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A History of the Four Georges, Volume I

The result was that Walpole was retained in office


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prince--the Margrave of Brandenburg-Anspach--was

one of the most remarkable women of her time. Her faults, foibles, and weaknesses only served to make her more remarkable. She had beauty when she was young, and she still had an expressive face and a sweet smile. She was well educated, and always continued to educate herself; she was fond of letters, art, politics, and metaphysics. She delighted in theological controversy, and also delighted in contests of mere wit. But of all her valuable gifts, the most valuable for herself and for the country was the capacity she had for governing her husband. She governed him through his very anxiety not to be governed by his wife. One of George's strongest, and at the same time meanest, desires was to let the world see that he was absolute master in his own house, and could rule his wife with a rod of iron. Caroline, having long since discovered this weakness, played into the King's hands, and always made outward show of the utmost deference for his authority, and dread of his anger. She put herself metaphorically, and indeed almost literally, under his feet. She was pleased that all the Court should see her thus grovelling. George was in the habit of making jocular allusion, in his jovial, graceful way, to living and dead sovereigns who were {277} governed by their wives, and he often invited his courtiers to notice the difference between them and him, and to admire the imperial supremacy which he exercised over the humble Caroline. By humoring him in this way Caroline obtained,
without any consciousness on his part, an almost absolute power over him. Another and a worse failing of the King's she humored as well. She had suffered much in the beginning of her married life because of his amours and his mistresses. Her true and faithful heart had been wrung by long jealousies; but, happily for herself and for the country, she was able at last to rise superior to this natural weakness of woman. Indeed, it has to be said with regret for her self-degradation, that she not only tolerated the love-makings of the King and his favorites, but even showed occasionally a politic interest in the promotion of the amours and the appointment of the ladies. She humored her lord and master's avarice with as little scruple. Thus his principal defects--his sordid love of money, his ignoble passion for women, and his ridiculous desire to seem the absolute master of his wife--became in her skilful hands the leading-strings by which she drew and guided him whither she would have him go. Through Caroline's influence mainly Walpole was retained in power. She played on the King's avarice, and poured into his greedy ear the assurance that Walpole could raise money as no other living man could. Caroline acted in this chiefly from a sincere love of her husband, and anxiety for his good, but partly also, it has to be acknowledged, because it had been made known to her that Walpole would provide her with a larger allowance than it was Compton's intention to do. The result was that Walpole was retained in office, or, perhaps it should be said, restored to office. The crowds of courtiers who love to worship the rising sun had hardly time to offer their adoration to Compton when they found that the supposed rising sun was only a meteor, which instantly vanished. Horace Walpole the younger describes the event by a happy phrase as "Compton's evaporation." Compton {278} himself had soon found that the responsibility would be too much for him. He besought the King to relieve him of the burden to which he found himself unequal. The King acceded to his wish. Walpole became once again First Lord of the Treasury and Chancellor of the Exchequer, and Townshend continued to be Secretary of State. The crisis was over.


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