Category Archives: George II

Item of the Day: Smollett’s History of England (1766)

Full Title:  Continuation of the Complete History of England by T[obias] Smollett, M. D. [In two volumes]  Volume the First.  London: Printed for Richard Baldwin, at the Rose in Pater-noster-Row.  MDCCLXVI.

 [A continuation of David Hume’s History of England]

George II.

The peace of Aix-la-Chapelle, however unstable or inglorious it might appear to those few who understood the interests, and felt for the honour of their country, was nevertheless not unwelcome to the nation in general.  The British ministry will always find it more difficult to satisfy the people at the end of a successful campaign, than at the conclusion of an unfortunate war.  The English are impatient of miscarriage and disappointment, and too apt to be intoxicated with victory.  At this period they were tired of the burthens, and sick of the disgraces, to which they had been exposed in the course of seven tedious campaigns.  They had suffered considerable losses and interruption in the article of commerce, which was the source of their natural opulence and power: they knew it would of necessity be clogged with additional duties, for the maintenance of a continental war, and the support of foreign subsidiaries; and they drew very faint presages of future success either from the conduct of their allies, or the capacity of their commanders. 

To a people influenced by these considerations, the restoration of free trade, the respite from that anxiety and suspence [sic] which the prosecution of a war never fails to engender, and the prospect of speedy deliverance from discouraging restraint and oppressive impositions, were advantages that sweetened the bitter draught of a dishonourable treaty, and induced the majority of the nation to acquiesce in the peace, not barely without murmuring, but even with some degree of satisfaction and applause. 

Immediately after the exchange of ratifications at Aix-la-Chapelle the armies were broke up: the allies in the Netherlands withdrew their several proportions of troops; the French began to evacuate Flanders; and the English forces were reimbarked [sic] for their own country.  His Britannic majesty returned from his German dominions in November, having landed near Margate in Kent, after a dangerous passage; and on the twenty-ninth of the same month he opened the session of parliament.  By this time the misunderstanding between the two first personages of the royal family had been increased by a fresh accession of matter.  The prince of Wales had held a court of stannery, or what is called a parliament, in quality of duke of Cornwall; and revived some claims attached to that dignity, which, had they been admitted, would have greatly augmented his influence among the Cornish boroughs.

These efforts aroused the jealousy of the administration, which had always considered them as an interest wholly depending upon the crown; and therefore the pretensions of his royal highness were opposed by the whole weight of the ministry.  His adherents resenting these hostilities as an injury to their royal master, immediately joined the remnant of the former opposition in parliament, and resolved to counteract all the ministerial measures that should fall under their cognizance; at least, they determined to seize every opportunity of thwarting the servants of the crown, in every scheme or proposal that had not an evident tendency to the advantage of the nation. 

This band of auxiliaries was headed by the earl of E–t, Dr. Lee, and Mr. N–t.  The first possessed a species of eloquence rather plausible than powerful: he spoke with fluency and fire: his spirit was bold and enterprising, his apprehension quick, and his repartee severe.  Dr. Lee was a man of extensive erudition and irreproachable morals, particularly versed in the civil law, which he professed, and perfectly well acquainted with the constitution of his country.  Mr. N–t was an orator of middling abilities, who harangued upon all subjects indiscriminately, and supplied with confidence what he wanted in capacity: he had been at some pains to study the business of the house, as heard, as he generally spoke with an appearance of good humour, and hazarded every whimsical idea as it rose in his imagination.  But Lord Bolingbroke is said to have been the chief spring which, in secret, actuated the deliberations of the prince’s court.  That nobleman, seemingly sequestered from the tumults of a public life, resided in the neighbourhood of London, at Battersea, where he was visited like a sainted shrine by all the distinguished votaries of a wit, eloquence, and political ambition.  There he was cultivated and admired for the elegance of his manners, and the charms of his conversation.  The prince’s curiosity was first captivated by his character, and his esteem was afterwards secured by the irresistible address of that extraordinary personage, who continued in a regular progression to insinuate himself still farther and farther into the good graces of his royal patron.  How far the conduct of his royal highness was influenced by the private advice of this nobleman, we shall not pretend to determine: but, certain it is, the friends of the ministry propagated a report, that he was the dictator of those measures which the prince adopted; and that, under the specious pretext of attachment to the heir-apparent of the crown, he concealed his real aim, which was to perpetuate the breach in the royal family.  Whatever his sentiments and motives might have been, this was no other than a revival of the old ministerial clamour, that a man cannot be well affected to be king, if he pretends to censure any measure of the administration.   

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Filed under 1760's, Eighteenth century, George II, History, Posted by Matthew Williams

Item of the Day: Georgius Rex (c. 1737)

GEORGIUS REX

THE Professions you have lately made in your Letters, of your particular Regard to Me, are so contradictory to your Actions, that I cannot suffer My self to be imposed upon by them. You know very well, you did not give the least Intimation t Me, or to the Queen, that the Princess was with Child, until within a Month of the Birth of the young Princess.

You removed the Princess twice in the Week immediately preceding the Day of her Delivery, from the Place of My Residence, in Expectation (as you voluntarily declar’d) of her Labour; and both Times, upon your Return, you industriously conceal’d from the Knowledge of Me and the Queen, every Circumstance relating to this important Affair: And you, at last, without giving Notice to Me, or to the Queen, precipitately hurried the Princess from Hampton-Court, in a Condition not to be nam’d. After having thus, in Execution of your own determin’d Measures, exposed both the Princess and her Child to the greatest Perils, you now plead Surprize, and Tenderness for the Princess, as the only Motives that occasion’d these repeated Indignities offer’d to Me and the Queen your Mother.

This extravagant and undutiful Behaviour, in so essential a Point, as the Birth of an Heir to My Crown, is such an Evidence of your premeditated Defiance of Me, and such a Contempt of My Authority, and of the natural Right belonging to your Parents, as cannot be excus’d by the pretended Innocence of your Intentions, nor pallitated or disguised by specious Words only, but the whole Tenor of your Conduct, for a considerable Time, has been so entirely void of all real Duty to Me, that I have long had Reason to be highly offended with you: And, until you withdraw your Regard and Confidence from those by whose Instigations and Advice you are directed and encouraged in your unwarrrantable Behaviour to Me, and the the Queen, and until you return to your Duty, you shall not reside in my Palace, which I will not suffer to be made the Resort of them, who, under the Appearance of an Attachment to you, foment the Division which you have made in my Family, and thereby weakened the common Interest of the Whole.

In this Situation I will receive no Reply; but when your Actions manifest a just Sense of your Duty and Submission, that may induce me to pardon what at present I most justly resent.

In the mean Time, it is My Pleasure, that you leave St. James’s, with all your Family, when it can be done without Prejudice or Inconvenience to the Princess.

I shall, for the present, leave to the Princess the Care of my Grand-daughter, until a proper Time calls upon me to consider of her Education.

 G.R.

 

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Filed under 1730's, England, George II, Great Britain, Posted by Caroline Fuchs, Royal Family

Item of the Day: Horace Walpole on the Death and Funeral of George II from Walpole’s Private Correspondence (1760)

Full Title:  Private Correspondence of Horace Walpole, Earl of Orford. Now First Collected.  In Four Volumes.  vol. II. 1756-1764.  London:  Printed for Rodwell and Martin, Bond-Street; and Colburn and Co., Conduit-Street. 1820.

To the EARL of STRAFFORD.

Arlington-street, October 26, 1760.

My Dear Lord,

I beg your pardon for so long a silence in the late reign; I knew nothing worth telling you; and the great event of this morning you will certainly hear before it comes to you by so sober and regular a personage as the postman.  The few circumstances known yet are, that the king went well to-bed last night; rose well at six this morning; went to the water-closet a little after seven; had a fit, fell against a bureau, and gashed his right temple:  the valet-de-chambre heard a noise and a groan, and ran in:  the king tried to speak, but died instantly.  I should hope this would draw you southward:  such scenes are worth looking at, even by people who regard them with such indifference as your lordship or I.  I say no more, for what will mix in a letter with the death of a king!

I am my lady’s and your lordship’s most faithful servant.

To George Montagu, Esq.

Arlington-street, November 13, 1760.

. . . Do you know, I had the curiosity to go to the burying t’other night; I had never seen a royal funeral; nay, I walked as a rag of quality, which I found would be, and so it was, the easiest way of seeing it.  It is absolutely a noble sight.  The prince’s chamber, hung with purple, and a quantity of silver lamps, the coffin under a canopy of purple velvet, and six vast chandeliers of silver on high stands, had a very good effect.  The ambassador from Tripoli and his son were carried to see that chamber.  The procession, through a line of foot-guards, every seventh man bearing a torch, the horse-guards lining the outside, their officers with drawn sabres and crape sashes on horseback, the drums muffled, the fifes, bells tolling, and minute guns, — all this was very solemn.  But the charm was the entrance of the abbey, where we were received by the dean and chapter in rich robes, the choir and almsmen bearing torches; the whole abbey so illuminated, that one saw it to greater advantage than by day; the tombs, long aisles, and fretted roof, all appearing distinctly, and with the happiest chiara scuro.  There wanted nothing but incense, and little chapels here and there, with priests saying mass for the repose of the defunct; yet one could not complain of its not being catholic enough.  I had been in dread of being coupled with some boy of ten years old; but the heralds were not very accurate, and I walked with George Grenville, taller and older, to keep me in countenance.  When we came to the chapel of Henry the seventh, all solemnity and decorum ceased; no order was observed, people sat or stood where they could or would; the yeomen of the guard were crying out for help, oppressed by the immense weight of the coffin; the bishop read sadly, and blundered in the prayers; the fine chapter, Man that is born of a woman, was chaunted, not read; and the anthem, besides being immeasurably tedious, would have served as well for a nuptial.  The real serious part was the figure of the duke of Cumberland, heightened by a thousand melancholy circumstances.  He had a dark brown adonis, and a cloak of black cloth, with a train of five yards.  Attending the funeral of a father could not be pleasant:  his leg extremely bad, yet forced to stand upon it near two hours; his face bloated and distorted with his late paralytic stroke, which has affected too one of his eyes, and placed over the mouth of the vault, into which, in all probability, he must himself so soon descend; think how unpleasant a situation!  He bore it all with a firm and unaffected countenance.  This grave scene was fully contrasted by the burlesque duke of Newcastle.  He fell into a fit of crying the moment he came into the chapel, and flung himself back in a stall, the archbishop hovering over him with a smelling-bottle; but in two minutes his curiosity got the better of his hypocrisy, and he ran about the chapel with his glass to spy who was or was not there, spying with one hand, and mopping his eyes with the other.  Then returned the fear of catching cold; and the duke of Cumberland, who was sinking with heat, felt himself weighed down, and turning round, found it was the duke of Newcastle standing upon his train, to avoid the chill of the marble.  It was very theatric to look down into the vault, where the coffin lay, attended by mourners with lights.  Clavering, the groom of the bed-chamber, refused to sit up with the body, and was dismissed by the king’s order.

I have nothing more to tell you, but a trifle, a very trifle.  The king of Prussia has totally defeated marshal Daun.  This, which would have been prodigious news a month ago, is nothing today; it only takes it turn among the questions, “Who is to be groom of the bed-chamber? what is sir T. Robinson to have?”  I have been to Leicester-fields today; the crowd was immoderate; I don’t believe it will continue so.  Good night.

Yours ever.

http://people.virginia.edu/~jlc5f/charlotte/walpole_eng.html

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Filed under 1760's, England, George II, Posted by Rebecca Dresser