The History of England in Three Volumes, Vol.II. - From William and Mary to George II.
by Tobias Smollett
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{GEORGE I, 1714—1727}


The house of lords having taken into consideration the letters and memorials between the ministers of Great Britain, France, and Spain, and the papers relating to the accession of the states-general to the treaty of Hanover, a warm debate ensued. Lord Bathurst took notice that the accession of the states-general to the treaty was upon condition that this their act should be approved and ratified by the king of Great Britain, the most christian king, and the king of Prussia; but that the minister of his Prussian majesty had refused to sign the act of accession, which was therefore of no effect: that if the court of France should, for the same reason, think itself disengaged from the Hanover alliance, Britain alone would be obliged to bear the burden of an expensive war against two of the greatest potentates of Europe. He said he could not see any just reason for a rupture with Spain; that indeed the duke de Ripperda might have dropped some indiscreet expressions; he was known to be a man of violent temper; and he had been solemnly disavowed by his catholic majesty; that, in the memorial left by the Spanish ambassador, he imputed the violent state of affairs between the two crowns to the ministers of England; and mentioned a positive promise made by the king of Great Britain for the restitution of Gibraltar; that methods of accommodation might be tried before the kingdom engaged in a war which must be attended with dangerous consequences; that the nation was loaded with a debt of fifty millions; and, in order to maintain such a war, would be obliged to raise seven millions yearly; an annual sum by which the people would soon be exhausted. He observed, that in some papers laid before the house, mention was made of great sums distributed in divers places, to bring certain measures to bear. He declared, that for his own part, he had touched neither Spanish nor English gold; he was neither a Spaniard nor a Frenchman, but a true Englishman, and so long as he had the honour to sit in that house, he would speak and act for the good of his country. He therefore desired their lordships seriously to consider the matter before them, which was of the last consequence and importance to the whole nation. He said nothing could be gained by the war, should it prove successful: and every thing would be lost should it be unprosperous. He was answered by lord Town-shend, Who affirmed that his majesty had received positive and certain information with respect to the secret article of alliance between the courts of Vienna and Madrid, in favour of the pretender, though the safety of the state did not permit him to lay these advices before the parliament. After much altercation, the majority resolved, that the measures his majesty had thought fit to take were honourable, just, and necessary for preventing the execution of the dangerous engagement entered into in favour of the pretender; for preserving the dominions belonging to the crown of Great Britain by solemn treaties, and particularly those of Gibraltar and the island of Minorca; and for maintaining to his people their most valuable rights and privileges of commerce, and the peace and tranquillity of Europe. Seventeen lords entered a protest against this resolution. Disputes of the same nature arose from the same subject in the lower house. Lord Townshend had affirmed in the house of peers, that no promise of restoring Gibraltar bad been made: sir Kobert Walpole owned such a promise in the house of commons: a motion was made for an address, desiring these engagements might be laid before the house; another member moved for a copy of the memorial presented by Mr. Pointz to the king of Sweden, and for the secret offensive article between the courts of Vienna and Madrid; a third motion was made to address the king for such memorials and representations from the courts of Sweden and Denmark, as induced him, in the course of the preceding year, to send a squadron to the Baltic. In the account of the money granted for the service of the last year, there was an article of one hundred and twenty-five thousand pounds charged in general terms as issued out for other engagements and expenses, over and above such as were specified. Mr. Pulteney moved for an address on this subject; but each of these motions was rejected on a division: and the majority concurred in an address of thanks to his majesty, for the great wisdom of his conduct. They expressed the most implicit confidence in his goodness and discretion: they promised to support him in all such further measures as he should find necessary and expedient for preventing a rupture, as well as for consulting the honour and advantage of these kingdoms.

His majesty's speech gave such umbrage to the court of Vienna, that Mr. Palms, the Imperial resident at London, was ordered to present a warm memorial to the king, and afterwards to publish it to the whole nation. In this bold remonstrance, the king was charged with having declared from the throne, as certain and undoubted facts, several things that were either wrested, misrepresented, or void of all foundation. The memorialist affirmed, that the treaty of Vienna was built on the quadruple alliance; that the treaty of commerce was calculated to promote the mutual and lawful advantages of the subjects of both parties, agreeably to the law of nations; and in no respect prejudicial to the British nation. He declared that there was no offensive alliance concluded between the two crowns; that the supposed article relating to the pretender was an absolute falsehood; that the insinuation with respect to the siege of Gibraltar was equally untrue, his master having made no engagements with the king of Spain, but such as were specified in the treaty communicated to his Britannic majesty. He said, however, the hostilities notoriously committed in the West Indies, and elsewhere, against the king of Spain, in violation of treaties, seemed to justify that prince's undertaking the siege of Gibraltar. Finally, he demanded, in the name of his Imperial majesty, suitable reparation for the injury his honour had sustained from such calumnious imputations. Both houses of parliament expressed their indignation at the insolence of this memorial, in an address to his majesty; and Mr. Palms was ordered to depart the kingdom. Virulent declarations were presented by the ministers of the emperor and the king of Great Britain to the diet of the empire at Ratisbon; and such personal reflections retorted between these two potentates, that all hope of reconciliation vanished.


King George, in order to secure himself against the impending storm, entered into more strict engagements with the French king; and agreed to pay fifty thousand pounds for three years to the king of Sweden, in consideration of that prince's holding in readiness a body of ten thousand troops for the occasions of the alliance. He concluded a fresh treaty with the king of Denmark, who promised to furnish a certain number of auxiliaries, on account of a large subsidy granted by the king of France. The proportions of troops to be sent into the field in case of a rupture were ascertained. His Britannic majesty engaged for four-and-twenty thousand men, and a strong squadron to be sent into the Baltic. He made a convention with the prince of Hesse-Cassel, who undertook to provide eight thousand infantry, and four thousand horse, in consideration of seventy-four thousand pounds, to be paid by Great Britain immediately, and fifty thousand pounds more in case the troops should bo required, besides their pay and subsistence. Such was the fruit of all the alliances so industriously planned since the accession of king George to the throne of Great Britain. In the day of his trouble the king of Prussia, who had espoused his daughter, deserted his interest; and the states-general stood aloof. For the security of his German dominions, he had recourse to the king of France, who was a precarious ally; to the kings of Sweden and Denmark, and the principality of Hesse-Cassel: but none of these powers would contribute their assistance without being gratified with exorbitant subsidies, though the danger was common, and the efforts ought to have been equal. Instead of allies, they professed themselves mercenaries. Great Britain paid them for the defence of their own dominions: she, moreover, undertook to maintain a powerful fleet for their safety. Is there any Britain so weak as to think, or so fool-hardy as to affirm, that this was a British quarrel?



For the support of those expensive treaties, Mr. Scroope, secretary of the treasury, moved in the house of commons, that in the malt-tax bill they should insert a clause of appropriation, empowering the king to apply such sums as should be necessary for defraying the expenses and engagements which had been, or should be made before the twenty-fifth day of September, in concerting such measures as he should think most conducive to the security of trade, and restoring the peace of Europe. To little purpose did the members in the opposition urge that this method of asking and granting supplies was unparliamentary; that such a clause would render ineffectual that appropriation of the public money, which the wisdom of all parliaments had thought a necessary security against misapplication, which was the more to be feared as no provision was made to call any person to account for the money that should be disposed of by virtue of this clause; that great sums had already been granted; that such an unlimited power ought never to be given in a free government; that such confidence in the crown might, through the influence of evil ministers, be attended with the most dangerous consequences; that the constitution could not be preserved, but by a strict adherence to those essential parliamentary forms of granting supplies upon estimates, and of appropriating these supplies to services and occasions publicly avowed and judged necessary; that such clauses, if not seasonably checked, would become so frequent as in time to lodge in the crown and in the ministers an absolute and uncontrollable power of raising money upon the people, which by the constitution is, and with safety can only be, lodged in the whole legislature. The motion was carried, the clause added, and the bill passed through the other house without amendment, though not without opposition. Notwithstanding this vote of credit, sir William Yonge moved, that towards the supply granted to the king, the sum of three hundred and seventy thousand pounds should be raised by loans on exchequer bills, to be charged on the surplus of the duties on coal and culm, which was reserved for the parliament's disposal. Though this motion was vigorously opposed by sir Joseph Jekyll and Mr. Pulteney, as a dangerous deviation from several votes and acts of parliament, by which the exceed-ings of the public funds were appropriated to the discharge of the national debt, or to the increase of the sinking fund, it was carried by the majority.


On the fifteenth day of May the parliament was prorogued, after the king had acknowledged their zeal, liberality, and despatch; and given them to understand that the siege of Gibraltar was actually begun. The trenches were opened before this fortress on the eleventh day of February, by the Conde de las Torres, at the head of twenty thousand men. The place was well provided for a defence; and the old earl of Portmore, who was governor, embarked with a reinforcement from England, under convoy of a fleet commanded by sir Charles Wager. He arrived at Gibraltar in the beginning of April, where he landed the troops, with a great quantity of ammunition, warlike stores, and four-and-twenty pieces of cannon. At the same time, five hundred men arrived from Minorca; so that the garrison amounted to six thousand, plentifully supplied with fresh provisions from the coast of Barbary, and treated the efforts of the besiegers with great contempt. The states-general, being apprehensive of an attempt upon their barrier in the Netherlands, desired the king would hold in readiness the ten thousand auxiliaries stipulated in the treaty. These were immediately prepared for embarkation, and the forces of England were augmented with thirty new raised companies. Sir John Norris set sail with a powerful fleet for the Baltic, and was joined by a Danish squadron; but the czarina dying on the seventeenth day of May, he had no occasion to commit hostilities, as the Russian armament was laid aside.


Meanwhile the powers at variance, though extremely irritated against each other, were all equally averse to a war that might again embroil all Europe. The king of France interposed his mediation, which was conducted by the duke de Richlieu, his ambassador at Vienna. Plans and counterplans of pacification were proposed between the two crowns and the allies. At length all parties agreed to twelve preliminary articles which were signed in May at Paris, by the ministers of the Hanoverian alliance, and afterwards at Vienna, by the Imperial and Spanish ambassadors. These imported, that hostilities should immediately cease; that the charter of the Ostend company should be suspended for seven years; and that a congress should in four months be opened at Aix-la-Chapelle, for adjusting all differences, and consolidating the peace of Europe. This congress was afterwards transferred to Soissons, for the conveniency of the French minister, whose presence was necessary at court. The siege of Gibraltar was raised, after it had lasted four months, during which the Spaniards lost a great number of men by sickness, while the garrison sustained very little damage. The court of Madrid, however, started some new difficulties, and for some time would not consent to the restitution of the South-Sea ship, which had been detained at La Vera-Cruz, in the West Indies; so that sir Charles Wager continued to cruise on the coast of Spain: but these objections were removed in the sequel.


King George, having appointed a regency, embarked at Greenwich on the third day of June, and landing in Holland on the seventh, set out on his journey to Hanover. He was suddenly seized with a paralytic disorder on the road: he forthwith lost the faculty of speech, became lethargic, and was conveyed in a state of insensibility to Osnabruck. There he expired on Sunday the eleventh day of June, in the sixty-eighth year of his age, and in the thirteenth of his reign.—George I. was plain and simple in his person and address, grave and composed in his deportment, though easy, familiar, and facetious in his hours of relaxation. Before he ascended the throne of Great Britain, he had acquired the character of a circumspect general, a just and merciful prince, a wise politician, who perfectly understood, and steadily pursued, his own interest. With these qualities, it cannot be doubted but that he came to England extremely well disposed to govern his new subjects according to the maxims of the British constitution, and the genius of the people; and if ever he seemed to deviate from these principles, we may take it for granted that he was misled by the venal suggestions of a ministry whose power and influence were founded on corruption. [229] [See note 2 I, at the end of this Vol.]


[Footnote 206: Note 2 H, p. 206. The pretender, who resided at Urbino, having received intelligence from Paris, that there was a design formed against his life, pope Clement XL gave directions that all foreigners in that neighbourhood, especially English, should be arrested. The earl of Peterborough arriving at Bologna, with a few armed followers, was seized with all his papers. Being interrogated, he said he came to pass some time in Italy for the benefit of the air. He was close confined for a whole month in fort Urbino, and his attendants were sent to prison. Nothing appearing to justify the suspicion, he was dismissed with uncommon civility. The king demanding reparation for this insult, the pope wrote with his own hand a letter to an ally of Great Britain, declaring that the legate of Bologna had violently and unjustly, without the knowledge of his holiness, caused the earl of Peterborough to be seized upon suspicions which proved to be ill-grounded. The cardinal legate sent a declaration to the English admiral in the Mediterranean, that he had asked forgiveness of his holiness, and now begged pardon of his Britannic majesty, for having unadvisedly arrested a peer of Great Britain on his travels.]

[Footnote 229: Note 2 I, p. 229. George I. married the princess Sophia Dorothy, daughter and heiress of the duke of Zell, by whom he had king George II. and the late queen of Prussia. The king's body was conveyed to Hanover, and interred among his ancestors. From the death of Charles II. to this period, England had made a considerable figure in every branch of literature. Dr. Atterbury and Dr. Clarke distinguished themselves in divinity—Mr. Whiston wrote in defence of Arianism—John Locke shone forth the great restorer of human reason—the earl of Shaftesbury raised an elegant, though feeble, system of moral philosophy—Berkeley, afterwards bishop of Cloyne in Ireland, surpassed all his contemporaries in subtle and variety of metaphysical arguments, as well as in the art of deduction—lord Bolingbroke's talents as a metaphysician have been questioned since his posthumous works appeared—great progress was made in mathematics and astronomy, by Wallis, Halley, and Flamstead—the art of medicine owed some valuable improvements to the classical Dr. Friend, and the elegant Dr. Mead. Among the poets of this era, we number John Philips, author of a didactic poem, called Cyder, a performance of real merit; he lived and died in obscurity—William Congreve, celebrated for his comedies, which are not so famous for strength of character and power of humour, as for wit, elegance, and regularity—Vanburgh, who wrote with more nature and fire, though with less art and precision—Steele, who in his comedies successfully engrafted modern characters on the ancient drama—Farquhar, who drew his pictures from fancy rather than from nature, and whose chief merit consists in the agreeable pertness and vivacity of his dialogue—Addison, whose fame as a poet greatly exceeded his genius, which was cold and enervate; though he yielded to none in the character of an essayist, either for style or matter—Swift, whose muse seems to have been mere misanthropy; he was a cynic rather than a poet, and his natural dryness and sarcastic severity would have been unpleasing, had not he qualified them, by adopting the extravagant humour of Lueian and Rabelais—Prior, lively, familiar, and amusing—Rowe, solemn, florid, and declamatory—Pope, the prince of lyric poetry; unrivalled in satire, ethics, and polished versification—the agreeable Parnel—the wild, the witty, and the whimsical Garth—Gay, whose fables may vie with those of La Fontaine, in native humour, ease, and simplicity, and whose genius for pastoral was truly original. Dr. Bentley stood foremost in the list of critics and commentators. Sir Christopher Wren raised some noble monuments of architecture. The most remarkable political writers were Davenant, Hare, Swift, Steele, Addison, Bolingbroke, and Trenchard.]








George II. ascends the Throne of Great Britain..... Characters of the principal Persons concerned in the ministry..... Debates in Parliament concerning the Civil- list..... Changes and Promotions..... New Parliament..... Violent Dispute concerning the National Debt..... Vote of Credit..... A double Marriage between the Houses of Spain and Portugal..... liberality of the Commons..... Debates on the Subsidies of Hesse-Cassel and Wolfenbuttle..... Committee for inspecting the Gaols——Address touching the Spanish Depredations..... A Sum voted to the King on account of Arrears due on the Civil-list Revenue..... Proceedings in the House of Lords..... Wise conduct of the Irish Parliament..... Abdication of the King of Sardinia..... Death of Pope Benedict XIII..... Substance of the King's Speech to both Houses..... Objections to the Treaty of Seville in the House of Lords..... Opposition in the Lower House to a standing Army..... Bill prohibiting Loans to Foreign Princes or States..... Charter of the East-India Company prolonged..... The Emperor resents the Treaty of Seville..... Seven Indian Chiefs arrive in England..... Revolution at Constantinople..... England infested with Robbers, Assassins, and Incendiaries..... Bill against Pensioners sitting as Members in the House of Commons..... Treaty of Vienna..... Death of the Duke of Parma..... Don Carlos takes Possession of his Territories—France distracted by religious Disputes..... The Ministry violently opposed in Parliament..... Debate on a standing Army..... Account of the Charitable Corporation..... Revival of the Salt-tax..... Mr. Pulteney's name struck out of the List of Privy-counsellors..... The King sets out for Hanover

{GEORGE II. 1727-1760}


At the accession of George II. the nation had great reason to wish for an alteration of measures. The public debt, notwithstanding the boasted economy and management of the ministers; notwithstanding the sinking fund, which had been extolled as a growing treasure sacred to the discharge of national incumbrances, was now increased to fifty millions two hundred and sixty-one thousand two hundred and six pounds, nineteen shillings and eightpence three farthings. The kingdom was bewildered in a labyrinth of treaties and conventions, by which it stood engaged in pecuniary subsidies to many powers upon the continent, with whom its real interests could never be connected. The wealth of the nation had been lavished upon those foreign connexions, upon unnecessary wars, and fruitless expeditions. Dangerous encroachments had been made upon the constitution, by the repeal of the act for triennial parliaments; by frequent suspensions of the habeas-corpus act upon frivolous occasions; by repealing clauses in the act of settlement; by votes of credit; by habituating the people to a standing army; and, above all, by establishing a system of corruption, which at all times would secure a majority in parliament. The nature of prerogative, by which the liberties of the nation had formerly been often endangered, was now so well understood, and so securely restrained, that it could no longer be used for the same oppressive purposes; besides, an avowed extension of the prerogative required more ability, courage, and resolution, than the present ministry could exert. They understood their own strength, and had recourse to a more safe and effectual expedient. The vice, luxury, and prostitution of the age, the almost total extinction of sentiment, honour, and public spirit, had prepared the minds of men for slavery and corruption. The means were in the hands of the ministry; the public treasure was at their devotion; they multiplied places and pensions, to increase the number of their dependants; they squandered away the money of the nation without taste, discernment, decency, or remorse; they enlisted an army of the most abandoned emissaries, whom they employed to vindicate the worst measures, in the face of truth, common sense, and common honesty; and they did not fail to stigmatize as Jacobites, and enemies to the government, all those who presumed to question the merit of their administration.


The supreme direction of affairs was not yet engrossed by a single minister. Lord Townshend had the reputation of conducting the external transactions relating to treaties and negotiations. He is said to have understood that province, though he did not always follow the dictates of his own understanding. He possessed an extensive fund of knowledge; and was well acquainted with the functions of his office. The duke of Newcastle, his colleague, was not remarkable for any of these qualifications; he owed his promotion to his uncommon zeal for the illustrious house of Hanover, and to the strength of his interest in parliament, rather than to his judgment, precision, or any other intellectual merit. Lord Carteret, who may be counted an auxiliary, though not immediately concerned in the administration, had distinguished himself in the character of envoy at several courts in Europe. He had attained an intimate knowledge of all the different interests and connexions subsisting among the powers of the continent; and he infinitely surpassed all the ministers in learning and capacity. He was indeed the only man of genius employed under this government. He spoke with ease and propriety, his conceptions were just and lively; his inferences bold; his counsels vigorous and warm. Yet he depreciated his talents, by acting in a subordinate character to those whom he despised; and seemed to look upon the pernicious measures of a bad ministry with silent contempt, rather than with avowed detestation. The interior government of Great Britain was chiefly managed by sir Robert Walpole, a man of extraordinary talents, who had from low beginnings raised himself to the head of the treasury. Having obtained a seat in the lower house, he declared himself one of the most forward partisans of the whig faction. He was endued with a species of eloquence, which, though neither nervous nor elegant, flowed with great facility, and was so plausible on all subjects, that even when he misrepresented the truth, whether from ignorance or design, he seldom failed to persuade that part of his audience for whose hearing his harangue was chiefly intended. He was well acquainted with the nature of the public funds, and understood the whole mystery of stock-jobbing. This knowledge produced a connexion between him and the money-corporations, which served to enhance his importance. He perceived the bulk of mankind were actuated by a sordid thirst of lucre; he had sagacity enough to convert the degeneracy of the times to his own advantage; and on this, and this alone, he founded the whole superstructure of his subsequent administration. In the late reign he had by dint of speaking decisively to every question, by boldly impeaching the conduct of the tory ministers, by his activity in elections, and engaging as a projector in the schemes of the monied interest, become a leading member in the house of commons. By his sufferings under the tory parliament, he attained the rank of a martyr to his party. His interest, his reputation, and his presumption daily increased; he opposed Sunderland as his rival in power, and headed a dangerous defection from the ministry, which evinced the greatness of his influence and authority. He had the glory of being principally concerned in effecting a reconciliation between the late king and the prince of Wales; then he was re-associated in the administration with additional credit; and, from the death of the earls of Sunderland and Stanhope, he had been making long strides towards the office of prime minister. He knew the maxims he had adopted would subject him to the hatred, the ridicule, and reproach of some individuals, who had not yet resigned all sentiments of patriotism, nor all views of opposition; but the number of these was inconsiderable, when compared to that which constituted the body of the community; and he would not suffer the consideration of such antagonists to come in competition with his schemes of power, affluence, and authority. Nevertheless, low as he had humbled anti-ministerial association, it required all his artifice to elude, all his patience and natural phlegm to bear, the powerful arguments that were urged, and the keen satire that was exercised against his measures and management, by a few members in the opposition. Sir William Wyndham possessed all the energy of elocution; Mr. Shippen was calm, intrepid, shrewd and sarcastic; Mr. Pulteney inherited from nature a good understanding, which he had studiously cultivated. He was one of the most learned members in the house of commons, extremely well qualified to judge of literary productions; well read in history and politics; deeply skilled in the British constitution, the detail of government, and the nature of the finances. He spoke with freedom, fluency, and uncommon warmth of declamation, which was said to be the effect of personal animosity to sir Robert Walpole, with whom he had been formerly connected.


An express arriving on the fourteenth day of June, with an account of the king's death, his late majesty king George II. repaired from Richmond, where he received this intelligence, to Leicester-house; and the members of the privy-council being assembled, were sworn a-new. The king declared his firm purpose to preserve the constitution in church and state, and to cultivate those alliances which his father had made with foreign princes. At the same time, he took and subscribed the oath for the security of the church of Scotland, as required by the act of union. Next day he was proclaimed king of Great Britain. The parliament assembled in pursuance of the act made for that purpose; but was immediately prorogued by commission to the twenty-seventh day of the month. All the great officers of state continued in their places; sir Robert Walpole kept possession of the treasury; and the system of politics which the late king had established underwent no sort of alteration. The king, in his speech to both houses at the opening of the session, professed a fixed resolution to merit the love and affection of his people, by maintaining them in the full enjoyment of their religious and civil rights. He promised to lessen the public expense as soon as the circumstances of affairs would permit: he observed to the commons, that the grant of the greatest part of the civil list revenues was now determined; and that it would be necessary for them to make a new provision for the support of him and his family: lastly, he recommended it to both houses to dispatch the business that should be necessarily brought before them, as the season of the year and the circumstances of time required their presence in the country. Addresses of condolence and congratulation being drawn up and presented, the commons, in a committee of the whole house, took into consideration a motion for a supply to his majesty. Sir Robert Walpole having observed, that the annual sum of seven hundred thousand pounds granted to, and settled on, the late king, had fallen short every year; and that his present majesty's expenses were likely to increase, by reason of the largeness of his family, moved, that the entire revenues of the civil list, which produced about eight hundred thousand pounds per annum, should be settled on the king during his life. Mr. Shippen opposed this motion, as inconsistent with the trust reposed in them as representatives of the people, who ought to be very frugal in exercising the right of giving away the public money. He said, the sum of seven hundred thousand pounds was not obtained for his late majesty without a long and solemn debate; and every member who contended for it at that time, allowed it to be an ample royal revenue: that, although his majesty's family should be enlarged, a circumstance which had been urged as one reason for the motion, he presumed the appointments of prince Frederick would not be much inferior to those settled on his present majesty when he was prince of Wales: besides, it was to be hoped that many personal, many particular expenses in the late reign, especially those for frequent journeys to Hanover, would be discontinued, and entirely cease. He observed, that the civil list branches in the queen's reign did not often exceed the sum of five hundred and fifty thousand pounds; nevertheless, she called upon her parliament but once, in a reign of thirteen years, to pay the debts contracted in her civil government; and these were occasioned by the unparalleled instances of her piety and generosity. She gave the first-fruits and tenths, arising to nineteen thousand pounds a-year, as an augmentation of the maintenance of the poor clergy. She bestowed five thousand pounds per annum, out of the post-office, on the duke of Marlborough: she suffered seven hundred pounds to be charged weekly on the same office, for the service of the public: she expended several hundred thousand pounds in building the castle of Blenheim: she allowed four thousand pounds annually to prince Charles of Denmark: she sustained great loses by the tin contract: she supported the poor Palatines: she exhibited many other proofs of royal bounty: and immediately before her death she had formed a plan of retrenchment, which would have reduced her yearly expenses to four hundred and fifty-nine thousand nine hundred and forty-one pounds. He affirmed, that a million a-year would not be sufficient to carry on the exorbitant expenses, so often and so justly complained of in the house of commons: that over and above the yearly allowance of seven hundred thousand pounds, many occasional taxes, many excessive sums were raised, and all sunk in the bottomless gulf of secret service. Two hundred and fifty thousand pounds were raised in defiance of the ancient parliamentary methods, to secure the kingdom from a Swedish invasion; then the two insurance offices were erected, and paid near three hundred thousand pounds for their charters: our enmity with Sweden being changed into an alliance, a subsidy of seventy-two thousand pounds was implicitly granted, to fulfil some secret engagements with that crown: four and twenty thousand pounds were given for burning merchant ships arrived from infected places, though the goods which ought to have been destroyed for the public safety were afterwards privately sold: a sum of five hundred thousand pounds was demanded, and granted, for paying the debts of the civil list; and his majesty declared by message, he was resolved to retrench his expenses for the future. Notwithstanding this resolution, in less than four years, a new demand of the like sum was made and granted to discharge new incumbrances: the Spanish ships of war which admiral Byng took in the Mediterranean, were sold for a considerable sum of money: one hundred and twenty-five thousand pounds were granted in the last session, to be secretly disposed of for the public utility; and there was still a debt in the civil government, amounting to above six hundred thousand pounds. He took notice, that this amazing extravagance happened under the conduct of persons pretending to surpass all their predecessors in the knowledge and care of the public revenue: that as none of these sums had been accounted for, they were, in all probability, employed in services not fit to be owned. He said, he heartily wished that Time, the great discoverer of hidden truths and concealed iniquities, might produce a list of all such as had been perverted from their public duty by private pensions: who had been the hired slaves and the corrupt instruments of a profuse and vain-glorious administration. He proposed, that instead of granting an addition to the civil list, they should restrict that revenue to a certain sum, by concluding the question with these words, "in like manner as they were granted and continued to his late majesty, so as to make up the clear yearly sum of seven hundred thousand pounds." To these particulars, which were indeed unanswerable, no reply was made. Even this mark of decency was laid aside, as idle and superfluous. The house agreed to the motion; and a bill was brought in for the better support of his majesty's household. The commons having received a message from the king, desiring they would make further provision for the queen his consort, resolved, That in case she should survive his majesty, the sum of one hundred thousand pounds should be settled upon her for life, charged upon the revenues of the civil list, together with his majesty's palace of Somerset-house, and Richmond Old-park. A bill was formed on this resolution, which, as well as the other, passed both bouses, and received the royal assent on the seventeenth day of July, when the king, in a speech to both houses, expressed his satisfaction with their conduct, and congratulated them on the wealth and glory of the nation, by which they had acquired such weight in holding the balance of Europe. Then the lord-chancellor prorogued the parliament to the twenty-ninth day of August; but on the seventh day of that month a proclamation was issued for dissolving this, and convoking another.

In the interim some changes were made in different departments of civil economy. Lord viscount Torrington was placed at the head of the admiralty; the earl of Westmoreland was appointed first lord commissioner of trade and plantations. Philip Dormer Stanhope, earl of Chesterfield, a nobleman remarkable for his wit, eloquence, and polished manners, was nominated ambassador to the Hague. The privy-council being dissolved, another was appointed of the members then present. The duke of Devonshire was dignified with the place of president; and the duke of St. Alban's was appointed master of the horse. On the eleventh day of October, the coronation of the king and queen was performed at Westminster-Abbey, with the usual solemnity.* By this time the courts of France and Spain were perfectly reconciled; all Europe was freed from the calamities of war; and the peace of Great Britain suffered no interruption, except from some transient tumults among the tinners of Cornwall, who, being provoked by a scarcity of corn, rose in arms and plundered the granaries of that county.

* King George II. ascended the throne in the forty-fourth year of his age. On the second day of September, 1705, he espoused the princess Wilhelmina Charlotte Caroline, daughter to John Frederick, marquis of Brandenburgh Anspach, by whom he had two sons, Frederick Louis, prince of Wales, born at Hanover on the thirty-first day of January, 1707, and William Augustus, born at London on the fifteenth day of April, 1721. She had likewise borne four princesses, namely, Anne, Amelia, Caroline, Mary, and was afterwards delivered of Louisa, married in the sequel to the king of Denmark.


The elections in England and Scotland for the parliament having succeeded on the new system, according to the wishes of the ministry, the two houses met on the twenty-third day of January, when the commons unanimously chose for their speaker Arthur Onslow, esquire, knight of the shire for Surrey, a gentleman of extensive knowledge, worth, and probity; grave, eloquent, venerable, and every way qualified for the discharge of that honourable and important office. The king, in his speech to this new parliament, declared, that by the last advices from abroad, he had reason to hope the difficulties which had hitherto retarded the execution of the preliminaries, and the opening of the congress, would soon be entirely removed; in the meantime, he represented the absolute necessity of continuing the preparation which had hitherto secured the nation, and prevented an open rupture in Europe. He promised, that his first care should be to reduce, from time to time, the expense of the public, as often, and as soon as the interest and safety of his people would permit such reduction. He expressed an earnest desire of seeing the foundation laid of an effectual scheme for the increase and encouragement of seamen in general, that they might be invited rather than compelled into the service of their country. Finally, he recommended unanimity, zeal, and despatch of the public business. Those speeches, penned by the minister, were composed with a view to soothe the minds of the people into an immediate concurrence with the measures of the government; but without any intention of performing those promises of economy, reformation, and national advantage. The two houses seemed to vie with each other in expressions of applause and affection to his majesty. The lords, in their address, hailed him as the best of kings, and the true father of his country. The commons expressed the warmest sense of gratitude for the blessings they enjoyed in his reign, though it was not yet eight months old. They approved of all his transactions; they promised to support him in all his undertakings; and declared they would cheerfully grant whatever supplies should be wanted for the public service. Having considered the estimates which were laid before them by order of his majesty, they voted two-and-twenty thousand nine hundred and fifty-five men for guards and garrisons; and fifteen thousand seamen for the service of the ensuing year. They granted two hundred and thirty thousand nine hundred and twenty-three pounds, for the maintenance of twelve thousand Hessian troops; a subsidy of fifty thousand pounds to the king of Sweden; and half that sum to the duke of Brunswick Wolfenbuttle.* The expense of the year amounted to four millions, raised by a land-tax of three shillings in the pound, a malt-tax, and by borrowing of the bank one million seven hundred and fifty thousand pounds, for which annuities to the amount of seventy thousand pounds, to be raised by duties on coals imported into the city of London, were granted to that corporation.

* Nothing could be a greater burlesque upon the negotiation than this treaty of alliance concluded with the petty duke of Wolfenbuttle, who very gravely guarantees to his Britannic majesty the possession of his three kingdoms, and obliges himself to supply his majesty with five thousand men, in consideration of an annual subsidy of five-and- twenty thousand pounds for four years.

{GEORGE II. 1727-1760}


All these sums, however, were not granted without question. The number of land-forces occasioned a debate; and the Hessian auxiliaries were not allowed without dispute and opposition. When they deliberated on the loan of the bank, Mr. Pulteney observed, that the shifting of funds was but perpetuating taxes, and putting off the evil day; that notwithstanding the great merit which some persons had built on the sinking fund, it appeared that the national debt had been increased since the setting up of that pompous project. Some warm altercation passed between him and sir Robert Walpole on this subject. The lord-mayor, aldermen, and common-council of London, presented a petition, setting forth, that the duties already laid upon coals and culm imported into London, affected the trade of that city only; that the inequality of the burden was a great discouragement to their manufactures, and a hardship upon all the trading inhabitants. The petition was rejected, and the tax imposed. The house having addressed the king for a particular and distinct account of the distribution of two hundred and fifty thousand pounds, charged to have been issued for securing the trade and navigation of the kingdom, and preserving and restoring the peace of Europe, he declined granting their request, but signified in general that part of the money had been issued and disbursed by his late majesty, and the remainder by himself, for carrying on the same necessary services, which required the greatest secrecy. Such a message in the reign of King William would have raised a dangerous flame in the house of commons.


Mr. W. Pulteney inveighed against such a vague and general way of accounting for the public money, as tending to render parliaments altogether insignificant, to cover embezzlements, and to screen corrupt and rapacious ministers. The commons having taken into consideration the state of the national debt, examined the accounts, and interrogated the proper officers. A motion was made by a court member, that it appeared the monies already issued and applied towards discharging the national debts, together with a sum to be issued at Lady-day, amounted to six millions six hundred and forty-eight thousand seven hundred and sixty two pounds, five shillings and one penny one farthing. In vain did the leaders of the opposition expose the fallacious tendency of this motion. In vain did they demonstrate the fraudulent artifice used in drawing up the accounts; the motion was carried; and several resolutions were taken on the state of the national debts. In the particular account of these debts, upon which the house resolved to form a representation to his majesty, an article of three hundred thousand pounds relating to the duty upon wrought plate was totally omitted. This extraordinary omission being discovered, gave rise to a very warm debate, and to very severe reflection against those who superintended the public accounts. This error being rectified, a committee appointed for the purpose drew up the representation, containing a particular detail of the national debts discharged and incurred since the twenty-fifth day of December, in the year one thousand seven hundred and sixteen, with a state of the sinking fund and of the public credit. The draft being approved by the house, was presented to the king-, who received it graciously. He took this opportunity of saying, that the provision made for gradually discharging the national debts was now become so certain and considerable, that nothing but some unforeseen event could alter or diminish it; a circumstance that afforded the fairest prospect of seeing the old debts discharged without any necessity of incurring new incumbrances.

This answer, fraught with many other expressions of fatherly tenderness for his people, paved the way for a message to the house, demanding a vote of credit to fulfil certain engagements entered into, and concerted, with the advice and concurrence of the last parliament, for securing the trade and navigation of the kingdom, and for restoring and preserving the peace of Europe. Though a debate ensued upon this message, the majority resolved that an address should be presented to his majesty, declaring the duty and fidelity of the commons, their entire confidence in his royal care and goodness, and their readiness to enable his majesty to fulfil his engagements, A vote of credit passed accordingly. During this session, the peers were chiefly employed in examining copies of several treaties and alliances which the king submitted to their perusal; they likewise prepared a bill for amending the statute of limitation, which, however, did not pass into a law; they considered the state of the national debt, a subject fruitful of debates; they passed the mutiny bill, and those that were sent up from the commons touching the supplies; together with an act obliging ships arriving from infected places, to perform quarantine; and some others of a more private nature. These bills having received the royal assent, the king closed the session on the twenty-eighth day of May, when he thanked the commons for the effectual supplies they had raised, and, in particular, for having empowered him to borrow five hundred thousand pounds for the discharge of wages due to the seamen employed in the navy.


England was at this period quite barren of remarkable events. The king's uncle, Ernest Augustus, prince of Brunswick, duke of York, and bishop of Osnabruck, died on the third day of August, and was succeeded in the bishopric by the elector Cologn, according to the pactum by which Osnabruck is alternately possessed by the house of Brunswick and that elector. In the beginning of December, his majesty's eldest son prince Frederick arrived in England from Hanover, where he had hitherto resided, was introduced into the privy-council, and created prince of Wales. Signior Como, resident from the duke of Parma, was ordered to quit the kingdom, because his master paid to the pretender the honours due to the king of Great Britain. The congress opened at Soissons, for determining all disputes among the powers of Europe, proved ineffectual. Such difficulties occurred in settling and reconciling so many different pretensions and interests, that the contracting parties in the alliance of Hanover proposed a provisional treaty, concerning which no definitive answer was given as yet by the courts of Vienna and Madrid. The fate of Europe, therefore, continued in suspense; the English fleet lay inactive and rotting in the West-Indies; the sailors perished miserably, without daring to avenge their country's wrongs; while the Spanish cruisers committed depredations with impunity on the commerce of Great Britain. The court of Spain, at this juncture, seemed cold and indifferent with regard to a pacification with England. It had renewed a good understanding with France, and now strengthened its interests by a double alliance of marriage with the royal family of Portugal. The infanta of this house was betrothed to the prince of Asturias; while the Spanish infanta, formerly affianced to the French king, was now matched with the prince of Brazil, eldest son of his Portuguese majesty. In the month of January, the two courts met in a wooden house built over the little river Coya, that separates the two kingdoms, and there the princesses were exchanged.


The parliament of Great Britain meeting according to their last prorogation on the twenty-first day of January, the king in his speech communicated the nature of the negotiation at the congress. Pie demanded such supplies as might enable him to act vigorously in concert with his allies, provided his endeavours to establish an advantageous peace should miscarry; and he hinted that the dilatory conduct of the courts of Vienna and Madrid proceeded in a great measure from the hopes that were given of creating discontents and divisions among the subjects of Great Britain. This suggestion was a ministerial artifice to inflame the zeal and resentment of the nation, and intimidate the members in the opposition. Accordingly the hint was pursued, and in the addresses from both houses, that could not fail of being agreeable, considering the manner in which they were dictated, particular notice was taken of this article; both peers and commons expressed their detestation and abhorrence of those, who, by such base and unnatural artifices, suggested the means of distressing their country, and clamoured at the inconveniencies which they themselves had occasioned. In these addresses, likewise, the parliament congratulated his majesty on the arrival of the prince of Wales in his British dominions; and the commons sent a particular compliment to his royal highness on that occasion, The estimates having been examined in the usual form, the house voted fifteen thousand seamen for the ensuing year; but the motion for continuing the same number of land-forces which had been allowed in the preceding year, was not carried without dispute. All the arguments against a standing army in time of peace, as inconsistent with the British constitution, and dangerous to the liberties of the people, were repeated with great vivacity by Mr. Shippen and Mr. W. Pulteney. These, however, were answered, and represented as absurd, by Mr. Horatio Walpole and Mr. D., two staunch adherents of the minister. The first had, in despite of nature, been employed in different negotiations; he was blunt, awkward, and slovenly, an orator without eloquence, an ambassador without dignity, and a plenipotentiary without address. The other had natural parts and acquired knowledge; spoke with confidence; and in dispute was vain, sarcastic, petulant, and verbose.


The subsidies to Sweden, Hesse-Cassel, and Wolfen-buttle were continued, notwithstanding the remonstrances of sir Joseph Jekyll, Mr. Lutwyche, and Mr. Pulteney; which last observed, that as the landgrave of Hesse-Cassel, and the duke of Brunswick-Wolfen-buttle, usually maintained a certain number of troops in their pay, it was but reasonable that Great Britain should defray no more than the expense of the additional forces which those powers had raised, in consequence of their conventions with the king of England. Sir Robert Walpole perceiving that this remark made an impression on the house, thought it necessary to vindicate his measure. He expatiated upon the wisdom of the late king, in concluding the Hanover alliance. He affirmed, that the convention with Hesse-Cassel had prevented a war in the empire, for which the court of Vienna had made great preparations; that the emperor had not only augmented his own forces by the help of Spanish subsidies, but also retained the troops of three electors; and if he had not been overawed by the Hessians, would certainly have rejected the preliminaries, and all other advances towards a pacification; that, therefore, they ought not to grudge an expense which had already proved so beneficial to the tranquillity of Europe. Sir Joseph Jekyll replied, that whatever gloss might be put upon such measures, they were repugnant to the maxims by which England in former times had steered and squared its conduct with relation to its interest abroad; that the navy was the natural strength of Great Britain—its best defence and security; but if, in order to avoid a war, they should be so free-hearted as to buy and maintain the forces of foreign princes, they were never like to see an end of such extravagant expenses. This gentleman, who exercised the office of master of the rolls, had approved himself a zealous defender of whig principles, was an able lawyer, a sensible speaker, and a conscientious patriot. The supplies were raised by a continuation of the land-tax, the duties upon malt, cyder, and perry, an additional imposition on unmalted corn used in distilling, and by sale of annuities to the bank not exceeding fifty thousand pounds per annum.


Petitions were delivered to the house of commons from the merchants of London, Liverpool, and Bristol, complaining of the interruptions they had suffered in their trade for several years, by the depredations of the Spaniards in the West Indies. These being considered, the house ordered the lords of the admiralty to produce the other memorials of the same kind which they had received, that they might be laid before the congress at Soissons: then they addressed his majesty for copies of all the letters and instructions which had been sent to admiral Hosier, and those who succeeded him in the command of the West-India squadron. Mr. Oglethorpe, having been informed of shocking cruelties and oppressions exercised by gaolers upon their prisoners, moved for an examination into these practices, and was chosen chairman of a committee appointed to inquire into the state of the gaols in the kingdom. They began with the Fleet-prison, which they visited in a body; there they found sir William Rich, baronet, loaded with irons, by order of Bambridge the warden, to whom he had given some slight cause of offence. They made a discovery of many inhuman barbarities which had been committed by that ruffian, and detected the most iniquitous scenes of fraud, villany, and extortion. When the report was made by the committee, the house unanimously resolved, That Thomas Bambridge, acting warden of the Fleet, had wilfully permitted several debtors to escape; had been guilty of the most notorious breaches of trust, great extortions, and the highest crimes and misdemeanors in the execution of his office; that he had arbitrarily and unlawfully loaded with irons, put into dungeons, and destroyed prisoners for debt, under his charge, treating them in the most barbarous and cruel manner, in high violation and contempt of the laws of the kingdom. John Huggins, esquire, who had been warden of the Fleet-prison, was subjected to a resolution of the same nature. The house presented an address to the king, desiring he would direct his attorney-general forthwith to prosecute these persons and their accomplices, who were committed prisoners to Newgate. A bill was brought in, disabling Bambridge to execute the office of warden; another for the better regulating the prison of the Fleet, and for more effectually preventing and punishing arbitrary and illegal practices of the warden of the said prison.*

* It afterwards appeared that some of the members of this inquest were actuated by other motives than those they professed; and the committee was suffered to sink into oblivion.


Other merchants complained by petition of the losses they sustained by the Spaniards. The house, in a grand committee, deliberated on this subject, inquired into the particulars, examined evidence, and drew up an address to the king, desiring his majesty would be graciously pleased to use his utmost endeavours for preventing such depredations; for procuring just and reasonable satisfaction; and for securing to his subjects the free exercise of commerce and navigation to and from the British colonies in America. The king assured them he would use his best endeavours to answer the desires and expectations of his people, in an affair of so much importance; and they, in another address, thanked him for his gracious answer. They did not, however, receive such a satisfactory reply to a former address, touching the sum of sixty thousand pounds that had been stated in the public account, without specification of the particular uses to which it was applied. His majesty gave them to understand that the money had been issued and disbursed for secret services; and that a distinct and particular account of the distribution of it could not be given without a manifest prejudice to the public. A bill was prepared for the more effectual preventing bribery and corruption in elections for members of parliament; and it passed through the house without opposition; but their attention was chiefly employed upon the Spanish depredations, which had raised a great clamour through the whole kingdom, and excited very warm disputes in parliament; for they were generally reputed the fruits of negligence, incapacity, or want of vigour in the ministers.. The commons having made further progress in the inquiry, and received fresh petitions from the merchants, passed some resolutions, in which the Spaniards were accused of having violated the treaties subsisting between the two crowns; and with having treated inhumanly the masters and crews of ships belonging to Great Britain. They justified the instructions given to admiral Hosier, to seize and detain the flota and galleons of Spain, until justice and satisfaction should be rendered to his majesty and his allies; nay, even declared that such seizure would have been just, prudent, and necessary, tending to prevent an open rupture, and to preserve the peace and tranquillity of Europe. They again addressed the king to use his endeavours to procure satisfaction; and he promised to comply with their request.

Mr. Scroope, member for Bristol, moved for an address entreating his majesty to order an account of the produce of the civil list revenues for one year to be laid before the house. The address was presented, the account produced, and the house, in a grand committee, took this affair into consideration. The courtiers affirmed that they fell short of the eight hundred thousand pounds settled upon his majesty; and Mr. Scroope proposed that the sum of one hundred and fifteen thousand pounds should be granted to the king, on account of those deficiencies and arrears. The motion was vigorously opposed by Mr. Pulteney and other members. They expressed their surprise that it should be made so late in the session, when no further demand of money could be reasonably expected; and they said it was the more extraordinary, because it appeared in the former session, from the examination of the accounts then before the house, that the revenues of the civil list produced yearly a much greater sum than that for which they were given. Mr. Pulteney moved, that the accounts and papers should be referred to the examination of a select committee, properly empowered to investigate the truth. The ministers opposed this motion; and the question being put, it passed in the negative. The majority voted the sum demanded; and in a bill for settling the price of imported corn, they inserted the resolution for granting to his majesty the sum of one hundred and fifteen thousand pounds, on account of arrears due on the civil list revenues.


The house of lords having prepared a bill for the more effectual punishment of forgery, which was passed into a law, and ordered the judges to bring in another on the report of a committee appointed to consider the case of imprisoned debtors, at length deliberated upon the state of the nation, particularly the positive demand made by the court of Spain for the restitution of Gibraltar, grounded in a letter written by the late king to his catholic majesty. From a copy of the letter laid before the house, it plainly appeared that king George I. had consented to this restitution. A motion being made for a resolution, importing, that for the honour of his majesty, and the preservation and security of the trade and commerce of the kingdom, effectual care should be taken in the present treaty that the king of Spain should renounce all claim and pretension to Gibraltar and Minorca, in plain and strong terms; a debate ensued, and the question being put, passed in the negative, though not without a protest. Then the majority resolved, that the house did entirely rely upon his majesty, that he would, for maintaining the honour and securing the trade of this kingdom, take effectual care in the present treaty to preserve his undoubted right to Gibraltar and Minorca. When the house examined the papers relating to the Spanish depreciations, many severe reflections were uttered against the conduct of the ministry; and a motion was made, to resolve that Hosier's expedition was an unreasonable burden on the nation; but this too was rejected, and occasioned another protest. Nor did the clause in the corn-bill, for granting one hundred and fifteen thousand pounds to his majesty, pass through the house of peers without warm opposition. Divers lords alleged, that, instead of a deficiency in the civil list revenues, there was a considerable surplus; that this was a new grant, and a new burden on the people; that the nation was loaded, not to complete but to augment the surplus designed for the civil list; and this at a time when the public debts were increased; when the taxes were heavily felt in all parts of the country; when the foreign trade of Britain was encumbered and diminished; when her manufactures were decayed, her poor multiplied, and she was surrounded by many other national calamities. They observed, that if the produce of the civil list revenue should not amount to the yearly sum of eight hundred thousand pounds, the deficiency must be made good to his majesty by the public; whereas no provision was made, by which, if the produce of these revenues should exceed that sum, the surplus could accrue to the benefit of the public; that, by this precedent, not only real deficiencies were to be made good, but also supplies were to be given for arrears standing out at the end of the year, which should come on before the supplies could be granted, though the supply given to make good arrears in one year would certainly increase the surplusages in another; that the revenues of the civil list were variable in their own nature, and even when there is a deficiency in the produce, there might be arrears in the receipt; these might be easily increased by the management of designing ministers, by private directions to receivers, and by artful methods of stating accounts. All these arguments, and other objections equally strong and plausible, against this unconsionable and unparliamentary motion, served only to evince the triumph of the ministry over shame and sentiment, their contempt of public spirit, and their defiance of the national reproach.*

* The peers that distinguished themselves in the opposition were Beaufort, Strafford, Craven, Foley, Litchfield, Scarsdale, Grower, Mountjoy, Plymouth, Bathurst, Northampton, Coventry, Oxford and Mortimer, Willoughby de Broke, Boyle, and Warrington.



The king had, on the twenty-fourth day of March, given the royal assent to five bills; and on the fourteenth day of May the same sanction was given to thirty other bills, including an act enabling the queen to be regent in the kingdom during his majesty's absence without taking the oaths, and another for the relief of insolvent debtors. At the same time two-and-thirty private bills were passed: then the king expressed his approbation of the parliament, signified his intention to visit his German dominions, and ordered the chancellor to prorogue both houses. His majesty having appointed the queen regent of the realm, set out for Hanover on the seventeenth day of May, in order to remove a petty misunderstanding which had happened between that electorate and the court of Berlin. Some Hanoverian subjects had been pressed or decoyed into the service of Prussia; and the regents of Hanover had seized certain Prussian officers by way of reprisal. The whole united kingdom of Great Britain at this juncture enjoyed uninterrupted repose; and commerce continued to increase, in spite of all restriction and discouragement. The people of Ireland found themselves happy under the government of lord Carteret; and their parliament, assembling in the month of September, approved themselves the fathers of their country. They established funds for the discharge of their national debt, and for maintaining the expense of government: they enacted wholesome laws for the encouragement of manufactures, trade, and agriculture; and they formed wise regulations in different branches of civil economy. Some time after this session, which was conducted with so much harmony and patriotism, lord Carteret returned to England; and was succeeded by the duke of Dorset in the government of that kingdom. In the month of May, Charles lord Townshend resigned the seals, which were given to colonel Stanhope, now created earl of Harrington; so that sir Robert Walpole now reigned without a rival. James earl of Waldegrave was appointed ambassador to the court of France, which about that time was filled with joy by the birth of a dauphin.


In the month of September, Victor Amadeus king of Sardinia, resigned his crown to his son Charles Emanuel, prince of Piedmont. The father reserved to himself a revenue of one hundred thousand pistoles per annum, retired to the castle of Chamberry, and espoused the countess dowager of St. Sebastian, who declined the title of queen, but assumed that of marchioness of Somerive. Though the congress at Soissons proved abortive, conferences were begun at Seville between the plenipotentiaries of England, France, and Spain; and a treaty was concluded on the ninth day of November, not only without the concurrence of the emperor, but even contrary to his right, as established by the quadruple alliance. On this subject he communicated an imperial commissorial decree to the states of the empire assembled in the diet at Eatisbon, which was answered by the French minister de Chavigny. In October, Peter II., czar of Muscovy and grandson of Peter I., died in the fifteenth year of his age, at Muscow, and was succeeded on the Russian throne by the princess Anne Ivanowna, second daughter of John Alexowitz, elder brother of the first Peter, and widow of Frederic William duke of Courland. The following month was rendered remarkable by the death of pope Benedict XIII., in whose room cardinal Laurence Corsini was raised to the pontificate, and assumed the name of Clement XII.


The British parliament assembling on the thirteenth day of January, the king gave them to understand that the peace of Europe was now established by the treaty of Seville, built upon the foundation of former treaties, and tending to render more effectual what the contracting powers in the quadruple alliance were before engaged to see performed. He assured them that all former conventions made with Spain in favour of the British trade and navigation were renewed and confirmed: that the free uninterrupted exercise of their commerce was restored: that the court of Spain had agreed to an ample restitution and reparation for unlawful seizures and depredations: that all rights, privileges, and possessions, belonging to him and his allies, were solemnly re-established, confirmed, and guaranteed; and that not one concession was made to the prejudice of his subjects. He told them he had given orders for reducing a great number of his land-forces, and for laying up great part of the fleet; and observed 'that there would be a considerable saving in the expense of the current year. After both houses had presented their addresses of thanks and congratulation to the king on the peace of Seville, the lords took that treaty into consideration, and it did not pass inquiry without severe animadversion.


The lords in the opposition excepted to the article by which the merchants of Great Britain were obliged to make proof of their losses at the court of Spain. They said this stipulation was a hardship upon British subjects, and dishonourable to the nation: that few would care to undertake such a troublesome and expensive journey, especially as they had reason to apprehend their claims would be counterbalanced by the Spaniards; and after all they would have no more than the slender comfort of hoping to obtain that redress by commissaries which they had not been able to procure by plenipotentiaries. They thought it very extraordinary that Great Britain should be bound to ratify and guarantee whatever agreement should be made between the king of Spain and the duke of Parma and Tuscany, concerning the garrisons once established in their countries; that the English should be obliged to assist in effectuating the introduction of six thousand Spanish troops into the towns of Tuscany and Parma, without any specification of the methods to be taken, or the charge to be incurred, in giving that assistance: that they should guarantee for ever, not only to Don Carlos, but even to all his successors, the possession of the estates of Tuscany and Parma; a stipulation which in all probability would involve Great Britain in endless quarrels and disputes about a country with which they had no concern. They affirmed that the treaty of Seville, instead of confirming other treaties, was contradictory to the quadruple alliance, particularly in the article of introducing Spanish troops into Tuscany and Parma in the room of neutral forces stipulated by the former alliance; and agreeing that they should there remain until Don Carlos and his successors should be secure and exempt from all events. They complained that these alterations from the tenor of the quadruple alliance, were made without the concurrence of the emperor, and even without inviting him to accede; an affront which might alienate his friendship from England, and hazard the loss of such an ancient, powerful, and faithful ally; they declared that throughout the whole treaty there seemed to be an artful omission of any express stipulation to secure Great Britain in her right to Gibraltar and Minorca. Such was the substance of the objections made to the peace: then lord Bathurst moved for a resolution that the agreement on the treaty of Seville, to secure the succession of Don Carlos to the duchies of Tuscany, Parma, and Placentia, with Spanish troops, was a manifest violation of the fifth article of the quadruple alliance, tending to involve the nation in a dangerous and expensive war, and to destroy the balance of power in Europe. The question was put, and the motion rejected. Such too was the fate of two other motions, to resolve that Great Britain's right of sovereignty, dominion, possession, and claim to Gibraltar and Minorca, were not ascertained by the treaty of Seville: and that the stipulations in that treaty for repairing the losses of the British merchants were insufficient and precarious. The majority, far from stigmatizing this transaction, resolved, that the treaty did contain all necessary stipulations for maintaining and securing the honour, dignity, rights, and possessions of the crown: that all due care was taken therein for the support of the trade of the king dom, and for repairing the losses sustained by the British merchants. On these resolutions an address of approbation was founded: but when a motion was made for an address to his majesty, that he would order to be laid before the house a list of all pensions payable to the crown, it was immediately resolved in the negative. Divers contests of the same kind arose upon the mutiny-bill, the pension-bill, and the maintenance of twelve thousand Hessians; but the ministry bore down all opposition, though their triumphs were clogged with vigorous protests, which did not fail to make impression upon the body of the people.


Nor was the success of the court interest in the house of commons altogether pure, and free from exception and dispute. When the charge of the land forces fell under the consideration of the commons, and Mr. Henry Pelham, secretary at war, moved that the number of effective men for the land service of the ensuing year should be fixed at seventeen thousand seven hundred and nine, Mr. Pulteney insisted upon its being reduced to twelve thousand. Mr. Shippen affirmed that Mr. Pelham's motion was a flat negative to the address for which he voted on the first day of the session, as it plainly implied a distrust of the validity of the late treaty, which he then assured the house would immediately produce all the blessings of an absolute peace, and deliver the kingdom from the apprehensions and inconveniences of a war. He said the motion tended directly towards the establishment of an army in Great Britain, which he hoped would never be so far germanized as tamely to submit to a military government. He observed, that the nation could have no occasion for all the troops that were demanded, considering the glorious scene of affairs which was now opened to all Europe. "They are not necessary," said he, "to awe Spain into a firm adherence to its own treaty; they are not necessary to force the emperor into an immediate accession, nor are they in any sort necessary for the safety of his majesty's person and government. Force and violence are the resort of usurpers and tyrants only; because they are, with good reason, distrustful of the people whom they oppress; and because they have no other security for the continuance of their unlawful and unnatural dominion, than what depends entirely on the strength of their armies." The motion, however, was carried in the affirmative.


Another warm debate was excited by a bill which the courtiers brought in, to prevent any subjects of Great Britain from advancing sums of money to foreign princes or states, without having obtained license from his majesty, under his privy-seal or some great authority. The minister pretended that this law was proposed to disable the emperor, who wanted to borrow a great sum of the English merchants, from raising and maintaining troops to disturb the tranquillity of Europe. The bill contained a clause empowering the king to prohibit by proclamation all such loans of money, jewels, or bullion: the attorney-general was empowered to compel, by English bill, in the court of exchequer, the effectual discovery, on oath, of any such loans; and it was enacted, that in default of an answer to any such bill, the court should decree a limited sum against the person refusing to answer. Mr. Daniel Pulteney, a gentleman of uncommon talents and ability, and particularly acquainted with every branch of commerce, argued strenuously against this bill, as a restraint upon trade that would render Holland the market of Europe, and the mart of money to the nations of the continent. He said that by this general prohibition, extending to all princes, states, or potentates, the English were totally disabled from assisting their best allies: that, among others, the king of Portugal frequently borrowed money of the English merchants residing within his dominions; that while the licensing power remained in the crown, the licenses would be issued through the hands of the minister, who by this new trade might gain twenty, thirty, or forty thousand a-year: that the bill would render the exchequer a court of inquisition: and that whilst it restrained our merchants from assisting the princes and powers of Europe, it permitted our stockjobbers to trade in their funds without interruption. Other arguments of equal weight were enforced by Mr. Barnard, a merchant of London, who perfectly understood trade in all its branches, spoke with judgment and precision, and upon all occasions steadily adhered to the interest and liberties of his country. After having explained his reasons, he declared he should never consent to a bill which he deemed a violation of our fundamental laws, a breach of our dearest liberties, and a very terrible hardship on mankind. Sir William Wyndham distinguished himself on the same side of the question: the bill was vindicated by sir Robert Walpole, Mr. Pelham, and sir Philip Yorke, attorney-general; and being supported by the whole weight of ministerial influence, not only passed through the house, but was afterwards enacted into a law.

{GEORGE II. 1727-1760}


The subsidies were continued to the landgrave of Hesse-Cassel and the duke of Brunswick-Wolfenbuttle, in spite of all that could be urged against these extraneous incumbrances; and the supply for the ensuing year was granted according to the estimates which the ministry thought proper to produce, amounting to about two millions two hundred and eighty thousand pounds. It must be owned, however, for the credit of the session, that the house appropriated one million of the surplusses arising from the sinking fund towards the discharge of the national debt; and by another act extinguished the duties upon salt, by which expedient the subject was eased of a heavy burden, not only in being freed from the duty, but also from a considerable charge of salaries given to a great number of officers employed to collect this imposition. They likewise encouraged the colony of Carolina with an act, allowing the planters and traders of that province to export rice directly to any part of Europe southward of Cape Finisterre; and they permitted salt from Europe to be imported into the colony of New York. The term of the exclusive trade granted by act of parliament to the East India company drawing towards a period, many considerable merchants and others made application forbeing incorporated and vested with the privilege of trading to those countries, proposing to lay that branch of trade open to all the subjects of Great Britain on certain conditions. In consideration of an act of parliament for this purpose, they offered to advance three millions two hundred thousand pounds, for redeeming the fund and trade of the present East India company. This proposal was rejected; and the exclusive privilege vested in the company was, by act of parliament, protracted to the year one thousand seven hundred and sixty-six, upon the following conditions: That they should pay into the exchequer the sum of two hundred thousand pounds towards the supplies of the year, without interest or addition to their capital stock: that the annuity or yearly fund of one hundred and sixty thousand pounds, payable to them from the public, should be reduced to one hundred and twenty-eight thousand: that after the year one thousand seven hundred and sixty-six, their right to the exclusive trade should be liable to be taken away by parliament, on three years' notice, and repayment of their capital.



On the fifteenth day of May, the king went to the house of peers and closed the session. In his speech he expressed his joy, that, notwithstanding all the clamours which were raised, the parliament had approved of those matters which, he said, could not fail to inspire all mankind with a just detestation of those incendiaries, who, by scandalous libels, laboured to alienate the affections of his people; to fill their minds with groundless jealousies and unjust complaints, in dishonour of him and his government, and in defiance of the sense of both houses of parliament.*

* In the course of the session the commons passed a bill for making more effectual the laws in being, for disabling persons from being chosen members of parliament who enjoyed any pension during pleasure, or for any number of years, or any offices holden in trust for them, by obliging all persons hereafter to be chosen to serve the commons in parliament to take the oath therein mentioned. In all probability this bill would not have made its way through the house of commons, had not the minister been well assured it would stick with the upper house, where it was rejected at the second reading, though not without violent opposition.

The emperor was so much incensed at the insult offered him in the treaty of Seville, with respect to the garrisons of Tuscany and Parma, that he prohibited the subjects of Great Britain from trading in his dominions: he began to make preparations for war, and actually detached bodies of troops to Italy with such despatch as had been very seldom exerted by the house of Austria. Yet the article of which he complained was not so much a real injury as an affront put upon the head of the empire; for eventual succession to those Italian duchies had been secured to the infant, Don Carlos, by the quadruple alliance; and all that the emperor required was, that this prince should receive the investiture of them as fiefs of the empire.

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