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the minister, the death of the Queen' deprived him of his firmest friend. She died solemnly commending her husband to his care, and her loss was never replaced. He now stood alone, confronting all the ablest debaters in Parliament, whom his jealousy had driven into opposition, while intrigues and dissensions were undermining his position at the Court and in the Cabinet, and while a fierce storm of popular indignation was raging without. He had somewhat ostentatiously displayed his contempt for literature, and most of the ablest political writers were arrayed against him. He had ridiculed the cry of parliamentary purity and the aspirations of young politicians, and all the hope and promise of England was with his opponents. He had laboured through good report and through evil report to maintain the peace of Europe, and the Opposition leaders succeeded in arousing in the country a martial frenzy which it was impossible to resist.

The pretext was the severities of the Spaniards to English sailors. Spain, in attempting to monopolise the commerce of the most important part of the New World, and in forbidding all other European countries from holding intercourse with it, had advanced a claim which sooner or later must inevitably have led to war. Her right, however, to regulate the traffic with her trans-Atlantic dominions had been fully recognised by England; the principle of trade monopoly was strenuously maintained by England in her own dominions, and by an article in the Treaty of Utrecht, in addition to the trade in negroes, English commerce with Spanish America had been expressly restricted to a single ship of the burden of 600 tons. This treaty was soon systematically violated. An immense illicit trade sprang up, which was for a time unmolested, but was afterwards met by a rigid exercise of the right of search on the high seas, and by the constant seizure of English ships, and it was accompanied on both sides by many acts of violence, insolence, and barbarity. A dispute had at the same time arisen between the two nations about the right of the English traders to cut logwood in the

1 Nov. 20, 1737.

Bay of Campeachy, and to gather salt on the Island of Tortuga, and there were chronic difficulties about the frontiers of Georgia and Carolina on the one side, and of Florida on the other. For many years the ill-feeling smouldered on, and it gradually assumed very formidable proportions. The maintenance of the balance of power had been the chief cause of the wars of the century, and it was observed with truth that there was a balance by sea as well as by land. The growing preponderance of the English navy and of English commerce had long been seen with a jealous eye both in Spain and in France, and strong mutual interests drew the two countries together. The recovery of Gibraltar had since the Peace of Utrecht been a great object of Spanish policy, and Spain had lost, with her dominions in the Netherlands, her chief reason for desiring an English alliance and her chief cause of quarrel with France. In the counsels of the latter country a strong military party had appeared who protested against the pacific policy of Fleury, who maintained that French continental interests had been unduly sacrificed to England, and who desired to revive, in part at least, the policy of Lewis XIV. and to seek new combinations of power. This party was strengthened by the English treaty with the Emperor in 1731, which was regarded with some reason as the abandonment of a French for an Austrian alliance, and also by the great danger of an English declaration of war during the struggle of 1733. At the close of that year a secret treaty, called the Family Compact, was signed by the Kings of France and Spain, with the object of guarding against the naval supremacy of England. By this treaty the French agreed, if necessary, to assist Spain in her efforts to extirpate the abuses which crept into her trade with England, and also to endeavour to procure for Spain the cession of Gibraltar; while Spain agreed, on a fitting occasion, to revoke the trade privileges of England and to admit France to a large share of her trans-Atlantic com


This treaty was a profound secret, and was unknown both to Walpole and the Opposition, but there were several signs of a

growing coldness between England and France. Chauvelin, who was Secretary of State for foreign affairs from 1727 to 1737, gradually acquired almost a complete empire over the mind of Fleury, and his influence was usually very hostile to the English alliance. In 1735 the English minister carried on a very secret negotiation with him, and endeavoured by the offer of a large bribe to win him to his interest; but the attempt does not appear to have been successful, and the disgrace and exile of Chauvelin, in the beginning of 1737, was regarded as a great triumph of English policy. On sea France displayed a new activity, while Spain, secure in her secret alliance, grew more severe in enforcing the right of search against British sailors. The latter, who despised and hated the Spaniards as foreigners, as Papists, and as ancient enemies, appear to have continually acted with great insolence. The Spaniards in their turn retaliated by many acts of violence, which were studiously collected, aggravated, and circulated in England. One story especially produced a deep impression. An English captain named Jenkins was brought before Parliament and alleged that when sailing for Jamaica, so far back as 1731, he had been seized by Spanish sailors, tortured and deprived of his ears; and when he was asked what he thought when he found himself in the hands of such barbarians, he answered, in words which had doubtless been suggested to him, and which were soon repeated through the length and breadth of England, that he had recommended his soul to God and his cause to his country.' The truth of the story is extremely doubtful, but the end that was aimed at was attained. The indignation of the people, fanned as it was by the press and by the untiring efforts of all sections of the Opposition, became uncontrollable. Every device

1 See the secret correspondence of the English Government, in Coxe's Walpole, iii. 308-309, 316, 317, 451457.

2 According to Horace Walpole, when Jenkins died it was found that his ear had never been cut off at all. According to Tindal, Jenkins lost his

ear or part of his ear on another occasion, and pretended it had been cut off by a guarda costa.' See, for other details on this matter, Coxe's Walpole, i. 579-580. Burke called it 'the fable of Jenkins' ears.'- Letters on a Regicide Peace.

was employed to sustain it. English sailors returned from captivity in Spain were planted at the Exchange, exhibiting to the crowds who passed by, specimens of the loathsome food they were obliged to eat in the dungeons of Spain. Literature caught up the excitement, and it was reflected in the poetry of Pope, of Glover, and of Johnson. Walpole tried bravely and ably to moderate it, but his conduct was branded as the grossest pusillanimity. The King fully shared the popular sentiment. Petitions poured into Parliament from every part of the kingdom demanding redress; while Spain, relying on the letter of the treaty and on the support of France, met every overture with suspicion or arrogance. Strong resolutions were carried through both the Commons and Lords. Letters of marque and reprisal were offered to the merchants. Admiral Haddock was despatched with a fleet of ten ships to the Mediterranean, and troops were sent to the infant colony of Georgia to protect it from an apprehended invasion.

These events took place in 1738. It is a remarkable proof of the tact and influence of Walpole that, notwithstanding the fierce and warlike spirit in the country, in the Parliament and in the palace, notwithstanding the fact that in his own Cabinet both Newcastle and Hardwicke were advocates of war, the catastrophe did not take place till the November of the following year. It is clear that in the essential points of difference England was in the wrong. A plain treaty had been grossly and continually violated by English sailors. The right of search by which Spain attempted to enforce it, though often harshly and improperly exercised, was perfectly legal, and before the war was ended some of the noisiest of those who now denounced it were compelled to acknowledge the fact. Walpole himself had no doubt on the subject, but he tried in vain to convince the country. The House of Lords passed a resolution strongly condemning the right of search, and the people, prompted by the leaders of the Opposition and now fully excited, insisted upon its unqualified relinquishment. All that could be done was to negotiate about the many instances of gross and unwarrantable violence of which

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Spanish captains had been guilty. The country was full of accounts of English sailors who had been seized by the Spaniards, plundered of all they possessed, laden with chains in a tropical climate, imprisoned for long periods in unhealthy dungeons, tortured or consigned to the tender mercies of the Inquisition. In these accounts there was much exaggeration and not a little deliberate falsehood, but there was also a real basis of fact. After great difficulties, and by a combination of intimidation and address, Spain was induced to sign a convention regulating the outstanding accounts between the two nations and awarding to England as compensation a balance which was ultimately settled at 95,000l. No mention was made in this convention of the right of search, or of the punishment of the offending captains, and Spain was only induced to sign it, by England consenting to acknowledge a doubtful claim of compensation for Spanish ships that had been captured by Byng in 1718. It was soon, however, plain that this convention could not finally settle the differences between the two countries. Walpole succeeded, though with great difficulty, in carrying it through both Houses, and the Opposition, exasperated by his success, for a time seceded. In the country, however, the outcry was fierce and loud, and the Prince of Wales put himself at the head of the malcontents. The divisions of the Cabinet became more and more serious. The attitude of France towards England grew steadily hostile, and the language of Spain proportionately haughty. She threatened immediate reprisals upon the South Sea Company on account of an old debt which was alleged to be unpaid. She remonstrated, with an arrogance an English minister could hardly brook, against the presence of a British fleet in the Mediterranean. She reasserted in the strongest language that right of search which the English nation was resolved at all hazards to resist.

The Opposition had now succeeded in their design. War had become inevitable; and Walpole, instead of retiring, as he should have done, declared it himself. They are ringing their bells now,' he exclaimed, as the joy bells pealed at the an

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