Page images
PDF
EPUB

was withdrawn to Franconia, and he himself retired to Frankfort.

The Peace of Breslau had been chiefly the work of Carteret,' and he displayed equal zeal in urging the Dutch into the war. This object was at last so far accomplished that they very reluctantly consented to send a contingent to a great confederate army which was being formed in Flanders, under the direction of England and the command of the Earl of Stair, for the purpose of acting against the French, and, if possible, of invading France. It ultimately consisted of some 44,000 men, and was composed of about an equal number of British and Hanoverian soldiers, of 6,000 Hessians, in English pay, and of a contingent of Austrians and of Dutch. It started from Flanders in February 1742-43, marched slowly through the bishopric of Liége, where it was joined by the Austrians, under the Duke of Ahremberg, and by 16,000 Hanoverians in British pay, crossed the Rhine on May 14, and encamped on the 23rd in the neighbourhood of Frankfort. It was, however, soon after hemmed in by a superior French force under Noailles. The defiles above Aschaffenburg and the posts of the Upper Maine were occupied by the French. The allies were out-manoeuvred and cut off from succours, and their difficulty in obtaining provisions was so great that a capitulation seemed not improbable. Under these disastrous circumstances, George II., accompanied by the Duke of Cumberland and Carteret, joined the army. A great battle was fought at Dettingen, on June 27, and the bravery of the allied forces and the rashness of the Duke of Grammont, which disconcerted the plans of Noailles, gave the victory to the confederates, extricated the army from its embarrassments, and compelled the French to recross the Maine. No other important consequences followed. Innumerable divisions paralysed the army. The King of Prussia showed hostile intentions. The other German princes were divided in their views. The Dutch discouraged all prosecution of the war, and the allied forces after successively

1 Frederick, Hist. de mon Temps, ch. vii.

occupying Hanau, Worms, and Spire, at last retired to winter quarters in Flanders. A deadly hostility had sprung up between the British and the Hanoverian troops, and public opinion at home was now violently opposed to Carteret and to the war.

causes.

This great revulsion of feeling is to be ascribed to many The war I am describing was one of the most tangled and complicated upon record, but amidst all its confused episodes and various objects, one great change was apparent. It had been a war for the maintenance of the Pragmatic Sanction and of the integrity of Austria. It had become a war for the conquest and dismemberment of France. Few sovereigns have been more deeply injured than Maria Theresa, and her haughty, ambitious, and somewhat vindictive nature, now flushed with a succession of conquests, was burning to retaliate upon her enemies. She desired to deprive the Emperor of the imperial crown, and to place it on the head of her husband, to annex Bavaria permanently to the Austrian dominions, to wrest Alsace and Lorraine from France, and Naples from the Spanish line; and if it was in her power she would undoubtedly have attempted to recover Silesia. Her impracticable temper and her ambitious views had become the chief obstacle to the pacification of Europe. She had scornfully rejected the overtures of Fleury for peace. She refused, in spite of the remonstrances of England, to grant the Emperor a definite peace, although he asked only the recognition of his perfectly legal title as Emperor of Germany, and the security of his old hereditary dominions. She long refused to grant the King of Sardinia the concessions that had been promised, and it was not until a whole summer had been wasted, and until the King had threatened to go over to her enemies, that she consented, in September 1743, to sign the Treaty of Worms. By this treaty she at last relinquished in his favour her pretensions to the Marquisate of Finale, which was then in the possession of the Genoese, ceded Placentia and some small districts in Austrian Italy, and made an offensive alliance with the King for the prosecution of the war. Her pre

sent object was the invasion of France by two great armies, that of Prince Charles, which was massed upon the frontiers of Alsace, and that of the confederates, who had taken up their quarters at Hanau and Worms. England had gone far in supporting her in this policy, but it was open to the very gravest objections. It was one thing to fulfil the obligations of a distinct treaty and to prevent the dismemberment of an Empire, which was essential to the balance of power. It was quite another thing to support Austria in projects of aggrandisement which alarmed all the conservative instincts of Europe, and could only be realised by a long, bloody, and expensive war. England had entered into the struggle as a mere auxiliary and for a definite purpose, and her mission might reasonably be looked upon as fulfilled. Silesia had, it is true, been ceded to Prussia, but both the Emperor and France would have been perfectly willing to accept a peace leaving the Queen of Hungary in undisturbed possession of all the remainder of the Austrian dominions. It was maintained, and surely with reason, that England should have insisted on the acceptance of such a peace, and that if she could not induce Maria Theresa to acquiesce, she should at least herself have withdrawn from the war.1 She had not done so. She had, on the contrary, plunged more and more deeply into Continental affairs. By the Treaty of Worms she bound herself to continue the subsidy of the King of Sardinia. She was still paying Austrian troops, and a secret convention binding her to continue the subsidy to the Queen of Hungary, 'as long as the war should continue, or the necessity of her affairs should require,' as well as a project for bestowing a subsidy on the Emperor, on condition of his joining the Austrians against his allies the French, had both been recently proposed by Carteret and the King, and had only been defeated by the Pelham influence at home. The army of Flanders was an English creation, and most of its soldiers were either English or in English pay. By forming it, England had completely abandoned the wise

1 See these arguments powerfully stated in a speech by Pitt, Dec. 1, 1743 (Anecdotes of Chatham, vol. i.).

policy of confining herself as much as possible to maritime warfare, and she had also, in direct opposition to the wishes of the Dutch, added very seriously to the dangers of the war by gratuitously attracting it towards the Dutch barrier.

But that which made the war most unpopular was the alleged subordination of English to Hanoverian interests. On no other subject was English public opinion so sensitive, and the orators of the Opposition exerted all their powers to inflame the feeling. The invective of Pitt, who declared that it was now too apparent that this great, this powerful, this formidable kingdom is considered only as a province to a despicable Electorate;' the sarcasm of Chesterfield, who suggested that the one effectual method of destroying Jacobitism would be to bestow Hanover on the Pretender, as the English people would never again tolerate a ruler from that country; the bitter witticism of a popular pamphleteer,' who, alluding to the white horse in the arms of Hanover, selected for his motto the text in the Revelation, 'I looked, and behold a pale horse, and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed,' only represented in an emphatic form the common sentiment both of the army and of the people. The English and Hanoverians who fought side by side at Dettingen, probably hated each other more intensely than they hated the French, and the alleged partiality of the King to the Hanoverians even led to the angry resignation of Lord Stair.

It is impossible to doubt that amid much misrepresentation and exaggeration there was some real ground of complaint, and that England, as was said, was too often steered by a Hanoverian rudder.' As the sovereign of a small Continental state constantly exposed to French ambition, as a German prince keenly interested in German politics, and especially anxious to have no superior in Germany except the Emperor, George II. had a far stronger interest in desiring, at one time the invasion and dismemberment of France, and at another the repression of the growing power of Prussia, than he could have had as a mere

1 Dr. Shebbear.

sovereign of England. The Electorate lay nearest his heart. Hanoverian interests undoubtedly coloured his foreign policy, and he had a strong disposition to employ the resources of his kingdom in the interests of his Electorate. The manner in which in the former reign England had been embroiled with both Sweden and Russia on account of Bremen and Verden, the Treaty of Hanover, the exaggerated German subsidies which had followed it, and the undoubted fact that many of those subsidies were rendered necessary only by the position of Hanover, had already produced a jealousy which the events of the new war greatly increased. The treaty of neutrality was regarded as a disgraceful abandonment, and the prolongation of the war, the attempted multiplication of German subsidies, and the too frequent custom of taking important resolutions, affecting England, on the Continent with little or no consultation with the English ministers, were all cited as examples of the partiality of the King. The most flagrant case, however, was his determination to throw the chief expense of the Hanoverian army, in time of war, upon England. After the Treaty of Breslau he declared his intention of reducing the Hanoverian army to its peace footing, as his German dominions were then unmolested, and the expense was too great for their resources, and his ministers in England then proceeded to prevent this measure by taking 16,000 Hanoverian troops into British pay. No measure of the time excited such violent hostility, and the intervention of Lord Orford was required to carry it. Pitt openly declared that the interest of England imperatively required complete separation from Hanover. In the House of Lords twenty-four peers signed a protest against it, in language so bitterly offensive to the sovereign that it almost savoured of revolution. They stated that some of the Hanoverian troops had refused to form the first line at Dettingen, that others disobeyed the English general after the battle, that the greater number, not contented to avoid being of any use either in front or in the rear, determined to be of use nowhere, and halted as soon as they came within sight and reach of the battle,

« PreviousContinue »