Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/George I
GEORGE I (George Lewis) (1660–1727), king of Great Britain and Ireland, and elector of Hanover, was born at Hanover 28 March 1660. His father, Ernest Augustus, married in 1658 to Sophia, youngest daughter of Elizabeth, queen of Bohemia, and granddaughter of James I of England, became bishop of Osnabrück in 1662, and in 1679 succeeded to the principality of Calenberg (Hanover). George William of Lüneburg-Celle had entered into an engagement to remain unmarried, and to transmit his dominions on his death to his younger brother, Ernest Augustus, or his descendants. The consequent prospect of uniting all the possessions of the younger branch of the House of Brunswick suggested at an early date to Ernest Augustus the thought of obtaining from the emperor the creation of a ninth (Hanoverian) electorate. This purpose shaped the earlier career of his eldest son. The education of George Lewis must have been influenced by the clear and lively intellect of his mother, but, as was indignantly noted by her favourite niece, he was not in the habit of showing her affection (Elisabeth Charlotte von Orléans, An die Raugräfin Louise, 22 April 1702; cf. Kemble, p. 20; Halliday, Hist. of the House of Guelph, 1821, p. 162; see, however, his dutiful letters to her from the field, ap. Kemble, pp. 131-2; and cf. ib. p. 433 as to his grief at her illness). His campaigns in the wars of the empire began in 1675, when, as Ernest Augustus announced to his wife, 'her Benjamin bore himself bravely' in the battle of the Bridge at Conz (Memoiren der Herzogin Sophie, p. 104). In December 1680 he started, well furnished with money, on a journey to England, where he was well received at court, and believed to have a fair chance of the hand of the Princess Anne (Havemann, iii. 426). But he was suddenly (see his statement to Lord Lansdowne ap. Jesse, ii. 283) recalled by his father, in conformity with whose schemes he on 21 Nov. 1682 married Sophia Dorothea, the only child of his uncle of Celle and his uncle's French wife, formerly his mistress. The arrangement as to the Celle succession still holding good, and primogeniture having been recently established by Ernest Augustus in the whole of his dominions, the future importance of the House of Hanover seemed better assured than ever, and in 1692 the father of George Lewis actually became elector. Meanwhile the prince continued his service under the imperial flag, taking an honourable part in Sobiesky's rescue of Vienna in 1683, in 1685 distinguishing himself at the capture of Neuhäusel in Hungary, and in the battle of Neerwinden, 29 July 1693, only escaping with his life through the devotion of General von Hammerstein (Havemann, iii. 310, 311, and note, p. 357; cf. Vehse, i. 70, as to his visit to Venice after his Hungarian campaign).
His wife had borne him two children, the future king, George II, and Sophia Dorothea, afterwards queen of Frederick William I of Prussia; but their conjugal relations, partly in consequence of the prince's amour with Madame von dem Bussche, sister of the Countess Platen, had sunk from coldness into mutual repugnance. The faults were probably not all on one side, though George Lewis's dislike of his wife may have been intensified by his prejudice against her mother (see memoirs and correspondence of the Electress Sophia and her niece). Whether guilty or not (and no known evidence of her guilt exists, except in a correspondence of disputable authenticity), the Electoral Princess Sophia Dorothea was accused of a criminal intrigue with Count Philip von Königsmark, a Swedish adventurer of family, who had recently been in the Hanoverian military service. Whatever were the circumstances of the crime perpetrated in the palace at Hanover on the night of 1 July 1674, in which Königsmark vanished for ever from the sight of man, George Lewis at least, who had not yet returned from a journey to Berlin, had no hand in it. We may readily distrust the assertion of his relentless censor, the Duchess of Orleans (Correspondance, tr. par Brunet, 1869, i. 379), that he was wont to glory in its commission. Against the princess, who had previously attempted to quit Hanover and had manifestly meditated a second flight with Königsmark's help, sentence of divorce was pronounced on the ground of malicious desertion, and she was detained a prisoner at Ahlden, near Celle, till her death, 3 Nov. 1726. George henceforth knew her name no more; but she was not maltreated in her place of banishment, and on her death he, though reluctantly, allowed her to be buried with her parents at Celle (Havemann, iii. 510). Horace Walpole's gossip about the king having been prophetically warned that he would not survive her a year (Reminiscences, p. ciii) is not worth repeating; but we may believe that George's hatred of his son was largely due to his knowledge of the son's regard for the mother.
In 1694 George Lewis began to take part in the government of the electorate, owing to the feeble health of his father, whom he succeeded on 23 Jan. 1698. The Celle dominions, which supported a military force about equal to the Hanoverian, did not fall in till seven years later; but already, 9 Jan. 1699, Leopold I had invested him with the electoral dignity. Finally, in 1708, his exertions on behalf of the grand alliance were rewarded by the long-delayed introduction of the elector of Hanover into the college of electors at the imperial diet, and in 1710 the hereditary arch-treasurership of the empire was conferred upon him. His influence, further strengthened by his fœdus perpetuum with Brandenburg (1700), by the reconciliation of the younger with the elder line of the House of Brunswick (1705), and by the Prussian marriage of his daughter (1706), increased with his honours (see Havemann, iii. 400, as to his bold intervention on behalf of the protestant estates at Hildesheim, and as to the French offer of support in case he should income a candidate on the next election to the imperial throne).
In 1699 he was first brought into personal contact with the question of the succession to the English throne. After the failure of William III in 1689 to include the Duchess Sophia and her descendants by name in the succession, no further step could for sometime be taken in the matter by Sophia, her husband, or her son. A rather complicated series of negotiations, however, began with the visit of William III to George William of Celle at his hunting-seat of the Göhrde in 1698, at which George Lewis was present (Klopp, viii. 245-8; cf. Malortie, iii. 147 seq.) In all these transactions the elector and his mother seem to have entirely identified their interests and conduct. The death of the young Duke of Gloucester (30 July 1700) brought the Hanover line to the front, and the act of 1701 definitely settled the succession, in default of issue from Anne and William, upon the Electress Sophia and her heirs, being protestant.
Meanwhile the elector of Hanover played an increasingly important part in the military affairs of Europe. In 1699 his troops helped to protect the Holstein Gottorp territory against Denmark, and thus to bring about the peace of Travendahl in the following year. In 1701 Hanover and Celle joined the grand alliance: and after the death of William III, its author, when there was some talk of George Lewis succeeding him in the stadholdership, they, in return for subsidies, placed more than ten thousand men under Marlborough's command, and furnished five regiments of horse to the States-General. Leibniz thought that the elector himself ought to have been appointed to the captain-generalship of the British forces (Kemble, p. 269). About this time (1702) Toland visited Hanover and Herrenhausen, and published his impressions three years afterwards. With the exception of certain palpable flatteries intended for the English market, his statements tally with other accounts. The elector is described as a popular prince, equitable in administration, frugal and punctual in his payments, a perfect man of business, but spending much time with his mistresses. Toland extols his military knowledge and personal courage, adding that he cares little for any diversion but hunting, and is very reserved in manner. He was not to be surpassed 'in his zeal against the intended universal monarchy of France, and was so most hearty for the common cause of Europe' (Toland, p. 70).
Marlborough visited Hanover in 1704 and 1705, and easily persuaded the elector to discountenance the tory scheme of bringing his mother over to England (suggestions to the same effect made to the elector by Peterborough and others in 1707 were rejected accordingly). George Lewis appears in return to have given good advice on the subject of the negotiations with Charles XII of Sweden. The elector formed intimate relations with Marlborough, and maintained them after the duke's loss of favour (for an earlier letter, 1702, see Macpherson, i. 621). In 1706 Halifax brought over the 'Regency Act,' by means of which the Hanoverian succession was to be actually accomplished, and the act which naturalised the Electress Sophia and her descendants, being protestants. The elector made polite acknowledgments (Macpherson, ii. 51 seqq.), but his policy was still governed by his dynastic interests at home and his devotion to the emperor. Rigidly abstaining from intervention in English affairs, and even more consistently than his mother avoiding any step which might give umbrage to Queen Anne or her ministers, he steadily seconded her in her policy of masterly inaction. Horace Walpole's assertion (Reminiscences, p. cvii) that during Anne's reign the elector was inclined to the tories and his mother to the whigs is a misrepresentation.
In 1707 George Lewis, after some well-warranted hesitation, accepted the supreme command of the army of the empire on the Upper Rhine. 'He found the troops in an unsatisfactory condition of discipline (September), and was much hampered by the slackness of the contributions and by the formalities surrounding his office. He showed much energy in combating these obstacles, but he was not initiated by Marlborough and Eugene into their plans for the campaign of 1708, or allowed to share its laurels. In 1709 his own offensive operations were thwarted, and on 20 May in the following year, indignant at the shortcomings of the emperor and the estates, he resigned his command (cf. his letters to Queen Anne, ap. Macpherson, ii. 178-81). But he was as loyal as ever to the war, and when sounded by Queen Anne deprecated further changes in her government. Hereupon the tory managers thought to gain his goodwill by bringing about his nomination to the command in the Low Countries. It was even said that Lord Rivers, who was sent to Hanover in 1710 to explain away the ministerial changes in England, was to insinuate the offer. But Marlborough had forewarned the elector, who managed to give replies of unimpeachable prudence to Rivers's explanations. George Lewis's chief interest in these years was probably the progress of the northern war, which led him to conclude defensive alliances with Poland (1709) and Denmark (1710), and to exert himself to stave off hostilities in the German northeast. At first he demurred to the proposed partition of the Swedish territories, but insisted, in the event of its being taken in hand, that the duchies of Bremen and Verden should be allotted to Hanover. When in the autumn of 1712 the Danes occupied Bremen, he sent troops into Verden.
The polite overtures of both Harley and St. John in 1711 were very coldly met by the elector. He maintained a significant reserve concerning the peace negotiations, but found it necessary to send a plenipotentiary to Utrecht. He did not seem overcome when Thomas Harley arrived at Hanover (July 1712) with the act according precedence in England to his mother, himself, and his son, and though turning a deaf ear to Prince Eugene's suggestion that he should play over again the part of William the Deliverer, declined to second the policy of the British ministry at Utrecht or elsewhere. In his instructions to his envoy Grote he made no secret of his suspicions of Oxford, and his trust in the whig leaders; but he steadily maintained his attitude of non-intervention in English affairs, and notably declined to favour the suggestion (1713) that the electoral prince should be sent over to England. Even the news of Anne's serious illness at the end of the year failed to move him. Schulemburg's statement that George Lewis, could he have done so with honour, would have readily renounced his claim to the English succession (Klopp, xiv. 590), remains a mere assertion. In any case, such a course became altogether impossible after the insulting letters written by Bolingbroke in Queen Anne's name, when, in consequence of the Hanoverian envoy Schütz's inquiry, the lord chancellor had sent to the prince his writ of attendance in the House of Lords [see George II]. Though one of the famous three letters was addressed to the elector (for it see Macpherson, ii. 621), it is certain that he had not joined with his mother and son in making the obnoxious inquiry (see the elector's own declaration to Clarendon, ap. Coxe, i. 142-3, and Robethon's explicit statement, Marchmont Papers, ii. 399 seqq.; cf. Klopp, xiv. 576 seqq.) In the memorial signed by the electress and himself on 7 May, however, both the dotation of the former and the establishment of a member of the electoral family in England had been pointed out as expedient (see Macpherson, ii. 608 seqq.) The death of the Electress Sophia on 8 June seems to have induced the elector to manifest a livelier interest in the succession, in which he had now taken her place; nor was it an impulse of pure sentiment which on this occasion led to a reconciliation between him and his son (Marchmont Papers, ii. 405). His conduct as heir-presumptive to the British throne was, however, marked by his accustomed discretion and self-respect. He disavowed Schütz, and took no part in the publication of the queen's letters, replying to that addressed to himself calmly and courteously (see Macpherson, ii. 623-4). But he handed to Thomas Harley his outspoken memorial of 7 May, and entrusted the announcement to the queen of his mother's death to Bothmar, by no means a persona grata to the existing régime (Klopp, xiv. 601). At the same time he caused a fresh instrument of regency, containing his own nominations of lords justices, to be prepared, and at home took every precaution for the safety of his German dominions in the approaching crisis. Frederick William I of Prussia, who was on a visit to him at the end of July, and other allied princes offered him their help (Ranke, vii. 74).
Queen Anne died on 1 Aug., and on the same day the regency instruments were opened in the presence of George's representatives, Bothmar and Kreyenberg. The absence from the list of lords justices of Marlborough's name was attributed to the remembrance of the plan of campaign of 1708, but Lord Stanhope (i. 95) is probably right in supposing George to have been advised to omit the whig leaders in a body. Marlborough's nomination as captain-general, dated 6 Aug., was probably the first document signed by George I as king (Klopp, xii. 654). On the day of Queen Anne's death the lords justices proclaimed the new sovereign in the usual localities in London, further proclamations following there and in Edinburgh on 5 Aug., and in Dublin with a proclamation for the disarming of papists on the 6th. The lords voted an address to King George on the 5th, and the commons on the 6th. The funds, which had risen three per cent, on 1 Aug., went up a further seven per cent, when the address of the commons became known.
On the evening of 1 Aug. Bothmar had despatched his secretary Goedeke to Hanover, where he arrived on the 6th, followed on the next day by the Earl of Dorset, sent by the lords justices on the morning of the 2nd to attend the king on his journey to England. According to a doubtful tradition, Lord Clarendon, who had arrived just before Queen Anne's death partly on a mission of condolence, partly to transmit Bolingbroke's reply to the memorial of 7 May, was the first Englishman to bend his knee before George I (so Malorite, who adds details; but see the doubts of Klopp, xiv. 646 n.) Craggs, who arrived at Hanover as early as the 5th, was the bearer of a letter from the privy council dated the day before the queen's death (see Political State, viii. 206). Soon Hanover was full enough of princes, British and German diplomatists and others, to furnish reason or excuse for delay; but at last on 31 Aug. the king started without ceremony of any kind. Before leaving he had conferred some substantial favours upon the city of Hanover, and had committed the government of his electorate to a council presided over by his youngest brother, Ernest Augustus [q. v.] Bothmar became, and continued till 1727, minister for Hanoverian affairs in England (see Kemble, p. 331). The king was followed at some distance by his son. His prime minister (since 1709), Baron Bernstorff, and Privy-councillor Robethon, formerly private secretary to William III, and the draughtsman of the electoral court, had preceded him to the Hague. In his small suite were also his finance minister, Baron Görz, and his master of the horse, Baron Kielmannsegge. The baroness contrived (Lady M. W. Montagu, i. 127), in spite, it is said, of her creditors, to overtake the royal party in Holland; the king's other mistress en titre, Mlle, de Schulenburg, followed without much delay. At the Hague, where the king was warmly received, he decreed the dismissal of Bolingbroke, naming Townshend secretary of state, a choice most acceptable to the United Provinces (cf. Ranke, vii. 75). On 16 Sept. the king embarked at Oranie Polder in the yacht Peregrine, accompanied by a squadron of twenty sail under Admiral Berkeley, anchored off Gravesend in a fog on the following night, and landed at Greenwich on the 18th at 6 P.M.
Here he held his first royal reception on the 19th, particularly distinguishing Marlborough and the whig lords in attendance, but ignoring Ormonde and Harcourt, and barely noticing Oxford, introduced to him by Dorset as 'le comte Oxford dont V. M. aura entendu parler' (Hoffman's Report, ap. Klopp, xiv. 665; cf. Stanhope and Coxe). Among the addresses received was one signed by a number of leading highland names which figured in next year's rebellion (Doran, i. 11). On the 20th George I held his royal entry into London, with the Prince of Wales by his side; but the honours of the day seem to have fallen to Marlborough (Political State, viii. 258). The king's court on the 21st was well attended; on the 22nd he presided over a meeting of the privy council held for formal purposes, but it was dissolved on the 29th, and a new one put in its place.
The new ministry was entirely whig, with the exception of Nottingham [see Finch, Daniel]. Lord Cowper, the new lord chancellor, had hastened to present his 'Impartial History of Parties' (see for this paper, which is not altogether historical and not at all impartial, the appendix to Campbell's 'Life of Lord Cowper' in his Lives of the Lord Chancellors, iv. 421-9), and Lady Cowper writes (Diary, p. 32): 'The King is, as we wish, upon the subject of Parties, and keeps my Lord's MS. by him, which he has read several times.' The notion of retaining the services of a few tories was soon relinquished (see as to Hanmer and Bromley Political State, viii. 350). A precedent of enduring importance was set by the selection of seven great officers of state, together with the veteran Somers without office, to form the cabinet council of the sovereign. George I seems to have shown considerable firmness in resisting solicitations, and the number of peerages (fourteen) and other honours bestowed by him at this time was not excessive. On 20 Oct. his coronation took place in Westminster Abbey with great pomp, both spiritual and lay peers of nearly every political complexion, including Bolingbroke, who had hitherto in vain sought to be admitted to the royal presence (Lady Cowper), appearing in their places (for details see Political State, viii. 347 seqq.; cf. Lady Cowper's lively description, Diary, p. 3 seqq.; Klopp cites an elaborate narrative in Lünig, Theatrum Europœum). In London the solemnity was unmarred by disturbances, but in Bristol and elsewhere it was celebrated by riots, with cries the reverse of loyal (cf. Lady Cowper, p. 19).
From 1714 to 1717 the conduct of affairs was in the hands of the administration in which Townshend exercised the chief influence, and in which his most intimate asssociate, Walpole, afterwards (October 1715) entered the cabinet as first lord of the treasury. The first thing necessary was the dissolution of Queen Anne's last parliament (4 Jan. 1715). It had readily voted the new sovereign a civil list of 700,000l.; indeed, some of the tories even proposed to increase this figure at which his predecessor's personal revenue had stood by a further 300,000l. (cf. Wentworth Papers, p. 411; according to Wortley Montagu, this proposal was made on behalf of the crown at the suggestion of Walpole). It had shown its loyalty to King George in other ways, but the majority was tory, with a variable infusion of Jacobitism. In the elections for the new parliament, which met on 17 March, no exertions on the part of the government were spared to secure a favourable verdict on the question of the succession challenged by the Pretender's manifesto of the previous 29 Aug. The tories, unwilling or unable to meet this issue directly, raised the old cry of the church in danger, and the presbyterian principles of the house of Hanover were, with audacious ignorance or mendacity, held up to opprobium (see the pamphlet, English Advice to the Freeholders of England, cited by Wright). No doubt George I's mother was bred a Calvinist, but the line to which he belonged was Lutheran. Leibniz had been at pains to impress upon him the agreement between the Augsburg Confession and the Thirty-nine Articles; and George was not of a nature to make difficulties on such subjects (see Correspondance de Leibniz avec l'Electrice Sophie, iii. 342; cf. Toland, p. 56). He naturally brought his Lutheran travelling court chaplain with him to England (Malorite, i. 60); but he conformed unhesitatingly to the church of England (Political State, viii. 377, 464, and especially ix. 313; and see on the whole subjectPAULl, Aufsätze zur engl. Gesch. Neue Folge, 1883, pp. 379 sq.)
In the new parliament, which was opened by the king in person, though his speech had to be read by the lord chancellor, the whigs commanded a very large majority. In its principal transactions the personal influence of George I had no determining share. His opinion as to the impeachment of the fallen tory leaders is unknown. The revival of the Riot Act (1715) was'provoked by mobs which as a rule clamoured for the church rather than against the throne, though the cry of 'No George' was occasionally heard (cf. Wright, i. 32-3), and though it was even rumoured that a plot had been laid in the city to assassinate the magistrates favourable to the king (Treasury Papers, 1716, p. 235). The Septennial Act (1716) in the first instance unmistakably added to the security of the reigning family. The king, however, was from the first profoundly unpopular with his subjects at large, and in London both with the world of fashion and with the public of the streets. This arose partly from his own want of royal graces, but still more from the rapacity attributed to his German mistresses and dependents. Outrageous corruption was imputed to the ladies, who reached the height of their honours as Duchess of Kendal (1719) and as Countess of Darlington (1722) respectively, and against the rest of the foreigners, down to the king's two favourite valets, Mustapha and Mahomet, captives of one of his Turkish campaigns, who, as pages of the backstairs, were said to carry on a brisk traffic in minor offices (Jesse, ii. 297; 'Honest Mah'met' is immortalised in Pope, Moral Essays, Ep. ii. 198).
The anticipation of the Jacobite insurrections of 1715-16 produced, however, a considerable display of loyalty outside as well as inside the houses. At this time George I, who had recently presented to the university of Cambridge the valuable library of Bishop Moore of Ely (he afterwards added a gift of 2,000l. for building purposes), refused to accept an address from the university of Oxford, which, among other ebullitions of disloyalty, had conferred an honorary degree upon Sir Constantine Phipps, just dismissed from the Irish lord chancellorship (as to the furious interchange of epigrams see Doran, i. 348; cf. Wordsworth, University Life in the Eighteenth Century, p. 45). Five days before the proclamation of 'James III' at Braemar (6 Sept. 1715) Lewis XIV had died, who, after recognising George I and sending the Pretender out of France, was drifting into support of the invasion, for which he had allowed a small armament to fit out at Havre. His death, and the accession to power of the Duke of Orleans as regent, foredoomed the expedition to failure. George I appointed 7 June 1716 as a thanksgiving day. His government cannot be charged with unnecessary severity towards the prisoners taken in this rebellion. Of the six peers condemned to death, all but one (Wintoun) threw themselves on the king's mercy. The applications made on their behalf greatly troubled him, as he desired not to interfere. He pardoned Lord Nairn at the request of Stanhope, but the entreaties of the Countess of Derwentwater and those of the Countess of Nithsdale, who forced him to drag her on her knees to the door of the drawing-room, were in vain. When the house of peers, by a narrow majority, passed an address begging the king to reprieve such of the prisoners as deserved it for as long a time as he thought fit, he returned a dignified but evasive answer, which, according to Lady Cowper (Diary, p. 82), 'plainly showed the Lords concerned that they had played the Fool.' Nottingham, who had approved the address, and against whom the king was much incensed, was dismissed from office. Two of the condemned peers were, however, respited. The king naturally showed much annoyance at the escape of Lord Nithsdale, but was guilty of bad taste in attending the Duke of Montague's ball on the day of the execution of Lords Derwentwater and Kenmure (Doran, i. 146-63; cf. Stanhope, i. 194 seqq.)
The rebellion at an end and the Septennial Act passed, George I made known his wish to visit his electorate, in whose interests he had, July 1715, joined the coalition against Charles XII of Sweden. Townshend and his colleagues had warmly approved this step, and the annexation of Bremen and Verden; they had moreover sanctioned the despatch of a British fleet into the Baltic, ostensibly for the protection of our trade there. The two so-called treaties of Westminster show a lively desire on the part of ministers in the earlier half of 1716 to keep up the traditions of the Grand Alliance; but they were not privy to the whole of the designs of George I and Bernstorff, and there was reason enough to dread the shifting to Hanover of the centre of gravity of British foreign policy. The king, on the other hand, although warned of the unpopularity of the step, desired the repeal of the clause in the Act of Settlement debarring him from quitting the country without the consent of parliament. As the ministry shrank from the expedient of asking parliament to give this consent in each case, the repeal of the clause was carried without a dissentient voice. The tories hoped that he would incur unpopularity by this privilege, of which he made even freer use than they could have hoped. Besides his last journey he made six visits to Germany after his accession, which repeatedly covered nearly all the latter half of the year. Such remonstrances as were offered by his British advisers were 'often ineffectual, but always offensive' (Coxe, i. 142).
In 1716 there existed a special obstacle to his journey in the difficulty of bringing about an understanding with the Prince of Wales, to effect which Bernstorff was set to work (Lady Cowper, p. 107). Already in the old days the son had been treated harshly, excluded from the council of state, denied a regiment and a sufficient income, and blamed for his confidences to 'the women,' i.e. his wife and the old electress (Schulemburg, ap. Kemble, p. 512). The prince's eagerness about the succession had annoyed his more stolid father, and any reconciliation had been quite hollow. The prince was now anxious to have the title and office of regent during the king's absence; the king would have preferred a commission of regency, of which the prince would have been a member with carefully restricted authority. He also insisted on the dismissal of Argyll, the prince's favourite counsellor, and of other courtiers, and on this head the prince ultimately gave way (Lady Cowper, pp. 108, 111). But no precedent having been found by the privy council for a commission the sole direction of the government during his absence was assigned to the prince, under the obsolete title of 'guardian of the realm and lieutenant' (Coxe, i. 142-4). Hereupon, 7 July 1716, the king sailed for the continent, a treasonable libel, 'King G——'s Farewell to England, or the Oxford Scholars in Mourning,' being hawked about the streets on the occasion of his departure.
Hanover and Herrenhausen were ablaze with delight at the reappearance of their sovereign and the daily performance of French plays (Havemann, iii. 496). George I, as Lord Peterborough phrased it, 'lived so happily here, that he seemed to have forgot the accident that happened to him and his family the 1st of August 1714' (Lady Cowper, pp. 194-5). He also paid a visit to his favourite watering-place of Pyrmont. But in truth political transactions of extreme importance were during this visit carried on by the king and Bernstorff, with the partial co-operation of Stanhope, who had accompanied the king as secretary of state. These negotiations ultimately led to the conclusion of the triple alliance between Great Britain, France, and the United Provinces (4 Jan. 1717). Before, however, this negotiation was finished, the czar Peter I had taken advantage of an internal quarrel in Mecklenburg to send troops into the duchy, and had thereby excited the resentment of George I and of other princes of the empire. George I proposed to crush the czar, and seize his person in pledge by means of the British squadron now in the Baltic; and though Stanhope, to whom Bernstorff communicated this plan, delayed his approval, he advised Townshend to assent to it. But Townshend, in the name of the Prince of Wales as well as of the ministry, demurred, and the crisis passed over without the proposed intervention. Meanwhile the king and Stanhope erroneously suspected Townshend of delaying the settlement of the treaty with France by insisting on the necessity of waiting for the Dutch signature; and the insinuations of the 'Hanoverian junto' against him were reinforced by the vehemence of Sunderland, who, dissatisfied with his position in the ministry, was allowed to attend the king abroad. The treasury at home was irritated by the attempts upon it by Bothmar and Robethon on their own behalf or on that of the mistress at the king's elbow; and George was in turn annoyed by Walpole's most respectful 'failure of memory' as to the promised refunding of a sum advanced by the king for the hire of Münster and Saxe-Gotha troops to help in suppressing the Scottish rebellion. But the most potent motive of the king's dissatisfaction with his English ministry was his revived jealousy of the Prince of Wales, who was making himself as popular as possible at home, and, besides showing renewed favour to Argyll, intimated through Townshend his desire, should the king remain abroad, to hold a parliament. Horace Walpole the elder, charged by Townshend, November 1716, with his despatch of explanations to the king, found the latter strongly preoccupied against his chief minister, but succeeded, with Stanhope's praiseworthy aid in producing a change of mood. In the middle of December, however, the king resolved on the removal of Townshend, though he was induced by Stanhope to offer him the lord-lieutenancy of Ireland to break his fall. This Townshend at first declined, but on the king's arrival in England (end of January 1717) he accepted the post, Walpole also remaining in office.
Parliament reopened 20 Feb. with loyal addresses inspired by the discovery of 'Görtz's plot' for an insurrection in England and the invasion of Scotland by Charles XII (29 Jan.); but this unanimity was only momentary. Walpole joined with other adherents of Townshend and the tories and Jacobites at large in seriously imperilling the vote of supply demanded against Sweden, and the result was the immediate dismissal of Townshend (5 April), whom Walpole and several of those who acted with him at once followed out of office. Stanhope became first lord of the treasury at the head of a reconstructed ministry, and the second period of the reign covered by his administration (1717-20) commenced. Beyond a doubt the important achievements of the 'German ministry,' as Stanhope's government was derisively called, were completely in accord with the wishes of the king, and the real director of our foreign policy in this period was Bernstorff, whose influence was now at its height (Ranke, vii. 104), though Stanhope's activity deserves a large share of the credit of the Quadruple Alliance. 'This king of England,' exclaimed the Duchess Dowager of Orleans (9 June 1718, ap. Kemble, p. 20), 'who is so dreadfully alarmed lest any one should imagine that he lets himself be ruled, how can he submit to be led in this way by that Bernstorff, and against his own children, too?' Great Britain's gain from the foreign policy of this period was by no means confined to the indirect advantage of the definite acquisition by Hanover of Bremen and Verden (1719). The Utrecht settlement was maintained; the ambition of Alberoni was checkmated by the Quadruple Alliance (1718) and the war of 1719, which witnessed the collapse of another Spanish Armada; while the treaties of Passarowitz (1718) and Nystadt (1721) secured peace to the east and north of Europe. George I, as Ranke says (vii. 103), occupied a position in the European system resembling that of William III after Ryswick, with the advantage in his favour that France was his ally. But this was neither very obvious nor very interesting to the general public at home.
At home the government made no advance in popularity. George I had no love for high church, and the silencing of convocation, in which the ecclesiastical controversies of the times resulted (1717), must have had his approval, and Stanhope's liberal policy towards the nonconformists his good-will. But he was prudent enough to perceive the impossibility of sweeping away by a repeal of the Test and Corporation Acts the disabilities of protestant dissenters and Roman catholics alike, and the Relief Act, carried December 1718, was a very modest measure (Lecky, i. 258). In the matter of Sunderland's Peerage Bill (finally rejected December 1719) the intervention of the king, who in his message to the lords requested that his prerogative should not stand in the way of the proposed limitation (Coxe, i. 222), was thought to be influenced by fear of the creations which the Prince of Wales might make on his advent to the throne. Walpole, who with Townshend had entered into a bitter opposition to the government, was the chief adversary of the bill, but in July 1720 they rejoined the ministry. Stanhope's most serious embarrassment, however, was due to the action of Bernstorff, who finally ventured to conceive a scheme for the spoliation of Prussia with the aid of the emperor and Poland (see Stanhope's letters, ap. Coxe, i. Appendix, pp. 321-3). This Stanhope contrived (1719) to baffle by making a confidant of the Duchess of Kendal (ib. p. 239). All this time people in England refused to see in the king anything but a selfish and indolent voluptuary. Atterbury writes from his deanery, June 1718, that 'Hearne,' a nickname for George I, 'is soothed up with new pleasures and new mistresses . . . his indolence and ignorance of his affairs are more remarkable than ever' (Doran, i. 311); and his unpopularity exposed him to perils culminating about the end of 1717 in an attempt at assassination by a coachmaker's apprentice, James Shepherd (Jesse, ii. 304), which he confronted with his habitual cool courage. It was remarked that he frequently visited the theatre in the solitude of a sedan-chair (Doran, i. 320).
In 1719 and in 1720 George I visited Hanover, Herrenhausen, and Pyrmont, after on each occasion naming a council of regency composed of great officers of state, instead of naming the Prince of Wales regent. The dissensions between father and son had gone from bad to worse, and in 1718 a quarrel about the sponsorship of one of the prince's children led to the king's ordering him to quit St. James's Palace. The disgrace of the prince and princess was officially notified to foreign courts; Lord Cowper, who had opposed a bill by which the prince's income would have been made entirely dependent on the king's will, was obliged to give up the great seal (April 1718; cf. Campbell, Lives, iv. 390); and the king planned obtaining an act of parliament by which the prince on coming to the British throne should be compelled to relinquish his German dominions (cf. Lord Hervey, Memoirs, iii. 216-19, 291-3; and see Campbell, u.s., as to the circumstances under which the scheme was dropped). At last, in April 1720, after much secret manœuvring, the king, through Walpole, made overtures for a reconciliation; an interview after some time followed, which, according to the prince's report to Lady Cowper, lasted five minutes, and in which the king's only audible words were 'votre conduite;' and the end was a reconciliation 'managed without Bernstorff or Bothmar, or any of the Germans knowing about it except the Duchess of Kendal' (see Lady Cowper's account, Diary, p. 141 sq.) Probably she was near the truth in her statement that Walpole undertook to make the prince do everything the king wanted. The management of the affair seems to have caused great consternation in the German clique (cf. as to the peacemakers Marchmont Papers, ii. 409-10).
The king's sojourn in Germany was in 1720 cut short by the news of the South Sea crash, and, taking an abrupt departure he landed at Margate 9 Nov. But the ill-fated stock continued its precipitate fall; the country was in an uproar, and the king had to bear his share of the obloquy. The Duchess of Kendal was said to have received enormous sums from the company (Wright i. 79-80) . It was rumoured that Sunderland, with the ulterior design of overturning the throne, was urging the king to marry the Duchess of Kendal. In view of the unpopularity of the king, some of his Hanoverian counsellors are said to have suggested a resignation of the crown to the Prince of Wales; while per contra he was recommended, with the help of a number of devoted officers of his army, to render the crown absolute by a coup d'état (Coxe, ii. 21-2, referring to letters from the Hanoverian ministers among the Townshend Papers).
Wiser councils prevailed, and indeed already, shortly before the king's return, the man for the situation had been found. Walpole and Townshend—no longer Townshend and Walpole—resumed their former offices at the head of a government, the reconstruction of which, had become indispensable through the death of Stanhope (4 Feb. 1721) and the removal by various causes of other whig leaders. With a speech written by Walpole, which promised well for the prosperity of the country, the king opened the last session of his first parliament (9 Oct. 1721), and the intrigues of Sunderland to oust him from the royal favour were thwarted by the king's avowed determination never again to part with his minister (Coxe, ii. 71, 75). Walpole's long ministerial ascendency asserted itself at the very outset, when the king by his advice abandoned further interference in the affairs of the Swedish throne (ib. pp. 107-8). As the king spoke no English and Walpole neither German nor French, their conversation was carried on in such Latin as they could command (Horace Walpole, Reminiscences, p. xcv). But the straightforwardness of George I harmonised with the bonhomie of Walpole, who in the next reign must have looked back with regret to the jovial hours the old king had spent with him over a bowl of punch after dinner in his small house at Richmond (ib. pp. xcvi-vii). George I bestowed a lucrative patent-place upon Walpole for life (Horace Walpole), and created his son a peer. Townshend, too, was now in high favour (cf. Coxe, ii. 125). A steady majority was secured to the ministry by the election for the parliament which met in October 1722, and which, by a year's suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act, promptly extinguished any ulterior danger from 'Atterbury's Plot.' This conspiracy, which proposed an invasion under Ormonde, the seizure of the king and royal family and of the chief civil and military authorities, had become known to the British government in May through the good offices of the regent Orleans. In it the last direct attempt against the throne of George I was nipped in the bud.
In 1723 George I's visit to Germany included an interchange of visits with Frederick William I of Prussia, to arrange a marriage between the Prussian Princess Wilhelmina and Frederick, eldest son of the Prince of Wales; but though ardently desired by Queen Sophia Dorothea, the marriage treaty, owing to subsequent difficulties between the two sovereigns, remained unsigned in this (as it did in the next) reign (Carlyle, Frederick II, bk. v. c. i.; cf. c. iv. In the earlier chapter Carlyle cites from the Memoirs of the Margravine of Baireuth (see i. 77-80, ed. 1845) her amusing account of the 'Spanish manners' of her 'Grandpapa' in his visit to Charlottenburg). They, however, availed themselves of this opportunity to send a joint threat of reprisals to the elector of Mainz and the Bishop of Speier,who were continuing to oppress their protestant subjects (already in 1719 George I had made similar representations, without success, to the elector palatine. See Malorite, i. 131-2; cf. Havemann, iii. 502). On this visit to Germany George I was, contrary to custom, accompanied by both secretaries of state, Lords Townshend and Carteret. The latter was on friendly terms with Bernstorff and Bothmar, and leant on the support of the Countess of Darlington and her sister Mme. de Platen, while the Duchess of Kendal adhered to Walpole and Townshend. A design for a marriage between a daughter of Mme. de Platen and the Count St. Florentin, son of La Vrillière, French secretary of state, to be accompanied by the bestowal of a dukedom upon the bridegroom's father, had found favour with King George. The lady's family reckoned upon the help of Sir Luke Schaub, a Swiss, formerly secretary to Stanhope, and 'a kind of Will Chiffinch to George I' (Cunningham, note to Letters of Horace Walpole, i. 83), now British minister at Paris. Townshend, however, with the aid of the Duchess of Kendal and her 'niece,' the Countess of Walsingham, obtained the dismissal of Bernstorff from the ministry of state at Hanover, and frustrated the efforts of Bothmar, who had come over to use his influence (Coxe, ii. 104-5). The marriage took place at Paris, King George giving the bride a portion of 10,000l.; but the dukedom was withheld, and the king having angrily rejected a scheme of Lady Darlington and Schaub for a marriage between the youthful Lewis XV and the eldest daughter of the Prince of Wales, Schaub was superseded at Paris by his rival, Horace Walpole, and finally Carteret himself was deprived of the seals of secretary of state and sent as lord-lieutenant to Ireland (Coxe; Stanhope). In the troublesome affair of Wood's patent also the king followed the advice in which ultimately Carteret and Walpole concurred.
Baffled in the schemes proposed by them after the death of the regent Orleans (August 1723), the king and queen of Spain broke up the congress of Cambrai and brought about the first treaty of Vienna (April 1725). Spain was to call upon Great Britain to restore Gibraltar and Minorca; the demand was, if necessary, to be enforced by arms, and the Pretender to be seated on the British throne; while the emperor hoped to terrify or force the government of George I into guaranteeing the Pragmatic Sanction. George, who had better and earlier information at Hanover than his ministers had at Whitehall (Sir Robert Walpole ap. Stanhope, ii. 81), took the matter very coolly, expressing his hope to the Spanish ambassador that the reconciliation would last as long as the parties to it expected (Coxe, ii. 210-13). It was not the king or his German advisers, but the British ministry acting through Townshend, who had accompanied the king on his journey to Hanover as soon as parliament was up (June 1725), that devised the counter-check of the treaty of Hanover (3 Sept.) between Great Britain, France, and Prussia. George I shrank from a course which might bring invasion upon Hanover, and the ban of the empire upon himself, and all this for the sake of purely English questions, such as Gibraltar and Minorca, the Ostend Company and the Pretender. It is all the more to his credit that he assented to the treaty, bearing with his usual indifference the opposition clamour against a compact which showed 'Hanover riding triumphant on the shoulders of England' (Chesterfield ap. Stanhope, ii. 82). Such comments were quite as loud as the welcome which greeted George I on his landing at Rye (3 Jan. 1726) after being exposed to imminent peril during the violent storm which had detained him three days on his voyage.
The king's speech from the throne (20 Jan.) prefaced vigorous preparations in Scotland against the threatened invasion. But Fleury's accession to power in France (June) strengthened the Hanover alliance, which was joined by the United Provinces, Sweden, and Denmark. To bring about pacific relations between the two Scandinavian powers, and thereby to assure to Hanover an undisturbed tenure of Bremen and Verden, was one of the chief objects of George I during his sojourn at Herrenhausen in the summer of 1726. Though before long Prussia fell away from the alliance of Hanover (October), war-like demonstrations, partly intended to keep off the intervention of Russia, commenced on the part of Great Britain. When at the opening of parliament in January 1727 the royal speech had referred to the designs of the allies of Vienna, Palm, the imperial minister in London, presented a memorial to the king denying the existence of secret articles in the treaty and demanding reparation for the expressions in the speech. Palm had easily secured the support of Bothmar and the Hanoverians; he had found means, it is said, to impress the Duchess of Kendal, notwithstanding the price annually paid by the administration for her goodwill, and was in communication with the opposition, now controlled by Bolingbroke. All parties, however, agreed in resenting or professing to resent the memorial as insulting to both king and country; an indignant address was voted by the commons, and Palm received his passports (Coxe; Stanhope). Both the British and the Hanoverian forces were very considerably increased; a subsidy voted for twelve thousand Hessians at a cost of 240,000l. a year, however, excited much discontent (Lord Hervey, Memoirs, ch. i.) Soon afterwards the emperor agreed to preliminaries of peace with Great Britain and her allies (31 May), and Spain only delayed folio wing his example in order to save appearances. Bolingbroke, who had now completely gained over the Duchess of Kendal, revenged himself for the failure of his schemes by thrusting upon the king through her hands a memorial inveighing against Walpole, and demanding an audience. The king transmitted the paper to his minister, and by his advice the audience was granted. Immediately afterwards the king received Walpole himself in high good humour, but would give him no other account of what had passed but 'bagatelles, bagatelles!' As, however, George continued his confidential visits to Walpole, and on his last departure for Hanover ordered him to have the royal lodge and Richmond Park ready for his return, Walpole can hardly have erred in concluding that Bolingbroke's intrigue had failed. The Duchess of Kendal seems to have thought the same, though Bolingbroke and his friends roundly asserted that on the king's return he was to have been made prime minister in Walpole's place. Walpole was probably by no means free from apprehensions; but the strong sense of George I could hardly have allowed him to lose sight so completely of the interests of the country, and of his own (Coxe, ii. 252-5, and Preface i. xi-xii; cf. Horace Walpole, Reminiscences, pp. xcvii, and Lord Hervey, Memoirs, i. 18).
The last journey of George I to Germany was begun 3 June 1727. On the 9th he slept at Count de Twillet's house near the little Dutch town of Delden, after supping heartily and in the best of humours. Next day he continued his journey at 7 a.m., leaving the Duchess of Kendal behind him, and attended by two Hanoverian high court officials, Hardenberg and his favourite Fabrice. An hour afterwards he fainted. The courtiers thought it an apoplectic stroke; but he retained consciousness, and after being bled ordered by signs that the journey should be continued to Osnabrück, where he arrived at the house of his brother the bishop (Duke of York) some time after 10 p.m., unconscious and wholly paralysed. He lived through the next day, and died calmly on Wednesday morning, 12 June, in the presence of a few attendants, including his faithful valet Mustapha. His remains were deposited in the palace vaults, whence they were after a time taken to those at Hanover, and interred there on the night of 30 Aug. (Malortie, i. 137-51; cf. Coxe's account, ii. 255-7, derived from the personal inquiries of Wraxall). George I's will, which was rumoured to contain a legacy of 40,000l. to the Duchess of Kendal, and a large legacy to his daughter, the queen of Prussia, was destroyed by George II, and its duplicate likewise. According to Horace Walpole (Reminiscences, pp. cxxi-ii, where see Wright's note), Lady Suffolk told him, by way of plausible excuse for George II, that George I had burnt two wills made in favour of his son. 'They were probably the wills of the Duke and Duchess of Zell (i.e. Celle), or one of them might have been that of his mother, the Princess Sophia.' According to the same authority (ib. p. cx) George I's daughter-in- law, Queen Caroline, found in his cabinet at his death a proposal from the Earl of Berkeley, first lord of the admiralty, to seize the Prince of Wales and convey him to America, 'whence he should never be heard of more.'
The sudden death of George I, who had started on his journey in his usual vigorous health (he had had a threatening of apoplexy at Charlottenburg in 1723), and was only in his sixty-eighth year, took the world by surprise. Some unkindly legends were invented in connection with his decease; but probably few unselfish tears were shed, and none in his own family. Between his son and him all was hatred; his genial daughter-in-law he called 'cette diablesse' (ib. p. ciii); the only one of his own blood for whom he had much tenderness seems to have been his sister Queen Sophia Charlotte (Lady Cowper, Diary, p. 149). To his English subjects he had always remained a stranger. He never troubled himself to learn their language, though already as a boy he had acquired a certain facility in speaking Latin, French, and Italian. English literature found in him no patron, and occupied itself but little with his name. The expression of elation attributed to him that Newton was his subject in one country and Leibniz in the other is not much in his style, especially as he was rather illiberal to the latter at Hanover, and denied him his heart's desire, a summons to London (Correspondance de l' Electrice Sophie, iii. 325- 328; cf. Vehse, i. 234-5; Kemble, p. 533). Early in the last year of his life he received Voltaire 'very graciously' (Doran, ii. 22). He was fond of music; but the diversions especially affected by him were stag-hunting at the Göhrde, a hunting seat rebuilt in 1706 and frequently visited by him (Malortie, ii. 148-52, 187, 188), and shooting (in Richmond Park), late suppers (Jesse, ii. 315-16) and masquerades, which Bishop Gibson offended him by denouncing (Lady Cowper, p. 81 n.) Like his mother he was fond of walking exercise, and indulged in it both in the gardens of his favourite Herrenhausen, and in those of Kensington Palace, which he offended the London world by enlarging at the expense of Hyde Park (Doran, ii. 14-15; cf. as to his walks, Schulemburg's complaint ap. Vehse, i. 28).
From his father George I had inherited, with other 'noble passions,' a double portion of the paternal gallantry. His new subjects were much shocked by his mistresses, but chiefly because they were German and therefore written down ugly. In the last year or two of his reign 'he paid the nation the compliment of taking openly an English mistress' in the person of Anne Brett, daughter of Henry Brett [q. v.] (Horace Walpole, Reminiscences, pp. cv-vi). But the ascendency of the Duchess of Kendal (Mile, de Schulemburg), though Horace Walpole thought her 'no genius,' only came to an end with the life of the king; it was periodically disputed by the Countess of Darlington (Mme. de Kielmannsegge). By the former George I was supposed to be father of the Countess of Walsingham; by the latter of the subsequent Viscountess Howe. His stolid infatuation for these women, whom he loaded with Irish and then English peerages, estates, and the profits of vacant offices, and his cynical laxity towards the processes by which some of his German officials, courtiers, and servants sought to improve their opportunities, excited much aristocratic jealousy and popular ill-will; yet Bernstorff and Bothmar, as well as Robethon and perhaps some others,rendered services of real value. Many of George I's shortcomings might have been forgiven had it not been for his want of personal attractiveness. 'He had no notion of what is princely,' wrote the Duchess of Orleans—a censure justified by much more than his undisguised hatred of the parade of royalty and his dislike, noted by the same critic, of intercourse with people of quality. His whole person was commonplace, his countenance inexpressive though handsome, his address awkward, and his general manner dry and cold (for a description of his person and dress towards the close of his reign, see ib. p. xciv; cf. Coxe, i. 102). Not much religious feeling had been implanted in him by education, and in one of the 'philosophical conversations in his mother's circle he professed to be a materialist' (Correspondance de l'Electrice Sophie, ii. 163); but he gave explicit instructions for the religious education of his grandson (Havemann, iii. 568); in German ecclesiastical affairs he was a staunch and active member of the Corpus Evangelicorum, and in England he showed respect to the institutions of the national religion, and interested himself intelligently in projects for 'church extension' in London (Political State, x. 59, 63-4). He was at the same time quite free from superstition (an instance of quasi 'touching,' Doran, London in Jacobite Times, i. 345, notwithstanding) and from bigotry of any kind. He was never passionate or in extremes; and in his electorate had doubtless been rightly esteemed a just and therefore beneficent prince. In the case of those who had taken part in the rebellion of 1715 and on other lesser occasions he showed a complete absence of vindictiveness. Towards the exiled family of the Stuarts he repeatedly displayed generosity of feeling (see Horace Walpole, Reminiscences, p. cxv; cf. Jesse, Memoirs of the Court of England, ii. 309; Doran, i. 48-9); and both at Hanover and in England he showed compassion to persons imprisoned for debt (Political State, viii. 210; Jesse, ii. 310). On the other hand he was, unlike the Stuarts, rarely unmindful of services rendered to him; and in some degree justified the boast, fathered by flattery both on him and on his son, that it was 'the maxim of his family to reward their friends, do justice to their enemies, and fear none but God' (Political State, viii. 327). No doubt could exist as to his courage, which he had shown on many a battle-field, and of which he gave constant proof in London, often dispensing with guards, and appearing almost unattended in places of public resort (Doran, i. 25). In Lord Cowper's opinion (see ib. i. 140), had the insurrection of 1715 been successful, King George I would have speedily passed from the throne to the grave; for neither he nor his family would have condescended to save themselves by flight.
A considerable share in the permanent establishment of the new order of things in this kingdom belongs to George I. Though his own tendencies were entirely in the direction of absolute government, he mastered rebellion and kept down disaffection without giving the aspect of tyranny to a constitutional rule. He was possibly, as Shippen sneered, no better acquainted with our constitution than he was with our language; but he learnt to accustom himself to a system of government under which William III had constantly chafed. Before his accession to the British throne he kept out of the conflict of parties; afterwards there was but one that he could trust. Among the whigs he preferred the more to the less pliant leader, but even on this head he ultimately gave way.
The whigs and the country needed him as he needed them. The foreign policy of Great Britain, unsettled since the advent of the tories to power, and the conclusion of the peace of Utrecht, required to be directed by one who commanded the situation, and who enjoyed the confidence of Great Britain's old allies. The triple and quadruple alliances made that peace a reality, and the ambition of Spain, even when, linked with the dynastic interests of Austria, broke helplessly on the rock of a firm alliance between Great Britain and France. The interests of Hanover were, it is true, paramount in the eyes of George I, but with the exception of the ill-judged designs against the czar in 1716, the interests of Hanover were in substance those of England, and when they seemed to conflict in 1725, the king was found ready to postpone the less to the greater. Unlovable in himself and in his chosen surroundings, George I was worthy of his destiny, and shrank from no duty imposed upon him by the order of things.
Portraits by Kneller are at Windsor and in the National Portrait Gallery.