's invective drove Catiline into open rebellion. This, however, is not the fact. A comparison of dates settles the question. The debate on the Septennial Bill took place in March, 1734; {17} Bolingbroke did not leave England until the early part of 1735. The actual date of his leaving England is not certain, but Pulteney, writing to Swift on April 29, 1735, adds in a postscript: "Lord Bolingbroke is going to France with Lord Berkeley, but, I believe, will return again in a few months." No one could have known better than Pulteney that Bolingbroke was not likely to return to England in a few months. Still, although Bolingbroke did not make a hasty retreat, history is well warranted in saying that Walpole's powerful piece of invective closed the door once for all against Bolingbroke's career in English politics. Bolingbroke could not but perceive that Walpole's accusations against him sank deeply into the heart of the English people. He could not but see that some of those with whom he had been most closely allied of late years were impressed with the force of the invective; not, indeed, by its moral force, but by the thought of the influence it must have on the country. It may well have occurred to Pulteney, for example, as he listened to Walpole's denunciation, that the value of an associate was more than doubtful whom the public could recognize at a glance as the original of such a portrait. There had been disputes now and then already. Bolingbroke was too much disposed to regard himself as master of the situation; Pulteney was not unnaturally inclined to believe that he had a much better understanding of the existing political conditions; he complained that Wyndham submitted too much to Bolingbroke's dictation. The whole alliance was founded on unstable and unwholesome principles; it was sure to crumble and collapse sooner or later. There can be no question but that Walpole's invective precipitated the collapse. With consummate political art he had drawn his picture of Bolingbroke in such form as to make it especially odious just then to Englishmen. The mere supposition that an English statesman has packed cards with a foreign enemy is almost enough in itself at any time to destroy a great career; to turn a popular favorite into an object of national distrust {18} or even national detestation. But in Bolingbroke's case it was no mere supposition. No one could doubt that he had often traded on the political interests of his own country. In truth, there was but little of the Englishman about him. His gifts and his vices were alike of a foreign stamp. Walpole was, for good or ill, a genuine sturdy Englishman. His words, his actions, his policy, his schemes, his faults, his vices, were thorough English. It was as an Englishman, as an English citizen, more than as a statesman or an orator, that he bore down Bolingbroke in this memorable debate.

[Sidenote: 1734—Bolingbroke a hurtful ally]

Bolingbroke must have felt himself borne down. He did not long carry on the struggle into which he had plunged with so much alacrity and energy, with such malice and such hope. Pulteney advised him to go back for a while to France, and in the early part of 1734 he took the advice and went. "My part is over," he wrote to Wyndham, in words which have a certain pathetic dignity in them, "and he who remains on the stage after his part is over deserves to be hissed off." His departure—it might almost be called his second flight—to the Continent was probably hastened also by the knowledge that a pamphlet was about to be published by some of his enemies, containing a series of letters which had passed between him and James Stuart's secretary, after Bolingbroke's dismissal from the service of James in 1716. The pamphlet was suppressed immediately on its appearance, but its contents have been republished, and they were certainly not of a character to render Bolingbroke any the less unpopular among Englishmen.

The correspondence consisted in a series of letters that passed between Bolingbroke, through his secretary, and Mr. James Murray, acting on behalf of James Stuart, from whom he afterwards received the title of Earl of Dunbar.

The letters are little more than mere recriminations. Bolingbroke is accused of having brought about the failure of the insurrection of 1715 by weakness, folly, and {19} even downright treachery. Bolingbroke flings back the charges at the head of James's friends, and even of James himself. There was nothing brought out in 1734 and 1735 to affect the career and conduct of Bolingbroke which all England did not know pretty well already. Still, the revival of these old stories must have seemed to Bolingbroke very inconvenient and dangerous at such a time. The correspondence reminded England once more that Bolingbroke had been the agent of the exiled Stuarts in the work of stirring up a civil war for the overthrow of the House of Hanover. No doubt the publication quickened Bolingbroke's desire to get out of England. But he would have gone, in any case; he would have had to go. The whole cabal with Pulteney had been a failure; Bolingbroke would thenceforward be a hinderance rather than a help to the Patriots. His counsel was of no further avail, and he only brought odium on them; indeed, his advice had from first to last been misleading and ill-omened. The Patriots were now only anxious to get rid of him; Pulteney gave Bolingbroke pretty clearly to understand that they wanted him to go, and he went.

Walpole's speech, and the whole of the debate of which it made so striking a feature, could not but have a powerful effect on the general elections. Parliament was dissolved on April 10, 1734, after having nearly run the full course of seven years. Seldom has a general election been contested with such a prodigality of partisan fury and public corruption. Walpole scattered his purchase-money everywhere; he sowed with the sack and not with the hand, to adopt the famous saying applied by a Greek poetess to Pindar. In supporting two candidates for Norfolk, who were both beaten, despite his support, he spent out of his private fortune at least 10,000 pounds; one contemporary says 60,000 pounds. But the Opposition spent just as freely—more freely, perhaps. It must be remembered that even so pure-minded a man as Burke has contended that "the charge of systematic corruption" was less applicable, perhaps, to Walpole "than to any other minister who ever {20} served the Crown for such a length of time." The Opposition were decidedly more reckless in their incitements to violence than the friends of the Ministry. The Craftsman boasted that when Walpole came to give his vote as an honorary freeman at Norwich the people called aloud to have the bribery oath administered to him; called on him to swear that he had received no money for his vote. All the efforts of the Patriots, or the representatives of the country interest, as they now preferred to call themselves, failed to bring about the end they aimed at. They did, indeed, increase their parliamentary vote a little, but the increase was not enough to make any material difference in their position. All the wit, the eloquence, the craft, the courage, the unscrupulous use of every weapon of political warfare that could be seized and handled, had been thrown away. Walpole was, for the time, just as strong as ever.

[Sidenote: 1735—Swift's opinion of Arbuthnot]

We turn aside from the movement and rush of politics to lay a memorial spray on the grave of a good and a gifted man. Dr. Arbuthnot died in February, 1735, only sixty years old. "Poor Arbuthnot," Pulteney writes to Swift, "who grieved to see the wickedness of mankind, and was particularly esteemed of his own countrymen, is dead. He lived the last six months in a bad state of health, and hoping every night would be his last; not that he endured any bodily pain, but as he was quite weary of the world, and tired with so much bad company." Alderman Barber, in a letter to Swift a few days after, says much the same. He is afraid, he tells Swift, that Arbuthnot did not take as much care of himself as he ought to have done. "Possibly he might think the play not worth the candle. You may remember Dr. Garth said he was glad when he was dying, for he was weary of having his shoes pulled off and on." A letter from Arbuthnot himself to Swift, written a short time before his death, is not, however, filled with mere discontent, does not breathe only a morbid weariness of life, but rather testifies to a serene and noble resignation. "I am going," he tells Swift, "out {21} of this troublesome world, and you, amongst the rest of my friends, shall have my last prayers and good wishes. I am afraid, my dear friend, we shall never see one another more in this world. I shall to the last moment preserve my love and esteem for you, being well assured you will never leave the paths of virtue and honor for all that is in the world. This world is not worth the least deviation from that way." Thus the great physician, scientific scholar, and humorist awaited his death and died. We have spoken already in this history of Arbuthnot's marvellous humor and satire. Macaulay, in his essay on "The Life and Writings of Addison," says "there are passages in Arbuthnot's satirical works which we, at least, cannot distinguish from Swift's best writing." Swift himself spoke of Arbuthnot in yet higher terms. "He has more wit than we all have," was Swift's declaration, "and his humanity is equal to his wit." There are not many satirists known to men during all literary history of whom quite so much could be said with any faintest color of a regard for truth. Swift was too warm in his friendly panegyric on Arbuthnot's humor, but he did not too highly estimate Arbuthnot's humanity. Humor is among man's highest gifts, and has done the world splendid service; but humor and humanity together make the mercy winged with brave actions, which, according to Massinger, befit "a soul moulded for heaven" and destined to be "made a star there."




[Sidenote: 1735—The Polish throne]

The new Parliament met on January 14, 1735. The Royal intimation was given to the House of Commons by the Lord Chancellor that it was his Majesty's pleasure that they should return to their own House and choose a Speaker. Arthur Onslow was unanimously elected, or rather re-elected, to the chair he had filled with so much distinction in the former Parliament. The speech from the throne was not delivered until January 23. The speech was almost all taken up with foreign affairs, with the war on the Continent, and the efforts of the King and his ministers, in combination with the States General of the United Provinces, to extinguish it. "I have the satisfaction to acquaint you," the King said, "that things are now brought to so great a forwardness that I hope in a short time a plan will be offered to the consideration of all the parties engaged in the present war, as a basis for a general negotiation of peace, in which the honor and the interest of all parties have been consulted as far as the circumstances of time and the present posture of affairs would admit." The Royal speech did not contain one single word which had to do with the internal condition of England, with the daily lives of the English people. No legislation was promised, or even hinted at, which concerned the domestic interests of these islands. The House of Lords set to work at once in the preparation of an address in reply to the speech from the throne; and they, too, debated only of foreign affairs, and took no more account of their own fellow-countrymen than of the dwellers in Jupiter or Saturn.


The war to which the Royal speech referred had been dragging along for some time. No quarrel could have less direct interest for the English people than that about which the Emperor Charles the Sixth and the King of France, Louis the Fifteenth, were fighting. On the death of Augustus the Second of Poland, in February, 1733, Louis thought it a good opportunity for putting his own father-in-law, Stanislaus Leszczynski, back on the throne of Poland, from which he had twice been driven. Poland was a republic with an elective king, and a very peculiar form of constitution, by virtue of which any one of the estates or electoral colleges of the realm was in a position to stop the action of all the others at any crisis when decision was especially needed. The result of this was that the elected king was always a nominee of one or another of the great Continental Powers who took it on themselves to intervene in the affairs of Poland. The election of a King of Poland was always a mere struggle between these Powers: the strongest at the moment carried its man. Stanislaus, the father of Louis the Fifteenth's wife, had been a protege of Charles the Twelfth of Sweden. He was a man of illustrious family and of great and varied abilities, a scholar and a writer. Charles drove Augustus the Second, Augustus, Elector of Saxony, from the throne of Poland, and set up Stanislaus in his place. Stanislaus, however, was driven out of the country by Augustus and his friends, who rallied and became strong in the temporary difficulties of Charles. When Charles found time to turn his attention to Poland he soon overthrew Augustus and set up Stanislaus once again. But "hide, blushing glory, hide Pultowa's day"; the fall of the great Charles came, and brought with it the fall of Stanislaus. Augustus re-entered Poland at the head of a Saxon army, and Stanislaus was compelled to abdicate. Now that Augustus was dead, Louis the Fifteenth determined to bring Stanislaus out from his retirement of many years and set him for the third time on the Polish throne. On the other hand, the Emperor and Russia alike favored the son of {24} the late king, another Augustus, Elector of Saxony. The French party carried Stanislaus, although at the time of his abdication, three or four and twenty years before, he had been declared incapable of ever again being elected King of Poland. The Saxon party, secretly backed up by Russia, resisted Stanislaus, attacked his partisans, drove him once more from Warsaw, and proclaimed Augustus the Third. Louis of France declared war, not on Russia, but on the Emperor, alleging that the Emperor had been the inspiration and support of the Saxon movement. A French army under Marshal Berwick, son of James the Second of England, crossed the Rhine and took the fort of Kehl—the scene of a memorable crossing of the Rhine, to be recrossed very rapidly after, in days nearer to our own. Spain and Sardinia were in alliance with Louis, and the Emperor's army, although led by the great Eugene, "Der edle Ritter," was not able to make head against the French. The Emperor sent frequent urgent and impassioned appeals to England for assistance. George was anxious to lend him a helping hand, clamored to be allowed to take the field himself and win glory in battle; camps and battle-fields were what he loved most, he kept dinning into Walpole's unappreciative ear. Even the Queen was not disinclined to draw the sword in defence of an imperilled and harassed ally.

[Sidenote: 1735—The Emperor's denunciation of Walpole]

Walpole stuck to his policy of masterly inactivity. He would have wished to exclude Stanislaus from the Polish throne, but he was not willing to go to war with France. He could not bring himself to believe that the interests of England were concerned in the struggle to such a degree as to warrant the waste of English money and the pouring out of English blood. But he did not take his stand on such a broad and clear position; indeed at that time it would not have been a firm or a tenable position. Walpole did not venture to say that the question whether this man or that was to sit on the throne of Poland was not worth the life of one British grenadier. The time had not come when even a great minister might venture {25} to look at an international quarrel from such a point of view. Walpole temporized, delayed, endeavored to bring about a reconciliation of claims; endeavored to get at something like a mediation; carried on prolonged negotiations with the Government of the Netherlands to induce the States General to join with England in an offer of mediation. The Emperor was all the time sending despatches to England, in which he bitterly complained that he had been deceived and deserted. He laid all the blame on Walpole's head. Pages of denunciation of Walpole and all Walpole's family are to be found in these imperial despatches. Walpole remained firm to his purpose. He would not go to war, but it did not suit him to proclaim his determination. He kept up his appearance of active negotiation, and he trusted to time to settle the question one way or the other before King George should get too restive, and should insist on plunging into the war. He had many an uneasy hour, but his policy succeeded in the end.

The controversy out of which the war began was complicated by other questions and made formidable by the rival pursuit of other ends than those to be acknowledged in public treaty. It would be unjust and even absurd to suppose that Walpole's opponents believed England had a direct interest in the question of the Polish succession, or that they would have shed the blood of English grenadiers merely in order that this candidate and not that should be on the throne of Poland. What the Opposition contended was that the alliance of France and Spain was in reality directed quite as much against England as against the Emperor. In this they were perfectly right. It was directed as much against England as against the Emperor. Little more than forty years ago a collection of treaties and engagements entered into by the Spanish branch of the Bourbon family found its way to the light of day in Madrid. The publication was the means of pouring a very flood of light on some events which perplexed and distracted the outer world in the days at {26} which, in the course of this history, we have now arrived. We speak especially of the Polish war of succession and the policy pursued with regard to it by France and Spain. The collection of documents contained a copy of a treaty or arrangement entered into between the King of France and the King of Spain in 1733. This was, in fact, the first family compact, the first of a series of family compacts, entered into between the Bourbons in Versailles and the Bourbons in Madrid. The engagement, which in modern European history is conventionally known as "the family compact" between the Bourbon Houses, the compact of 1761, the compact which Burke described as "the most odious and formidable of all the conspiracies against the liberties of Europe that ever have been framed," was really only the third of a series. The second compact was in 1743. The object of these successive agreements was one and the same: to maintain and extend the possessions of the Bourbons in Europe and outside Europe, and to weaken and divide the supposed enemies of Bourbon supremacy. England was directly aimed at as one of the foremost of those enemies. In the compact of 1733 the King of France and the King of Spain pledged themselves to the interests of "the most serene infant Don Carlos," afterwards for a time King of the Sicilies, and then finally King of Spain. The compact defined the alliance as "a mutual guarantee of all the possessions and the honor, interests, and glory" of the two Houses. It was described as an alliance to protect Don Carlos, and the family generally, against the Emperor and against England. France bound herself to aid Spain with all her forces by land or sea if Spain should see fit to suspend "England's enjoyment of commerce," and England should retaliate by hostilities on the dominions of Spain, within or outside of Europe. The French King also pledged himself to employ without interruption his most pressing instances to induce the King of Great Britain to restore Gibraltar to Spain; pledged himself even to use force for this purpose if necessary. There were full and precise {27} stipulations about the disposition of armies and naval squadrons under various conditions. One article in the treaty bluntly declared that the foreign policy of both States, France and Spain, was to be "guided exclusively by the interests of the House." The engagement was to be kept secret, and was to be regarded "from that day as an eternal and irrevocable family compact." No conspiracy ever could have been more flagrant, more selfish, and more cruel. The deeper we get into the secrets of European history, the more we come to learn the truth that the crowned conspirators were always the worst.

[Sidenote: 1735—Compact between the Houses of Bourbon]

This first family compact is the key to all the subsequent history of European wars down to the days of the French Revolution. The object of one set of men was to maintain and add to the advantages secured to them by the Treaty of Utrecht; the object of another set of men was to shake themselves free from the disadvantages and disqualifications which that treaty imposed on them. The Bourbon family were possessed with the determination to maintain the position in Spain which the will of Charles the Second had bequeathed to them, and which after so many years of war and blood had been ratified by the Treaty of Utrecht. They wanted to maintain their position in Spain; but they wanted not that alone. They wanted much more. They wanted to plant a firm foot in Italy; they wanted to annex border provinces to France; they saw that their great enemy was England, and they wanted to weaken and to damage her. No reasonable Englishman can find fault with the Kings of Spain for their desire to recover Gibraltar. An English sovereign would have conspired with any foreign State for the recovery of Dover Castle and rock if these were held by a Spanish invader too strong to be driven out by England single-handed. Many Englishmen were of opinion then, some are of opinion now, that it would be an act of wise and generous policy to give Gibraltar back to the Spanish people. But no Englishman could possibly doubt that if England were determined to keep Gibraltar she must {28} hold it her duty to watch with the keenest attention every movement which indicated an alliance between France and Spain.

Spain had at one time sought security for her interests, and a new chance for her ambitions, by alliance with the Emperor. Of late she had found that the Emperor generally got all the subsidies and all the other advantages of the alliance, and that Spain was left rather worse off after each successive settlement than she was before it. The family compact between the two Houses of Bourbon was one result of her experience in this way. Of course, when we talk of France and Spain, we are talking merely of the Courts and the families. The people of France and Spain were never consulted, and, indeed, were never thought of, in these imperial and regal engagements. Nor at this particular juncture had the King of Spain much more to do with the matter than the humblest of his people. King Philip the Fifth was a hypochondriac, a half-demented creature, almost a madman. He was now the tame and willing subject of the most absolute petticoat government. His second wife, Elizabeth of Parma, ruled him with firm, unswerving hand. Her son, Don Carlos, was heir in her right to the Duchies of Parma and Placentia, but she was ambitious of a brighter crown for him, and went into the war with an eye to the throne of Naples. The Emperor soon found that he could not hold out against the alliance, and consented to accept the mediation of England and the United Provinces.

The negotiations were long and dragging. Many times it became apparent that Louis on his part was only pretending a willingness to compromise and make peace in order to strengthen himself the more for the complete prosecution of a successful war. At last a plan of pacification was agreed upon between England and Holland and at the same time the King of England entered into an alliance, offensive and defensive, with the King of Denmark, this latter treaty, as George significantly described it in the speech from the throne, "of great importance in {29} the present conjuncture." These engagements did not pass without severe criticism in Parliament. It was pointed out with effect that the nation had for some time back been engaged in making treaty after treaty, each new engagement being described as essential to the safety of the empire, but each proving in turn to be utterly inefficacious. In the House of Lords a dissatisfied peer described the situation very well. "The last treaty," he said, "always wanted a new one in order to carry it into execution, and thus, my Lords, we have been a-botching and piecing up one treaty with another for several years." The botching and piecing up did not in this instance prevent the outbreak of the war. The opposing forces, after long delays, at length rushed at each other, and, as was said in the speech from the throne at the opening of the session of 1736, "the war was carried on in some parts in such a manner as to give very just apprehensions that it would unavoidably become general, from an absolute necessity of preserving that balance of power on which the safety and commerce of the maritime powers so much depend." With any other minister than Walpole to manage affairs, England would unquestionably have been drawn into the war. Walpole's strong determination and ingenious delays carried his policy through.

[Sidenote: 1735—"Bonnie Prince Charlie"]

The war has one point of peculiar and romantic interest for Englishmen. Charles Edward Stuart, the "bonnie Prince Charlie" of a later date, the hero and darling of so much devotion, poetry, and romance, received his baptism of fire in the Italian campaign under Don Carlos. Charles Edward was then a mere boy. He was born in the later days of 1720, and was now about the age to serve some picturesque princess as her page. He was sent as a volunteer to the siege of Gaeta, and was received with every mark of honor by Don Carlos. The English Court heard rumors that Don Carlos had gone out of his way to pay homage to the Stuart prince, and had even acted in a manner to give the impression that he identified himself with the cause of the exiled family. There were demands {30} for explanation made by the English minister at the Spanish Court, and explanations were given and excuses offered. It was all merely because of a request made by the Duke of Berwick's son, the Spanish prime-minister said. The Duke of Berwick's son asked permission to bring his cousin Charles Edward to serve as a volunteer, and the Court of Spain consented, not seeing the slightest objection to such a request; but there was not the faintest idea of receiving the boy as a king's son. King George and Queen Caroline were both very angry, but Walpole wisely told them that they must either resent the offence thoroughly, and by war, or accept the explanations and pretend to be satisfied with them. Walpole's advice prevailed, and the boy prince fleshed his maiden sword without giving occasion to George the Second to seek the ensanguined laurels for which he told Walpole he had long been thirsting. The Hanoverian kings were, to do them justice, generally rather magnanimous in their way of treating the pretensions of the exiled family. We may fairly assume that the conduct of the Spanish prince in this instance did somewhat exceed legitimate bounds. George was wise, however, in consenting to accept the explanations, and to make as little of the incident as the Court of Spain professed to do.

[Sidenote: 1735—Success of Walpole's policy]

Incidents such as this, and the interchange of explanations which had to follow them, naturally tended to stretch out the negotiations for peace which England was still carrying on. Again and again it seemed as if the attempts to bring about a settlement of the controversy must all be doomed to failure. At last, however, terms of arrangement were concluded. Augustus was acknowledged King of Poland. Stanislaus was allowed to retain the royal title, and was put in immediate possession of the Duchy of Lorraine, which after his death was to become a province of France. The Spanish prince obtained the throne of the Two Sicilies. France was thought to have done a great thing for herself by the annexation of Lorraine; in later times it seemed to have been an ill-omened acquisition. {31} The terms of peace were, on the whole, about as satisfactory as any one could have expected. Walpole certainly had got all he wanted. He wanted to keep England out of the war, and he wanted at the same time to maintain and to reassert her influence over the politics of the Continent. He accomplished both these objects. Bolingbroke said it was only Walpole's luck. History more truly says it was Walpole's patience and genius.

Did Walpole know all this time that there was a distinct and deliberate family compact, a secret treaty of alliance, a formal, circumstantial, binding agreement, consigned to written words, between France and Spain, for the promotion of their common desires and for the crippling of England's power? Mr. J. R. Green appears to be convinced that "neither England nor Walpole" knew of it. The English people certainly did not know of it; and it is commonly taken for granted by historians that while Walpole was pursuing his policy of peace he was not aware of the existence of this family compact. It has even been pleaded, in defence of him and his policy, that he did not know that the war, in which he believed England to have little or no interest, was only one outcome of a secret plot, having for its object, among other objects, the humiliation and the detriment of England. There are writers who seem to assume it as a matter of certainty that if Walpole had known of this family compact he would have adopted a very different course. But does it by any means follow that, even if he had been all the time in possession of a correct copy of the secret agreement, he would have acted otherwise than as he did act? Does it follow that if Walpole did know all about it, he was wrong in adhering to his policy of non-intervention? A very interesting and instructive essay by Professor Seely on the House of Bourbon, published in the first number of the English Historical Review, makes clear as light the place of this first family compact in the history of the wars that succeeded it. Professor Seely puts it beyond dispute that in every subsequent movement of France and Spain the {32} working of this compact was made apparent. He shows that it was fraught with the most formidable danger to England. Inferentially he seems to convey the idea that Walpole was wrong when he clung to his policy of masterly inactivity, and that he ought to have intervened in the interests of England. We admit all his premises and reject his conclusion.

Walpole might well have thought that the best way to mar the object of the conspirators against England was to keep England as much as possible out of continental wars. He might well have thought that so long as England was prosperous and strong she could afford to smile at the machinations of any foreign kings and statesmen. We may be sure that he would not have allowed himself to be drawn away from the path of policy he thought it expedient to follow by any mere feelings of anger at the enmity of the foreign kings and statesmen. He might have felt as a composed and strong-minded man would feel who, quite determined not to sit down to the gaming-table, is amused by the signals which he sees passing between the cheating confederates who are making preparations to win his money. Besides, even if he knew nothing of the family compact, he certainly was not ignorant of the general scope of the policy of France and of Spain. He was not a man likely at any time to put too much trust in princes or in any other persons, and we need not doubt that in making his calculations he took into full account the possibility of France and Spain packing cards for the injury of England. The existence of the family compact is a very interesting fact in history, and enables us now to understand with perfect clearness many things that must have perplexed and astonished the readers of an earlier day. But, so far as the policy of Walpole regarding the war of the Polish Succession was concerned, we do not believe that it would have been modified to any considerable extent, even if he had been in full possession of all the secret papers in the cabinet of the King of France and the Queen of Spain.


[Sidenote: 1735—Professor Seely and the secret treaty]

But is it certain that Walpole did not know of the existence of this secret treaty? It is certain now that if he did not know of it he might have known. Other English statesmen of the day did know of it—at least, had heard that such a thing was in existence, and were or might have been forewarned against it. Professor Seely puts it beyond doubt that the family compact was talked of and written of by English diplomatists at the time, was believed in by some, treated sceptically by others. The Duke of Newcastle actually called it by the very name which history formally gives to the arrangement made many years after and denounced by Burke. He speaks of "the offensive and defensive alliance between France and Spain, called the pacte de famille." Is it likely, is it credible, that Walpole had never heard of the existence of a compact which was known to the Duke of Newcastle? Archdeacon Coxe, in his "Life of Walpole," contends that Newcastle was not by any means the merely absurd sort of person whom most historians and biographers delight to paint him. "He had a quick comprehension and was a ready debater," Coxe says, although without grace or style. "He wrote with uncommon facility and great variety of expression, and in his most confidential letters, written so quickly as to be almost illegible, there is scarcely a single alteration or erasure." But certainly Newcastle was not a man likely to keep to himself the knowledge of such a fact as the family compact, or even the knowledge that some people believed in the existence of such an arrangement. For ourselves, we are quite prepared to assume that Walpole had heard of the family compact, but that it did not disturb his calculations or disarrange his policy. From some of his own letters written at the time it is evident that he did not put any faith in the abiding nature of family compacts between sovereigns. More than once he takes occasion to point out that where political interests interfered family arrangements went to the wall. As to the general rule Walpole was quite right. We have seen the fact illustrated over and over again even in our {34} own days. But Walpole appears to have overlooked the important peculiarity of this family compact; it was an engagement in which the political interests and the domestic interests of the families were at last inextricably intertwined; it was a reciprocal agreement for the protection of common interests and the attainment of common objects. Such a compact might be trusted to hold good even among Bourbon princes. On the whole, we are inclined to come to the conclusion that if Walpole knew anything about the compact—and we think he did know something about it—he was quite right in not allowing it to disturb his policy of non-intervention, but that he was not quite sound in his judgment if he held his peaceful course only because he did not believe that such a family bond between members of such a family would hold good. "Tenez, prince," the Duc d'Aumale wrote to Prince Napoleon-Jerome in a pamphlet which was once famous, "there is one promise of a Bonaparte which we can always believe—the promise that he will kill somebody." One pledge of a Bourbon with another Bourbon the world could always rely upon—the pledge to maintain a common interest and gratify a common ambition.

[Sidenote: 1735—Death of Berwick]

The war cost one illustrious life, that of the brave and noble Duke of Berwick, whom Montesquieu likened to the best of the heroes of Plutarch, or rather in whom Montesquieu declared that he saw the best of Plutarch's heroes in the life. When Bolingbroke was denouncing the set of men who surrounded James Stuart at St. Germains he specially exempted Berwick from reproach. He spoke of Berwick as one "who has a hundred times more capacity and credit than all the rest put together," but added significantly that he "is not to be reckoned of the Court, though he has lodgings in the house." Berwick was the natural son of James the Second and Arabella Churchill, sister to the Duke of Marlborough. When the day of James's destiny as King of England was over, Berwick gave his bright sword to the service of France. He became a naturalized Frenchman and rose to the command {35} of the French army. He won the splendid victory of Almanza over the combined forces of England and her various allies. "A Roman by a Roman valiantly o'ercome," defeated Englishmen might have exclaimed. He was killed by a cannon-ball on ground not far from that whereon the great Turenne had fallen—killed by the cannon-ball which, according to Madame de Sevigne, was charged from all eternity for the hero's death. Berwick was well deserving of a death in some nobler struggle than the trumpery quarrel got up by ignoble ambitions and selfish, grasping policies. He ought to have died in some really great cause; it was an age of gallant soldiers—an age, however, that brought out none more gallant than Berwick. Of him it might fairly be said that "his mourners were two hosts, his friends and foes." This unmeaning little war—unmeaning in the higher sense—was also the last campaign of the illustrious Prince Eugene. Eugene did all that a general could do to hold up against overwhelming odds, and but for him the victory of the French would have been complete. The short remainder of his life was passed in peace.

Walpole gave satisfaction to some of those who disliked his peace policy by the energy with which he entered into the settlement of a petty quarrel between Spain and Portugal. The dispute turned on a merely personal question concerning the arrest and imprisonment of some servants of the Portuguese minister at Madrid. Walpole was eagerly appealed to by Portugal, and he took up her cause promptly. He went so far as to make a formidable "naval demonstration," as we should now call it, in her favor. But he was reasonable, and he was determined that Portugal too should be reasonable. He recommended her to show a willingness to come to terms, while at the same time he brought so much pressure to bear on Spain that Spain at last consented to refer the whole dispute to the arbitrament of England and France. The quarrel was settled, and a convention was signed at Madrid in July, 1736. It was a small matter, but it might at such a time have led {36} to serious and increasing complications if it had been allowed to go too far. Walpole unquestionably showed great judgment and firmness in his conduct, and he bore himself with entire impartiality. Spain was in the wrong, he thought, but not so absolutely or wilfully in the wrong as to justify Portugal in standing out for too stringent terms of reparation. At one time it seemed almost probable that the English minister would have to employ force to coerce his own client into terms as well as the other party to the suit. But Walpole "put his foot down," as the modern phrase goes, and the danger was averted. Even Cardinal Fleury, who co-operated with Walpole in bringing about the settlement, thought at one time that Walpole was too strenuous and was likely to overshoot the mark.

[Sidenote: 1736—Walpole's peace policy]

England had troubles enough of her own and at home about this time to occupy and absorb the attention of the most devoted minister. To do Walpole justice, it was no fault of his if the activity of English statesmanship was compelled to engage itself rather in the composing of petty quarrels between Spain and Portugal than in any continuous effort to improve the condition of the population of these islands. He had at least a full comprehension of the fact that domestic prosperity has a good deal to do with sound finance, and that sound finance depends very much upon a sound foreign policy. But the utter defeat of his excise scheme had put Walpole out of the mood for making experiments which might prove to be in advance of the age. He had no ambition to be in advance of his age. He was not dispirited or disheartened; he was not a man to be dispirited or disheartened, but he was made cautious. He had got into a frame of mind with regard to financial reform something like that into which the younger Pitt grew in his later years with regard to Catholic emancipation: he knew what ought to be done, but felt that he was not able to do it, and therefore shrugged his shoulders and let the world go its way. Walpole was honestly proud of his peace policy; more {37} than once he declared with exultation that while there were fifty thousand men killed in Europe during the struggle just ended, the field of dead did not contain the body of a single Englishman. Seldom in the history of England has English statesmanship had such a tale to tell.




[Sidenote: 1736—The Sovereign of Hanover]

George, and his wife Caroline Wilhelmina Dorothea, had a somewhat large family. Their eldest son, Frederick Lewis, Prince of Wales and Duke of Gloucester, was born on January 20, 1706. Two other sons died, one the moment after his birth, the other after scarcely a year of breath. William Augustus, Duke of Cumberland, was born in 1721. There were five daughters: Anne, Amelia or Emily, Caroline, Mary, and Louisa. The Princess Caroline seems to have been by far the most lovable of the whole family. She inherited much of her mother's cleverness without her mother's coarseness. "Princess Caroline," says Lord Hervey, "had affability without meanness, dignity without pride, cheerfulness without levity, and prudence without falsehood." Her figure indeed is one of the bright redeeming visions in all that chapter of Court history. She stands out among the rough, coarse, self-seeking men and women somewhat as Sophy Western does among the personages of "Tom Jones." Her tender inclination towards Lord Hervey makes her seem all the more sweet and womanly; her influence over him is always apparent. He never speaks of her without seeming to become at once more manly and gentle, strong and sweet. Of the other princesses, Emily had perhaps the most marked character, but there would appear to have been little in her to admire. Hervey says of her that she had the least sense of all the family, except, indeed, her brother Frederick; and we shall soon come to appreciate the significance of this comparison.


Frederick, the eldest son, like George the Second himself, had not been allowed to come to England in his early days. The young prince was in his twenty-second year when, on the accession of his father to the throne, he was brought over to this country and created Prince of Wales. At that time he was well spoken of generally, although even then it was known to every one that he was already addicted to some of the vices of his father and his grandfather. The Court of Hanover was not a good school for the training of young princes. The sovereign of Hanover was a positive despot, both politically and socially. Everything had to be done to please him, to amuse him, to conciliate him. The women around the Court were always vying with each other to see who should most successfully flatter the King, or, in the King's absence, the Royal Prince. It was intellectually a very stupid Court. Its pleasures were vulgar, its revels coarse, its whole atmosphere heavy and sensuous. Frederick was said, however, to have given some evidence of a more cultivated taste than might have been expected of a Hanoverian Crown Prince. He was said to have some appreciation of letters and music. When he settled in London he very soon began to follow the example of his father and his grandfather; he threw his handkerchief to this lady and to that, and the handkerchief was in certain cases very thankfully taken up. Some people said that he entered on this way of life not so much because he really had a strong predilection for it as because he thought it would be unbecoming of the position of a Prince of Wales not to have an adequate number of women favorites about him; so he maintained what seemed to him the dignity of his place in society and in the State.

The prince's character at his first coming over, says Hervey in his pleasantest vein, though little more respectable, seemed much more amiable than, upon his opening himself further and being better known, it turned out to be; for, though there appeared nothing in him to be {40} admired, yet there seemed nothing in him to be hated—neither anything great nor anything vicious; his behavior was something that gained one's good wishes though it gave one no esteem for him. If his best qualities prepossessed people in his favor, yet they always provoked contempt for him at the same time; for, though his manners were stamped with a good deal of natural or habitual civility, yet his habit of cajoling everybody, and almost in an equal degree, made what might have been thought favors, if more sparingly bestowed, lose all their weight. "He carried this affectation of general benevolence so far that he often condescended below the character of a prince; and, as people attributed this familiarity to popular and not particular motives, so it only lessened their respect without increasing their good-will, and, instead of giving them good impressions of his humanity, only gave them ill ones of his sincerity. He was indeed as false as his capacity would allow him to be, and was more capable in that walk than in any other, never having the least hesitation, from principle or fear of future detection, of telling any lie that served his present purpose. He had a much weaker understanding and, if possible, a more obstinate temper than his father; that is, more tenacious of opinions he had once formed, though less capable of ever forming right ones. Had he had one grain of merit at the bottom of his heart, one should have had compassion for him in the situation to which his miserable poor head soon reduced him, for his case in short was this: he had a father that abhorred him, a mother that despised him, sisters that betrayed him, a brother set up against him, and a set of servants that neglected him, and were neither of use nor capable of being of use to him, nor desirous of being so."

[Sidenote: 1736—Resolved on a marriage]

The King's eldest daughter, Anne, was married soon after Frederick's coming to England. Up to the age of twenty-four she had remained unmarried, a long time for a princess to continue a spinster. Many years before, she had had a good chance of marrying Louis the Fifteenth {41} of France. George was anxious for the marriage; the Duc de Bourbon, then minister to Louis, had originated the idea; Anne was only sixteen years old, and would no doubt have offered no objection. But the scheme fell through because when it was well on its way somebody suddenly remembered, what every one might have thought of before, that if the English princess became Queen of France she would be expected to conform to the religion of the State. Political rather than religious considerations made this settle the matter in the English Court. George and Caroline had certainly no prejudices themselves in favor of one form of religion over another, or of any form of religion over none; but, as they held the English Crown by virtue of their at least professing to be Protestants, and as the Pretender would most assuredly have got that Crown if he had even professed to be a Protestant, it did not seem possible that they could countenance a change of Church on the part of their daughter. Years passed away and no husband was offering himself to Anne. Now at last she was determined that she would wait no longer. Suddenly the Prince of Orange was induced to ask her to be his wife. She had never seen him; he was known to be ugly and deformed; King George was opposed to the proposition, and told his daughter that the prince was the ugliest man in Holland. Anne was determined not to refuse the offer; she said she would marry him if he were a Dutch baboon. "Very well," retorted the King, angrily; "you will find him baboon enough, I can tell you."

The princess persevered, however; she was as firmly resolved to get married as Miss Hoyden in Vanbrugh's "Relapse." The King sent a message to Parliament announcing the approaching marriage of his daughter to the Prince of Orange, and graciously intimating that he expected the House of Commons to help him to give the princess a marriage-portion. The loyal Commons undertook to find eighty thousand pounds, although George was surely rich enough to have paid his daughter's dowry out {42} of his own pocket. George, however, had not the remotest notion of doing anything of the kind. The Bill was run through the House of Commons in a curious sort of way, the vote for the dowry being thrown in with a little bundle of miscellaneous votes, as if the House of Commons were rather anxious to keep it out of public sight, as indeed they probably were. The bridegroom came to England in November, 1732, and began his career in this country by falling very ill. It took him months to recover, and it was not until March 24, 1733, that the marriage was celebrated. It must have been admitted by Anne that her father had not misrepresented the personal appearance of the Prince of Orange. The Queen shed abundance of tears at the sight of the bridegroom, and yet could not help sometimes bursting into a fit of laughter at his oddity and ugliness. Anne bore her awkward position with a sort of stolid composure which was almost dignity. To add to the other unsatisfactory conditions of the marriage, the prophets of evil began to point to the ominous conjuncture of names—an English princess married to a Prince of Orange. When this happened last, what followed? The expulsion of the father-in-law by the son-in-law. Go to, then!

[Sidenote: 1736—Massachusetts Bay retaliates]

On the same day on which the House of Commons voted the grant of the princess's dowry, a memorial from the council and representatives of the colony or province of Massachusetts Bay, in New England, was presented and read from the table. The memorial set forth that the province was placed under conditions of difficulty and distress owing to a royal instruction given to the governor of the province restraining the emission of its bills of credit and restricting the disposal of its public money. The memorial, which seems to have been couched in the most proper and becoming language, prayed that the House would allow the agent for the province to be heard at the bar, and that the House, if satisfied of the justice of the request, would use its influence with the King in order that he might be graciously pleased to withdraw {43} the instructions as contrary to the rights of the charter of Massachusetts Bay, and tending in their nature to distress if not to ruin the province. The House of Commons treated this petition with the most sovereign contempt. After a very short discussion, if it could even be called a discussion, the House passed a resolution declaring the complaint "frivolous and groundless, a high insult upon his Majesty's Government, and tending to shake off the dependency of the said colony upon this kingdom, to which by law and right they are and ought to be subject." The petition was therefore rejected. To the short summary of this piece of business contained in the parliamentary debates the comment is quietly added, "We shall leave to future ages to make remarks upon this resolution, but it seems not much to encourage complaints to Parliament from any of our colonies in the West Indies." Not many ages, not many years even, had to pass before emphatic comment on such a mode of dealing with the complaints of the American colonies was made by the American colonists themselves. Massachusetts Bay took sterner measures next time to make her voice heard and get her wrongs redressed. Just forty years after the insulting and contemptuous rejection of the petition of Massachusetts Bay, the people of Boston spilled the stores of tea into Boston harbor, and two years later still "the embattled farmer," as Emerson calls him, stood up to the British troops at Lexington, in Massachusetts, and won the battle.

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