I am happy that you are using this web site and hope that you found it useful. Unfortunately, the cost of making this material freely available is increasing, so if you have found the site useful and would like to contribute towards its continuation, I would greatly appreciate it. Click the button to go to Paypal and make a donation.
George II 1683-1760, king of Great Britain and Ireland, only son of George I by Sophia Dorothea, daughter of George William, duke of Lüneburg-Celle, was born at Herrenhausen on 10 November (N.S.) 1683 and christened George Augustus. He remained under the care of his mother until her divorce on 28 December (N.S.) 1694. Thenceforward he lived with his grandparents, Ernest Augustus, elector of Hanover, and his consort, the Electress Sophia, granddaughter of James I, and was instructed in history and the Latin, French, and English languages. He is said to have cherished the memory and believed in the innocence of his mother, and on one occasion to have made an attempt, frustrated by the vigilance of her guards, to penetrate into her prison. When the Electress Sophia and her issue were placed in the order of succession to the English throne in 1701, the whigs proposed to invite the electress and her grandson to England. The project was defeated by the tories, but the Electress Sophia and her issue were naturalised by act of parliament (1705), and the prince was invested with the order of the Garter and created Baron of Tewkesbury in Gloucestershire, Viscount Northallerton in Yorkshire, Earl of Milford Haven in Wales. and Marquis and Duke of Cambridge (9 November 1706). Meanwhile he had married at Herrenhausen on 2 September (N.S.) 1705 Wilhelmina Charlotte Caroline, daughter of John Frederic, markgraf of Brandenburg-Anspach. In June 1708 he joined the army of the allies, under Marlborough, at Terbanck, and on 11 July (N.S.) distinguished himself at the battle of Oudenarde, heading a cavalry charge, being unhorsed, and more than once in imminent peril of death. On 22 December 1710 he was installed knight of the Garter, Lord Halifax acting as his proxy. In 1711 an act of parliament was passed giving him precedence as Duke of Cambridge before all the nobility of Great Britain. Prince Eugene now strongly urged him to visit England, but the elector forbade the journey. The Electress Sophia, however, applied through Schütz, the Hanoverian minister at London, for the writ necessary to enable the prince to take his seat in the house of peers. This was done with the concurrence of the principal whig and opposition tory lords. Schütz was informed by the lord-chancellor (Harcourt) that Queen Anne, though surprised, would not refuse the application. The news was well received by the nation, and the prince was eagerly expected. Anne, however, wrote to the elector, the Electress Sophia, and the prince in terms which left no doubt of her dislike to the proposal, which was dropped after a reply of cold politeness from the prince.
After the death of Anne (1 August 1714) the prince accompanied his father to England, was declared Prince of Wales at the first council held by the new king (22 September), and so created by letters patent on 27 September. The princess followed with her two daughters, Anne and Amelia, in October. On 29 October the king, accompanied by the prince and princess, dined 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’. 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 February 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 £700,000 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 February 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, 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, 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 £1,200. 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, 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 December, 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.
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 November 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), should be the other. The king insisted that the Duke of Newcastle, with whom the prince was on bad terms, should take the Duke of York's place. Directly after the baptism in the princess's bedroom, the prince shook his fist in Newcastle's face, exclaiming in his broken English, ‘You are a rascal, but I shall find you.’ The king hereupon confined the prince to his room, as though to prevent a duel. Two submissive letters from the prince induced the king to restore him his liberty, but he was still excluded from St. James's Palace, the princess having the option of remaining there with her children or accompanying the prince and leaving them behind her. She joined the prince at the Earl of Grantham's house in Arlington Street. Thence on 23 January 1718 they removed to Leicester House, Leicester Fields, where they resided, attended only by their own servants, and without any of the insignia of state.
A bill was now drafted in the cabinet to give the king absolute control of the prince's income, but was dropped mainly in consequence of the determined opposition of Lord-chancellor Cowper. At Leicester House and at Richmond Lodge, their summer residence, the prince and princess now gathered round them a brilliant court, which was immediately thrown into opposition by an official announcement that all who should attend the prince's receptions must forbear his majesty's presence. On 3 February the prince was removed from the governorship of the South Sea Company, the king being elected in his place. In order further to humiliate the prince, the king determined if possible to deprive him permanently of the custody of his children. The ‘care and approbation’ of his grandchildren's marriages was undoubtedly vested in the sovereign, but there was no precedent to decide whether he had also the custody and education of them. The king had a case submitted to the common law judges, and the prince on his part took the opinion of several eminent counsel. The judges met to try the case at Serjeants' Inn on 22 January 1717-18. The majority of the judges, Eyre and Price alone dissenting, decided for the king on the ground that the right of disposing of his grandchildren in marriage carried with it all the other rights of a father, to the exclusion of the true father. The famous proposal for limiting the number of peers was calculated to humiliate the prince, and was ultimately defeated by his friends in the opposition. The king also sought to obtain an act of parliament to sever the connection between England and Hanover on the prince's accession to the throne, but abandoned the idea in deference to an adverse opinion of Lord-chancellor Parker, afterwards Earl of Macclesfield. A scheme for kidnapping the prince and transporting him to America, projected by the Earl of Berkeley, first lord of the admiralty, and reduced to writing by Charles Stanhope, elder brother of the Earl of Harrington, was apparently regarded by the king as a measure which might be resorted to in case of extremity. The draft was carefully preserved by him, and was found among his papers at his death. Walpole may have exaggerated the story, for which, however, there is some ground. The discredit brought by this unnatural feud upon the Hanoverian dynasty at length determined the whigs to attempt to bring about a reconciliation. An opportunity presented itself in the spring of 1720. The Hanoverians were clamouring for the repeal of the clause in the Act of Settlement (12 and 13 Will. III, c. 2 sec. 3) which excluded them from the English and Scottish peerage and all offices under government in Great Britain. Sunderland, not being able to secure the repeal of this clause, was compelled to make overtures to Townshend and Walpole in order to strengthen his position. Walpole refused to enter the ministry as long as the feud between the king and the prince continued.
Overtures for a reconciliation were made in April 1720. A fragmentary account of the negotiations given in Lady Cowper's ‘Diary’ does not reveal the precise terms of the agreement. It is clear, however, that the prince was induced to write a submissive letter to the king, and to express penitence in a short private audience with the king. He was then permitted to visit the young princesses, and returned, amid the acclamations of the populace, to Leicester House under an escort of beefeaters, who mounted guard there for the first time since the rupture. On the 25th the foreign ambassadors had an audience of the prince. The king still treated the prince with marked coldness, left the regency in the hands of lords justices when he went to Hanover (14 June), and had not restored to the prince the custody of his children when Lady Cowper's ‘Diary’ terminates (5 July). On this footing matters stood during the remaining years of George I's life, the prince living a somewhat retired life, and being uniformly deprived of the regency during the king's visits to Hanover. His most intimate friends were the Earl of Scarborough, his master of the horse, and Sir Spencer Compton, speaker of the House of Commons. On the death of George I, the news was carried to the prince at Richmond by Sir Robert Walpole (14 June). The new king received the intelligence without any display of emotion, and curtly told Walpole to go to Chiswick and take his instructions from Sir Spencer Compton, whom he thus designated prime minister. The king forthwith proceeded to Leicester House, where he held his first council the same day. At the meeting the archbishop of Canterbury produced the late king's will, in the expectation that it would be read. The king, however, put it in his pocket, and it was seen no more. A duplicate had been deposited with the Duke of Brunswick, and rumours of its contents got abroad. It contained a legacy to the queen of Prussia, no part of which was ever paid, though Frederick the Great, soon after his accession, endeavoured to recover it by diplomatic action.
Compton declined to form an administration. The king, by the advice of the queen, continued Walpole in office, who in return arranged that the civil list should be settled on a scale of unprecedented liberality, £830,000 in lieu of a previous £700,000, that £50,000 should be allowed for the queen's establishment, with Somerset House and Richmond Lodge for her residences, and that her jointure should be fixed at £100,000. The king replaced Lord Berkeley by Sir George Byng, Viscount Torrington, at the admiralty, but made no other material change in the administration. The coronation ceremony was performed on 11 October with great magnificence, the queen being ablaze from head to foot with jewels, most of them hired. On his birthday (30 October) the king went in state with the queen and royal family to dine with the lord mayor at Guildhall. In April 1728 he visited Cambridge, and received from the university the degree of D.D.; on 29 September he assumed his stall as sovereign of the order of the Garter at Windsor. The continuance of Walpole in office disappointed many hopes both at home and abroad. The party which had gathered round the prince during his disgrace tried vainly to regain favour by paying court first to Mrs. Howard, and then to Mrs. Clayton, afterwards Lady Sundon. Lord Scarborough remained master of the horse, Sir Spencer Compton was created Lord Wilmington (1728), Lord Hervey became the favourite of the queen, Argyll and Chesterfield gradually drifted into opposition. Abroad it had been generally anticipated that the king's accession would be followed by a change of policy. Articles had been signed preliminary to a congress of the great powers to arrange a general pacification, but pretexts were found by the Spanish court to defer the ratification. Meanwhile the emperor menaced Hanover, the siege of Gibraltar was not raised, Spanish men-of-war and privateers continued to harass English commerce. The continuity of Walpole's policy, however, remained unbroken. By retaining in British pay the twelve thousand Hessians hired by the late king, and subsidising the Duke of Brunswick, he defeated the emperor's designs on Hanover, and Spain at length ratified the articles. The congress met at Soissons on 14 June (N.S.) 1728, and broke up without any material result except the detachment of the emperor from Spain. Spain, thus isolated, was reduced to conclude a separate peace with Great Britain by the treaty of Seville, 9 November (N.S.) 1729. On 17 May 1729 the king, having previously appointed the queen regent of the realm, left England for Hanover, where he had many affairs to settle. The king's divorced mother, Sophia Dorothea, had died 22 November 1726, leaving a will by which she bequeathed her allodial estate to her friend the Count von Bar. This being by German law invalid, the property devolved upon George and his sister, the queen of Prussia. The Count von Bar had deposited the will in the imperial court at Vienna, and George took proceedings in concert with the king of Prussia to recover it, and there was much tedious litigation before the estate was realised and partitioned, nor was the king of Prussia altogether satisfied with the share which he obtained in right of his wife. He was also annoyed when his wife's uncle, Ernest Augustus, bishop of Osnabrück, who died 14 August 1728, left George his entire estate, except his jewels, which he bequeathed to the queen of Prussia. The two sovereigns had never been on good terms. They had met as boys at Hanover and fought; they had been rivals in love, Frederick William having been passionately attached to Queen Caroline before her marriage; their characters were antipathetic, Frederick William scornfully nicknaming George ‘the comedian,’ and George returning the compliment by calling Frederick William ‘the archbeadle of the Holy Roman Empire.’ Both were engaged under the emperor's orders in the desperate attempt to settle the affairs of Mecklenburg, which had long been in a state of anarchy, and were far from unanimous as to the means to be employed. George had also a standing grievance in the king of Prussia's practice of impressing Hanoverian subjects for his army on Hanoverian soil. George conceived himself slighted because on his journey to Hanover he was permitted to traverse Prussian territory at his own expense. Accordingly he omitted to inform Frederick William of his arrival at Herrenhausen in May 1729, and the omission being brought to the notice of Lord Townshend by the Prussian minister, he coldly (and untruly) replied that it was in accordance with usage. Some Hanoverian soldiers carried off hay from Prussian territory, and some Prussian soldiers, travelling with passports in Hanover, were detained by the king's express orders. Frederick William at first demanded satisfaction by duel, seconds were named, and a meeting arranged. Diplomacy, however, averted the duel and suggested an arbitration. Of this, however, George would not hear. Thereupon Frederick William mobilised forty-four thousand troops, and began massing them on the Hanoverian frontier. George also made a show of warlike preparations, but eventually accepted the arbitration. The arbitrators met at Brunswick towards the end of September, and after some delay arranged (April 1730) for an exchange of the Prussians arrested by George against some of the Hanoverians impressed by Frederick William, and the cessation of military preparations. The affair of the hay was allowed to drop. Meanwhile George had returned to England in September 1729. The petty squabble thus at length composed left behind it so much bitterness as effectually to put an end to a negotiation which had long been pending for a cross match between the houses of England and Prussia, by the marriage of Frederic Louis, Prince of Wales, to the Princess Sophia Dorothea Wilhelmina of Prussia, and of the crown prince of Prussia to George's second daughter, Princess Amelia. The Prince of Wales, who was, or fancied himself, ardently in love with Wilhelmina, had been brought to England for the first time, in deference to the urgent representations of the ministry in December 1728, and was soon openly on bad terms with his father. The king pretended in 1729 that the civil list was deficient to the extent of £115,000. No such deficit could be proved, but the House of Commons was induced by Walpole to vote the amount under the name of an arrear. The prince was sarcastic on his father's conduct in this matter, and provoked because the regency had not been left in his hands during the king's absence in Hanover.
The prince soon had a ‘minister’ of his own, viz. Bubb Dodington, afterwards Lord Melcombe. When Walpole introduced his celebrated Excise Bill the king favoured it because it would tend to swell the civil list. The prince accordingly countenanced the opposition which defeated it. The king kept the prince very short of money, allowing him only £36,000 out of the £100,000 which, when the civil list was settled, was understood to be for his use. The king patronised Handel, and the prince with many of the nobility deserted the Haymarket for the rival opera house in Lincoln's Inn Fields. The prince found further cause of offence in the marriage of the princess royal to the Prince of Orange in 1734, alleging that he was entitled to a settlement before his sister. The king became extremely unpopular, and the prince fancied himself the idol of the people. The attention of the king was diverted from the prince by the course of events on the continent.
On the death of Augustus the Strong, elector of Saxony and king of Poland (1 February 1732-3), the succession of his heir Frederic Augustus to the throne of Poland was disputed by Stanislaus Leczinsky. Louis XV supported Stanislaus in order to have a pretext for attacking the emperor, who favoured Frederic Augustus. On 14 October 1733, after the election of Frederic Augustus in place of Stanislaus, Louis declared war and invaded the emperor's dominions. The emperor appealed to England for help. The king and queen were eager for war on his behalf, and were with the utmost difficulty restrained by Walpole. The king then entered into a negotiation with the view of effecting an alliance between Spain and the emperor. The terms arranged were that the emperor should marry the second archduchess to a Spanish prince, who should succeed to the kingdom of Naples and Sicily on the emperor's death, and that Spain should meanwhile guarantee the integrity of the empire. The negotiation went forward in London under the personal superintendence of the king, who earnestly pressed the imperial ambassador to close the bargain. He, however, hesitated, urging the need of express instructions, and before these came Spain had concluded an alliance with France. The emperor was beaten in the Rhine, in northern Italy, and in Naples, where the Spaniards crowned Don Carlos (May 1734). The Young Pretender served in their army as a volunteer, and was received by Don Carlos with distinction. The king, excited by these events, would hear and talk of nothing but war, and the queen was in much the same temper. Walpole at last prevailed. He warned the queen that if England took any part in the foreign imbroglio ‘her crown would at last as surely come to be fought for as the crown of Poland.’ The queen yielded and the king followed suit, and thus, to quote Lord Hervey, ‘the shadow of the Pretender beat the whole Germanic body’. Before parliament rose, however, George obtained power to augment his land forces during the recess, and on 19 September he concluded a treaty with Denmark for the hire of six thousand horse and foot. The treaty, which was to last for three years, was laid before and approved by parliament early in the following year. In May 1735 the king went to Hanover, where he met and soon became attached to Amelia Sophia, the young and beautiful wife of Adam Gottlob, count von Walmoden. With engaging frankness he confessed his love to the queen, adding, ‘You must love the Walmoden, for she loves me’. He had not been long in Hanover before the emperor made him the tempting offer of the command of the army of the Rhine as the price of the English alliance. He had, however, been so well schooled by Walpole before he left England that he was able to say ‘No.’ Having met the Princess Augusta of Saxe-Gotha, he fixed on her as an eligible match for the Prince of Wales. Before leaving Hanover he promised the Estates that he would take the burden of the contingent of troops which the electorate was bound to furnish for the imperial army upon his own exchequer, instead of asking them for a subsidy. He returned to England in October in ill-health and worse humour, loudly expressing his regret for Hanover and disgust with England. He had left Madame Walmoden behind, and the queen suffered much in consequence from his ill-temper.
The marriage of the prince with the Princess Augusta took place on 27 April 1736, being hurried on by the king, who ardently desired to escape to Hanover and Madame Walmoden again. The king raised the prince's allowance to £50,000, which, according to Lord Hervey, was regarded by the prince and ‘most people’ as equivalent to robbing him of £50,000, the other half of the income due to him. The king set out for Hanover on 22 May, and reached Herrenhausen on the 28th. He had not long been there when an officer was found under suspicious circumstances under the windows of Madame Walmoden, who declared it to be a plot of her enemies. George laid the whole affair before the queen, advising her to consult Walpole, who had more experience than she, and more impartiality than himself. The king's birthday drew near, but the king showed no sign of returning, a mark of indifference which he had hitherto spared the queen. She was at first inclined to try what resentment could do to re-establish her ascendency, but at the instance of Walpole and Hervey abandoned this idea, and wrote the king a submissive and tender letter, begging that he would return and bring Madame Walmoden with him. This elicited a very frank and friendly letter from the king, in which he gave a minute description of Madame Walmoden's personal charms, and desired the queen to have the rooms which Lady Suffolk had occupied prepared for her reception, which was accordingly done. The king's protracted stay in Hanover was keenly resented by all classes, while his neglect of the queen and devotion to his foreign mistress excited further disgust. The national discontent found expression in a multitude of pasquinades and lampoons, most of which, according to Lord Hervey, only flattered the king's vanity by their testimony to his eminence as a lover. It was not until December that the king left Hanover. His return was delayed for some days by a violent storm which caused great excitement in England, most people confidently expecting to hear that the royal yacht had foundered. The king at last insisted, against the advice of Sir Charles Wager, on putting to sea. ‘Let it be what weather it will,’ he exclaimed, ‘I am not afraid,’ to which Wager replied laconically, ‘If you are not, I am.’ Wager at last gave way, but after a short experience the king was glad enough to be put on shore again at Helvoetsluys, and admitted that he was so satisfied with the storm that he did not desire ever to see another.
The king's unpopularity was not in the least diminished by his danger. It was a common occurrence to hear people in the streets wish him at the bottom of the sea, and even the soldiers drank damnation to him. The queen sincerely rejoiced at his safety, wrote to congratulate him on his escape, and was answered in a lengthy epistle of thirty pages full of rapturous expressions of love and devotion. He landed on 15 January 1736-7 at Lowestoft, and arrived on the 17th at St. James's in good humour and bad health. He had caught a severe cold on the passage, and this soon developed into a regular fever, which, though apparently never really dangerous, caused some apprehension. Meanwhile it was determined by the junto that now governed the prince that the question of his revenue should be formally raised in parliament. The rumour of this only roused the king. He resumed his levees, behaved with unusual graciousness to everybody, successfully dissembled his anxiety, and began visibly to improve in health. The general impression was that the prince's friends were likely to secure a majority in parliament, and Walpole induced the king to send a message to the prince notifying his intention to settle upon him the 50,000l. a year allowed him since his marriage, which had so far remained in the discretion of the king, and also a suitable jointure upon the princess. The prince professed gratitude for a concession more apparent than real; but on 22 February Pulteney in the House of Commons, and on the following day Lord Carteret in the House of Lords, moved that an address might be presented to the king, praying that an annuity of £100,000 might be settled on the prince. It was urged that it was a tacit condition of the grant of the civil list that such an allowance, being the same as the king had when he was prince, should be made. The motion, however, was lost in both houses, the victory being mainly due to the dexterous use made by Walpole of the king's attempt at a compromise. Both king and queen keenly resented the action of the prince, and were hardly restrained by Walpole from turning him out of St. James's; nor, though he was permitted to remain in the palace, would the queen speak to him or the king even recognise his existence, and Walpole had much ado to induce them so far to keep faith with the prince and the public as to settle a jointure of £50,000 a year upon the princess, at the same time exempting the prince's allowance from taxation, and enabling him to make leases of the lands within the Duchy of Cornwall. The king at this time paid much attention to one of his daughters' governesses, Anne Howard, widow of Henry Scott, first earl of Deloraine, and wife of William Wyndham, sub-governor to the Duke of Cumberland. Lady Deloraine was, says Lord Hervey, ‘one of the vainest as well as one of the simplest women that ever lived; but she had one of the prettiest faces ever formed, and though now five-and-thirty had a bloom that not one woman in ten thousand has at fifteen’. She is supposed to have been the original of Pope's Delia. For a time Madame Walmoden seemed to be forgotten.
The prince's disobedient conduct in hurrying his wife by night, while in the very pangs of labour, from Hampton Court to St. James's to lie in there, caused a complete rupture between him and the king and queen (31 July 1737). Through the influence of Walpole the prince was indeed permitted to remain at St. James's, but angry letters were exchanged, and the king refused to see the prince. The king and queen condescended, however, to become godparents to the young princess (Augusta), who was baptised on 29 August, but, offended by the manner in which this attention was received by the prince, gave him on 10 September notice to quit St. James's Palace. The foreign ministers were requested to forbear his society, and the court was informed that all who were received by him would be excluded from the king's presence. The king even pushed his spite so far as to forbid the prince to remove his furniture from the palace. During the last illness of Queen Caroline the prince begged to be allowed to see her (11 November), but the king sent Lord Hervey to him with a curt refusal, and the queen died without seeing him, or expressing any desire to do so. As her death drew near, the king showed much clumsy tenderness, teased her with various suggestions about her food and drink, fairly sobbed when she urged him to marry again after her death, and with much difficulty got out the words, ‘Non, j'aurai des maîtresses,’ to which the queen replied, ‘Ah! mon Dieu! cela n'empêche pas’. He was loud in his praise of 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 November 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. 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 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 October 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 October 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 £300,000 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 Osnabrück. George felt himself caught in a trap, and hastily concluded a treaty with France pledging Hanover to neutrality (28 October 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. On 9 February 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 of Newcastle and Lord Hardwicke retained their places, and Henry Pelham, brother of the Duke of Newcastle, became paymaster of the forces. The Prince of Wales was reconciled to the king. Of the new ministers Carteret was the only one who knew German, and he soon monopolised the confidence of the king, with whose ambition to play a prominent part in European politics he sympathised. How far the policy which for the next three years was pursued was due to Carteret's, how far to the king's initiative, cannot be precisely determined. Its general scope was to engage the Dutch in alliance for the defence of the Austrian Netherlands against France and Prussia, to afford Maria Theresa all possible aid short of an actual declaration of war in her favour, and to endeavour to mediate a peace between her and Frederick with the ulterior object of detaching Frederick from France, and uniting him in a defensive alliance with Great Britain. In response to a royal message, the House of Commons placed half a million at the disposal of the king to employ as he might see fit on behalf of the queen of Hungary. His mediatorial efforts, coinciding as they did with the brilliant successes of the Prussian arms, resulted in the treaty of Breslau, by which Maria Theresa ceded Silesia to Frederick (11 June, N.S. 1742). By a separate ‘act of guarantee’ George pledged himself to do his utmost to secure the faithful observance of the treaty by both parties (24 June, N.S.). It was confirmed by a definitive treaty of peace signed at Berlin on 28 July, N.S. On 18 November, N.S., George concluded a defensive alliance with Frederick. The king next offered his good offices as mediator between the new emperor, Charles VII, and the queen of Hungary, providing in the meantime for the defence of the Austrian Netherlands against France, and a possible diversion in favour of the queen in Flanders, in the event of the negotiations falling through. No effort was spared to induce the Dutch to co-operate. Carteret himself was sent to the Hague to extort from the States-General a decisive answer, and obtained a promise of a contingent of twenty thousand men. The king's Hanoverian forces were taken into British pay, and, strengthened by reinforcements from England, were gradually pushed into the Netherlands during the autumn and winter. A defensive alliance was concluded with Russia on 11 December N.S. In May 1743 the Dutch contingent was actually mobilised, and cantoned about Maestricht and Namur. The British, Hanoverian, and Austrian forces had meanwhile concentrated in the neighbourhood of Mainz, where they remained for a time to secure the election of the Austrian candidate, the Graf von Ostein, as chairman of the imperial diet (22 April, N.S.). On 27 April George left England, and after staying a few weeks at Hanover joined the army about the middle of June, taking with him Carteret and Cumberland. The French meanwhile, under Marshal Noailles, had crossed the Rhine, and lay seventy thousand strong about Seligenstadt on the south bank of the Main. The allied or Pragmatic army, numbering about forty thousand men, had its base at Hanau on the north bank, but on 26 June (N.S.) was encamped at Aschaffenburg. During the night the French crossed the river at Seligenstadt, and took up a strong position at Dettingen, where the allies encountered them when retreating on Hanau in the morning. While hesitating whether to force their way through or retire on Aschaffenburg, they were imprudently attacked by Noailles, who thus forfeited the advantage of his position, was repulsed with great loss, and finally driven across the river. The king, whose horse bolted early in the action, placed himself on foot at the head of his troops, brandished his sword, and exclaimed, ‘Now, boys, now for the honour of England; fire and behave bravely, and the French will soon run.’ He remained in the field throughout the day, exposing his person with the utmost gallantry. Though the king was nominally in command of the British and Hanoverian forces, the responsibility for such strategy as was exhibited on this occasion does not rest with him, but with the generals who formed his council of war, and particularly with Lord Stair. Nothing was done to improve the victory in a military sense, but its effect on England was enormous. The king suddenly became a popular hero, and Handel composed a Te Deum in honour of the occasion. The moment seemed favourable for diplomatic action, and accordingly George, with the help of Carteret, who had accompanied him to the field, attempted to arrange a treaty by which the emperor should renounce his claims on the Austrian succession, permit the Grand Duke of Tuscany to be crowned king of the Romans, and withdraw from the French alliance, in consideration of being guaranteed peaceful possession of Bavaria, his imperial title, and an annual subsidy from England. The treaty was actually drafted at Hanau, and provisionally signed, but lapsed in consequence of the lords justices, in whom the regency had been vested during the king's absence, refusing to ratify it, and thus the fruits of the victory were entirely thrown away. From Hanau the king and Carteret went to Worms, and there concluded (13 September N.S.) a treaty of alliance with the queen of Hungary and the king of Sardinia, by which the contracting parties mutually guaranteed all dominions which they did or ought to possess, and Great Britain granted the king of Sardinia a subsidy of 200,000l., and engaged to maintain a strong fleet in the Mediterranean. This treaty, which was intended principally as a security against Spanish designs on Italy, was ratified in due course. In November the king returned to England.
Early in 1744 the Young Pretender was received at the French court with marks of distinction, and in March France formally declared war on England. George's diplomacy was now mainly directed towards inducing the Dutch to come to an open rupture with France, and obtaining succours from Frederick the Great, pursuant to the defensive alliance of 18 November (N.S.) 1742. The Dutch, however, could be prevailed upon no further than to furnish a contingent of six thousand men, and Frederick readily found pretexts for refusing to render any assistance. A further treaty for a subsidy of £150,000 to the queen of Hungary was signed on 1 August On 10 August (N.S.) Frederick declared war upon her, and forthwith marched into Bohemia. This step produced a ministerial crisis in England. The majority of the cabinet were disgusted with the unexpected length of the war. They took Lord Chesterfield and his faction into their counsels, and submitted to the king a joint note in effect demanding Carteret's dismissal. The king was very reluctant to comply. ‘Lord Carteret has served me very well,’ he said to the Duke of Newcastle. But as the junto at length threatened to resign en masse, the king yielded, and dismissed Carteret (24 November 1744). A ministry of all the factions was then formed under Henry Pelham. The new ministry was bent on making peace as soon as possible. In the meantime they desired to carry on the war upon a concerted plan, and with a clear understanding as to the distribution of expense. Lord Chesterfield was sent to the Hague to treat on this point with the Dutch. The negotiation issued, however, in the union or quadruple alliance of Warsaw (8 January N.S. 1745), by which the country was burdened with the payment to the elector of Saxony for the defence of Bohemia of two-thirds of an annual subsidy of £150,000 ‘so long as necessity should require,’ Holland becoming responsible for the residue.
The course of events during the summer was, except for the unexpected conquest of Cape Breton by Sir Peter Warren, disastrous to the allies. The attempt to rouse the Dutch to energetic action signally failed, and the loss of the battle of Fontenoy (11 May, N.S.) placed the Netherlands at the mercy of the French. Frederick the Great gained a brilliant victory over the Austrians at Hohenfriedberg (3 June N.S.); the Young Pretender landed in Scotland in July. George, who had gone to Hanover in May, hereupon returned to England (31 August). The ministry seized the opportunity to present him with a strongly worded memorial on the expediency of bringing the queen of Hungary to make peace on the terms of the treaty of Breslau. George, after indignant protests, at length consented to make an offer of mediation between Frederick and the queen. A negotiation carried on at Hanover in the autumn led to the treaty concluded at Dresden (25 December N.S.), confirming the cession of Silesia, Great Britain giving Prussia a separate guarantee of quiet possession. Meanwhile the brilliant successes of the French under Marshal Saxe in the Netherlands, from which the British troops had been withdrawn on the outbreak of the Jacobite rebellion, alarmed the Dutch, who sent urgent appeals to England for help. The king would fain have afforded it, but the ministry refused. They also demanded that Pitt, whose anti-Hanoverian speeches had made him peculiarly obnoxious to the king, should be appointed secretary at war. The king would not hear of it. Harrington and Newcastle thereupon (10 February 1744-5) resigned, and the king sent for Pulteney, earl of Bath, and Carteret, now lord Granville. This was met by the resignation of the rest of the ministers. Bath and Granville failed to form an administration, and the old ministers returned to power on the 14th, more resolute to terminate the war than before. The king was most dejected, called himself a prisoner on the throne, and bade the ministry do as they thought best, at the same time calling Newcastle a fool in the hearing of Harrington, and Harrington a rascal in the hearing of Newcastle. He was still as bellicose as ever, and Newcastle, who now aspired to succeed to Carteret's predominance, fell in with his views. Harrington, who was steadfast for peace, discovering that the pair were secretly thwarting him, resigned (7 October 1746), and was succeeded by Chesterfield. The suppression of the Jacobite insurrection (16 April 1746) enabled a few regiments to be sent to the Netherlands to co-operate with Prince Charles of Lorraine against the French under Marshal Saxe. The allies were defeated at Raucoux, near Liège, on 7 October 1746, and at Lauffeld, near Maestricht on 2 July 1747; the French became eventually masters of the Netherlands, and began to menace Holland. In the East Indies also they had acquired a commanding position by the capture of Madras on 10 September 1746. Lord Chesterfield, being opposed to the war, resigned his post of secretary of state for the northern department on 6 February 1747-8, and was succeeded by Newcastle, the Duke of Bedford taking Newcastle's place as secretary of state for the southern department. The king's martial ardour was still unabated, and preparations for the defence of Holland were begun upon a vast scale. France, however, had already made informal overtures of peace in 1747 through Sir John Ligonier, who had been taken prisoner at the battle of Lauffeld, and, notwithstanding the king and Newcastle, the negotiation resulted in May 1748 in the signature of preliminaries for a treaty on the basis of the mutual restitution of all acquisitions made during the war. On this basis (with some exceptions) a definitive treaty of peace was concluded at Aix-la-Chapelle on 18 October (N.S.) 1748. To this treaty Austria and Spain after some delay acceded. George's last effort on behalf of Austria was an attempt to procure the immediate election of the Archduke Joseph (then only in his tenth year) as king of the Romans. The intrigue was set on foot at Hanover, whither the king went attended by the Duke of Newcastle in April 1750, and was regarded with great pride by George, who, to Newcastle's intense mortification, claimed the exclusive credit of its initiation and conduct. Much money, chiefly English, was spent in bribing the electors by subsidies. The plan broke down, as the necessary unanimity of the electors was made impossible by the king of Prussia's refusal to concur.
Meanwhile Newcastle had become exceedingly jealous of his co-secretary of state, the Duke of Bedford. The king refused to part with him, but was induced to dismiss his close friend, Lord Sandwich, first lord of the admiralty, whereupon Bedford resigned (13 June). Anson succeeded Sandwich, and Lord Holderness the Duke of Bedford. The death of the Prince of Wales (20 March 1750-1) had so weakened the opposition that the Pelhams soon became masters of the situation, and the king surrendered himself wholly to their guidance. A bill providing that if the king died during the minority of his grandson, the new Prince of Wales, the regency should be vested in a council of state, was introduced by royal message (26 April 1751), and, conceived in the interest of the Pelhams, and directed against the Duke of Cumberland, appears to have had the king's entire approval, and passed into law (22 May). The summer and autumn of 1752 were spent by the king in Hanover. He returned to England in November, and had to settle disputes in the household of the Prince of Wales. In the following years the English and French came into closer and more hostile contact in India and America. At home the death of Pelham (6 March 1754) reawakened the strife of factions. The king sighed on hearing of it, ‘Now I shall have no more peace.’ Newcastle became first lord of the treasury; but his administration, in which Sir Thomas Robinson was exposed to the joint attacks of Pitt and Fox, became discredited. The king, foreseeing the approach of a French war, hurried off to make matters safe in Hanover towards the end of April 1755, and promptly set on foot negotiations for two new subsidiary treaties. By the first, concluded 18 June (N.S.), the landgraf of Hesse-Cassel agreed to keep eight thousand horse and foot ready to march at two months' notice. The second (concluded 30 September N.S.) renewed the defensive alliance of 1742 with Russia, and the czarina further engaged to menace Prussia by an army of fifty-five thousand horse and foot on the frontiers of Livonia and Lithuania for the next four years, and to regard an invasion of Hanover as a casus belli. As the treaties involved subsidies, the regents at home declined to ratify them, and they became the subject of animated debate in both houses. Henry Fox was induced to defend them and take Robinson's place (14 November). Pitt, then paymaster of the forces, was dismissed. The treaties were approved (15 December), and virtually abrogated a month later by the conclusion of a treaty with the king of Prussia for a mutual guarantee of the integrity of Germany against all the world (17 January 1756). This was followed (1 May) by an alliance between France and Austria. Pitt now attached himself to the Prince of Wales. The king had proposed that the prince should marry a princess of the house of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel. The prince, however, shortly before coming of age (1756) manifested extreme repugnance to the match. He also, at the instigation of his mother, requested that the Earl of Bute might be appointed his groom of the stole. The king, desiring to separate him from his mother, offered him a yearly allowance of £40,000 and a residence at Kensington. The prince accepted the allowance, but begged to be allowed to remain with his mother. The king reluctantly acquiesced. He also conceded the point as to Lord Bute, but refused to admit him to an audience, even to receive the gold key which was the badge of his office. The elevation of Murray to the lord chief justiceship (November 1756) left the ministry without a single speaker of high capacity, except Fox, in the House of Commons. The loss of Minorca and the outbreak of the seven years' war threw the country into a fever of excitement, in the height of which Fox resigned. The king at first refused to apply to Pitt. ‘Pitt will not do my business,’ he said to Granville. ‘You know,’ said Granville to Fox, ‘what my business meant — Hanover.’ Nevertheless overtures were eventually made to Pitt. He refused, however, to enter the cabinet until Newcastle resigned (27 October), when Pitt formed his administration with the Duke of Devonshire.
The new ministry was extremely distasteful to the king. He was disgusted with the recommendation of a national militia in the speech from the throne. He read with satisfaction a libel on the speech, and said he hoped the author would be leniently dealt with, as it was much better than the original. Pitt, he averred, made him long speeches in the closet which were quite beyond his comprehension, and Temple was pert and insolent. He was irritated with both for interceding on behalf of Admiral Byng. He desired to send the Duke of Cumberland to defend Hanover against the French, and that a vote of £100,000 should be obtained towards the same purpose. This Pitt refused. The king commissioned Lord Waldegrave to negotiate for the return of Newcastle, and dismissed (5 April 1757) Lord Temple and, a few days later, Pitt. Newcastle did not dare to return without Pitt. The king in despair offered the treasury to Lord Waldegrave, who accepted it, but failed to form an administration. At last the king was compelled to acquiesce in the return of Pitt, who thereupon formed his great administration in alliance with Newcastle. The new ministry kissed hands on 29 June. Meanwhile affairs went badly in Hanover. The Duke of Cumberland was beaten at Hastenbeck (28 June), evacuated Hanover, and the king had to apply for the mediation of his son-in-law, the king of Denmark, to obtain the humiliating convention of Kloster Zeven (8 September). When the duke presented himself at Kensington, the king exclaimed, ‘Here is my son, who has ruined me and disgraced himself.’ The duke thereupon resigned all his offices and commands. A more capable general was found in Prince Ferdinand of Brunswick, who in February 1758 drove the French out of the duchies of Bremen and Verden, in April out of Hanover, in May across the Rhine, defeated them at Crefeld (23 June), and, though compelled in the following summer to retreat into Germany, made good the line of the Weser, and by the signal victory of Minden (1 August) compelled them to retreat upon the Rhine, only the negligence of Lord George Sackville saving them from total rout. The king was extremely incensed with Sackville, and declared the sentence of the court-martial which pronounced him unfit for military service to be worse than death. Meanwhile success followed success in every part of the world. Clive, who had already destroyed the power of the French in Bengal, shattered that of the Dutch in October 1758 by sinking their fleet in the Hooghly. Lally gave ground in the Carnatic before Brereton and Eyre Coote. The settlements of the French in Senegal and Goree were reduced the same year by Keppel. Guadeloupe was taken early in 1759. The recovery of Cape Breton by Boscawen (June 1758), followed by the conquest of Ticonderoga, Niagara, and Quebec (July-September 1759), of Montreal (September 1760), terminated French dominion in Canada. Pococke in the east, Boscawen, Saunders, and Hawke in the west, all but annihilated their fleet. In the midst of this blaze of military and naval glory the king died suddenly at Kensington on 25 October 1760, between seven and eight o'clock in the morning, from a rupture of the right ventricle of the heart as he was preparing to go out for a walk in the gardens. The funeral service was performed in Westminster Abbey on 11 November at night, the cathedral being ‘so illuminated,’ says Horace Walpole, ‘that one saw it to greater advantage than by day; the tombs, the long aisles and fretted roof, all appearing distinctly and with the happiest chiaroscuro.’ The king had left directions that his remains should be mingled with those of Queen Caroline. Accordingly, his coffin was placed by the side of hers, the adjacent sides of the coffins being removed, and both enclosed in a stone sarcophagus were deposited in the royal vault in Henry VII's Chapel.
In person George II was small and dapper, and carried himself rather stiffly, displaying a handsome leg adorned with the Garter, whence he derived the sobriquet of ‘the little captain.’ His features, though not handsome, were striking. A broad and high forehead receded gradually towards the crown of the head, while his nose, which was long and regular, as gradually protruded. His eyes, large and blue, stood out in high relief against a deep purplish-red complexion; his hair and eyebrows were fair, his mouth large and crescent-shaped, his chin handsome. A portrait of him as a boy by Sir Godfrey Kneller, another as a young man by Enoch Zeeman, and a third as king, ‘after Pine,’ are at Hampton Court. He was also painted in youth by Michael Dahl, in middle life by Thomas Hudson and John Shackleton, and by Thomas Worledge at the age of seventy. These portraits are in the National Portrait Gallery. There is also a portrait of him by Allan Ramsay in the possession of James Wolfe Murray, esq. A group by Hogarth, representing him together with the queen, the Prince of Wales, and the princesses, is in the National Portrait Gallery of Ireland. He was throughout life extremely regular in his habits, rose usually between five and six in the morning, went to bed for an hour's siesta in the afternoon, and distributed the rest of the day between business, pleasure, and exercise in the most methodical manner. His favourite sport was hunting. His evenings he generally spent at cards, or in the society of his mistress, supping at eleven o'clock and going to bed at midnight. During his later years he was somewhat troubled with the gout. To his wife, in spite of his various infidelities and the brutal rudeness with which he sometimes treated her, he was sincerely attached, and was so completely swayed by her in affairs of state that the king may be said to have been merged in the queen. This humiliating position he did his utmost to disguise, and the queen adroitly fell in with his humour, rather insinuating than stating her own opinions, and waiting patiently till they issued from him as his own. Nevertheless, it gradually came to be so notorious as to find its way into the pasquinades of the day, e.g.
You may strut, dapper George, but 'twill all be in vain;
We know 'tis Queen Caroline, not you that reign.
He was, however, as fond of the pomp and ceremonial of royalty as his queen was of the substance. He was ambitious of military glory, but lacked the qualities of the general. At Dettingen he displayed only the common courage of a soldier. In political crises at home he was unmistakably timid. ‘The king,’ said Walpole, ‘is for all his personal bravery as great a political coward as ever wore a crown, and as much afraid to lose it.’ That Hanover occupied the first place in his mind, the empire the second, and England the third, is perhaps hardly matter for surprise; but his continental policy lacked grasp and steadiness, and consisted in fact of a mere series of temporary shifts. He was inordinately fond of money, as his suppression of his father's will, his anxiety to swell the civil list, his treatment of the Prince of Wales and of his mistresses — Lady Suffolk left him a poor woman, and he was by no means generous to Lady Yarmouth — abundantly prove. He gave little in charity, and the only present Walpole ever had from him was a diamond with a flaw in it. He must, however, have spent freely, probably in Hanover, for he died comparatively poor, leaving by his will only £50,000 — one account says only £35,000 — to be equally divided between the Duke of Cumberland, the Princess Amelia, and the Princess Mary of Hesse, and a legacy of £8,000 or £10,000 to Lady Yarmouth. The rest of his property he had given by deed in his lifetime to the Duke of Cumberland. When public interests were concerned, or his kingly pride was wounded, he did not err on the side of clemency, as he showed by his treatment of the Prince of Wales, Lord Lovat, Admiral Byng, Lord George Sackville, and the Duke of Cumberland; but on ordinary occasions his temper was placable, though so irritable that he would sometimes kick his hat or wig about the room in a fit of ungovernable rage. He had a good memory, an understanding narrow but clear and active within its limits, spoke English fairly well but with a decided German accent, as well as French and Italian. He knew something of history and international law; but his favourite study was the genealogy of the German royal and princely families, and he considered the Denbighs the best of English nobility, because they traced their descent from the Hapsburgs. His neglect of polite letters brought upon him the satire of Pope's ‘Epistle to Augustus’ and Swift's ‘Rhapsody,’ and Lord Hervey testifies that his taste in pictures was as bad as it could possibly be. On the other hand he was fond of the opera, and patronised Heidegger and Handel, and founded the university of Göttingen (1734). His conversational powers were very slight, and his manner in society formal and, except to ladies, ungracious. He formed no intimate friendships with men, and chose his lady favourites rather for their physical than their mental qualities. He was totally incapable of any sort of dissimulation, or even simulation; honourable also, except when spite or avarice intervened, loyal to his allies, and an exact observer of his pledged word. His rationalistic queen never awakened in him any interest in theological controversy, or any form of speculative thought, and he remained to the day of his death an implicit believer in orthodox protestantism, ghosts, witches, and vampires.
By Queen Caroline George II had issue eight children, viz.
(1) Frederick Louis, prince of Wales (1707-1751).
(2) Anne, Princess Royal, born at Herrenhausen in 1709, married on 14 March 1733-4 to the Prince of Orange. She was fat, ill-shaped, disfigured by the small-pox, and short, while the prince was deformed. The princess had leave to refuse him, but replied that she would marry him if he were a baboon. ‘Well, then,’ said the king, ‘there is baboon enough for you.’ The marriage was solemnised with the utmost pomp in the French chapel adjoining St. James's Palace. The princess soon appeared to be quite attached to her husband, who became very popular, and in consequence was hurried out of the country by the king (22 April). On the death of the queen the princess returned to England, in the hope of succeeding to her mother's influence with the king, who, guessing her motive, forthwith sent her back to Holland. On the death of her husband she became regent of the republic during the minority of her son George William. She was a good linguist and an accomplished amateur musician and painter, ambitious and rather haughty, and not without capacity for affairs of state. She died on 12 January 1759
(3) Amelia Sophia Eleanora, born at Herrenhausen on 10 June 1710. She was long the intended wife of Frederick the Great, who corresponded with her until his marriage in 1733. At her death his miniature was found on her breast next her heart. During the life of the king she lived with him, and received the homage of the Dukes of Newcastle and Grafton. After the king's death she had a house in Cavendish Square and another at Gunnersbury. She died unmarried, at Cavendish Square, on 31 October 1786, and was buried in Henry VII's Chapel, Westminster Abbey, on 11 November.
(4) Carolina Elizabeth, born at Herrenhausen in 1713, was her mother's favourite. She inherited her father's unswerving veracity. ‘Send for Caroline,’ the king or queen would say, ‘and then we shall know the truth.’ A hopeless passion for Lord Hervey combined with the grief occasioned by her mother's death to engender in her a perpetual melancholy, which undermined her health. For some years before her death she lived in retirement in St. James's Palace, seeing only members of the royal family, and dividing her time between religious exercises and the secret dispensation of charity. She died on 28 December 1757, and was buried in Henry VII's Chapel, Westminster Abbey, on 5 January following.
(5) George William, the infant whose christening was the occasion of the rupture between his father and grandfather, born at Leicester House on 2 November 1717, died on 6 February 1717-18, privately buried in Henry VII's Chapel, Westminster Abbey, on the 12th
(6) William Augustus, duke of Cumberland (1721-1765.
(7) Mary, born at Leicester House on 22 February 1722-3, married at Cassel on 2 July (N.S.) 1740 to Frederick, landgraf of Hesse-Cassel. The marriage proved unhappy, and a separation ensued. She died in 1772.
(8) Louisa, born at Leicester House on 7 December 1724, married at Copenhagen on 11 December (N.S.) 1743 to Frederick, prince royal, afterwards king, of Denmark. Walpole calls her a princess of great spirit. She died on 8 December 1751.
Madame Walmoden's second son, John Louis, born in 1736, and known at court as Monsieur Louis, was reputed to be the king's son, but was never acknowledged. He rose to the rank of field-marshal in the Hanoverian army, which he commanded during the French occupation in 1803.
|Meet the web creator
These materials may be freely used for
non-commercial purposes in accordance with applicable statutory allowances
and distribution to students.
Last modified 12 January, 2016
|American Affairs 1760-83
|The Age of the French Wars 1792-1815
|Irish Affairs 1760-89
|Economic Affairs in the Age of Peel
|Primary sources index
|British Political Personalities
|British Foreign policy 1815-65