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George II
George II

with the lord mayor, and on the 30th the prince's birthday was celebrated by a ball, the princess, according to Lady Cowper, dancing 'very well,' and the prince 'better than anybody' (Lebensbeschreibung, 12-26; Klopp, xiv. 359, 583-93; Macpherson, Orig. Papers, ii. 563, 573, 590-2, 625; Leibniz, Corresp. avec l'Electrice Sophie, ed. Klopp, iii. 454, 487; Three Letters sent from Her Most Gracious Majesty, viz., one to the Princess Sophia, &c., London, 1714; Boyer, 1714, pt. ii. 267, 327, 340, 375; Hist. Reg. Chron. Diary, 1714-16; Lady Cowper, 11). On 12 Feb. 1715 the prince took the oaths as Duke of Rothesay, and on 17 March his seat in the House of Lords. 'I have not,' he had said before leaving Herrenhausen, 'a drop of blood in my veins which is not English.' He had won popular favour by his gallantry at Oudenarde, celebrated by Congreve in a ballad in which the prince figured as 'young Hanover brave.' On 1 Feb. he was chosen governor of the South Sea Company; on 8 April appointed president of the Society of Ancient Britons, recently established in honour of the princess; and on 5 May captain-general of the Honourable Artillery Company. In the debate on the civil list (13 May) the tories proposed that one-seventh of the 700,000l. to be voted should be specially appropriated to his use; and, though the motion was lost, it was understood that it was the desire of parliament that the allowance should be made. On 16 Feb. 1716 the prince was elected chancellor of Trinity College, Dublin. The prince vexed the Hanoverian courtiers by calling the English people 'the handsomest, the best-shaped, the best-natured and lovingest people in the world.' He paid court to one of the princess's maids of honour, the beautiful Mary Bellenden, daughter of John, lord Bellenden. She was already attached to her future husband, Colonel John Campbell, afterwards fourth duke of Argyll, and repulsed the prince decisively. He once, according to Horace Walpole (Reminiscences), appealed to her by counting over his money in her presence, till she exclaimed: 'Sir, I cannot bear it. If you count your money any more, I will go out of the room.' The prince avenged himself by inflicting petty annoyances upon her, and transferred his passion to another of the princess's maids of honour, Henrietta Howard [q. v.], afterwards Countess of Suffolk. She became his recognised favourite, and after his accession was provided with rooms in St. James's Palace, her husband being quieted by an annuity of 1,200l. In 1734 she was replaced by Madame Walmoden. The prince had been on bad terms with his father while both were still in Hanover, and a reconciliation after the death of the Electress Sophia was only temporary. The Hanoverians were offended by the prince's display of affection for his new country, while an intimacy which he soon formed with his groom of the stole, John Campbell, second duke of Argyll [q. v.], brought upon him the hatred of Argyll's enemies, Marlborough, Cadogan, and Sunderland. Argyll was deprived of all his offices after his suppression of the rebellion of 1715, owing, it is said, to the machinations of these combined factions. The king also required the prince to sever himself from Argyll, and the prince was only appointed guardian of the realm when the king went to Hanover (July 1716) on condition of yielding to this demand. Argyll, however, was received with distinction at the receptions which the prince now held at Hampton Court. The prince's popularity grew apace. Towards the end of September 1716 he made a progress from Hampton Court to Portsmouth, distributing largess copiously all the way, held a review of the troops and inspected the ships at Portsmouth, and was everywhere received with the utmost enthusiasm. He increased his popularity by his energy in superintending the suppression of a fire at Spring Gardens on 3 Dec., to which he walked from St. James's Palace in the early morning. He displayed great coolness a few days later at Drury Lane Theatre, when an assassin attempted to enter his box with a loaded pistol, and was only secured after taking the life of the guard in attendance (Boyer, 1714 pt. ii. 251, 1715 pt, i. 4, 141, 152, 302, 316, 423, 1716 pt. i. 407, 735, pt. ii. 118, 140, 284, 468, 644; Pöllnitz, Memoirs, iv. 328; Lady Cowper, 51, 58, 107-17; Kemble, State Papers, 512; Horace Walpole, Reminiscences, cxxiii et seq.; Walpoliana, i. 85; Hervey, i. 56; Chesterfield Letters, ed. Mahon, ii. 440; Campbell, Life of John, Duke of Argyll, 1745, 267-75; Hist. Reg. 355; Lebensbeschreibung, 37-40).

At this time Sunderland, who had followed the king to Hanover, was intriguing to compass the downfall of Townshend, then secretary of state. He persuaded the king that Townshend and Argyll were in league with the prince to make him an independent power in the state. This brought about the dismissal of Townshend (December 1716). He accepted the lord-lieutenancy of Ireland, but was dismissed from that post also on 9 March 1717. On 2 Nov. the princess was delivered of a son. The king was to be one of the infant's godfathers, and the prince desired that his uncle, Ernest Augustus, duke of York (1674-1728) [q. v.], should be the other. The king insisted that the Duke of Newcastle, with whom the prince was on bad terms,