Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 21.djvu/168

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George II
George II
162

by calling: Frederick William 'the archbeadle of the Holy Roman Empire.' Both were engaged under the emperor's orders in the desperate attempt to settle the affairs of Mecklenburg, which had long been in a state of anarchy, and were far from unanimous as to the means to be employed. George had also a standing grievance in the king of Prussia's practice of impressing Hanoverian subjects for his army on Hanoverian soil. George conceived himself slighted because on his journey to Hanover he was permitted to traverse Prussian territory at his own expense. Accordingly he omitted to inform Frederick William of his arrival at Herrenhausen in May 1729, and the omission being brought to the notice of Lord Townshend by the Prussian minister, he coldly (and untruly) replied that it was in accordance with usage. Some Hanoverian soldiers carried off hay from Prussian territory, and some Prussian soldiers, travelling with passports in Hanover, were detained by the king's express orders. Frederick William at first demanded satisfaction by duel, seconds were named, and a meeting arranged. Diplomacy, however, averted the duel and suggested an arbitration. Of this, however, George would not hear. Thereupon Frederick William mobilised forty-four thousand troops, and began massing them on the Hanoverian frontier. George also made a show of warlike preparations, but eventually accepted the arbitration. The arbitrators met at Brunswick towards the end of September, and after some delay arranged (April 1730) for an exchange of the Prussians arrested by George against some of the Hanoverians impressed by Frederick William, and the cessation of military preparations. The affair of the hay was allowed to drop. Meanwhile George had returned to England in September 1729 (Hervey, ii. 467; Hist. Reg. 1729, pp. 221-57; Boyer, 1729, pt. i. 516, pt. ii. 178, 282-8; Hoppe, Gesch. der Stadt Hannover, 182; Vehse, i. 244; Bucholtz, Versuch in der Geschichte des Herzogthums Mecklenburg, 638; Büsching, Beyträge zu der Lebensgeschichte, &c., i. 305 et seq., 318 et seq.; Lebensbeschreibung, 162-72; A Letter from an English Traveller to his Friend in London relating to the Differences betwixt the Courts of Prussia and Hanover, London, 1730; Frederick the Great, Memoirs of the House of Brandenburg, iii. 69, 72-3, London, 1768; a detailed account of this curious quarrel will be found in Carlyle, Frederick the Great, ii. 266-99). The petty squabble thus at length composed left behind it so much bitterness as effectually to put an end to a negotiation which had long been pending for a cross match between the houses of England and Prussia, by the marriage of Frederic Louis, Prince of Wales, to the Princess Sophia Dorothea Wilhelmina of Prussia, and of the crown prince of Prussia to George's second daughter, Princess Amelia. The Prince of Wales, who was, or fancied himself, ardently in love with Wilhelmina, had been brought to England for the first time, in deference to the urgent representations of the ministry in December 1728, and was soon openly on bad terms with his father. The king pretended in 1729 that the civil list was deficient to the extent of 115,000l. No such deficit could be proved, but the House of Commons was induced by Walpole to vote the amount under the name of an arrear (Hist. Reg. 1728, p. 319; Coxe, Walpole,i. 299; Parl. Hist. viii. 605, 702; Carlyle, Frederick the Great, ii. 312 et seq.) The prince was sarcastic on his father's conduct in this matter, and provoked because the regency had not been left in his hands during the king's absence in Hanover.

The prince soon had a 'minister' of his own, viz. Bubb Dodington, afterwards Lord Melcombe [q. v.] When Walpole introduced his celebrated Excise Bill the king favoured it because it would tend to swell the civil list. The prince accordingly countenanced the opposition which defeated it (Hervey, i. 120-126, 182, 212). The king kept the prince very short of money, allowing him only 36,000l. out of the 100,000l. which, when the civil list was settled, was understood to be for his use. The king patronised Handel, and the prince with many of the nobility deserted the Haymarket for the rival opera house in Lincoln's Inn Fields. The prince found further cause of offence in the marriage of the princess royal to the Prince of Orange in 1734, alleging that he was entitled to a settlement before his sister. The king became extremely unpopular, and the prince fancied himself the idol of the people [see Frederick Louis, Prince of Wales, 1707-1751]. The attention of the king was diverted from the prince by the course of events on the continent. On the death of Augustus the Strong, elector of Saxony and king of Poland (1 Feb. 1732-3), the succession of his heir Frederic Augustus to the throne of Poland was disputed by Stanislaus Leczinsky. Louis XV supported Stanislaus in order to have a pretext for attacking the emperor, who favoured Frederic Augustus. On 14 Oct. 1733, after the election of Frederic Augustus in place of Stanislaus, Louis declared war and invaded the emperor's dominions. The emperor appealed to England for help. The king and queen were eager for war on his behalf, and were with the utmost difficulty restrained by Walpole. The king then entered into a negotia-