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deck and dropped them overboard without so much as a shroud to their bodies or a shot to their heels.” “Schools of sharks jostled each other in the scramble to tear them limb from limb, and foul birds with ugly ragged wings flapped heavily above them, croaking for their share.”
When they left for Jamaica, the men nominally fit for service numbered 1,700, of whom only 1,000 were in a condition fit to be landed against the enemy. The men continued to die by hundreds. They propose to attack Santiago de Cuba, but Wentworth has not enough spirit for any sudden attack. Then they try Porto Bello, but after a nineteen days' voyage, in which the men, whether of the old army or of a force of 3,000 sent to them in February, 1742, or of the Americans, died like flies, they abandoned it and returned to Jamaica. By October the 300 survivors of the 4,000 Americans were discharged. Do you wonder that they refused to be taxed by the British Parliament, which was responsible for such work? The blame for the failure of the expedition, says the historian of the army, must rest " with those benighted and unscrupulous politicians who gambled with the efficiency of the army and military administration for the petty triumphs of party and the petty emoluments of place and power.”
The war was now thoroughly unpopular. It had given no advantage to Britain ; there had been great loss of shipping and damage to commerce ; there were bread riots and much distress all over the country; the land tax had been raised to four shillings in the pound ; difficulty was found in obtaining seamen for manning the increasing navy; there was great danger of France joining in the war under a secret family compact with Spain. In spite of the most lavish bribery Walpole's majorities in Parliament had much decreased.
Yet hostilities were far from being at an end. A few days after Anson set out on his memorable voyage an event happened which replaced the dispute over Jenkins' Ear by a general European war.*
* The Spanish colonies and their relation to European affairs with reference to the disputes which led the war Jenkins' Ear are treated in a most interesting way in Chapter 9 of The Sea Trader by David Hannay.
THE AUSTRIAN SUCCESSION : FRANCE AND GERMANY
DISPUTES over successions to the various states of Europe in the first half of the eighteenth century kept pace with the decay of the doctrine of the Divine Right of Kings and of the Church which was concerned with it. The crown of Britain had been disputed between Stuart and Hanoverian, the Parliamentary title defeating the Divine Right; the dominions of Spain between the French Philip of Anjou and the Austrian Emperor ; Tuscany and Parma (the Medicis and Farnese being extinct) between the Emperor of Austria and Elizabeth of Farnese, second wife of Philip V. of Spain ; and Poland between Stanislaus Leszczynski, supported by Charles XII. of Sweden, and Augustus, Elector of Saxony, supported by Peter of Russia.
The dishonesty of the King of Prussia led to a new war over the succession to the dominions of the Austrian emperor. In October, 1740, Charles VI. died, leaving no son. His daughter, Maria Theresa, Queen of Hungary, at that time aged twentythree, was married to Francis, Grand Duke of Tuscany, who had also the title of Duke of Lorraine. The event foreseen, the Emperor had safeguarded his daughter's succession to the throne of the Austrian dominions by obtaining the passing of a law called the Pragmatic Sanction, allowing the succession of women to the throne of Austria. Knowing the character of the politics of his time, he had obtained that this sanction should be acknowledged and confirmed by the Powers, including France, Spain, Great Britain, Prussia and Poland. George, in giving the British guarantee, tried to have Hanover made a female fief, but luckily did not succeed.
France ardently desired the possession of Lorraine, which this question of a guarantee gave her the opportunity of obtaining. The Spanish claim to Tuscany and Parma had led to a war, ended by a treaty of Vienna in 1738 (see p. 94 supra), an excellent example of the shuffle of the territories among the dynasties. At this peace Don Carlos, the son of Elizabeth Farnese, gave up Parma and received Naples and Sicily ; Francis of Lorraine, the husband of Maria Theresa, gave up Lorraine and took Tuscany ; Stanislaus gave up Poland and took Lorraine, which, as the consideration of the guarantee of the Pragmatic Sanction by France, was to go to France on his death. But on the death of the Emperor Charles the guarantees were thrown to one side and, taking advantage of the helplessness of Maria Theresa, the war of the Austrian Succession followed.
The Austrian position was a difficult one. The Emperor Charles VI. had succeeded as heir to his elder brother, who also had no son, his brother's daughter in the absence of any Pragmatic Sanction having been set aside. Charles now wished his own daughter to succeed, having obtained the consent of Europe. But Charles Albert, Elector of Bavaria (descended from the Emperor Frederick II.), who had married Maria Amelia, daughter of the late Emperor Joseph I., claimed the throne. He was supported by the Bourbons of France and Spain, Maria Theresa by Great Britain and Holland. Still there need have been no war but for the behaviour of the King of Prussia.
Frederick William of Prussia, who had married the sister of our George II., had died in May, 1740, and had been succeeded by his son, Frederick II., sometimes called the Great. Frederick William had paid close attention to the finances and had thoroughly reorganized his army, so that on his succession the new king found himself in possession of a well-filled treasury and an excellent and well-equipped military force. Maria Theresa, on the contrary, succeeded to an empty treasury, a disorganized army and, since Eugene's death, no general of note.
It would have been most natural for Frederick II. to have given support to the claim of Maria Theresa, as he owed his throne and probably his life to the Emperor Charles VI., through whose intervention he had been shielded from his father's anger when it was intended to have brought him to trial. Yet no sooner was Charles VI. dead than Frederick II. announced his intention of seizing Silesia. Lord Dashford, writing to the Marquis Visconti at this time, expresses a British opinion of him : “If the King of Prussia's genius and parts could make him estimable if they were joined with common integrity, they make him more detestable and dangerous when
we consider what a villainous heart they are directed by. His falsehood and want of faith are well known to you ; neither could I find that he was possessed of one qualité de coeur that was not detestable.” On the other hand, in his mean actions, constant lying and gross breaches of faith, the Prussian historian Droysen sees the germ from which the German fatherland has sprung. “Before Frederick's time a man was either an Austrian or a Frenchman, never a German. Frederick is the first who has a policy of his own, a policy that was truly independent and really national. If Germany had existed then she would have understood that Frederick was serving her cause."
Sir Charles Hanbury Williams, writing from Berlin ten years later in 1750, contrasts British freedom with the conditions of Prussia under Frederick. Reciting various oppressions of the people, the registration of children for soldiers, the prevention of marriage, of selling land, etc. he says : “ They have really no liberty left but that of thinking. There is a general constraint that runs through all sorts of people, and diffidence is painted on every face.”
Without any excuse whatever, without any declaration of war, while expressing friendship to the Queen of Hungary, Frederick entered Silesia with thirty thousand men in December, 1740, and overran the country. “A sovereign who, as his first act, enters a peaceful province in arms, without a protest and under favour of a quibble, to despoil a defenceless woman, the daughter of his benefactor, has surely himself fixed the standard of value to be attached to his word.”
On invasion he had sent an agent to Maria Theresa to tell her that, if she would cede Lower Silesia to him, he would change sides and support her. She refused.
He supplied each nation with a different form of deception to cover the seizure of this province, receiving in return the support of the other guarantors. With Great Britain Frederick posed as the devout Protestant who would release the Silesians from the terrible yoke of the Catholic. As Mauduit wrote in 1760 : “We happen now to have one nominal Protestant Prince on our side ; and therefore the Protestant interest has been specially held out to our view.” But Frederick knew his power over the King of Great Britain ; he has Hanover as his hostage ; speaking to the British agent in 1740 he very truly said, “So far as you are concerned you are like the Athenians who wasted their time in talking while Philip of Macedonia was getting ready to attack them.”
Maria Theresa wrote to Cardinal Fleury, the minister of Louis XV., urging him in the name of humanity and the Gospels to spare the blood of her subjects. But France, in spite of her guarantee of the Pragmatic Sanction and the cession of Lorraine, and the consideration for it, joined Frederick, and taking the side of the Elector of Bavaria, invaded Bohemia with him, signing a treaty with Prussia in June, 1741. The conduct of France at this moment accounts for the evils which afterwards came on her.
The young Queen sent an army into Silesia, which met and defeated Frederick, who fled as far as he could go, leading the flying Germans to the rear. But while he was running away, his general, Marshal Schweren stood fast with the Prussian infantry, and ended by defeating the Austrians.
When France invaded Germany, Spain, Poland and Sardinia joined to share the loot of Austria. Victor Amadeus, Duke of Savoy, who had recently acquired Sardinia, was looking for satisfaction in the North Italian possessions of Austria. Placed between France and Austria, the House of Savoy “had practised the art of selling its assistance to the two belligerents by turns, and, after it had been paid by both, getting out of the bargain just in time to avoid being involved in the issues of the conflict.” These princes, said M. de Bussy, a diplomatist of the period, are of a blood which never spills itself uselessly; they know that he who would be most ready to give them the Milanese will always be the one who does not possess it.
Maria Theresa called on Great Britain for assistance. Great Britain was gradually drawing closer to Holland, which at that time was the only refuge of liberty of any kind on the continent, but Holland was not then prepared to enter into the war. King George was torn between his position as King of Great Britain, such honour as he had being concerned in supporting Austria and Lorraine against France, and his fear for the safety of his beloved Hanover. Though the British ministers, wishing to support Austria against France, made unsuccessful efforts for a compromise between Maria Theresa and Frederick which would detach him from his allies, and failing to obtain agreement,