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Title: Caroline the Illustrious, vol. 2 (of 2)

Queen-Consort of George II. and sometime Queen-Regent; a study of her life and time

Author: W. H. Wilkins

Release date: June 5, 2023 [eBook #70914]

Language: English

Original publication: United Kingdom: Longmans, Green, and Co, 1901

Credits: MWS and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team at (This file was produced from images generously made available by The Internet Archive/Canadian Libraries)


Transcriber’s Note

Larger versions of most illustrations may be seen by right-clicking them and selecting an option to view them separately, or by double-tapping and/or stretching them.

Cover image created by Transcriber by combining the cover and part of the title page in the original book. The result is granted to the Public Domain.


Queen Caroline,
and the Duke of Cumberland.

Walter L. Colls Ph. Sc.


Caroline the Illustrious
Queen-Consort of George II. and
sometime Queen-Regent

A Study of her Life and Time







BOOK III. Queen Consort and Queen Regent.
The New Reign 3
The Queen and Walpole 29
The Court of Queen Caroline 53
The Royal Family 83
Caroline’s First Regency 112
The Queen and the Nation 136
The Queen and Literature 156
The Excise Scheme 184
Frederick, Prince of Wales 203vi
Caroline and the Church 223
The Marriage of the Princess Royal 249
The Marriage of the Prince of Wales 269
Caroline’s Last Regency 296
The Prince and the Patriots 325
The Queen’s Illness and Death 344
Illustrissima Carolina 361
Appendix 369
Index 373



Queen Caroline and the Duke of Cumberland
to face page
King George II. From the painting by John Shackleton in the National Portrait Gallery 14
The Coronation Banquet of George II. and Queen Caroline 34
Sir Robert Walpole. From the painting by J. B. Van Loo in the National Portrait Gallery 46
Hampton Court, temp. George II. 60
Henrietta Howard (Countess of Suffolk) 78
The Princess Amelia (Second Daughter of George II.) 96
Letter of Queen Caroline to the King of France 114
The Altstadt, Hanover 130
The Princess Clementina (Consort of Prince James Francis Edward Stuart). From the painting in the National Portrait Gallery 146
Mrs. Clayton (Viscountess Sundon) 162
John, Lord Hervey 178
Philip Stanhope, Earl of Chesterfield. From the painting in the National Portrait Gallery 194
Frederick, Prince of Wales 214
Benjamin Hoadley, Bishop of Winchester. From a painting by Mrs. Hoadley in the National Portrait Gallery 238viii
Anne, Princess Royal, and the Prince of Orange 256
Augusta, Princess of Wales, at the Time of Her Marriage 284
The Old Tolbooth, Edinburgh, temp. 1736. From an old print 308
The Princesses Mary and Louisa (Daughters of George II.) 328
The Princess Caroline (Third Daughter of George II.) 348
Henry VII.’s Chapel, Westminster Abbey, temp. 1737 364



The news of George the First’s death reached England four days after he had breathed his last at Osnabrück. A messenger, bearing sealed despatches from Lord Townshend, arrived at Sir Robert Walpole’s house in Arlington Street at noon on Wednesday, June 14th. He was told that the Prime Minister was at Chelsea, and he at once repaired thither. He found the great man at dinner. Walpole was thunderstruck at the news, for the old King was of so strong a constitution that, despite his occasional fainting fits, every one expected him to live to a green old age, as his mother had done before him. His sudden death, too, might mean the end of the Prime Minister’s political career. But there was no time for vain regrets—the King was dead, long live the King. So ordering his horse to be saddled, Walpole rode off at full speed to Richmond, where George Augustus then was, to announce the tidings and pay homage to his new Sovereign. The day was hot, and so furiously did he ride that he killed, his son tells us, two horses4 between Chelsea and Richmond; but then his son was given to exaggeration.

Walpole arrived at Richmond Lodge about three o’clock, and requested to be shown at once into the royal presence. The Duchess of Dorset, who was in waiting, said it was impossible, as the Prince had undressed and gone to bed after dinner according to his custom, and the Princess was resting also, and no one dared disturb them. But Walpole explained that his business brooked of no delay, and the duchess went to wake them. The King (as he must now be called), very irate at being disturbed, came into the ante-chamber in haste with his breeches in his hand—he was one of those princes who are fated to appear ridiculous even at the greatest moments of their lives. Walpole fell on one knee, kissed the hand holding the breeches, and told his Majesty that his royal sire was dead, and he was King of England. “Dat is von big lie,” shouted King George the Second, as he had shouted at the Duke of Roxburgh on a memorable occasion some time before. But Walpole, unlike the duke, showed no resentment at being given the lie, and for all answer produced Townshend’s despatch, which gave particulars of the late King’s death. George snatched the letter from him and eagerly conned it; but his face did not relax as he read, nor did his manner unbend towards the Prime Minister. Walpole uttered some words of formal condolence, but they were ungraciously ignored. After an awkward pause, he asked the King his5 pleasure with regard to the Accession Council, the Proclamation, and other matters necessary to be done at once, naturally expecting that he should be commanded to attend to them. “Go to Chiswick, and take your directions from Sir Spencer Compton,” said the King curtly, and turned his back as an intimation that the interview was at an end. George the Second then went to tell the great news to his Queen, and the crestfallen Minister withdrew, to go, as ordered, to Compton.

Walpole’s reflections on his ride to Chiswick must have been bitter indeed. Well might he exclaim, as his fallen rival, Bolingbroke, had done under a similar reverse: “What a world is this and how does Fortune banter us!” For years he had been Prime Minister with almost absolute power, enjoying to the full the confidence of his Sovereign. Suddenly he was stripped of every shred of authority, and dismissed (for the King’s bidding him go to Compton was tantamount to a dismissal) without the slightest consideration, like a dishonest servant. Walpole knew that George the Second owed him a grudge for not having kept his promises at the reconciliation, and disliked him, as he disliked all who enjoyed the late King’s favour. But the Prime Minister hoped that time and Caroline’s influence would put things right. He did not know that Pulteney had repeated certain remarks he had incautiously made soon after the reconciliation, when Pulteney asked him what terms he had got for the Prince of Wales. Walpole answered with a6 sneer: “Why, he is to go to court again, and he will have his drums and guards, and such fine things”. “But,” said Pulteney, “is the Prince to be left Regent as he was when the King first left England?” Walpole replied, “Certainly not, he does not deserve it, we have done more than enough for him; and if it were to be done again, we would not do so much”.1 George the Second’s little mind resented slights of this kind more than greater wrongs, and he now took his revenge.

Sir Spencer Compton, to whom the disconcerted Minister sadly made his way, had been Speaker of the House of Commons, Treasurer of the Prince of Wales’s Household, and Paymaster of the Army. Compton was much more of a courtier than a politician. He was a man of the mediocre order of ability that often makes a good and safe official; he knew all about forms, procedure, and precedents, but he was not a leader of men, and he was quite unprepared for, and quite unequal to, the great position now thrust upon him. Walpole, who knew the man with whom he had to deal, felt towards Compton no personal resentment. He acquainted him briefly with George the First’s death, gave him the new King’s commands, and added on his own behalf: “Everything is in your hands; I neither could shake your power if I would, nor would if I could. My time has been, yours is beginning; but as we all must depend in some degree upon our successors, and as it is always7 prudent for these successors, by way of example, to have some regard for their predecessors, that the measure they mete out may be measured to them again—for this reason I put myself under your protection, and for this reason I expect you will give it. I desire no share of power or business, one of your white sticks,2 or any employment of that sort, is all I ask, as a mark from the Crown that I am not abandoned to the enmity of those whose envy is the only source of their hate.”3

Though Compton was astonished at the news, he did not conceal his delight at the unexpected honour that had fallen upon him. Walpole’s speech flattered his vanity, and perhaps also touched his heart; he grandiloquently promised him his protection, and, thinking he had nothing to fear from the fallen statesman, took him into his confidence and consulted him as to how he should proceed. The two Ministers then drove together to Devonshire House to see the Duke of Devonshire, President of the Council, and arrange for an immediate meeting of the Privy Council. At forms Compton was an adept, but when it came to the speech that had to be put into the King’s mouth he was nonplussed. He took Walpole aside, and asked him, as he had composed all the speeches of the late King, to compose this one also. Walpole pretended to demur, but as Compton persisted, he consented and withdrew to a private room in Devonshire House8 to draft the speech, while Compton set off to do homage to the King and Queen. Walpole must have chuckled over his task, for if the precedent-loving Compton had only consulted the back folios of the Gazette he would have found plenty of models for the King’s speech; but he was so fussed with forms and ceremonies, and so elated with the sense of his new importance, that he was incapable of thinking coherently.

The King and Queen had driven up from Richmond in the afternoon, and were now arrived at Leicester House. The great news had spread abroad, and all London was flocking to Leicester Fields. When Compton arrived there, the square was so thronged with people who had assembled to cheer their Majesties that the coaches and chairs of the mighty, who were hurrying to pay their court, could scarce make way through the crowd. Inside Leicester House the walls were already hung with purple and black, and the Queen appeared in “black bombazine”; but these were the only signs of mourning, all else wore an aspect of rejoicing and congratulation. The new King and Queen held a court, the rooms were thronged with the great nobility and high officials, and persons of divers parties and creeds struggled up and down the stairs, all anxious to kiss their Majesties’ hands, and to profess their loyalty and devotion. The Queen, who had a keen sense of irony, must have smiled to herself when she contrasted the crowded rooms before her with the thinly attended receptions which9 Leicester House (except on great occasions such as birthdays) had witnessed during the past few years.

This was the proudest hour of Caroline’s life. She had reached the summit of her ambition, she had become Queen. But the mere show of sovereignty did not content her, she was determined to be the power behind the throne greater than the throne. It was not enough for her that she had become Queen through her husband, she was determined to rule through him also. Did this inscrutable woman, we wonder, in this her hour of glory, recall the parallel Leibniz had drawn long before, when the prospects of the House of Hanover were darkest, between her and England’s greatest Queen, Elizabeth? May-be, for, like Elizabeth, Caroline determined to have her Cecil. She knew there was but one man in England capable of maintaining the Hanoverian dynasty upon the throne in peace, and that one was Walpole. She had been dismayed when the King told her that he had sent for Compton, for she knew Compton’s weakness. But, like a wise woman she did not attempt to thwart her husband in the first heat of his resentment against his father’s favourite minister, who had been, willingly or unwillingly, the late King’s mouthpiece for many slights to him, and perhaps, too, she thought it would be good for Walpole to be taught a lesson. She bided her time.

Compton at once had audience of the King. When he came out from the royal closet he walked across the courtyard to his coach between10 lines of bowing and fawning courtiers, all anxious to bask in the rays of the rising sun. They knew full well what this audience portended. Compton, greatly flattered by this homage, drove back to Devonshire House, where he found that the man whom he had superseded had finished the King’s speech. Compton was graciously pleased to approve the draft; he took it and copied it in his own handwriting. He then again repaired to Leicester House to present it to the King. On this occasion he was accompanied by the Duke of Devonshire and other privy councillors, including Walpole, who were to be present at the Accession Council. George the Second liked the speech well enough, but found fault with one paragraph and desired that it should be altered. Compton wished it to stand, for he knew not how to change it, but the King was obdurate and very testy at being opposed. Compton was then so incredibly foolish, from the point of view of his own interest, as to ask Walpole to go to the King’s closet and see what he could do. Walpole went, nothing loath, and improved the occasion by declaring to the King his willingness to serve him either in or out of office. This was the Queen’s opportunity. According to some, it was she who suggested that Walpole should be sent for; she certainly suggested to the King that perhaps he had been a little hasty, and it would be bad for his affairs to employ a man like Compton, who had already shown himself inferior in ability to the Minister whom he was to succeed. But Caroline11 could do no more at this juncture than suggest, and leave the leaven to work in the King’s mind.

George the Second held his Accession Council that same night at Leicester House. He read his speech to his faithful councillors in which he lamented “the sudden and unexpected death of the King, my dearest father,” he spoke of his “love and affection” for England and declared his intention of preserving the laws and liberties of the kingdom, and upholding the constitution as it stood. If he felt any relenting towards Walpole it was not visible in his manner. Compton took the first place, and the man who had hitherto dominated the councils of the King, and was still nominally Prime Minister, was completely ignored by the new Sovereign. The office-seekers were not slow to follow the lead. For the next few days Leicester House was crowded every day, but whenever Walpole appeared the courtiers shrank away from him as though he had the plague. Walpole himself, though he knew the utter weakness of Compton, had no hope of being continued in office, and hourly expected to receive the King’s command to give up the seals. “I shall certainly go out,” he said to his friend Sir William Yonge, after the Council, “but let me advise you not to go into violent opposition, as we must soon come in again.” Yonge quickly had experience of going out, for he was dismissed the next day, the King had always hated him and called him “stinking Yonge”; Lord Malpas, Walpole’s son-in-law, was dismissed also. But the public announcement12 of the Prime Minister’s dismissal tarried unaccountably—unaccountably that is to those who were not behind the scenes.

The Queen’s influence was now beginning to tell. At first she persuaded the King to delay, for she knew that if he delayed he would reflect, and if he reflected he would change his mind. She reminded him of the trouble a change of Ministers would involve before he was comfortably seated on the throne, and she knew the King hated trouble. The King objected to Walpole’s notorious greed for gold, but the Queen met this by saying that, with so many opportunities of amassing wealth, he must by this time have become so rich that he would want no more, and this, in a lesser degree, applied to his colleagues. “The old leeches,” she cynically added, “will not be so hungry as the new ones, and will know their business much better.” The critical situation of foreign affairs was another of the arguments used by the Queen in favour of Walpole, for no one had the same grasp of the tangled skeins of foreign policy as he. The European courts, which did not understand the working of the English Constitution, might become alarmed at a sudden change of Ministry and imagine that it foretold a change in England’s foreign policy, thus creating a general distrust, which would be dangerous to the reigning dynasty, more especially as there was always the fear of secret negotiations going on between James and the Roman Catholic courts of Europe. This was13 particularly true of France, with whom it was of the utmost importance to maintain good relations at the present juncture. Whilst Caroline was thus arguing, as luck would have it, Horace Walpole, the Prime Minister’s brother, who was ambassador to France, arrived in England with a letter which his diplomacy had obtained from Cardinal de Fleury, pledging his master to maintain the treaties France had entered into with the late King, and to show goodwill towards George and ill-will to James. All these considerations told. But the most cogent argument which the Queen urged, and the one which had undoubtedly the most weight with the King, was the settlement of the Civil List. The new Civil List, Caroline reminded the King, was pressing, but a change of Ministers was not. There was nobody so able as Walpole to secure for them a handsome increase of the Civil List, for, as the old King said, he “could turn stones into gold”. Why then let private resentment lead to personal inconvenience?

Nothing was done during the King’s stay at Leicester House, and in the eyes of the world Compton was still first in the King’s favour. At the end of the week the Court moved to Kensington, and by that time the Queen had worked so well that the King sent for Walpole, and asked him about the Civil List. The new monarch mentioned a sum so large that Walpole was staggered, accustomed though he was to Hanoverian rapacity; but he showed nothing of his feeling in his face, and promised14 to do his utmost to serve his Majesty. He then had an audience of the Queen, who confided to him that Compton’s estimate had by no means satisfied the King’s demands, and he had proposed that she should have only a poor £60,000 a year. Walpole at once grasped the situation. He declared that he would obtain a jointure for her Majesty of £100,000 a year, which was £40,000 more than Compton had proposed, and he would force Parliament to meet the King’s wishes. It was said that Walpole bought his influence with the Queen for this extra £40,000 a year, but that was not wholly true. Quite apart from money, Caroline had wit enough to see that the interests of the House of Hanover could best be served by Walpole, and of all English statesmen he was the one who could most be trusted to frustrate the Jacobites—for the rival claims of the Stuarts were an ever present danger to the Hanoverian family until 1745. She was, of course, not averse to receiving something in return for her support, and Walpole, it must be admitted, paid, or rather made the nation pay, for it handsomely. In addition to the Queen’s £100,000 a year, Somerset House and Richmond Lodge were made over to her. Her income was double what any queen-consort had enjoyed before, and more than any has been granted since.


From the Painting by John Shackleton in the National Portrait Gallery.

Walpole now realised that all that lay between him and power was a question of money. He therefore went next morning to the King with carefully 15prepared estimates. He proposed that his Majesty’s Civil List should consist primarily of the £700,000 a year paid to the late King; £100,000 more, which had been paid directly to the Prince of Wales in the last reign, but which would now be vested in the King to make what allowance he pleased to his eldest son; and a further increase of £130,000 a year arising out of certain funds. In all, therefore, the King would receive the enormous sum of more than £900,000 a year. This George agreed to, for though he would have liked more, he had the sense to see that it was impossible to get it. The Queen had impressed upon him that Walpole was the only man who could carry such a large increase through the House of Commons. Pulteney and other Opposition politicians were ready to promise more to gain office, but their promises were nothing worth, for they had neither the ability nor the power to carry a large grant through Parliament. The King therefore took Walpole by the hand, and said that he had considered the matter, and intended to continue him in office on the understanding that he would carry through the Civil List, at the sum named. He added significantly: “Consider, Sir Robert, what makes me easy in this matter will prove for your ease too; it is for my life it is to be fixed, and it is for your life”.

Matters thus being settled, the Queen that night at the drawing-room made known her approval of Walpole in a characteristic manner. Lady Walpole had come to court to pay her respects to the King and Queen, but she could not make her16 way to the royal daïs, for the lords and ladies turned their backs on the wife of the fallen Minister (as they considered him), and refused to yield her place. By dint of much struggling she managed to reach the third row, where she was espied by the Queen, who, beckoning to her, called out: “There, I am sure, I see a friend.” The crowd in front immediately divided, and Lady Walpole performed her obeisance in the sight of the wondering court. The King and Queen smiled, and chatted with her some little time. All the courtiers noted it, and, “as I came away,” said Lady Walpole afterwards, “I might have walked over their heads had I pleased”. Thus Compton’s brief dream of authority vanished, and Walpole’s tenure in power was assured. The crowd of placemen who had surrounded Compton transferred their attentions once more to Walpole, and the former was now as much deserted as the latter had been. The most extraordinary part of the whole affair was that, though Compton’s friends, chief among whom were Mrs. Howard, the Duke of Argyll and Lord Chesterfield, were plunged into despondency by his fall, Compton himself heeded little these vicissitudes, and was content to be given, by way of compensation, a place about the court, the garter, and a peerage under the title of Earl of Wilmington. If the man had not been such a fool, he might almost have passed for a philosopher.

When Parliament met a week later it was seen by all the world that Walpole retained his old place.17 It was Walpole who proposed and carried through Parliament the bloated Civil List. Such was the Minister’s power that no one in the House of Commons dared raise his voice against it except Shippen the Jacobite, who was known as “Downright Shippen” for his outspokenness. He had been sent to the Tower in 1717 for proclaiming in the House of Commons the obvious truth that George the First “was a stranger to our language and constitution”; yet, avowed Jacobite though Shippen remained, Walpole never repeated this error. Walpole had a great respect for him and used to say he was the only man in Parliament whose price he did not know. Shippen on his part declared: “Robin and I are two honest men, he is for King George and I am for King James, but these men in long cravats only desire place under King George or King James”. Parliament, having duly passed the Civil List, was dissolved by the King in person, who had one great advantage over his father in that he was able to read his speeches in English, albeit with a broad German accent. Walpole now had it all his own way. All the old King’s Ministers were kept in office, even the Duke of Newcastle whom the King had especially hated—all, that is, except Lord Berkeley, who was forced to resign in consequence of the Queen having found in the late King’s cabinet a paper (of which mention has already been made) containing a plan to kidnap the Prince of Wales and send him off to America. Berkeley, who had drawn up the document, found18 it convenient to withdraw to the Continent. No other changes of importance were made. Malpas was reinstated; Yonge had to remain out of office for a little time longer, but was eventually given a small post.

The Jacobites had always expected that the death of George the First would, in some way, benefit the Stuart cause—in what way it is not clear, for George the Second when Prince of Wales was less unpopular than his father. But the Jacobites hugged the hope that the death of the first Hanoverian king would plunge the country into confusion, and so it might have done, if George the First had not been so inconsiderate as to die at a moment when the Jacobites were in great confusion themselves. For the last two or three years James’s little court had been distracted by internal jealousies and intrigues. Lord Mar, who superseded Bolingbroke, had, notwithstanding all his services, been superseded by Hay, whom James appointed his Secretary of State and created Earl of Inverness. Hay had a wife, who shared in these barren honours, which, it was said, she had done much to win. Her brother, Murray, James created Earl of Dunbar. This trio, of whom the lady was the most arrogant, entirely governed James, who, like a true Stuart, was swayed by favourites. They created great dissatisfaction at his court. It was not long before his consort, Clementina, who was a princess of great beauty and virtue, but extremely high-spirited, had cause to complain of the insolence19 of Inverness and his wife. It was said that Lady Inverness was James’s mistress, and colour was lent to the rumour by the fact that Clementina insisted upon her dismissal from her court. James refused, and she withdrew from her husband’s palace and retired to the convent of St. Cecilia at Rome. A long correspondence ensued between James and Clementina, but she declined to return unless Lady Inverness was dismissed, and so brought about a virtual separation. This domestic scandal did great harm to the Stuart cause among the Roman Catholic princes of Europe, all of whom warmly espoused Clementina’s side. The Emperor, who was her kinsman, was highly displeased, the Queen of Spain, who was her friend, was indignant, the Jacobites in England were divided amongst themselves, and in Scotland James’s followers fell off everywhere in numbers and in zeal. The strongest representations were made to James from every side, but for a long time he turned a deaf ear to them all. At last, after protracted negotiations, he accepted Inverness’s resignation and Lady Inverness went with her husband. Clementina agreed to leave her convent and rejoin her husband who was then at Bologna. She was actually on the road when the news arrived of George the First’s death. Immediately all domestic considerations were swallowed up in the political necessities of the moment.

Seeing the advisability of being nearer England at this crisis, James set out from Bologna on the pretext of meeting his consort, but turning back20 half-way, he posted with all speed to Lorraine. As soon as he arrived at Nancy in Lorraine he sent a messenger to Atterbury, who was acting as his agent in Paris, another to Lord Orrery, his agent in London, and a third to Lockhart at Liège, who was acting as his agent for Scotland. James had no lack of courage, and was anxious to set out for the Highlands at once, though he had neither a settled scheme nor promise of foreign aid. But the news he received from the north of the Tweed was discouraging, and the despatches from England were worse. Lord Strafford wrote to him4 saying that the tide in favour of the “Prince and Princess of Hanover,” as he called them, was too strong at present for the Jacobites to resist, and it would be better to wait until dissatisfaction broke out again, which he anticipated would not be long. “I am convinced,” he wrote, “that the same violent and corrupt measures taken by the father will be pursued by the son, who is passionate, proud, and peevish, and though he talks of ruling by himself, he will just be governed as his father was. But his declarations that he will make no distinction of parties, and his turning off the Germans make him popular at present.” Strafford, like many others, made the mistake of leaving Queen Caroline out of his calculations.

It was impossible for James to stay in Lorraine, for the French Government, at the instigation of Walpole, ordered the Duke of Lorraine to expel the21 “Pretender” from his territory. The duke, who was only a vassal of France, was forced to obey, and urged his unwelcome guest to leave Lorraine within three days. So James withdrew under protest. “In my present situation,” he wrote to Atterbury, “I cannot pretend to do anything essential for my interest, and all that remains is that the world should see that I have done my part.”5 It must be admitted that he was ready to do it bravely.

James first sought refuge in the Papal State of Avignon, but here again the relentless English Government, acting through the French, managed to hunt him out, and the following year the heir of our Stuart Kings was forced to return a fugitive to Italy. He was joined by Clementina and afterwards lived harmoniously with her. Unfortunate in all else, James was at least fortunate in his consort, for all authorities unite in praising her grace and goodness, her talents and charity.

The immediate danger of a Jacobite rising was thus warded off, but so long as James and his two sons lived the House of Hanover could not enjoy undisputed title to the throne of England. In these early days, as Caroline knew well, it behoved the princes of the new dynasty to walk warily and court the popular goodwill, for there was always an alternative king in James, who by a turn of Fortune’s wheel might find himself upon the throne of his fathers. Though the official world and most of those in high places were all for the Hanoverian22 succession, and though Walpole had the means to corrupt members of Parliament and buy constituencies as he would, yet the heart of the people remained very tender towards the exiled royal family and felt a profound compassion for their misfortunes.

The excitement consequent on the new reign continued for some months, and the King, not having had time to make himself enemies, was, to outward semblance, popular. A good deal was due to interested motives. The court was crowded with personages struggling for place. Lord Orrery wrote to James inveighing bitterly against “the civility, ignorance and poor spirit of our nobility and gentry, striving who shall sell themselves at the best price to the court, but resolved to sell themselves at any”. Yet he is constrained to add: “There do not appear to be many discontented people”.6 Pope, too, who was now quite out of favour at court, wrote to a friend that the new reign “has put the whole world into a new state; but,” he adds enviously, “the only use I have, shall, or wish to make of it, is to observe the disparity of men from themselves in a week’s time; desultory leaping and catching of new modes, new manners and that strong spirit of life with which men, broken and disappointed, resume their hopes, their solicitations, their ambitions”. The political Jeremiahs of the time bewailed the wholesale trafficking in places, and the universal corruption. The King himself did not set a high example of public or private23 honesty; he had wrung the highest sum he could from Parliament for his Civil List, and at one of his early Councils he distinguished himself by an act which can only be described as dishonest. The timid and time-serving Archbishop of Canterbury, old Dr. Wake, produced the late King’s will, which had been entrusted to him, and handed it to George, fully expecting him to open it and read it to the Council. The King took it without a word, put it into his pocket, and walked out of the room. The Archbishop was so taken aback at this proceeding, that neither he nor the other privy councillors present raised a word in protest. George probably burnt the will after reading it, in any case it was never seen again. But the old King, who probably feared that some such fate would befall his testament, had taken the precaution to make a second copy, which he entrusted to the safe keeping of his cousin, the Duke of Wolfenbüttel. The duke soon intimated this fact to the new King of England, and at the same time hinted that he had no wish to make matters disagreeable (which he could easily do if he wished, for the King and Queen of Prussia were furious), if his silence were made worth his while. George took the hint, and despatched a messenger to Wolfenbüttel promising the duke a subsidy. In return the messenger brought back the duplicate of the will, and this too was destroyed.

The only excuse that can be urged for the King’s conduct, which probably defrauded among others his24 sister, the Queen of Prussia, and his son Prince Frederick, was that George the First had treated the will of his consort, Sophie Dorothea of Celle, in the same way, to the detriment, it was suspected, of both his son and his daughter. George the Second also, when Electoral Prince of Hanover, had reason to believe that his father had unjustly deprived him of a substantial inheritance which had been left him by his maternal grandfather, the Duke of Celle. The burning of wills seems to have been a peculiarity of the Hanoverian family at this time, for a year or two later, Frederick, Prince of Wales, accused his father of destroying the will of his uncle Ernest Augustus Duke of York and Bishop of Osnabrück. He died a year after his brother, George the First, and both Prince Frederick and the Queen of Prussia declared that they would have largely benefited by his death had it not been for the chicanery of George the Second. Queen Caroline always stoutly denied this imputation, and maintained that the Duke of York had nothing to leave, except £50,000 which he left to his nephew King George, and his jewels which he bequeathed to his niece the Queen of Prussia, to whom they were immediately sent. But neither the King nor the Queen of Prussia were satisfied with this explanation, and they also had a further dispute with George about the French possessions of his mother, Sophie Dorothea, which she had inherited through her mother, Eléonore d’Olbreuse, who was descended from an ancient Huguenot family of Poitou.


The person who probably lost most by the destruction of George the First’s will was the Duchess of Kendal, but she did not venture to lift her voice in protest. George the Second no doubt felt that she had amassed more than she deserved during the late King’s lifetime, and if he allowed her to remain in peaceable possession of her plunder it was as much as she had any right to expect. The duchess seems to have thought so too, but her daughter, Lady Walsingham, who was also the late King’s daughter, was not so complaisant. When a few years later Lord Chesterfield married her in the belief that she was a great heiress (in which hope he was disappointed), she confided to him that George the First had left her £40,000 in his will, which had never been paid. Lord Chesterfield, who was then out of favour at court and had no hope of regaining it, instituted, or threatened to institute, legal proceedings to recover the legacy. The case never came into court, for half the sum, £20,000, was offered, and accepted, as a compromise.

The aged Duchess of Kendal was the only person in the world who really mourned the late King. Within a week of his death George the First was as completely forgotten as though he had never been; the only reminder of his reign was the official mourning. The Duchess of Kendal had accompanied him on his last journey, but, being indisposed by the sea voyage, she had tarried at the Hague a day to recover, and, like Lord Townshend, was following the King on the road to Hanover, when a26 messenger rode up to her coach with the tidings of his death. The duchess was overwhelmed with grief; she beat her breast, tore her hair, and rent the air with her cries. But her sorrow did not get the better of her prudence, for, not being sure of the reception that awaited her from the new King, she resolved to remove herself from his Hanoverian dominions, and repaired to the neighbouring territory of Wolfenbüttel. Her fears proved to be groundless, for Queen Caroline harboured towards the ex-mistress no feelings of ill-will, and it followed that the King did not either. On the contrary, Caroline had liked the duchess, who, unlike Lady Darlington, was no mischief-maker, and had personally interceded with George the First, though unsuccessfully, to restore her children to the Princess. Moreover she was such an old-established institution that Caroline had come to look upon her almost in the light of the late King’s wife. The Queen wrote the following letter to her within a fortnight of George the First’s death:—

Kensington, June 25th, 1727.

“My first thought, my dear Duchess, has been of you in the misfortune that has befallen us; I know well your devotion and love for the late King, and I fear for your health; only the resignation which you have always shown to the divine will can sustain you under such a loss. I wish I could convey to you how much I feel for you, and how anxious I am about your health, but it is impossible for me to do so adequately. I cannot tell you how27 greatly this trouble has affected me. I had the honour of knowing the late King, you know that to know him was sufficient to make one love him also. I know that you always tried to render good service to the King (George II.); he knows it too, and will remember it himself to you by letter. I hope you realise that I am your friend, it is my pleasure and my duty to remind you of the fact and to tell you that I and the King will always be glad to do all we can to help you. Write to me, I pray you, and give me an opportunity to show how much I love you.—Caroline.

It is impossible to accept literally these expressions of affection. Allowing for exaggeration they do credit to Caroline’s heart, but the letter was probably dictated as much by prudence as by sympathy, for the Duchess of Kendal was then at Wolfenbüttel, and the Duke of Wolfenbüttel had the duplicate of the late King’s will. Caroline was anxious to avoid a family scandal, for she knew by experience how bad these things were for the dynasty, and in the negotiations which passed between George the Second and the duke it is probable that the Duchess of Kendal played a part, though it is improbable that she received any portion of the subsidy. That matters were amicably arranged is shown by the fact that a few months later the duchess returned to England, and took up her abode at Kendal House, Twickenham, where she lived in comfortable retirement until the end of28 her days. She no longer appeared at court, but the King and Queen would never permit her to be molested in any way—so she may be said to have enjoyed their protection. She made a cult of her George’s memory, dressing always as a widow and wearing the deepest weeds. She was of a pious, not to say superstitious, turn of mind, and declared that George the First had told her that his devotion was so great that he would return to her even after death. So one day when a raven hopped in at the window the bereaved duchess took it into her head that this was the reincarnation of the dead King. She captured the bird, put it into a golden cage, kept it always by her, and provided for it in her will. Her death took place in 1743, at the advanced age of eighty-five years. Her wealth was divided among her German relations, and Kendal House was converted into a tea garden and afterwards pulled down.


1 Pulteney’s Answer to an infamous Libel.

2 The officers of the Royal Household carried white wands.

3 Hervey’s Memoirs.

4 The Earl of Strafford to James, 21st June, 1727.

5 James to Atterbury, 9th August, 1727.

6 Lord Orrery to James, August, 1727.


George the First was buried at Herrenhausen in accordance with his expressed wish. His funeral did not take place until some three months after his death, and the new King was represented at it by his uncle the Duke of York. His decision not to go to Hanover for his father’s obsequies gave rise to much satisfaction in England, and this combined with his summary dismissal of the Hanoverian favourites was quoted as a proof of his English predilections.

The court mourning came to an end soon after the funeral, and preparations were pushed forward with all speed for the coronation. George the Second determined that it should be a pageant from which no splendid detail was missing. The King and Queen ordered robes of extraordinary richness, but Caroline was badly off for jewels. Queen Anne had possessed a great number of beautiful gems, but Schulemburg, Kielmansegge, and the other German favourites had so despoiled Anne’s jewel-chest, that nothing was left for the new Queen but a solitary pearl necklace. Caroline, however, rose to the occasion and gathered together for the coronation30 not only all her personal jewels which went to make her crown, but many more. When the great day arrived she appeared, we are told, wearing “on her head and shoulders all the pearls she could borrow from ladies of quality from one end of the town, and on her petticoat all the diamonds she could hire of the Jews and jewellers at the other”.

The coronation of King George the Second and Queen Caroline took place on October 11th, 1727, with all the solemnity suitable for the occasion, and more than the usual magnificence. The day was gloriously fine, and multitudes of people lined the gaily decorated streets. Caroline was the first Queen Consort to be crowned at Westminster Abbey since Anne of Denmark, consort of James the First, from whose daughter Elizabeth the House of Hanover derived its title to the British Crown. The coincidence was hailed as a propitious omen. The Queens-Consort subsequent to Anne of Denmark had been Roman Catholics, and Anne and Mary the Second were Queens-Regnant. Caroline was determined that she would not be relegated to the background, and, so far as circumstances permitted, the ceremonial at this coronation followed more closely that of William and Mary than of James the First and Anne of Denmark. Yet Mary was a Queen-Regnant who placed all her power in her husband’s hands; Caroline was a Queen-Consort who took all her power from her husband’s hands. No two women could be more unlike.


On the day of the coronation the King and Queen set out from St. James’s Palace before nine o’clock in the morning. The King went to Westminster Hall direct. The Queen, who put on everything new for the occasion “even to her shift,” was carried down through St. James’s Park in her chair to Black Rod’s Room in the House of Lords. There she was vested in her state robes, and waited until the officials came to escort her to Westminster Hall. She took her place there by the King’s side at the upper end of the hall, seated like him in a chair of state under a golden canopy; the Queen’s chair was to the left of the King’s. The ceremony of presenting the sword and spurs was then gone through, and the Dean and Canons of Westminster arrived from the Abbey bearing the Bible and part of the regalia. The King’s regalia was St. Edward’s crown, borne upon a cushion of cloth of gold, the orb with the cross, the sceptre with the dove, the sceptre with the cross, and St. Edward’s staff. The Queen’s regalia consisted of her crown, her sceptre with the cross, and the ivory rod with the dove. All these were severally presented to their Majesties, and then delivered to the lords who were commissioned to bear them.

At noon a procession on foot was formed from Westminster Hall to the Abbey. A way had been raised for the purpose, floored with boards, covered with blue cloth, and railed on either side. The procession was headed by a military band, and began with the King’s herbwoman and her32 maids who strewed flowers and sweet herbs. It was composed in order of precedence from the smallest officials (even the organ blower was not forgotten) up to the great officers of state. The peers and peeresses wearing their robes of state and carrying their coronets in their hands walked in this procession in order mete, from the barons and baronesses up to the dukes and duchesses. The Lord Privy Seal, the Archbishop of York and the Lord High Chancellor followed. Then, after an interval of a few paces came the Queen, preceded by her crown which was borne by the Duke of St. Albans. The Queen was supported on either side by the Bishops of Winchester and London, and she majestically walked alone “in her royal robes of purple velvet, richly furred with ermine, having a circle of gold set with large jewels upon her Majesty’s head, going under a canopy borne by the Barons of the Cinque Ports, forty gentlemen pensioners going on the outsides of the canopy, and the Serjeants of arms attending”.7 The Queen’s train was borne by the Princess Royal and the Princesses Amelia and Caroline, who were vested in purple robes of state, with circles on their heads; their coronets were borne behind them by three peers. The princesses were followed by the four ladies of the Queen’s Household, the Duchess of Dorset, the33 Countess of Sussex, Mrs. Herbert and Mrs. Howard. Immediately after the Queen’s procession came the Bishop of Coventry bearing the Holy Bible on a velvet cushion. Then, under a canopy of cloth of gold, walked “His Sacred Majesty, King George II., in his royal robes of crimson velvet, furred with ermine and bordered with gold lace, wearing on his head a cap of estate of crimson velvet, adorned with large jewels, and turned up with ermine”. The King was supported on either side by bishops, and his train was borne by four eldest sons of noblemen and the Master of the Robes, and he was followed by a numerous and splendid company of officials. At the great west door of the Abbey the procession was met by the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Dean of Westminster and other ecclesiastical dignitaries. It moved slowly up the nave to the singing of an anthem.

The King and Queen seated themselves on chairs of state, facing the altar, and the coronation service, which is really an interpolation in the office of Holy Communion, began. The Archbishop proceeded with the Communion service until the Nicene Creed, after which a special sermon was preached by the Bishop of Oxford. The sermon over, the King subscribed the Declaration against Transubstantiation and took the Coronation Oath.

The King then approached the altar, and knelt to be crowned. He was anointed by the Archbishop of Canterbury upon his head, his breast, and the palms of his hands. He was presented with the spurs,34 girt with the sword, and vested with the armills and the imperial pall; the orb with the cross was placed in his left hand, and the ring was put upon the fourth finger of his right hand. The Archbishop also delivered to the kneeling King the sceptre with the cross, and the rod with the dove, and, assisted by the other bishops present, “put the crown reverently upon His Majesty’s head, at which sight all the spectators repeated their loud shouts, the trumpets sounded, and upon a signal given the great guns in the Park and the Tower were fired. The peers then put on their coronets.” When the shouts ceased the Archbishop proceeded with the divine office. He delivered the Bible to the King and read the benedictions. “His Majesty was thereupon pleased to kiss the Archbishops and Bishops as they knelt before him one after another.” Then the Te Deum was sung and the King was lifted upon his throne and the peers did their homage. During this ceremony medals of gold were given to the peers and peeresses, and medals of silver were thrown among the congregation.


The Queen now advanced for her coronation. “Her Majesty, supported by the Bishops of London and Winchester, knelt at the steps of the altar, and, being anointed with the holy oil on the head and breasts, and receiving the ring, the Archbishop reverently set the crown upon her Majesty’s head, whereupon the three princesses and the peeresses put on their coronets, and her Majesty having received the sceptre with the cross and the35 ivory rod with the dove, was conducted to her throne.”

The King and Queen then made their oblations and received the Holy Communion.

When the long service was over their Majesties proceeded to St. Edward’s Chapel, where the King was arrayed in a vesture of purple velvet, but the Queen retained her robes of state. Their Majesties, wearing their crowns, then returned on foot to Westminster Hall, and the long train of peers and peeresses, all wearing their coronets, followed.

In Westminster Hall the King and Queen took their seats on a daïs at a high table across the upper end of the hall; the three princesses sat at one end of this table. The nobility and other persons of quality bidden to the feast seated themselves at tables running down the hall, and the coronation banquet began. After the first course had been served, the King’s Champion, who enjoyed that office by virtue of being Lord of the Manor of Scrivelsby in Lincolnshire, entered. He was completely armed in a suit of white armour and was mounted on a “goodly white horse richly caparisoned”. The Champion carried a gauntlet in his right hand, and his helmet was adorned with a plume of feathers—red, white, and blue. Approaching their Majesties’ table the Champion proclaimed his challenge in a loud voice:—

If any person of what degree soever, high or low, shall deny or gainsay Our Sovereign Lord King George II., King of Great Britain, France and36 Ireland, Defender of the Faith, etc., and next heir to Our Sovereign Lord King George I., the last King deceased, to be the Right Heir to the Imperial Crown of this Realm of Great Britain, or that he ought not to enjoy the same; here is his Champion who saith that he lyeth and is a false Traytor, being ready in person to combat with him and in this quarrel will adventure his life against him on what day soever he shall be appointed.

Then the Champion cast down his gauntlet, which, when it had lain some few minutes, was picked up by a herald and re-delivered to him. The Champion went through this performance three times, and after the third he made a low obeisance to the King. Whereupon the cup bearer brought to the King a gold bowl of wine with a cover, and his Majesty drank to the Champion and sent him the bowl by the cup bearer. The Champion, still on horseback, put on his gauntlet, received the bowl and drank from it, and after making a second reverence to their Majesties, departed from the hall, taking with him the bowl and cover as his fee. As soon as the Champion had gone out, the heralds, after three obeisances to the King, proclaimed his style as follows in Latin, French and English:

Of the Most High, Most Mighty and Most Excellent Monarch George II., by the Grace of God King of Great Britain, France and Ireland, Defender of the Faith.

These ceremonies over the King and Queen proceeded with their dinner. “The whole solemnity,”37 we read, “was performed with the greatest splendour and magnificence, and without any disorder; and what was most admired in the hall were the chandeliers, branches and sconces, in which were near two thousand wax candles, which being lighted at once, yielded an exceeding fine prospect.” Their Majesties did not leave Westminster Hall until eight o’clock in the evening, when they returned to St. James’s Palace to rest after their labours. But their loyal subjects prolonged the rejoicings far into the night with bonfires, illuminations, ringing of bells, and other demonstrations of joy.

Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, who was present at the coronation, wrote a lively account of the scene, though she was more concerned with the deportment of her friends and acquaintances than with details of the ceremonial. She comments on the “great variety of airs” of those present. “Some languished and others strutted,” she writes, “but a visible satisfaction was diffused over every countenance as soon as the coronet was clapped on the head. But she that drew the greater number of eyes was indisputably Lady Orkney. She exposed behind a mixture of fat and wrinkles, and before a very considerable protuberance which preceded her. Add to this the inestimable roll of her eyes, and her grey hairs, which by good fortune stood directly upright, and ’tis impossible to imagine a more delightful spectacle. She had embellished all this with considerable magnificence, which made her look as big again as usual; and I should have38 thought her one of the largest things of God’s making, if my Lady St. John had not displayed all her charms in honour of the day. The poor Duchess of Montrose crept along with a dozen black snakes playing round her face, and my Lady Portland, who has fallen away since her dismissal from Court,8 represented very finely an Egyptian mummy embroidered over with hieroglyphics.”9

The magnificence of the coronation was the talk of the town for a long time. As London was very full of persons of quality who had come from far and near to attend it, the theatre of Drury Lane seized the opportunity to give a highly ornate performance of King Henry the Eighth, with the coronation of Anne Boleyn at the end of the play, a scene on which £1,000 (an unheard of sum to spend upon mounting a scene in those days) was expended. The scene at Drury Lane rivalled in mock splendour the ceremonial at the Abbey. All the town flocked to see it, both those who had been present at the real coronation and those who had not. The King and Queen and the young princesses came more than once, and graciously expressed their approval. “The Coronation” was repeated in the provinces for a year or two later.

The City of London was not backward in showing its loyalty to George the Second; an39 address was presented to the King, and the Lord Mayor’s Show was conducted on a scale of unprecedented splendour. The King and Queen attended in state the banquet at the Guildhall, and some idea of the entertainment may be gathered from the fact that two hundred and seventy-nine dishes adorned the feast, and the cost amounted to £5,000.

When the excitement and loyal emotions called forth by the coronation had subsided the English people were better able to take the measure of their second King from Hanover. The process of disillusion soon set in. George the Second had even fewer good qualities than his father. On the battlefield, like all princes of his house, he had shown physical courage, though he had no claim to generalship. He had a certain shrewdness and a vein of caution which kept him from committing any flagrant errors, however foolishly he might talk. But this was the most that could be said in his favour. He was vain and pompous, mean, spiteful and avaricious. All he cared for, it was said, was “money and Hanover”. He neither spoke nor acted like a King, and his small mind was incapable of rising to the height of his position. If he were straightforward it was because he was too stupid to dissemble, and if he seldom lied it was because it involved too great a strain upon his narrow imagination. On the surface it would be impossible to imagine two persons more unsympathetic than the King and Queen, yet the fact remains that they were devoted to one another. George40 knew that his consort was absolutely loyal to his interests, and in the great loneliness that surrounds a throne he could appreciate the benefit of having one disinterested person whom he could trust and in whom he could confide. In his heart of hearts he knew that his Queen was infinitely his superior, though he would never admit it to himself, to her, or least of all to the world. Yet in public affairs she swayed him as she would.

From the time that Caroline became Queen, until her death, she governed England with Walpole; she did not merely reign but she ruled, and though she was only Queen Consort, admitted by the English Constitution to no share in affairs of state, yet practically she was Queen Regnant, and a more powerful one than any England had known except Elizabeth. Caroline regarded Elizabeth as her great exemplar, and resembled her in many ways—in her love of dominion, her jealousy of any rival near her throne, her diplomatic abilities, her breadth of view in matters of religion, her contempt for trivialities, and her superiority to mere convention. She differed from Elizabeth in that she had a good heart, and though she loved to rule, she was neither tyrannical nor despotic. Elizabeth exercised her power directly, appropriating even the credit due to her Ministers; Caroline’s power was indirect and found its way through tortuous channels. The extent of her power, though suspected, was never fully realised during her lifetime, except by a few persons such as Lord Hervey, who came into41 daily contact with her, and of course Walpole. Caroline had to be careful not to arouse the King’s jealousy, for, like many weak men, he loved the outward semblance of authority, and this the Queen was more than ready to yield him. The King could have all the show provided she had the substance.

The Queen and Walpole soon came to an understanding, and in the governing of the King and the kingdom they worked in accord. The Prime Minister discussed fully with her affairs of state, and together they planned what should be done. When everything was settled between them, Caroline undertook to bring the King round to their way of thinking. This process generally took place in private, but sometimes, if the matter were urgent, Caroline and Walpole would play into each other’s hands in another way. The Prime Minister would have a conference with the Queen over-night, and the next morning, when he was summoned by the King, Caroline would, as if by accident, enter the royal closet. She would make a deep obeisance and humbly offer to withdraw. The King would tell her to stay; she would take a chair, occupy herself with knotting or something of the kind, and apparently take no interest in the conversation. The King would ask her opinion. “I understand nothing of politics, your Majesty knows all,” she would modestly answer. Delighted with this tribute to his powers George would press for an answer to his question, and then the game of hoodwink would begin. From certain secret signs agreed upon42 between her and Walpole, the Queen spoke or was silent, gave a qualified opinion or expressed herself plainly. It was all so well managed that neither the King nor other ministers present, if there were any, noticed the least thing. Walpole played with his hat, fidgeted with his sword, took snuff, pulled out his pocket handkerchief or plaited his shirt frill: each detail of this dumb show had its secret meaning. This farce was played not once but many times, over and over again, and though the means were sorry enough, the end was the good of the nation. The personal rule of the monarch as it had existed in the days of the Stuarts was gone for ever; still the King was a force to be reckoned with, and, in foreign politics especially, Walpole would have found the choleric little George a terrible stumbling-block in his path had it not been that the Queen bent him to her will. The King would often announce his intention of doing something incredibly foolish, she would apparently agree with him, yet before long she would bring him round to her point of view, though it was in flat contradiction to his first declaration. When the King set his face against a certain plan of the Prime Minister’s or a certain appointment, Walpole would leave the matter in the Queen’s hands, and by and by the King would suggest to him the very policy or appointment he had opposed, as though it were an idea of his own. Caroline talked her sentiments into her husband’s mind and he reproduced them as faithfully as words talked into a phonograph.


In public the Queen was always obedient, and her manner to the King was submission itself. “She managed this deified image,” says Lord Hervey, “as the heathen priests used to do the oracles of old, when, kneeling and prostrate before the altars of a pageant god, they received with the greatest devotion and reverence those directions in public which they had before instilled and regulated in private. And as these idols consequently were only propitious to the favourites of the augurers, so nobody who had not tampered with our chief priestess ever received a favourable answer from our god; storms and thunder greeted every votary that entered the temple without her protection; calms and sunshine those who obtained it.” The most farcical thing about it was that the little domestic tyrant took all this homage as his due, and to hear him talk his courtiers might think that he was as despotic as the Cæsars and as autocratic as the Tsar. On one occasion his mind ran back over English history (with which, by the way, he was imperfectly acquainted), and he recalled his predecessors on the throne and contrasted them unfavourably with himself. To quote the same authority: “Charles I.,” he said, “was governed by his wife; Charles II. by his mistresses; James II. by his priests; William III. by his men; and Queen Anne by her women-favourites. His father, he added, had been by anyone that could get at him. And at the end of this compendious history of our great and wise monarchs, with a significant,44 satisfied, triumphant air, he turned about smiling to one of his auditors, and asked him—‘And who do they say governs now?’”

The courtier, we may be sure, was too discreet to say, but ill-affected persons blurted out the truth, and the disaffected journals, from the Craftsman downwards, railed at Walpole for having bought the Queen, and at the King for being governed by her. This was repeated over and over again in ribald verse of which the following will serve as a specimen:—

You may strut, dapper George, but ’twill all be in vain;
We know ’tis Queen Caroline, not you, that reign—
You govern no more than Don Philip of Spain.
Then if you would have us fall down and adore you,
Lock up your fat spouse, as your dad did before you.

The Queen and Walpole were always striving to keep these lampoons away from the King, but some one about the court, probably in the apartments of Mrs. Howard, told him of the existence of this one, and he was exceedingly annoyed. He asked Lord Scarborough if he had seen it. Scarborough admitted that he had. George then asked him who had shown it to him, but he said he had pledged his honour not to tell. The King flew into a passion, and said: “Had I been Lord Scarborough in this situation and you King, the man would have shot me, or I him, who had dared to affront me, in the person of my master, by showing me such insolent nonsense”. Scarborough replied that he had not said it was a man who had shown it to him, which made the King, who regarded this as45 a pitiful evasion, angrier than ever. By way of showing his independence the King for some time after was more than usually testy with the Queen, contradicting her flatly before all the court whenever she ventured an opinion, snubbing her unmercifully, pooh-poohing her wishes, and generally treating her with almost brutal rudeness. The Queen received this with meekness, and abased herself before the King more than ever. But all the while her power increased.

Soon after the coronation the country was plunged into a general election. The Jacobites came off very badly at the polls, and the Tories little better. Even with the aid of the malcontent Whigs, the Opposition made a poor muster in point of numbers, and when the new Parliament met in January, 1728, the Ministerial majority was even greater than in the last reign. Walpole had won all along the line. The result no doubt was largely due to the way in which the Government had bought owners of pocket boroughs, and to the wholesale bribery wherewith its agents seduced the voters; under such a system of corruption it was impossible for the voice of the nation to make itself effectually heard. Even many of those members of Parliament who were returned to the House of Commons in opposition to Walpole were eventually bought by him. “Every man has his price” was his cynical maxim, and he acted upon it so thoroughly that his name became a byword for corruption. True, the standard of political morality was not high in those46 days, the party in power, whether Whig or Tory, frequently abused the public trust and misused the public money. But it remained for Walpole to bring organised corruption to such a pitch that it paralysed popular government, and placed the balance of power, neither in the Sovereign, nor in the people, but in the hands of a Whig oligarchy. Such an oligarchy was at this period synonymous with Walpole himself, for the great Minister brooked no rivals in the King’s (or rather in the Queen’s) councils. “Sir Robert,” said the shrewd old Sarah of Marlborough, “likes none but fools and such as have lost all credit.” His earlier Administrations had included a few strong men, but one by one they had to go, unable to work with so jealous and domineering a chief. By bribery Walpole also reduced Parliament to such a condition of impotence that it was hardly more to be reckoned with than the King. The Prime Minister had really no one to consider but the Queen, with whom he had a perfect understanding.


From the Painting by J. B. Van Loo in the National Portrait Gallery.

Thus did Caroline and Walpole rule England. The means whereby they ruled were tainted at the source; the end may, or may not, have justified the means, but at this distance of time, when the fierce controversies which gathered around Walpole’s policy have passed into history, it must be admitted that the results were good. England was sick unto death of internal and external strife, what she needed was a strong hand at the helm and a settled government, and under Caroline and Walpole she secured47 both, and ten years of peace abroad and plenty at home in addition. This long peace enabled England to recover herself within her borders; British credit, which had sunk to zero, rose higher than it had been for years, trade and commerce increased, land went up in value, wheat became cheaper, and everywhere signs of prosperity were manifest. By degrees, and it was here that Caroline’s tact came in, the different classes of the community were reconciled to the Hanoverian dynasty; the Church and the country squires held out the longest, but though they retained a tender sentiment for the exiled Stuarts they came in some vague way to connect their material prosperity with the maintenance of the Hanoverian régime. This result was not achieved without some loss, chiefly to be found in the lowering of the old ideals. The clergy, from causes on which we shall dwell more fully later, became indifferent, and the Church sank into apathy; the country gentry lost, together with their old passionate loyalty to the King, some of their sense of personal responsibility towards their poorer neighbours, and took a lower view of their duties to the State. Much of the grossness and selfishness which disfigured the eighteenth century was due to an excess of material prosperity, and a consequent lowering of ideals in our national life.

Very soon the King, who when Prince of Wales had always posed as English in all his sentiments, began his father’s game of sacrificing English interests to those of Hanover. So subservient was48 the new House of Commons, and so unscrupulous were Walpole’s tactics, that only eighty-four members were found to vote against a proposal to pay £280,000 to maintain Hessian troops for the benefit of Hanover; and the subsidy of £25,000 a year for four years to the Duke of Wolfenbüttel, in return for his promise to furnish troops for a similar purpose, was passed with very little opposition. The maintenance of the Hessian troops was part of the price Walpole had to pay the King for preferring him to Compton, and the Duke of Wolfenbüttel’s subsidy was hush-money pure and simple, paid for his handing over the late King’s will.

Though the Opposition was weak in numbers, and suffered from a lack of cohesion in its different groups, it was strong in the quality of its individual members. Pulteney headed the opposition to Walpole in the House of Commons, more especially that part of it which included the malcontent Whigs and the more moderate Tories who supported the Hanoverian succession. It was Bolingbroke who built up this party, and he invented for it the name of “Patriots”. Carteret, and later Chesterfield, were among its leading lights, but Pulteney was the chief. This remarkable man was in the prime of life, and endowed with natural and acquired advantages. He was of good birth, and the owner of great wealth; he had a handsome person, a dignified manner and a cultured mind. His wit and scholarship almost rivalled Bolingbroke’s, and as an orator he had few equals, and no superior, in his generation. Pulteney’s49 abilities as a statesman were of the highest order; he had been a colleague of Walpole in earlier days, and stood by him in many a hard fought fight. He had therefore the strongest claims for place. But Walpole, jealous of Pulteney’s powers, passed him over for Cabinet office and offered him a minor post in the Government, and a peerage. The latter was refused, the former accepted for a time, but Pulteney soon resigned and went into active opposition. He joined forces with Bolingbroke, and the first fruit of their union was the Craftsman, a journal which fiercely attacked Walpole and his policy, the second was the formation of the Patriots’ party. Bolingbroke, though still excluded from the House of Lords, was able through the medium of the Craftsman to address himself to the wider constituency of the nation. His articles against his lifelong enemy were masterpieces of damaging criticism and polished invective. Besides Bolingbroke, the ablest political writers of the day contributed to the Craftsman.

The most remarkable feature of the Opposition was the fact that it included men who, though differing widely among themselves, were united in common hatred of Walpole. There became practically only two parties in the State, those who were for Walpole and those who were against him; and the differences between malcontent Whig and Tory, Jacobite and Hanoverian, sank into comparative insignificance. Thus Pulteney and Carteret were staunch Hanoverians and Whigs, Barnard was a Hanoverian Tory, Wyndham a Tory with Jacobite50 leanings, and Shippen a Jacobite out and out; Bolingbroke stood among these parties, partaking a little of them all, and concentrating into himself the essence of their hatred of Walpole.

No English Minister has ever been hated more than Walpole and none has had abler foes. The combination of two such master-minds as Bolingbroke and Pulteney would, under ordinary circumstances, have broken down any Minister. But the circumstances were not ordinary, and no statesman was more successful than Walpole in overcoming his enemies. His success was largely due to the steady support he received from the Queen. To her wise counsels was also something due. Walpole now refrained from violent measures against his political opponents, even under intense provocation. Hitherto in English politics the party in power had consistently persecuted the party in the minority. But now a new era set in; it was possible to oppose a powerful Minister and yet not be sent to the Tower or impeached as a traitor. This more generous policy may be directly traced to Queen Caroline, for Walpole in George the First’s reign had been anything but conciliatory, and no Minister had urged more fiercely than he the impeachment, the exile, and even the death of his political opponents. It was he who had clamoured for the execution of the Jacobite peers. But Caroline now exercised a restraining hand. During her ten years of queenship great freedom of speech was allowed in Parliament and outside it, and the widest liberty was given to the press. Impeachment, fining51 and imprisonment of politicians in opposition to the Government were things unheard of, and Caroline was careful to conciliate, or to endeavour to conciliate, such members of the Opposition as were loyal, or professed themselves to be loyal, to the Hanoverian dynasty. She remained on good terms with John, Duke of Argyll, who had been the King’s favourite when he was Prince of Wales, but who had now gone into the cold shade of Opposition, and resigned all his offices about the court. She even received Pulteney much against Walpole’s wish, and she had a smile and a gracious word for many of the Patriots when they came her way, always excepting Bolingbroke, whom she never would admit to the least atom of her favour. In Caroline’s wise policy may be seen the germs of that strict impartiality which the Sovereign ought to show towards prominent statesmen, whether they are in office or in opposition. This has now become almost an unwritten law of the English Constitution.

In a far lesser degree Caroline’s influence may also be traced in the way in which Walpole, though possessing the power to force through Parliament any measure he would, refrained from running counter to the popular will, when that will was unmistakably declared. True, here his own inherent statesmanship came in, and counselled moderation. But Caroline also had theories about the popular will and civil liberty which she had acquired in her youth from Sophie Charlotte of Prussia, the “Republican Queen,” and this at least may be claimed52 for her, that she taught Walpole the art of making his concessions gracefully. Her love of liberty in matters of religion showed itself in the zeal with which she urged indulgence to Protestant dissenters; the time was not supposed to be ripe for the repeal of the penal laws against them, but annual Acts of Indemnity were passed which practically gave them the relief they desired, and drew the fangs of the Test and Corporation Acts. Caroline’s power was most noticeable in the dispensing of patronage; it is not too much to say that in all the ten years she was Queen no important appointment, either in Church or State, was made without her having some voice in it. In this transition period the judicious distribution of patronage influenced largely the future of the nation, and the Queen, who saw further ahead than most of her contemporaries, was fully conscious of its importance. Thus this princess, who little more than a decade before was a stranger to the English laws and constitution, was able to shape and guide the destinies of England.


7 “A particular account of the solemnities used at the Coronation of His Sacred Majesty King George II. and of his Royal Consort Queen Caroline on Wednesday the 11th October, 1727,” London, 1760. From the pamphlet the other particulars of the coronation are taken.

8 She had been appointed governess to the three eldest princesses by George I., but was dismissed by Queen Caroline.

9 Lady Mary Wortley Montagu’s Letters and Works. Edited by Lord Wharncliffe.


The court of King George the Second and Queen Caroline was conducted on a larger scale than any court England had known since the days of Charles the Second, though it lacked much of the gaiety and more of the grace that enlivened and adorned the court of the Merry Monarch. George the Second was a great lover of show, but he had neither wit nor good taste, and when he assumed the crown he seemed to think that he ought also to assume a stiffness and pomposity of manner to maintain his regal dignity. Like all German princes he was a great stickler for etiquette, and he modelled his court not only on Versailles, which then served as a pattern for all the courts of Europe, but imported to it some of the dulness of Herrenhausen, and further regulated it with strict regard to English precedents in previous reigns. The court officials were often very hard put to it to unearth them. But the King was exceedingly precise and resented the most trifling breach of etiquette as a reflection on his royal dignity. He was a great authority on dress and ceremonial; he could tell to a hair’s-breadth the precise54 width of the gold braid which should adorn the coat of a gentleman of the bedchamber, and recall with accuracy the number of buttons required for the vest of a page of the backstairs. The Queen encouraged and applauded his bent in this direction; it occupied his mind and left her free to arrange with Walpole the weightier affairs of the nation.

Leicester House was given up and the court made St. James’s Palace its headquarters in London. All the Hanoverian mistresses and favourites who had occupied apartments there during the last reign were turned out without ceremony. The court of Queen Caroline was more select than that of George the First. Drunkenness was still a venial offence, but it was not approved of in the royal presence, and women of notoriously ill repute were no longer received at St. James’s. When the court was at St. James’s, drawing-rooms were held several times a week, public days as they were called, and the King and Queen gave frequent audiences besides. Court balls often took place, and at the evening drawing-rooms cards and high play were still in vogue. Every movement of the King and Queen in public was made the occasion of ceremonial; they attended divine service at the Chapel Royal in state; they walked in St. James’s Park followed by a numerous suite, the way kept clear by guards; they seldom drove out unless preceded by an escort; their visits to the theatre or opera were always announced beforehand, and their coming and going made the occasion of a55 spectacle. The people, with whom the pomp and circumstance of Royalty is always popular, loved these sights mightily, and all classes were pleased that there was once more a court in London. The King and Queen also revived the custom of dining in public on Sundays. One of the large state rooms of St. James’s Palace was set apart for the occasion, and at a flourish of trumpets the King and Queen and the Royal Family entered and sat down to table in the centre of the room surrounded by the officers of the household. The courses were served with much ceremony on bended knee. The table was decked with magnificent plate and a band played during dinner. The enclosure was railed around, and the public were admitted by ticket, and allowed to stand behind the barriers and watch the royal personages eat, a privilege of which they freely availed themselves. After dinner the King and Queen withdrew to their apartments, their going, as their coming, being made the occasion of a procession.

One of the first acts of the new King and Queen was to make a tour of the royal palaces, which had been practically closed to them since their rupture with George the First. The old King had disliked Windsor and rarely went there, its grandeur oppressed him, and he and his German mistresses felt out of their element in a place steeped in traditions essentially English. George the Second did not care for Windsor any more than his sire, and excused himself from going there often56 on the ground that it was too far from London. He visited the castle chiefly for the purpose of hunting in the forest. But Caroline loved royal Windsor greatly, and used to go there during the King’s absences at Hanover. In one of the recesses of the picture gallery, now the library, she arranged an extensive and valuable collection of china; the collection was afterwards dispersed, but some of the china remains at Windsor Castle until this day, and is the only relic of Queen Caroline’s occupation.10

The King and Queen paid their first visit to Windsor in the autumn of 1728, and great preparations were made to welcome them to the royal borough. “Last Saturday,” we read, “when their Majesties arrived at Windsor, the Mayor, aldermen, and capital burgesses were ready in their formalities to receive them, and the balconies were hung with tapestry and vast crowds of spectators, but their Majesties came the Park way. The King and Queen walked in the Park till dinner time. The next day their Majesties dined in public, when all the country people, whether in, or out of, mourning, were permitted to see them.”11 On this occasion George the Second assumed his stall in St. George’s Chapel as Sovereign of the Order of the Garter, and made his offering at the altar. The Queen,57 with the Duke of Cumberland, the Princess Royal, and the Princesses Caroline, Mary and Louisa, were present, and the Queen was seated under a canopy erected on the south side of the choir. A ball was given in the evening. The royal pair hunted the stag in Windsor Forest frequently during the visit, and on one occasion remained out until nine o’clock at night, and on another hunted all day through the rain, chasing the stag as far as Weybridge. The Queen followed the hounds in a chaise with one horse, in the same way that Queen Anne used to hunt in Windsor Forest. During their sojourn at Windsor the King and Queen received one Mrs. Joy, “a widow lady in the ninety-fourth year of her age, who had kissed Charles the First’s hand; she was very graciously received”.12 The Queen celebrated her first visit to Windsor by giving £350 at Christmas for releasing insolvent debtors confined in the town and castle gaol—her favourite form of charity. The prisoners, to the number of sixteen, were set free.

Kensington was George the Second’s favourite palace, as it had been his father’s. King George the First rebuilt the eastern front and added the cupola. He also improved the interior, notably by making the grand staircase. Then, as now, Kensington Palace was an irregular building with little pretence to beauty and none to grandeur. But our first Hanoverian kings loved it; its homeliness reminded them of Herrenhausen. The58 Kensington promenades were now revived, and the King and Queen accompanied by the Royal Family would pace down the walks between an avenue of bowing and smiling courtiers. Throughout this reign, and far into the next, Kensington Gardens formed a fashionable resort, and with the promenades are associated many of the great names of the eighteenth century. People were admitted to the gardens by ticket obtainable through the Lord Chamberlain. Thus the promenades developed into a sort of informal court and were much resorted to by persons who did not attend drawing-rooms and levées in the ordinary way, as well as by those who did. The King and the Queen on these morning walks would make many a person happy by singling him out from the crowd with a bow, a smile, or the honour of a few words; or, on the other hand, they would plunge many an aspirant to Court favour into gloom by ignoring him. The origin of these promenades may be traced to the daily walks of the Electress Sophia in the gardens of Herrenhausen, when she used to give audience to her supporters. Like the old Electress, her grandson and his Queen were great walkers. The little King used to walk very fast, with a curious strutting step, and generally forged ahead, leaving his taller and stouter consort to pant along behind him. In a political skit of the day there is an amusing reference to Caroline’s custom of dropping behind her husband. It is headed: “Supposed to be written on account of three gentlemen59 being seen in Kensington Gardens by the King and Queen while they were walking”. It was written either by Pulteney or Chesterfield, and these two were doubtless represented in it, the third being Wyndham or Bolingbroke. “The great river Euphrates” is the Serpentine, which Caroline created out of a string of ponds. It runs:—

“Now it came to pass in the days of Nebuchadnezzar, the King of Babylon, in the eighth month, of the sixth year, the beginning of hay harvest, that the King and Queen walked arm in arm in the gardens which they had planted on the banks of the river, the great river Euphrates, and behold there appeared on the sudden three men, sons of the giants. Then Nebuchadnezzar the King lifted up his voice and cried: ‘Oh men of war, who be ye, who be ye, and is it peace?’ They answered him not. Then spake he and said: ‘There is treachery, oh my Queen, there is treachery,’ and he turned his face and fled. Now when the Queen had seen what had befallen the King she girt up her loins and fled also, crying: ‘Oh my God!’ So the King and Queen ran together, but the King outran her mightily, for he ran very swiftly; neither turned he to the right hand nor the left, for he was sore afraid where no fear was, and fled when no man pursued.”

The King and Queen probably saw Pulteney, Chesterfield and Bolingbroke coming towards them, and as they were no doubt just then opposing some pet measure of Walpole and of the court, the King60 not wishing to receive their salutations, and not caring to ignore them, turned on his heel, and, followed by the Queen, hurried off as fast as he could.

Richmond Lodge had now become Caroline’s personal property, and the Queen continued to be very fond of it, and spent large sums of money in enlarging the gardens. Soon after Caroline became Queen she gave £500 for railing and improving Richmond Green, and we read: “A subscription is set on foot among the inhabitants of the town of Richmond for erecting the effigy of her Majesty in the middle of the green”.13 But this intention was apparently never carried out. The Queen also had a cottage at Kew where she often drove to breakfast from Richmond. She gave the use of it to her favourite, Mrs. Clayton, afterwards Lady Sundon.


Hampton Court, more than any other royal palace, has memories of Queen Caroline, and many of its rooms remain to this day much as she left them. The Queen’s dressing-room is almost the same as it was one hundred and seventy years ago; her high marble bath on one side of the room may still be seen, and on the other side is the door that led to her private chapel. Under Caroline’s supervision Hampton Court was altered in many ways, and in some improved. The great staircase was completed and decorated; the Queen’s presence chamber and the guard chamber were altered in a way characteristic of the early Georgian period. The public61 dining room, which is one of the finest rooms in the palace, was also redecorated, and the massive chimney-piece of white marble which bears the arms of George the Second was placed in it. Nor did the Queen confine her alterations only to the palace. She had a passion for gardening, especially landscape gardening, and the grounds of Hampton Court were considerably changed under her supervision. It was she who substituted wide sweeping lawns for the numerous fountains and elaborate flower beds which until then had ornamented the great fountain garden. Her alterations in many respects were severely criticised.14

Both the King and the Queen had pleasant memories of the place where they had celebrated their only regency when Prince and Princess of Wales. The summer after the coronation they came to Hampton Court for some time, and, as long as the Queen lived, a regular practice was made of spending at least two months there every summer. From Hampton Court the King did a great deal of stag hunting; he was especially fond of the pleasures of the chase and would not forego them on any account. His enthusiasm was not shared by the lady members of the royal household. “We hunt,” writes Mrs. Howard from Hampton Court to Lady Hervey, “with great noise and violence, and have every day a very tolerable chance to have a neck62 broke;”15 and her correspondent, writing of the same subject, declares her belief that much of Mrs. Howard’s illness was due to this violent riding. The following is a description of one of these expeditions:—

“On Saturday their Majesties, together with their Royal Highnesses the Duke (of Cumberland) and the Princesses, came to the new park by Richmond from Hampton Court and diverted themselves with hunting a stag, which ran from eleven to one, when he took to the great pond, where he defended himself for half an hour, when he was killed. His Majesty, the Duke, and the Princess Royal hunted on horseback, her Majesty and the Princess Amelia in a four-wheeled chaise, Princess Caroline in a two-wheeled chaise, and the Princesses Mary and Louisa in a coach. Her Majesty was pleased to show great condescension and complaisance to the country people by conversing with them, and ordering them money. Several of the nobility attended, amongst them Sir Robert Walpole, clothed in green as Ranger. When the diversion was over their Majesties, the Duke, and the Princesses refreshed themselves on the spot with a cold collation, as did the nobility at some distance of time63 after, and soon after two in the afternoon returned to Hampton Court.”16

The Queen always accompanied the King in her chaise, but she cared nothing for the sport. She took with her her vice-chamberlain, Lord Hervey, “who loved hunting as little as she did, so that he might ride constantly by the side of her chaise, and entertain her whilst other people were entertaining themselves by hearing dogs bark, and seeing crowds gallop”.17 The King cared only for stag-hunting and coursing; he affected to despise fox-hunting, though the sport was very popular among his subjects. Once, when the Duke of Grafton said he was going down to the country to hunt the fox, the King told him that: “It was a pretty occupation for a man of quality, and at his age to be spending all his time in tormenting a poor fox, that was generally a much better beast than any of those that pursued him; for the fox hurts no other animal but for his subsistence, while those brutes who hurt him did it only for the pleasure they took in hurting.” The Duke of Grafton said he did it for his health. The King asked him why he could not as well walk or ride post for his health; and added, if there was any pleasure in the chase, he was sure the Duke of Grafton can know nothing of it; “for,” added his Majesty, “with your great corps of twenty stone weight, no horse, I am sure, can carry you within hearing, much less within sight, of the hounds.”18


At Hampton Court, as at St. James’s, the King and Queen dined in public on Sundays, and the people came in crowds to see the sight. On one of these occasions an absurd incident took place. “There was such a resort to Hampton Court last Sunday to see their Majesties dine,” writes a news-sheet, “that the rail surrounding the table broke, and causing some to fall, made a diverting scramble for hats and wigs, at which their Majesties laughed heartily.”19 On private evenings at Hampton Court the only amusement was cards, but now and then the King and Queen held drawing-rooms, in the audience chamber.20 Often in summer, when the nights were fine, the Queen and her ladies would go out and walk in the gardens. We may picture her pacing up and down the avenues of chestnut and lime in the warm dusk, or viewing from the gardens the beautiful palace bathed in the moonbeams. So little is changed to-day that it requires no great effort of the imagination to re-people Hampton Court with the figures of the early Georgian era.

One of the most prominent personages at the Court of Queen Caroline was her favourite, Lord Hervey, whom she had now appointed her vice-chamberlain, and who enjoyed her fullest confidence.65 The Queen delighted to have him about her at all times, and would converse with him for hours together, asking him questions about a hundred and one things, and laughing at his clever talk. Lord Hervey was a man of considerable wit and ability, and undoubtedly an amusing companion. But he was a contemptible personality, diseased in body and warped in mind, incapable of taking a broad and generous view of any one or anything; ignorant of lofty ideals and noble motives himself, he was quite unable to understand them in others, and always sought some sordid or selfish reason for every action. The Queen, however, overlooking his faults, with which she must have been familiar, and his effeminacies and immoralities, of which she could not have been ignorant, believed that he was a faithful servant to her, and trusted him in no ordinary degree. As a sign of her favour she increased his salary as vice-chamberlain by £1,000 a year, allowed him considerable patronage, which was worth a good deal more, and made him many valuable presents. She treated him rather as a son than as a subject. “It is well I am so old,” she used to say (she was fourteen years Hervey’s senior), “or I should be talked of over this creature.” No one, however, ever talked scandal of her Majesty, though some doubted her judgment in choosing her friends, and it must be confessed that she was unwise in admitting Hervey to so many of her secrets. Notwithstanding that she heaped favours upon66 him, he repaid her with ingratitude, and when she was dead endeavoured to befoul her memory. But to the Queen’s face he was a fawning and accomplished courtier, and expressed the greatest zeal in her service.

Hervey had a nimble and superficial pen, and sometimes employed himself in writing anonymous pamphlets in defence of the Government and Court against members of the Opposition. A great many of these anonymous pamphlets were showered upon the town at this time, and Pulteney chancing to come across one of them, entitled Sedition and Defamation Displayed, which attacked him and Bolingbroke in no measured terms, thought it was from Lord Hervey’s pen (it afterwards turned out to be not so), and wrote a violent answer, also anonymous, called A Proper Reply to a Late Scurrilous Libel. This pamphlet abused Walpole, and by implication the Court, and applied several opprobrious epithets to Hervey, speaking of him by his nickname “Lord Fanny,” describing him as “half-man and half-woman,” and dwelling malignantly on his peculiar infirmities. The pamphlet was warmly resented at court. Like many who set no bounds to their own malice, Hervey was extremely sensitive to attack, and wishing to curry favour with the King and Queen he wrote to Pulteney to know if he were the author of the pamphlet. Pulteney answered that he would inform him on that point if Hervey would tell him first whether he was the writer of Sedition and Defamation67 Displayed. Hervey sent back word to say that he had not written the pamphlet, and again demanded an answer to his question. Pulteney returned a defiant message saying that “whether or no he was the author of the Reply he was ready to justify and stand by the truth of every word of it, at what time and wherever Lord Hervey pleased”. This was tantamount to a challenge, and Hervey, though not given to duelling, could not in honour ignore it. A duel was arranged. “Accordingly,” writes an eye-witness,21 “on Monday last, between three and four in the afternoon, they met in Upper St. James’s Park, behind Arlington Street, with their two seconds, who were Mr. Fox and Sir J. Rushout. The two combatants were each of them slightly wounded, but Mr. Pulteney had once so much the advantage of Lord Hervey that he would have infallibly run my lord through the body if his foot had not slipped, and then the seconds took the occasion to part them. Upon which Mr. Pulteney embraced Lord Hervey, and expressed a great deal of concern at the accident of their quarrel, promising at the same time that he would never personally attack him again, either with his mouth or his pen. Lord Hervey made him a bow without giving him any sort of answer, and, to use a common expression, thus they parted.” Sir Charles Hanbury Williams wrote some lines on this duel, in which, addressing Pulteney, he says:—


Lord Fanny once did play the dunce,
And challenged you to fight;
And he so stood to lose his blood,
But had a dreadful fright.

Among minor figures about the court two of the most familiar were Lord Lifford and his sister, Lady Charlotte de Roussie. They were the children of a Count de Roussie, a French Protestant who came over to England with William of Orange in 1688, and was created by him Earl of Lifford in the peerage of Ireland. They were typical courtiers of the baser sort, and would perform the meanest offices and indulge in the grossest flattery in order to win some rays of the royal favour. They were not popular with any of the English people about the court. Hervey tells us: “They had during four reigns subsisted upon the scanty charity of the English Court. They were constantly, every night in the country and three nights in the town, alone with the King or Queen for an hour or two before they went to bed, during which time the King walked about and talked to the brother of arms, or to the sister of genealogies, whilst the Queen nodded and yawned, till from yawning she came to nodding, and nodding to snoring. These two miserable Court drudges, who were in a more constant waiting than any of the pages of the backstairs, were very simple and very quiet, did nobody any hurt, nor anybody but His Majesty any pleasure, who paid them so ill for all their assiduity and slavery that they were not only not in affluence, but laboured under the disagreeable burdens of small69 debts, which £1,000 would have paid, and had not an allowance from the Court, that enabled them to appear there even in the common decency of clean clothes. The King nevertheless was always saying how well he loved them, and calling them the best people in the world, but though he never forgot their goodness he never remembered their poverty.”

Another foreign dependent was Schütz, a Hanoverian. Pope, who had lost the favour of the Court, was very bitter upon those who retained it; in one of his ballads he sings:—

Alas! like Schütz I cannot pun,
Like Grafton court the Germans,
Tell Pickenbourg how slim she’s grown,
Like Meadows run to sermons.

Hervey satirises Schütz’s dulness as follows:—

And sure in sleep no dulness you need fear
Who, ev’n awake, can Schütz and Lifford bear.

And again—

Charlotte and Schütz like angry monkeys chatter,
None guessing what’s the language or the matter.

While in another of his satires occur these lines:—

There is another Court booby, at once hot and dull,
Your pious pimp Schütz, a mean Hanover tool.

A personage of quite a different order to the foregoing was Henrietta Louisa, Countess of Pomfret, the authoress of the correspondence with Lady Hertford. Lady Pomfret was the granddaughter on the paternal side of Judge Jefferies, on the maternal70 of the Earl of Pembroke, and on the strength of the latter claimed descent from Edward the First. Lady Pomfret accepted the post of lady of the bedchamber, but she was of a different type to many of the Queen’s ladies. She was a matron of unimpeachable virtue, the mother of six lovely daughters—all beauties—of whom, perhaps, the best known was Lady Sophia Fermor, afterwards Lady Carteret. Lady Pomfret had a keen sense of her dignity, and she affected a knowledge of literature and the fine arts. The celebrated “Pomfret Letters,” much admired in their day, are packed with platitudes, and so dull that they leave no doubt as to the correctness of her principles. Lady Pomfret was considered by many of her contemporaries to be a prodigy of learning; she seems rather to have been a courtly Mrs. Malaprop. She once declared that “It was as difficult to get into an Italian coach as for Cæsar to take Attica”—by which she meant Utica. On another occasion some one telling her of a man “who talked of nothing but Madeira, she asked gravely what language that was”. But despite her eccentricities she had sterling qualities, and was as much a credit to the court as her daughters were its ornaments.

The Queen’s household was numerous, and included the Mistress of the Robes, the Duchess of Dorset, six ladies of the bedchamber, all countesses; six bedchamber women and six maids of honour. The two most prominent members of it were two bedchamber women, Mrs. Clayton, the Queen’s71 favourite, and Mrs. Howard, the King’s favourite, who hated one another thoroughly.

Mrs. Clayton had now great influence with the Queen, more indeed than any one except Walpole, with whom she came frequently into collision. She was an irritating woman with an overwhelming sense of self-esteem. Horace Walpole calls her “an absurd pompous simpleton”. Lord Hervey credits her with all the virtues, and declares that she possessed an excellent understanding and a good heart. She undoubtedly possessed cunning and ability, which she used to such advantage that she ultimately procured for her stupid husband a peerage, as Viscount Sundon, and she foisted a large family of needy relatives on to the public service. She acted as a sort of unofficial private secretary to the Queen and became the medium of all manner of communications to her mistress. Many of the letters written to her were really addressed to Caroline. Walpole heartily disliked Mrs. Clayton and tried in vain to shake her influence with the Queen. Her ascendency was inexplicable to him for years, but at last he thought that he had discovered the reason. When Lady Walpole died, the Queen asked him many questions about his wife’s last illness and persistently referred to one particular malady from which, in point of fact, Lady Walpole had not suffered. The Prime Minister noticed it, and when he came home he said to his son: “Now, Horace, I know by the possession of what secret Lady Sundon has preserved such an ascendant over the Queen”. Whether72 her influence was wholly due to this cause is open to question, for she stood in high favour before her mistress’s malady began. But for long years Caroline suffered from a distressing illness of which she would rather have died than have made it known, and Mrs. Clayton was one of the few who knew her secret.

All the maids of honour except Miss Meadows had changed since the King and Queen were last at Hampton Court, but these young ladies were still of a lively temperament. One evening in the darkness several of them played at ghost, and stole out into the gardens and went round the palace rattling and knocking at the windows. Lady Hervey, who had heard of these frolics, writes to Mrs. Howard: “I think people who are of such very hot constitutions as to want to be refreshed by night walking, need not disturb others who are not altogether so warm as they are; and it was very lucky that looking over letters till it was late, prevented some people being in bed, and in their first sleep, otherwise the infinite wit and merry pranks of the youthful maids might have been lost to the world.”22

But, however lively may have been the young maids of honour, one member of the Queen’s household found Hampton Court dull under the new reign and its glory departed. Writing to Lady Hervey Mrs. Howard says:—

“Hampton is very different from the place you73 knew; and to say we wished Tom Lepell, Schatz and Bella-dine at the tea-table, is too interested to be doubted. Frizelation, flirtation and dangleation are now no more, and nothing less than a Lepell can restore them to life; but to tell you my opinion freely, the people you now converse with” (books) “are much more alive than any of your old acquaintances.”23

Mrs. Howard had a good reason to be dispirited, for the new reign had proved a sad disappointment to her. She had expected, and so had her friends, that the King’s accession to the throne would bring her an increase of power, wealth and influence, which would have helped to compensate her for the equivocal position she occupied, a position which, as she was a modest woman, could not have been altogether congenial to her. “No established mistress of a sovereign,” says Horace Walpole, “ever enjoyed less brilliancy of the situation than Lady Suffolk.” The only benefit she received was a peerage for her brother, Sir Henry Hobart, and at the end of a long and trying career at court she managed to amass a sum, not indeed sufficient to give her wealth, but to save her from indigence. The Queen once said that Mrs. Howard received £1,200 a year from the King all the time he was Prince of Wales, and it was increased to £3,200 a year when he became King. He also gave her £12,000 towards building her villa at Marble Hill, near Twickenham, besides several “little dabs”74 both before and after he came to the throne. But this represented all that Mrs. Howard gained, if indeed she gained so much; patronage or influence she had none, and those who placed their trust in her found themselves out of favour. After a while the courtiers began to find out that it was more profitable to pay their suit to Mrs. Clayton, who had the ear of the Queen, than to Mrs. Howard, who had not the ear of the King. Yet the King still continued to visit Mrs. Howard for some three or four hours every evening, at nine o’clock, “but with such dull punctuality that he frequently walked up and down the gallery for ten minutes with his watch in his hand if the stated minute was not arrived”.24 The Queen was doubtless glad to get rid of him for a time, but Mrs. Howard must have suffered sadly from the tedium of entertaining her royal master on these daily visits, and certainly deserved more than she got in the way of recompense. She had, as one puts it, “the scandal of being the King’s mistress without the pleasure, the confinement without the profit”. The Queen took care that the profit was strictly limited.

The King was so mean that at one time he even suggested, indirectly, that the Queen should pay Mrs. Howard’s husband out of her privy purse for keeping himself quiet. This was too great a tax even on Caroline’s complaisance and in one of her bursts75 of confidence she told Lord Hervey that when Howard insisted on his wife returning to him, “That old fool, my Lord Trevor, came to me from Mrs. Howard, and after thanking me in her name for what I had done, proposed to me to give £1,200 a year to Mr. Howard to let his wife stay with me; but as I thought I had done full enough, and that it was a little too much not only to keep the King’s guenipes” (in English trulls) “under my roof, but to pay them too, I pleaded poverty to my good Lord Trevor, and said I would do anything to keep so good a servant as Mrs. Howard about me, but that for the £1,200 a-year I really could not afford it”. So Howard’s silence was bought out of the King’s pocket, and Mrs. Howard’s maintenance was partly provided by him, and partly by the Queen, who gave her a place in her household and so threw a veil of respectability over the affair.

Mrs. Howard found that she gained so little by the King’s accession, that she wished to retire from court, but was not allowed to do so. Meanwhile all her nominations were refused. She seems to have shown her resentment in divers ways. Her refusal to kneel during the ceremony of the Queen’s dressing was perhaps one manifestation of it. With regard to her uprising and retiring, her dressing and undressing, Queen Caroline followed the custom which had been observed by all kings and queens of England until George the First, who refused to be bound by precedent in this matter. Caroline performed the greater part of her dressing surrounded76 by many persons. The Queen, who had a great idea of what was due to her dignity, desired that the bedchamber-woman in waiting should bring the basin and ewer and present them to her kneeling. Mrs. Howard objected to this, and, considering the peculiar relations which existed between her and the King, her objection was natural enough. But the Queen insisted. “The first thing,” said Caroline to Lord Hervey later, “this wise, prudent Lady Suffolk” [Mrs. Howard] “did was to pick a quarrel with me about holding a basin in the ceremony of my dressing, and to tell me, with her little fierce eyes, and cheeks as red as your coat, that positively she would not do it; to which I made her no answer then in anger, but calmly, as I would have said to a naughty child, ‘Yes, my dear Howard, I am sure you will; indeed you will. Go, go! fie for shame! Go, my good Howard; we will talk of this another time.’”

Mrs. Howard went, and in her dilemma wrote to Dr. Arbuthnot to inquire of Lady Masham, who had been at one time bedchamber-woman to Queen Anne, whether this disputed point was really according to precedent. She got little comfort from Lady Masham, who through Arbuthnot replied:—

“The bedchamber-woman came into waiting before the Queen’s prayers, which was before her Majesty was dressed. The Queen often shifted in a morning; if her Majesty shifted at noon, the bedchamber-lady being by, the bedchamber-woman gave the shift to the lady without any ceremony, and the lady put it on. Sometimes, likewise, the bedchamber-woman77 gave the fan to the lady in the same manner; and this was all that the bedchamber-lady did about the Queen at her dressing.

“When the Queen washed her hands the page of the backstairs brought and set down upon a side-table the basin and ewer, then the bedchamber-woman set it before the Queen, and knelt on the other side of the table over against the Queen, the bedchamber-lady only looking on. The bedchamber-woman poured the water out of the ewer upon the Queen’s hands.

“The bedchamber-woman pulled on the Queen’s gloves when she could not do it herself.25

“The page of the backstairs was called in to put on the Queen’s shoes.

“When the Queen dined in public the page reached the glass to the bedchamber-woman, and she to the lady in waiting.

“The bedchamber-woman brought the chocolate, and gave it without kneeling.

“In general, the bedchamber-woman had no dependence on the lady of the bedchamber.”26

As Mrs. Howard was not a lady of the bedchamber but bedchamber-woman only, she found that the Queen had asked of her nothing more than etiquette required, and after a week of indecision she yielded the point, and knelt with the basin as commanded. Horace Walpole, who was fond of78 imputing base motives to others, says that the Queen delighted in subjecting her to such servile offices, though always apologising to her “good Howard”. But there is no evidence to show that the Queen was capable of such petty spite; she required nothing more than the duties the office involved, however menial they may seem now. The Queen, who bore no malice, soon forgave Mrs. Howard this little display of temper, for she told Lord Hervey: “About a week after, when upon maturer deliberation, she had done everything about the basin that I would have her, I told her I knew we should be good friends again; but could not help adding, in a little more serious voice, that I owned of all my servants I had least expected, as I had least deserved it, such treatment from her, when she knew I had held her up at a time when it was in my power, if I had pleased, any hour of the day to let her drop through my fingers—thus——.”


The Queen’s morning toilet was generally made by her the occasion of an informal levée, and to it she would command all those whom she wished to see on any subject. While her head was being tired a group would be standing around her, and in the ante-chamber divines rubbed shoulders with poets, and learned men with politicians and court ladies. On the Queen’s toilet table would be found not only the requisites for dressing but a heap of other things—a sermon, a new book, a poem in her praise, a report as to her gardens and building plans, a pile of letters on every conceivable79 subject, and the memorandum of a minister. All these she would deal with quickly and characteristically. She would also on these occasions have retailed to her the latest news, or engage a philosopher and a divine in a dispute upon some abstract question, and would put in a word in the interval of having her head tired and washing her hands. Prayers would be read to her in an adjoining room while she was dressing, in order to save time. The door was left a little ajar so that the chaplain’s voice might be heard. The bedchamber-woman was one day commanded to bid the chaplain, Dr. Maddox, afterwards Bishop of Worcester, to begin his prayers, but seeing a picture of a naked Venus over the fald-stool, the divine made bold to remark: “And a very proper altar piece is here, madam!” On another occasion the Queen ordered the door to be closed for a minute, and then, not hearing the chaplain’s voice, she sent to know why he was not going on with his prayers. The indignant clergyman replied that he refused to whistle the word of God through the keyhole. This latter anecdote is sometimes told of Queen Anne, though, as she was always very devout in her religious observances, it is far more likely to be true of Queen Caroline. It is borne out by the following passage, which occurs in “a dramatic trifle” which Lord Hervey wrote to amuse the Queen, entitled The Death of Lord Hervey or a Morning at Court. The scene is laid in the Queen’s dressing-room. “The Queen is discovered at her80 toilet cleaning her teeth, with Mrs. Purcell dressing her Majesty’s head, and the princesses, and ladies and women of the bedchamber standing around her. The Litany is being said in the next room”:—

First Parson (behind the scenes): “From pride, vain glory and hypocrisy, from envy, hatred and malice, and all uncharitableness”.

Second Parson: “Good Lord deliver us!”

Queen: “I pray, my good Lady Sundon, shut a little that door; those creatures pray so loud, one cannot hear oneself speak.” [Lady Sundon goes to shut the door.] “So, so, not quite so much; leave it enough open for those parsons to think we may hear, and enough shut that we may not hear quite so much.”

The King seldom honoured these morning levées of his Queen with his presence, for he disliked cosmopolitan gatherings, but sometimes he would strut in and clear out the crowd with scant ceremony. On one occasion he came into the room while the Queen was dressing, and seeing that his consort’s bosom was covered with a kerchief, he snatched it away, exclaiming angrily to Mrs. Howard who was in waiting: “Is it because you have an ugly neck yourself that you love to hide the Queen’s”? The Queen’s bust was said by sculptors to have been the finest in Europe.

The Queen was pleased with Mrs. Howard’s submission in the matter of the basin, and by way of marking her appreciation, she did her the honour of dining with her at her new villa at Marble Hill—that81 famous villa of which Lords Burlington and Pembroke designed the front, Bathurst and Pope planned the gardens, and Swift, Gay and Arbuthnot arranged the household. But the Queen would allow Mrs. Howard no political influence. Compton and Pulteney, Bolingbroke and other Opposition leaders who had trusted to her found that they had leant on a broken reed. Indeed Mrs. Howard’s goodwill seemed fatal to all her friends. It was through her, unwittingly, that Lord Chesterfield lost the favour of the Queen, though Walpole’s jealousy, and the remembrance the Queen had of his mocking her in the old days at Leicester House, had something to do with it.

Chesterfield, who had been appointed in the last reign Ambassador at the Hague, came over to England some little time after King George the Second ascended the throne to see his friends and pay his respects to their Majesties. He at once repaired to Walpole, who said to him jealously: “Well, my Lord, I find you have come to be Secretary of State”. Lord Chesterfield declared that he had no such ambition, but he said: “I claim the Garter, not on account of my late services, but agreeably with the King’s promise to me when he was Prince of Wales; besides, I am a man of pleasure, and the blue riband would add two inches to my size”. The King kept his word, and Chesterfield was given the Garter, and also the sinecure of High Steward of the Household. All would have gone well with him if he had not been so unfortunate82 as to get again into the Queen’s bad books. “The Queen,” says Horace Walpole, “had an obscure window at St. James’s that looked into a dark passage, lighted only by a single lamp at night, which looked upon Mrs. Howard’s apartment. Lord Chesterfield, one Twelfth-night at Court, had won so large a sum of money that he thought it imprudent to carry it home in the dark, and deposited it with the mistress. Thus the Queen inferred great intimacy; thenceforward Lord Chesterfield could obtain no favour from Court.” The sum which Lord Chesterfield was said to have won on this occasion was £15,000, which gives some idea of the high play then in vogue. But he lost far more than he gained—the Queen’s goodwill, without which no statesman could hold place in the councils of the King.


10 After Queen Caroline’s death George II. rarely went to Windsor, and so neglected the Castle that when George III. ascended the throne it was found to be in a ruinous condition.

11 Stamford Mercury, 19th September, 1728.

12 Daily Post, 27th December, 1728.

13 Country Journal, 22nd June, 1728.

14 Most of them, both in the palace and the gardens, were carried out by Kent, an unworthy successor to Sir Christopher Wren. Some of Kent’s work at Hampton Court is very incongruous and inferior.

15 Accidents were not infrequent at these hunting parties. For instance, we read in the newspapers of the day:—

“25th August, 1731.—The Royal Family were hunting, and in the chase a stag started upon the Princess Amelia’s horse, which, being frightened, threw her.

“28th August, 1731.—The Royal Family hunted in Richmond Park, when the Lord Delaware’s lady was overturned in a chaise, which went over but did no visible hurt.”

16 Stamford Mercury, 22nd August, 1728.

17 Hervey’s Memoirs.

18 Ibid.

19 Stamford Mercury, 25th July, 1728.

20 The canopy of crimson silk under which Caroline stood is still affixed to the wall of the Queen’s audience chamber at Hampton Court—or was there until lately.

21 Thomas Pelham to Lord Waldegrave, 30th June, 1730.

22 Lady Hervey to Mrs. Howard, 7th July, 1729. Suffolk Correspondence.

23 Mrs. Howard to Lady Hervey, September, 1728.

24 Walpole’s Reminiscences. Mrs. Howard was lodged at Hampton Court in the fine suite of rooms until recently occupied by the late Lady Georgiana Grey.

25 Queen Anne’s hands were swollen with gout.

26 Dr. Arbuthnot to Mrs. Howard, 29th May, 1728. Suffolk Correspondence.


Frederick Louis, the eldest son of George the Second, still remained at Hanover, though now direct heir to the throne of England, and his father made no sign. Remembering perchance what a thorn he, when Prince of Wales, had been in his father’s side, the King was afraid lest his heir should treat him likewise, and the Queen, whose affection had gone to her younger son, William, Duke of Cumberland, agreed with her husband as to the advisability of keeping their first-born away from England as long as possible. This is more extraordinary when it is remembered that the policy of George the First in keeping Frederick at Hanover was, in the early part of his reign, one of his son’s grievances against him, and he and the Princess frequently urged, both in private and public, that their son should be brought to England. But after the birth of William, Duke of Cumberland, they completely changed their minds, and were as anxious to keep Frederick at Hanover as they had formerly been to have him in England. They would have liked to supplant the elder brother84 by the younger, who was born on British soil—to give Prince Frederick Hanover only, and reserve the throne of England for Prince William. They forgot that the English crown was not theirs to give. In the latter days of George the First’s reign Walpole urged upon the old King the advisability of bringing his grandson to England, and George would, it was said, have brought him back with him after his last visit to Hanover. But his death on the road thither changed all this.

Neither the King nor the Queen had any affection for their eldest son, who had grown up a stranger to them, and of whom they received unfavourable accounts. On the other hand, it is only fair to say that Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, who was by no means given to flattering any one, were he prince or peasant, on her visit to Hanover in 1716 spoke strongly in Frederick’s favour. She writes: “Our young Prince, the Duke of Gloucester, has all the accomplishments that it is possible to have at his age, with an air of sprightliness and understanding, and something so very engaging and easy in his behaviour that he needs not the advantage of his rank to appear charming. I had the honour of a long conversation with him last night before the King came in. His governor retired on purpose, as he told me afterwards, that I might make some judgment of his genius by hearing him speak without constraint, and I was surprised by the quickness and politeness that appeared in everything that he said, joined to a person85 perfectly agreeable, and the fine fair hair of the Princess.”

The fact that Frederick had grown up under his grandfather’s influence prejudiced his parents against him, more especially when they heard that he espoused the old King’s side in the family quarrel. On the other hand, his father’s tardiness in summoning him to England after his accession and his refusal to pay the debts he had made at Hanover created a bad feeling on Frederick’s part towards his parents. Thus matters stood for more than a year after the coronation, despite the representations of Walpole and the clamours of the Opposition, who attacked the Government for not forcing the King’s hand in this matter. The Privy Council represented the dangers that would ensue from suffering the heir to the throne to remain so long away from the country over which he would one day, under Providence, reign. The King listened very unwillingly, but while he was hesitating an incident occurred which hastened his decision.

Prince Frederick, it will be remembered, was betrothed, more or less formally, to Princess Wilhelmina of Prussia, and his grandfather had promised that the nuptials should be solemnised when he next came to Hanover, but his death postponed the marriage. George the Second and Caroline, though they did not absolutely refuse the alliance, declined to be bound by the late King’s word, and stipulated that their daughter Amelia should marry the Crown86 Prince of Prussia as a compensation. The Queen of Prussia was more than willing, but the King of Prussia did not want Amelia for a daughter-in-law any more than the King and Queen of England wanted Wilhelmina, and so matters came to a standstill, to the despair of Queen Sophie Dorothea. “I will not have a daughter-in-law,” said the King of Prussia to his Queen, “who carries her nose in the air and fills my Court with intrigues as others are already doing. Your Master Fritz [the Crown Prince] shall soon get a flogging at my hands; and then I will look out for a marriage for him.”27 The Crown Prince was quite ready to marry Amelia or any one else, if it would give him some independence and protection from his father’s ill-usage. Prince Frederick at Hanover declared himself in love with Wilhelmina, whom he had never seen, but Wilhelmina was anything but in love with Frederick. Her mother had so dinned him into her ears, and had given her such accounts of him, that she had grown to dislike him. “He is a good-natured prince,” the Queen said to her daughter; “kind-hearted, but very foolish; if you have sense enough to tolerate his mistresses, you will be able to do what you like with him.” Wilhelmina declared that this was not the ideal husband of her young dreams; she wanted some one whom she could look up to and respect, and she certainly could not respect Frederick.

Prince Frederick’s vanity was piqued at the delay and he was indignant at his father’s neglect, so, early87 in the year 1728, he determined to take matters into his own hands. He sent Lamotte, a Hanoverian officer, on a secret mission to Berlin to Sastot, one of the Queen’s chamberlains. When Lamotte reached Berlin he went to Sastot and said: “I am the bearer of a most important confidential message. You must hide me somewhere in your house, that my arrival may remain unknown, and you must manage that one of my letters reaches the King.” Sastot promised, but asked if his business were good or evil. “It will be good if people can hold their tongues,” replied the Hanoverian, “but if they gossip it will be evil. However, as I know you are discreet, and as I require your help in obtaining an interview with the Queen, I must confide all to you. The Prince Frederick Louis intends being here in three weeks at the latest. He means to escape secretly from Hanover, brave his father’s anger, and marry the Princess. He has entrusted me with the whole affair, and has sent me here to find out if his arrival would be agreeable to the King and Queen, and if they are still anxious for this marriage. If she is capable of keeping a secret and has no suspicious people about her, will you undertake to speak to the Queen on the subject?”28

The same evening the chamberlain went to Court and confided to the Queen the weighty communication with which he was entrusted. The Queen was overjoyed, and the next day communicated the glad news to her daughter. “‘I shall at88 length see you happy, and my wishes realised at the same time; how much joy at once,’ cried the Queen. ‘I kissed her hands,’ said Wilhelmina, ‘which I covered with tears.’ ‘You are crying,’ my mother exclaimed. ‘What is the matter?’ I would not disturb her happiness, so I answered: ‘The thought of leaving you distresses me more than all the crowns of the world could delight me.’ The Queen was only the more tender towards me in consequence, and then left me. I loved this dear mother truly, and had only spoken the truth to her. She left me in a terrible state of mind. I was cruelly torn between my affection for her, and my repugnance for the Prince, but I determined to leave all to Providence, which should direct my ways.”29

The Queen held a reception the same evening, and, as ill-luck would have it, the English envoy Bourguait came. The Queen, forgetting her prudence, and thinking the plan was well matured, actually confided to him the Prince’s project. Bourguait, overwhelmed with astonishment, asked the Queen if it were really true. “Certainly,” she replied, “and to show you how true it is, he has sent Lamotte here, who has already informed the King of everything.” “Oh! why does your Majesty tell me this? I am wretched, for I must prevent it!” exclaimed the envoy. Greatly dismayed, the Queen asked him why. “Because I am my Sovereign’s envoy; because my office requires of me that I should89 inform him of so important a matter. I shall send off a messenger to England this very evening. Would to God I had known nothing of all this!” The Queen entreated him not to do so, but he was firm, and despatched the messenger to England. Thus did Queen Sophie Dorothea defeat the scheme for which she had toiled many years at the very moment of its fruition.

On receipt of the news George the Second sent Colonel Lorne to Hanover, with commands to bring the Prince over to England without an instant’s delay. When Lorne arrived at Hanover a few days later he found Prince Frederick giving a ball at Herrenhausen. He gave the King’s message, and acted with so much despatch that at the end of the ball the Prince, escorted by Lorne, and attended by only one servant, quitted Hanover for ever. His plot had failed; there was nothing else to be done. The rage and disappointment when the news of the Prince’s departure reached the Court of Berlin was very great. The King blustered and swore, called Wilhelmina “English canaille,” and beat her and her brother in a shocking manner; the Queen broke down and took to her bed; Wilhelmina fainted away. But it was all to no purpose; not only her marriage, but the double marriage scheme, vanished into thin air.30


Frederick did not find a warm welcome awaiting him from his parents. The Prince landed in England the first week in December (1728), and made his way to London; he arrived at St. James’s without any ceremony, and was smuggled up the backstairs as though he had been a pretender rather than the heir-apparent to the crown. “Yesterday,” we read, “His Royal Highness Prince Frederick came to Whitechapel about seven in the evening, and proceeded thence privately in a hackney coach to St. James’s. His Royal Highness alighted at the Friary, and walked down to the Queen’s backstairs, and was there conducted to her Majesty’s apartment.”31

It must have been a strange meeting between mother and son. The Queen received him amiably; the succession could not be altered, so she determined to make the best of him, but the King was very harsh. George had an unnatural and deep-rooted aversion to his eldest son, whom he regarded as necessarily his enemy. This peculiarity was hereditary in the House of Hanover for some generations, for the Sovereign and his first-born were always at war with one another. Some pity must be extended to the young Prince, who never had a fair chance. He was only twenty-two years of age when he came to England, and he found himself among strangers and enemies in a country of which he knew nothing. He was very shy and frightened at first, and his father’s manner did not tend to reassure him.91 Lord Hervey says that, “Whenever the Prince was in the room with him (the King) it put one in mind of stories that one has heard of ghosts that appear to part of the company but are invisible to the rest; and in this manner, wherever the Prince stood, though the King passed him ever so often, or ever so near, it always seemed as if the King thought the Prince filled a void of space”. The Prince did not dine in public at St. James’s the Sunday after his arrival, but the Queen suffered him to hand her into her pew at the Chapel Royal, and this was his first appearance before the English Court. But, however much his parents might slight him, the fact remained that he was, by Act of Parliament, heir to the throne, and, through the insistence of the Privy Council, the King soon after his arrival created him Prince of Wales. But he was careful not to give him the allowance of £100,000 a year which had been voted by Parliament for the Prince of Wales in the Civil List. True, Parliament had given the King control over the Prince’s income, and he exercised it by giving him only a small allowance. The young Prince quickly made friends, some of them not of a very desirable character. He had been taught to speak English fairly well, and he had pleasant manners. He had inherited from his mother a taste for letters, and he also possessed the art of dissimulation and a love of intrigue. He had not the slightest affection for either of his parents—how could he have?—and he soon began to deceive them, a task in which he found plenty to help him.92 Lady Bristol in one of her letters gave a very flattering account of him as being “the most agreeable young man it is possible to imagine, without being the least handsome, his person little, but very well made and genteel, a loveliness in his eyes that is indescribable, and the most obliging address that can be conceived.” The poets praised him; and one sycophant rhapsodised over him as follows:—

Fresh as a rose-bud newly blown and fair
As op’ning lilies: on whom every eye
With joy and admiration dwells. See, see
He rides his docile barb with manly grace.
Is it Adonis for the chase arrayed
Or Britain’s second hope?

The first hope presumably was the King, the other hopes were the rest of the royal children. They were not a lovable family, nor was there any love lost among them. They disliked one another thoroughly, but, with the exception of Frederick, they were all devoted to their mother, and they all united, Frederick included, in disliking their father, who on his part disliked them. The King had rarely a kind word for any of his children, and in his old age he admitted it. “I know I did not love my children,” he said. “When they were young I hated to have them running about the room.” Caroline, on the other hand, was devoted to all her children, except the Prince of Wales, whom long absence had estranged from her. One of her first acts after becoming Queen was to dismiss the state governess, and have her daughters educated under93 her immediate supervision. She was a Spartan mother, and a firm believer in the proverb: “Spare the rod, spoil the child”. The Duchess of Marlborough relates how on one occasion when she went to see the Queen, then Princess of Wales, she found her chastising little Prince William, who was roaring and kicking lustily. The Prince was looking on complaisantly. The duchess tried to soothe the youthful delinquent. “Ah, see,” cried George Augustus, “you English are none of you well-bred, because you were not whipped when you were young.” “Umph!” quoth her Grace. She afterwards said, “I thought to myself, I am sure you could not have been whipped when you were young, but I choked it in”.

Anne, Princess Royal, was now in her twentieth year. She had little beauty, and her figure was short and squat, but she had fair abilities and several accomplishments; she could paint well, speak three languages, and was an excellent musician. Her favourite recreation was the opera, and she loved to get professional singers and players around her, and practise with them. She was vain and ambitious, and once told her mother that she wished she had no brothers, so that she might succeed to the throne. On the Queen’s reproving her, she said: “I would die to-morrow to be Queen to-day”. Unfortunately for her ambition, heirs to thrones or reigning monarchs were in no wise attracted to her, and so far no eligible candidate for her hand had come forward. The Queen also once rebuked her for her lack of94 consideration to her ladies. She noticed one morning that she kept her lady standing for a long time, conversing with her on some trifling matter, while she herself remained seated. In the evening Anne came to her mother to read to her and was about to sit down. “No, my dear,” said the Queen, “you must not sit down at present, I intend to keep you standing for as long a time as you kept Lady —— in the same position this morning.”

The second daughter, Princess Amelia, or Emily, as she was more generally called, was better looking than her sister and far cleverer. In her youth she had considerable pretensions to beauty, and her ready wit made her the most popular of the princesses. “The Princess Amelia,” writes Lady Pomfret enthusiastically to Mrs. Clayton, “is the oddest, or at least one of the oddest princesses that ever was known; she has her ears shut to flattery and her heart open to honesty. She has honour, justice, good-nature, sense, wit, resolution, and more good qualities than I have time to tell you, so mixed that (if one is not a devil) it is impossible to say she has too much or too little of any; yet all these do not in anything (without exception) make her forget the King of England’s daughter, which dignity she keeps up with such an obliging behaviour that she charms everybody. Do not believe her complaisance to me makes me say one silible more than the rigid truth; though I confess she has gained my heart and has added one more95 to the number of those few whose desert forces one’s affection.”32

This paragon of a princess had been the destined bride of the Crown Prince of Prussia afterwards Frederick the Great, but as the double marriage scheme fell through she continued single. Several minor German princes offered themselves, but she did not think them worthy of her acceptance. Yet she was far from indifferent to admiration, and had a liking for men’s society. She was of a masculine turn of mind, and her happiest hours were passed in the hunting field, and the stables and kennels. She liked to spend much time with her horses and discuss their points minutely with the grooms, and one Sunday she shocked the good people of Hampton Court by going to church in a riding costume with a dog under each arm. She shared her father’s passion for hunting, and was a far better rider than he. She used to hunt in a costume which was masculine rather than feminine, and rode hard and fearlessly, followed by her favourite groom, Spurrier. There is a curious portrait of her in a round hunting cap and laced scarlet coat, which makes her look like a man. She had flirtations with the Duke of Newcastle and the Duke of Grafton; that with the latter was serious. It went on for a long time, and the Princess seems really to have been attached to him, though he was much older than she.




The Duke of Grafton, the Lord Chamberlain, was a grandson of Charles the Second, and had the personal beauty and charm of manner characteristic of the Fitzroys. He made no secret of his attentions to the Princess, and she received them with a great deal of favour. Queen Caroline was annoyed at what she considered was the duke’s presumption in aspiring to be her daughter’s lover. She also resented his familiar manner towards herself; he frequently addressed her as though he were her equal, and indeed he considered himself to be a scion of royalty. He once told her that he believed it was not in her nature to love any one, to which she replied: “But I love the King”. He answered: “By God, ma’am, I do not know, but if I were King of France I would soon find out whether you did or not”. He used to tease her also with the tale that she was in love with some German prince before her marriage to the Electoral Prince of Hanover, and ended by saying: “God, ma’am, I wish I could see the man you could love”. As she could not repress him, Caroline affected to treat these familiarities as a joke, but she secretly resented them. She did her best to put an end to the intimacy between her daughter and the duke, but without much effect. The Princess Amelia and the duke would go a-hunting together two or three times a week, and frequently rode away from the rest of the party. On one occasion at Windsor their attendants lost them altogether, and they did not return to the castle until long after it97 was dark. It was said that they had gone together to a private house in Windsor forest and there remained. The King was absent from England at the time this happened, but the Queen was highly incensed, and soundly rated Amelia on her imprudence. She would have complained to the King about the Duke of Grafton, but Walpole dissuaded her from doing so. The duke would not have cared, and it would have done the princess harm.

The year after the King’s accession to the throne Princess Amelia went to Bath to drink the waters, attended by Lady Pomfret. Royal visits to Bath were as yet few and far between, indeed the only royal personages who had visited Bath before the Princess were Queen Anne (before she came to the throne) with her husband Prince George of Denmark.33 Princess Amelia was received by the Mayor and Corporation in full state, and a hundred young men on horseback met her coach at the North Gate and formed an escort to her lodgings. Bath had already become a gay and fashionable place, and many persons of quality and of no quality at all, who suffered from gout, rheumatism, the results of dissipation, or that mysterious ailment which the ladies of the eighteenth century called “vapours,” flocked thither to drink the waters and98 kill the time. The pump room and assembly-rooms were “elegantly fitted” and a band played daily. Breakfast parties were much the vogue at “one and twenty pence a piece,” and the forenoon was passed in drinking the waters and listening to the concert. In the afternoon there were the bowling greens and the promenade in the gardens skirting the river, the toy shops and the coffee-houses where the beau monde loitered, drinking “dishes of tea” and eating Bath buns. In the evening there were cards and dancing—and there was scandal all day long. Bath was then under the reign of “King” Nash, who had become its arbiter elegantiarum. Opinions differ as to the services Nash rendered to Bath. Some say he made the place; others that he merely cloaked the grossness and licentiousness of the fashionable world there by throwing over it a garb of mock ceremony. Certainly Bath was a hotbed of gambling, and many undesirable characters were attracted thither simply by the high play.

Princess Amelia’s arrival caused quite a flutter in the gay world of Bath. She took the waters in the morning, and after drinking them strolled in Harrison’s walks, all the men and women of fashion following after her or keeping within a respectful distance. But there was one who would not pay her homage, and she was Lady Wigtown, a Jacobite peeress. One day in the public garden Lady Wigtown met the Princess face to face, and without taking the slightest notice of her, she pushed aside99 the ladies-in-waiting and walked past. Of this incident Lady Pomfret writes to Mrs. Clayton: “Lady Frances Manners asked me if I knew my Lady Wigtown (a Scottish countess). I said I had never heard of her in my life, and believed she had not yet sent to the Princess; upon which both she and the Duchess of Rutland smiled, and said: ‘No, nor will, I can tell you; for seeing the Princess coming to the pump the morning before, she had run away like a Fury for fear of seeing her; and declares so public an aversion for the King, etc., that she would not go to the ball made on the Queen’s birthday; and some of that subscription money remaining, the company had another ball, which she denied going to, and told all the people it was because the Queen’s money made it’.”34

These balls began at six o’clock in the evening, and were under the direction of Beau Nash, who commanded that they should be over by eleven at the latest. When the first stroke of the hour sounded the Beau waved his wand, and the music ceased, though it were in the middle of a dance. Once the Princess Amelia objected to this summary ending. “One more dance, Mr. Nash; remember I am Princess.” “Yes, madam, but I reign here and my law must be kept.”

It was creditable to the Princess Amelia that Lady Wigtown’s rudeness made no difference to her courtesy to the other Jacobites and Roman100 Catholics, of whom just then Bath was full. Acting under instruction from her mother, she had a gracious word and a smile for all of them who came her way. Among others were the unfortunate Lord Widdrington and his lady. Lord Widdrington was one of the Jacobite peers condemned to death for the part they had taken in the rising of ’15, but he was ultimately pardoned, though his estates were forfeited. He brought his broken health and ruined fortunes to Bath, where he was living in comparative poverty when the Princess Amelia came there. The Princess noticed Lady Widdrington in the Pump Room, and asked who she was. When she was told she talked to her, walked with her, and generally took much notice of her. “Her kindness,” writes Lady Pomfret, “had such an effect upon all that sort [Jacobites] in this city that is hardly to be imagined, and they all speak of the Princess Amelia as of something that has charmed them ever since.” But another lady in waiting, Mrs. Tichburne, was perturbed lest the Princess’s graciousness to a “rebel’s wife” should be misunderstood, and Lady Pomfret thought well to ask Mrs. Clayton to explain matters to the Queen. She need not have troubled, for the Princess had only done as the Queen wished.

It is a pity that we cannot take leave of the Princess Amelia with this pleasing illustration of her amiability. But truth compels us to add that as she grew older her character sadly deteriorated. She developed into a hard, mean, inquisitive woman, and was often insolent without provocation. Perhaps101 this was due to the crossing of her young affections, and her nature, driven back upon itself, grew warped in the cramped atmosphere of the court. In later life Bath continued to be a favourite resort of the Princess Amelia, for here she could indulge in her love of cards and scandal without let or hindrance; she used to play night after night for very high stakes, refreshing herself with pinches of snuff during the game. One night when she was playing in the public card room at Bath an old general, who was seated next her, ventured to take a pinch of snuff out of her box, which stood by him on the table. She haughtily stared at him without making any remark, and then beckoning to her footman, ordered him to throw the snuff in the fire and bring her a fresh box. Little peculiarities like this did not tend to make her popular, and she grew to be generally disliked. She lived far into the reign of her nephew George the Third, and died unmarried.

The third daughter, Princess Caroline, was of a very different disposition to her elder sisters; she had no beauty, and suffered from delicate health, but she had much quiet goodness and unobtrusive piety. When she was a child her parents used to say of her: “Send for Caroline, and then we shall know the truth”. She was the Queen’s favourite daughter, and was greatly attached to her. Constantly with her mother, she was thrown a good deal into the companionship of Lord Hervey, and conceived for him a deep and lasting love, a most102 unfortunate attachment, as Lord Hervey was by no means a worthy object for her devotion, even if he had been able to requite it properly, which he could not, as he was married to the beautiful Lepel. Her attachment flattered his vanity, and he must have secretly encouraged it. The hopelessness of her passion made no difference to the gentle Princess; she continued to cherish it until Lord Hervey’s death, and even after his death she testified her devotion to his memory by showing great kindness to his children. After she lost her mother she became a confirmed invalid, and spent her life in retirement and works of benevolence. She died unmarried.

William, Duke of Cumberland, the second surviving son of George the Second and Caroline, was at the time they came to the throne a boy, and had not yet developed those unamiable qualities he displayed in later life, which earned for him undying infamy as “the butcher of Culloden”. He was a precocious youth, very grave and solemn in his demeanour, not caring to play like other boys, but preferring to mope in a corner over a book, or to gaze at uniforms and military evolutions—for quite early in life he showed a strong predilection for the army. Some characteristic anecdotes are related of his early years. When a child he was taken on one of his birthdays to see his grandfather, George the First. The King asked him at what time he got up in the morning; the young duke replied: “When the chimney-sweepers are103 about”. The King asked: “Vat are de chimney-sweepers”? “Have you been so long in England,” said his grandson, “and do not know what a chimney-sweep is? Why, he is like that man there;” and he pointed to Lord Finch, afterwards Earl of Winchelsea and Nottingham, who was in attendance. Lord Finch, like the rest of his family, “the black funereal Finches,” had a very swarthy complexion, and after this he was generally known by the nickname of “The Chimney Sweep”. On another occasion, after a display of temper, his mother ordered the duke to be locked up in his room. When he came out he was downcast and sullen. “William,” inquired the Queen, “what have you been doing?” “Reading,” he said shortly. “Reading what?” “The Bible.” “And what did you read there?” “About Jesus and Mary.” “And what about them?” asked the Queen. “Why,” replied William, “that Jesus said to Mary: ‘Woman, what hast thou to do with me?’”

Lady Strafford has left an account of the Duke of Cumberland’s birthday reception, a sort of children’s party which represents the young prince in a more amiable light:—

“My love” (her son, Lord Wentworth), she writes, “is perfectly well and vastly delighted with his Court ball. I took him to Court in the morning, and the Queen cried out: ‘Oh! Lord Wentworth! how do you do? you have mightily grown! My lady, he is prodigiously well dressed. I hope you will let him come to our ball to night.’ After the104 drawing-room was over the duke had a levée in his own room, so I desired my brother to take him there, and the duke told him he hoped he would do him the favour to come at night. But as a great misfortune Lady Deloraine fell in labour, and was just brought to bed of a dead son; so they could not have the room they used to dance in (it being next to hers), so they had a bad little room and they did not dance French dances. Princess Amelia asked Lord Wentworth to dance one with her, and afterwards the duke gave him Lady Caroline Fitzroy for his partner. They had a supper of cold chicken, tongue, jelly and sweetmeats, but they were (served) in an odd manner, for they had neither knives nor plates, so that well as my love loves eating, he says he ate but a leg of a chicken, for he says he did not (think) it looked well to be pulling greasy bones about in a room full of princesses; the way of getting rid of the bones was the children threw them out of the window. The King was present to see them dance, but not the Queen. The ball ended about half an hour after ten. The duke was quite free and easy, and extremely civil.”

Of the two younger princesses, Mary and Louisa, there is little to be said, as they were children during their mother’s lifetime. Mary, like her sister Caroline, was of a soft and gentle disposition. Some years after her mother’s death she was married to Frederick, Hereditary Prince of Hesse-Cassel, an obstinate, ill-tempered prince, who treated his wife105 with cruelty and infidelity, and her life was a very unhappy one. She survived her husband a few years.

Princess Louisa, the youngest of them all, was by far the most beautiful of Queen Caroline’s daughters, and inherited her mother’s abilities and accomplishments. She married Frederick, Crown Prince of Denmark, and in due time became Queen of Denmark. Her married life was not altogether happy, but she had her mother’s philosophy and made the best of it. She died of the same illness as Queen Caroline, and curiously enough from the same cause—concealing the nature of her malady until it was too late.

Though the King enjoyed an enormous Civil List he was exceedingly mean to his children. To his daughters, though three of them had now grown up, he gave little or nothing. Anne and Amelia were often in need of pocket-money, and not above borrowing of the people about the court. Their dress allowance was exceedingly small, and if their mother had not helped them, they would scarcely have been able to make a presentable appearance at their father’s drawing-rooms. There is a curious old paper extant,35 endorsed “Mrs. Powis,” who was probably dresser to the Princesses, which gives some idea of their wardrobe. The following extracts may be quoted:—

What was delivered yearly for each Princess (Anne, Amelia and Caroline):


“Winter Clothes:—

Two coats embroider’d, one trim’d or rich stuff, and one velvet or rich silk without.

Three coats brocaded or damask.

A damask night-gown.

Two silk under petecoats, trim’d with gold or silver.

“Summer Clothes:—

Three flower’d coats, one of them with silver.

Three plain or stripped lastrings.

One night-gown and four silk hoops.

Shoes: a pair every week.

Gloves: sixteen dozen in the year; 18s. per dozen.

Tans: no allowance, but they did not exceed eight guineas per annum.

Mouslines and lawns were bought as wanted, no settled price.


No certain allowance for ribbons or artificial flowers.

Powder, patches, combs, pins, quilted caps, band boxes, wax, pens and paper, came to about £40 per annum for the three princesses, paste for hands and pomatum came from the apothecary, Mr. Tagar, and did not come into my bill.

I paid the tire woman 129 guineas a year.

I paid for tuning the harpsichord, food for their birds, and many other little things belonging to their Royal Highnesses, which were too trifling to mention, which whilst the Duke was with them came to £50 per annum.

Their Royal Highnesses had each a page of honour and gentleman usher at £100 sallary.

Each one had a dresser at £50, and one chambermaid, I do not know at what sallary.

Also one page of the backstairs.

The Princesses used the Queen’s coaches, footmen and grooms.”

The Princesses led singularly idle, purposeless lives; Anne and Amelia chiefly occupied themselves with card-playing and the petty intrigues of the court, and the way their father treated them led them early to lie and practise the arts of dissimulation. Even Princess Caroline, when we have107 credited her with all the virtues, remains a colourless nonentity. The Princesses always appeared at court festivities and took part in whatever was going on, and the Queen would often relax some of the stiffness of etiquette for the benefit of the young people. For instance, sometimes after the evening drawing-rooms she would turn the function into a ball. We read:—

“On Monday night His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales and the Princess Royal opened a ball at Court with a minuet, and afterwards they danced several set dances with several of the quality till between four and five o’clock next morning. Her Majesty was richly dressed, and wore a flowered muslin hood with an edging. The Princess Royal had the like, which makes it believed that muslins will come into fashion. There never was seen so great an appearance, either for number or magnificence as on the like occasion.”36

Nor was the King to be outdone in the splendour of his attire; indeed he outshone the Queen, for he loved dress and display far more. We read: “His Majesty appeared in a suit of crimson velvet with gold buttons and button holes, sleeves faced with rich tissue, and a waistcoat of the same.”

The great days at court were the royal birthdays. The birthdays of the Prince of Wales and all the royal children were duly celebrated. The Queen’s birthdays were always largely attended, and so were the King’s at the beginning of the reign. But after his visits to Hanover he became very unpopular,108 and he noted with ire that not only was the attendance meagre at his drawing-rooms, but there were no new clothes for the occasion. If any of the great nobility absented themselves from the drawing-rooms for any time, as some occasionally thought fit to do, they were generally conciliated by the Queen and persuaded to put in an appearance again. The birthday drawing-rooms were chiefly remarkable for the splendour of the clothes, every one appearing in his best, and even the royal footmen being arrayed in new liveries. “There was his Majesty in scarlet and gold,” writes a correspondent; “the Duke of Cumberland in blue trimmed with silver; the Princess Anne in silver and colours of yellow; the Princess Louisa in a dark green velvet, embroidered in gold; my Lady Browne in scarlet, with great roses not unlike large silver soup plates, made in an old silver lace, and spotted all over her gown.”

But these were great occasions; in the ordinary way the private life of the court was dull, even in these early days of the reign, and there was little doing except ombre or quadrille. Peter Wentworth, who was now one of the Queen’s equerries and was sometimes in attendance on the Prince of Wales and sometimes on the Princess Royal, gives a fair description of how the Royal Family spent their evenings. Writing to his brother Lord Strafford, he says:—

“The quadrille table is well known, and there is a large table surrounded by my master (the Prince of Wales), the Princesses, the Duke of Cumberland,109 the bedchamber ladies, Lord Lumley, and all the belle-assemblée, at a most stupid game, to my mind, lottery ticket. £100 is sometimes lost at this pastime. The maids play below with the King in Mrs. Howard’s apartment, and the moment they come up, the Queen starts up and goes into her apartment.... T’other night Lord Grantham and the Queen had a dispute about going to a room without passing by the backstairs; she bade him go and see; he did, and came back as positive as before. ‘Well,’ says she, ‘will you go along with me if I show you the way?’ ‘Yes, madam,’ says he. Up she starts, and trots away with one candle, and came back triumphant over my Lord Grantham. The belle-assemblée was in an uproar, thinking the King was ill, when I told them ’twas a wager between the Queen and my Lord Grantham.”37

The Queen was fond of these little jokes, for on another occasion we find Peter Wentworth writing: “Sunday, in the evening the Queen commanded me to order her a chaise and one horse, and a coach and six to follow, for Monday, at six o’clock in the morn, and six Life Guards and two Grenadiers, and your humble servant a-horseback, which was to be kept a great secret. When I had put her Majesty into her chaise with Princess Mary, she bid me ride and tell the Colonel of the Guard not to beat the drum as she passed out [of St. James’s]. We drove to the foot ferry at Kew, where there110 was a barge of four oars which carried her Majesty, Princess Mary, Mrs. Purcell and I to the Queen’s house at Kew. The whole joke of keeping this a secret was upon Lord Lifford, who had said ’twas impossible for her Majesty to go out at any time but he should know it. When we came there, therefore, the Queen sent for the other Princesses, Lord Hervey and Lord Lifford to breakfast with her. Lord Hervey, Princess Caroline and Princess Louisa came before ten; the Queen, Mrs. Purcell and I walked twice round the garden before they came. We had a fine breakfast, with the addition of cherries and strawberries we plucked from the garden, some of which the Queen gave me with her own hand; and said to Lord Hervey C’est un très bon enfant, and repeated it several times, Lord Hervey assenting. I never suspected she spoke of me, which she, perceiving, said in English: ‘We are speaking of you; you know I love you, and you shall know I love, I do really love you’. I made low bows, but had not the impromptu wit nor assurance to make any other answer.”38

And again:—

“On Saturday when the Queen was at Kew, the Blue Horse Guards in stocks stood sentry there. As she goes up the court she says to Lord Lifford and me: ‘I’ll lay you what you will he of the right is a Scotsman, and he of the left an Englishman and a Yorkshireman’. When she came up to them, she111 asked him of the right, who was a handsome young fellow and a gentleman volunteer: ‘What countryman are you?’ ‘A Scotsman, your Majesty.’ ‘What’s your name?’ ‘Hamilton.’ ‘Of what family?’ ‘The dukes of that name.’ ‘How long have you been in the regiment?’ ‘Ever since it has been the Duke of Argyll’s.’ Then she turns to t’other man, and asks what countryman he was? ‘An Englishman, your Majesty.’ ‘Your name?’ ‘Hill.’ ‘What county?’ ‘Yorkshire.’ The Queen was pleased and so was I, for I would always have her pleased, and turned about to my lord and me, and said: ‘N’est-ce pas que j’ay dit vray? Je connais bien la physiognomie.’”


27 Memoirs of Wilhelmina, Margravine of Baireuth.

28 Memoirs of Wilhelmina, Margravine of Baireuth.

29 Memoirs of Wilhelmina, Margravine of Baireuth.

30 Wilhelmina states in her Memoirs that the whole thing was a plot of George II., who wished to find an excuse for keeping his son away from England altogether, but the candour of the Queen of Prussia spoilt it all. But there is nothing to support this statement.

31 Daily Post, 5th December, 1728.

32 The Countess of Pomfret to Mrs. Clayton, 22nd April, 1728. Sundon Correspondence.

33 Thackeray says in his Four Georges: “As for Bath, all history went and bathed and drank there; George II. and his Queen,” etc. In point of fact, neither George II. nor Queen Caroline went to Bath. Princess Amelia went in 1728; the Prince of Orange in 1734, the Prince and Princess of Wales in 1738, and Princesses Caroline and Mary in 1840.

34 The Countess of Pomfret to Mrs. Clayton, Bath, 6th May 1728.

35 In the Manuscript Department, British Museum.

36 Daily Advertiser, 3rd March, 1731.

37 The Hon. Peter Wentworth to the Earl of Strafford, 10th August, 1730.

38 The Hon. Peter Wentworth to the Earl of Strafford, London 3rd June, 1735.


In May, 1729, the King, who had been for some time anxious to visit his Hanoverian dominions, which he had not seen since 1714, got a short Act passed through Parliament appointing the Queen to act as Regent in his absence. The King’s visit to Hanover was very unpopular with his English subjects, who hoped that they had heard of the last of these journeys when George the First died. As Prince of Wales, George the Second had always declared that he loved England far better than Hanover, but this was only in opposition to his father, and soon after he ascended the throne he avowed himself strongly Hanoverian in his tastes and found fault with everything in England. In this mood the best thing for him to do was to return to his own country for a time, and Walpole no doubt was glad to get him out of the way, while the Queen eagerly grasped at the authority which the deed of regency granted her. But she showed none of this eagerness to the King, and when he announced his intention of leaving113 England she deplored his absence with tears, and received his commission on her knees with all due humility. The King gave the royal assent to the Act of Regency on May 14th, and three days later he set out for Hanover, accompanied by a numerous retinue, and Lord Townshend as Minister in attendance.

The Queen appointed the Speaker of the House of Commons, Onslow, to be her Chancellor during her Regency, and Keeper of the Great Seal. She held her first Council as Regent five days after the King left. It was reported in the London Gazette as follows:—

At the Court at Kensington the 22nd day of May, 1729.


“The Queen’s Most Excellent Majesty,

“His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales, Archbishop of Canterbury, Lord Chancellor, Lord Privy Seal, Lord Steward, Lord Chamberlain, Duke of Somerset, Duke of Bolton, Duke of Rutland, Duke of Argyll, Duke of Montrose, Duke of Kent, Duke of Ancaster, Duke of Newcastle, Earl of Westmoreland, Earl of Burlington, Earl of Scarborough, Earl of Coventry, Earl of Grantham, Earl of Godolphin, Earl of Loudoun, Earl of Findlater, Earl of Marchmont, Earl of Ilay, Earl of Uxbridge, Earl of Sussex, Viscount Lonsdale, Viscount Cobham, Viscount Falmouth, Lord Wilmington, Mr. Speaker, Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer, Master114 of the Rolls, Sir Paul Methuen, and Henry Pelham, Esq.

“The King’s Commission appointing Her Most Excellent Majesty the Queen Regent over this Kingdom, by the Style and Title of Guardian of the Kingdom of Great Britain, and His Majesty’s Lieutenant within the same during His Majesty’s absence, was this day by Her Majesty’s command, opened and read in His Majesty’s Most Honourable Privy Council, after which His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales, and all the Lords and others of the Council who were present, had the honour to kiss Her Majesty’s hand.”

Caroline entered with manifest enjoyment upon the duties of her office, and discharged them with great ability; she had so long known the essence of power that it was easy for her to adapt herself to its outward manifestation. Townshend, who was jealous of Walpole’s favour with the Queen, endeavoured to induce the King to modify her powers as Regent, and urged him to send a despatch to that effect from the Hague, but the King, though he listened, declined to do so; in fact, he knew better than any one else that his interests were safe in his consort’s hands.


The Queen-Regent had the power of opening and proroguing Parliament, signifying the royal assent to acts and measures, appointing bishops, and of making other important appointments; she also received the foreign ambassadors and envoys as though she were the King, and corresponded with foreign sovereigns.115 Queen Caroline was especially careful to cultivate and strengthen the good understanding between England and France, and she wrote several letters to the King of France, and sent him a present of a dozen hogsheads of perry and cider.39

The most important negotiation in foreign affairs was the Treaty of Seville, which was practically concluded during Caroline’s regency, though it was not signed until a little later (November 9th, 1729). This treaty terminated the long dispute between England and Spain. By its provisions, English trade to America, which had been interrupted, was restored. England was given back all that Spain had captured during the war, and the Asiento Treaty (or contract for supplying negroes, of establishing certain factories, and of sending one ship to the South Sea) was confirmed to the South Sea Company. But the most important feature of the treaty was that Gibraltar was tacitly relinquished by Spain. It would be too much to claim for Caroline the credit of the cession of Gibraltar to England, but there is no doubt that her wise and temperate counsels, and her anxiety not to give needless offence to Spanish susceptibilities by mentioning the fortress by name, materially aided William Stanhope, the English plenipotentiary at Madrid, in conducting the difficult and delicate negotiations which resulted in the Treaty of Seville. Gibraltar was a question which touched Spanish pride very nearly, and to see a fortress on its own116 shores held and garrisoned by England was as great a humiliation to Spain as England’s possession of Calais had once been to France.

Time had been, and not so long before, when English Ministers advised the recession of Gibraltar to Spain, and George the First had written a letter which contained a promise to restore the fortress at some future time. This letter had been written upon the advice of Townshend and Carteret in 1721, and so lately as 1728 we find that Townshend was still in favour of the cession of Gibraltar. Writing to Poyntz he declared: “What you proposed in relation to Gibraltar is certainly very reasonable, and is exactly conformable to the opinion which you know I have always entertained concerning that place; but you cannot but be sensible of the violent and almost superstitious zeal which has of late prevailed among all parties of this kingdom against any scheme for the restitution of Gibraltar upon any conditions whatsoever.”40 If the matter had rested with Townshend, who had obtained the ear of the King during his absence at Hanover, Gibraltar would probably have been ceded to Spain.

To Caroline, therefore, acting in conjunction with Walpole, the credit is due of having retained it for England. True, Gibraltar was not mentioned by name in the Treaty of Seville, though the Opposition clamoured for its explicit mention. But the Queen and the Prime Minister were firm; they were content with the kernel and troubled not about the117 husk. The result justified their wisdom. The treaty was ultimately ratified without conditions, and Gibraltar henceforth became a recognised possession of England.

In this, as in all other matters, the Queen worked in close accord with Walpole, and by way of showing the Opposition how little she heeded their attacks, she publicly marked her favour of the Prime Minister by going to dine with him, accompanied by the Prince of Wales and all the Royal Family, at his house at Chelsea, where a magnificent entertainment was provided for her Majesty. The Queen and the Royal Family dined in one room, and the rest of the party in another, Walpole himself waiting on his illustrious guest. Nor did the Queen neglect the ceremonial side of her office; she kept great state whilst she was at St. James’s, and on the anniversary (June 11th) of the King’s Accession she held a court at St. James’s which was one of the most largely attended of the reign. She also frequently honoured the nobility with her presence at their entertainments.

At Windsor Caroline kept much company, availing herself of the King’s absence to go there. At Windsor she felt Queen of England indeed; she occupied the rooms which had been used by the late Queen Anne, and her favourite sitting room was the closet wherein Anne first heard of the great victory of Blenheim, in which hung the banner annually presented by the Duke of Marlborough, and now by his daughter, who was duchess118 in her own right. Caroline held drawing-rooms in the state apartments, of which the finest were the magnificent St. George’s Hall and the ball room, hung with tapestry representing the seasons of the year. The celebrated collection of beauties by Sir Peter Lely, afterwards removed to Hampton Court, adorned one of the state apartments, and the private chapel had some exquisite carved work by Grinling Gibbons. Here Caroline attended divine service, and, seated in the royal closet hung with crimson velvet, listened to lengthy discourses from Dr. Samuel Clarke, or some other favourite divine.

It was from Windsor on a notable occasion that she drove to honour the Earl and Countess of Orkney with a visit to their beautiful seat at Clieveden. “Yesterday,” writes Peter Wentworth, “the Queen and all the Royal Family went to dine and supper at Clieveden. How they were diverted I know not, but I believe very well, for they did not come home until almost four in the morning.”41 According to all accounts the entertainment was very successful, but Lady Orkney’s anxieties as a hostess seem to have weighed heavily upon her, for we find her writing a long letter a few days later to Mrs. Howard, expressing her “anguish” because some little things had gone wrong. Perhaps, Lady Orkney only wanted a more particular expression of the Queen’s satisfaction. Her letter may be quoted as an expression of the fulsome119 servility to royal personages then in vogue even among the high nobility.

Clieveden, August 5th, 1729.


“I give you this trouble out of the anguish of my mind, to have the Queen doing us the honour to dine here, and nothing performed in the order it ought to have been! The stools which were set for the Royal Family, though distinguished from ours, which I thought right, because the Princess Royal sits so at quadrille, put away by Lord Grantham,42 who said there was to be no distinction from princes and princesses and the ladies. He directed the table-cloths so that there must be two to cover the table; for he used to have it so; in short, turned the servants’ heads. They kept back the dinner too long for her Majesty after it was dished, and was set before the fire, and made it look not well dressed, the Duke of Grafton saying they wanted a maître d’hôtel. All this vexed my Lord Orkney so—he tells me he hopes I will never meddle more, if he could ever hope for the same honour; which I own I did too much, as I see by the success, but having done it for the late King,43 and was told that things were in that order, that it was as if his Majesty had lived here, I ventured it now, but I have promised not to aim at it more.


“But what I have said shows the greater goodness in the Queen to be so very easy. I have seen condescension in princesses, but none that ever came up to her Majesty: nay, not all the good you have ever said could make me imagine what I saw and heard. We all agreed her Majesty must be admired; and, if I may use the term, it was impossible to see her and not love her.

“If you hear of these mismanagements, pray be so good as to say the house was too little for the reception of the Queen, and so many great princes and princesses, who, without flattery, cannot be but respectedly admired. I thought I had turned my mind in a philosophical way of having done with the world, but I find I have deceived myself; for I am vexed and pleased with the honours I have received. I know from your discretion you will burn this, and I hope will always believe me, etc.,

E. Orkney.44

From Windsor the Queen returned to Kensington, which she made her headquarters for the rest of the summer, paying visits occasionally to Hampton Court, Richmond, and Windsor, for the purpose of hunting. The best idea of the social side of her regency may be gathered from the letters that Peter Wentworth wrote during this period to Lord Strafford.45 They throw curious121 sidelights on the manners of the time. To quote seriatim:—

Kensington, July 25th, 1729.

“I have been at Richmond again with the Queen and the Royal Family, and I thank God they are all very well. We are to go there to-day, and the Queen walks about there all day long. I shall be no more her jest as a lover of drink at free cost, not only from her own observation of one whom she sees every morning at eight o’clock, and in the evening again at seven, walking in the gardens, and in the drawing-room till after ten, but because she has my Lord Lifford to play upon, who this day sen’night got drunk at Richmond. His manner of getting so was pleasant enough; he dined with my good Lord Grantham, who is well served at his table with meat, but very stingy and sparing in his drink, for as soon as his dinner is done he and his company rise, and no round of toasts. So my lord made good use of his time whilst at dinner, and before they rose the Prince [of Wales] came to them and drank a bonpêre to my Lord Lifford, which he pledged, and began another to him, and so a third. The Duke of Grafton, to show the Prince he had done his business, gave him (Lord Lifford) a little shove, and threw him off his chair upon the ground, and then took him up and carried him to the Queen. Sunday morning she railed at him before all the Court upon getting drunk in her company, and upon his gallantry and coquetry with Princess Amelia, running122 up and down the steps with her. When somebody told him the Queen was there and saw him, his answer was: ‘What do I care for the Queen?’ He stood all her jokes not only with French impudence, but with Irish assurance. For all you say I don’t wonder I blushed for him and wished for half his stock. I wonder at her making it so public. Nobody has made a song; if Mr. Hambleton will make one that shall praise the Queen and the Royal Family’s good humour, and expose as much as he pleases the folly of Lord Grantham and Lord Lifford, I will show it to the Prince, and I know he won’t tell whom he had it from, for I have lately obliged him with the sight of Mrs. Fitzwilliam’s litany, and he has promised he will not say he had it from me. So I must beg you to say nothing of this to Lady Strafford, for she will write it for news to Lady Charlotte Roussie, and then I shall have Mrs. Fitz. angry with me, and the Prince laughing at me for not being able to be my own councillor, as I fear you laugh now. But if you betray me I make a solemn vow I never will tell you anything again.

“The Queen continues very kind and obliging in her sayings to me, and gave me t’other day an opportunity to tell her of my circumstances. As we were driving by Chelsea she asked me what that walled place was called. I told her Chelsea Park, and in the time of the Bubbles ’twas designed for the silkworms.46 She asked me if I was not in the Bubbles. With a sigh, I answered: ‘Yes, that, and123 my fire had made me worse than nothing’. Some time after, when I did not think she saw me, I was biting my nails. She called to me and said: ‘Oh fie! Mr. Wentworth, you bite your nails very prettily’. I begged her pardon for doing so in her presence, but said I did it for vexation of my circumstances, and to save a crown from Dr. Lamb for cutting them. She said she was sorry I had anything to vex me, and I did well to save my money. The Prince told her I was one of the most diligent servants he ever saw. I bowed and smiled as if I thought he bantered me. He understood me, and therefore repeated again that he meant it seriously and upon his word he thought that the Queen was happy in having so good a servant. I told him ’twas a great satisfaction to me to meet with his Royal Highness’s approbation. He clapped his hand upon my shoulder and assured me that I had it.

“As we went to Richmond last Wednesday our grooms had a battle with a carter that would not go out of the way. The good Queen had compassion for the rascal and ordered me to ride after him and give him a crown. I desired her Majesty to recall that order, for the fellow was a very saucy fellow, and I saw him strike the Prince’s groom first, and if we gave him anything for his beating ’twould be an example to others to stop the way a purpose to provoke a beating. The Prince approved what I said, for he said much the same to her in Dutch, and I got immortal fame among the liverymen, who are no small fools at this Court. I told her if she would124 give the crown to anybody it should be to the Prince’s groom, who had the carter’s long whip over his shoulders. She laughed, but saved her crown.”

Kensington, August 14th, 1729.

“The Queen has done me the honour to refer me for my orders to her Royal Highness Princess Anne, and what is agreed by her will please her Majesty; the height of my ambition is to please them all. I flatter myself I have done so hitherto, for Princess Anne has distinguished me with a singular mark of her favour, for she has made me a present of a hunting suit of clothes, which is blue, trimmed with gold, and faced and lined with red. The Prince of Wales, Princess Anne, the Duke of Cumberland, Princess Mary and Princess Louisa wear the same, and looked charming pretty in them. Thursday se’nnight, Windsor Forest will be blessed with their presence again, and since the forest was a forest it never had such a fine set of hunters, for a world of gentlemen have had the ambition to follow his Royal Highness’s fashion.

“On Saturday last at Richmond Park, Major Sylvine made his appearance by the Queen’s chaise, and she did him the honour to take notice of him, telling him she was glad to see he could hunt. He thought to be witty upon me by telling her Majesty I took such delight in waiting that he thought it a pity to deprive me of that pleasure. My good and gracious Queen answered him to my satisfaction125 and to his mortification, for she said: ‘Does he? So ’tis a sign he loves me, and I love him the better for’t.’ He replied he hoped her Majesty did not think the worse of him. She had the goodness to say ‘No,’ but repeated again that she loved me the better. Princess Amelia, who was in the chaise with her, turned her head from Sylvine and smiled most graciously upon me, which I could answer in no other way than by low bows to mark the sense of the great honour that was done me. And for my life I could not forbear getting behind the chaise to triumph over and insult the major, telling him he had got much by being witty upon me, which Princess Amelia heard, and laughed again upon me.”

Kensington, August 21st, 1729.

“Yesterday the Queen and all the Royal Family dined at Claremont,47 and I dined with the Duke (of Newcastle) and Sir Robert (Walpole), etc. The Prince of Wales came to us as soon as his, and our, dinner was over, and drank a bumper of rack-punch to the Queen’s health, which you may be sure I devotedly pledged, and he was going on with another, but her Majesty sent us word that she was going to walk in the garden, so that broke up the company. We walked till candle-light, being entertained with very fine French horns, then returned to the great hall, and everybody agreed never was anything finer lit.


“Her Majesty and Princess Caroline, Lady Charlotte Roussie and Mr. Schütz played their quadrille. In the next room the Prince had the fiddles and danced, and he did me the honour to ask me if I could dance a country-dance. I told him ‘yes’; and if there had been a partner for me, I should have made one in that glorious company—the Prince with the Duchess of Newcastle, the Duke of Newcastle with Princess Anne, the Duke of Grafton with Princess Amelia, Sir Robert Walpole with Lady Catherine Pelham, who is with child—so they danced but two dances. The Queen came from her cards to see that sight, and before she said it, I thought he (Sir Robert Walpole) moved surprisingly genteelly, and his dancing really became him, which I should not have believed if I had not seen, and, if you please, you may suspend your belief until you see the same. Lord Lifford danced with Lady Fanny Manners; when they came to an easy dance my dear duke took her from my lord, and I must confess it became him better than the man I wish to be my friend, Sir Robert, which you will easily believe. Mr. Henry Pelham48 danced with Lady Albemarle, Lord James Cavendish with Lady Middleton, and Mr. Lumley with Betty Spence.

“I paid my court sometimes to the carders, and sometimes to the dancers. The Queen told Lord127 Lifford that he had not drunk enough to make him gay, ‘and there is honest Mr. Wentworth has not drunk enough’. I told her I had drunk her Majesty’s health; ‘And my children’s too, I hope?’ I answered ‘Yes’. But she told me there was one health I had forgot, which was the Duke and Duchess of Newcastle’s, who had entertained us so well. I told her I had been down among the coachmen to see they had obeyed my orders to keep themselves sober, and I had had them all by the hand, and could witness for them that they were so, and it would not have been decent for me to examine them about it without I had kept myself sober, but now that grand duty was over, I was at leisure to obey her Majesty’s commands. There stood at the farther end of the room a table with bottles of wine for the dancers to drink, and I went and filled a bumper of burgundy and drank the duke’s and duchess’s health to Mr. Lumley, and told him I did it by her Majesty’s command, and then I went to the dancers, and he to the Queen, and told her I had done so. When I came to her again she told me she was glad I had obeyed her commands, and I thanked Mr. Lumley for the justice he had done me in telling it to the Queen, which drew this compliment from him, that he should always be ready to do me justice, or any service in his power. I beg my son may have no occasion to grieve that I have now and again taken a glass too much, for in my cups I shall call upon Mr. Lumley to remember me, and ’tis through these128 merry companions, or through rich friends that services are done for people.

“The Queen and the Prince have invited themselves to the Duke of Grafton’s hunting seat, which lies near Richmond, Saturday. He fended off for a great while, saying his house was not fit to receive them, and ’twas so old he was afraid ’twould fall upon their heads. But his Royal Highness, who is very quick at good inventions, told him he would bring tents and pitch them in his garden, so his Grace’s excuse did not come off; the thing must be Saturday.

“I have sent you enclosed a copy of my letter I wrote to Lord Pomfret, which will explain to you how I am made secretary to the Queen,49 and before dinner, under pretence to know if I had taken her Majesty’s sense aright, her Royal Highness (the Princess Royal) being by when I received the orders, I desired leave to show it her. She smiled and said: ‘By all means let me see it’. She kept it till she had dined, read it to the Queen, her brothers and sisters, and then sent for me from the gentlemen ushers’ table, and gave it to me, again thanked me, and said it was very well writ, and she saw too that I could dine at that table without being drunk at free cost.”

Kensington, September 2nd, 1729.

“Yesterday when the Queen was just got into her chaise there came a messenger who brought129 her a packet of letters from the King with the good news that his Majesty was very well. He had left him at the play this day se’nnight. It also said the guards of Hanover were not to march, for all differences were accommodated between the King and the King of Prussia, so that I hope now the match will go forward50 and that we shall soon have the King here. The Queen opened the letter and read it as she went along; the Princess [Anne] and the Duke [of Cumberland] were riding on before, and neither saw nor heard anything of this. Therefore I scoured away from the Queen to tell them the good news, and then I rode back and told the Queen what I had done, and that I had pleasure to be the messenger of good news. She and they thanked me and commended what I had done. I have sent you a copy of the orders I have been given to-day that you may see we go in for a continual round of pleasure.”

Kensington, September 16th, 1729.

“There was one Mr. W(entworth) who had a very agreeable present from the Queen. As he went over with her in the ferry boat Saturday s’ennight she gave a purse to Princess Anne, and bade her give it to Mr. W(entworth). Then she told him she wished him good luck, and in order that she might bring it to him, she had given him silver and gold, a sixpence, a shilling, and a half-guinea.130 He took the purse, and gave her Majesty a great many thanks. ‘What,’ said she, ‘will you not look into’t?’ His answer was: ‘Whatever comes from your Majesty is agreeable to him;’ though if he had not felt in the purse some paper, he could not have taken the royal jest with so good a grace. There was a bank bill in’t, which raised such a contention between him and his wife that in a manner he had better never have had it. He was willing to give her half, but the good wife called in worthy Madam Percade to her assistance, and she determined to give a third to her.

“All this was told the Queen the next day, and caused a great laugh, but put poor Mr. W(entworth) upon the thought of soliciting the great Lord L(ifford) for a sum of £15 he had forgotten to pay him in the South Sea. When the chase was over the Prince clapped Mr. W(entworth) on the back and wished him joy of his present, and told him now he would never be without money in his pocket. He replied if his Highness had not told him so publicly of it, it might have been so, but now his creditors would tease every farthing from him.”


The King who had been at Hanover five months now made ready to return to England.51 He had131 greatly enjoyed his visit to the Electorate, and had given several fêtes, including a farewell masquerade in the gardens of Herrenhausen, where the hedges of clipped hornbeam acted as screens and the grass as a carpet; the whole scene was illuminated by coloured lights.52 The King followed at Hanover the same clockwork rule he had established in England. “Our life is as uniform as that of a monastery,” wrote one of the King’s English retinue who was lodged at the Leine Schloss. “Every morning at eleven and every evening at six we drive in the heat to Herrenhausen through an enormous linden avenue; and twice a day cover our coats and coaches with dust. In the King’s society there is never the least change. At table, and at cards, he sees always the same faces, and at the end of the game retires into his chamber. Twice a week there is a French theatre; the other days there is a play in the gallery. In this way, were the King always to stop in Hanover, one could take a ten years’ calendar of his proceedings, and settle beforehand what his time of business, meals, and pleasure would be.”

It was during this visit of George the Second to Hanover that his dispute with the King of Prussia came to a crisis. The King of England resented the King of Prussia’s connivance at his son Frederick’s disobedience, but he could hardly make that the ostensible pretext for a quarrel, so he raked up the old grievance of the Prussians having kidnapped some of his tall Hanoverians for132 the Potsdam regiment of guards, and so violent grew the altercation, and so insulting were the messages of the King of Prussia, that the choleric little George sent him word challenging him to single combat at any place he would name, and leaving him the choice of weapons. It would have been a boon to Europe in general, and to England and Prussia in particular, if these two royal combatants had met and killed one another as they threatened to do, but unfortunately such a desirable consummation was prevented by Lord Townshend, whose remonstrances resulted in a compromise being patched up between the illustrious cousins. In fact, so amicably were matters settled that pretended negotiations were again set on foot for the marriage of the Prince of Wales with Wilhelmina. The Prince professed himself most eager for the match, and wrote to Hotham, the special envoy at Berlin: “Please, dear Hotham, get my marriage settled, my impatience increases daily, for I am quite foolishly in love”. Wilhelmina, however, says that she did not credit these romantic sentiments, and she thought they were due rather to obstinacy than love. Her father was quite indifferent as to whether the Prince of Wales’s desire to wed his daughter proceeded from love or obstinacy; all he wished was that Wilhelmina should be taken off his hands, and given a suitable establishment. King George had the same feeling about Amelia, whom he still desired to marry to the Crown Prince. The King of Prussia’s answer to133 this was: “I will agree to my son’s marriage if he is made Regent of Hanover, and allowed to direct the management of the electorate till my death, and if provision is made for his maintenance”. These terms were, of course, impossible, and the matter came to an end.

The King quitted Hanover with regret, and commanded that everything should remain at Herrenhausen precisely the same as when he was there. The pomp and circumstance of the electoral court suffered no abatement in his absence; the splendid stables containing eight hundred horses were maintained at their full strength, and the chamberlains, court marshals, and others continued to receive their full salaries. The King appointed no regent over the electorate in his absence; his uncle, the Duke of York was dead, and his son, the Prince of Wales, was now in England, so he placed the government of the electorate in the hands of a council of regency, and as a substitute for his own most gracious presence at the levées the King’s portrait as Elector was placed upon the vacant throne in the state room at Herrenhausen. Every Saturday a levée was held as though the Elector (for they did not officially recognise the King of England at Hanover) had been there, and the courtiers assembled and made their bow to the picture on the chair of state just as though it had been the Elector himself. This absurd ceremony continued through George the Second’s reign, except when he was at Hanover.


The King landed at Margate on September 11th, and at once posted to London, where his Queen and Regent was eagerly expecting him. So anxious was she that when the outriders came on ahead to Kensington Palace to announce that the King was nearing London, the Queen set out on foot, accompanied by all her children, and walked from Kensington, through Hyde Park, down Piccadilly to St. James’s Park where she met the King’s coach. The King stopped, alighted, and heartily embraced his consort in the sight of all the people. Then he helped her back into the coach, when they drove off to Kensington together amid the cheers of the populace, followed by other coaches containing the King’s suite and the princes and princesses. The devotion which the Queen showed to the King and the evident affection he bore her are the best features (one might almost say the only good features), of the Court of England at this period. Peter Wentworth, who writes to his brother of this royal meeting, says: “The King is happily arrived.... You see I am got into the prints by the honour the Queen did me, alone of all her servants, to send me to meet the King. I was the only gentleman servant with her when she walked, Monday se’nnight, with all her royal children, from Kensington Gardens quite to the island of St. James’s Park. Passages there are better told than writ, which I design myself the honour to do very soon—though I find virtue retires no more to cottages and cells, but secure of public triumph135 and applause, she makes the British Court her imperial residence.”

The next day, at a meeting of the Privy Council, the Queen, kneeling, delivered her commission of regency back into the King’s hands, and rendered him an account of her stewardship.


39 Daily Post, 5th July, 1729.

40 Lord Townshend to Poyntz, 14th June, 1728.

41 Letter of Peter Wentworth to Lord Strafford, 31st July, 1729.

42 Chamberlain to the Queen.

43 On the 5th September, 1724, King George I., attended by many of the nobility and gentry, dined with Lord Orkney at Clieveden, where he was magnificently entertained.

44 Suffolk Correspondence.

45 These letters are preserved in the Manuscript Department of the British Museum. Some of them have been published in the Wentworth Papers, but many of those quoted here have never been printed.

46 One of the Bubble schemes.

47 Claremont was one of the seats of the Duke of Newcastle.

48 The Right Hon. Henry Pelham, son of Lord Pelham and brother of Thomas Pelham, Duke of Newcastle, whose title had been revived in his favour by George the First.

49 This was probably a practical joke played on Peter Wentworth, as he never held the office of secretary to the Queen.

50 The double marriage scheme which had cropped up again for a brief space.

51 Thackeray inaccurately says that “in the year 1729 he (King George II.) went over two whole years, during which time Caroline reigned for him in England, and he was not in the least missed by his British subjects”. The King was only away from March to September, 1729, and then returned to England, where he remained until 1732, when he again went to Hanover.

52 Vide Vehse, Geschichte der Deutschen Höfe.


Soon after the King’s return from Hanover, matters came to a crisis between Townshend and Walpole. Ill-feeling had existed for some time, and the Treaty of Seville served to irritate it. The King, who had a great regard for a minister who had served him long and faithfully, was reluctant to let Townshend go, but the Queen, who saw in him an obstacle to her plans, was anxious to be quit of him, and when once she made up her mind, it was not long before she got what she wanted. She suspected that Townshend was in league with Mrs. Howard, and she could not forgive his having endeavoured to curtail her powers as Regent. Moreover, Townshend, who had always treated her with scant respect, had so far forgotten himself as to make a scene in her presence.

One evening, when the court was at Windsor, the Queen asked Townshend where he had dined that day, and he told her with Lord and Lady Trevor. Walpole, who was standing by, said with his usual coarse pleasantry: “My Lord, madam, I137 think is grown coquet from a long widowhood, and has some design upon my Lady Trevor’s virtue, for his assiduity of late in that family is grown to be so much more than common civility, that, without this solution, I know not how to account for it.” That Walpole was only joking was evident from the fact that Lady Trevor, besides being a most virtuous matron, was very old, and exceedingly ugly. But Townshend, who was eager to take offence, flew into a passion, and replied with great warmth: “No, sir, I am not one of those fine gentlemen who find no time of life, nor any station in the world, preservatives against follies and immoralities that are hardly excusable when youth and idleness make us most liable to such temptations. They are liberties, sir, which I can assure you I am as far from taking, as from approving; nor have I either a constitution that requires such practices, a purse that can support them, or a conscience that can digest them.” He went white to the lips as he said this, his voice shook, and he trembled with rage, and was ready to spring at Walpole. His answer was intended to be offensive. Walpole led a notoriously immoral life, and had lately made himself the talk of the town by his amour with Maria, or Moll, Skerrett, and the caricatures and ballads of the day teemed with the coarsest allusions to this intrigue. But Walpole kept his temper, and, with a shrug of his shoulders, answered Townshend quietly: “What, my Lord, all this for my Lady Trevor!” Townshend would have retorted with heat, but the Queen, who138 was exceedingly uneasy at the scene, turned the subject with a laugh, and began to talk very fast about something else.

A variety of causes conspired to aggravate Townshend’s jealousy of his brother-in-law and former friend. Walpole put the case bluntly by saying that “so long as the firm was Townshend and Walpole things went all right, but the moment it became Walpole and Townshend things went all wrong;” but this was not all the truth. Walpole had built a magnificent house at Houghton in Norfolk, which completely overshadowed Townshend’s at Rainham, in the same county. At Houghton he gave frequent entertainments, to which politicians and place-hunters flocked in great numbers, turning their backs on Townshend. Walpole kept a sort of public table, which was much frequented by the country gentlemen, and the house was always full. Scenes of the wildest revelry were enacted at Houghton, and Walpole’s hospitality often degenerated into drunken orgies disfigured by licence of conduct and coarseness of speech. His annual parties in the shooting season were said to cost as much as £3,000. “The noise and uproar,” says Coxe, his panegyrist, “the waste and confusion were prodigious. The best friends of Sir Robert Walpole in vain remonstrated against the scene of riot and misrule. As the Minister himself was fond of mirth and jollity, the conviviality of their meetings was too frequently carried to excess, and Lord Townshend, whose dignity of deportment and decorum of139 character revolted against these scenes, which he called the bacchanalian orgies of Houghton, not infrequently quitted Rainham during their continuance.”53

To Houghton Walpole often brought his mistress, Maria Skerrett, whom he maintained openly, notwithstanding that his wife was still alive. He had one daughter by her.54 Maria Skerrett’s origin was uncertain, though it was not so obscure as her enemies made out; she was a friend of Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, and her contemporaries have testified to her good heart. But she was an immoral woman of great licence of speech and behaviour, and it is doubtful whether Walpole was her first lover. He gave her £5,000 down, and a large allowance. The Prime Minister’s conduct in this matter gave great disgust to Townshend and the stricter of his supporters. The Queen, however, made light of it, saying that she “was glad if he had any amusement for his leisure hours,” but she couldn’t understand how he could care for a woman who evidently loved him only for his money. While of Skerrett, she said: “She must be a clever woman to have made him believe she cares for him on any other score; and to show you what fools we all are in some point or other, she certainly has told him some fine story or other of her love and her passion,140 and that poor man avec ce gros corps, ces jambes enflées, et ce vilain ventre believes her. Ah! what is human nature!”

As the differences between Walpole and Townshend extended not only to their political relations but to their private life, it was not long before matters came to a crisis. They were dining one night with Colonel Selwyn and his lady in Cleveland Row, opposite St. James’s Palace, and after dinner, when Walpole, as usual, had drunk too much wine, a dispute arose in which the Prime Minister so far lost his usual good humour as to reply to a taunt of Townshend’s by shouting: “My Lord, for once there is no man’s sincerity whom I so much doubt as your Lordship’s”. Townshend, who was of a hasty temperament, sprang at Walpole and seized him by the throat; the Prime Minister laid hold of his antagonist in turn, they struggled together and clapped hands on their swords. The whole party was in an uproar; Mrs. Selwyn shrieked and ran out of the house to summon the palace guard, but she was stopped by Henry Pelham, who entreated her not to make a scandal, and used the same argument with the two Ministers. After a time they were pacified a little, and a duel was prevented; but the quarrel was too serious to be patched up.

Townshend shortly after resigned his office in the Government and withdrew to Rainham; he embarked no more in politics, but spent the rest of his days in improving agriculture. His retirement141 meant more than appeared on the surface, for he had considerable influence with the King. It involved also the ascendency of the Queen and the defeat of Mrs. Howard, whose friend he was. Henceforward there was no one to thwart the influence of the Queen and Walpole. William Stanhope, who had been created Lord Harrington for his services in connexion with the Treaty of Seville, was now made Secretary of State. He was an admirable diplomatist but a poor speaker, and though he made but an indifferent figure in Parliament, his moderation, prudence and sagacity made him a very useful minister. Lord Harrington and the Duke of Newcastle were now the only persons of any importance in the Government except its chief.

Thomas Pelham, Duke of Newcastle, was one of the greatest noblemen of his time by sheer force of his wealth. He had an enormous rent roll, he maintained princely establishments, he spent freely on display, yet he was unable to attach to himself a single friend. “The Duke of Newcastle,” writes one who knew him, “hath spent half a million and made the fortunes of five hundred men, and yet is not allowed to have one real friend.”55 But the fact that he scattered lavish sums at elections to support the Hanoverian succession, owned a large number of boroughs and had vast patronage, sufficed to give him many apparent friends, from the King downwards. He was a poor speaker, he was weak142 and mean-spirited, and his ignorance of matters connected with his office was almost incredible. On one occasion the defence of Annapolis was recommended to him. “Ah!” he said after some reflection, “to be sure, Annapolis ought to be defended; of course, Annapolis must be defended. By the by, where is Annapolis?” As we have seen, the King when Prince of Wales had the strongest aversion to him, but now the duke stood high in office. Yet the King does not seem to have loved him. “You see,” he said to one of his friends, “I am compelled to take the Duke of Newcastle to be my minister, though he is not fit to be a chamberlain in the smallest court of Germany.” But, however poor the duke’s capacity might be, he had great wealth and influence, and then, as now, men of his type were foisted on the public service to the detriment of the nation.

For the first time since the accession of the House of Hanover to the throne, the Government had respite from Jacobite intrigues. The Treaty of Seville (1729) and the second Treaty of Vienna (1731) established friendly relations between the English Government and all the European powers, so that none of them, not even Roman Catholic countries like Spain and Austria, could any longer lend outward support to James. Moreover the Jacobite party lost, almost at the same time, all their greatest men. Lord Mar died at Aix-la-Chapelle. The Duke of Wharton, who, while pretending loyalty to his master, had been negotiating for a return to143 England, died in Spain in comparative poverty, and so closed his career of splendid infamy. Bishop Atterbury, the ablest of all, had fallen out of favour with James, chiefly because of his wish to bring up the young Prince Charles Edward in the faith of the Church of England. When James saw the folly of alienating him it was too late. Atterbury died a few weeks after he had sent to James a copy of his vindication of the charges brought against him by Lord Inverness, and the Jacobite cause lost its wisest friend.

James was so unpopular in England at this time, even among his own supporters, that societies were formed to discuss the propriety of transferring their allegiance to his son, Prince Charles Edward, and reports were persistently circulated that the young Prince was to be taken from his father’s guardianship and brought up in the religion of the Church of England. This plan was at first supported by Bolingbroke, who did his utmost to bring it about, and it gained so much credence that in 1733 Sir Archer Croft declared in the House of Commons that “The Pretender was the more to be feared because they did not know but that he was then breeding his son a Protestant”.56 Had this been true it would have been the severest possible blow for the Hanoverian family. It would have done away with their reason for occupying the throne, and though they could not have been expected to abdicate of their own free will, yet the personal unpopularity144 of the King after the Queen’s death was so great that the rising of ’45 would probably have had a different ending. But it was not true, for in matters of religion James was as great a bigot as his father, and Atterbury’s death put an end to all such plans.

The Duchess of Buckingham often went to Paris to have conferences with Atterbury on this question, and the Bishop used his influence with her to prevent the Duke of Berwick from giving a Roman Catholic tutor to her son, the young duke. The duchess pretended that her interviews with Atterbury were wholly connected with her son’s education, but Walpole knew that was only a pretext to hide her Jacobite intrigues. The duchess had a great position in England as head of the Jacobite ladies; she was in fact a sort of Jacobite Duchess of Marlborough, and a rival of that illustrious dowager, whom in arrogance and pride she strongly resembled. Like her she possessed enormous wealth, and Buckingham House vied in magnificence with Marlborough House across the park. Both the duchesses disliked and despised the Hanoverian family, though from different reasons, and both masked their dislike, and occasionally did the King and Queen the honour, as they considered it, of attending their drawing-rooms. The two duchesses were on friendly terms, but occasionally had their differences. The Duchess of Buckingham lost her son, and his remains were brought from Rome to be interred in Westminster Abbey with great pomp. She sent to her neighbour across the park, the Duchess Sarah, to ask the loan145 of the funeral car which had borne the body of the great Duke of Marlborough to St. Paul’s. Sarah spurned this request with contumely: “It carried my Lord Marlborough,” she sent word to say, “and it shall never be used for any meaner mortal.” “I have consulted the undertaker,” wrote back the other duchess, “and he tells me I can have a finer for twenty pounds.”

The Duchess of Buckingham made frequent journeys to Paris and Rome to intrigue in favour of the Stuarts, of whom she considered herself one; she paid visits to Cardinal Fleury at Versailles, but according to a contemporary57 she got nothing from the cardinal but compliments and civil excuses, and was laughed at both in Paris and Rome for her pompous manner of travelling, in which she affected the state of a princess of the blood royal. On her visits to Paris she always made a pilgrimage to the church in which the unburied body of James the Second lay, and prayed and wept over it. Horace Walpole says, with a characteristic touch of malice, that despite this outward show of grief she allowed the royal pall to rot itself threadbare through her parsimony. It is more likely that sentiment prevented her from having it repaired. To Sir Robert Walpole, who knew all her intrigues almost before she embarked upon them, and who treated her as a person of no importance, she made extraordinary overtures to induce him to join with her in effecting the restoration of the146 Stuarts. She knew that Walpole was very fond of his daughter by Maria Skerrett, and she hinted to him that it might be possible to wed her to Prince Charles Edward if he would embrace the Stuart cause. She asked him if he remembered what Lord Clarendon’s reward had been for helping to restore the royal family; Sir Robert affected not to understand, and she said: “Was he not allowed to match his daughter to the Duke of York?” Walpole smiled and changed the subject. The King had not the same patience with the Duchess of Buckingham’s eccentricities as his Prime Minister, and would probably have taken some action against her had not Caroline counselled the wiser policy of ignoring her Grace’s quixotic proceedings; but on one occasion the duchess was really frightened lest the King should discover her little plots. She had quitted England without having obtained the requisite permission, and she wrote to Walpole from Boulogne: “I know there is a usual form, as I take it only to be esteemed, of any peer’s asking permission of the King (or Queen in the present circumstance) to go out of the kingdom, but even that ceremony I thought reached not to women, whose being in and out of their country seemed never to be of the least consequence”. In the same letter she alludes to her intrigues, and speaks of them as “nonsensical stories” not worthy of credence. Walpole took her letter to the Queen, who was then Regent, and they laughed over it together, but they let “Princess” Buckingham, as they called her, alone.


From the Painting in the National Portrait Gallery


While the Stuarts were losing ground Caroline was working hard and incessantly to make the Hanoverian family acceptable to the English nation. By birth a foreign princess, one who did not arrive upon these shores until well into middle life, she could not boast that she was “entirely English” like Queen Anne, but it is remarkable, considering the great and obvious disadvantages under which she laboured, how well she succeeded in impressing her personality upon the English people. She was careful to express herself in public in warm admiration of the laws, customs and constitution of this country; she often declared that England owed everything to its liberties. Yet sometimes when the King abused England, as he invariably did after a visit to Hanover, speaking of the English people as “king-killers” and “republicans,” and grumbling at their riches as well as their rights, she would fall into his vein, and rail against the limited powers of the Crown, which rendered the King “a puppet of sovereignty” and a servant of Parliament. It is probable that she chafed against the limitations to the power of the Sovereign, for she was a woman who loved to rule; but in theory she was all for liberty and tolerance. But whatever her predilections, she clearly understood, and acquiesced in, the only possible terms by which the Hanoverian family were allowed to reign in England. As she could not increase the limited power of the Crown in political matters, she determined to increase its unlimited influence in other directions,148 and to this end she encouraged everything which helped to promote the well-being and prosperity of the people, especially those movements which had a national origin. This was especially the case with home industries. For example, we read:—

“On Saturday last a considerable body of dealers in bone-lace from the counties of Bucks, Northampton and Bedford, waited upon her Majesty with a petition on behalf of their manufacture, and carried with them a parcel of lace to show the perfection they had brought it to, and when her Majesty showed her royal intention to encourage the British manufacturer by receiving them very graciously, and bought a considerable quantity of lace for the use of the Royal Family, and several ladies followed her example, the said dealers in lace had the honour to kiss her Majesty’s hand.”58 And again: “On Wednesday last some of the Trustees for Georgia and Sir Thomas Loombe waited upon her Majesty with the Georgia silk, which is to be wove into a piece for her Majesty’s wear, from a beautiful pattern which her Majesty chose, and she, in a most gracious manner, expressed satisfaction at the British Colonies having produced so fine a silk.”59

She was quick to encourage English inventions and enterprise. For instance: “On Monday Mr. Clay, the inventor of the machine watches in the Strand, had the honour of exhibiting to her149 Majesty at Kensington his surprising musical clock, which gave uncommon satisfaction to all the Royal Family present, at which time her Majesty, to encourage so great an artist, was pleased to order fifty guineas to be expended for numbers in the intended raffle, by which we hear Mr. Clay intends to dispose of this said beautiful and most complete piece of machinery.”60 And again: “On Tuesday a most beautiful hat, curiously made of feathers in imitation of a fine Brussels lace, was shown to her Majesty, who, for the encouragement of ingenuity, being the first of the kind ever made in England, was so good as to purchase it, and afterwards presented it to the Princess of Wales.”61

There was very little social legislation during Walpole’s tenure of power, the great Minister going on the principle of letting things alone; but a few useful reforms were passed from time to time, and in all of them the Queen took a warm interest. One was effected at the instance of the Duke of Argyll, who brought in a bill that all proceedings of the courts of justice should be conducted in English instead of Latin as heretofore. “Our prayers,” said the Duke of Argyll, “are in our native tongue, so that they are intelligible; and why should not the laws wherein our lives and properties are concerned be so, for the same reason?” The measure was carried, notwithstanding the fact that most of the150 lawyers strongly opposed the change; Lord Raymond, for instance, declared that if the bill were passed the law must likewise be translated into Welsh, since in Wales many understood no English. Another reform was the purging of the Charitable Corporation from gross abuses. This corporation had been formed for the relief of the industrious poor by lending them small sums of money at legal interest, but had drifted into malpractices and extortionate usury; penalties were now inflicted upon the malefactors, and the whole system was reformed.

The Queen’s private charities were very numerous. She would never refuse a supplicant who sought her aid, in whatever rank of life he might be, and though her income was large, she spent all of it, chiefly upon others. She had no sense of the value of money, and with her to have was to spend, or to give away, not always very wisely perhaps, but always cheerfully. The journals of the period teem with notices of her liberality; but, even so, they did not represent a tithe of her charities, for she gave away much in secret, of which the public never knew. The following extracts from newspapers, taken almost at random, will serve to show how wide was her sympathy, and how generous her impulses:—

“Twelve French Protestants, who were made slaves on account of their religion, having lately been released from the jails of France on the representation of their Britannic Majesties, and having151 arrived here, a charitable collection is making for them, towards which the Queen has given £1,000.”62

“Her Majesty has been graciously pleased to give and bestow the sum of £500, as a mark of her royal bounty and charity, towards the relief of the sufferers in the late dreadful fire at Gravesend in Kent.”63

“We hear that her Majesty has ordered a sum of money to relieve poor housekeepers and other families in necessity.”64

“Thursday last week, the wife of the drummer at Woolwich, lately brought to bed of three children, waited on the Queen, and her Majesty ordered her fifty guineas.”65

“Mr. James Brown, one of the pages of the presence to her Majesty, having been ill of the palsy this year, and now lying incapable of doing his duty, her Majesty has been pleased to order that he should be paid his salary of £40 per annum during his life.”66

“On Tuesday last, her Majesty, together with the Duke and the three Princesses, paid a visit to Mrs. Simpson, whose husband is one of the keepers of Bushey Park. She is 106 years old, being born in the town of Cardigan in the year 1625, is now in good health, and has all her senses, except hearing, perfect. Her Majesty after expressing herself pleased152 with the manner of life by which she had preserved herself to this good old age, made her a present of a purse of gold.”67

“As soon as her Majesty heard of the misfortune of the country girl’s breaking both her thigh bones by the overturning of a cart near Hampton Court, she sent some ladies to enquire the truth of it, and being satisfied thereof, her Majesty was graciously pleased to order one guinea a week to be paid for her lodging, nurse and diet, and directed the surgeon to take particular care of the girl, and her Majesty would pay him.”68

“Her Majesty being informed of the great benefit the inhabitants of the city and liberties of Westminster received from the infirmaries established there for the relief of such of their poor as are sick and lame, has been graciously pleased to send to each such infirmary a bounty of £100 to promote so useful a charity.”69

“We hear that her Majesty has lately given to the hospital near Hyde Park Corner, the sum of £100.”70

“Last Saturday when the Royal Family returned from hunting, her Majesty was told by Lady Deloraine that the Princess Louisa had been pleased to stand godmother to the twins of Mrs. Palairet, wife of her Highness’s writing master. Whereupon her153 Majesty ordered the mother and children to be brought to her, when her Majesty, finding that Mrs. Palairet intended to suckle them both herself, was graciously pleased with the courage and tenderness of the mother in undertaking the hard task, and ordered her a purse of guineas.”71

“Last Sunday a great number of the widows of the Navy, whose husbands died before August, 1732, and were unprovided, waited on the Queen at Kensington with their humble address of thanks for the provision they lately received upon their humble petition presented to her Majesty on Sunday, 29th April.”72

“Her Majesty going through Hammersmith was pleased to order ten guineas for the poor haymakers, who were very numerous on the road.”73

“Her Majesty has been graciously pleased to send fifty guineas towards the relief of the unhappy sufferers by the late fire in Cecil’s Court in St. Martin’s Lane.”74

“Her Majesty has been pleased to declare her royal intention of bestowing £5,000 towards building and endowing a hospital for foundling children.”75

“Her Majesty has been pleased to order the royal gardens at Richmond to be free to all in the same manner as those at Kensington are when the Royal Family does not reside there, so that the walks are154 full of company every evening to the great advantage of the town and the neighbourhood.”76

“Her Majesty has been pleased to grant a charter and to give a donation to the governors of the infirmary at Hyde Park Corner, to establish themselves into a corporation, the same to be called St. George’s Hospital.”77

Queen Caroline was a constant and generous patron of learning; she twice gave donations of £1,000 to Queen’s College, Oxford, and she tried in many ways to advance the interests of education. Science, especially medical science, found in her a warm supporter. Under the guidance of Sir Hans Sloane, President of the Royal Society, she lent her aid to any movement to promote the health of the people, and any doctor or man of science who distinguished himself was sure of receiving notice and encouragement from her. Perhaps her most notable achievement in the advancement of science was the support which she gave to Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, who, on her return from the East, introduced inoculation as a safeguard against smallpox into England. This beneficent discovery was opposed with great clamour by the clergy, the more ignorant of the doctors, and the middle and lower classes, and Lady Mary would certainly have failed had not Caroline stood by her side from first to last. She and her husband and children were inoculated, and by her example and determination she prevailed155 on the higher classes and the more enlightened people to be inoculated also, and so make the practice general.

Queen Caroline held firmly to the principle that the welfare of the people should be the first care of princes, and she strove in every way to ameliorate their lot. Parliament did little for them in Caroline’s day, the era of social legislation had scarcely begun to dawn. The wars of nations, the conflicts of dynasties, the strife of creeds absorbed all energies, and in the noise and heat thus engendered the needs of the people were thrust aside and forgotten. The condition of the poor not only in the large towns, but in the country districts, was deplorable in the extreme. Many of them were sunk in ignorance and vice, and treated like beasts of burden. There was much talk about the liberties of the nation, but the lower classes of the people were little better than serfs. Neither Whig nor Tory did anything for them; they had no votes and the politician passed them by. Under such conditions the influence of one woman, however highly placed, could do little. Let it be recorded that in an epoch when the duty of man to his fellow-man was least understood, when the national selfishness was greatest and the national ideals were lowest, Queen Caroline did what she could.


53 Coxe’s Life of Walpole.

54 This daughter was eventually given the rank of earl’s daughter, and married Mr. Churchill, a son of General Churchill. Walpole married Maria Skerrett after his wife’s death, but she died soon after her marriage.

55 Dr. King’s Anecdotes of My Own Time.

56 Parliamentary History, vol. viii., p. 1,185.

57 Dr. King’s Anecdotes of My Own Time.

58 Daily Courant, 2nd February, 1730.

59 Hooker’s Miscellany, 6th August, 1735.

60 Daily Post, 1st September, 1736.

61 Weekly Journal, 8th May, 1736.

62 Stamford Mercury, 11th January, 1728.

63 Daily Post, 30th January, 1728.

64 Fog’s Weekly Journal, 7th December, 1728.

65 Weekly Journal, 20th July, 1728.

66 London Journal, 24th April, 1731.

67 Daily Post, 23rd September, 1731.

68 Daily Courant, 1st October, 1733.

69 Hooker’s Miscellany, 20th April, 1734.

70 Reed’s Weekly Journal, 15th June, 1734.

71 Daily Journal, 26th October, 1734.

72 Hooker’s Miscellany, 17th June, 1735.

73 General Evening Post, 17th June, 1735.

74 Hooker’s Miscellany, 12th July, 1736.

75 Reed’s Weekly Journal, 31st July, 1736.

76 Universal Spectator, 11th September, 1736.

77 Reed’s Weekly Journal, 18th September, 1736.


Queen Caroline is distinguished from the other Queens-Consort of England as the one who took a genuine interest in literature; in this respect she surpassed all our Queens-Regnant as well, though Elizabeth, and in a far lesser sense Anne, showed an appreciation of letters. The age of Elizabeth has been called the golden age of English literature: the reign of Anne the Augustan period. There can be no doubt as to the correctness of the first of these designations; the second is open to cavil. But though the English writers who flourished during the early part of the eighteenth century could not compare in loftiness or genius to the writers of the reign of Elizabeth, yet they formed a galaxy of talent—talent amounting in some instances to positive genius—which England has never witnessed since. This galaxy shone throughout the reigns of Anne and George the First, but soon after Caroline came to the throne its brilliance began to wane. Some of the greatest writers were dead, and others had already given their best work to the world.

It must be admitted that Queen Caroline’s157 judgment in literature was not always as sound as her interest was genuine—in English literature at least. Her imperfect knowledge of the English language had something to do with this; one can hardly master the literature of a country if one does not begin to speak its language until middle life. In French and German literature she was far better equipped. She had read much and widely of them both, and of her favourite studies of metaphysics, philosophy and theology had perhaps taken in more than she could assimilate. Her correspondence with learned and scientific men kept her abreast of the best thought of the time, and no work of conspicuous merit made its appearance in Europe without Caroline’s coming, directly or indirectly, in touch with its author. When Voltaire, for instance, visited England he received ready help and generous appreciation at Caroline’s hands.

Voltaire came to England in 1726, after his quarrel with the Duke de Sully. Some months’ detention in the Bastille, followed by an order to quit Paris, had driven him into exile. In the warmth of his welcome to England he found a balm for his wounded feelings, and he stayed in this country more than two years. He found in England many congenial spirits, and delighted in the freedom of discussion and latitude of opinion everywhere prevalent, from the Court downwards, especially in the brilliant literary circle where he foregathered. He warmly admired the religious and civil liberty of England, and testified his admiration158 in his Lettres Philosophiques, also called Lettres sur les Anglais. He wrote in England his Tragedy of Brutus, and here also he brought out, in 1728, the first edition of his poem La Henriade. To Caroline, who often received him at Leicester House as Princess of Wales, and who welcomed him with equal cordiality at court when she became Queen, he dedicated this edition of La Henriade. The dedication, in English, ran as follows:—

To the Queen.

Madam—It was the fate of Henry the Fourth to be protected by an English Queen. He was assisted by the great Elizabeth, who was in her age the glory of her sex. By whom can his memory be so well protected as by her who resembles so much Elizabeth in her personal virtues?

“Your Majesty will find in this book bold, impartial truths; morality unstained with superstition; a spirit of liberty, equally abhorrent of rebellion and of tyranny; the rights of kings always asserted, and those of mankind never laid aside.

“The same spirit in which it is written gave me the confidence to offer it to the virtuous Consort of a King who, among so many crowned heads, enjoys almost alone the inestimable honour of ruling a free nation; a King who makes his power consist in being beloved, and his glory in being just.

“Our Descartes, who was the greatest philosopher in Europe before Sir Isaac Newton appeared, dedicated the Principles to the celebrated159 Princess Palatine Elizabeth; not, said he, because she was a princess (for true philosophers respect princes, and never flatter them); but because of all his readers she understood him the best, and loved truth the most.

“I beg leave, Madam (without comparing myself to Descartes), to dedicate La Henriade to your Majesty upon the like account, and not only as the protectress of all arts and sciences, but as the best judge of them.

“I am, with that profound respect which is due to the greatest virtue as well as the highest rank, may it please your Majesty, your Majesty’s most humble, most dutiful, and most obliged servant,


Even if we allow for flattery, and Voltaire was not given to flattering princes, this dedication is a remarkable tribute to Caroline’s mental powers and her interest in the arts. Voltaire must have known of her friendship with Sir Isaac Newton; he had probably heard of her admiration for Queen Elizabeth; and he skilfully wove allusions to both in his dedication.

The first edition of La Henriade was sold to subscribers at one guinea a copy, and had a great success. The Queen herself solicited subscriptions for it among her friends, and the edition was soon exhausted. Nor did her interest stop here. She persuaded the King to give Voltaire a present of two thousand crowns, equal to £500, and she added160 to this a further present of £200 from her privy purse, and sent Voltaire her portrait.

English men of letters were not so fortunate as Voltaire in winning the favour of the court. When she was Princess of Wales Caroline made welcome any literary man of eminence to Leicester House whatever his creed or party, Papist or Arian, Jacobite, Whig or Tory. George the First’s contempt for literature made her graciousness the more marked, and perhaps it was her affability and eagerness to please that gave rise to expectations which were later unfulfilled. For it is certain that many eminent writers of prose and verse expected great things when Caroline became Queen; and it is equally certain that they were grievously disappointed. Whether with all the goodwill in the world, and all the power, the Queen could have satisfied every one of them may be doubted, for the literary mind is not prone to underrate its merits. As events turned out she could do little or nothing for any man of letters, unless he were eligible for preferment in the Church. She found herself as Queen in a position of less freedom and greater responsibility. She was as anxious as ever to befriend literary men, but in this respect she found herself thwarted by the King and opposed by Walpole; her difficulties too were increased by the fact that nearly every writer of talent was either openly or secretly hostile to the Government.

For this hostility Walpole was to blame; he had inaugurated a new policy. During the reign161 of William and Anne, and even in the reign of George the First while Townshend and Stanhope were Prime Ministers, literary men were courted and caressed by those in authority. In short it has been well said that “though the Sovereign was never an Augustus every minister was a Mæcenas”. Lucrative places were found for many writers in departments of the civil service, and others were aided to enter Parliament or diplomacy.

But when Walpole became Prime Minister in 1721 he changed all this, and set his face like a flint against employing literary men in the public service in any capacity whatsoever. In this he was supported by George the First, and his successor George the Second, who both despised literature and never opened a book. The number of readers was far more limited then than now (though perhaps they were more discriminating), and writing books was consequently less lucrative. When men of talent and genius saw the avenues of patronage and of usefulness in the State suddenly closed to them by the Prime Minister, it is no wonder that they placed their pens at the service of the Opposition, led as it was by two men so appreciative of the claims of literature as Bolingbroke and Pulteney. But Walpole did not heed, and for twenty years followed the same policy. “No writer need apply” was written over every door that led to preferment in the State. But in the long run the writers had their revenge, and his neglect of the pamphleteers was one of the chief causes that led to Walpole’s fall.


Queen Caroline had promised so fair when Princess of Wales, and her influence over her husband was known to be so great, that many literary men looked forward to her coming to the throne as likely to bring about a revival of the Augustan age of Queen Anne. They were bitterly disappointed when they found her in close accord with the Minister who had slammed the door of patronage in their faces, and many considered that she had betrayed them. They forgot that in an alliance like that between the Queen and Walpole each had to yield something, and the Queen yielded some of her interest in letters for the larger interests she had at stake. It was a pity that with so real a desire to help literature Caroline was able to do so little. It was a still greater pity that after she became Queen her relations with some of the greatest English men of letters, like Swift, Gay and Pope, were strained to breaking point. The fault was not all on her side, and in some cases the breach was inevitable, but it was none the less unfortunate.


Swift, who had fallen with Bolingbroke in 1714, visited England in 1726, for the first time since the death of Queen Anne, probably with the object of effecting a reconciliation with the reigning dynasty. He made the acquaintance of Mrs. Howard through his friends Pope and Gay, and was introduced by her to Caroline, then Princess of Wales. Writing years later to the Duchess of Queensberry, who hated Caroline, Swift declared that “a nameless person” 163(the Queen) “sent me eleven messages before I would yield her a visit”. This was surely an exaggeration, and it was written at a time when Swift, having lost all hope of preferment from the Queen, was paying his court to the duchess. Swift no doubt was quite as ready to have an audience as Caroline was to grant him one. He began the conversation by saying that he knew the Princess loved to see odd persons, and having seen a wild boy from Germany, he supposed she now had a curiosity to see a wild dean from Ireland. Caroline laughed, and found in his genius an excuse for the lack of courtly manners. He came several times to Leicester House.

Swift returned to Ireland well pleased with his reception, though no definite promise of what he desired, English preferment, had been given him. He came again to England early the following year, 1727, as it proved for the last time. His coming was heralded by the publication of his famous satire, Gulliver’s Travels. Caroline read the book with delight, and when the author presented himself at Leicester House welcomed him most graciously. She accepted from him a present of Irish poplins, and promised him a medallion of herself in return. Swift was also a constant and welcome guest in the apartments of Mrs. Howard, and met there, besides many men of letters, politicians of the stamp of Townshend and Compton. He was in England at the time of George the First’s death, and kissed the hands of the new King and Queen. For a time he was full of hope, but his expectations164 received a shock when he found Walpole, “Bob the poet’s foe,” confirmed in power. He went back to Ireland, cast down but not dismayed, and waited there for the summons that never came.

For some time the dean placed faith in Mrs. Howard, and more especially in the Queen’s graciousness. He knew also the Queen’s views on Church matters, and his unorthodoxy, which had hindered Anne from making him a bishop, would, he thought, be a point in his favour with Caroline. His commanding literary abilities ought certainly to have given him a strong claim upon her consideration. But Swift, the friend of Bolingbroke, was disliked by Walpole, and Caroline distrusted every one who was intimate with Bolingbroke. Moreover Swift thought, like so many others, that the way to the King’s favour lay through his mistress rather than his wife, and on both his visits to England he paid great court to Mrs. Howard, visiting her frequently, flattering her, telling her some of his best stories, and writing her some of his wittiest letters. Caroline, who knew of this friendship, resented it, and though she gave the great dean audience, and was affable to him as she was to every one, she made a mental note against his name, and never helped him to realise his wish of obtaining English preferment. She had never promised to give it to him, but she had promised to send him her medallion. Swift, who for some time after his return to Ireland, kept up a correspondence with Mrs. Howard, wrote to her recalling the Queen’s promise.


“First, therefore,” he writes, “I call you to witness that I did not attend on the Queen until I had received her repeated messages, which, of course, occasioned my being introduced to you. I never asked anything till, upon leaving England for the first time, I desired from you a present worth a guinea, and from her Majesty one worth ten pounds, by way of a memorial. Yours I received, and the Queen, upon taking my leave of her, made an excuse that she had intended a medal for me, which not being ready, she would send it me the Christmas following: yet this was never done, nor at all remembered when I went back to England the next year, and attended her as I had done before. I must now tell you, madam, that I will receive no medal from her Majesty, nor anything less than her picture at half-length, drawn by Jervas; and if he takes it from another original, the Queen shall at least sit twice for him to touch it up. I desire you will let her Majesty know this in plain words, although I have heard I am under her displeasure....

“Against you I have but one reproach, that when I was last in England, and just after the present King’s accession, I resolved to pass that summer in France, for which I had then a most lucky opportunity, from which those who seemed to love me well, dissuaded me by your advice. And when I sent you a note, conjuring you to lay aside the character of a courtier and a favourite upon that occasion, your answer positively directed me not to166 go at that juncture; and you said the same thing to my friends who seemed to have power of giving me hints, that I might reasonably have expected a settlement78 in England, which, God knows, is no great ambition considering the station I should leave here, of greater dignity, which might easily have been managed to be disposed of as the Crown pleased....

“I wish her Majesty would a little remember what I largely said to her about Ireland, when before a witness she gave me leave, and commanded me to tell here what she spoke to me upon that subject, and ordered me, if I lived to see her in her present station, to send her our grievances, promising to read my letter, and do all good offices in her power for this most miserable and most loyal kingdom, now at the brink of ruin, and never so near as now.

“As to myself, I repeat again that I have asked nothing more than a trifle as a memorial of some distinction, which her Majesty graciously seemed to make between me and every common clergyman; that trifle was forgot according to the usual method of princes, although I was taught to think myself upon a footing of obtaining some little exception.”79

Whether Mrs. Howard laid this letter before the Queen, as the dean evidently intended her to do, or167 spoke to the Queen on the subject, is not known; in any case Swift would have done better to have written directly to the Queen herself, or if that were impossible, to have chosen some more congenial channel of communication than Mrs. Howard. The Queen was jealous of her influence, and Mrs. Clayton, who disliked Swift, had been taught to think that ecclesiastical recommendations were especially within her province. For Mrs. Howard to have asked the Queen for the meanest curacy for one of her favourites would have been resented. So it came about that after Swift had waited a few years longer, heart-sick with deferred hope, he turned on Mrs. Howard as well as her mistress, though in the former case he was not only ungrateful but unjust, for the poor lady had not the power, though she had the will, to help him. But Swift in his Irish exile could not be expected to know the true inwardness of affairs at Court. “As for Mrs. Howard and her mistress,” he wrote, “I have nothing to say but that they have neither memory nor manners, else I should have had some mark of the former from the latter, which I was promised about two years ago; but since I made them a present it would be mean to remind them.” He was extremely sensitive to slights, and he resented the Queen’s forgetfulness about the medal almost as much as the fact that she omitted him from her list of preferments. Years after, in a poem which he wrote on his own death, the old grievance of the medals crops up again:—


From Dublin soon to London spread,
’Tis told at Court “the Dean is dead,”
And Lady Suffolk in the spleen
Runs laughing up to tell the Queen.
The Queen, so gracious, mild and good,
Cries: “Is he gone? ’tis time he should.
He’s dead, you say—then let him rot;
I am glad the medals were forgot.
I promised him, I own; but when?
I only was the princess then;
And now the consort of a King,
You know, ’tis quite another thing.”

Swift never forgave the Queen’s neglect, and for years, until her death, Caroline was the subject of his sharpest satirical attacks. But his satire failed to move her, any more than his presents and compliments had done. The great dean was left to drag out the remainder of his days in Ireland, embittered by disappointment and darkened by despair. Probably Walpole interposed his veto also. It was felt that such a firebrand was safer in Ireland, and his presence in England might seriously embarrass the Government. No doubt there was something to be said from that point of view. But the way in which those in authority neglected this great genius, until baffled ambition drove him to drink and madness, will ever remain one of the most tragic pages in the history of literature.

Gay, like Swift, also had a grievance against the Queen, though if Swift had any reason on his side, Gay certainly had none. Caroline had frequently showed him kindness when Princess of Wales, and had promised to help him when it was in her power. This promise she redeemed within a few weeks169 of the King’s accession. She laughingly told Mrs. Howard that she would now take up the “Hare with many friends”—an allusion to one of Gay’s fables—and she offered him the post of gentleman usher to the little Princess Louisa, a sinecure with a salary of £200 a year, which would be equivalent to £400 in the present day. There was little else that the Queen could offer him: the public service was now closed to writers, and as Gay was not in holy orders, he could not be provided for in the Church. This appointment, she thought, would secure him from want, and give him leisure for his pen. But Gay, whose head was quite turned by the adulation of foolish women, not only refused the Queen’s offer, but resented it as an insult. Soon after he was taken up by the Duke and Duchess of Queensberry, who were among his kindest friends.

The Duchess of Queensberry was one of the most beautiful and graceful women of her day; she was a daughter of Lord Clarendon, and therefore cousin of the late Queen Anne. She was of a haughty disposition, and considered herself quite equal, if not superior, to the princes of the House of Hanover. The fact that Gay had been slighted (as he considered) by Queen Caroline was enough to make her champion his cause more warmly. Gay soon declared war against the court and the Government in his famous Beggars’ Opera, which teemed with topical allusions and covert political satire. The character of “Bob Booty,” for instance, was understood to be Sir Robert Walpole, and was especially170 a butt for ridicule. The Beggars’ Opera took the town by storm; it enjoyed not only an unprecedented run in London, but was played in all the great towns of England, Ireland and Scotland. It became a fashionable craze; ladies sang the favourite songs and carried about fans depicting incidents and characters in the piece; pictures of the actress, Miss Fenton, who played the leading part, were sold by the thousand, and songs and verses were composed in her honour; she became a popular toast and a reigning beauty, and finally married the Duke of Bolton, who ran away with her. But the Queen and Walpole resented the covert sarcasm in the play, and when Gay, encouraged by the success of The Beggars’ Opera, wrote a sequel called Polly, and had it ready for rehearsal, the Duke of Grafton, Lord Chamberlain, acting under the orders of the King, who was instigated by the Queen, refused to license the performance. It was said that Walpole was satirized in Polly under a thin disguise as a highwayman, but whatever the reason, the prohibition of the play only made it more popular. If it could not be played it could be read, and every one who had a grudge against Walpole, or the court, bought it when it came out in book form. The Duchess of Marlborough gave £100 for a single copy, and the Duchess of Queensberry solicited subscriptions for it within the very precincts of St. James’s, and at a drawing-room went round the room and asked even the officers of the King’s household to buy copies of the play which171 the King had forbidden to be played. The King caught her in the act, and asked what she was doing? She replied: “What must be agreeable, I am sure, to one so humane as your Majesty, for I am busy with an act of charity, and a charity to which I do not despair of bringing your Majesty to contribute”. The King guessed what the charity was, and talked the incident over with the Queen, who so resented the duchess’s action, which she rightly guessed was aimed more particularly at herself, that the King’s vice-chamberlain was sent to request her not to appear at court again. The vice-chamberlain’s message was verbal; but the duchess immediately wrote a spirited reply:—

“The Duchess of Queensberry is surprised and well pleased that the King hath given her so agreeable a command as to stay from Court, where she never came for diversion, but to bestow a great civility on the King and Queen; she hopes that by such an unprecedented order as this is, that the King will see as few as he wishes at his Court, particularly such as dare to think or speak truth. I dare not do otherwise, and ought not, nor could have imagined that it would not have been the very highest compliment that I could possibly pay the King to endeavour to support truth and innocence in his house, particularly when the King and Queen both told me that they had not read Mr. Gay’s play. I have certainly done right, then, to stand by my own words rather than his Grace of Grafton’s, who hath neither made use of truth, judgment, nor honour,172 through this whole affair, either for himself or his friends.”

The duchess told the vice-chamberlain to take the letter to the King at once; the vice-chamberlain read it, and thought it so disrespectful that he begged her to reconsider the matter. Thereupon she sat down and wrote a second letter which was even worse, so he took the first after all. The King was beside himself with passion when he received it, and uttered the most appalling threats. But the duchess went about unharmed, and laughed him to scorn. She was glad to have this opportunity of showing her contempt for the “German Court,” as she called it, and her husband supported her action by resigning his office of Vice-Admiral of Scotland. Poor Mrs. Howard was the only sufferer, for Gay and the duchess were both her friends, and she therefore got the full brunt of the King’s ill temper. Most people took the duchess’s part, thinking that the court had been impolitic in noticing her action on behalf of Gay, who became for the moment a popular martyr. “He has got several turned out of their places,” wrote Arbuthnot to Swift, “the greatest ornament of the Court banished from it for his sake, and another great lady (Mrs. Howard) in danger of being chassée likewise, about seven or eight duchesses pushing forward like the ancient circumcelliones in the church to see who shall suffer martyrdom on his account first; he is the darling of the city.”80

Gay certainly did not suffer from the Lord173 Chamberlain’s action, for the subscriptions to Polly brought him in £1,200, whereas by The Beggars’ Opera, with all its success, he had only gained £400. Therefore, as Dr. Johnson says, “What he called oppression ended in profit”.

The Queen’s difference with Pope arose out of the political exigencies of the hour. Unlike Swift and Gay he expected nothing from her, and had therefore no disappointment. As a Roman Catholic he was debarred from all places of honour and emolument, though in the reign of George the First Secretary Craggs offered him a pension of £300 a year, to be paid from the secret service money. Pope had been a familiar figure at Leicester House and Richmond Lodge. He was a great friend of Mrs. Howard, and a favourite with the maids of honour. Caroline, as Princess of Wales, had shown him many courtesies, and recognised his genius and admired his work. But Pope’s friendship with Bolingbroke and hatred of Walpole necessarily led to a breach between him and the Queen. As Mrs. Howard’s influence waned and Walpole’s became greater, Pope came no more to court, and had nothing for the Queen but sneers and ridicule.

His famous quarrel with Lord Hervey also did much to widen the breach, for the Queen naturally took her favourite’s side. A friend of Lord Hervey’s in the House of Commons spoke of Pope as “a lampooner who scattered his ink without fear or decency”. This was true of both combatants, who showed in a most unamiable light in this sordid174 quarrel. The origin of the feud is involved in obscurity, but Lady Mary Wortley Montagu was undoubtedly in part responsible for it.

Lady Mary, since her return from Constantinople in 1718, had occupied a unique position in society. She was a chartered libertine, her conversation grew broader with advancing years, and her wit had more licence. Between her and Lord Hervey there existed one of those curious friendships which may sometimes be witnessed between an effeminate man and a masculine woman, and there seems no doubt that it was of the kind which is known as “Platonic,” for, after Lord Hervey’s death, when his eldest son sealed up and sent Lady Mary the letters she had written to his father, assuring her that he had not looked at them, she wrote to say that she almost regretted he had not, as it would have proved to him what most young men disbelieved, “the possibility of a long and steady friendship subsisting between two persons of different sexes without the least mixture of love”.

Lady Mary took a house at Twickenham not far from Pope’s beautiful villa, and, though she was warned not to have anything to do with “the wicked wasp of Twickenham,” she renewed her friendship with the poet, and became as intimate with him as before. “Leave him as soon as you can” wrote Addison to her, “he will certainly play you some devilish trick else.” But Lady Mary took no heed, perhaps the danger of the experiment tempted her, and she fooled the little poet to the top of his bent.175 Pope, with all his genius, had an undue reverence for rank; he was flattered by the notice which this clever woman extended to him, and he genuinely admired her wit and vivacity. Lady Mary’s house was the rendezvous of many of the courtiers and wits of the day, and here Pope often met Lord Hervey. Lady Mary delighted in the homage the poet gave to her ungrudgingly; it flattered her vanity that such a genius should be at her feet. She wrote to him effusive letters, and in one of them declared that he had discovered the philosopher’s stone, “since by making the Iliad pass through your poetical grasp into an English form, without losing aught of its original beauty, you have drawn the golden current from Patoclus to Twickenham”. Pope also wrote her the most extravagant epistles. In one, referring to her portrait, which had been painted by Sir Godfrey Kneller, he says: “This picture dwells really at my heart, and I made a perfect passion of preferring your present face to your past”. Again he tells her, “I write as if I were drunk; the pleasure I take in thinking of your return transports me beyond the bounds of common decency”.

After a time Lady Mary began to grow rather weary of her poet, but he, on the contrary, became even more arduous, and was at last led into making her a passionate declaration of love. She received it by laughing in his face. Pope was keenly sensitive to ridicule, his deformity made him more so than most men; he was of a highly strung disposition, and Lady Mary’s outburst of hilarity was a thing176 he could neither forget nor forgive. He withdrew deeply mortified and offended. His vanity could not understand how the beautiful Lady Mary could reject him with such disdain if another had not stolen her from him. He formed the idea that Lord Hervey was his rival, and against him therefore directed all his malice, spleen and hatred. A scurrilous paper war began. Lord Hervey dabbled in poetry, not of great merit, and Pope savagely attacked it. Speaking of one of his own satires, against which he pretended a charge of weakness had been brought, he says:—

The lines are weak, another’s pleased to say,
Lord Fanny spins a thousand such a day.

And again:—

Like gentle Fanny’s was my flow’ry theme
A painted mistress, or a purling stream.

Hervey, who thought his namby-pamby verses really poetry, was stung to the quick by this contemptuous allusion, and, smarting under the satire, was foolish enough to retaliate upon Pope in a poor effusion addressed “To the Imitator of the Satires of the Second Book of Horace”. It runs:—

Thus, whilst with coward hand you stab a name,
And try at least t’ assassinate our fame;
Like the first bold assassin’s be thy lot;
And ne’er be thy guilt forgiven, or forgot;
But as thou hat’st, be hated by mankind,
And with the emblem of thy crooked mind
Marked on thy back, like Cain, by God’s own hand,
Wander, like him accursed, through the land.

In the same poem Pope was told:—

None thy crabbed numbers can endure
Hard as thy heart, and as thy birth obscure.


This brutal allusion to Pope’s physical infirmities and his birth stung the most sensitive of poets to the quick. In this duel of wits, Hervey had chosen verse as his weapon, forgetting that in this line his adversary had no equal, and Pope seized the advantage. Hervey had set him an unworthy example, which he did not hesitate to follow, and he raked up everything which approached physical hideousness, weakness, or deformity in the person and mind of his adversary. According to Lord Hailes, “Lord Hervey, having felt some attacks of epilepsy, entered upon and persisted in a very strict regimen, and thus stopped the progress and prevented the effects of that dreadful disease. His daily food was a small quantity of ass’s milk and a flour biscuit. Once a week he indulged himself with eating an apple; he used emetics daily. Lord Hervey used paint to soften his ghastly appearance.” All these weaknesses were seized upon by Pope, and put into a poem wherein Lord Hervey was satirized as “Sporus”.

Let Sporus tremble! what! that thing of silk!
Sporus, that mere white curd of ass’s milk!
Satire or sense, alas! can Sporus feel?
Who breaks a butterfly upon a wheel?
Yet let me flap this bug with gilded wings,
This painted child of dirt that stinks and stings;
Whose buzz the witty and the fair annoys,
Yet wit ne’er tastes, and beauty ne’er enjoys:
So well-bred spaniels civilly delight
In mumbling of the game they dare not bite.
Eternal smiles his emptiness betray
As shallow streams run dimpling all the way
Whether in florid impotence he speaks
And, as the prompter breathes, the puppet squeaks;
Or, at the ear of Eve, familiar toad
Half froth half venom, spits himself abroad:
In puns or politics, in tales or lies
Or spite, or smut, or rhymes, or blasphemies;
His wit all see-saw between that and this,
Now high, now low, now master up, now miss,
And he himself one vile antithesis.
Amphibious thing! that acting either part,
The trifling head, or the corrupted heart;
Fop at the toilet, flatterer at the Board,
Now trips a lady and now struts a lord.
Eve’s tempter thus the Rabbins have expressed,
A cherub’s face and reptile all the rest;
Beauty that shocks you, parts that none will trust,
Wit that can creep, and pride that licks the dust.

Coxe, alluding to the portrait of Sporus, writes: “I never could read this passage without disgust and horror, disgust at the indelicacy of the allusions, horror at the malignity of the poet in laying the foundation of his abuse on the lowest species of satire, personal invective, and what is still worse, sickness and debility”. This condemnation is true of Pope’s verses on Hervey, but it is equally true of Hervey’s verses on Pope—and it was Hervey who began the personal abuse.

Lady Mary did not escape either. Pope depicted her as a wanton, scoffed at her eccentricities, and hinted that she conferred her favours on “a black man,” the Sultan Ahmed of Turkey.


Pope also addressed a prose letter to Lord Hervey, which was, if possible, more bitter and vindictive than his character of “Sporus”. He thought very highly of his letter, which Wharton styles “a masterpiece of invective”. To one of 179his friends Pope wrote: “There is woman’s war declared against me by a certain lord; his weapons are the same which women and children use—a pin to scratch, and a squirt to bespatter. I writ a sort of answer, but was ashamed to enter the lists with him, and after showing it some people, suppressed it; otherwise it was such as was worthy of him and worthy of me.” The reason Pope gives for suppressing this letter, which was not published until after his death, though privately shown to many, was not the true one. Queen Caroline got hold of a copy of the epistle, and it was at her express desire that Pope withheld it. She feared lest it should render her favourite contemptible in the eyes of the world, and though she was greatly incensed against Pope, she dissembled her anger, and used her influence to end this wordy war, in which there could be no doubt that Pope was the victor.81

But though Caroline was unfortunate in her relations with Swift, Gay and Pope, men whose writings shed a lustre on her era, she was the means of helping other writers who were eminent in a different way. Butler, the author of the Analogy, and Berkeley, who wrote The Minute Philosopher, she preferred to high office in the Church. For other writers who were not in holy orders she did what she could. She befriended Steele at a time when, to use his own words, he was “bereft both of limbs and180 speech”.82 She had often befriended him before in the course of his chequered career. She reprieved Savage, the natural son of that unnatural mother the Countess of Macclesfield, when he lay under sentence of death. And after his wonderful poem, The Bastard, was written, she helped him again with a pension of £50 from her privy purse. She patronised Somerville, author of The Chase, no mean poet in the opinion of Dr. Johnson; and she sought to support that luckless playwright William Duncombe. It was one of her sayings that “genius was superior to the patronage of princes,” but she had a great sympathy for literary endeavour, however humble. But her patronage of minor writers was more often dictated by the kindness of her heart than by the soundness of her judgment. An instance of this was afforded by her patronage of Stephen Duck, whose fate has been not inaptly compared to that of Burns—without the genius.

Stephen Duck was the son of a peasant in Wiltshire, and worked as a day labourer and thresher on a farm at Charlton. He must have had some ability and a good deal of application, for when his day’s work was done, he taught himself the rudiments of grammar and a smattering of history and science. These labours bore fruit in poetry; but the poems remained unpublished until Duck reached the age of thirty, when he had the good fortune to attract the notice of a country clergyman named Spence, who not only lent him books, but found181 the means for him to print some of his poems in pamphlet form, including The Thresher’s Labour, a poem descriptive of his own life, and The Shunamite. These poems found their way into the hands of Lord Tankerville and Dr. Alured Clarke, Prebendary of Winchester, who thought so highly of their merits that they got up a subscription to aid the author. Dr. Alured Clarke did more; he wrote to his friend Mrs. Clayton telling her the story of Duck’s life, and begging her to bring his poems before the notice of the Queen. By this time Duck had quite a little coterie of admirers in his own county, who, as Dr. Alured Clarke wrote, thought “the thresher, with all his defects, a superior genius to Mr. Pope”.83

Caroline was much interested in the fact that these poems were written by a poor thresher, and when the court was at Windsor she commanded that Duck should be brought there. She was so pleased with his manner and address that she settled a small annual pension on him, and in 1733 made him one of the yeomen of the guard. Dr. Alured Clarke, by this time one of the royal chaplains, and Mrs. Clayton acted as the sponsors of the poet, whose work now became well-known. The most extravagant ideas were formed concerning it, some considering The Thresher’s Labour superior to Thomson’s Seasons, and others declaring that the author of The Shunamite was the greatest poet of182 the age. Thus encouraged, Duck wrote more poems, and the Queen’s patronage secured for them a large sale. Naturally many were in praise of his generous benefactress. Duck in due time took holy orders, to which he had always a leaning—he was ordained, as a literate, by the Bishop of Salisbury. Shortly after his ordination, the Queen appointed him keeper of Merlin’s Cave, a fanciful building she had erected at Richmond. Both Merlin’s Cave and Duck came in for a great deal of satire from “the epigrammatic Mæcenases,” as Dr. Alured Clarke calls them, who regarded both the cave and the patronage of the poet as proofs of the Queen’s folly rather than her wisdom. Pope wrote:—

Lord! how we strut through Merlin’s Cave, to see
No poets there, but Stephen, you and me.

Swift, writhing under neglect, penned a very caustic epigram:—

The thresher Duck could o’er the Queen prevail:
The proverb says, “No fence against a flail,”
From threshing corn he turns to thresh his brains
For which her Majesty allows him grains,
Though ’tis confessed that those who ever saw
His poems, think them all not worth a straw.
Thrice happy Duck! employed in threshing stubble
Thy toils were lessen’d and thy profits doubled.

Close by Merlin’s Cave the Queen raised another quaint conceit known as the “Hermitage,” in which she placed busts of Adam Clarke, Newton, Locke and other dead philosophers. These busts excited the ire of living worthies. Swift in his Elegant Extracts wrote:—


Lewis, the living genius fed
And rais’d the scientific head:
Our Queen, more frugal of her meat,
Raises those heads that cannot eat.

This drew forth the following repartee, addressed to Swift:—

Since Anna, whom bounty thy merits had fed,
Ere her own was laid low, had exalted your head,
And since our good Queen to the wise is so just,
To raise heads from such as are humbled in dust,
I wonder, good man, that you are not envaulted;
Pr’y thee, go and be dead, and be doubly exalted.

Whereto the dean wittily replied:—

Her Majesty never shall be my exalter;
And yet she would raise me I know, by—a halter.

Stephen Duck’s poetry was popular in its day, but it owed its popularity to the favour of the Queen rather than to its intrinsic merit. His talent was not sufficient to overcome the defects of his early education. Duck realised this far more than his friends, and he was keenly sensitive to the satire which great writers like Swift and Pope thought it worth their while to pour upon him. The Queen remained his constant friend, and preferred him successively to a chaplaincy at Kew and the rectory of Byfleet in Surrey. But Duck was not a happy man; his education began too late in life, and he could never accommodate himself to his altered circumstances. He ended his career by committing suicide, a few years after the death of his royal patroness.


78 A living.

79 Dean Swift to Mrs. Howard, Dublin, 21st November, 1730. Suffolk Correspondence.

80 Dr. Arbuthnot to Swift, 19th March, 1729.

81 In his Memoirs Lord Hervey makes no mention of his quarrel with Pope or his duel with Pulteney, and slips over the years 1730–1733 without a line of comment. This seems to show that he was not proud of either of these achievements.

82 Sir Richard Steele to Mrs. Clayton, May, 1724.

83 Dr. Alured Clarke to Mrs. Clayton, Winchester, 18th August, 1730.


In May, 1732, the King made his second visit to Hanover, and was absent from England four months. He invested the Queen with full powers of Queen-Regent as before. George the Second’s visit to Hanover was again exceedingly unpopular with the nation, but he was determined to go, and it was useless to thwart him. This, Caroline’s second regency, was uneventful, though in it she managed to do something to advance the cause of prison reform. Knowing the injustices and anomalies of the criminal law, the Queen’s influence was all on the side of mercy. She showed a particular distaste to signing death warrants in her capacity as Regent, and whenever she could possibly do so she pardoned the criminals. For instance, we read: “On Tuesday the report of the four criminals who received sentence of death at the late Sessions at the Old Bailey was made to her Majesty in Council by Mr. Sergeant Raby, and her Majesty was graciously pleased to show mercy and pardon them”. In the reform of the prison system the Queen took a direct185 interest. She was always anxious, when it was in her power, to release prisoners, and to make penalties easier for debtors and other offenders,84 and she was determined that something should be done to remedy the deplorable condition of the public prisons.85 She had taken up this question the year after the King’s accession to the throne, and during her regency an inquiry was instituted, which laid bare a frightful system of abuses; gaolers and warders connived at the escape of rich prisoners, and subjected poor ones, who could not pay their extortionate demands, to every sort of cruelty, insult and oppression.

The reports of the Select Committees of the House of Commons teem with such cases. One report stated that “The Committee saw in the women’s sick ward many miserable objects lying, without beds, on the floor, perishing with extreme want; and in the men’s sick ward yet much worse.... On the giving of food to these poor wretches186 (though it was done with the utmost caution, they being only allowed at first the smallest quantities, and that of liquid nourishment) one died; the vessels of his stomach were so disordered and contracted, for want of use, that they were totally incapable of performing their office, and the unhappy creature perished about the time of digestion. Upon his body a coroner’s inquest sat (a thing which, though required by law to be always done, hath for many years been scandalously omitted in this gaol), and the jury found that he died of want. Those who were not so far gone, on proper nourishment being given them, recovered, so that not above nine have died since the 25th March last, the day the Committee first met there, though, before, a day seldom passed without a death; and upon the advancing of the spring not less than eight or ten usually died every twenty-four hours.”86 The prison referred to was a London prison, but in the provinces matters were no better. There was, for example, a petition to the House of Commons, 1725, from insolvent debtors in Liverpool gaol, stating that they were “reduced to a starving condition, having only straw and water at the courtesy of the sergeant”.87 The Queen was horrified and indignant at these revelations, and she repeatedly urged on Walpole the reformation of the prison system, and the revision of the criminal code. But Walpole was187 averse to any legislation unless it was demanded by political exigencies, and the utmost the Queen achieved was a more vigorous inspection of prisons and the punishment of gaolers detected in cruelty.

In September the King returned from Hanover and took over the reins of government, an easy task, for Walpole and the Queen had managed so well that this was a period of peace abroad and prosperity at home.

Walpole was now at the zenith of his power; in the country everything was quiet, in the Cabinet all his colleagues were submissive. He enjoyed the fullest confidence of the King and Queen, and he had apparently complete ascendency in both Houses of Parliament. The Opposition, though able and active, both in Parliament and out of it, were unable to lessen the Ministerial majority. “What can you have done, sir, to God Almighty to make him so much your friend?” exclaimed an old Scottish Secretary of State at this time to Walpole. The Prime Minister’s ascendency might have continued serenely had he not the following year (1733) been so unwise as to depart from his policy of letting sleeping dogs lie. He brought forward his celebrated excise scheme. To explain it briefly, Walpole proposed to bring the tobacco and wine duties under the law of excise, and so ease the land tax. This land tax, ever since the Revolution of 1688, had borne the great burden of taxation, and during the wars of Marlborough had risen to as much as four shillings in the pound. In consequence of the peace and188 prosperity enjoyed by the nation the last few years it has been reduced to two shillings in the pound, and Walpole’s proposed changes would have the effect of further reducing it or abolishing it altogether. Walpole hoped by this means to conciliate the landowners and country gentlemen, who considered that they had to bear an unfair share of the burdens of the State. Customs had always been levied on wine and tobacco, and the change proposed had regard chiefly to the method of collection. An active system of smuggling was carried on, and connived in and winked at by many people, so that the duties on wine and tobacco fell very far short of the estimates. Under Walpole’s scheme this system of wholesale smuggling would be to a great extent stopped, and he estimated that the excise duties would rise by one-sixth, which would be more than sufficient to meet the deficit caused by easing the land tax. He had the hearty support of the court, for the King’s Civil List depended to some extent on the duties on tobacco and wine, and if they were increased, the royal income would increase also.

Walpole at first was confident that he would be able to carry this scheme through without much opposition, but as soon as its purport became known, even before it was introduced into Parliament, it was evident that the Prime Minister had seriously miscalculated public opinion. Both in and out of Parliament the opposition to any extension of the excise was tremendous; the189 whole nation rose against it. The people persisted in regarding the proposed extension as the first step in a scheme of general excise, in which every necessary of life would be taxed, and the liberties of the subject interfered with by excise officers coming into private houses whenever they pleased. It was in vain for Walpole to vow that “no such scheme had ever entered his head”; it was in vain to reason or expostulate. Popular indignation burned to a white heat, and there were plenty of able men ready to fan the flame. The Craftsman declared that the Prime Minister’s scheme would ruin trade, destroy the liberties of the people, abrogate Magna Charta, and make the Crown absolute. The Jacobites and the Tories, though largely drawn from the landed classes who were to be benefited by this scheme, rejected with contumely the proffered “bribe” as they called it. Not only every Jacobite and every Tory, but all the discontented Whigs, all the politicians who had wished for office and had not obtained it, all the peers and members of Parliament whom Walpole at different times had insulted and aggrieved, precipitated themselves on this opportunity of attacking him.

The Prime Minister was also betrayed in the house of his friends; there were several great peers holding minor offices under the Crown who were secretly hostile to Walpole, though they had hitherto masked their animosity. They now seized this opportunity to undermine him. Among them were the Dukes of Argyll, Montrose, and Bolton,190 the Earls of Stair and Marchmont, and Lords Chesterfield and Clinton. These malcontents held a secret meeting, and determined to send Lord Stair to the Queen, to set forth to her the unpopularity of the excise scheme, and the danger which the Crown ran in supporting it. Lord Stair had fought in Marlborough’s campaign, and for many years had served his country with great credit as ambassador to France. Walpole had treated him shabbily in recalling him from Paris when he came into collision with Law, the financier, and for a long time there had been a great deal of ill-feeling. When the Duke of Queensberry resigned, Walpole sought to make amends by giving the ex-ambassador the post of Vice-Admiral of Scotland; this post Lord Stair still held, but he had not forgotten his resentment against Walpole.

The Queen gave Lord Stair an audience one evening in her cabinet in Kensington Palace. He burst forth into violent invective against the Prime Minister, saying: “But, madam, though your Majesty knows nothing of this man but what he tells you himself, or what his creatures and flatterers, prompted by himself, tell you of him, yet give me leave to assure your Majesty that in no age, in no reign, in no country, was ever any Minister so universally odious as the man you support.... That he absolutely governs your Majesty nobody doubts, and very few scruple to say; they own you have the appearance of power, and say you are contented with the appearance, whilst all the reality191 of power is his, derived from the King, conveyed through you, and vested in him.”

He then referred to a personal grievance he had against Walpole, in that Lord Isla, brother of the Duke of Argyll, had been preferred before him, and given important appointments which he (Lord Stair) ought to have filled. He quoted this as a proof of Walpole’s power over the Queen, and said: “For what cannot that man persuade you to, who can make you, madam, love a Campbell? The only two men in this country who ever vainly hoped or dared to attempt to set a mistress’s” (Mrs. Howard’s) “power up in opposition to yours were Lord Isla and his brother, the Duke of Argyll; yet one of the men who strove to dislodge you by this method from the King’s bosom is the man your favourite has thought fit to place the nearest to his.” This, however, was a little too much for the Queen, who was extremely sensitive of any mention of the peculiar relations which existed between Mrs. Howard and the King. She sharply rebuked Lord Stair, and desired him to remember that “he was speaking of the King’s servant, and to the King’s wife”. Lord Stair therefore said no more on that point, but proceeded forthwith to the excise scheme, declaring that it would be impossible to force the measure through the Lords, though corruption might carry it through the Commons. He added that even if it were possible to carry it into law, “yet, madam, I think it so wicked, so dishonest, so slavish a scheme, that my conscience would no192 more permit me to vote for it than his” (Walpole’s) “ought to have permitted him to project it”. The Queen again interrupted him by crying out: “Oh, my lord, don’t talk to me of your conscience; you make me faint!” This so nettled Lord Stair that he spoke plainer than ever.

When he had quite talked himself out, it was the Queen’s turn to let Lord Stair know her mind, which she did with a vigour and directness that left nothing to be desired.

“You have made so very free with me personally in this conference, my lord,” she said, “that I hope you will think I am entitled to speak my mind with very little reserve to you; and believe me, my lord, I am no more to be imposed upon by your professions than I am to be terrified by your threats.” She then reminded Lord Stair of the part he had played in supporting the Peerage Bill in the last reign, which, she held, was against the interests of the Prince of Wales and the liberties of the people, and went on to say: “To talk therefore in the patriot strain you have done to me on this occasion can move me, my lord, to nothing but laughter. Where you get your lesson I do not want to know. Your system of politics you collect from the Craftsman, your sentiments, or rather your professions, from my Lord Bolingbroke and my Lord Carteret—whom you may tell, if you think fit, that I have long known them to be two as worthless men of parts as any in this country, and whom I have not only been often told are two of the greatest liars and193 knaves in any country, but whom my own observation and experience have found so.”88

All this the Queen said, and much more to the same effect, which convinced Lord Stair that she would do nothing against Walpole, so he took his leave saying: “Madam, you are deceived, and the King is betrayed”. He went back to the malcontent peers to tell them of the interview, from which he was fain to confess he had no results to show; but he boasted that he had at least told the Queen some home truths which she would not be likely to forget.

Finding that Walpole was determined, despite remonstrance, to introduce his excise scheme, and was supported by the King and Queen, the Opposition organised a popular agitation against it. The whole country was flooded with pamphlets, and meetings were everywhere held. Disaffection to the Government ran like wildfire throughout the land, and from all parts of the kingdom the cry was: “No slavery, no excise, no wooden shoes”—this last was aimed at the German tendencies of the court. Public agitation rose to a greater height than it had done since the Jacobite rising of 1715. The city of London and nearly every borough in England held meetings to protest against the scheme, and passed resolutions commanding their representatives to oppose any extension of the excise in any form whatever. The agitation went on for months, increasing in volume and in violence, though194 the scheme was yet in embryo, and the measure had not been laid before Parliament. The more timid among Walpole’s supporters took alarm and urged him to abandon the contemplated measure. But the Prime Minister, who during these years of almost absolute power had become a dictator, refused to listen. He paid little heed to the press, and declared that the whole agitation was a got-up job. If he yielded to clamour in this matter he would have to do so in others and would be left, he said, with only the shadow of power.


From the Painting in the National Portrait Gallery.

Walpole introduced his Excise Bill into Parliament on March 14th, 1733, in a speech conspicuous for its moderation. He stoutly denied the report that he intended to propose a general excise. He sketched the details of his measure as one which affected solely the duties on tobacco and wine and sought to put down smuggling. “And this,” he wound up, “is the scheme which has been represented in so dreadful and terrible a light—this the monster which was to devour the people and commit such ravages over the whole nation.” The Prime Minister’s eloquence was of no avail; his denials were not believed, his moderation was regarded as a sign of weakness. The Opposition rose in their wrath and denounced the measure root and branch. Pulteney mocked, Barnard thundered, Wyndham stigmatised excises of every kind as “badges of slavery”. And the cheers which greeted these denunciations within the House were caught up by the multitude outside. The doors of Westminster were besieged by frenzied195 crowds hostile to the excise who cheered every member of Parliament opposed to the Bill, and hooted and yelled at every one who favoured it. To these Walpole incautiously alluded in his reply, “Gentlemen may give them what name they think fit; it may be said they come hither as humble supplicants, but I know whom the law calls sturdy beggars”. The Opposition seized on this unlucky phrase as showing the arrogant Minister’s indifference to the poverty of the people, and his desire to deny their right of petition. Through the rest of his political career Walpole never heard the last of the “sturdy beggars”. The expression so exasperated the mob that the same night, when, after thirteen hours’ debate, Walpole was leaving the House, some of the “sturdy beggars” made a rush at him and would have torn him to pieces had not his friends interposed and carried him off in safety.

The King and Queen were intensely interested in the progress of the measure. Indeed it was said that if their being sent back to Hanover had depended on the fate of this Bill they could not have been more excited. Walpole’s friends fell off one by one, and new enemies declared themselves every day. Yet still the King and Queen stood by their favourite Minister undismayed. Violent personal attacks were made upon Walpole during the debate, to which the Prime Minister vigorously retorted. The King delighted to hear of these retorts, and would rap out vehement oaths and cry with flushed cheeks and tears in his eyes: “He is a brave fellow; he196 has more spirit than any man I ever knew”. The Queen would join in these acclamations.

Thus matters went on for nearly a month, things going from bad to worse, majorities in Parliament getting smaller and smaller, supporters falling off one by one, and the popular ferment growing higher and higher. Petitions against the Bill poured in from all the large towns, that of the Common Council of London being the most violent of all. And the paper war raged unceasingly. “The public,” says Tindal, “was so heated with papers and pamphlets that matters rose next to a rebellion.”89 But despite dwindling majorities and popular clamour, Walpole remained stubborn. At last, when the storm was at its worst, it was the Queen who saw the hopelessness of contending against it. In despair she asked Lord Scarborough, who had always been a personal friend of the King and herself, and who now threatened to resign his office, what was to be done. He replied: “The Bill must be dropped, or there will be mutiny in the army. I will answer for my regiment,” he added, “against the Pretender, but not against the excise.” Tears came into the Queen’s eyes. “Then,” said she, “we must drop it.”90

The resolution was arrived at none too soon. On April 9th, after a furious debate in the House, Walpole went to St. James’s and had a conference with the King and Queen. It was then agreed to drop the Bill, though it was resolved not to make197 the intention known for a day or two longer. Walpole then had a private interview with the Queen, and offered to resign. It was necessary, he said, that some one should be sacrificed to appease the fury of the populace, and it was better that he should be the one. The Queen knew well what he meant, for she had so identified herself with Walpole’s policy that half the attacks of the Opposition on the Prime Minister were really veiled attacks upon her. But she refused to listen to such a suggestion and upbraided Walpole for having thought her “so mean, so cowardly, so ungrateful,” as to accept of such an offer, and she assured him that as long as she lived she would not abandon him. Walpole then made a similar proposition to the King, but George the Second replied in much the same words as the Queen had done. Both the King and Queen were greatly distressed at the turn events had taken. The Queen wept bitterly, but put a bright face on the matter in public, and held her evening drawing-room as usual. She was, however, so anxious, that she was forced to pretend a headache and the vapours, and break up the circle earlier than usual.

The next day, April 10th, was the crucial day. The City of London, headed by the Lord Mayor in full state, petitioned Parliament against the Bill, and the citizens attended in such numbers that the string of coaches ran from Westminster all the way to Temple Bar. When the division was taken that night, it was found that the Government had a majority of only sixteen votes, which was a virtual198 defeat. The Opposition were wildly excited over their victory, which they confidently hoped would involve Walpole’s fall and disgrace. Lord Hervey, who had been sent down to the House to report progress, hastened back to the King and Queen to tell them the bad news. The tears ran down the Queen’s cheeks, and for some time she could not speak. The King cross-questioned Hervey as to who were the members who had seceded from the Government ranks and helped to swell the Opposition figures, and as he heard the names, he commented on them one by one in expressions such as: “A fool!” “An Irish blockhead!” “A booby!” “A whimsical fellow!” and so forth. But though the King might swear and the Queen might weep, it was clear that the game was up, and the sooner they acted upon their intention of abandoning the Bill the better.

Walpole, too, fully realised this at last, and the howls of public execration that pursued him might well have daunted even his stout heart. If there is any truth in Frederick the Great’s story, it was on this eventful night that Walpole escaped from the infuriated crowd around Westminster disguised under an old red cloak, and shouting “Liberty, liberty; no excise!” and made his way to St. James’s to acquaint the King and Queen of the result of the division. He found the King armed at all points; he had donned the hat he wore at Malplaquet and was trying the temper of the sword he had fought with at Oudenarde. He was ready to199 put himself at the head of his guards and march out upon his rebellious and mutinous subjects. But Walpole besought him to be calm and vowed it was a “choice between abandoning the Excise Bill or losing the crown”. But this story is probably apocryphal. What is certain is that Walpole, the evening of the division, had a small gathering of his staunchest supporters at his house in Arlington Street. After supper he got up and said: “Gentlemen, this dance it will no further go”; and announced his intention of sounding a retreat on the morrow, no doubt to their relief.

On the morrow, April 11th, the House of Commons was crowded from end to end, and the people thronged not only the approaches to Westminster, but forced their way into the lobby. Walpole got up in the House and announced his intention of postponing the measure for two months. This, though a virtual confession of defeat, was not enough for the Opposition, who made a great uproar, and the chamber resounded with hissings, howlings and shouts, which were taken up by the mob outside, and the threatening murmurs of the multitude could be distinctly heard within the House itself, rising and falling like the surge of the sea. So violent and threatening was the mob that at the close of the debate it was suggested to Walpole that he should make good his escape from the House by the back way. But the Prime Minister said he would not shrink from danger, and, surrounded by a body of chosen supporters, he made his way through a200 lane of constables. In the lobby there was great jostling and hustling, and many blows were struck. Several of Walpole’s supporters were struck and wounded, but the Minister himself managed to get through unhurt, found his coach and got safely home.

The scenes in the streets of London that night were unparalleled; the whole city seemed to be on foot; the guards were called out and put under arms; magistrates were ready to read the Riot Act; and bodies of constables were drafted in all directions. Had the Bill not been dropped it is certain that a fearful riot would have broken out, and London might have presented scenes almost parallel to those witnessed in Paris nearly a century later. But since the excise was abandoned the excitement of the populace found vent in jubilations. The Monument was illuminated, bonfires were lighted in the streets (and within a day or two, as the news travelled, in every town in England), nearly all the houses were lighted up, and at Charing Cross Walpole and a fat woman, representing the Queen, were burnt in effigy, amid the howls and shrieks of the multitude.

Walpole was not a man to do things by halves, and having found that public opinion was dead against him on the excise, he determined to drop the scheme altogether. When, in the next session, Pulteney endeavoured to fan the flame of opposition by insinuating that it would be revived, in some form, Walpole out-manœuvred him by frankly confessing201 his failure. “As to the wicked scheme,” he said, “as the honourable gentleman was pleased to call it, which he would persuade us is not yet laid aside, I for my own part can assure this House I am not so mad as ever again to engage in anything that looks like an excise, though in my own private opinion I still think it was a scheme that would have tended very much to the interests of the nation.”91 This frank confession of defeat prevented the Opposition from harping any longer on the iniquity of the excise. But it reasonably gave them hope that a Minister who, by his own confession, had brought forward a scheme which had been rejected with contumely by the nation should constitutionally be compelled to resign. Popular execration had been directed not only against the scheme but against its author, and it was a Pyrrhic victory indeed which routed the host but left the commander in possession of the field. But Queen Caroline was as good as her word; she determined never to part with Walpole as long as she lived, and the King echoed her sentiments. In vain did the Opposition invoke the sacred ark of the Constitution; they only broke themselves against the rock of the Queen’s influence.

The group of peers who held office under the Crown and yet had arrayed themselves against Walpole, in the confident hope that he would be forced to resign, now found themselves in a peculiarly difficult position. The King and Queen were indignant with202 them, nor did Walpole treat them with magnanimity. He forgave the repugnance of the nation to his scheme; he could not forgive the repugnance of his colleagues. Always domineering and impatient of opposition, he now gave his vengeance full swing. Lord Chesterfield, who held the office of Lord Steward of the Household, was the first to feel his resentment. Chesterfield was going up the great staircase of St. James’s Palace two days after the Excise Bill was dropped, when an attendant stopped him from entering the presence chamber, and handed him a summons requesting him to surrender his white staff. In this might be seen also the hand of the Queen. The same day Lord Clinton, lord of the bedchamber, Lord Burlington, who held another office, the Duke of Montrose and Lord Marchmont, who held sinecures in Scotland, and Lord Stair were dismissed. Other peers were also deprived of their commissions, including the Duke of Bolton and Lord Cobham. Thus did Walpole triumph over his enemies.


84 Last Friday her Majesty was most graciously pleased to extend her mercy to William Bales, under order for transportation for fourteen years, who sometime since was condemned on the Black Act.—Daily Gazetteer, 26th July, 1736.

Her Majesty has been pleased to pardon the three following condemned to transportation for fourteen years—viz., Thomas Ricketts, for stealing a silver hilted sword, and Thomas Morris and John Pritchard, for housebreaking.—Daily Gazetteer, 7th August, 1736.

The day before the Court removed from Windsor to Richmond her Majesty gave £80 for discharging poor debtors confined in the town jail.—Daily Post, 19th October, 1730.

85 Petitions have lately been presented to her Majesty from insolvent debtors confined in the prisons of this city, the numbers of whom are so great that several have died lately of the prison distemper, and others through want.—Craftsman, 18th May, 1728.

86 Second Report of the Select Committee, presented 14th May 1729.

87 Commons’ Journals, vol. xx.

88 Hervey’s Memoirs.

89 Tindal’s History.

90 Maby’s Life of Chesterfield.

91 Parliamentary History, vol. ix., p. 254.


There was another and more dangerous enemy whom Walpole could not touch, and of whose dislike he was at this time not fully aware—the Prince of Wales. Throughout the excise agitation the Prince had silently and stealthily worked against his parents and the Prime Minister. He had now become more familiar with the position of affairs in England, and had learnt the importance of his position in the state.

The Prince was a constant source of trouble to the King, nor was the blame wholly on Frederick’s side. The Queen urged the advisability of giving the Prince a separate establishment, and went to look at a house for him in George Street, Hanover Square, but the King stubbornly refused to give the necessary money, and so Frederick had perforce to live with his parents in apartments in one of the palaces, and to be a daily recipient of his father’s slights. Such a position would have been trying for the most virtuous and dutiful of sons, and the Prince was neither virtuous nor dutiful. Moreover, though Parliament granted the King £100,000 for the Prince of Wales, yet Frederick received only204 a small allowance from his father, and even that was uncertain. Under these circumstances he quickly accumulated debts, which the King refused to pay. The Queen interceded for him, but in vain, and she received no gratitude from her son, who resented, as far as he dared, her being appointed Regent in the King’s absence instead of himself. As he was entirely dependent on his father for money, he did not venture to make a public protest, but he cherished a grudge against his mother for superseding him.

With all these grievances, Frederick soon followed his father’s example of caballing against his sire, and he found plenty of sympathy from those who were in opposition to the court and the Government. He had not been long in England before an opportunity was afforded him of playing to the popular gallery by an unpopular demand of the Crown to Parliament to make good a pretended deficiency in the Civil List of £115,000; it was really a veiled form of making the King a further grant. The measure was violently opposed by the Opposition, but Walpole succeeded in carrying it through the House of Commons. A great deal of ill-feeling against the court was produced in the country by this extortionate demand, and the Craftsman did its best to fan the flame of discontent. The Prince of Wales, who was exceedingly sore at his father’s meanness towards him, pretended to disapprove of the King’s conduct in making this demand, and was inconsiderate enough to say so to certain personages, and his words, repeated from mouth205 to mouth, did not lose in the journey. Pulteney and Bolingbroke, and other prominent members of the Opposition, quoted with approval what the Prince had said, and condoled with him on the way in which he was treated by his father. The rumour of this reaching the King’s ears incensed him the more against his son, but he could not act merely on hearsay. He had no tangible ground of complaint against him, for the Prince was cautious.

Another cause which drew the Prince towards the Opposition was his liking for literature and talent. He seems to have had a genuine taste for les belles lettres, he wrote poetry in French and English, some of it not absolutely indifferent.92 The cleverest writers sided with the Opposition and the polished periods of Bolingbroke, the eloquence of Wyndham, and the wit of Chesterfield and Pulteney, all appealed to him. Bolingbroke, especially, gained influence with the Prince, and in time became his political mentor. Apart from the political aspect of the union, there seems to have been a sincere friendship between the two. Soon after Frederick came to England, Bolingbroke made overtures to him, to which the Prince responded graciously, and the first interview between them, a secret one, took place by appointment at the house of a mutual206 friend. Bolingbroke who was the first to arrive, was shown into the library, and was passing the time by turning over the leaves of a bulky tome. The Prince entered the room unannounced. The book fell to the floor, and in his haste to bend the knee, Bolingbroke’s foot slipped, and had not the Prince stepped forward to support him he would have fallen to the ground. “My lord,” said Frederick, with exquisite tact, as he raised him, “I trust this may be an omen of my succeeding in raising your fortunes.”

The Prince had charming manners, which he inherited from his mother, and he had other gifts which won for him popularity, notably his generosity, which verged on extravagance. He had that easy and affable address which sits so well on a royal personage, and he was popular with the people. It pleased them to see the heir apparent walking about the streets unguarded, and followed only by a servant. And Frederick had always a bow and a smile for the meanest of his father’s subjects who recognised him.

The Prince’s chief favourite and counsellor was George Budd Doddington, a curious man, whose geniality and vanity were in marked contrast to his political intrigues. He was the nephew of Doddington, one of the wealthiest land owners in England, whose sister had made a mésalliance with one Bubb, an apothecary of Carlisle. On the death of Bubb, his widow was forgiven, and her son George succeeded to his uncle’s vast estates, and assumed the name of Doddington by royal licence. As he owned207 two boroughs, he entered the House of Commons and attached himself to Walpole, but on being refused a peerage by that statesman he turned against him. He made the acquaintance of the Prince of Wales soon after his arrival in England, and threw in his lot with him. Doddington was a useful friend to the Prince in many ways, for, in addition to his social qualities and knowledge of men, his wealth was of use. Doddington not only placed his purse at the Prince’s service, but suffered himself to become the butt of Frederick’s not very refined jests and practical jokes. “He submitted,” says Horace Walpole, “to the Prince’s childish horseplay, being once rolled up in a blanket and trundled downstairs. Nor was he negligent of paying more solid court by lending his Royal Highness money.” Frederick once observed to some of his boon companions: “This is a strange country, this England. I am told Doddington is reckoned a clever man, yet I got £5,000 out of him this morning; he has no chance of ever seeing it again.” But Doddington was keenly alive to the social distinction which the Prince’s friendship conferred upon him, and no doubt received what he considered an equivalent for the money.

In the Prince’s next move for popularity Doddington played a passive part. He was generally understood to represent the Prince in the House of Commons, and when therefore he declined to speak in the House in favour of the excise, it was regarded as a proof of the Prince’s lukewarmness;208 and when another favourite, Townshend, who was the groom of the bedchamber to the Prince, actually voted against the scheme, it was understood that the Prince was hostile to it. Wyndham emphasised this in one of his attacks on Walpole. He denounced corruption and tyranny, and recalled certain unworthy king’s favourites of former times: “What was their fate?” he asked. “They had the misfortune to outlive their master, and his son, as soon as he came to the throne, took off their heads.” The Prince of Wales was sitting under the gallery listening to the debate, and the allusion was cheered to the echo by the Opposition. The Prince’s attitude was further shown by his exceeding graciousness to Lord Stair, who had told the Queen his mind, and to Lord Chesterfield, who had offended her past forgiveness.

The King was exceedingly angry, and threatened to turn Townshend out of the little appointment he held under the Prince, but Walpole counselled letting him alone. Walpole would have punished Doddington had he dared, for he regarded him as the chief instigator of the Prince’s rebellious conduct. This was most unfair, for Doddington’s advice was always on the side of caution, and his influence had more than once prevented the Prince from rising in open revolt against his parents. Walpole forgot for the moment that behind the Prince was one much greater than Doddington whose enmity never slept, and that one was Bolingbroke. Though debarred from his seat in the209 House of Lords, and unable to raise his voice or vote, Bolingbroke yet, by his genius for intrigue, the vigour of his political writings and his consummate power of organisation, had done more than any man to stir up public feeling against the excise, and to bring Walpole within measurable distance of his fall. Most of the Opposition were puppets moved by this master mind, Wyndham was his mouthpiece, even Pulteney at this time was wholly under his spell. And under the ordinary working of the Constitution, Bolingbroke would have led his hosts to victory had not the King and Queen, unconstitutionally, it must be admitted, retained their Prime Minister.

Meanwhile, though the Prince was proving himself a thorn in the side of his father and the Government, and though the Opposition championed his cause with fervour, he could not get his allowance increased, and he sank deeper and deeper into debt. It came to the ears of old Sarah, Duchess of Marlborough, that the Prince was in pecuniary distress, and she bethought herself of a scheme which would at once gratify her ambition and wound the feelings of the King and Queen. She asked the Prince to honour her with a visit to Marlborough House, and, when he came, she offered him the hand of her favourite granddaughter, Lady Diana Spencer, in marriage, and promised to give him £100,000 as her portion. Lady Diana was a young lady of much wit and beauty, and the Prince, partly because he wanted the money, and partly210 because he knew the alliance would anger his father and mother beyond measure, accepted the offer. All arrangements were made. The day of the marriage was actually fixed, and the Prince was to be secretly wedded to Lady Diana by Duchess Sarah’s chaplain in the duchess’s private lodge in Windsor Great Park. The Royal Marriage Act, which made illegal the marriage of a member of the royal family without the consent of the reigning monarch, was not then in existence, and the marriage, if it had been contracted, would have been valid, and impossible to annul, except perhaps by a special Act, which would have had no chance of passing through Parliament. There would have been nothing objectionable about the marriage except its secrecy, for Lady Diana Spencer (who afterwards became Duchess of Bedford) was by birth and fortune, as by wit and beauty, far superior to the petty German princess whom the Prince afterwards married. But Walpole got to hear of the plot in time, and was able to prevent the marriage. It is a pity that it did not take place, for the subsequent interview of the parents with old Duchess Sarah on the one side and Queen Caroline on the other would have been one of the most interesting in history.

An early and congenial marriage might have been the saving of the Prince of Wales. Like his father and grandfather he affected a reputation for gallantry, and he was always involved in affairs of a more or less disreputable nature. In pursuit211 of adventures of this kind he behaved more like a schoolboy than a prince arrived at years of discretion. Peter Wentworth gives an account of one of his absurd escapades. He writes:—

“Thursday morning, as the King and Queen were going to their chaise through the garden, I told them the Prince had got his watch again. Our farrier’s man had found it at the end of the Mall with the two seals to’t. The Queen laughed and said: ‘I told you before ’twas you who stole it, and now ’tis very plain that you got it from the woman who took it from the Prince, and you gave it to the farrier’s man to say he had found it, to get the reward’. (This was twenty guineas, which was advertised with the promise of no questions being asked.) I took her Majesty’s words for a very great compliment, for it looked as if she thought I could please a woman better than his Highness. Really his losing his watch, and its being brought back in the manner it has been, is very mysterious, and a knotty point to be unravelled at Court, for the Prince protests he was not out of his coach in the park on the Sunday night it was lost. But by accident I think I can give some account of this affair, though it is not my business to say a word of it at Court, not even to the Queen, who desired me to tell her all I knew of it, with a promise that she would not tell the Prince. (And I desire also the story may never go out of Wentworth Castle again.) My man, John Cooper, saw the Prince that night let into the park through St. James’s Mews alone,212 and the next morning a grenadier told him the Prince was robbed last night of his watch and twenty-two guineas and a gold medal by a woman who had run away from him. The Prince bid the grenadier run after her and take the watch from her, which, with the seals, were the only things he valued; the money she was welcome to, he said, and he ordered him, when he had got the watch, to let the woman go. But the grenadier could not find her, so I suppose in her haste she dropped it at the end of the Mall, or laid it down there, for fear of being discovered by the watch and seals, if they should be advertised.”93

The Prince also followed his forbears’ example in setting up an accredited mistress. His first intrigue was with Miss Vane (the beautiful Vanilla), daughter of Lord Barnard, and one of the Queen’s maids of honour, who, it was wittily said, “was willing to cease to be one on the first opportunity”. Miss Vane had many admirers. Lord Harrington was one of them, and Lord Hervey declared himself to be another. But Lord Hervey was fond of posing as a gallant, and his testimony on the subject of his conquests is of little worth. Miss Vane had a good deal of beauty, but little understanding, and her levity and vanity led her into a fatal error. About a year after the Prince had come to England she gave birth to a son in her apartments in St. James’s Palace, and the child was baptised in the Chapel Royal, and given the name of Fitz-Frederick213 Vane, which was, of course, tantamount to explaining to all the world that the Prince of Wales was its father, a fact which the Prince in no wise sought to deny.

Queen Caroline at once dismissed Miss Vane from her service, and sharply reprimanded the Prince, telling him that in future he must carry on his intrigues outside the circle of her household. No such scandal had occurred since the disgrace of Miss Howe. Miss Vane’s family likewise cast her off. The Prince took a house for her, and made her an allowance. But the unfortunate girl soon had experience of the fickleness of men in general, and of princes in particular. Frederick neglected her, and began to pay marked attentions to Lady Archibald Hamilton. Lady Archibald was no longer young, she was five and thirty, and the mother of ten children, and, unlike Miss Vane, she had no great beauty. But she was clever and intriguing, and soon gained great ascendency over her royal lover, whose attentions to her became of the most public description. “He,” says Lord Hervey, “saw her often at her own house, where he seemed as welcome to the master as the mistress; he met her often at her sister’s; walked with her day after day for hours together tête-à-tête in a morning in St. James’s Park; and whenever she was at the drawing-room (which was pretty frequently) his behaviour was so remarkable that his nose and her ear were inseparable.”

Miss Vane had small chance with so clever a214 rival, and Lady Archibald urged the Prince to get rid of her. In this the Queen concurred, for she resented the indiscretion of her ex-maid of honour, and as there was some thought of marrying the Prince at this time, she thought it best that he should be clear of affairs of this kind. She did not reflect, or did not know, that by getting rid of Miss Vane she was merely paving the way for a far more dangerous woman to take her place. The Prince was easily persuaded to part with Miss Vane. He sent Lord Baltimore, one of his lords in waiting, to her with a message desiring her to go abroad for two or three years, and leave her son to be educated in England. If she complied the Prince was willing to allow her £1,600 a year for life, the sum he had given her annually since she had been dismissed from court; if she refused, the message wound up by saying that: “If she would not live abroad she might starve for him in England”. The unfortunate young lady was much hurt by the matter and manner of the communication. She declined to send any answer by Lord Baltimore, on the ground that she must have time to think. Lord Hervey says that she then sent for him, and asked him as a friend to advise her what was best to be done. He and Miss Vane composed a letter to the Prince, in which the betrayed lady was made to say to her betrayer:—


“Your Royal Highness need not be put in mind who I am, nor whence you took me: that I acted not like what I was born, others may reproach me;215 but you took me from happiness and brought me to misery, that I might reproach you. That I have long lost your heart I have long seen, and long mourned: to gain it, or rather to reward the gift you made me of it, I sacrificed my time, my youth, my character, the world, my family, and everything that a woman can sacrifice to a man she loves; how little I considered my interest, you must know by my never naming my interest to you when I made this sacrifice, and by my trusting to your honour, when I showed so little regard, when put in balance with my love to my own. I have resigned everything for your sake but my life; and, had you loved me still, I would have risked even that too to please you; but as it is, I cannot think, in my state of health, of going out of England, far from all friends and all physicians I can trust, and of whom I stand in so much need. My child is the only consolation I have left; I cannot leave him, nor shall anything but death ever make me quit the country he is in.”

When Frederick received this letter, instead of being touched by its pathos, he flew into a rage, and swore that the minx could never have written it, and he would be revenged on the rascal who helped her to concoct it. He took all his friends into his confidence, and Miss Vane took all hers, and the matter soon became the principal topic of conversation at court, from the Queen and the Princesses downwards. Miss Vane gained much sympathy by repeating the Prince’s brutal message, that “if she would not live abroad she might for216 him starve in England”. Everybody sympathised with her, and everybody blamed the Prince, who thereupon threw over Lord Baltimore, and declared that he had never sent such a message; he must have been misunderstood. On hearing this, Miss Vane, acting on the advice of Pulteney, who was thought by many to have written for her the first letter, and other friends, wrote a more submissive letter to the Prince. In it she declared that she had certainly received the message from Lord Baltimore, though she could hardly believe that it came from the Prince’s lips. It was for him to show whether he had said those words or not. If he had not, she felt sure he would treat her fairly; if he had, then all the world would know how she had been ill-treated and betrayed.

Meanwhile the affair from being the gossip of the court became the talk of the town, and ballads and pamphlets on the fair Vanilla were everywhere circulated, under such titles as “Vanilla on the Straw,” “Vanilla, or the Amours of the Court,” “Vanessa, or the Humours of the Court of Modern Gallantry,” etc. The Prince seeing that he could not abandon the lady without considerable discredit, at last agreed to settle on her £1,600 a year for life, to give her the house in Grosvenor Street which she had occupied since she had been dismissed from court, and to allow her son to remain with her—in short, he yielded all her terms.

Poor Miss Vane did not long enjoy her fortune. Perhaps she really loved her faithless wooer; she217 died at Bath soon after, her friends said of a broken heart. Her child died about the same time. The Queen and Princess Caroline declared that the Prince showed more feeling at the loss of this child than they had thought him capable of possessing. Perhaps it was remorse.

The two elder Princesses, Anne and Amelia, were always quarrelling with their brother. Amelia at first pretended to be his friend, and then betrayed him to the King. When the Prince found this out he hated her, and when the King discovered it he despised her; so she became disliked by both. Anne, Princess Royal, was at perpetual feud with her brother, and their strife came to a head, strangely enough, over music. The Princess had been instructed by Handel, and helped him by every means in her power. When Handel took over the management of the opera at the Haymarket, the Princess induced the King and Queen to take a box there, and to frequently attend the performances. All those who wished to be in favour with the court followed suit and the Haymarket became a fashionable resort. The Prince saw in this an opportunity of annoying his sister, and of showing disrespect to the King and Queen. He affected not to care about Handel’s music, and set to work to organise a series of operas at the theatre in Lincoln’s Inn Fields. Party feeling ran very high just then, and seeing that the Prince of Wales was so much interested in the opera at Lincoln’s Inn Fields, many of the Opposition, and all those who had a218 grudge against the court, made a point of attending the opera there, and it soon became a formidable rival to the Haymarket. Instead of ignoring this, the King and Queen took the matter up, and made it a personal grievance. They patronised Handel more than ever, and made it a point that their courtiers should do the same. Thus it came about that all those who appeared at the Haymarket were regarded as the friends of the King and Queen, and all those who attended Lincoln’s Inn Fields were looked upon as the Prince’s friends.

Opposition is always popular, and the Prince managed to gather around him the younger and livelier spirits among the nobility, and the most beautiful and fashionable of the ladies of quality. Certainly Lincoln’s Inn Fields was much more patronised, and the King and Queen and the Princess Royal would often go to one of Handel’s operas at the Haymarket and find a half empty house. This gave Lord Chesterfield an opportunity of uttering one of his witticisms. One night when he came to Lincoln’s Inn Fields he told the Prince that he had just looked in at the Haymarket, but found nobody there but the King and Queen, “and as I thought they might be talking business I came away,” he said; a joke which vastly pleased the Prince, and greatly incensed the court. Referring to the large attendance of peers at Lincoln’s Inn Fields, the Princess Royal said, with a sneer, that she “expected in a little while to see half the House of Lords playing in the orchestra in their robes and219 coronets”. Conscious of failure she felt extremely bitter against her brother, and abused him roundly. But the Prince had won and could afford to laugh at his sister’s invectives. The court was so deplorably dull, he said, that all those with any pretensions to wit, beauty or fashion refused to follow its lead, and looked to him, the heir to the throne, as their natural leader, notwithstanding the way in which he was treated by the King and Queen.

Certainly the private life of the Court was far from lively. The clockwork regularity of the King, both in business and in pleasure, and the limited range of his amusements and interests tended to make his court appallingly dull—in contrast to the old days at Leicester House. Mrs. Howard, whose little parties had once been so popular, now withdrew more and more to herself. She would probably have retired from court altogether had it not been that by the death of her brother-in-law, her husband became Earl of Suffolk. As she was now a countess she could no longer hold the inferior position of bedchamber-woman, and placed her resignation in the Queen’s hands, who, however, met the case by making her Mistress of the Robes, and so retaining her about the court. Lady Suffolk had no longer to perform the duties at the Queen’s toilet which had given her so much umbrage, and her position became pleasanter in consequence of the change. We find her writing to Gay a little later: “To prevent all future quarrels and disputes I shall let you know that I have kissed hands for the place of220 Mistress of the Robes. Her Majesty did me the honour to give me the choice of lady of the bedchamber, or that which I find so much more agreeable to me that I did not take one moment to consider it. The Duchess of Dorset resigned it for me; and everything as yet promises more happiness for the latter part of my life than I have yet had the prospect of. Seven nights’ quiet sleep and seven easy days have almost worked a miracle in me.”94

Even Lord Hervey complained bitterly at this time of the monotony of his daily round. He was dissatisfied, and considered that his services to the Government and the Crown should be repaid by some more considerable appointment than the one he held, which most people thought equal to his abilities, and was certainly in excess of his deserts. But Walpole, who knew how useful Hervey was as go-between, would not remove him from his post about the Queen, notwithstanding his representations. Chafing under this refusal Lord Hervey wrote the following letter to his friend Mrs. Clayton, another courtier and favourite who could sympathise with him in his ennui. It gives anything but a flattering picture of the royal circle:—

“I will not trouble you with any account of our occupations at Hampton Court. No mill-horse ever went in a more constant track, or a more unchanging circle, so that by the assistance of an almanack for the day of the week, and a watch for the hour of221 the day, you may inform yourself fully, without any other intelligence but your memory, of every transaction within the verge of the Court. Walking, chaises, levées, and audiences fill the morning; at night the King plays at commerce and backgammon, and the Queen at quadrille, where poor Lady Charlotte (de Roussie) runs her usual nightly gauntlet—the Queen pulling her hood, Mr. Schütz sputtering in her face, and the Princess Royal rapping her knuckles, all at a time. It was in vain she fled from persecution for her religion: she suffers for her pride what she escaped for her faith; undergoes in a drawing-room what she dreaded from the Inquisition, and will die a martyr to a Court, though not to a Church.

“The Duke of Grafton takes his nightly opiate of lottery, and sleeps as usual between the Princesses Amelia and Caroline; Lord Grantham strolls from one room to another (as Dryden says) like some discontented ghost that oft appears, and is forbid to speak, and stirs himself about, as people stir a fire, not with any design, but in hopes to make it burn brisker, which his lordship constantly does, to no purpose, and yet tries as constantly as if he had ever once succeeded.

“At last the King comes up, the pool finishes, and everybody has their dismission: their Majesties retire to Lady Charlotte and my Lord Lifford; the Princesses to Bilderbec and Lony; my Lord Grantham to Lady Frances and Mr. Clark; some to supper, and some to bed; and thus (to speak in222 the Scripture phrase) the evening and the morning make the day.”95

Lord Hervey may have been prejudiced, but independent testimony comes from Lady Pomfret, who was then in attendance at court. She writes: “All things appear to move in the same manner as usual, and all our actions are as mechanical as the clock which directs them.”96



92 One stanza of his poem addressed to Sylvia (the Princess of Wales) ends thus:—

“Peu d’amis, reste d’un naufrage,
Je rassemble autour de moi,
Et me ris d’ l’étalage
Qu’a chez lui toujours un Roi!”

93 The Hon. Peter Wentworth to Lord Strafford, London, 1734.

94 Lady Suffolk to Gay, Hampton Court, 29th June, 1731. Suffolk Correspondence.

95 Lord Hervey to Mrs. Clayton, Hampton Court, 31st July, 1733. Sundon Correspondence.

96 The Countess of Pomfret to Mrs. Clayton, Hampton Court. Sundon Correspondence.

In no sphere was Caroline’s influence more marked than in Church affairs; she held the reins of ecclesiastical patronage in her hands, and during her ten years’ reign as Queen Consort or Queen-Regent no important appointment was made in the Church without her consent and approval. George the Second was a Protestant of the Lutheran type, not so much from conviction, for he never troubled to inquire into religious matters, as from education and environment. He had no liking for the Church of England, but as his office compelled him to conform to it, he did so without difficulty. The established Church was to him merely a department of the civil service of which he was the head. He always accepted the Queen’s recommendations, and was as a rule indifferent about ecclesiastical appointments.

Walpole was quite as Erastian as the King and even less orthodox. He had no religious convictions, and did not make pretence to any; provided the bishops were his political supporters, he cared nothing for their Church views; they might disbelieve in the Trinity, but they must believe in him;224 they might reject the Athanasian Creed (or the Apostles’ Creed too for that matter), but they must profess the articles of the Whig faith. In those days the High Church clergy were Tory, and the Low Church were Whig; therefore Walpole appointed Low Church bishops, but he had as little liking for the one school of thought as the other. A thorough-going sceptic himself, he had a contempt for the latitudinarian clergy, regarding them as men who sought to reconcile the irreconcilable. But he cared nothing about their views; all he asked was that they should keep their heterodox opinions to themselves and not write pamphlets or preach sermons which stirred up strife in the Church, and made trouble for the Government. Early in his political career the Sacheverel disturbance had given him a wholesome dread of arousing the odium theologicum, and he determined never to repeat the mistake he made then, but to let the Church severely alone. In his ecclesiastical patronage he was guided chiefly by Dr. Gibson, Bishop of London, and he preferred to appoint safe men, not particularly distinguished in any way, except when he deferred to the wishes of the Queen, who kept an eye on all Church appointments.

Caroline might be described as an unorthodox Protestant. Theology interested her greatly, but her inquiries carried her into the shadowy regions of universalism, and the refined Arianism of her favourite chaplain, Dr. Samuel Clarke. She no more believed in an infallible Bible than in an225 infallible Pope. The Protestant Dissenters, whom she favoured with her patronage, would have recoiled in horror from her broad views had they known them, and would have denounced her with little less fervour than they denounced popery and prelacy. But Caroline took care that they should not know her views, and however freely she might express herself to Dr. Clarke and Mrs. Clayton, and at her metaphysical discussions, she kept a seal upon her lips in public. By law it was necessary that she should be a member of the established Church, and she was careful always to scrupulously conform to its worship. She had prayers read to her every morning by her chaplains; on Sundays and holy days she regularly attended the services in one of the Chapels Royal. So particular was she that, one Sunday when the King and Queen were too ill to go to church and had to keep their beds, the chaplain came and read the service to them in their bedroom. The Queen made a point of receiving the Holy Communion on the great festivals of the Church’s year, such as Easter and Christmas; and Lady Cowper comments on the devoutness of her behaviour on these occasions. Paragraphs like the following figured at regular intervals in the Gazette: “On Christmas Day the King and Queen, the Prince of Wales, the Princess Royal, the Princesses Amelia and Caroline, with several of the nobility and other persons of distinction, received the sacrament in the Chapel Royal of St. James’s”.97


Nor were the lesser festivals of the Church overlooked: “On the Feast of the Epiphany their Majesties, the King and Queen, the Prince of Wales, and the three eldest Princesses, went to the Chapel Royal, preceded by the King’s Heralds and Pursuivants-at-Arms, and heard divine service. His Grace the Duke of Manchester carried the sword of state to and from chapel for their Majesties, and his Majesty and the Prince of Wales made their offerings at the altar, of gold, frankincense, and myrrh, according to annual custom.” The ending of the day was of a more secular nature. “At night their Majesties played at hazard with the nobility for the benefit of the groom porter; and ’twas said the King won six hundred guineas, the Queen three hundred and sixty, Princess Amelia twenty, Princess Caroline ten, the Duke of Grafton and the Earl of Portmore several thousand.” Even King Charles the Martyr, the latest addition to the prayer-book kalendar, was not forgotten by the family who were keeping his grandson from the throne, for we read: “Yesterday being the anniversary of the martyrdom of King Charles the First, their Majesties and the Royal Family attended divine service, and appeared in mourning, as is usual on that day”.98

Thus it will be seen that in the matter of outward conformity to the rites of the established Church the Queen gave no occasion for cavil. She gave large sums to Church charities, such as £500 at a time to the Corporation of the Sons of the Clergy; she227 endowed livings and restored churches, such as Richmond, Greenwich and Kensington, presenting to Greenwich a fine peal of bells, and to Kensington a new steeple. She even feigned an interest in missionary work, and listened patiently to Berkeley when he expounded to her his scheme for establishing a missionary college in Bermuda in connection with the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel. She did little to forward it, and he somewhat ungratefully declared that his visits to her had been so much waste of time, and called her discussions “useless debates”. Yet, though the Queen did little to convert his heathens, she remembered Berkeley later, and obtained for him the deanery of Down.

But, with all her outward conformity, Caroline never understood the peculiar position of the Church of England, nor did she trouble to understand it. Once, soon after she came to England, Dr. Robinson, then Bishop of London, who was opposed to Dr. Samuel Clarke’s views, waited upon her to endeavour to explain the Church’s teaching, but he met with a repulse. Lady Cowper says: “This day the Bishop of London waited on my mistress, and desired Mrs. Howard to go into the Princess and say that he thought it was his duty to wait upon her, as he was Dean of the Chapel, to satisfy her on any doubts and scruples she might have in regard to our religion, and explain anything to her which she did not comprehend. She was a little nettled when Mrs. Howard delivered this message, and said: ‘Send him away civilly; though he is very228 impertinent to suppose that I, who refused to be Empress for the sake of the Protestant religion, do not understand it fully’.” Caroline’s words show how little she realised, or sympathised with, the position of the Church of England; it was to her a Protestant sect—that and nothing more. The Church of Laud, Juxon, Andrewes, Sancroft and Ken, the via media between Roman Catholicism and Protestantism, did not appeal to her; in fact she viewed it with dislike. She made no pretence to impartiality in her patronage, or to holding the balance even between the different parties in the Church; all her bishops were more or less of her way of thinking. She would have made Dr. Samuel Clarke Archbishop of Canterbury when Archbishop Wake died, had it not been for Bishop Gibson’s temperate remonstrance. He told her that though Clarke was “the most learned and honest man in her dominions, yet he had one difficulty—he was not a Christian”. To do Clarke justice, he never desired a bishopric, and he had doubts about the propriety of accepting one. Moreover, he preferred his unique position at the court, where he was, unofficially, the keeper of the Queen’s conscience.

It must be admitted that the Queen in her distribution of ecclesiastical patronage always recognised the claims of scholarship and learning, and she took infinite pains to discover the most deserving men. Among the divines to whom she gave high preferment, besides Berkeley, were the learned Butler and the judicious Secker, many years later Archbishop of229 Canterbury. Secker, when he was Queen’s chaplain, mentioned to Caroline one day the name of Butler, the famous author of The Analogy between Natural and Revealed Religion. The Queen said she had thought that he was dead; Secker said: “No, madam, not dead but buried”. The Queen took the hint, and soon after appointed Butler Clerk of the Closet. He was thus brought into contact with her, and she delighted exceedingly in his psychological bent, and would command him to come to her, on her free evenings, from seven to nine, to talk philosophy and metaphysics. She caused his name to be put down for the next vacant bishopric, and on her death-bed she commended Butler particularly to the King, who carried out his wife’s wishes and made him Bishop of Durham.

Dr. Thomas Sherlock, a man eminent for his talents and learning, was much liked by the Queen. She appointed him to the see of Bangor, and later translated him to Salisbury in succession to his rival Hoadley. For some time Sherlock filled much the same position with the Queen that Gibson, Bishop of London, did with Walpole. He was the Queen’s favourite bishop, and she intended to translate him to London when Archbishop Wake should die, and Gibson, whom Whiston used to call “the heir apparent to Canterbury,” should be advanced to the primacy by Walpole. Between these two eminent prelates, Sherlock and Gibson, there existed a most unchristian spirit of jealousy, and Gibson besought Walpole not to230 allow Sherlock to succeed him in the bishopric of London. Alas! for the mutability of temporal things: when at last Wake died, it was not Gibson, but a comparatively unknown bishop, Potter of Oxford, who succeeded him in the primacy. Before that time arrived Gibson fell out of favour with Walpole, and Sherlock with the Queen, for the part they played in securing the rejection of the Quakers’ Relief Bill. Walpole had yielded to the clamour of the Church party so far as to refuse to repeal the Test and Corporation Acts, but by way of compensation to the dissenters he wished to carry a bill for the relief of Quakers. It was a point of conscience with the Quakers to refuse to pay tithes unless compelled to do so by legal force. This force was always applied, and they paid. All they asked for now was that the legal proceedings against them should be made less costly. Walpole was willing to give them this relief and the Queen supported him, but the bishops, headed by Gibson and seconded by Sherlock, elated by their recent victory over the Nonconformists, rose against it to a man, and though the Bill was carried in the Commons it was rejected by the Lords. The King was highly indignant and denounced the whole bench of bishops as “a parcel of black, canting, hypocritical rascals”. Walpole’s resentment was especially levelled against Gibson, and the Queen’s against Sherlock. The Queen sent for the latter bishop and trounced him in terms which recall those which Queen Elizabeth was231 said to address to her recalcitrant prelates: “How is it possible,” said Caroline to Sherlock, “you could be so blind and so silly as to be running a race of popularity with the Bishop of London among the clergy, and hope you would rise upon the Bishop of London’s ruins (whom you hate and wish ruined) when you were going hand in hand with him in these very paths which you hoped would ruin him?... Are you not ashamed not to have seen this, and to have been at once in this whole matter, the Bishop of London’s assistant and enemy—tool and dupe?” She told the crestfallen prelate that in the present temper of the King and Prime Minister he could hope for neither London nor Canterbury, and advised him to go to his diocese and try to live it down. As their dioceses were the last places where Queen Caroline’s bishops were generally to be found, this was equivalent to a sentence of banishment. Many years later Sherlock succeeded Gibson as Bishop of London.

The Queen’s chief adviser in Church matters was her favourite, Mrs. Clayton. Mrs. Clayton had no pretence to learning, and was ignorant of the rudiments of theology—though, like many women of her type, she loved to pose as an authority on theological questions. She had imbibed the Arian principles then fashionable at court, and could repeat parrot-wise the shibboleth of her party. As she held much the same views as the Queen (though without her saving graces of learning and common sense), they often settled between232 them who should succeed to the vacant deaneries and bishoprics. Walpole came often in conflict with Mrs. Clayton over Church appointments, for she was always urging the Queen to prefer extreme men of heterodox views who gave much trouble to the Government by their indiscreet utterances. At last, after several experiences of the vagaries of these bellicose divines, Walpole remonstrated so strongly that Mrs. Clayton’s recommendations were chiefly confined to the Irish Church. Here for years she appointed practically whom she would. The influence of the Queen’s woman of the bedchamber was well known to aspiring divines, and she was overwhelmed with letters from parsons and prelates pining for preferment. Many of these letters (preserved in the Sundon correspondence) are couched in the most cringing tone, and are full of the grossest flattery. The deans and bishops in esse or in posse generally followed up their letters by making her little presents; for instance, we find the Bishop of Cork sending her a dozen bottles of “green usquebaugh, sealed with the figure of St. Patrick on black wax,” and another prelate a suit of fine Irish linen.

Among Mrs. Clayton’s Irish protégés was Dr. Clayton, a kinsman of her husband, for whom she procured, despite the protest of the Primate of Ireland, the bishopric of Clogher. Bishop Clayton made several attacks on the doctrine of the Trinity, and once proposed in the Irish House of Lords to abolish from the prayer-book the Nicene and Athanasian Creeds, in a speech of which one of his233 colleagues remarked, “it made his ears tingle”. Dr. Clayton was not much of a scholar, and less of a theologian, and he adapted his views to meet the approval of his patroness. The letters of this spiritual pastor to Queen Caroline’s woman of the bedchamber are models of subserviency. Once Mrs. Clayton rebuked him for a sermon he had preached on the death of Charles the First, which seemed to her to praise the King overmuch. He at once wrote to express his regret, and said he would tone it down by adding “bred up with notions of despotic government under the pernicious influence of his father”. He placed his patronage, like his opinions, at her disposal, and kept her informed of everything that went on in Ireland—acting, in fact, as a sort of spy in the court interest. His complaisance was rewarded by his patroness, who caused him to be successively advanced to the wealthier sees of Killala and Cork. Most effusive was his gratitude: “Mrs. Clayton cannot command what I will not perform,” he writes, and again: “Could you but form to yourself the image of another person endued with the same steadiness of friendship, liveliness of conversation, soundness of judgment, and a desire of making everybody happy that is about her, which all the world can see in you, but yourself, you would then pardon my forwardness in desiring to keep up a correspondence.... If I am free from any vice, I think it is that of ingratitude.”99


Bishop Clayton’s view of the rules that should govern ecclesiastical preferment are worth quoting. The particular candidate he was recommending was a son of the Earl of Abercorn, who had taken holy orders. “What occurs to me at present,” he writes to Mrs. Clayton, “is the consideration of ecclesiastical preferments in a political view. It has not been customary for persons either of birth or fortune, to breed up their children to the Church, by which means, when preferment in the Church is given by their Majesties, there is seldom any one obliged but the very person to whom it is given, having no relatives either in the House of Lords or Commons that are gratified or are kept in dependence thereby. The only way to remedy which is by giving extraordinary encouragements to persons of birth and interest whenever they seek for ecclesiastical preferment, which will encourage others of the same quality to come into the Church, and may thereby render ecclesiastical preferments of the same use to their Majesties as civil employments.”100 Of the higher interests of the Church or of religion, it will be noted, this servile prelate makes no mention; but the fear of the world and the bedchamber woman was always before his eyes.

Mrs. Clayton had a large number of poor and obscure relatives, many of whom benefited at the expense of the Church. One of her nieces, Dorothy Dyves, whom she had made a maid of honour to the Princess Royal, fell in love with the Princess’s235 young chaplain, the Reverend Charles Chevenix, who was not unmindful of the avenues to preferment thus opened to him. Mrs. Clayton at first refused her consent: she did not consider a poor chaplain good enough for her niece, but Chevenix made the following appeal to her:—

“My salary as chaplain to her Royal Highness will, I hope, be thought a reasonable earnest of some future preferment, and, could I ever be happy enough to obtain your protection, I might flatter myself that I should one day owe to your goodness what I can never expect from my own merit—such a competency of fortune as may make Miss Dyves’s choice a little less unequal. My birth, I may venture to add, is that of a gentleman. My father long served, and at last was killed, in a post where he was very well known—a post that is oftener an annual subsistence than a large provision for a family, and that small provision was unfortunately lost in the year ’20. One of my brothers is now in the army, a profession not thought below people of the first rank; another, indeed, keeps a shop, but I hope that circumstance rather deserves compassion than contempt.”101

Mrs. Clayton was touched by the frankness of this appeal, but the shop remained an obstacle for some time. At last she gave her consent. Chevenix married Dorothy Dyves, and then it was only a question of a little time for the chaplain to blossom236 into a bishop. He was in due course advanced to the see of Killaloe, and afterwards to the richer one of Waterford. Truly Mrs. Clayton was, as her niece describes her, one of the most “worthy and generous of aunts”. No one could be more mindful of family claims. Her patronage was not entirely ecclesiastical, though she made the Church her speciality; she found for her brother-in-law a comfortable post in the civil service; she obtained for her nephews good military and civil appointments, and her nieces were all made maids of honour. Lord Pembroke sent her a valuable present—a marble table—and obtained something for a poor relative. Lord Pomfret gave her a pair of diamond ear-rings, worth £1,400; a very good investment, for he got in return the lucrative appointment of Master of the Horse. Mrs. Clayton, or Lady Sundon as she had then become, was very proud of these diamond ear-rings, and appeared with them at one of the Queen’s drawing-rooms. This roused the ire of old Sarah, Duchess of Marlborough, who had once filled a similar position with Queen Anne. “How can that woman,” said Duchess Sarah in a loud voice, so that all around might hear, “how can that woman have the impudence to go about with that bribe in her ear?” “Madam,” replied Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, who was standing by, “how can people know where there is wine to be sold, unless there is a sign hung out?”

It can well be imagined that a system of ecclesiastical patronage conducted on these lines did237 not result in advantage to the Church. Walpole appointed bishops for purely political reasons, Mrs. Clayton for monetary and family consideration, the Queen because their views coincided with her own. Yet the Queen, though sometimes misled by her favourites, who traded on her ignorance of the English Church, honestly tried to appoint the best men according to her lights. The learning and ability of her bishops were undeniable; their only drawback was that they did not believe in the doctrines of the Church of which they were appointed the chief pastors. Without entering into theological controversy, it may be safely laid down that those who direct an institution ought to believe in the institution itself. This is precisely what most of Caroline’s bishops did not do; their energies were directed into other channels, and their enthusiasms reserved for other pursuits. Some of her bishops, notably those who were appointed to sees in Ireland and Wales, never went near their dioceses at all, while others treated the cardinal doctrines of Christianity with tacit contempt, if not open unbelief. The indifference of the bishops filtered down through the lower ranks of the clergy, and gradually influenced the whole tone of the established Church; if the bishops would not do their duty they could hardly blame their clergy for failing in theirs. Moreover, the policy of the Whig Government, in packing the Episcopal Bench solely with its own partisans, resulted in the bishops being out of touch with their clergy, for the majority238 of the parsons, especially in the country districts, were Tory, and clung to their political faith as firmly as to their religious convictions.


From a Painting by Mrs. Hoadly in the National Portrait Gallery.

At no period of her history has the Church of England been in greater danger than she was from her own bishops and clergy in the reign of George the Second. On the one hand was a party embittered by defeat, shut out from all hope of preferment, and inflamed by a spirit of intolerance in things political and ecclesiastical; on the other was a party just as intolerant in reality, but hiding its intolerance under the cloak of broad and liberal views, and with leaders using the intellect and learning they undoubtedly possessed, to subvert, or at least to set aside, the doctrines of the Church they had sworn to believe. Indifference in practice quickly succeeded indifference in belief, and herefrom may be traced most of the ills which afflicted the Church of England during the eighteenth century. It was no wonder, when the established Church was spiritually dead, that earnest-minded men, disgusted at this condition of things, and hopeless of remedying it, set up religious bodies of their own. The growth of Methodism in the eighteenth century was directly due to the shortcomings of the Church, which had lost its hold on the masses of the people. The year after Queen Caroline’s death, in 1738, John Wesley returned from Georgia, and, aided by his brother Charles, began the mission which was attended with such marvellous results. True, the Wesleys, in words at least, never wavered239 in their adherence to the Church of England, but the discouragement they met with from the bishops and the often ill-directed zeal of their followers led in time to the inevitable separation, which was followed later by schisms among the Methodists themselves.

One of the most typical of the Georgian bishops was Hoadley, who became successively Bishop of Bangor, Hereford, Salisbury and Winchester, “cringing from bishopric to bishopric”. Hoadley’s career was a striking illustration of the superiority of mind over body. When he was an undergraduate at Cambridge he had an illness which crippled him for life; he was obliged to walk with a crutch, and had to preach in a kneeling posture. His appearance was exceedingly unprepossessing, but he completely overcame these natural disadvantages by the sheer force of his will. He had taken up the Church as a profession, and from the professional point of view he certainly succeeded in it; but he does not seem to have believed in the teaching of the Church whose principles he had nominally accepted. He was a conformist simply because it paid him to conform. Even a favourable biographer writes: “So far indeed was Hoadley from adhering strictly to the doctrines of the Church that it is a little to be wondered at on what principles he continued throughout life to profess conformity”.

Hoadley early threw in his lot with the Whig party, and in Queen Anne’s reign was looked upon as the leader of the Low Church divines, and a staunch upholder of Whig principles. He did not obtain any240 considerable preferment until George the First came to the throne, when he was made a royal chaplain, and soon after advanced to the bishopric of Bangor. He did not once visit his bishopric during the whole of his six years tenure of the see, but remained in London, as the leader of the extreme latitudinarian party, which, since the Princess of Wales’s patronage, had become the fashionable one, and offered the best prospects of promotion. He therefore broke with the orthodox section of the Low Church party, who came to regard him with little less dislike than High Churchmen. Hoadley’s love of polemics soon brought him into conflict with Convocation, and led to what was known as the “Bangorian controversy”. The bishop had preached a sermon before King George the First on “The nature of the Kingdom or Church of Christ,” in which he denied that there was any such thing as a visible Church of Christ, or Church authority. Convocation censured the sermon, and would have proceeded to further measures against the recalcitrant bishop had not the Government, by an arbitrary exercise of power, suspended it altogether. Convocation thus prorogued was not summoned again until the middle of the reign of Queen Victoria. It would weary and not edify to enter into the details of this dreary Bangorian controversy; the tracts and pamphlets written upon it numbered nearly two hundred, and the heat and bitterness were such as only a religious dispute could engender.

Hoadley did not heed his ecclesiastical enemies,241 for he had staunch friends at court; he enjoyed not only the favour of the King and the Princess of Wales, but had the ear of Mrs. Clayton, soon to become a dispenser of patronage. His letters to her are some of the most fulsome preserved in her correspondence. “I compare you in my thoughts,” he writes, “with others of the same kind, and I see with pleasure, so great a superiority to the many, that I think I can hardly express my sense of it strongly enough. Compared with them therefore, I may justly speak of you as one of the superior species, and you will supply the comparison if I do not always express it, and not think me capable of offering incense, which I know you are not capable of receiving.”102

In 1721 Hoadley was translated from Bangor to the richer see of Hereford, and two years later to Salisbury, which was wealthier still. At Salisbury he so far remembered his episcopal duties as to deliver a primary charge to his clergy, a poor composition. He was not content with Salisbury, and cast envious eyes upon the rich see of Durham, which then maintained a prince-bishop. Walpole, who disliked him as being a protégé of Mrs. Clayton’s, passed him over in favour of Dr. Talbot, Bishop of Oxford.

Hoadley owed much of his influence with the Whig party to the fact that he had always shown himself very friendly to Dissenters, and was in favour of abolishing the iniquitous Test and Corporation Acts242 and other disabilities under which they laboured; the animosity of his enemies arose quite as much from this fact as from their dislike of his opinions. The Protestant Nonconformists were the backbone of the Whig party, and the staunchest supporters of the House of Hanover; they therefore, not unnaturally, expected, in return for their great political services, that the disabilities which pressed upon them should be removed. From time to time they gained certain points, and the Acts were rendered practically innocuous by annual indemnities; but still they disfigured the Statute Book, and to this the Dissenters rightly objected. In 1730 a determined attempt was made by the Dissenters throughout England to secure the repeal of the Corporation and Test Acts, and they resolved to present a monster petition to Parliament praying that the matter should be proceeded with forthwith. This action put the Government into a position of considerable difficulty, and it was entirely opposed to Walpole’s policy of letting sleeping dogs lie. Though both he and the Queen (we will leave the King out of the question, as he does not count) had the fullest sympathy with the aspirations of Dissenters; yet they saw that to raise this question at the present time would be to fan the smouldering embers of religious controversy, and would put new heart and strength into the Opposition. The clergy of the established Church, almost to a man, would be against them, and, with a general election impending, that would mean that the Government would have an active enemy in243 every parish and hamlet in the kingdom. Such a reform, though just and reasonable in itself, would have the effect of alienating a number of the Government’s lukewarm supporters, and would give an opportunity for the Roman Catholics to assert themselves and claim relief also, for they were far more cruelly oppressed than the Protestant Dissenters.

Walpole knew that Hoadley had influence with the Dissenters, and he and the Queen talked it over, and resolved to ask Hoadley to see the heads of the dissenting party and endeavour to persuade them not to bring forward their petition. As Walpole had given offence to Hoadley by refusing him Durham, the Queen undertook this delicate mission. She sent for the bishop, and used all her eloquence to bring him round to her way of thinking. She dwelt on her admiration of his principles and writings; she said it was in his power to be of great use to the Government, and to place her, the Queen, under a personal debt of gratitude, which she would be slow to forget. She pointed out the danger that would arise from the religious question being raised at the present time, and she therefore desired him to ask the Dissenters to postpone their request. Hoadley demurred a good deal, possibly because the hint of promotion was not definite enough, and pointed out that as he had always urged the repeal of the offending Acts, he could hardly turn round now and eat his words. But he said he would feel the popular pulse, and if it appeared that the present244 was an inopportune moment for raising the question, he would endeavour to persuade the Dissenters to postpone it to a more convenient season.

Soon after this interview a report was promulgated by Walpole to the effect that “the Queen had sent for the Bishop of Salisbury and convinced him that this request of the Dissenters was so unreasonable that he had promised her not to support it”. This report had the very opposite effect to what was intended. It caused the Dissenters to be suspicious of their friend, and consequently tended to nullify any advice he might give them. The bishop went to Walpole in a rage and said he could be of no service in the matter whatever, and that so far from persuading the Dissenters from bringing forward their petition, he should now encourage them to do so. Walpole tried to soothe Hoadley by fair words, but finding him not amenable to them, he gave him a strong hint that if he persisted in his intention, he would ruin any chances of promotion he might have from the Government or the Queen. This brought the bishop to his bearings; he had more conferences with the Queen on the subject, and was ultimately bought over to complaisance by the promise of the next reversion of the see of Winchester. The Dissenters fell into a trap. From all over England they sent delegates to London, who on their part entrusted the negotiations with the Government to a committee of London Nonconformists. As this committee was composed of tradesmen in the City, or lawyers eager245 for promotion, Walpole was able to buy them over singly and collectively, and so, betrayed by the bishop and their delegates, the Dissenters went to the wall.

Hoadley had the misfortune to please neither the Government nor the Dissenters, for neither trusted him; but he probably did not mind, as he received what he worked for—the see of Winchester. Soon after his translation to Winchester he proceeded, after the approved fashion of Mrs. Clayton’s favourites, to show his independence and disburden his soul, by publishing a pamphlet called A Plain Account of the Nature and End of the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper. This set the clergy by the ears, and they promptly started a heresy hunt, to the great discomfiture of the Government responsible for Hoadley’s promotion.

An answer was written to the pamphlet by Dr. Brett, in which Hoadley was attacked with violence and bitterness. The King, who objected to Hoadley, asked the Queen what she thought of Brett’s answer, which he had much enjoyed reading, not because of the nature of the controversy, for which he cared little, but because of the personal abuse of a prelate whom he disliked. The Queen, who was very much annoyed at Hoadley’s indiscretion, however much she might agree with his opinions, began to explain her views on the subject of the controversy. But the King cut her short testily, and told her, “She always loved talking of such nonsense and things she knew246 nothing of;” adding, that “if it were not for such foolish persons loving to talk of those things when they were written, the fools who wrote upon them would never think of publishing their nonsense, and disturbing the Government with impertinent disputes that nobody of any sense ever troubled himself about.” Walpole had evidently entered his protest too, aimed not only at Hoadley but at Mrs. Clayton. The Queen, who made it a rule never to oppose her liege in anything, bowed assent and said: “Sir, I only did it to let Lord Hervey know that his friend’s book had not met with that general approbation he had pretended”.

“A pretty fellow for a friend,” said the King, turning to Hervey, who was standing by. “Pray, what is it that charms you in him? His pretty limping gait?” (and then he acted the bishop’s lameness) “or his nasty, stinking breath?—phaugh!—or his silly laugh, when he grins in your face for nothing, and shows his nasty rotten teeth? Or is it his great honesty that charms your lordship—his asking a thing of me for one man, and, when he came to have it in his own power to bestow, refusing the Queen to give it to the very man for whom he had asked it? Or do you admire his conscience that makes him now put out a book that, till he was Bishop of Winchester, for fear his conscience might hurt his preferment, he kept locked up in his chest? Is his conscience so much improved beyond what it was when he was Bishop of Bangor, or Hereford, or Salisbury247 (for this book, I hear, was written so long ago)? Or was it that he would risk losing a shilling a-year more whilst there was nothing better to be got than what he had? My lord, I am very sorry you choose your friends so ill; but I cannot help saying, if the Bishop of Winchester is your friend, you have a great puppy and a very dull fellow, and a great rascal for your friend. It is a very pretty thing for such scoundrels, when they are raised by favour so much above their desert, to be talking and writing their stuff, to give trouble to the Government that has shown them that favour; and very modest, and a canting hypocritical knave to be crying, ‘The Kingdom of Christ is not of this world,’ at the same time that he, as Christ’s ambassador receives £6,000 or £7,000 a year. But he is just the same thing in the Church that he is in the Government, and as ready to receive the best pay for preaching the Bible, though he does not believe a word of it, as he is to take favours from the Crown, though, by his republican spirit and doctrine, he would be glad to abolish its power.”103

Having delivered himself of this lengthy exordium, the King stopped and looked at the Queen, as much as to say who dare gainsay him. She had not been able to get a word in edgeways, but by smiling and nodding she tried to signify her approval of everything her lord and master said.

This is the only instance on record we have of the King’s direct interest in ecclesiastical affairs, for,248 during the Queen’s lifetime, Church patronage remained in her hands, and even after her death her expressed wishes were carried out. But when all these were fulfilled, many aspiring divines, since the Queen and Lady Sundon were no longer available, paid their court to the King’s mistress, Madame de Walmoden, afterwards Countess of Yarmouth, and, for the rest of George the Second’s reign, the royal road to bishoprics ran through the apartments of the mistress.


97 London Gazette, 27th December, 1729.

98 Daily Courant, 31st January, 1733.

99 Sundon Correspondence. The Bishop of Killala to Mrs. Clayton, Dublin, 17th April, 1731.

100 Ibid., 19th March, 1730.

101 Sundon Correspondence. The Rev. Charles Chevenix to Lady Sundon, London, 24th November, 1734.

102 Sundon Correspondence. Bishop Hoadley to Mrs. Clayton [undated].

103 Hervey’s Memoirs.


Soon after the withdrawal of the excise scheme the King sent a message to Parliament with the news that his eldest daughter, the Princess Royal, was betrothed to the Prince of Orange. The match was not a brilliant one, for the Prince was deformed, not of royal rank, and miserably poor. But the “Prince of Orange” was still a name to be conjured with among the Whigs and the Protestant supporters of the dynasty generally, and the announcement was popular, as a further guarantee of the Protestant succession. The Government regained some of the credit they had lost over the excise scheme and Parliament willingly voted the Princess a dower of £80,000, which was double the sum ever given before to a princess of the blood royal.

The Princess Royal had no affection for her betrothed, whom she had never even seen, but she was exceedingly anxious to be married. It was said at court that the King of France had once entertained the idea of asking her hand in marriage for the Dauphin, but her grandfather, George the First,250 would not listen to it on account of the difference of religion. There was no evidence to support this story, and it was certain that since George the Second had ascended the throne no suitor of any importance had come forward; so that, despite his drawbacks, the Prince of Orange was the best husband that could be got. Indeed, it seemed as though it were a choice between him and no husband at all. The Prince of Wales was exceedingly indignant with his sister for getting married before him, and so obtaining a separate establishment, a thing for which he had hitherto asked in vain. He need not have envied her, for she was making a match that would satisfy neither her love nor her ambition.

The Queen showed no enthusiasm for the marriage, and the negotiations were unduly prolonged. Months passed before everything was settled, and it was November before the Prince of Orange set out for England and his intended bride. A royal yacht was sent to escort him to English shores, and, according to a journal: “The person who brought the first news of the Prince of Orange being seen off Margate was one who kept a public house there; who, upon seeing the yacht, immediately mounted his horse and rode to Canterbury, where he took post horses and came to St. James’s at eleven o’clock on Monday night. Her Majesty ordered him twenty guineas and Sir Robert Walpole five. Twenty he hath since laid out on a silver tankard, on which his Majesty’s arms are engraved.”104


Probably this messenger was the only person who had reason to rejoice at the arrival of the Prince of Orange. The Prince was lodged in Somerset House, and many of the nobility went to wait upon him there, hoping by paying him their court to please the King. They little knew that the King and Queen were in their hearts opposed to the match, and had only yielded to it from political exigencies, and the impossibility of finding any other suitable suitor for their daughter. The Queen sent Lord Hervey to Somerset House with orders to come back and tell her “without disguise what sort of hideous animal she was to prepare herself to see”. The Prince was not nearly so bad as he had been painted, for though he was deformed, he had a pleasant and engaging manner. The Queen seemed more interested in the appearance of the future bridegroom than the bride herself, for the Princess Royal, when she heard of the arrival of her lover, continued playing the harpsichord with some of the opera people as though nothing had happened. “For my part,” said the Queen, “I never said the least word to encourage her in this marriage or to dissuade her from it.” The King, too, left the Princess at liberty, but as she was determined to marry some one, and as the Prince, though not a crowned King, was the head of a petty state, she said that she was willing to marry him.105 The King then remembered his duty as a father, and not too nicely252 warned his daughter of the Prince’s physical unattractiveness, but she said she was resolved, if he were a baboon, to marry him. “Well, then, marry him,” retorted the King in a huff, “and you’ll have baboon enough I warrant you.”

The wedding was arranged to take place immediately after the arrival of the bridegroom elect, but as ill-luck would have it the Prince fell sick of a fever, and for some months lay dangerously ill. During the whole time of his sickness none of the Royal Family went to visit him, or took any notice of him, by command of the King, who wished to inculcate the doctrine that before his marriage to the Princess the Prince of Orange was nobody, and could only become somebody through alliance with the Royal Family. The Prince, though he must have felt this neglect, behaved with great good sense, and as soon as he was able to go out, he went to St. James’s Palace to pay his respects as if nothing had happened. He had an interview with his future bride, and stayed to dinner with the princesses informally. When the King heard of it he was very angry, and forbade them to receive him any more without his permission. The occasion did not arise, for a few days later the Prince of Orange went to Bath for a cure, and did not return to London until a fortnight before his wedding.

The marriage took place on March 14th, 1734. The Princess Royal, who had maintained an impassive front throughout her engagement, neither evincing pleasure at the Prince’s arrival, nor sorrow253 at his illness, showed the same impassive demeanour at her wedding. The ceremony took place at night in the Chapel Royal, St. James’s. A covered gallery of wood was built outside, through which the procession had to pass. This gallery gave great offence to old Sarah, Duchess of Marlborough, who could see it from her windows of Marlborough House. It had been erected when the wedding was first settled to take place, four months before, and she was indignant at its being left standing so long. “I wonder,” she said, “when neighbour George will remove his orange chest.” On the night of the wedding, the “orange chest” was illuminated from end to end, and accommodated four thousand people who were favoured with tickets to see the processions pass. At seven o’clock in the evening the bridegroom with his attendants was waiting in the great council chamber of St. James’s, the bride with her ladies was ready in the great drawing-room, and the King and Queen, with the rest of the Royal Family were assembled in the smaller drawing-room. Three processions were then marshalled, that of the bridegroom, that of the bride, and that of the King and Queen. The Chapel Royal was upholstered for the occasion more like a theatre than a place of worship, being hung with velvet, gold and silver tissue, fringes, tassels, gilt lustres, and so forth. The Prince of Orange was magnificently clad in gold and silver, and as he wore a long wig that flowed down his back and concealed his figure, he made a more presentable appearance than was254 expected. The Princess Royal was also gorgeously attired; she wore a robe of silver tissue, and her ornaments included a necklace of twenty-two immense diamonds; her train, which was six yards long, was supported by ten bridesmaids, the daughters of dukes and earls, who were also clad in silver tissue. The Queen and her younger daughters were visibly affected during the ceremony, and could not restrain their tears at the sacrifice they considered the Princess was making. The King, who had shown himself very restive before the wedding, behaved very well on the day, but the Prince of Wales, though he was tolerably civil to the bridegroom, could not bring himself to be cordial to the bride.

At twelve o’clock, the Prince and Princess of Orange supped in public with the Royal Family, and after the banquet, which lasted two hours, came the most curious part of the ceremony. The English Court had borrowed a custom from Versailles, and a most trying one it must have been for the bride and bridegroom. As soon as the Prince and Princess of Orange had retired, the whole court were admitted to see them sitting up in bed—that is to say, the courtiers passed through the room and made obeisance. The bridegroom, now that he had doffed his fine clothes and peruke, did not look his best, but the bride maintained her self-possession, even under this ordeal. Referring next morning to the sight of the princely pair in bed, the Queen exclaimed: “Ah! mon Dieu! quand je voiois entrer ce monstre pour coucher avec ma fille, j’ai pensé m’évanouir;255 je chancelois auparavant, mais ce coup là m’a assommée.”

The Princesses bewailed the fate of their sister quite as much as their mother. Princess Amelia declared that nothing on earth would have induced her to marry such a monster. Their lamentations were wasted. The Princess of Orange, to her credit be it said, determined to make the best of her husband, and she behaved towards him in a most dutiful manner, and made his interests her own.

The Prince and Princess of Orange stayed in England for six weeks after their marriage, and the Prince bade fair to become a popular hero. For the time, he quite outshone the Prince of Wales as the idol of the hour. This was very noticeable at the theatre; when the Prince of Wales came into the house he was received with but moderate applause, but the instant the Prince of Orange appeared the whole theatre rang with shouts and cheers. The King, too, noticed these signs of popular feeling and became jealous, and anxious to send his son-in-law back to Holland as soon as possible. The King was exceedingly unpopular, and the “Prince of Orange” was an ominous name in England to a royal father-in-law. The City of London, the University of Oxford, and many towns presented addresses on the occasion of the marriage of the Princess Royal, which, though couched in complimentary language, yet contained many covert sarcasms. They dwelt so much on the services256 rendered to England by a Prince who bore the name of Orange, and expressed so fervently the hope that this Prince might follow his great namesake’s example, that it almost seemed as if they wished him to depose his father-in-law, as William of Orange had deposed King James. The address of the City of London, for example, was thus paraphrased:—

Most gracious sire behold before you
Your prostrate subjects that adore you—
The Mayor and citizens of London,
By loss of trade and taxes undone,
Who come with gratulations hearty
Altho’ they’re of the Country Party,
To wish your Majesty much cheer
On Anna’s marriage with Mynheer.
Our hearts presage, from this alliance,
The fairest hopes, the brightest triumphs;
For if one Revolution glorious
Has made us wealthy and victorious.
Another, by just consequence,
Must double both our power and pence:
We therefore hope that young Nassau,
Whom you have chose your son-in-law,
Will show himself of William’s stock,
And prove a chip of the same block.

The King was exceedingly restive under these historical parallels, and became more and more anxious to speed the parting guest. Therefore, at the end of April the Prince and Princess of Orange embarked at Greenwich for Holland. The parting of the Princess with her family was most affecting—except with her brother the Prince of Wales, who did not trouble to take leave of her at all. Her mother and sisters wept bitterly over her, the King257 “gave her a thousand kisses and a shower of tears, but not one guinea”. Yet, such is human nature, after a few weeks the Princess was as much forgotten at the English Court as though she had never existed.

Another familiar figure disappeared from the Court a few months later (in November, 1734), namely, Lady Suffolk, better known as Mrs. Howard. She had often wished to resign her office, but her circumstances for one reason did not admit of her doing so, and for another the Queen always persuaded her to remain, lest a younger and less amenable lady might take her place. The King, who had long since tired of her, resented this action on the part of the Queen. “I do not know,” he said, “why you will not let me part with a deaf old woman of whom I am weary?” Mrs. Howard was weary too, and had come to loathe her bonds. But what brought matters to a crisis cannot be certainly stated, it was probably a combination of events.

The year before, shortly after he succeeded to the earldom, Lord Suffolk died, and Lady Suffolk was left a widow, for which no doubt she was devoutly thankful. She was now free to marry again; and if she did not she possessed a moderate competency, which would enable her to live in a position befitting her rank. Lady Suffolk was friendly with many members of the Opposition, including Bolingbroke, who was of all persons most disliked at court. It was said by her enemies that she had a political intrigue with him, and had met him at Bath. Coxe tells a story which seems to show that the Queen was at258 the bottom of Lady Suffolk’s retirement. “Lord Chesterfield,” he says, “had requested the Queen to speak to the King for some trifling favour; the Queen promised, but forgot it. A few days afterwards, recollecting her promise, she expressed regret at her forgetfulness, and added she would certainly mention it that very day. Chesterfield replied that her Majesty need not give herself that trouble, for Lady Suffolk had spoken to the King. The Queen made no reply, but on seeing the King told him she had long promised to mention a trifling request to his Majesty, but it was now needless, because Lord Chesterfield had just informed her that she had been anticipated by Lady Suffolk. The King, who always preserved great decorum with the Queen, and was very unwilling to have it supposed that the favourite interfered, was extremely displeased both with Lord Chesterfield and his mistress. The consequence was that in a short time Lady Suffolk went to Bath for her health, and returned no more to Court.”

It is possible that some such incident occurred, but it could not have been the immediate cause of Lady Suffolk’s retirement, as she held office for more than a year after Lord Chesterfield was dismissed in consequence of voting against the excise. It is true she went to Bath, and probably met Bolingbroke there too, but it is unlikely that she had a political intrigue with him. On her return to court, the King seems first to have ignored her, and then to have insulted her publicly.259 This was the last straw, and Mrs. Howard determined to resign at once. The Duke of Newcastle wrote to Walpole: “You will see by the newspapers that Lady Suffolk has left the Court. The particulars that I had from the Queen are, that last week she acquainted the Queen with her design, putting it upon the King’s unkind usage of her. The Queen ordered her to stay a week, which she did, but last Monday had another audience, complained again of her unkind treatment from the King, was very civil to the Queen, and went that night to her brother’s house in St. James’s Square.”106

The Duke of Newcastle’s statement is borne out by a curious manuscript, entitled “Memorandum of the conversation between Queen Caroline and Lady Suffolk, upon Lady Suffolk’s retiring from her Majesty’s service, 1734”.107 This memorandum was probably jotted down by Lady Suffolk soon after her interview with the Queen, and runs as follows:—

Lady Suffolk: “Madam, I believe your Majesty will think that I have more assurance than ever anybody had to stay so long in your family, after the public manner his Majesty has given me of his displeasure. But I hope, when I tell you that it occasioned my not waiting sooner upon your Majesty, you will not think it was owing to assurance.260 I have always had, and I hope I have always shown, the greatest duty and attention for everything that relates to your Majesty, and I could not think it was proper, whilst you were so indisposed, to trouble you with anything relating to me, but I come now, Madam, to beg your leave to retire.”

The Queen: “You surprise me. What do you mean? I do not believe the King is angry. When has he shown his displeasure? Did I receive you as if you were under mine?”

Lady Suffolk: “No, madam. If your Majesty had treated me in the same manner as his Majesty did, I never could have had the assurance to appear again in your presence.”

The Queen: “Child, you dream. I saw the King speak to you; I remember now.”

Lady Suffolk: “Yes, madam, and his words marked more strongly his displeasure than his silence, before and since.”

The Queen: “Tell me, has the King really never been down with you since your return?”

Lady Suffolk: “No, madam. Will your Majesty give me leave to tell what has passed?...”108

The Queen: “Upon my word I did not know it.”

Lady Suffolk: “I hope you take nothing ill of me....”

The Queen: “Come, my dear Lady Suffolk, you are very warm, but believe me I am your friend, your best friend. You do not know a court. It is261 not proper of me to say this, but indeed you do not know a court.”

Lady Suffolk: “I am very sensible that I do not, and feel I do not; I have had a most convincing proof that I am ignorant. But I am afraid, madam, if I have not got knowledge in twenty years I never shall now.”

The Queen: “Why don’t you talk to your friends? I always do so. Indeed you cannot judge this for yourself.”

Lady Suffolk: “Madam, if twenty years’ service has not been able to prevent me from falling a sacrifice to my enemies, would your Majesty have me, by calling in my friends, make them answerable for the measure I shall take, and involve them in my ruin?”

The Queen: “Child, your enemies want to get you out, and they will be the first to drop you. Oh! my dear Lady Suffolk, you do not know, when you are out, how different people will behave.”

Lady Suffolk: “Madam, the first part of what your Majesty says I am very sure of, but really, madam, I do not understand the second part, and if some people may show me it was the courtier and not me that was liked, I cannot say that to keep such acquaintances will be any argument to me to stay at Court. Madam, such are better lost than kept.”

The Queen: “You are very warm.”

Lady Suffolk: “Madam, I beg if, in talking to your Majesty, I say one word that does not mark262 the respect both to his and your Majesties, you will be pleased to tell me; for, madam, I come fully determined to take my leave, with the same respect, submission and duty, as I have behaved for twenty years. Your Majesty has often told me that I have never failed in anything for your service in any of those places that you have honoured me with. Madam, I do not know how far your Majesty may think it respectful to make this declaration, but I beg that I may for a moment speak of the King only as a man that was my friend. He has been dearer to me than my own brother, so, madam, as a friend I feel resentment at being ill-treated, and sorry to have lost his friendship; but as my King and my master I have the greatest submission to his pleasure, and wish I knew what I was accused of, for I know my innocence. But, madam, I know it must be some horrid crime.”

The Queen: “Oh! fie! you commit a crime! Do not talk so.”

Lady Suffolk: “Madam, as I know his Majesty’s goodness, his justice, his warmth of friendship, I know he could not for anything else punish me so severely.”

The Queen: “I daresay that if you have a little patience the King will treat you as he does the other ladies. I suppose that would satisfy you.”

Lady Suffolk: “No, madam. Why, did you never see him show what you call ‘respect’ to the Duchess of R—— and to Lady A——? Madam, I believe and I hope they are ladies of more merit263 than I, and possibly in every respect of greater consequence than I am; but in this case is very different. They have not lived twenty years conversing every day with his Majesty, nor had the same reason to think themselves honoured with his friendship as I have had till now; nor has it been in his power to give the public so remarkable an instance of his displeasure of them. Consider, madam, I have been absent seven weeks, and returned sooner than was proper for my health to do my duty in my place to your Majesty, and to show my respect to his Majesty on his birthday.”

The Queen: “I heard that you were at the Bath, and that you did not design to come back; but I did not mind such reports.”

Lady Suffolk: “I heard, too, madam, that I was not to come back, and that my business was done at Court. I knew, madam, that I had a mistress who had often told me that she was perfectly satisfied with my services. I felt I had a king, and master, and a friend, (whom I could not, nor ever will, suspect of injustice) who would not punish me without I was guilty, and I knew, madam, I had done nothing. But still these reports must now make me think his Majesty’s public neglect could not escape any bystanders, and I know it was remarked, for my brother came on Thursday morning and asked if it were true that the King took no notice of me since I came from the Bath.”

The Queen: “Well, child, you know that the King leaves it to me. I will answer for it that all will be264 as well with you as with any of the ladies, and I am sure you can’t leave my service then.”

Lady Suffolk: “Really, madam, I do not see how it is possible for me to continue in it. I have lost what is dearer to me than anything in the world. I am to be put upon the footing of the Duchess of R—— or Lady A——, and so by the public thought to be forgiven of some very grave offence because I have been your servant twenty years. No, madam, I never will be forgiven an offence that I have not committed.”

The Queen: “You won’t be forgotten. This is indeed the G.L. (sic) why I am forgiven.”

Lady Suffolk: “Madam, your Majesty and I cannot be named together. It is a play of words for your Majesty, but it is a serious thing for me.”

The Queen: “Why, child, I am the King’s subject as well as you.”

Lady Suffolk: “Madam, what I mean is what I cannot make your Majesty understand unless you are pleased to lay aside the Queen and put yourself in my place for some moments. After twenty years to be ill-treated without knowing your crime, and then stay upon the foot of the Duchess of A——!”

The Queen: “Upon my word, Lady Suffolk, you do not consider what the world will say. For God’s sake, consider your character. You leave me because the King will not be more particular to you than to others.”

Lady Suffolk: “Madam, as for my character, the world must have settled that long ago, whether265 just or unjust, but, madam, I think I have never been thought to betray his Majesty, or to have done any dishonest thing by any person whatever, and I defy my greatest enemies (your Majesty owns I have such) to prove anything against me, and I cannot and will not submit to anything that may make that believed of me.”

The Queen: “Oh! fie! Lady Suffolk, upon my word that is a very fine notion out of Celia, or some other romance.”

Lady Suffolk: “This may not be a very great principle, but I think it is a just one, and a proper one for me to have.”

The Queen: “I will send you down one. Come, you love figures. Let me persuade you two-thirds. Go down and think of this. There are people who want to get you out of Court; they will be the first to drop you.”

Lady Suffolk: “Madam, I consult nobody in this; there is no occasion.”

The Queen: “You cannot judge for yourself. Let me prevail. Put yourself in somebody’s hands and let them act for you. Indeed you are so warm you are not fit to act for yourself.” (Repeated the same as I said before.) “Nor indeed very respectful. But you will repent it. I cannot give you leave to go.”

Lady Suffolk: “If anybody could feel as I feel, and could be so entirely innocent as to let me be the only sufferer for the advice they give, I might follow the method your Majesty proposes, but as266 that is impossible, I must beg leave to act for myself. I wish I might know what I am accused of. In my absence I have been ruined in his Majesty’s favour. At the Bath I have a thousand witnesses of my behaviour. I know my own innocence. Nobody dare tell me that to my knowledge I have ever failed in my duty in any manner.”

The Queen: “You are very G. L. (sic). Not dare to tell you you have been guilty!”

Lady Suffolk: “No, madam, for the Princess and the duke could justify my behaviour, Lord —— and many more; what I meant was as regards to myself. But I cannot think that any wretch is so abandoned to all shame as to stand having the —— (pardon the word) before such a number as was there.”

The Queen: “Pray how did you live at the Bath?”

(Here I told all. Who B. denied, and what happened to Lord B. No parties distinguishable to me.)

The Queen: “Lady Suffolk, pray consider, be calm.”

Lady Suffolk: “Madam, I beg your Majesty will give me permission to retire. Indeed I have not slept since I came back to your house, and believe I never shall under this suspicion of guilt. Madam, will you give me leave to speak?”

The Queen: “Do.”

Lady Suffolk: “I am here by your Majesty’s command. Your Majesty should look upon me when267 I assert my innocence. Your Majesty knows what I am accused of.”

The Queen: “Oh! oh! Lady Suffolk, you want to get it out of me.”

Lady Suffolk: “Madam, I do want to face the accusation; I am not afraid; I know it would be to the confusion of my accusers.”

The Queen: “I will not give you leave to go, I tell you plainly. If you go to-day you go without my consent.”

Lady Suffolk: “Madam, I beg you to think of my unhappy situation. I own after what passed, that the next time I saw his Majesty, I should have dropped down if I had not gone out.”

The Queen: “Well, Lady Suffolk, will you refuse me this? Stay a week longer, won’t you; stay this week at my request.”

Lady Suffolk: “Yes, madam, I will obey you, but as I am under his Majesty’s displeasure, your Majesty will not expect my attendance, or that I come again to receive your commands.”

The Queen: “Yes, I do, and I will see you again, because you will come again.”

Lady Suffolk: “I will obey your Majesty.”

The Queen: “Harkee, Lady Suffolk, you will come up as you used to do.”

Lady Suffolk stayed her week and then, despite the arguments of the Queen, she resigned her appointment, and left the court for ever. She was forty-eight years of age, and had fairly earned her retirement. She was not of a nature to live268 long alone, and the following year she married George Berkeley, fourth son of Charles, second Earl of Berkeley, a man not distinguished for fortune or good looks, but who, nevertheless, made her a very good husband. The King was in Hanover when he heard of Lady Suffolk’s marriage, and had already given her a successor. He received the news very philosophically, and wrote to the Queen:—

“J’étois extrêmement surpris de la disposition que vous m’avez mandé que ma vieille maîtresse a fait de son corps en mariage à ce vieux goutteux George Berkeley, et je m’en réjouis fort. Je ne voudrois pas faire de tels présens à mes amis; et quand mes ennemis me volent, plut à Dieu que ce soit toujours de cette façon.”

The King probably called Berkeley his enemy because he was a member of the Opposition. Berkeley died a few years after his marriage with Lady Suffolk, but she survived him for more than twenty years. She lived, in dignified retirement, at her villa at Marble Hill, and retained, until the end of her life, the charm of manner and amiability, which had won her many friends. Horace Walpole used to visit her in her old age, and gleaned from her much material for his famous Memoirs. She died in 1767, in her eightieth year, having survived George the Second seven years.


104 Daily Journal, 8th November, 1733.

105 The Prince of Orange was hereditary Stadtholder of Friesland, and Stadtholder by election of Gröningen and Guelderland.

106 The Duke of Newcastle to Sir Robert Walpole, 13th November, 1734.

107 This manuscript is preserved in the manuscript department of the British Museum.

108 A gap here.


The Court and the Government acquired some little popularity over the marriage of the Princess Royal, but it soon vanished before the fierce assaults of the Opposition (or Patriots, as they called themselves) in Parliament. The first session of 1734 was the last session under the Septennial Act, and the Patriots strained every nerve to discredit the Government with the country. A determined effort was made to repeal the Septennial Act and revive triennial parliaments. This had always been a favourite scheme of Wyndham and the Tories, though Pulteney, the leader of the Patriots, had in 1716 voted for the Septennial Act. But Bolingbroke’s influence compelled Pulteney to eat his words though he sacrificed his political consistency in doing so. The debate in the House of Commons on the repeal of the Septennial Act was almost as exciting as the debates on the excise, and, if possible, a higher level of eloquence was maintained. Pulteney’s speech, as was natural under the circumstances, was brief and embarrassed, but Wyndham270 surpassed himself and would have carried off the honours of the debate had it not been for Walpole’s great speech in reply. Walpole, stung out of his usual indifference by the taunts levelled at him in the Craftsman, and knowing whose hand had penned those scathing words and whose master mind had organised this attack, launched against Bolingbroke, under the name of an “anti-minister,” a tremendous philippic. After sketching the “anti-minister” in no covert terms he continued:—

“Suppose this fine gentleman lucky enough to have gained over to his party some persons of really fine parts, of ancient families and of great fortunes; and others of desperate views, arising from disappointed and malicious hearts; all these gentlemen, with respect to their political behaviour, moved by him, and by him solely, all they say, in public or in private, being only a repetition of the words he has put into their mouths and a spitting out of that venom he has infused in them; and yet we may suppose this leader not really liked by any, even of those who so blindly follow him, and hated by all the rest of mankind. We will suppose this anti-minister to be in a country where he really ought not to be, and where he could not have been but by the effect of too much goodness and mercy, yet endeavouring with all his might, and all his art, to destroy the fountain whence that mercy flowed.... Let us further suppose this anti-minister to have travelled, and at every Court where he was, thinking himself the greatest minister, and making271 it his trade to reveal the secrets of every Court he had before been at, void of all faith and honour, and betraying every master he ever served.”

Walpole’s outburst was undoubtedly provoked by Bolingbroke, but it was none the less cowardly thus to attack a man who could not answer him. It was Walpole who had prevented Bolingbroke from fighting openly, who had shut him out from the Senate, and thus forced him to employ any weapons that came to his hand. Yet even now he feared his power. A large minority supported the repeal of the Septennial Act, and in the general election that followed, though Walpole employed every means to corrupt the constituencies and spent no less than £60,000 of his own private fortune besides, the Government majority was largely reduced. Still Walpole won and it is difficult to see how he could have done otherwise considering the resources at his command. The Queen took the keenest interest in the struggle, and her joy at the result showed how keen had been her apprehensions. “On the whole,” wrote Newcastle soon after the general election, “our Parliament is, I think, a good one, but by no means such a one as the Queen and Sir Robert imagine.”109

But the Patriots, who had indulged in high hopes over the result of this appeal to the country, were frankly disappointed. They were further discouraged by the resolution of Bolingbroke to leave England for a time—a resolution which was ascribed272 to different causes. Some said that money matters had to do with it, others that it was due to differences between Bolingbroke and Pulteney, or to the retirement of Lady Suffolk from court, or, most unlikely reason of all, to Walpole’s denunciation of him in the House of Commons. The probable reason was that Bolingbroke owned himself beaten, and threw up the cards. He had led his hosts within sight of victory with consummate skill, but victory was denied him. Walpole had a new lease of power for seven years, and who could tell what seven years would bring? There was nothing more to be done. So Bolingbroke retired to his beautiful château of Chanteloup in Touraine for a while, and devoted himself to literature. “My part is over,” he wrote to Wyndham, “and he who remains on the stage after his part is over deserves to be hissed off.”110

The King and Queen, no less than the Government, rejoiced over Bolingbroke’s departure, but their rejoicings were premature, for he had left his sting behind him. The Prince of Wales was deeply grieved at the loss of his political mentor. Before leaving Bolingbroke had given him a piece of advice—to bring his grievances formally before the House of Commons, and ask that the £100,000 a year voted for him should be settled on him by Parliament. Bolingbroke could not have advised anything more calculated to embarrass the court and the Government, as he knew full well. If the Prince carried out his advice he would make the Government273 unpopular, by forcing them to appear opposed to a popular demand; he would compel those politicians who hitherto had sat on the fence to declare themselves definitely in favour of either father or son, and he would drag the differences of the Royal Family into the light of day, and do grievous harm to the dynasty. The Prince was ready to act upon Bolingbroke’s advice, but his more cautious friends, like Doddington, dissuaded him, and he did not know how to proceed alone. But he threatened to do so, and the mere threat sufficed to throw the King and Queen into an extraordinary state of agitation. The Queen still retained some little influence over her son, the relations between them had not yet been strained to breaking point; her influence over her husband was boundless, and she was able, by preaching at the one and pleading with the other, to avert the threatened crisis. She assured the Prince that if he carried matters to extremities he would gain nothing, and she besought the King not to drive the Prince to extreme measures. The King, therefore, on the principle of buying off his Danes, reluctantly made over a certain sum, which sufficed for the Prince’s immediate necessities, and the crisis was for the moment averted. But it was only for the moment.

This year (1735) the King paid his triennial visit to Hanover. He appointed the Queen to act as Regent as before, a step which gave great umbrage to the Prince of Wales, who on this occasion did not trouble to disguise his feelings, and for274 the first time showed open disrespect to his mother’s authority.

On this visit of the King to Hanover he began his liaison with Amelia Sophia de Walmoden, the wife of Baron de Walmoden, a Hanoverian. This lady’s youthful charms soon made him forget the retirement of Lady Suffolk, and her influence over him quickly became greater than Lady Suffolk’s had ever been. The new mistress had a good deal of beauty, and considerable powers of fascination; she flattered the King to the top of his bent, and made him believe he was the only man she had ever loved, or ever could love, in spite of the fact that she had one, if not two, other intrigues going on at the same time. She was cautious, and avoided making enemies by not trespassing in matters outside her province.

The Queen in England was soon made aware that there was some disturbing influence at work. The King’s letters to her became shorter, and he usurped at Hanover some of the prerogatives which belonged to her as Regent, such as signing commissions, and so forth. He also, through his minister in attendance, Lord Harrington, cavilled at many of the acts of the Queen-Regent, a thing he had never done before. In this perhaps Harrington’s jealousy of Walpole had some share. Harrington knew that, by embarrassing the Queen, he also embarrassed her chief adviser. Therefore, between the jealousy of her son at home and the irritability of her husband abroad, Caroline’s275 third Regency was anything but a pleasant one. But she suffered no word of complaint to escape her lips, and pursued her usual policy of trying to increase the popularity of the Crown and strengthen the hands of Walpole and the Government. She was afraid to keep up much state, lest the King in his present mood should be jealous, so she removed the court to Kensington, where she lived very quietly, holding only such drawing-rooms as were absolutely necessary. These she held rather from policy than from pleasure, her object being to conciliate the powerful Whig peers who were still dissatisfied with the Government.

The Queen found interest and relaxation in improving her house and gardens at Richmond. In addition to a dairy and menagerie, which she had established in the park, she erected several buildings, more or less ornamental, in the gardens, of which the most peculiar was the one known as “Merlin’s Cave”. This extraordinary edifice was approached through a maze of close alleys and clipped hedges. The Craftsman ridiculed it, and declared that it looked like “an old haystack thatched over”. A gloomy passage led to a large circular room, decorated with several allegorical figures, of which we glean the following account:—

“The figures her Majesty has ordered for Merlin’s Cave are placed therein, namely: (1) Merlin at a table with conjuring books and mathematical instruments, taken from the face of Mr. Ernest, page to the Prince of Wales; (2) King276 Henry the Seventh’s Queen, and (3) Queen Elizabeth, who came to Merlin for knowledge; the former from the face of Mrs. Margaret Purcell, the latter from Miss Paget’s; (4) Minerva, from Mrs. Poyntz’s; (5) Merlin’s secretary, from Mr. Kemp’s, one of his Royal Highness the Duke’s grenadiers; and (6) a witch, from a tradesman’s wife at Richmond. Her Majesty has ordered also a choice collection of English books to be placed therein.”111

The people were much interested in Merlin’s Cave, and as soon as it was finished the Queen threw it open to the public on certain days, and crowds applied for admission. Similar imitations of this pleasure house sprang up all over the country, despite its doubtful taste. So pleased was the Queen with the cave that she erected another house hard by, and called it “The Hermitage”. It was built to resemble a rude building overgrown with moss, and was entered, incongruously, by an enormous gilt gateway. Merlin’s Cave, the Hermitage, and the improvements in the house and gardens at Richmond were expensive luxuries, so expensive that the Queen was unable to pay for them out of her income. But Walpole humoured her in these hobbies, and made her several little grants from the Treasury, of which no one was the wiser.

In October the time arrived for the King to tear himself away from Hanover and his Walmoden. It was necessary for him to be back in London by277 October 30th to keep his birthday. He delayed until he could delay no longer, and, when he had at last to tear himself away, he promised his mistress that under any circumstances he would be with her next year by May 29th. The Walmoden, between smiles and tears, publicly pledged her royal lover a happy return on May 29th, at a farewell banquet the night before his departure. It was a rash promise for the King to make, for he had hitherto only visited Hanover once in three years; and even so, not without protest from his English advisers.

George the Second set out from Hanover on Wednesday, October 22nd, and arrived at Kensington the following Sunday. The Queen, who had long been expecting him, received the news just after she returned from morning chapel. She at once summoned her court, and went on foot to meet him at the great gate. When the King stepped out of his coach she stooped and kissed his hand, and he gave her his arm and led her into the palace. It was only on the occasion of a return from Hanover that the King offered the Queen his arm; he probably did so in consideration of her holding the office of Regent, which she had not yet resigned into his hands. The King held a small reception immediately after his arrival, but the Queen, who saw that he was ill, soon dismissed the company. The King had in fact tired himself by travelling too fast, and for the next few days he was exceedingly unwell; he was also exceedingly irritable, and every one who came near him,278 from the Queen downwards, incurred his wrath. He loudly lamented his beloved Hanover and abused England. “No English or even French cook could dress a dinner; no English confectioner set out a dessert; no English player could act; no English coachman could drive or English jockey ride, nor were any English horses fit to be drove or fit to be ridden; no Englishman knew how to come into a room, nor any English woman how to dress herself.”112 All this and much more from the King of England!

The Queen had to bear the brunt of his ill-humour, and, what was worse, had to endure the fear that her influence over him was on the wane. His manner towards her had completely changed; nothing she could say, or do, was right, in little things or great. Among other trifles he noticed that the Queen had taken some bad pictures out of one of the rooms at Kensington, and replaced them by good ones. The King, who knew nothing of art, and cared less, for the mere sake of finding fault, made this a pretext for thwarting his wife. He peremptorily ordered Lord Hervey to have the new pictures taken away and the old ones replaced. This was impossible, for some of the pictures had been destroyed and others sent to Windsor. But Lord Hervey did not dare tell the King so; he demurred a little and asked the King if he would allow two Vandykes at least to remain, to which George answered: “I suppose you assisted the279 Queen with your fine advice when she was pulling my house to pieces and spoiling all my furniture: thank God, at least she has left the walls standing! As for the Vandykes, I do not care whether they are changed or no, but for the picture with the dirty frame over the door, and the three nasty little children, I will have them taken away and the old ones restored; I will have it done too to-morrow morning before I go to London, or else I know it will not be done at all.” “Would your Majesty,” said Lord Hervey, “have the gigantic fat Venus restored too?” “Yes, my lord; I am not so nice as your lordship. I like my fat Venus much better than anything you have given me instead of her.”

Lord Hervey says that he thought that “if his Majesty had liked his fat Venus as well as he used to do, there would have been none of these disputations”. He told the Queen next morning what had passed. She pretended to laugh but was evidently annoyed, and began to wonder how she could obey the King’s commands. “Whilst they were speaking the King came in, but by good luck, said not one word of the pictures: his Majesty stayed about five minutes in the gallery; snubbed the Queen, who was drinking chocolate, for being always stuffing; the Princess Emily for not hearing him; Princess Caroline for being grown fat; the Duke [of Cumberland] for standing awkwardly; Lord Hervey for not knowing what relation the Prince of Sultzbach was to the Elector Palatine: and then carried the Queen to walk, and be resnubbed, in the garden.”


The Queen was very much perturbed by the King’s altered behaviour towards her, and she took Sir Robert Walpole into her confidence, and asked him what was to be done. Walpole spoke to her with a frankness positively brutal. He told her that since the King had tasted “better things,” presumably the Walmoden, it could not be other than it was; he reminded the Queen that she was no longer young, and said that “she should no longer depend upon her person, but her head, for her influence, as the one would now be of little use to her, and the other could never fail her.” No woman likes to be told that her personal charms are gone, and Walpole made this advice the more unpalatable by recommending the Queen to send for Lady Tankerville, a good looking but stupid woman, to fill the place left vacant by Lady Suffolk. He told the Queen that it was absolutely necessary that the King should have some one to amuse him, “as he could not spend his evenings with his own daughters after having tasted the sweets of passing them with other people’s”; therefore, it would be much better that he should have some one chosen by the Queen than by himself. Lady Deloraine, who was the other likely candidate for the royal favour, and whom the King had often noticed when she was governess to the young Princesses, Walpole regarded as a dangerous woman, and therefore preferred Lady Tankerville.

The Queen resented this advice in her heart, and was deeply hurt; but on the surface she took281 it well enough, laughing the matter off as was her wont. She was not above making some bitter jokes upon the situation in which she found herself. When she was dressed for the King’s birthday drawing-room, she pointed to her head-dress and said: “I think I am extremely fine too, though un peu à la mode; I think they have given me horns.” Whereupon Walpole burst into a coarse laugh, and said he thought the tire-woman must be a wag. The Queen laughed too, but flushed angrily.

At this same birthday drawing-room the King noticed that it was poorly attended, and those who came were indifferently dressed, a sure sign of his unpopularity. The King, unpopular before, had disgusted his English subjects by his long stay in Hanover, and by the new ties he had formed there, for the people had had enough of German mistresses under George the First. Many of the great noblemen, even the officers of state, showed their resentment in a diplomatic manner by absenting themselves from court and retiring into the country. This made the King angrier than ever, and his manner towards the Queen, who was the only person upon whom it was safe for him to vent his displeasure, became harsher than before. She bore it uncomplainingly, until one morning when he was unreasonable beyond endurance she said half in jest, though with tears in her eyes, that she would get Walpole to put in a word in her favour, as nothing she now did was right. The King flew into a passion, and asked her what she meant by such complaints. “Do282 you think,” he said, “I should not feel and show some uneasiness for having left a place where I was pleased and happy all day long, and being come to one where I am as incessantly crossed and plagued?” This was a little too much for the Queen, who for once lost her self-control and turned upon her tormentor. “I see no reason,” she said, “that made your coming to England necessary; you might have continued there, without coming to torment yourself and us: since your pleasure did not call you, I am sure your business did not, for we could have done that just as well without you, as you could have pleased yourself without us.” Thereupon the King, who was as much astonished as Balaam was when his ass spake, went out of the room, and banged the door.

The King endeavoured to propitiate the Queen by making her a present of some horses from Hanover. This was a poor sort of gift, as by it he charged the expense of the horses on her establishment, and used them himself; most of his presents were of this nature. As she did not accept the gift with becoming gratitude, he fell foul of Merlin’s Cave, which had just been completed. The Queen told him that she heard the Craftsman had abused her hobby. “I am very glad of it,” said the King, “you deserve to be abused for such childish silly stuff, and it is the first time I ever knew the scoundrel in the right.” This conversation took place in the evening, when the King was always peculiarly irascible. He formerly spent two283 or three hours of an evening in Lady Suffolk’s apartments, snubbing and worrying her, but since that lady had retired, and no one as yet was found to take her place, he had perforce to spend it with his wife and daughters, and vent his ill-humour on them. The same evening that he abused Merlin’s Cave, he found fault with the Queen for giving away money to servants when she went to visit the nobility in London. The Queen defended herself by saying that it was the custom, and appealed to Lord Hervey, who said it was true that such largess was expected of her Majesty. The King retorted: “Then she may stay at home as I do. You do not see me running into every puppy’s house, to see his new chairs and stools. Nor is it for you,” said he, turning to the Queen, “to be running your nose everywhere, and trotting about the town to every fellow that will give you some bread and butter, like an old girl that loves to go abroad, no matter whether it be proper or no.” The Queen, who was knotting, flushed, and tears came into her eyes, but she answered nothing. Lord Hervey somewhat officiously said that the Queen had a love of pictures, whereat the King turned to the Queen and poured forth a flood of abuse in German. She made no reply, but knotted faster than ever until she tangled her thread and snuffed out one of the candles in her agitation, whereupon the King, falling back into English, began to lecture her on her awkwardness. This may be taken as a specimen of the way the Royal Family spent their284 evenings for some weeks after the King’s return from Hanover.

From a hundred little things, the Queen feared that her day was over. The King always used to stay with her till eleven o’clock in the morning, before beginning the business of the day; but now he hurried off soon after nine o’clock, in order that he might write love letters to Madame de Walmoden. He was a great letter-writer, especially of love letters, an art in which he excelled, and probably inherited from his mother, Sophie Dorothea.


The only matter in which the King seemed to be at one with his consort, at this time, was in blaming the Prince of Wales, who took the occasion of his father’s return to renew his demands. He had for a long time absented himself from the King’s levées, but he was prevailed upon by Doddington to appear at one. His appearance, as the King suspected, foreshadowed a definite demand, which was not long in coming. The Prince requested that he should have his full income of £100,000 a year, a separate establishment, and be married. It was no use ignoring Frederick, he only became more troublesome, so the King determined to yield the point, which would cost him least money, and get him married at once. He sent his son a formal message, by five of the Cabinet Council, to say that, if the Prince liked, he would ask for him the hand of the Princess Augusta of Saxe-Gotha. She was the daughter of the Duke of Saxe-Gotha, and the King had met her, as if by accident, on his last visit285 to Hanover, with a view to seeing if she would be a suitable wife for his son. It was not a gracious way of meeting the Prince’s wishes, but Frederick answered with great propriety, that whoever his Majesty thought a proper match for his son would be agreeable to him. One of the most irritating features of the Prince’s conduct was that he was always polite and circumspect to the King and Queen in public, and disrespectful and disobedient in private. He followed up his answer by asking how much money he was to get. When the King, reluctantly, promised to disgorge £50,000 a year, the Prince expressed great dissatisfaction, but, on the principle of half a loaf being better than no bread, he determined to accept the sum as an instalment, and let the marriage go forward.

Lord Delaware was therefore despatched to Saxe-Gotha to complete the negotiations which had been already set on foot, and bring the bride over to England. These negotiations took some little time, and the young Princess naturally wished to pay her farewells before setting forth to an unknown husband and an unknown land; but the King was so impatient to return to his Walmoden that after a week or two he sent word to Delaware to say that if the Princess could not come by the end of April the marriage must either be put off till the next winter, or solemnised without him, as to Hanover he would go. This message had the effect of hastening matters. The Princess Augusta landed at Greenwich on Sunday, April 25th, 1735, and286 stayed the night at the palace there. She had the promise of beauty and the charm that always goes with youth. At this time she looked, as she was, an overgrown girl, tall and slender, and somewhat awkward in her movements, but her pleasant expression and engaging manner soon won her popularity. The poets in their odes of welcome endowed the youthful pair with all the graces, as for example:—

That pair in Eden ne’er reposed
Where groves more lovely grew;
Those groves in Eden ne’er enclosed
A lovelier pair than you.

The Prince of Wales went down to Greenwich to meet his bride-elect, and was much pleased with her. The next day she showed herself to the people on the balcony of the palace, and was warmly received. The young Princess was only seventeen years of age; she was quite alone, unaccompanied by any relative, and could not speak a word of English. Yet she was allowed to remain at Greenwich forty-eight hours after her landing in England without any one of the Royal Family going near her except the Prince. She was treated with the same neglect as the Prince of Orange had been treated. The excuse put forward on behalf of the King and Queen was that until she was Princess of Wales there was no rule of precedence to guide them as to how she should be received. They were no doubt jealous of the pretensions which the Prince of Wales put forward; but in any case, even if they could not have gone themselves to welcome her, they might287 have sent one of the Princesses to befriend the young and inexperienced girl in what must necessarily have been a difficult and delicate position. The Prince endeavoured to make amends for this neglect by paying his betrothed great attention. He came to Greenwich again the next day and dined with his future bride. “He afterwards,” we are told, “gave her Highness the diversion of passing on the water as far as the Tower and back in his barge, finely adorned, preceded by a concert of music. Their Highnesses afterwards supped in public.”113

The next morning the Princess was escorted from Greenwich in one of the royal coaches to Lambeth, and thence she proceeded down the river to Whitehall in a barge. At Whitehall she landed, and was carried through St. James’s Park in a sedan chair to the garden entrance of St. James’s Palace, where the Prince of Wales, who had preceded her, was waiting. The Prince led his betrothed up to the great drawing-room, where the King and Queen and all the court were ready to receive her, and curious to see what she was like. The King had been waiting more than an hour, for the Princess was late, and he was consequently impatient, and not in the best of tempers, but the young girl by her tact overcame any awkwardness that might have attended her reception. She prostrated herself at the King’s feet, and made a similar obeisance to the Queen. Her behaviour throughout this trying ceremony was marked by such propriety and288 discretion, that she immediately created a favourable impression, and did away with any prejudice against her.

The Princess was not allowed much time to rest after her journey, for the marriage was arranged to take place that night, at nine o’clock in the Chapel Royal, St. James’s. Before the ceremony the King and Queen, to avoid vexed questions of precedence, dined in private, but the Duke of Cumberland and the Princesses were commanded to dine with the Prince and his betrothed. Unfortunately the harmony of this family party was marred by quarrels over minute questions of ceremony. The King, with a view to overcoming any difficulties, had ordered the Duke and the Princesses to go “undressed,” that is, informally, and in other clothes than those they were to wear later at the wedding. The Prince resented this as a slight upon himself and his bride, and in return began disputing as to where, and how, his brother and sisters should sit at dinner. He demanded that they should be seated upon stools without any backs, whilst he and his bride occupied armchairs at the head of the table; also that he and his bride should be served on bended knee, while the others should be waited upon in the ordinary manner. The King and Queen had anticipated some of those difficulties, and had coached the Princesses beforehand in what they were to do. So they flatly refused to go into the room where dinner was served until the stools had been carried away and chairs put in their places,289 but they so far yielded the other point as to order their personal servants to wait upon them in the usual manner. Thus the wedding dinner passed off, if not exactly harmoniously, without any more childish disputes, though the Princesses went without their coffee as it was offered to them by a servant of the bride. The dinner, and the altercations in connection with it, occupied the best part of the afternoon, and the bride had scarcely time to dress for the wedding.

The wedding procession was formed at eight o’clock, and it took some time to marshal. The peers and peeresses, and other personages invited to the wedding, met in the great drawing-room of St. James’s, and then walked in order of precedence to the chapel. The Bishop of London performed the marriage ceremony, and the joining of hands was made known to the public by the firing of guns in St. James’s Park. The following extract from a contemporary print gives the best account of the ceremony:—

“Her Highness was in her hair, wearing a crown with one bar, as Princess of Wales, set all over with diamonds; her robe likewise, as Princess of Wales, being of crimson velvet, turned back with several rows of ermine, and having her train supported by four ladies, all of whom were in virgin habits of silver, like the Princess, and adorned with diamonds not less in value than from twenty to thirty thousand pounds each. Her Highness was led by his Royal Highness the Duke of Cumberland, and conducted290 by His Grace the Duke of Grafton, Lord Chamberlain of the Household, and the Lord Hervey, Vice-Chamberlain, and attended by the Countess of Effingham, and the other ladies of her household. The marriage service was read by the Lord Bishop of London, Dean of the Chapel; and, after the same was over, a fine anthem was performed by a great number of voices and instruments. When the procession returned, his Royal Highness led his bride; and coming into the drawing-room, their Royal Highnesses kneeled down and received their Majesties’ blessing. At half-an-hour after ten their Majesties sat down to supper in ambigu, the Prince and the Duke being on the King’s right hand, and the Princess of Wales and the four Princesses on the Queen’s left. Their Majesties retiring to the apartments of the Prince of Wales, the bride was conducted to her bedchamber, the bridegroom to his dressing-room, where the Duke undressed him, and his Majesty did his Royal Highness the honour to put on his shirt. The bride was undressed by the Princesses, and, being in bed in a rich undress, his Majesty came into the room, the Prince following soon after in a night-gown of silver stuff, and cap of the finest lace. The Quality were admitted to see the bride and bridegroom sitting up in bed surrounded by all the Royal Family.”114

The King had grumbled because there were few new clothes at his birthday drawing-room, but no291 such complaint could be made on this occasion, for the splendour and richness of the costumes had never been excelled. The Georgian beau was a gorgeous being; the men seemed to outshine the ladies. We read:—

“His Majesty was dressed in a gold brocade, turned up with silk, embroidered with large flowers in silver and colours, as was the waistcoat; the buttons and stars were diamonds. Her Majesty was in plain yellow silk, robed and faced with pearls, diamonds, and other jewels of immense value. The Dukes of Grafton, Newcastle, and St. Albans, the Earl of Albemarle, Lord Hervey, Colonel Pelham and many other noblemen, were in gold brocades of from three to five hundred pounds a suit. The Duke of Marlborough was in a white velvet and gold brocade, upon which was an exceedingly rich point d’Espagne. The Earl of Euston and many others were in clothes flowered or sprigged with gold; the Duke of Montagu in a gold brocaded tissue. The waistcoats were universally brocades, with large flowers. ’Twas observed most of the rich clothes were the manufacture of England, and in honour of our own artists. The few which were French did not come up to these in richness, goodness, or fancy, as was seen by the clothes worn by the Royal Family, which were all of the British manufacture. The cuffs of the sleeves were universally deep and open, the waists long, and the plaits more sticking out than ever. The ladies were principally in brocades of gold and silver, and292 wore their sleeves much lower than hath been done for some time.”115

After her marriage the Princess of Wales maintained the favourable impression she created at first, a notable feat considering that she had been brought up in the seclusion of her mother’s country house in Saxe-Gotha, and had come to a Court far more splendid than any she could have ever dreamed of. Walpole, who noted how she had won the King’s approval and gained the Prince’s esteem, declared that these “were circumstances that spoke strongly in favour of brains which had but seventeen years to ripen”. Lord Waldegrave testified that the Princess distinguished herself “by a most decent and prudent behaviour, and the King, notwithstanding his aversion to his son, behaved to her not only with great politeness, but with the appearance of cordiality and affection”. Even old Sarah, Duchess of Marlborough, who hated Queen Caroline, and generally had a bad word to say for every one, relented in favour of the Princess, declaring that she “always appeared good-natured and civil to everybody”. The Princess’s subsequent conduct justified these praises, and she showed herself as the years went by to be a clever woman, with considerable force of character.

At first her position was exceedingly difficult in consequence of the strained relations between the Prince and his parents. She necessarily saw more of the Queen than of the King, and though the293 Queen’s kindness to her never wavered, there was always a barrier of reserve between them, for the Prince had now come to dislike his mother even more than his father. Just before his marriage the Queen had had a difference with her son over the question whether Lady Archibald Hamilton was, or was not, to be one of the ladies in waiting to the Princess; the Prince wishing her to be appointed, and the Queen declaring that it was not proper that the Prince’s mistress should be one of his wife’s household. She was undoubtedly right, but the Prince might have retorted, and he probably did, that he was only following precedent, since Lady Suffolk had filled a similar position in the household of his parents. The matter was compromised by only three ladies in waiting being appointed by the Queen, and the Princess was left free to nominate one other when she arrived. The Prince gained such an ascendency over his wife that the first thing she did was to appoint Lady Archibald Hamilton, who soon became her constant companion. Lady Archibald was not a wise adviser to the young Princess even in minor matters, or perhaps she deliberately set about to make her look ridiculous. The Princess was quite ignorant of the customs of the English Court, and was imbued by her husband with a strong sense of what was due to her as Princess of Wales. Either at his bidding or Lady Archibald’s suggestion, she took to walking in Kensington Gardens with two gentlemen-ushers going before her, a chamberlain leading her by the294 hand, a page holding up her long train, and her maids of honour and ladies in waiting following behind. The Queen met this grotesque procession one morning when she was out on her walks, and burst into peals of laughter. The poor Princess of Wales, who was not conscious of having done anything wrong, begged to know the reason of her Majesty’s merriment, whereupon the gentle Princess Caroline so far forgot her gentleness as to tell her sister-in-law, tartly, that it was ridiculous for her to walk out like a tragedy queen, when she was merely taking the air privately in the gardens.

If the King and Queen had thought to pacify their eldest son by yielding to his wish to be married, they quickly found themselves mistaken. The Prince accepted this concession only as an instalment, and immediately began to ask for more. He did not consider his demand for a separate establishment met by his being given apartments in the royal palaces, and he refused to be contented with anything less than the full sum voted for him by Parliament. The King stoutly refused to yield more and expressed himself very forcibly on, what he called, his son’s ungrateful conduct. Thus baffled, the Prince began to raise money right and left by giving bills and bonds payable on the death of his father and his own accession to the throne, and the money-lenders were willing to advance him money on these conditions at an extortionate rate of interest. When the King heard of this he became greatly frightened lest the rapacity of the usurers should cause them to295 hasten his death by assassination. The Queen feared for the King’s safety too, and had long talks with Walpole and Lord Hervey on the subject. Lord Hervey, who hated the Prince, offered to bring forward a bill in the House of Lords making it a capital offence for any man to lend money on the consideration of the King’s death, but Walpole wisely pooh-poohed the idea. He strongly objected to bringing the disputes of the Royal Family before the public, and told the Queen he could see no way of keeping the Prince in order except through the good influence of the Princess of Wales. The Queen then tried to discuss matters with the Princess, but, coached by her husband, she would not listen. She was very sorry she said, but her Majesty must excuse her, she must decline to take any part in the controversy. Whatever her husband did was right in her eyes and it was her duty to obey him, whom she had sworn to obey. This drew from the Queen the expression: “Poor creature, if she were to spit in my face I should only pity her for being under such a fool’s direction, and wipe it off”. She pitied the Princess rather than blamed her, and allowed this little incident to make no difference to her behaviour towards her. The Princess no doubt had done wisely and the Prince showed his appreciation by treating his wife with courtesy and kindness, and the marriage, which had begun inauspiciously, turned out better than any one expected.


109 Duke of Newcastle to Horace Walpole, 24th May, 1734.

110 Bolingbroke to Wyndham, 29th November, 1735.

111 Gentleman’s Magazine, 21st August, 1735.

112 Hervey’s Memoirs.

113 Gentleman’s Magazine, April, 1736.

114 Gentleman’s Magazine, April, 1736.

115 Gentleman’s Magazine, April, 1736.


The Prince of Wales’s marriage over, the King became very impatient to return to Hanover. The pledge he had given to Madame Walmoden last year, that he would be with her on May 29th, had become known to Walpole, who swore to the Queen that the King should not go if he could prevent it. The Quakers’ Bill was just then before Parliament and the bishops were giving a great deal of trouble to the Government in the House of Lords; the King’s departure for Hanover again so soon would be another source of embarrassment. But neither Walpole’s protests nor the Queen’s more diplomatic representations were of any avail with the King. “I am sick to death of all this foolish stuff,” said the Defender of the Faith to the Queen one day when she was speaking to him about the bishops’ action in the House of Lords, “and wish with all my heart that the devil may take all your bishops and the devil take your minister, and the devil take the parliament, and the devil take the whole island, provided I can get out of it and go to Hanover.”


After this there was clearly nothing more to be said, and in the middle of May the King set out for Hanover, this time taking Horace Walpole with him as minister in attendance instead of Harrington, whom the Queen and Walpole determined should never go with the King to Hanover again. He again appointed the Queen Regent, and sent a message to the Prince of Wales telling him that wherever the Queen-Regent resided, there would be apartments provided for himself and the Princess. The Prince resented this message, which forced him, he said, to move his household at the Queen’s pleasure, and made him practically a prisoner in her palace. That was perhaps an exaggeration, but the order was evidently designed to prevent the Prince and Princess setting up a court of their own in the King’s absence. The Prince considered that his marriage gave him an additional claim to be appointed Regent instead of the Queen. He therefore tried in many small ways to set her authority as Regent at defiance, and he trumped up the excuse of the Princess’s indisposition to hinder him from occupying the same house as the Queen according to the King’s command. The Queen, who suspected that this was only an evasion, came up from Richmond, where she had removed after the King left, to London to find out if the Princess of Wales were really ill. But her intention was baffled, for when she arrived she was told that the Princess was in bed and could not receive her, and when the Queen insisted on being shown to her daughter-in-law’s298 chamber, she found the room so dark that she could scarcely see her, and had to return to Richmond no better informed than when she set out. Shortly afterwards the Queen removed to Hampton Court, and with some little delay the Prince and Princess followed, and had their suite of apartments allotted them there.

The Prince of Wales did not attend the Council when the Queen broke the seals of the King’s commission making her Regent; he pretended that he had mistaken the hour. He tried by every possible means to discredit the Queen-Regent’s authority, and to cultivate popularity at the expense of his parents. It was fairly easy for him to pit himself against his father, for the King’s conduct in going to Hanover two years running, his affaire with the Walmoden, and the fact that he had left unfilled several commissions in the army because, people said, he wished to pocket the pay himself, had made him more unpopular than ever. Some measure of this unpopularity reflected itself upon the Queen, though she, poor woman, was the greatest sufferer by the King’s intrigue with the Walmoden. The Princess of Wales also suddenly discovered that she had scruples about receiving the Sacrament according to the rites of the Church of England, and declared that she was a Protestant and a Lutheran. This move, which was probably made by command of the Prince in order to gain the goodwill of the Dissenters, gave a great deal of annoyance to the Queen, for the bishops and clergy were up in arms299 about it, talked loudly of the Act of Succession, and declared that if the Princess would not conform to the rites of the Church of England she would have to be sent back again to Saxe-Gotha. The Queen spoke to the Prince on the subject, but he declared that he could do nothing, for when he reasoned to his wife she only wept and talked of her conscience. However, the threat of being sent back to Saxe-Gotha effectually abolished the Princess’s scruples; she dried her tears and attended the services at the chapel at Hampton Court like the rest of the Royal Family. Yet even when they came to church the Prince and Princess of Wales managed to show disrespect to the Queen’s office as Regent. They arranged always to come late, so that the Princess had to push past the Queen in the royal pew, an uncomfortable proceeding so far as the Queen was concerned, for she was stout and the pew was narrow. Moreover, the arrival of the Prince and Princess and a numerous suite half-way through the service was exceedingly disturbing, so, after bearing with it two or three Sundays, the Queen sent word that if the Princess came late she must make her entry by another door. The Princess, however, persisting, the Queen ordered a servant to stand at the main entrance of the chapel after she had gone in and not permit any one to pass until the service was over, which would have the effect of sending the Princess round to another door, or of keeping her out of the chapel altogether. The Prince, however, was equal even to this, for he told the Princess that if she was not300 ready to go into chapel with the Queen she was not to go at all, and so neatly avoided yielding the point.

The Queen, notwithstanding all these studied slights and petty insults, was determined not to quarrel with her son, and regularly asked the Prince and Princess to dine with her once or twice a week, and sometimes invited them to music and cards in the gallery at Hampton Court in the evening. The Princess came now and then to these latter functions, the Prince never, though they both were obliged to come to dinner when the Queen asked them. These dinners could not have been pleasant to either side; they certainly were not to the Queen, who, after they were over, used to declare that the dulness of her daughter-in-law and the silly jokes of her son gave her the vapours, and she felt more tired than “if she had carried them round the garden on her back”.

Meanwhile the King at Hanover was enjoying himself with his enchantress, who had presented him with a fine boy, which it suited her purpose to declare was his son.116 The King, who was now fifty-three years of age, firmly believed her, and his affections became riveted to Madame Walmoden more firmly than ever. Yet he might well have doubted, for the lady had many friends to console her in his absence, and a suspicious incident occurred this301 summer even while George was at Hanover. The King was staying, according to his custom, at Herrenhausen, and Madame Walmoden was living in the apartments set apart for her by the King in the Leine Schloss. She spent most of her time with the King at Herrenhausen, returning to the Leine Schloss at night, where she was sometimes visited by the King. The Leine Schloss was very different then to what it is now, for it was fronted by extensive gardens on both banks of the Leine, the gardens through which poor Sophie Dorothea used to steal, disguised, to Königsmarck’s lodgings. The Walmoden’s bedchamber was on the garden side of the palace, and one night a gardener chancing to walk round the palace in the small hours found a ladder placed immediately under Madame Walmoden’s window. The man thought this must be the attempt of a burglar, who had come to steal the lady’s jewels, and made a careful search round the garden. He presently discovered a man hiding behind a bush, whom he immediately seized, and, shouting for the guard, had him placed under arrest. To every one’s astonishment, the prisoner proved to be no thief, but an officer in the Austrian service, named Schulemburg, a relative of the Duchess of Kendal’s, who was on a visit to Hanover in connection with some diplomatic mission. Schulemburg protested against the indignity put upon him, which he said would be resented not only by himself, but by his master, the Emperor, and made such a fuss that the captain of the guard released him at once.


Before the morning the story was all over the palace, and Madame Walmoden, who had been aroused in the night, was in a great state of agitation. But her woman’s wit came to her aid. As early as six o’clock the next morning she ordered her coach and drove off to Herrenhausen to give her version of the affair to the King before any one else could tell him. George was still a-bed when the lady arrived, but being a privileged personage she passed the guards and made her way to his bedside. She threw herself upon her knees, and besought the King, between her tears and sobs, to protect her from gross insult, or allow her to retire from his court for ever; she declared that she loved him not as a king but as a man, and for his own sake alone, but wicked envious people, who were jealous of the favour he had shown her, were plotting to ruin her. The King, astonished at this early visit, rubbed his eyes, and asked what it all meant. She then told him about the ladder, and declared that it must have been placed there by design of a certain Madame d’Elitz with intent to ruin her with the King. This Madame d’Elitz was also a Schulemburg, a niece of the old Duchess of Kendal. She was credited with having had intrigues with three generations of the Hanoverian family, the old King, George the First, the present King, George the Second, and Frederick, Prince of Wales, before he came over to England. This was probably an exaggeration, but it is certain that she was the mistress of George the Second before he303 deserted her for the superior charms of the Walmoden. So the story had at least the element of plausibility. At any rate the King accepted it, and ordered the captain of the guard to be put under arrest for having released Schulemburg, and sent word that he should again be apprehended. But Horace Walpole, the English Minister in attendance, fearing that this might involve the King in a quarrel with the Emperor, sent Schulemburg word privately to make speed out of Hanover, which he did forthwith.

All sorts of versions were given of this ladder incident, which quickly became known in London, and was much discussed by Queen Caroline and her court. The King wrote long letters to the Queen in England, telling her all about the affair, and asking her to judge it impartially for him, as he was so fond of the Walmoden that he could not judge it otherwise than partially, and if she were in doubt he asked her to consult le gros homme, Sir Robert Walpole, “who,” he said, “is much more experienced, my dear Caroline, in these affairs than you, and less prejudiced than myself in it”. But whatever was the Queen’s opinion the King remained devoted to his Walmoden, and refused to believe any evil of her. Whether Caroline really consulted Walpole or not it is impossible to say; but though she laughed about the incident in public she wept many bitter tears in private, and her patience was well-nigh exhausted.

Caroline had no easy part to play in this, her fourth and most eventful, regency. Her health had304 been failing for some time, and now was an ever-present trouble. The knowledge of the King’s infatuation, and the fear that her influence over him was waning, preyed upon her mind, and she was further harassed by the covert rebellion against her authority carried on by the Prince of Wales. All these were troubles from within, but those from without were also serious. The King was never so unpopular as now, and his unpopularity reflected itself upon the Government. There were discontents and disorders in different parts of the country; a riot broke out in the west of England because of the exportation of corn, and so violent were the farmers that in many districts the military had to be called out to quell the tumult. Another disturbance took place at Spitalfields among the weavers, who objected to Irishmen working there because they were willing to accept lower wages and could accustom themselves to a lower standard of living than Englishmen. A riot broke out and many Irish were killed and others wounded. Huge mobs assembled, and again the Queen-Regent had to command that soldiers should be called out, which had the effect of diverting the rage of the weavers from the Irish to the court. They now began to curse the Germans even more loudly than they execrated the Irish, and from cursing the Germans they proceeded to cursing the King and Queen, and shouting for James the Third. Eventually the soldiers quelled the riots, but not without bloodshed, and the discontent was all the more active for being driven below the surface.


Another source of dissatisfaction with the people was the Gin Act, which had been passed with the object of abating the vice of drunkenness, and especially the drinking of gin by the lower classes. Gin drinking at that time was the popular habit, and was carried to such a degree that the drunkenness of the mob and the depraved and debased condition of public morals became a crying scandal. The sale of gin was carried to such an extent in the taverns that a newspaper of the time informs us: “We hear that a strong-water shop was lately opened in Southwark with this inscription on the sign:—

Drunk for one penny,
Dead drunk for two pence,
Clean straw for nothing.”117

The Gin Act was passed with a view to putting a stop to this sale, but without success, and the truth that people cannot be made sober by Act of Parliament was proved up to the hilt. The only result was to encourage a gang of informers who became the pest of the country. The Act came into force on September 29th, 1736, and as the date approached ballads and lamentations of “Mother Gin” were sung about the streets, the signs of the liquor shops were everywhere put into mourning, and mock ceremonies on the funeral of “Madam Gin” were carried out by the mob. To quote from the journals: “Last Wednesday, September 29th,306 several people made themselves very merry with the death of ‘Madam Gin,’ and some of both sexes got soundly drunk at her funeral, of which the mob made a formal procession with torches.”118

All over the country it was the same, and the Act was practically abortive. The selling of gin was carried on just the same, sometimes publicly in the shops, more often by hawkers who sold it about the streets in flasks and bottles under fictitious names. Some of these names were odd enough, such as “Cuckold’s Comfort,” “Make-Shift,” “The Ladies’ Delight,” “Colic and Gripe water,” and so forth. Sometimes the gin was coloured with a drop or two of pink fluid, and sold in bottles, labelled: “Take two or three spoonfuls of this four or five times a day, or as often as the fit takes you”. The Act was repealed seven years later; but the whole of its unpopularity now fell upon Walpole and the Queen-Regent, especially on the latter, who certainly had urged its passing, as she wished to abate the crying scandal of drunkenness. The Prince of Wales, in his quest for popularity, sided with the people, and was said to have been seen drinking gin publicly in one of the taverns the very day the Act came into force.

The most serious riot of all took place, not in London or the provinces, but in Edinburgh. Scotland, though quelled for a time after the abortive rising of 1715, was still restless under Hanoverian rule, and it needed but a spark to set the discontent307 in a blaze. Scotland had never been reconciled to the Act of Union, and the jealousy of any interference from England was strongly resented, even by many of those who refused to acknowledge James as their King. The Porteous Riots served to bring matters to a climax. These riots had their origin in a small matter. Two smugglers, named Robertson and Wilson, were arrested by the officers of the Crown for robbing a collector of customs, and lay in the Tolbooth, or city gaol of Edinburgh, under sentence of death. Hanging was the punishment for smuggling in those days, but practically the severity of the sentence rendered the Act inoperative, and smuggling was winked at by many honest Scots who regarded these imposts as an unjust aggression upon their ancient liberties. But in this case the Government determined to make an example. Great sympathy was felt for the prisoners by the people, and files were secretly conveyed to them from outside to aid their escape. The prisoners freed themselves from their manacles, and cut through a bar of the window. Wilson insisted on going first, but as he was a stout man he got fixed in the opening, and there remained, unable to move backwards or forwards. In this plight he was found in the morning, and the escape of the prisoners was defeated. Wilson was seized with self-reproach at the thought that, if it had not been for his wilfulness, Robertson, who was a younger and slimmer man, would have been saved, and he determined to do something to help him.


It was the custom in those days for condemned prisoners to be taken to the Tolbooth church the Sunday before their execution, and be preached at. Robertson and Wilson went as was customary, escorted by guards, but as they were coming out Wilson attacked the guards unexpectedly, and cried to Robertson to escape. In the confusion the latter managed to do so; he jumped over the pews, and was aided by the sympathetic congregation. The generous conduct of Wilson excited great popular sympathy, but Captain John Porteous, who was in command of the city guard, a rough and brutal man, especially resented the saving of one prisoner by the other, and determined that Wilson’s execution should take place the next day. In this decision he was hastened by a rumour that Wilson would be rescued from the gallows by the mob. He ordered a double guard around the scaffold, and was said to have forced the unfortunate victim to wear handcuffs much too small for him as he went to the place of execution, though the latter showed him his bruised and bleeding wrists, and protested against this barbarity. “It signifies little,” said Porteous brutally, “your pain will soon be at an end.” Wilson answered him in words that were afterwards remembered: “You know not how soon you yourself may have occasion to ask the mercy which you are now refusing to a fellow-creature. May God forgive you!”


From an old Print

Wilson was hanged by the neck on the gibbet erected in the Grassmarket, and the execution passed off quietly enough, though an enormous and threatening309 crowd had assembled. But when the body had hung on the gibbet for some time, some of the mob began to throw stones at the guards and a rush was made for the scaffold to cut down the body, either to give it decent burial or to see if it could be resuscitated. Porteous, who was a violent-tempered man and was said to be half-drunk, ordered the soldiers to fire upon the crowd and even stimulated them by snatching a musket from a soldier and firing it himself. Several persons were wounded, and six or seven killed on the spot. The firing was the signal for a general tumult; Porteous and his soldiers withdrew with difficulty to the guard-house, pursued by execrations and volleys of stones. Local feeling was wholly against Porteous; he was arrested for ordering the soldiers to fire upon the citizens, several of whom had taken no part in the tumult. His trial took place before the High Court of Justice in Edinburgh, and he was found guilty and condemned to death. He was to be hanged on September 8th, 1736, and meanwhile lay in the Tolbooth. He appealed to London, and the Queen-Regent in Council, taking into consideration the provocation which Porteous had received, ordered his reprieve.

When this reprieve arrived at Edinburgh from the Secretary of State’s Office, under the hand of the Duke of Newcastle, the agitation that arose was almost beyond belief. The people, who had been thirsting for the death of Porteous, were like tigers baulked of their prey, and determined to take the law into their own hands. There is little doubt310 that the Lord Provost and city authorities were aware of what was going to take place, and also the General in command of the troops at the Castle. They did nothing to prevent it, for their sympathies were with the people. The night after the Queen’s reprieve arrived in Edinburgh, a fierce mob arose as if by magic, armed with pikes, bayonets, Lochaber axes, and any arms they could find, and headed by a man dressed in woman’s clothes. The rioters made themselves masters of the gates of the city, disarmed the guard, and marched to the Tolbooth, with shouts of “Porteous! Porteous!” The unhappy man within, who was entertaining a party of boon companions on the cheerful news of his reprieve, saw the glare of the torches, heard the cries, and recognised in them the shout of his doom. His friends made off as fast as they could, the turnkeys were seized with panic and ran away, and many prisoners escaped. Porteous concealed himself in the chimney of his cell. For some time the old door of the Tolbooth, which was of stout oak, heavily clamped with iron, resisted the onslaughts of the rioters, but at last they burned it down, and leaping over the embers rushed into the prison in search of their prey. The miserable man was soon discovered, dragged from the chimney, carried outside and hanged in the sight of the mob from an improvised gibbet made of a barber’s pole. The crowd then dispersed as suddenly and mysteriously as it had assembled; the method and precision with which the ringleaders carried out their work, and the311 celerity with which they dispersed, showed there was method in this rough justice, and that it was rather the result of a conspiracy than an ordinary riot. The next morning not a sign remained of the night’s dread work except the body of Porteous hanging from the pole.

When the news reached London the Queen was furious at the insult which she conceived had been especially aimed at her authority as Regent, and gave vent to language which for vigour would have done credit to her exemplar, Queen Elizabeth. For the only time on record Caroline thoroughly lost her temper. She hastily summoned a council and proposed the wildest measures. The charter of Edinburgh, she said, must be withdrawn, the Provost must be incapacitated from ever holding office again, the commander of the garrison must be cashiered, and fines and imprisonment were to be the order of the day. The Duke of Argyll endeavoured to put in a moderating word on behalf of his countrymen. The Queen turned on him with fury, and said that sooner than brook such an insult she would make Scotland a hunting ground. “In that case, madam,” said the duke with a bow, “I will take leave of your Majesty, and go down to my own country to get my hounds ready.” Caroline recognised the covert threat in the duke’s words, and adjourned the council. Fortunately her anger was not of a kind to last long, and wiser counsels prevailed. The Scottish peers defended their countrymen in the House of Lords, and in the end312 a compromise was arrived at, by which the City of Edinburgh had to pay a nominal fine of £2,000, and the Provost was disgraced.

It was on the Porteous Riots that Sir Walter Scott wrote his celebrated novel, The Heart of Midlothian. He introduces Queen Caroline in connection with Jeannie Deans, who walked all the way from Edinburgh to London to plead the cause of her sister, Effie Deans, who was sentenced to death according to Scottish law for concealing the birth of her illegitimate child. The father of this child, according to Scott’s romance, was Robertson, the prisoner who had escaped, and who was supposed to have headed the mob against Porteous. Of course, in a novel a good deal of fiction is reared on a slender basis of fact, and Scott makes some little mistakes. For example, in the Queen’s interview with Jeannie Deans he makes Lady Suffolk be in attendance, instead of Lady Sundon (Mrs. Clayton), whereas Lady Suffolk had left the court two years before; he also places the Queen’s palace at Richmond, where the interview took place, in Richmond Park, whereas it was in Richmond Gardens. But this much at least is true, and may be quoted as one of the many instances of the Queen’s kindness of heart. A certain Scottish peasant woman named Helen Walker actually did walk from Edinburgh to London, to plead with the Queen-Regent on behalf of her sister, then lying under sentence of death in the Tolbooth in Edinburgh. The sister, who was called Isabella, or313 Tibbie Walker, had secretly given birth to an illegitimate child, which shortly afterwards died, and by the Scottish law of those days she was adjudged, by wilfully concealing her condition, to have been guilty of its death. At the trial of this wretched girl, her sister Helen, a rigid Presbyterian, was unwillingly the principal witness against her sister. When she was asked whether Tibbie, whom she dearly loved, had ever made known to her the fact of her condition, she refused to perjure herself by saying that she had, saying: “It is impossible for me to swear a falsehood”; and thus gave away her sister’s sole chance of release. According to the Scottish law, six weeks had to elapse between the sentence and the execution, and in that time Helen Walker got up a petition praying the Queen for her sister’s reprieve, signed by some of the principal residents in Edinburgh, and armed with this she made her way to London on foot. Arrived there she presented herself, clad in tartan plaid and country attire, before John, the great Duke of Argyll, who was regarded in Scotland as a protector of the poor. To him she made appeal. The Duke of Argyll told the whole story to the Queen, who was so much touched at the girl’s honesty in refusing to perjure herself, and her sisterly devotion in making this long pilgrimage, that she granted the pardon at once, and Helen Walker returned with it to Edinburgh in time to save her sister. She had trusted “in the Almighty’s strength,” she said. Whether the Queen gave audience to Helen Walker or not314 is uncertain (it would have been characteristic of her if she had done so), but the other facts of the case are well authenticated.

These exciting public events kept the Queen-Regent busy throughout the summer and early autumn, and gave her less time to think about her private troubles. But when the time drew near for the King to return to England, and he still lingered at Hanover, she became anxious; and when he wrote to say that he could not be back in England for his birthday, October 30th, as he had always done before, her tolerance and endurance began to give way. She took his absence on his birthday as a personal slight to herself, a sign to all the world that her influence over him had waned, owing to his passion for another. Her letters to the King, which were usually of great length, giving him full details of everything which took place, now became fewer and shorter, and no doubt abated proportionately in warmth.

Walpole and the Queen had hitherto affected to treat the King’s affair with Madame Walmoden as a joke, but now they recognised that it was beyond a joke and might become a public danger as it already was a public scandal. They therefore put affectation aside and looked the matter in the face. Walpole repeated, with even greater frankness, the views he had expressed on the subject some time before, and he told the Queen that she could no longer keep the King to her side by the arts and charms she had employed when she was a315 younger woman. He therefore recommended that she should maintain her influence by accepting the situation and making the best of it. Since the King would not live anywhere long without his Walmoden, the Queen must go so far as to ask him to bring her to England. The Queen wept bitterly when the Prime Minister gave her this advice, but at last declared that she would do as he suggested. Walpole, profligate and cynical though he was, had his doubts at first whether the Queen, as a wife and a woman, would carry her complaisance thus far. Two or three days after, when he met her walking in the gardens at Richmond, she taxed him with not believing that she would keep her promise. Walpole replied: “Madam, your Majesty in asking if I disbelieved you, would put a word into my mouth so coarse that I could not give it place even in my thoughts, but if you oblige me to answer this question I confess I feared”. “Well,” replied the Queen, “I understand what ‘I feared’ means on this occasion. To show you that your fears were ill-founded I have considered what you said to me, and am determined this very day to write to the King just as you would have me, and on Monday when we meet at Kensington you shall see the letter.” Accordingly Caroline wrote the letter and despatched it to her faithless husband, assuring him that she had nothing but his happiness at heart, and urging him to bring the Walmoden to England if such a step would conduce to it. Heaven knows what mortification and anguish the Queen suffered before she brought316 herself to write that letter. She has been greatly blamed by the moralists for writing it, but the great excuse that can be urged for her is that her action was strongly dictated by political expediency, for the King’s prolonged absence at Hanover was bringing his throne into peril.

The Queen went further in her abasement, and even considered the possibility of taking Madame Walmoden into her personal service in the same position that Lady Suffolk had occupied, and so throwing an air of respectability over the arrangement. But from this Walpole dissuaded her, pointing out that it would deceive no one, and defeat its object, for the world would be scandalised if the Queen made the King’s mistress one of her servants, which he said was a different thing from the King’s making one of the Queen’s servants his mistress, as had been done in the case of Lady Suffolk—a nice distinction. The King was delighted with his Queen’s complaisance, and soon sent her an answer many pages long, in which he praised her to the skies. He said that he wished to be everything that she would have him to be, but she knew his nature, and must make allowances for it. “Mais vous voyez mes passions ma chère Caroline! Vous connaissez mes foiblesses, il n’y a rien de caché dans mon cœur pour vous, et plût à Dieu que vous pourriez me corriger avec la même facilité que vous m’approfondissez! Plût à Dieu que je pourrais vous imiter autant que je sais vous admirer, et que je pourrais apprendre de vous toutes les vertus que317 vous me faites voir, sentir, et aimer!” The King then gave for the Queen’s delectation a detailed description of the Walmoden’s personal charms, over which Caroline must have made a wry face. He desired that Lady Suffolk’s lodgings should be made ready for her, as she would avail herself of the Queen’s kind permission to make her home in England. The Queen showed the King’s letter to Walpole, and said: “Well now, Sir Robert, I hope you are satisfied. You see this minion is coming to England.” But Walpole shook his head, and said that he did not believe she would come, for she was afraid of the Queen. He had probably received advices from his brother Horace at Hanover telling him that Madame Walmoden was not such a fool as they thought her. His surmise proved correct, for, though the Queen made ready the lodgings, the Walmoden thought discretion the better part of valour, and remembering the fate of Lady Suffolk, wisely elected to stay at Hanover.

The question whether Madame Walmoden would come or not agitated the court, especially the Queen’s household. Some declared that it would be an outrage and do infinite harm; others inclined to the opinion that it would be better to bring her over, for if she kept the King so long in Hanover, thus exasperating the English people, he would go there once too often, and the nation would never let him come back. The scandal gradually filtered down through the court to the people. They did not understand318 why the King’s absence should be so prolonged, and sought a cause. No one wanted him back for his own sake, but it was said that trade suffered because the King was not in London, and the disaffected seized upon his predilection for Hanover as a pretext for their disaffection. Many honest people pitied the Queen, a virtuous matron, they declared, who should not be used so ill, and they thought it was ridiculous for the King at his age, close on sixty, with a wife and family, to be playing the gallant, when he ought to be setting an example to the nation. The most extraordinary bills and satires were printed and posted up in different parts of the town; one ran to this effect:—

“It is reported that his Hanoverian Majesty designs to visit his British dominions for three months in the spring.”

On the gate of St. James’s Palace a more daring bill was posted:—

“Lost or strayed out of this house a man who has left a wife and six children on the parish; whoever will give any tidings of him to the church-wardens of St. James’s parish, so that he may be got again, shall receive four shillings and sixpence reward. N.B.—This reward will not be increased, nobody judging him to deserve a crown.”

One day in the City an old broken-down horse was turned out with a ragged saddle on its back, and a woman’s pillion stuck up behind it. On the horse’s forehead was fastened this inscription: “Let nobody stop me, I am the King’s Hanoverian319 equipage going to fetch his Majesty and his w—— to England.”

In the autumn the Queen removed her court from Hampton Court to Kensington. The King sent her word from Hanover that she could go to St. James’s if she liked, but as she was afraid of arousing his jealousy by keeping too much state, or perhaps because she did not care to show herself much in public under present circumstances, she declined, and only went to St. James’s to celebrate the King’s birthday. The displeasure at his absence was very marked at the birthday drawing-room; the attendance was meagre, and the clothes positively shabby. The Queen affected to notice nothing unusual, but the Prince of Wales openly expressed his approval of these signs of dissatisfaction, and deliberately played on his sire’s unpopularity to make himself more popular. But though the Queen was outwardly calm she was inwardly much concerned, and she made representations so urgent to the King that at last he gave the long-deferred orders for the royal yacht to set out for Holland.

On December 7th (1736), after giving a ball and a farewell supper at Herrenhausen, the King tore himself away from Hanover and his Walmoden. He arrived four days later at Helvoetsluys, where the yacht was awaiting him. His daughter, the Princess of Orange, lay in a very perilous child-bed at the Hague, and had urgently asked her father to come and see her on his way home, but the King would not leave his mistress a few320 hours sooner so as to give himself time to visit his daughter.

It was soon known in London that the King had set out from Hanover, and the Queen anxiously awaited his return, she being the only person in England who really cared whether he came back or not. But a great storm arose at sea, which lasted for many days, and the King came not, nor any tidings of him, though a hundred messages a day passed between St. James’s Palace, where the Queen was, and the Admiralty. No one knew whether the King had embarked at Helvoetsluys or not; but it was thought certain that, if he had embarked, his vessel must go down, as no ship could withstand the tremendous seas then running. As the days went by and no news came, the suspense at court became great. Wagers were freely laid on whether the King was drowned or not; many people opined that he was, and the wish was often father to the thought. The Prince of Wales went about everywhere, showing himself freely to the people. When the Queen’s anxiety was at its worst he gave a dinner to the Lord Mayor and Aldermen, and made them a speech, which was loudly praised. The Queen, who was greatly incensed that the Prince should give this dinner at such a time, asked particulars about it the next morning, and when she was told how well it had passed off, and how popular the Prince was becoming, she exclaimed: “My God, popularity always makes me sick, but Fritz’s popularity makes me vomit. I hear that yesterday, on321 his side of the house, they talked of the King’s being cast away with the same sang-froid as you would talk of a coach being overturned, and that my good son strutted about as if he had been already King.”

Walpole and his friends about the court were much exercised as to what would happen to the Queen if the King were really drowned, and the Prince ascended the throne. Walpole declared that “he (the Prince) would tear the flesh off her bones with hot irons,” so much did he hate his mother. Lord Hervey, on the other hand, thought that he would probably make use of the Queen’s great knowledge and experience in the management of affairs, and her position would not become so intolerable as some imagined. The Princess Caroline differed from him. “My good lord,” she said, “you must know very little of him if you believe that, for in the first place, he hates mamma, in the next, he has so good an opinion of himself that he thinks he wants no advice, and of all advice, no woman’s.” She said also that the moment he was King “she would run out of the house, au grand galop”. But the Queen declared that she would not budge an inch before she was compelled to go.

This uncertainty continued for more than a week, and one morning the Prince of Wales, with a satisfaction he could ill conceal, came to the Queen with the news that he had received a letter from a correspondent near Harwich saying that the night before guns had been heard at sea, signals of322 distress, and part of the fleet that escorted the King’s yacht had been dispersed. The poor Queen passed a day of the greatest anxiety and depression, but at night a King’s messenger, who had been three days at sea, and had landed by a miracle at Yarmouth, arrived at the palace with a letter from the King, telling the Queen that he had not yet stirred out of Helvoetsluys. Directly the Queen read the letter she cried out to the whole court: “The King is safe! the King is safe!” with a joy that showed how greatly she had feared.

The Queen’s satisfaction did not last long. A few days later, the wind having calmed, it was understood that the King had embarked. Suddenly the gales arose fiercer than before, and everybody thought that he was at sea and in great danger. No word of the King reached the court for ten days more, and then a vessel that had set out with the King from Helvoetsluys, and continued with the fleet until the storm arose, brought news that the royal yacht had been seen to tack about, but whether to return to the harbour or not it was impossible to say. The tempests continued to rage with unabated violence, and from accounts that reached the court of guns of distress and shipwrecks, there seemed little doubt that the King by now was at the bottom of the sea. The Queen lost all hope and broke down and wept bitterly. In the Prince’s apartments everything wore a subdued air of excitement; messengers ran to and fro, and it was said that the Prince already considered himself323 King of England. The Queen, hearing this, roused herself and determined to put a bold face on the matter, and on Sunday December 26th, she went to the Chapel Royal as usual. She had not been in chapel more than half an hour when a letter arrived from the King telling her that it was true he had set out from Helvoetsluys, but owing to the violence of the tempest he had put back again, with great difficulty, into port, where he still was detained by contrary winds. It afterwards transpired that the King had insisted on going forward, and only the good sense of the admiral in command of the fleet, who flatly refused to obey orders, saved his life.

The Queen now wrote to the King, telling him all her hopes and fears and sufferings. She also told him of the Prince’s conduct when it was thought that he was drowned, and how the different courtiers and Ministers behaved. The King wrote a letter of great length in answer, full of the most passionate tenderness. He no longer dilated on the charms of the Walmoden, but on those of the Queen, expressing his impatience to rejoin her, and depicting her as “a perfect Venus”. The Queen could not forbear showing this letter to Walpole, who had told her so frankly that her beauty had gone, and said: “Do not think because I show you this that I am an old fool and vain of my person and charms of this time of day”. But it was evident that she was very much pleased.

There was no popular enthusiasm about the324 King’s safety, and one of the topical jests was “How is the wind with the King? Like the nation against him.” While the King was still away, waiting at Helvoetsluys for the wind to change, a great fire broke out at the Temple and the Prince of Wales went at midnight to help extinguish it. He was hailed by the crowd with shouts of “Crown him! Crown him!!” and the same cry was heard when he appeared at the theatre. However, any immediate question of crowning him was put at rest by the return of the King, who arrived at St. James’s on January 15th, 1737, after a detention at Helvoetsluys of five weeks and an absence from England of more than eight months. The Queen, accompanied by all her children, including the Prince of Wales, went down to the courtyard of the palace to receive him as he alighted from his coach. The King embraced her with great affection, and then gave her his arm to conduct her upstairs. A council was held the same day and the Queen surrendered into the King’s hands her office of Regent.


116 This son, according to some authorities, came over to England with Madame Walmoden, afterwards Countess of Yarmouth, after the Queen’s death, and was generally known at court as “Master Louis”. But according to Lord Hervey the child died within a year of its birth.

117 Old Whig, 26th February, 1736. This inscription was afterwards introduced by Hogarth in his caricature of Gin Lane.

118 The Daily Gazetteer, 2nd October, 1736.


The King’s narrow escape from drowning really seemed to have given him a lesson, for he behaved much better on his return to England than he had done before he went to Hanover. He treated the Queen with great affection and respect, and praised her frequently before all the court. He no longer abused England and extolled Hanover, and he did not so much as mention Madame Walmoden. Perhaps the state of his health had something to do with his change of conduct; he had contracted a chill on his journey home, which soon after his return developed into a low fever. For some time the King was very unwell; he kept to his own apartments and saw no one but the Queen and, when it was absolutely necessary, Walpole. Exaggerated rumours soon spread abroad concerning his condition, though the King himself, the Queen and the Princesses made light of it. Still the King grew no better, and at last the Ministers became anxious, and Walpole taxed the Queen with concealing the King’s true state of health, an imputation326 which she indignantly denied. The Prince of Wales and his friends declared that the King’s constitution had quite broken up, and, even if he recovered from this illness, it was unlikely that he would long survive. This was a little too much for the King, and by way of showing that he was not dead yet, he roused himself from his lethargy, quitted his chamber and resumed his levées. It was noticed that he looked pale and thin, and it was generally thought he would not live long, though, as a matter of fact, he grew better every day after he quitted his chamber.

The King’s ill-health had the result of bringing the Prince of Wales more prominently before the public. It was felt by many courtiers and politicians that his coming to the throne was only a question of a little time, and they were anxious to stand well with him. The alliance between the Prince and the Patriots now became closer, and the Prince gave the Opposition his open support in return for their championing his grievances, which he was determined to have redressed by fair means or foul. He had written, or caused to be written, l’Histoire du Prince Titi, in which his wrongs were set forth in detail, and the King and Queen abused under transparent pseudonyms. Translations of this work were circulated about this time, and gave great offence at the court, but they influenced to some extent popular feeling in his favour. The Prince took the leaders of the Opposition into his confidence, especially rising men like Pitt and Lyttelton.327 Perhaps it was these younger and more fiery spirits who urged him to act upon the advice of Bolingbroke, and set the King at defiance, though it was generally supposed that Chesterfield prompted him. Certain it was that the Prince saw in his father’s illness an opportunity of bringing his claims before Parliament, and determined to delay no longer. The Prince requested the leaders of the Opposition to raise the question in the House of Commons. Some were at first reluctant, but influenced no doubt by the King’s ill-health, Pulteney at last consented to bring forward the question, and Wyndham and Barnard agreed to support him.

When the King and Queen heard the news they were thrown into an extraordinary state of agitation. The King was beside himself with rage; the Queen declared that all these disputes would kill her. The Government, too, were in a difficult position. The Prince’s demand that he should have his,£100,000 a year, and a dowry for the Princess was, on the face of it, reasonable, and, what was more important, popular; Ministers could not be sure of their majority, and might suffer defeat. Walpole endeavoured to effect a compromise, and after great difficulty induced the King to send a message to the Prince the day before the motion came on in the House, saying that he was prepared to settle,£50,000 a year on him absolutely, and to give the Princess a dowry. The Prince declined to consider the message, saying that the matter was in other hands.

The next day, February 22nd (1737), Pulteney328 brought forward his motion in a moderate speech, basing his main argument on precedent, and the right of the heir-apparent to the Crown to enjoy a sufficient and settled income. Walpole in his reply laid stress upon the King’s message to the Prince the previous day, as showing how far the King was anxious to meet his son’s wishes. He held that Parliamentary interference between father and son would be highly indecorous. In the end the Prince’s claims were rejected by a majority of thirty. This small majority would really have been reduced to a minority if forty-five Tories with Jacobite leanings had not left the House in a body, unwilling to give any vote in favour of the heir of Hanover, even though by doing so they would defeat the Government.



The King and the Queen were overjoyed at the Prince’s defeat, and, in the first flush of victory, the King was inclined to follow up his advantage by turning his son immediately out of St. James’s Palace in the same way as (he might have remembered, but did not) his father had turned him out. Walpole dissuaded the King from taking so extreme a step, and then proceeded to urge him to make good his promise to settle a jointure on the Princess, and make over, £50,000 a year to his son absolutely. To this the King now demurred, though Walpole pointed out to him that the victory in the House of Commons had only been gained on the understanding that the King would carry out his pledges. The difficulty was complicated by the Prince continuing329 impenitent. So far from being downcast by his defeat in the House of Commons, he called a council of all his friends, and it was resolved to raise the question anew in the House of Lords, Lord Carteret undertaking to bring forward the motion, and Chesterfield to support it. Here, too, he lost, but public sympathy was undoubtedly with him, and to prevent the scandal from growing, Walpole, Newcastle, and indeed all the King’s Ministers, urged the necessity of a settlement. One was eventually made, though not until much later, by the King settling £50,000 a year on the Prince absolutely, together with £10,000 a year from the Duchy of Cornwall, and Parliament making up the rest by giving an unusually large jointure to the Princess of Wales.

The King and Queen were much disgusted at what they considered the Government’s half-heartedness, and included in their displeasure the Whigs generally, who had certainly wavered in their devotion to the court when they heard that the King’s health was so bad. “If the Whigs can be so little depended upon in the King’s interest,” said the Queen, “we might as well send for the Tories, who are only too willing to come; the King has only to beckon to them.” She did not mean what she said, but Walpole became alarmed. His majority was not so large that he could pose any longer as a dictator, or afford to dispense with the Queen’s favour and support. He knew that Lady Sundon was intriguing against him, and that she had had several330 interviews with Lord Carteret. Carteret now expressed his great regret at having championed the Prince’s cause; he said he was driven into it against his better judgment; he was full of the Queen’s praises, and vowed that he would do anything to serve her. He declared that he had great influence over the Opposition leaders, especially Pulteney and Wyndham, and could bring them to the Queen’s side if she would only make the sign. All this was duly repeated by Lady Sundon to the Queen, who listened but did nothing. She never intended to do anything, but she thought it well to bring Walpole to his bearings, and in this she quickly succeeded. Walpole came to her, and told her that he had heard of Carteret’s overtures, and warned her not to trust him. The Whigs he urged were the natural support of the Hanoverian family, which was certainly true, since they had brought them over to England, and the Tories were but a broken reed. Caroline agreed with all he said, but fell back upon the lukewarm support which the Whigs had given the King. Even Walpole, she said, had regarded the Prince’s conduct in too favourable a light. Walpole told her that he had only striven to bring the Prince to reason, but he now owned that he had made a mistake. The Queen, he said, should never again have cause to complain of him on that score, he saw that the Prince must be overcome. The Queen said she only wanted him to assure her on that point, and she dismissed him with many assurances that she would never cease to support him.331 The immediate result of this reconciliation was to strengthen the alliance between the Prince and the Patriots, who now saw in Frederick their only hope of ever gaining office.

These events took place quite early in the Session, but when Parliament rose the King said nothing about going to Hanover as Ministers had feared. In truth he was afraid to go, for he knew that Frederick would seize upon it as a pretext for some fresh intrigue, and the country was hardly in a humour to brook another prolonged absence. So he rarely mentioned the name of Hanover and never that of Walmoden. Most people about the court thought that the King had forgotten her for Lady Deloraine, to whom he showed great attention, paying her visits in her apartments for a long time together, as he had done to Lady Suffolk in the old days. He also insisted on her sitting next him at the commerce table, and often walked with her tête-à-tête in the gardens. Lady Deloraine, who had great beauty but little discretion, was inclined to boast of her triumphs, for she said to Lord Hervey: “Do you know the King has been in love with me these two years?” Lord Hervey, who was afraid to invite dangerous confidences, merely smiled and said: “Who is not in love with you?” Walpole came across her one day, standing in the hall at Richmond with a baby in her arms, and said to her: “That is a very pretty boy, Lady Deloraine; whose is it?” She replied: “Mr. Windham’s (her husband’s) upon my honour. But,” she added with a332 significant laugh, “I will not promise whose the next shall be.” She moreover told several people that the King had been importunate a long time, but that she had held out from motives of virtue, which were not at all appreciated, as her husband, she was sure, did not care.

Whether there was anything between Lady Deloraine and the King or not, the Queen followed her usual policy of ignoring the intrigue. She knew what her husband was, and made allowances. Perhaps, too, she was glad that he should seek distraction from Madame Walmoden, though she knew that he had not forgotten her. Walpole had told her of an incident which showed how the King still esteemed his Hanoverian mistress above Lady Deloraine. He ordered Walpole one day to buy a hundred lottery tickets, and to charge the amount, £1,000, to the secret service fund instead of his civil list. Walpole did as he was bid and told Hervey of this iniquitous transaction, which he said was for the benefit of the King’s favourite. Hervey thought he meant Lady Deloraine and expressed his surprise at the largeness of the sum, saying he “did not think his Majesty went so deep there”. Walpole replied: “No, I mean the Hanover woman. You are right to imagine he does not go so deep to his lying fool here. He will give her a couple of the tickets and think her generously used.”

The relations between the Prince of Wales and his parents went from bad to worse as the months wore on, but they were not even yet strained to333 breaking point. Acting on the advice of his supporters the Prince still occasionally attended levées and drawing-rooms. The King treated him as though he were not in the room; the Queen, though she recognised his presence, did not speak to him more than was absolutely necessary, and in private she declared that she was afraid to do so lest he should distort her words. The Prince still resided in his father’s house, making his headquarters at St. James’s Palace. But when the King and Queen moved to Hampton Court for the summer he had perforce to go there too, but much against his will. Though he and the Princess lived under the same roof as the King and Queen they saw little of them, and only met them in public.

In July the Prince wrote a letter to the Queen announcing that the Princess was with child. The Queen congratulated him and the Princess on the auspicious event, and asked the latter some maternal questions about her condition. To all these the Princess made the same answer—“I do not know”. The Queen had doubts, which were shared by her daughters, as to whether the Princess was really pregnant. Both she and the King considered the Prince quite capable of palming off a spurious child on them, and their prejudices against him were so strong that they half believed he was plotting to do so. They had no wish that the Princess of Wales should bear children; it was generally thought that she would not. If she did it would destroy the remaining chance that their beloved younger son,334 William, might one day succeed to the crown. The Prince, who resented these suspicions, wished that his wife should be confined at St. James’s, but the King determined that the event should take place at Hampton Court. The Queen declared that “at her labour I positively will be, let her lie in where she will,” but again expressed herself sceptical about the Princess being confined at all, as she could see no signs of it. The Prince, on the other hand, who knew and resented these suspicions, vowed that his mother should not be present at the birth, and that the child should be born at St. James’s. He kept his word.

The court was then at Hampton Court for the summer, and the Prince and Princess of Wales were there occupying their own suite of apartments. On Sunday, July 31st, the Princess dined in public with the King and Queen, but on retiring to her apartments she was seized with pain, and symptoms of premature confinement became manifest. Notwithstanding the danger, which perhaps the Prince did not realise, as the Princess’s confinement was not expected for two months, he determined that she should at once be secretly removed to St. James’s. He ordered his coach to be brought round quickly. It was nearly dark, and the Prince’s apartments were in another wing of the palace to those of the King and Queen, so they were able to make their exit without being seen. The poor Princess was carried downstairs, though she begged her husband to let her remain where she was, and Lady Archibald335 Hamilton added her entreaties, but to no effect. The Prince obstinately insisted on his wife getting into the coach with Lady Archibald and one of her women. The Prince got in after them, and gave the order to drive with all speed to St. James’s, and once outside the gates of Hampton Court they went at full gallop towards London. The Princess moaned in agony, but the Prince kept saying: “Courage, courage,” telling her by way of consolation that it would all be over in a minute. They arrived at St. James’s Palace about ten o’clock: there was nothing ready for them, as they were not expected. The Princess, shrieking with pain, was carried upstairs and put to bed, and, there being no sheets in the palace, a pair of table-cloths had to make shift instead. Within half-an-hour she was prematurely delivered of a girl child.119

Meanwhile at Hampton Court, the King and Queen, all unsuspecting, passed their evening as usual: the King played commerce below stairs with Lady Deloraine and the maids of honour; the Queen and the Princess Amelia played quadrille above; the Princess Caroline and Lord Hervey had their nightly game of cribbage. The party broke up, and all retired at eleven, without having heard a whisper of what had been going on in the Prince of Wales’s apartments. The King and Queen had gone to bed and to sleep, when about half-past one they were aroused by the arrival of a courier from336 St. James’s Palace with a message that brooked no delay. The Queen, startled at being aroused at so unusual an hour, asked whether the palace was on fire, but Mrs. Tichburne, her dresser, in fear and trembling explained that the Prince of Wales had sent to let their Majesties know that the Princess was in labour. The Queen jumped up immediately and cried out: “My God! My night-gown, I’ll go to her this moment.” “Your night-gown, madam,” said the worthy Tichburne, “aye, and your coaches too; the Princess is at St. James’s.” “Are you mad?” exclaimed the Queen, “or are you asleep, my good Tichburne? you dream.” Then Mrs. Tichburne told the whole tale of the Princess’s flight, so far as she understood it. The King raged and swore, and began to abuse the Queen, saying: “You see, now, with all your wisdom, how they have outwitted you. This is all your fault. There will be a false child put upon you, and how will you answer for it to all your children? This has been fine care and fine management for your son, William; he is mightily obliged to you; and as for Anne, I hope she will come over and scold you herself; I am sure you deserve anything she can say to you.”

The Queen made no answer, but dressed quickly, ordered her coach, and set out for London at once, accompanied by the Princesses Amelia and Caroline, and attended by some of the lords in waiting. She arrived at St. James’s Palace about four o’clock, left her coach, and those who came with her, at the337 outer gate, walked alone across the courtyard and made her way upstairs as fast as she could. At the top of the stairs she met the Prince in his night-gown. He dutifully kissed her hand and cheek, and then with scarcely concealed malice told her that she was too late, the Princess had given birth to a daughter. The Queen expressed neither surprise nor annoyance, but asked why the news of the child’s birth had not been sent to her before she started from Hampton Court. The Prince said that he had written letters to the King and Queen directly he could; the messenger was already on the road and she would doubtless find them on her return. The Queen made no further remark, but asked to see the mother and child. The Prince then conducted her into the Princess’s chamber. The Queen kissed the Princess and wished her joy, but expressed her fear that she had suffered greatly. The Princess dutifully replied: “Not at all; it is nothing”. Lady Archibald Hamilton brought the child, which was wrapped up in an old red mantle and some napkins, no proper clothes having yet been found for it, nor any nurse. The Queen kissed the babe and said: “The good God bless you, poor little creature; you have come into a troublesome world”.

The Prince then began a long account of what had happened. The Queen listened to him without interruption, but when he had quite finished, she said that it was a miracle the Princess and the child had not been killed. She added that he and his338 wife were a couple of young fools who could not have been aware of the danger they ran, and then she turned to Lady Archibald and said: “But for you, my Lady Archibald, who have had ten children, that with your experience, and at your age, you should suffer these people to act with such a madness, I am astonished; and wonder how you could, for your own sake as well as theirs, venture to be concerned in such an expedition”. To this Lady Archibald made no reply, except to turn to the Prince and say: “You see, sir”. The Queen then embraced the Princess, wished her good-bye, and told her that if there was anything she wanted she had only to name it and it would be done. The Princess, who had evidently been coached in her part, from between her table-cloths thanked her Majesty, but said she wanted nothing. The Prince waited on his mother down the stairs, still in his night-gown, and would have escorted her to her coach, had she not insisted that he should not accompany her out of doors in such a plight. The Queen walked across the courts by herself to where the coaches were waiting. She told the Princesses that she had no doubt the child was genuine, but she added: “If instead of this poor, little, ugly she-mouse there had been a brave, large, fat, jolly boy, I should not have been cured of my suspicions”.

As soon as the Queen had set out from Hampton Court the King sent express messengers to Walpole and Lord Harrington, requesting them to hasten to St. James’s to be present at the birth of the Prince’s339 child. They went thither with all speed, but like the Queen arrived too late. Walpole returned to Hampton Court in the course of the morning, and had a conference with the King and Queen. He agreed that the insult was intolerable, and must be punished. Walpole had learnt his lesson, and was now wholly against the Prince. So far from attempting to moderate the King’s ire he rather sought to inflame it, and declared that if the King and Queen did not conquer him he would conquer them. After much discussion and much strong language, the King sent the Prince a written message, complaining of the “deliberate indignity” offered to him and the Queen, which he “resented in the highest degree”. The King was for taking more drastic measures at once, but Walpole persuaded him to defer them until the Princess was out of danger, and then strike. The King would gain by waiting a little he said, for as soon as it was known that the Prince had been guilty of this grievous act of folly his popularity would wane. In this he was right, for no sooner did the news get abroad than the public, to a man, condemned the Prince’s conduct in risking his wife’s life and that of his unborn child, in order to insult his father and mother. His friends who had supported him through thick and thin in his endeavour to get a separate grant from Parliament were unable to find an excuse for this rash and inconsiderate step, though they urged in palliation the Prince’s natural pique at the surveillance to which he had been subjected,340 and his ignorance of the danger the Princess had run.

The Prince, who soon became aware that he had made a false step, called a council of his chief supporters, including Carteret, Chesterfield and Pulteney, who frankly told him that he had put himself in the wrong, and the best thing he could do would be to patch up a reconciliation with the King and Queen. In view of this the Prince, a few days later, thought he would go to Hampton Court to pay his respects to the King and Queen, but the King, having got ear that he was coming, sent him a message saying he would not see him. Thereupon ensued a lengthy correspondence, in which the Prince would not own himself in the wrong. He expressed himself deeply grieved at having aroused the King’s anger, but insinuated that the Queen was really responsible for the strained relations between himself and his father. He thus struck a note which was taken up by the Prince’s court, and afterwards by the great body of his supporters. Afraid to strike at the King directly, they threw all the blame upon the Queen, who they declared had first artfully inflamed the King’s anger against his son, and now tried to keep him inflexible. It was a cowardly thing to do, as well as unjust, for the Queen had always been on the side of peace; but the Prince hated his mother because the King had appointed her Regent instead of him, and the Opposition hated the Queen because she had shown herself, through storm and shine, the firm supporter of Walpole. In pursuance of this policy, when the341 Queen, nine days after her daughter-in-law’s confinement, paid her another visit at St. James’s, the Prince treated his mother with marked discourtesy; he avoided meeting her at the main entrance, and only received her at the door of the Princess’s bedchamber; he refused to speak a word to her during the whole visit, though the Queen was in the room with him and her daughter-in-law more than an hour. He could not help escorting her to her coach when she left, but did it all in dumb show; yet when they reached the coach door, and he saw that a considerable crowd had assembled, he knelt down in the muddy street and kissed her hand with every demonstration of respect. At this hyprocrisy, as Horace Walpole says, “her indignation must have shrunk into contempt.”120 The Queen was deeply wounded by her son’s treatment, and after that she paid no more visits to St. James’s.

These acts irritated the King beyond endurance, and even the Queen was stung out of her usual calm by the attacks made upon her. But anger and strong language availed nothing. The Prince was heir to the throne, and an heir to a throne is never without friends. In Frederick’s case his friends were all the Patriots; even Carteret, finding his overtures to the Queen led to nothing, had gone back to him. The triumph of the Prince would mean the342 triumph of the Opposition too, the defeat of the King and Queen, the defeat of the Government. Walpole knew this, and realised that if any reconciliation were brought about he would probably have to go. It was obviously to the advantage of the Royal Family that these quarrels should end, and Lord Hardwicke, the Lord Chancellor, earnestly strove to bring about a reconciliation. But Walpole advised the King against it, an easy task, for the King’s inclination was all for revenge. Another message, an ultimatum, was therefore composed and sent by the King, denouncing the Prince’s conduct in the strongest terms, and ending, “It is my pleasure that you leave St. James’s with all your family”.121 This was equivalent to a total separation.

The Prince received the King’s message without comment, and, as the orders were peremptory, two days later he and the Princess removed from St. James’s Palace to Kew. All communications between the two courts were now broken off, and shortly afterwards the Prince took up his residence at Norfolk House, St. James’s Square, which immediately became a rival court and the centre of the Opposition, much as Leicester House had been in the reign of George the First.122 The court of Norfolk House, though small in numbers, was not without brilliancy. The Prince had wit and pleasing manners and was343 ably seconded by his young and beautiful consort. His love of letters attracted many of the ablest writers, and his political views drew around him the rising men among the Tories. The Prince of Wales’s court became a focus of all the talents and a rallying place of the younger Tories, and as time went on, it influenced considerably the course of English politics. A generation was growing up in the Tory party which knew not the Stuarts, and saw a way of overthrowing the Whig ascendency, not by the forcible restoration of James, but in the peaceable accession of Frederick. They were doomed to wander many years in the wilderness of opposition before their dreams came true; and the Whig domination was at last beaten down, not by Frederick, but by his son. But at this time Frederick’s accession to the throne seemed comparatively near at hand. It was in view of his future reign, and as a satire on his father’s, that Bolingbroke composed his magnificent essay, The Ideal of a Patriot King, a sublime conception of government, but impossible to be acted upon, because it presupposed the existence of a monarch of almost superhuman wisdom and virtues. Such an ideal could not be realised in Frederick, nor was it realised in his son, George the Third.



119 The Princess thus born was afterwards Duchess of Brunswick, and died in London, March, 1813.

120 Walpole’s Reminiscences, vol. iv. He repeats the same story in his Memoirs, vol. i. Horace Walpole confuses the Queen’s second visit with her first, otherwise his account tallies with that of Lord Hervey—Memoirs, vol. ii.

121 Message of the King to the Prince of Wales, 10th September, 1737.

122 The parallel became closer when Frederick Prince of Wales removed to Leicester House.

The Queen’s health had been breaking for some time past, and nothing but her strength of will and determination not to yield kept her up. She had never really enjoyed good health since she became Queen. The last ten years had been a continual struggle against physical weakness; in the news-sheets of the day mention is frequently made of the Queen’s indisposition, and nearly always from a different cause. The list of her ailments and the barbarous and violent remedies resorted to makes one wonder how she survived so long—gout, ague, rash, pleurisy, chills, colic—everything, in short, but her secret, and most dangerous, malady was recorded. But the Queen seldom retired for more than a day or two, she would never admit that she was really ill, and was extremely angry if any one said that she was so. The King disliked to have sick people about him, and resented the Queen’s ailments as though they were invented for his special annoyance. Caroline was aware of this peculiarity on the part of her spouse, and would endure agonies rather than let345 him suspect that anything was wrong with her. She was a great sufferer from gout, which sometimes crippled her so much that she could not move without pain, but so absolute was her devotion to the King, that she would plunge her swollen legs into ice-cold water, in order that she might not fail to accompany him on his daily walks. These desperate remedies no doubt did her infinite harm. But she had another malady too, which “false delicacy,” as some described it, though it would be more correct to say “wifely devotion,” made her conceal. At the birth of her youngest child, Princess Louisa, in 1724, Caroline suffered a slight internal rupture. Her husband noticed it at the time, but she said it was nothing, and would pass. Later he taxed her with it again, and advised her to consult a doctor, but she again denied it, this time with so much vexation, declaring that he sought a pretext for neglecting her, that the King promised never to mention it again. For a time the malady seemed to grow better, or, at any rate, to remain dormant, but of late it had been troubling her again, and neglect and concealment made it go from bad to worse.

The Queen took infinite pains to hide the nature of her illness, frequently consulting doctors, and yet leaving them in ignorance of her real malady. For years, amid the splendours of her court, in the plenitude of her power, Caroline had carried with her this dread secret, and maintained a smiling face to the world. From time to time she must have suffered agonies, but she bore them with Spartan heroism.346 It was only during the King’s absences at Hanover that she indulged in the luxury of a collapse, and then she ascribed her weakness to the gout, or any cause but the real one. She held drawing-rooms as usual, but more than once she had to be wheeled into the presence-chamber in a chair, physically unable to stand. Of one of these breakdowns Peter Wentworth writes:—

“The Queen has been so ill. I went every day to the backstairs and had the general answer that she was better, but I knew when they told me true and when not, and was often in great pain for my good Queen, but it is not the fashion to show any at Court. The first day that she came out into her drawing-room she told a lady, whom I stood behind, that she had really been very bad and dangerously ill, but it was her own fault, for she had a fever a fortnight before she came from Kensington, but she kept it a secret, for she resolved to appear on the King’s birthday. She owned she did wrong, and said she would do so no more, upon which I made her a bow, as much as to say, I hoped she would do as she then said. I believe she understood me for she smiled upon me.”123

In some way the Queen connected the decline of her influence over the King, and his passion for the Walmoden, with the failing of her physical health, and she struggled against it to the death. It is no exaggeration to say that she would have died rather347 than let her malady become known—in fact her concealment of it led to her death. This secret anxiety gnawing always at her heart, combined with the worries she had to endure from without and within, told upon her strength. For the last two or three years she had been on the rack daily, a martyr to physical and mental anguish. The infidelity of the King, the unfilial conduct of the Prince of Wales, the hard work inseparable from her position, and the effort at all costs to keep a brave front to the world, told upon her health, until at last she could bear the strain no longer. It was in vain that she sought relaxation in her best-loved pursuits; the haunting fear never left her day or night.

Soon after the Prince of Wales had been turned out of St. James’s Palace the King and Queen removed there from Hampton Court, and remained over the King’s birthday (October 30th). The Queen busied herself much this autumn in fitting up a new library which she had built in the stable yard of St. James’s, on the site now occupied by Stafford House. It was a large handsome building constructed on the most approved principles. The Queen was now furnishing it with cases and books; she had ordered busts of philosophers and learned men to be placed in the corridor, and had requested the English ambassadors abroad to collect for her the best Spanish, French and Italian books to make her collection as complete as possible. When all was finished she hoped to hold there the intellectual tournaments in which she delighted,348 and make the library serve the double purpose of a lecture room. She used to go there nearly every day to personally superintend the work, and it was in this library on the morning of Wednesday, November 9th, that she finally broke down.

The Queen was giving some directions to the workmen when suddenly she was seized with violent internal pains. She made her way back to St. James’s Palace as quickly as she could, and went to bed. At two o’clock there was to be a drawing-room; the King proposed that it should be postponed, but the Queen, who did not wish it to be known that she was ill, declared that she felt much better, got up, dressed, and went to the drawing-room. She smiled and bowed as usual, and even chatted to some of the company, though she was suffering extremely, and could scarcely stand. The King noticed nothing amiss, and went on talking for a long time about some new farce that was the fashion of the hour. At last he dismissed the court, reminding the Queen, who was by this time in agony, that she had not spoken to the premier duchess, the Duchess of Norfolk. The Queen, as she was going out, went to the duchess, and apologised for the omission with her usual graciousness. On returning to her room she again went to bed.



The King thought it was only a temporary indisposition, in which belief she humoured him, and he went off in the evening to play cards with Lady Deloraine, after having sent for the German court physician to look after the Queen. Every349 hour the Queen became worse, but she was still bent on concealing the cause of her illness, and declared that she had the colic. She asked Lord Hervey, who was in attendance, what she should do to ease her pain. Lord Hervey, who was a chronic invalid, and made himself a worse one by taking quack nostrums, recommended her a concoction called “snake root”. But the German physician would not let her take it, and, as the Queen was now in a high fever, he called in another doctor. In ignorance of her malady, the doctors dosed their unfortunate patient with a number of horrible decoctions, such as “Daffy’s Elixir,” “Sir Walter Raleigh’s Cordial,” usquebaugh, and so forth, and then, as the only effect of these remedies was to make her violently sick, they sent for Ranby, the surgeon, who bled her into the bargain. The Princess Caroline, who had sat with her mother all day, now declared herself seized with rheumatic pains, and Lord Hervey, who was in his element, dosed her with another nostrum called “Ward’s Pill,” which, it is not surprising to hear, made her worse. The King came back at his usual hour, and was much upset at finding the Queen so ill. By way of showing his anxiety he lay on her bed all night, outside the coverlet, with the result that he spoilt his night’s rest and hers too.

The Queen was again bled in the morning (Thursday), and the fever having abated a little it was thought that she was better. But she knew that she was not, for she said to the Princess Caroline, who350 was suffering from the effects of the pill: “Poor Caroline, you are very ill too; we shall soon meet again in another place”. At her request the King held a drawing-room as usual, and the Princess Amelia took her mother’s place at court. So the day wore on. Towards the evening the Queen got worse, and in her agony cried aloud to the Princess Caroline: “I have an ill which nobody knows of”. But, as she gave no particulars, this was regarded merely as a vague statement. Two more physicians were called in, and further added to the illustrious patient’s discomfort by ordering blisters and aperients, both without effect. The King was now greatly concerned, and sat up all night with his wife.

The next morning (Friday) it was impossible to conceal any longer the fact that the Queen was seriously ill. The news reached the ears of the Prince of Wales, who was then at Kew, and he immediately hurried up to London to inquire after the Queen. The King had an idea that something of the kind would happen, and gave strict orders that if the Prince came he was not to be admitted. About an hour after the King had thus expressed himself, the Prince sent Lord North to St. James’s with a message saying that he was much grieved to hear of the Queen’s illness, and asking to be allowed to come and see her. But the King not only refused to let him come, but returned an answer requesting him to send no more messages to St. James’s. “This,” said he, “is like one of the scoundrel’s tricks, it is just of a piece of his kneeling down351 in the dirt before the mob to kiss her hand at the coach door, when she came from Hampton Court to see the Princess, though he had not spoken one word to her during the whole visit. I always hated the rascal, but now I hate him worse than ever. He wants to come and insult his poor dying mother, but she shall not see him.” Later in the day, the Queen, who had no knowledge of what had passed, said to the King that she wondered the Prince had not asked to see her yet, as she felt sure that he would do so, because it would look well before the world. The King then told her of what had passed and how he had forbidden the Prince to come, or send any more messages, though, he added, if the Queen really wished to see her son she could do so. But the Queen emphatically declared that she had no such wish, and the incident ended. The Prince continued to send messengers to inquire throughout his mother’s illness.

The next day (Saturday) the Queen grew worse every hour, yet she still, with a stubbornness which it is impossible to understand, concealed the true nature of her malady. Towards evening the King, who was greatly worried, whispered to her that he believed her illness came from rupture, but she denied it with great warmth and peevishness. However, the King sent for the surgeon, Ranby, and confided his fears to him. Ranby at once examined the Queen, and even then she carried her desire for concealment so far as to declare that she felt the pain in a different part of her body to that where it352 really was. But the surgeon was no longer to be deceived, and having discovered the rupture, he took the King aside and told him of it, adding that the Queen was in the utmost danger. The Queen started up in bed in a state of great excitement, but when the surgeon told her bluntly that it was no longer possible to conceal the truth, she turned her face to the wall and wept silently—these were the only tears she shed throughout her illness. As there was no time to be lost, two more surgeons were called in, and the same evening an operation was performed. It did not give relief, nor did the doctors hold out much hope, concealment and neglect had made the ill past remedy.

The Queen passed a troubled night, and early the next morning (Sunday) she complained that her wound gave her great pain. The surgeons were summoned, and discovered that it had already begun to mortify. The dreaded news was immediately conveyed to the King, and it was feared the Queen could not live many hours. The King came at once, followed by the Duke of Cumberland and the Princesses Amelia, Caroline, Mary and Louisa. The Queen took leave of her weeping husband and children, and asked them not to leave her until she died. To the Princess Caroline she commended the care of her younger children, and she bade her son William be a support to his father, and try to make up for the sorrow and vexation caused by his elder brother. Of the King she took a most affectionate farewell, telling him that353 he knew all her thoughts, and thanking him for his love and trust of her. She commended to his care all those who were dependent on her, from the highest to the lowest. She then drew from her finger the ruby ring he had given her at the Coronation, and put it upon his, saying: “This is the last thing I have to give you: naked I came to you, naked I go from you. I had everything I ever possessed from you, and to you everything I have I return.” She added one word of advice, which she said she had often given to him when she was in health—that after her death he should marry again. At this the King burst into sobs and tears, and vowed he would not, saying: “Non! Non! j’aurai des maîtresses”.124 The Queen replied wearily: “Mon Dieu! cela n’empêche pas”.125 It was the only hint of reproach that ever crossed her lips, if we except that other bitter cry wrung from her in the extremity of her anguish years before: “I have never lived a day without suffering”. Perhaps the King felt some pangs of remorse, for he wept over her bitterly; kissed her again and again, and uttered many endearing words. He had reason to weep, for he was losing the only being in the world who loved him, and loved him with a devotion that was as absolute as it was unaccountable.


After this trying scene the Queen fell into a doze and it was thought that she would pass away in her sleep, but, to every one’s surprise, she woke up feeling better. She now declared her belief that she would last until Wednesday, saying that all the great events of her life had happened on that day; she had been born on a Wednesday, married on a Wednesday, had her first child on a Wednesday, heard the news of the late King’s death on a Wednesday, and had been crowned on a Wednesday, and therefore she would die on a Wednesday. This was the only little touch of superstition in her character. Later in the day the surgeons again examined the wound, and, finding that the mortification had not spread, declared that perhaps after all she would recover.126 This revived hope in all breasts but that of the Queen, who knew it to be only a reprieve. “My heart will not break yet,” she said.

Her reprieve gave her time to see her trusted friend and minister, Sir Robert Walpole, who arrived in haste on Monday morning from Houghton, whither he had gone ten days previously to bury his wife. In consequence of his mourning he had not been sent for officially, but when he heard the news of the Queen’s danger he came as fast as post horses could bring him. The Queen had asked for him once or twice, and when the King heard that Walpole had arrived, and was in the ante-chamber, he at once gave him audience. Walpole was in great355 disorder and distress, for he had been travelling hard and fast. Despite his great bulk, he knelt down awkwardly and kissed the King’s hand, and with tears, asked: “How is the Queen?” The King said: “Come and see yourself, my good Sir Robert,” and carried him off to the Queen’s bedside. The interview was very short, but the Queen’s words were to the point. “My good Sir Robert, you see me in a very indifferent situation. I have nothing to say to you but to recommend the King, my children, and the kingdom to your care.”127

The Queen lingered throughout Monday and Tuesday, and even the dreaded Wednesday, in much the same condition. On Thursday a change took place for the worse and she suffered much pain, but she bore it all without a murmur and had a smile and a cheery word for many. She even joked at Ranby, the surgeon, when he was dressing her wound, saying: “Before you begin, let me have a full view of your comical face”; and whilst he was cutting her she said: “What would you give now to be cutting up your wife?”128 The Queen underwent many of these cuttings, but she bore all with great fortitude, and if sometimes a groan escaped her she would beg the surgeons not to heed and356 even apologised to them for some peevish expressions. Her patience and courage were marvellous, and her mind remained calm and collected.

All this time the chaplain’s services had not been required. Several of the bishops remarked on it, and many about the court whispered that it was not right that the Queen should remain without the consolations of religion. At last representations were made to Walpole, who irreligiously shrugged his shoulders. But he asked the Princess Amelia to acquaint the King and Queen with what was being said, and suggested that the Archbishop of Canterbury (Dr. Potter) should be sent for. The Princess Amelia, who knew her mother’s views on religious matters, at first demurred to taking the message, but afterwards went to the King, who went to the Queen, who immediately consented. The Archbishop came, and continued afterwards to pray by her bedside, morning and evening. But the prayers of the Archbishop were far from satisfying the scruples of the orthodox, who further required that her Majesty should receive the Holy Communion.

How far the Archbishop spoke to the Queen on this solemn subject it is impossible to say. The matter was one between the royal sufferer and her God. Caroline was, in the wide sense of the word, a religious woman, one whose religion was not on her lips but in her life; she had a firm faith in God and trust in His mercy, but she was not, and never had been, an orthodox Christian. In health, because357 she conceived it to be her duty as Queen-Consort, she had scrupulously conformed to the rites of the Church of England, but now, in the presence of death, she felt it necessary to be sincere in her convictions and dispense with them. The Archbishop, who was a godly and tolerant prelate, and who knew the Queen’s views, probably forbore to press her on the matter, and we may take it for granted that the Queen did not receive the last sacrament. It was rumoured about the court that the Archbishop had celebrated the Communion of the Sick in the royal chamber, but at the last moment the Queen refused to receive. When the Archbishop came out of the room he was surrounded by courtiers and ladies in waiting in the ante-chambers, who eagerly asked him, “My Lord, has the Queen received?” The Archbishop eluded the question, and rebuked them by saying “The Queen is in a very heavenly disposition”. Some, more officious than the rest, told him that it was his duty to reconcile the Queen to the Prince of Wales. The Archbishop replied that, whenever the Queen had spoken to him about the unhappy divisions in the Royal Family, she had spoken with such good sense that it would be impertinent for him to offer her advice on the subject. By some authorities it is stated that the Queen, at the last, forgave the Prince, and one goes so far as to declare that “She sent her blessing and forgiveness to her son, and told Sir Robert [Walpole] that she would have sent for him with pleasure, but prudence forbade the interview as it might irritate and embarrass358 the King”.129 On the other hand Hervey is silent on this point, though he makes the Queen several times during her illness express resentment against her son, which was perhaps natural, as his insults were very recent. Her enemies afterwards declared that she refused the Prince her forgiveness, though he sent again and again to humbly beseech her blessing. There is a conflict of testimony here, and the Queen may well have the benefit of the doubt, for all her life she had laboured in the cause of peace, and striven to prevent discord in the Royal Family.

The Queen still lingered on, her brain and faculties clear till the last. But the King’s mind was giving way under the strain. He was conscious of this to some extent, for he told his pages that if he were unreasonable in chiding and swearing at them they were not to mind it. Lord Hervey, in his grim and ghastly account of the Queen’s deathbed, mocks at the lamentations of the King, and jeers at his behaviour. Yet there is every reason to believe that his grief was absolutely sincere, and in the presence of so great a sorrow these gibes should surely have been stilled. It was all very human and very pitiful. The King was not one of those who could suffer and be still, his grief was noisy and garrulous, and he talked incessantly during those trying days to all whom he met of the Queen’s many virtues and the great and irreparable loss her death would be to him and the359 nation. He said the same to his wife over and over again, and they babbled their love together with tears and broken words. She knew now that she was first with him, had always been first with him, and their love was as fresh and fragrant as when he wooed her in the rose-gardens of Ansbach long ago. Yet, evidently overwrought by long watching and emotion, the King would sometimes break off in the middle of his vows of love and devotion to chide her in the old peevish fashion. Her pain made her very restless, and she complained that she could not sleep. “How the devil should you sleep,” burst forth the King, “when you will never lie still a moment?” or again, when the Queen at his bidding lay perfectly still, the King would rail at her for looking straight before her, “like a calf waiting for its throat to be cut”. But Caroline knew better than to blame him for these rough words, which were more welcome to her than sweetest music. Her wifely obedience never failed, even at the last. The doctors said that her strength must be kept up, so the King was always forcing down her throat all sorts of food and drink. The poor Queen would swallow whatever he wished, and when he thanked her, she would say: “It is the last service I can do you”. But her stomach was not so complaisant, and she could only retain the food for a few minutes. Then she would bravely try again. For her own sake she wished not to live; for his she would fain have done so.

So the days wore on, the Queen almost apologising360 for being so long in dying. Thursday, Friday and Saturday passed without change, but on Sunday (November 20th, 1737), the eleventh day of her illness, she grew weaker every hour. About ten o’clock in the evening the end came quietly and suddenly. Her last word was Pray. The King was with her when she passed away, and in an agony of grief he kissed the face and hands of the dead Queen.


123 The Hon. Peter Wentworth to the Earl of Strafford, London, December 10th, 1734.

124 George the Second kept his word. He never married again, though he survived the Queen thirty-three years. But within a year of Caroline’s death he brought Madame de Walmoden over to England, and later created her Countess of Yarmouth.

125 Vide Hervey’s Memoirs. Also letter of Colonel William Douglas to Lord Carlisle, 12th November, 1737 (Carlisle MSS.).

126 Letter of Lady A. Irwin to Earl of Carlisle, 17th November, 1737 (Carlisle MSS.).

127 Hervey’s Memoirs. According to another account, she said: “I hope you will never desert the King, but continue to serve him with your usual fidelity,” and pointing to her husband, she added: “I recommend his Majesty to you”. Mahon’s History, vol. ii. Vide also Horace Walpole’s Reminiscences.

128 Letter of Hon. Peter Wentworth to the Earl of Strafford, 1st December, 1737. Ranby was then seeking a divorce.

129 Coxe’s Life of Walpole. Horace Walpole also makes a statement to the same effect, though not so definite.


Queen Caroline’s funeral took place on the evening of Saturday, December 17th (1737), in Westminster Abbey. It was her special request that her obsequies should be as quiet and simple as possible, and the King respected her wish, though he commanded a general mourning, and arranged every detail of the ceremonial. During the month that elapsed between the Queen’s death and her funeral, the body, encased in a lead coffin and an outer one of English oak, rested in the chamber wherein she died, which was transformed into a chapelle ardente for the time being. The walls were hung with purple and black, and tall tapers burned night and day around the bier. The doors were guarded by gentlemen pensioners, with their axes reversed, and the King allowed no one to enter the room except himself and those who watched by the body.

The night before the funeral a brief service was held in the death chamber by the Archbishop of Canterbury, which the King, the Duke of Cumberland, and the Princesses Amelia, Caroline, Mary, and Louisa attended. This was the King’s farewell362 of all that was mortal of his Queen, for he was too ill, and too much overcome by grief to attend her funeral. The service over, the coffin was privately conveyed by torchlight from St. James’s Palace to the Princes’ Chamber adjoining the House of Lords. Here the late Queen’s pages watched all night, and were joined in the morning by her Majesty’s maids of honour. The body lay in state all that day, guarded by twenty gentlemen pensioners.

At six o’clock in the evening the funeral procession started from the Princes’ Chamber, and passed through Old Palace Yard to the great north door of Westminster Abbey, by means of a covered way lined throughout with black. Though the funeral was officially described as private, the procession was a long one, and included the Ministers, the court officials, the physicians who attended the Queen in her last illness, all those who held places in her household, and many peers. Sir Robert Walpole followed his royal mistress to her last resting-place. The Queen’s Chamberlain carried her crown on a black velvet cushion, and walked immediately before the coffin, which was borne by ten yeomen of the guard, and covered “with a large pall of black velvet, lined with black silk, with a fine holland sheet, adorned with ten large escutcheons painted on satin, under a canopy of black velvet”.130 Six dukes acted as pall bearers, and ten members of the Privy Council bore the canopy; in an equal line on either side marched the gentlemen pensioners with their arms reversed.363 Behind the coffin walked the Princess Amelia as chief mourner. She was supported by the Duke of Grafton and the Duke of Dorset, and her train was born by the Duchess of St. Albans and the Duchess of Montagu. The Princess Amelia was followed by a long train of ladies, including nearly all the duchesses and a large number of other peeresses, the late Queen’s ladies of the bedchamber, maids of honour, and bedchamber women. The chief mourner and all the ladies wore long veils of black crape. The Dean and Canons of Westminster, wearing their copes, and the choir, augmented by the choir boys of the Chapel Royal in their habits of scarlet and gold, bearing wax tapers in their hands, met the coffin at the north door of the Abbey, and the procession wended its way through the north and south aisles to Henry the Seventh’s Chapel, the choir chanting the while the psalm Domine refugium. The coffin was rested by the side of the open grave, hard by the tomb of Henry the Seventh, and the burial service was proceeded with up to the committal prayers. The Garter King of Arms then stepped forward and proclaimed the late Queen’s style and titles in a loud voice.

“Thus it hath pleased Almighty God to take out of the transitory life to His Divine mercy the late most high, most mighty, and most excellent princess, Caroline, by the Grace of God Queen-Consort of the most high, most mighty, and most excellent monarch George the Second, by the Grace of God King of Great Britain, France, and Ireland, Defender of the364 Faith, whom God bless and preserve with long life, health and honour, and all worldly happiness.”

Then the choir sang the beautiful anthem which Handel had composed especially for the occasion:—

The ways of Zion do mourn, and she is in bitterness: all her people sigh and hang down their heads to the ground. How are the mighty fallen! she that was great among the nations and princess of the provinces. How are the mighty fallen! When the ear heard her, then it blessed her: and when the eye saw her, it gave witness of her. How are the mighty fallen! she that was great among the nations and princess of the provinces. She delivered the poor that cried: the fatherless and him that had no helper. Kindness, meekness, and comfort were in her tongue. If there was any virtue, and if there was any praise, she thought on those things. Her body is buried in peace, but her name liveth for evermore.”131

When the last notes of the anthem had died away, the procession returned to the north door of the Abbey in the same order as it had come. The coffin under its canopy, with tall tapers burning on either side, was left in the Chapel. Later a short service was held privately, when it was lowered to the vault and placed in the large stone sarcophagus prepared for it.


The King remained inconsolable for many months. He saw no one at first but his daughters, and when he was compelled to see Walpole, or365 some other Minister, on important business, he could talk of nothing but his loss and the great qualities of the late Queen. Many thought that he would not long survive her; he seemed completely broken down. The genuineness of his sorrow showed itself in various ways. By her will the Queen had left everything to him, but it transpired that she had little to leave except her house at Richmond, her jewels, and the obligations she had incurred by her charities. When her heart was touched by cases of poverty, sickness or sorrow, she would not only relieve immediate necessities, but often grant pensions for life. These pensions it was found amounted to nearly £13,000 a year. The King took the full burden on his own shoulders. “I will have no one the poorer for her death but myself,” he said. He also paid the salaries of every member of her household until he could otherwise provide for them.

One morning, soon after the Queen’s death, he woke early and sent for Baron Borgman, one of his Hanoverian suite. When he came the King said, “I hear you have a picture of the Queen, which she gave you, and that it is a better likeness than any in my possession. Bring it to me here.” Borgman brought it to the King, who said it was very like her Majesty, and burst into tears. “Put it,” he said presently, “upon that chair at the foot of my bed, and leave me until I ring the bell.” Two hours passed before he rang, and then he was quite calm. “Take the picture away,” he said to its owner, “I never yet saw a woman worthy to buckle her shoe.”366 Some little time later, he was playing cards one evening with his daughters. Some queens were dealt to him, and no sooner did he pick up the cards and perceive them than he burst into tears, and was unable to go on with the game. Princess Amelia guarded against a repetition of the scene the following night by privately ordering all the queens to be taken out of the pack.

The King was very morbid in his grief, and much given to dwelling upon the material aspect of death. He was very superstitious and a firm believer in ghouls and vampires. Lord Wentworth gives an illustration of this in a letter he wrote to his father, Lord Strafford, shortly after the Queen’s funeral. “Saturday night, between one and two o’clock, the King waked out of a dream very uneasy, and ordered the vault, where the Queen is, to be broken open immediately, and have the coffin also opened; and went in a hackney chair through the Horse Guards to Westminster Abbey, and back again to bed. I think it is the strangest thing that could be.” In a subsequent letter he refers to it again: “The story about the King was true, for Mr. Wallop heard of one who saw him go through the Horse Guards on Saturday night with ten footmen before the chair. They went afterwards to Westminster Abbey.”

Thirty-three years later George the Second was buried by his Queen’s side, and as a last proof of his devotion he left orders that one side of her coffin should be removed, and one side of his taken away,367 so that their bones should mingle, and in death be not divided.132

Caroline was widely mourned by all classes of her husband’s subjects. Even those disaffected to the House of Hanover admitted the high qualities of the Queen, and the Jacobites tempered their judgment, when they remembered that she had always been on the side of mercy. Only from the Prince of Wales’s household and from those who supported him came any discordant note, and it must be admitted that some of these were very discordant indeed. In the eighteenth century personal and political hatreds were carried beyond the grave, and some of the epigrams and mock epitaphs composed by the Queen’s enemies after her death form anything but pleasant reading. The fact that she did not see the Prince of Wales during her last illness was seized upon as a pretext for attacking her memory.

And unforgiving, unforgiven dies!

cried Chesterfield with bitter sarcasm, while Pope with more subtle irony wrote:—


Hang the sad verse on Carolina’s urn,
And hail her passage to the realms of rest.
All parts perform’d, and all her children blest!

But these outbursts were overwhelmed in the spontaneous tribute of affection and respect paid to the dead Queen on all sides. Her loss was felt to be a national calamity. “The Lord hath taken away His anointed with a stroke,” cried a preacher, “the breath of our nostrils is taken away. The great princess is no more under whose shadow we said we should be safe, and promised ourselves lasting peace—she, whom future generations will know as Caroline the Illustrious.”133 And indeed the Queen’s pre-eminent qualities fit her for no lesser epithet. Caroline’s character was formed on bold and generous lines, and her defects only served to bring into stronger relief the purity of her life, the loftiness of her motives and the excellence of her wisdom. She was a good hater but a true friend, patient under suffering, strong in adversity, fond of power, yet using it always for the good of others. In the words which Frederick the Great applied to her early mentor the Queen of Prussia, “She had a great soul”.


130 The Gentleman’s Magazine, 17th December, 1737.

131 This same anthem was sung at the memorial service in Westminster Abbey for Queen Victoria.

132 The large stone sarcophagus which contains the remains of George the Second and Queen Caroline stands in the middle of a vault below Henry the Seventh’s chapel in Westminster Abbey. This vault was used only for the family of George the Second. But many years after it was opened to admit the coffin of a child of the Duke of Cumberland. In 1837, when the duke became King of Hanover, he decided to remove this coffin to Hanover, and the vault was again opened. The two sides that were withdrawn from George the Second’s and Queen Caroline’s coffin respectively, were then seen, standing against the wall at the back of their sarcophagus.

133 Sermon preached on the death of Queen Caroline by the Rev. Dr. Crowe, chaplain in ordinary to his Majesty, and Rector of St. Botolph’s, Bishopsgate.




The despatches of George Louis, Elector of Hanover, to Privy Councillor von Eltz, and the replies thereto, 1705. Preserved in the Royal Archives, Hanover.

The despatches of Poley, sometime English Envoy at the Court of Hanover, 1705. State Paper Office, London.

The despatches of Howe (who succeeded Poley as English Envoy at Hanover), 1706–7. State Paper Office, London.

The despatches of D’Alais (who succeeded Howe as English Envoy at Hanover), 1714. State Paper Office.

Bromley’s despatches to Harley, Envoy-Extraordinary to the Court of Hanover, and Harley’s replies thereto, 1714. State Paper Office, London.

The memorial of the Electress-Dowager and the Elector of Hanover to Queen Anne, and the Queen’s reply to the memorial, 1714. State Paper Office, London.

The despatches of Lord Clarendon, Envoy-Extraordinary to the Court of Hanover, 1714.

Sundry documents, preserved in the Archives of the Castle of Ansbach, relating to the Margraves and the castle, which need not be specified.

Letters from the Hon. Peter Wentworth to his brother Lord Strafford, 1711–1737. MSS. Department, British Museum. (A few of these were published in 1883.)

Notes of a conversation with Queen Caroline by Lady Suffolk, 1734. MSS. Department, British Museum.

A Memorandum of the Princesses’ dresses, etc. MSS. Department, British Museum.



La Correspondance de Leibniz avec l’Electrice Sophie de Brunswick-Lüneburg. Vol. III.

Geschichte der Deutschen Höfe, Vehse. Vol. XVIII.

Geschichte von Sachsen, Böttiger Flathe. Vol. II.

Biographische Denkmaler Varnhagen. Vol. IV.

Lady Mary Wortley Montagu’s Letters and Works. Edited by Lord Wharnecliffe.

The Diary of Mary, Countess Cowper, Lady of the Bedchamber to the Princess of Wales, 1714–1720.

Lord Hervey’s Memoirs of the Reign of George the Second. Edited by John Wilson Croker.

Lord Mahon’s History of England from the Peace of Utrecht, Vols. I. and II.

Coxe’s Life of Sir Robert Walpole, Vols. I. and II.

The Dictionary of National Biography, Vol. IX.

Horace Walpole’s Reminiscences and Works.

The History of Hampton Court Palace. Orange and Guelph Times, Vol. III., by Ernest Law.

Notes on the Personal Union between England and Hanover, by Dr. A. W. Ward.

Greater London, by Edward Walford.

The Memoirs of Wilhelmina, Margravine of Baireuth. Translated by H.R.H. the Princess Christian.

The Lockhart Memoirs.

Colley Cibber’s Apology for My Life.

The Historical Register, 1718.

Parliamentary History, Vols. VIII. and IX.

The Criticks: Being Papers of the Times, 1718.

The Political State of Great Britain, Vol. VIII.

Sundry Reports of the Historical MSS. Commission, including Earl de la Warr’s MSS. preserved at Buckhurst, the Duke of Marlborough’s MSS. at Blenheim, and the Earl of Carlisle’s MSS. at Castle Howard.

The Wentworth Papers, 1705–1739.

The Suffolk Correspondence: Letters to and from Henrietta, Countess of Suffolk.

Hervey’s Letter Books, 1651–1750.

Kemble’s State Papers and Correspondence.


House of Commons’ Journal, Vol. XX.

The Etough Papers.

The Sundon Correspondence. Memoirs of Viscountess Sundon, by Mrs. Thomson.

The Earl of Bristol’s Letter Book, 1651–1750.

La Correspondance Secrète du Comte de Broglie.

Les Mémoires de Berwick, Vol. II.

The Transactions of the Society of Antiquaries in Scotland, Vol. I.

Macpherson’s Stuart Papers, Vol. II.

Dr. King’s Anecdotes of My Own Times.

The Correspondence of Elizabeth Charlotte, Duchess of Orleans.

An Essay Towards the Character of Queen Caroline, by Dr. Alured Clarke.

Wright’s England under the House of Hanover.

Maby’s Life of Chesterfield.

Jesse’s Memoirs.

Our Hanoverian Kings, by B. C. Skottowe.

Epitaphium Reginae Carolinae, 1737.

A Particular Account of the Solemnities used at the Coronation of His Sacred Majesty King George II., and his Royal Consort Queen Caroline, on Wednesday, 11th October, 1727. London, 1760.

Ceremonial Proceedings at the Private Interment of Queen Caroline, 1737.

Dix Années de la Cour de George II., by Vicomte Frolois. Paris, 1760.

The London Gazette, 1714–1737 (official).

Sundry news-sheets and journals 1714–1737, including: The Gentleman’s Magazine, The Daily Courant, The Leiden Gazette, The Freeholder, The Craftsman, The Daily Post, The Weekly Journal, The Daily Journal, The Flying Post, Mist’s Journal, Brice’s Weekly Journal, The Stamford Mercury, The County Journal, The Daily Advertiser, Fog’s Weekly Journal, Reed’s Weekly Journal, The General Evening Post, Hooker’s Miscellany, The Old Whig, etc.



Transcriber’s Notes

Punctuation, hyphenation, and spelling were made consistent when a predominant preference was found in the original book; otherwise they were not changed.

Simple typographical errors were corrected; unbalanced quotation marks were remedied when the change was obvious, and otherwise left unbalanced.

Illustrations in this eBook have been positioned between paragraphs and outside quotations. In versions of this eBook that support hyperlinks, the page references in the List of Illustrations lead to the corresponding illustrations.

The index was not checked for proper alphabetization or correct page references.