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Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 21.djvu/158

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George I
George I

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