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George I
George I

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