History of England, Part III, William and Mary to 1887

Tout, T. F. --Powell, F. York


CHAPTER IV: George II and Walpole 1727-1748


1. [1]  was born in , and unhappily remained a thorough German in his habits. He could however speak English fluently, and knew much more about English affairs than his father. Yet

"he hated the English,"

says the courtier Lord Hervey,

"as all king- killers and republicans, and grudged them their liberty as


well as their wealth."

He was prudent, careful, regular and punctilious. He said himself

"that little things affected him more than great ones."

He was vain and selfish, and

"the fire of his temper appeared in every look and gesture."

He was, however, straightforward and just, a good man of business and a brave soldier. He despised learning, and was very greedy of money.

"I do not believe,"

says Hervey,

"that there ever lived a man to whose temper benevolence was so absolutely a stranger."

He was coarse and immoral in his private life, but his clever wife, of Anspach, always had more power over him than the Countess of Suffolk and his other favourites.

"You may strut, dapper


, but 'twill all be in vain, We know 'tis Queen


, not you that reign."

was a shrewd, honest, true-hearted woman, with plenty of common-sense, no romantic ideas, and some cultivation. She had a taste for theology and philosophy, and delighted to surround herself with learned and sensible men. She wisely kept in power, though would have liked to have given his place to Sir Spencer , an incompetent courtier.

2. [2] The twenty years of 's (after Sir Robert ) ministry best show the strength and the weakness of the rule of the great Whig houses. held his mastery over his party by a singular mixture of practical wisdom, honesty, and corruption. He was no orator, though an apt and ready debater, with a complete understanding of the forms and the temper of the House, an extraordinary power of managing men, and a complete mastery of the arts of corruption. He answered the denunciations of a factious opposition by retorting,

"All these men have their price."

He laughed at decorum, at honesty, at purity, and he did little to raise the tone of public life. He tried nothing heroic, but won his way by dint of tact and good sense. He brought the country gentry round from Jacobitism to support the new dynasty. He kept the merchants and tradesmen Whigs by his sound commercial and financial measures. He conciliated the Dissenters, though he avoided vexing the Church. He kept in touch with public opinion.

"Let sleeping dogs lie"

and were his favourite maxims. He shunned violent changes, and aimed at good administration, not brilliant legislation. Called to power to restore the national credit,


never failed as a financier. He started a Sinking Fund to save the Whigs from the reproach of the national debt, but soon made inroads upon it that he might please the squires by cutting down the land tax. He changed the malt tax into a tax on beer, and persevered despite formidable riots in Scotland (). But a different fate met his famous (). This was a plan to turn the , first on tobacco and finally on wine, into an ; that is, the tax was no longer to be levied at the ports but at the warehouse. Duties on importation were to be changed into duties on consumption, while the new system would prevent frauds in the revenue, enable to take off the land tax, and by establishing a system of bonded warehousing for re-exportation,

" make London a free port and the market of the world."

But the Excise was unpopular, partly because the first Excise had been brought into England during the Commonwealth from our old rivals the Dutch. The opposition cried out that 's plan was but the clearing the way for a

"general excise, a monstrous project, a plot to grind the country to powder, and establish a baleful tyranny."

stood out for some weeks, but finally withdrew the measure.

[3] In the mob of Edinburgh, excited by the execution of a gallant smuggler and the harshness of Porteous, the captain of the city guard, broke open the (the city prison) and solemnly hanged Porteous in the Grassmarket. The Government proposed to avenge the by taking away the charter of Edinburgh, but prudently changed the plan when he found that even the Scotch members, who received a regular salary from him, were up in arms against it. The bill, though cut down

"to a measure for making the fortune of an old cook-maid"

(Porteous's widow), was only carried by a single vote.

3. [4]  honestly tried to do his best for his country, but

" he thought"

says Lord Hervey,

"that he was to England what a spring was to a watch, and that the wheels would stand still if he were taken away."

His strong love of power gradually disgusted his colleagues, who intrigued actively against him. As he got older, he grew so jealous that he drove away nearly every man of character and ability from his ministry. The brilliant but unsteady was removed in from his secretaryship of state, and transferred to the less important office of Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland. In Pulteney,


the orator, joined the opposition. In broke with altogether. Lord Chesterfield, the famous writer, a

" stunted giant with exquisitely elegant manners,"

was turned out of his place in the Household. even quarrelled violently with his brother-in-law, . Those who stayed on with were either men of doubtful character, like Sir William Yonge,

"a mean liar whose name was proverbially used to express everything pitiful, corrupt, and contemptible,"

or, like Henry and his brother, Thomas , Duke of Newcastle, of second-rate ability.

[5] The displaced ministers, whose fierce charges of corruption gained for them the name of

" Patriots,"

joined the


as called the young men he scorned to win over. Of these the most striking was , whose lofty and impassioned eloquence and unswerving honesty had already won him a unique position. Meanwhile , the greatest party manager of his day, had been allowed to return from exile in , and had used his brilliant literary and social gifts to create a new Tory party, free from all taint of Jacobitism. Frederick, Prince of Wales, a shallow, worthless man, was on as bad terms with his father the king as himself had been with , but with less cause. Round his court at Leicester House the Opposition gathered, and 's celebrated pamphlet was written to suggest the benefits which would result from a really national monarch, putting himself at the head of his people to crush the noble faction that had domineered so long over king and people alike. also wrote largely for the Craftsman, the ably conducted weekly organ of the opposition. James , the famous poet of nature, wrote his as the popular song of the new national party. But, despite statesmen, pamphleteers, and poets, faithfully stood by his trusty minister, though in the death of Queen lost him a strong and steady friend. But neither court support nor the arts of parliamentary management and corruption could keep the great minister much longer in power.

4. 's foreign policy was on the same lines as his home government. His chief aim was to maintain the peace of Europe on the basis of the Utrecht settlement. At first he found his best support in France, where the crafty but peace-loving Cardinal Fleury was gradually


creeping into power. [6] His chief danger always came from Spain, where the bold and ambitious Elizabeth Farnese of Parma, the second wife of Philip V., now ruled her weak husband, and strove to keep up the policy of Alberoni, and to win principalities for her own children in Italy. The Emperor was still angry with the Maritime Powers, and started in an Ostend East India Company, threatening their most lucrative trade. In the Spanish ambassador at Vienna was the Dutch adventurer Ripperda,

"a projecting, speculating, enterprising, inconsiderate, hot-headed fellow, with great views rather than great parts."

He now concluded the , by which Philip joined his old enemy the emperor in attempting to upset the treaty of Utrecht, to which both were from very different motives equally hostile. Ripperda then went back to Madrid and became Philip's foreign minister. In England, France, Prussia, Holland, and some minor States united in the to oppose Spain and Austria. Europe seemed on the verge of a general war; but Ripperda, like Alberoni, suddenly fell from power (). and Fleury both struggled for peace, and were still more anxious to do so when the far-seeing and eccentric Frederick William I. of Prussia, who had married 's sister, went over with his well-governed state and large and carefully-trained army, to the side of the emperor. In Gibraltar was besieged in a half- hearted way by the Spaniards, and the English sent a fleet to blockade Portobello in South America. But preliminaries were quickly signed. In England and Spain made peace by the . In the Second ended the troubles which the first treaty had begun. When, in , the broke out in Europe, steadily refused to take part in it, though France and Spain were now again united, and Elizabeth's Italian schemes at last triumphed, now that her son, Don Carlos, drove the Austrians from Naples, and established himself as king of that country. The war was therefore limited to two campaigns, and in preliminaries of peace were signed, though the Third or was not concluded until 7th November . By it Don Carlos was recognised as King of Naples, and Austria compensated by Parma and Piacenza, which rounded off their former possession the Milanese; Duke Francis of was made Duke of Tuscany (where the


house of Medici had died out), and was given to Stanislas, the exiled king of Poland, who was Louis XV.'s father-in-law, for his lifetime, after which it was to go to France.

5. [7] England's suspicions of Spain were now thoroughly roused. The alliance of the two Bourbon courts seemed to threaten the balance of Europe. Meanwhile the trade jealousies, which play so great a part in eighteenth century politics, grew. Spain complained of the English ships, which, despite the Treaty of Utrecht, carried on a large smuggling trade with the South American Colonies. English merchants complained of the harshness of the Spanish custom-houses, of the tyranny of the Spanish officials, and of the right of search claimed by them over all ships in South American waters. A merchant captain named Jenkins went about the country declaring that his ears had been cut off by the Spaniards, and showing them in a box wrapped up in cotton wool. This roused English feeling to fever heat. The Opposition attacked for his cowardly contempt of English interests. Very unwillingly gave in, and in war was declared against Spain. In Admiral Vernon, a noisy member of the opposition, won great applause by capturing Portobello with only six ships; but in the same leader, at the head of a vast force, failed hopelessly in his assault on , the strongest fortress in Spanish South America. Yet 's sluggish conduct of the war drew some fresh charges upon him. The death of the emperor, , on 20th October , made a general European war certain, and was further attacked for neglecting our treaty obligations and withholding support from the Austrians. At last, in , a general election went decidedly against him. Early in he was beaten in Parliament over the Chippenham election petition, and forced to resign. His enemies would have impeached him, and a committee was appointed to inquire into his government. But he was still powerful enough to stop this. The king made him Earl of Orford, and his friends soon came back to power. But his own career was at an end. He had long suffered from ill-health. He died in . With all his faults he had given England peace for twenty years.

6. The fall of was followed by no great change at home. The opposition was made up of men who agreed in nothing but their dislike of , and they could


not form a united ministry. The new ministers were of course Whigs. [8] Lord ,

" the most formal and solemn man in the world"

(who, as Sir Spencer , had, in , almost turned out ), became First Lord of the Treasury and nominal Prime Minister. But his incompetence left , now Secretary of State, at the practical head of affairs. , 's greatest ally, was still in office, and Henry was Paymaster. Pulteney withdrew from active work, and took the earldom of Bath and a seat in the Cabinet without office. and the other young and fiery spirits of the opposition, like the Tories, were left out in the cold. As a protest against 's system, a was passed to limit the number of offices which could be held by members of Parliament; but the system of government was hardly changed.

was a remarkable man.

"Quite plain and simple in his manner, there was something both commanding and captivating, more in his countenance and his general manner than in anything he said."

"He had a most comely and engaging person."

Yet his irregular habits and want of fixed principles prevented him from winning his proper place among English statesmen. He had read much and travelled far, and knew more about foreign affairs than anybody else in England. The king liked him because he could talk German with him, and thoroughly sympathised with his foreign policy. But despised 's arts of management.

"What is it to me,"

he said,

"who is judge and who is bishop? It is my business to make kings and emperors, and to maintain the balance of Europe."

With such a disposition, and with thorough dislike of all business habits, he was soon to be thrust out of power by the Pelhams, who had inherited the dexterity but not the greatness of . But before his fall in , (now become Earl Granville) had brought England into an active share in the European war.

7. [9] Wilmington had died in July , and was succeeded by the decorous and business-like Henry , who had learned from 's mistakes that he must conciliate the whole of the opposition. So he formed a , which included nearly every section of the Whig party, and found room for more than one Tory. The king's personal dislike to kept him out of place until , when, in the crisis


of the Jacobite revolt, was compelled, by the resignation of his ministers and the failure of to form a Cabinet, to admit to office. As Paymaster of the Forces, his eloquent mouth was stopped, while his presence made the ministry more popular. The bold but unscrupulous Henry , 's rival, became Secretary at War. The ministry held together as long as lived. The second great Whig schism was thus healed as completely as the first. A European war and a British rebellion left no time for factious disunion.

8.Having no sons, the great object of the late Emperor


VI. had been to obtain the acceptance of the

Pragmatic Sanction

, which declared that the bundle of states that formed the Austrian dominions could never be broken up, and the right of his elder daughter, Maria Theresa, to succeed to the whole of them. Before his death, in October


, he had got the Pragmatic Sanction guaranteed by nearly every great European state; but to this end he had sacrificed nearly everything else, including the Ostend Company, which had once so much alarmed England and Holland. Yet his death was followed by a general attempt to break up the Austrian dominions. The daring and unscrupulous

Frederick II.

(the Great) of Prussia, who had just succeeded to the army, treasure, and well-ordered states of his father, Frederick William I., seized nearly the whole of Silesia, and, by his defeat of the Austrians at Mollwitz (


), showed that another great general had arisen in Europe. Saxony and Bavaria invaded Bohemia and Austria. Spain threatened the Milanese. In France an ardent war party clamoured for Fleury s dismissal, and before long French auxiliaries appeared in the Bavarian army. The young and defenceless Maria Theresa, now Archduchess of Austria and Queen of Hungary and Bohemia, could rely only on her Hungarian subjects.

England was already waging war with Spain at sea.


disliked doing too much, and


was afraid of his nephew


(whom he hated) attacking Hanover. But


soon fell, and the break up of the Austrian power would have upset the European balance. England was bound by its pledges and its interest to uphold the Pragmatic Sanction. But it was more nearly interested in waging a commercial and naval war with Spain and France, and not too regardful of the interests of the Queen of Hungary. Great offence was given at Vienna by the strong pressure used by England to make Austria buy off the enmity of Prussia by yielding up Silesia, and win the friendship of


by the surrender of a large part of the Milanese. But Austria was so helpless that it had to give way, and in September



Treaty of Worms

was signed, by which England, Holland, Austria, Saxony and


joined to carry out the Pragmatic Sanction.

The English had already taken the field, and on 27th June


brave little King


defeated the French at


on the Main, a little below Aschaffenburg, a blow which led to their being driven out of Germany, and to the invasion of Bavaria, whose Elector had already been chosen Emperor as

Charles VII.

in opposition to Francis, formerly of


, now of Tuscany, Maria Theresa's husband. Hitherto France and England had fought as auxiliaries of their respective allies. After Dettingen, open war was declared.


of Prussia, fearful for Silesia if Austria became too successful, now renewed his alliance with France, and fought, in




, the

Second Silesian War

; but failing to win any more Austrian land, he again yielded to English advice, and made the

Treaty of Dresden

, which fully secured his former conquest. This gave peace to Germany, where, on the death of

Charles VII.

, Francis of Tuscany was elected Emperor. The reckless and barefaced attempt to break up the Austrian Empire had failed.

The French, under Marshal Saxe, now attacked the Austrian Netherlands. On 11th May


, they won a hard-fought victory at


, near Tournay, over the allies commanded by William, Duke of


, the king's second son, where the long-victorious English column was finally driven back by the headlong charge of the Irish Brigade in the French service. The gradual conquest of the Netherlands by the French followed from this and subsequent victories, and was made the easier by the withdrawal of the English troops to meet danger at home.

9. England and France having broken the long peace, Jacobitism again became important. The incompetence of the old Pretender had damped all zeal for his cause, but his son, , was now twenty-five years old, and might well rouse warmer feelings.

"The young man,"

says an eyewitness,

"is about the middle height, and rather thin; his face is rather long, the complexion clear, but borders on paleness; the forehead very broad, the eyes fairly large, blue, but without sparkle; the mouth large, with the lips slightly curled, and the chin more sharp than rounded."

France now again took up the Stewart cause, and invited the young Chevalier to Paris. In he left Rome

"in search of three crowns to lay at his father's feet."

But the great fleet which, in , set forth from to invade England was almost destroyed by a terrible storm. Busy with the Netherlandish and Italian campaigns, the French ministry had neither time nor money to waste on . Profoundly vexed at this lukewarmness, he vowed that he would raise his standard in Scotland

" if he only took a single footman with him."

He scraped together what money he could, and sailed with two ships for the Highlands. Neither his father nor the French Government knew what he was doing. The consort that contained his stores was disabled by an English cruiser. His vessel, the , managed to escape, and on 25th July Charles landed in Lochnanuagh in Inverness-shire, near Moidart. The Highland chiefs of the district were aghast at his rashness, and advised him to go


back to France; but the Macdonalds and the Camerons soon caught his enthusiasm. The capture of two companies of regulars sent out from Fort Augustus decided the question; and on 19th August the Marquis of Tullibardine, who for his treason in had forfeited the duchy of Atholl to his younger brother, raised the standard of the Stewarts in wild and desolate Glenfinnan. Murray of Broughton hurried up from the south, and became Charles's Secretary of State. The clans now assembled in large numbers, and General Cope, the commander-in-chief in Scotland, afraid to defend the pass of Corry Arrack, retreated northwards to Inverness. This left the way to the Lowlands open; and on 4th September marched in triumph into Perth, where he was joined by James Drummond, called by his neighbours, despite his father's attainder, Duke of Perth, and Lord George Murray, another brother of the Duke of Atholl. The latter proved the ablest officer on the side of the rebels, but quarrelled fiercely with Perth and Murray of Broughton.

The campaign was conducted with more spirit than that of


. Anxious to get before Cope, who was making ready to return south by sea, Charles left Perth on 11th September. On Sunday, 15th September, the Edinburgh militiamen were hurried out of kirk to join Colonel Gardiner's dragoons gathered at Corstorphine to defend the capital; but the citizens shirked fighting, and a disgraceful panic seized the regulars. The Canter of Coltbrig was followed by the surrender of Edinburgh, and, though the Castle held out, Charles took up his quarters in Holyrood, and James VIII. was proclaimed at the Market Cross amidst the rejoicings of the people, who were Jacobite because they hated the Union even more than the Highlanders and Papists.

"Johnnie Cope"

now landed at Dunbar, and joined Gardiner, but, on 21st September, was disgracefully beaten at Prestonpans.


"It was one of the most surprising actions that ever was,"

wrote Charles to his father in his bad spelling and loose grammar.

"We gained a complete victory over Cope, who had 3000 foot and two regiments of the best dragoons in the island, he being advantageously posted, with also batteries of cannon and mortars, we having neither horse or artillery with us, and being to attack them in their post, and obliged to pass before their noses in a defile and bog. Only our first line had occasion to engage; for actually, in five minutes, the field was cleared of the enemies; all the foot killed, wounded, or taken prisoners; and of the horse only 200 escaped, like rabbits, one by one. On our side we only lost a hundred men, and the army afterwards had a fine plunder."

"All Jacobites,"

says Duncan Forbes,

" now went mad; all doubtful people became Jacobites; all bankrupts became heroes; and all the fine ladies became passionately fond of the young adventurer."

Master of Scotland, Charles burnt to pass on into England, and having at last overcome the unwillingness of his council, he besieged and captured

Carlisle, and on 20th November marched from that place southwards.

The march to Derby.

But the game was hopeless.

"Advise all your friends to buy stocks,"

was the confident advice of the Hanoverian general. Even the


squires had now become quite careless of the Stewarts. At


only was any zeal shown, but the


regiment there formed under Colonel Townley hardly numbered 200 men. Overwhelming forces gathered on every side round the doomed army. Wade had one army at Newcastle;


a second in the Midlands; a third was gathered at Finchley to defend London. The Highlanders marched as far south as Derby, but there Charles was, perhaps wrongly, forced by his leading councillors to turn back on 6th December. During his absence the Hanoverians had won back much of southern Scotland. In January


Charles besieged Stirling, and General Hawley, who had superseded Wade, marched from Edinburgh to raise the siege. On 17th January the Highlanders, who had anticipated attack by a fresh advance, severely checked Hawley at Falkirk.

"The battle was misconducted,"

wrote an officer ;

"the Irish dragoons fled outright: it would have been a total defeat but for General Huske,"

the second in command.


was now sent down as commander-in-chief. Charles retired northwards. His quarrelsome army dwindled rapidly away, and suffered severely from cold and want.


At last, on 16th April, the Highlanders stood at bay on Culloden Moor, near Inverness. The English officers had found out how to meet the Highland rush; fixing bayonets, the regulars took their fire, and reserved their own till their foes were close upon them, when, with a well-aimed volley, they mowed down the first line, and checked the onslaught which straggled harmlessly up to their own well-kept ranks, and was broken helplessly upon their bayonets.

"The Highlanders,"




"came three times within a hundred yards of our men, firing their pistols and brandishing their swords.Their right somewhat outflanked our left, but we soon repulsed them. I dare say there was not a man of our two regiments there who did not kill one or two men with their bayonets and spontoons, and so that in their rage the enemy threw stones at them for a minute or two before the final rout began. We gave quarter to none, and the rebels lost two thousand men."

After many romantic adventures Charles escaped to France, whence he was expelled after the peace. But he became a confirmed drunkard, and soon lost all importance. Tired of his behaviour, his wife, Louisa of Stolberg, left him for the great Italian poet Alfieri. After James's death, in


, he called himself King of England. He died in


; his brother, Henry, the

"Cardinal of York"



), who took the title of Henry IX., became a pensioner of his kinsman

George III.

and his lieutenant, Hawley, put the remnants of the revolt down very cruelly. Numbers of prisoners were hanged at Carlisle and elsewhere. Lords Kilmarnock, Balmerino, and Lovat, Colonel Townley, and eight others were tried and executed in London. More lasting measures for ending the old Highland anarchy followed. The were abolished, and the reign of Scots law extended to the wildest recesses of


the north. Great efforts were made to root out the reverence for the clan chieftains. A disarming Act was sternly carried out. It was made a crime to wear the Highland kilt and clan tartan. Schools were established to extend a knowledge of English. The Jacobite Episcopal clergy were put under crushing disabilities. Good hard roads were made through the Highlands. The easy-going Celtic chief, bound by custom to treat his tenants fairly, gave way to the Lowland landlord, zealous for progress and improvement, anxious for a good interest out of his estate, and sometimes straining the law in his own favour. The loyal and satisfied clansman became the distressed and discontented crofter, little better off than the Irish cottier. The more daring spirits were drafted off into the Highland regiments raised with 's goodwill. Later on whole glens were stripped of their inhabitants, who were sent off to Canada to make room for sheep. The spirit of gloomy theological bitterness invaded the remotest valleys. The Highlands had become peaceful, but some of the noblest and most characteristic features of Highland life had been blotted out.

10. [14] Though both sides had failed, and were now fighting for very little, the continental war still went on. After conquering nearly all the Austrian Netherlands, the French threatened the United Provinces in . But a popular revolution, as in , restored William IV., Prince of Orange, 's hunchbacked son-in- law, as stadtholder. The Dutch then checked the French advance. Russia, ruled since by Elizabeth, a true daughter of Peter the Great, and anxious to make her influence felt as a great power, also threatened to help Austria, so the French were willing to negotiate. In October the (Aix-la-Chapelle) ended the war.

The chief terms were: (1) England and France mutually restored all conquests; (2) Don Philip, brother of Don Carlos, was made Duke of Parma at the expense of Austria; (3)


got the slice of the Milanese ceded in


; (4) Prussia kept Silesia; (5) with these exceptions, the Pragmatic Sanction was guaranteed ; (6) the Protestant Succession in England was guaranteed, and the Pretender expelled from France.


Anson's voyage, 1740-44.

During this war Captain George


made his famous voyage round the world, inflicting great damage on the Spaniards, and winning an enormous booty. He sailed, in September


, in the Centurion, with five other ships, for the Pacific, but suffered so terribly from scurvy rounding Cape Horn that his 900 men were reduced to 300, who were barely enough to man the


. He had only 200 men when he captured, in


, the great yearly galleon from Manila to Acapulco. He then sailed home by the Cape of Good Hope, and arrived in Spithead in June




[1] George II., 1727-60.

[2] Walpole's Ministry, 1721-42.

[3] The Porteous Riots, 1737.

[4] Growth of the Opposition to Walpole.

[1] [1731-1738.]

[5] Leicester House and the New Toryism.

[6] Foreign policy of Walpole, 1725-38.

[1] [1739-1744.]

[7] The war with Spain, 1739, and the fall of Walpole, 1742.

[8] Carteret's Ministry, 1742-44.

[9] Pelham's Ministry, 1744-54.

[1] [1740-1745.]

[1] [1745-1746.]

[1] [1746-1753.]

[14] Peace of Aachen, 1748.

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