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George II
George II

the queen's understanding and various virtues, descanting by the way on his own merit, and particularly on the courage which he had exhibited during the storm, and his own recent illness. The queen died on 20 Nov. 1737 at 10 p.m. The king after kissing the face and hands of the corpse several times went to bed, but for several nights had attendants to sit up with him. His grief for the queen was heartfelt, and did much to redeem his character with the nation, to which it came as a surprise (ib. pp. 534-43; Coxe, Walpole, i. 553). True to his promise he lost little time in bringing Madame Walmoden from Hanover, a step much favoured by Walpole, who hoped to manage him through her influence. She landed in England in June 1738, and was accommodated in St. James's Palace. She was permitted to exercise a certain amount of patronage, and was created Countess of Yarmouth in 1739, but she never acquired any ascendency over the king in affairs of state. A dispute about the title to the castle of Steinhorst in Holstein, which George claimed to have acquired by purchase, nearly led to a war with Denmark, but was compromised in March 1739 by the king of Denmark selling his rights for seventy thousand thalers. About the same time George concluded a treaty with Denmark similar to that of 1734. It was approved by parliament on 10 May (Walpole, Reminiscences, cli; Salmon, Chron. Hist. ed. Toone, i. 557; Parl. Hist. x. 1366; Lebensbeschreibung, 236-46). Walpole soon found that the king was secretly thwarting his foreign policy, and talked of resigning. Of this, however, George would not hear. He had become weary of peace, but hoped that Walpole might be induced to adopt a warlike policy. His bellicose temper was now the temper of the nation, which clamoured for war with Spain. The Assiento treaty, by which English trade with Spanish America had been limited to the supply of a fixed number of negroes by the South Sea Company, had led to bitter disputes through the restrictions imposed by the Spanish government in order to prevent evasions. It was to expire in 1743. Walpole, anxious for peace, endeavoured to provide for the future arrangements by negotiation. Plenipotentiaries were named, met, and separated without coming to any agreement, and on 23 Oct. 1739 the king had his way and declared war. In May 1740 he went to Hanover, and made some ineffectual attempts to secure the alliance of Frederick the Great. He returned to England in October. The capture of Porto Bello by Admiral Vernon in December was followed by an attempt on Carthagena which failed (April 1741); after which the war was allowed to languish, the attention of the king and people being diverted to the gigantic struggle in which the death of Charles VI (20 Oct. N.S. 1740) and the ambition of Frederick the Great had involved the continent of Europe. On the outbreak of the first Silesian war, fear for the safety of Hanover, and indignation at what he regarded as a flagrant breach of international law, combined with his natural gallantry to enlist George II on the side of the queen of Hungary. The nation was with the king, the cabinet was divided. Walpole succeeded in staving off hostilities for a time, but in April 1741 a subsidy of 300,000l. was voted to the queen of Hungary. George, in spite of a strong remonstrance from Walpole, hurried to Hanover in the following month, accompanied by Lord Harrington, secretary of state for the northern province, and there concluded (24 June N.S.) a treaty with Maria Theresa providing for prompt quarterly payment of the subsidy, and also for the immediate despatch of a force of twelve thousand Hessian and Danish troops pursuant to a treaty of 1732. For the defence of Hanover he collected an army of twenty-eight thousand men, and twelve thousand more were assembled at Lexden Heath, near Colchester, ready for emergencies. A force of thirty thousand Prussians under Leopold of Anhalt Dessau was encamped on the borders of Brandenburg and Brunswick, and in the middle of August the French under Belleisle and Maillebois crossed the Rhine eighty thousand strong, and marched straight on Osnabriick. George felt himself caught in a trap, and hastily concluded a treaty with France pledging Hanover to neutrality (28 Oct. N.S.), and returned to England. No term being fixed for the duration of the treaty, the king broke it as soon as it was convenient to do so (Coxe, Walpole, i. 536-62, 573-604, 615-26, 635-40, 674-9, 685; Coxe, Pelham, i. 17; Frederick the Great, Polit. Corresp. i. 7-45, 311-65; Frederick the Great, Hist. de mon Temps (1788), i. 208; Jenkinson, i. 379; De Garden, iii. 258-60; Martens, Supplément, i. 262). On 9 Feb. 1741-2 Walpole, having lost command of the House of Commons, accepted a peerage, and three days later resigned. The king was moved to tears when he took his leave. By Walpole's advice he offered the first lordship of the treasury to Pulteney, who declined, stipulating, however, for a peerage and a seat in the cabinet without office. He was accordingly created Earl of Bath. The first lordship of the treasury was given to Spencer Compton, now Lord Wilmington. Carteret succeeded Harrington as secretary of state for the northern province. The Duke