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George I
George I
151

siderable 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 Gā€”ā€”'s Farewell to England, or the Oxford