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George I
George I

(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 atten-