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Conduct of Foreign Affairs.—Attempts of the Cabinet to procure the Election of the Archduke Joseph to the Dignity of King of the Romans.—Subsidiary Treaties with the Electors of Germany. — Mr. Walpole and Mr. Pelham disapprove these Measures.— Mr. Walpole's Memorial to the King.
The conduct of foreign affairs, pursued by the cabinet during these changes, was liable to many objections, and was not only censured by the enemies, but disapproved by many friends of government, among whom Mr. Walpole is distinguished. The great object of the british cabinet was to secure the succession of the imperial dignity in the house of Austria, by obtaining for the archduke Joseph, eldest son of Maria Theresa by the emperor Francis, the election to the title of King of the Romans. But this was an object of extreme difficulty, and attended with a profusion of expense. As a previous step, it became necessary to obtain a majority of votes, not only in the electoral college, but likewise in the diet of the empire. Hence a regular system of influence and bribery was established; the electoral votes were to be purchased by means of subsidiary treaties, and the money of England lavished on the petty princes and states of Germany. Subsidies were offered to the electors of Mentz and Cologne; a subsidiary treaty was concluded with the elector of Bavaria, who engaged for an annual sum of 40,000l., paid by Great Britain and the United Provinces, to hold in readiness 6000 auxiliaries for the service of the maritime powers, but not against the emperor or empire; the elector of Saxony, Augustus III. king of Poland, was also secured by the promise of a loan of 500,000l. on the mortgage of certain lordships in the saxon territories. But, notwithstanding these enormous expenses, the scheme was successfully counteracted, by the opposition of the king of Prussia as elector of Brandenburgh, and the king of France, as guarantee of the treaty of Westphalia, who declared the election of a minor incompatible with the laws of the empire. They had secured the elector of Treves, and detached the elector of Cologne from the party of England, and the elector Palatine had entered a strong protest against the convocation of an electoral diet. A close connection was at this time established betwixt France and the king of Prussia, who had recently conceived new disgust against
George the Second, on account of the disputes for the successsion to East Friesland. On the death of the last duke without heirs-male, Frederic instantly took possession of the duchy, as Mr. Walpole had predicted. George the Second, as duke of Brunswick Lunenburgh, remonstrated against this seizure, stated his pretensions in a memorial presented to the diet of Ratisbon, and demanded that their respective claims should be referred to the decision of the aulic council. He was warmly supported by the house of Austria. The king of Prussia presented a counter-memorial, and refusing to submit his right to any tribunal, entered a protest against the proceedings of the diet. The nugatory attempt of George the Second, to wrest from so powerful a sovereign a duchy which he then had in possession, was as impolitic as it was unsuccessful. Frederic expressed his resentment against the court of London, for their officious interference in the affairs of Germany, and, under the pretext of demanding reparation for the seizure of some prussian ships by english cruizers, discontinued the payment of the Silesian loan." He also redoubled his efforts to counteract the election of the archduke Joseph.
* A loan advanced by some english merchants to the queen of Hungary, on some lordships in Silesia, which the king of
Prussia bound himself to liquidate, when Silesia was guarantied to him.
Notwithstanding the incessant representations of Mr. Walpole, no effectualendeavours had been made to secure the friendship of the king of Prussia; but even the very conduct pursued which he had so strongly reprobated. Instead of deputing, as embassador to Berlin, a person of high distinction, who possessed the full confidence of his sovereign, and was provided with specific instructions, much time was wasted in selecting an envoy, who was not at last entrusted with full powers. Sir Everard Fawkener was at first designated for the employment by the duke of Cumberland; but, to use Mr. Walpole's expressions, “Mr. Williers” having gained the king of Prussia's good opinion, was the cause of his being proposed, and his having asked, and having been refused a place, was generally thought to have been the occasion of his not going. But the true reason, I believe, was, that he had consulted his friend lord Granville, who told him it was not desired that he should succeed in that commission, and consequently he could get nothing but ill-will by it; and therefore he started that demand of a place, as a condition, without any expectation of having it granted him.”f At length the
• Envoy to Dresden, afterwards lord Hyde and earl of
Clarendon. + Mr. Walpole to Mr. Etough, Wolterton, Oct. 12, 1751.
choice fell on Mr. Legge, who, though a man of great talents for business, was unfit for a foreign mission, and of a character ill suited to the temper of that “powerful casuist, whose extraordinary dogmas were supported by 140,000, the most effectual but convincing arguments in the world.” His mission to Berlin only exposed him to the caprice and insolence of the prussian monarch. - In consequence of this rooted antipathy between the two sovereigns, Mr. Walpole foresaw the inefficiency of subsidiary treaties, and deprecated the lavish profusion of british money to secure an election which was continually defeated by the influence of Prussia. He no less warmly censured that want of conciliation which marked the conduct of the british cabinet in their transactions with France, and that impolitic antipathy which provoked her enmity, by affecting to hold her out as an enemy in every court of Europe. Mr. Pelham was the principal person in the cabinet who coincided with the sentiments of Mr. Walpole on all these points. His conciliating and cautious temper is evident from a letter which he wrote to Sir Charles Hanbury Williams, then envoy at Dresden, on the request
* Mr. Harris to Sir Charles Hanbury Williams, March 10. 1750.- Hanbury Papers.
VOL. II. X