Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 21.djvu/169

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George II
George II

tion with the view of effecting an alliance between Spain and the emperor. The terms arranged were that the emperor should marry the second archduchess to a Spanish prince, who should succeed to the kingdom of Naples and Sicily on the emperor's death, and that Spain should meanwhile guarantee the integrity of the empire. The negotiation went forward in London under the personal superintendence of the king, who earnestly pressed the imperial ambassador to close the bargain. He, however, hesitated, urging the need of express instructions, and before these came Spain had concluded an alliance with France. The emperor was beaten in the Rhine, in northern Italy, and in Naples, where the Spaniards crowned Don Carlos (May 1734). The Young Pretender served in their army as a volunteer, and was received by Don Carlos with distinction. The king, excited by these events, would hear and talk of nothing but war, and the queen was in much the same temper. Walpole at last prevailed. He warned the queen that if England took any part in the foreign imbroglio 'her crown would at last as surely come to be fought for as the crown of Poland.' The queen yielded and the king followed suit, and thus, to quote Lord Hervey, 'the shadow of the Pretender beat the whole Germanic body' (Carlyle, Frederick the Great, iii. 195 et seq.; Nouv. Biog. Gén. 'Stanislas;' Hervey, i. chap. xii. and xv.) Before parliament rose, however, George obtained power to augment his land forces during the recess, and on 19 Sept. he concluded a treaty with Denmark for the hire of six thousand horse and foot. The treaty, which was to last for three years, was laid before and approved by parliament early in the following year (Parl Hist. ix. 651, 851). In May 1735 the king went to Hanover, where he met and soon became attached to Amelia Sophia, the young and beautiful wife of Adam Gottlob, count von Walmoden. With engaging frankness he confessed his love to the queen, adding, 'You must love the Walmoden, for she loves me' (Hervey, i. 424-8, 497-500; Biefeld, Lettres, 1763, i. 187; Vehse, i. 272). He had not been long in Hanover before the emperor made him the tempting offer of the command of the army of the Rhine as the price of the English alliance. He had, however, been so well schooled by Walpole before he left England that he was able to say 'No.' Having met the Princess Augusta of Saxe-Gotha, he fixed on her as an eligible match for the Prince of Wales. Before leaving Hanover he promised the Estates that he would take the burden of the contingent of troops which the electorate was bound to furnish for the imperial army upon his own exchequer, instead of asking them for a subsidy. He returned to England in October in ill-health and worse humour, loudly expressing his regret for Hanover and disgust with England. He had left Madame Walmoden behind, and the queen suffered much in consequence from his ill-temper (Hervey, ii. 6, 17, 28, 33, 43; Boyer, 1735, pt. i. 561, ii. 459, 492). The marriage of the prince with the Princess Augusta took place on 27 April 1736, being hurried on by the king, who ardently desired to escape to Hanover and Madame Walmoden again. The king raised the prince's allowance to 50,000l., which, according to Lord Hervey, was regarded by the prince and 'most people' as equivalent to robbing him of 50,000l., the other half of the income due to him (Hervey, ii. 117-20). The king set out for Hanover on 22 May, and reached Herrenhausen on the 28th. He had not long been there when an officer was found under suspicious circumstances under the windows of Madame Walmoden, who declared it to be a plot of her enemies. George laid the whole affair before the queen, advising her to consult Walpole, who had more experience than she, and more impartiality than himself (ib. 128; Boyer, 1736, ii. 1). The king's birthday drew near, but the king showed no sign of returning, a mark of indifference which he had hitherto spared the queen. She was at first inclined to try what resentment could do to re-establish her ascendency, but at the instance of Walpole and Hervey abandoned this idea, and wrote the king a submissive and tender letter, begging that he would return and bring Madame Walmoden with him. This elicited a very frank and friendly letter from the king, in which he gave a minute description of Madame Walmoden's personal charms, and desired the queen to have the rooms which Lady Suffolk had occupied prepared for her reception, which was accordingly done. The king's protracted stay in Hanover was keenly resented by all classes, while his neglect of the queen and devotion to his foreign mistress excited further disgust. The national discontent found expression in a multitude of pasquinades and lampoons, most of which, according to Lord Hervey, only flattered the king's vanity by their testimony to his eminence as a lover (Hervey, ii. 174-92). It was not until December that the king left Hanover. His return was delayed for some days by a violent storm which caused great excitement in England, most people confidently expecting to hear that the royal yacht had foundered. The king at last insisted, against the advice of Sir Charles Wager, on