The Foreign Policy of England under Walpole
English Historical Review
The Foreign Policy of England under Walpole PART IV. I N the spring of 1727 the emperor's strategic position in Germany was very strong. His plan of campaign was imagined to be to combine forces with Prussia, Russia, and perhaps the Poles in an attack on Holland, Hanover, and Schleswig. Prussia and Eussia would march in from the east on Schleswig, while he would advance troops from bis camp in Silesia' on Holland and Hanover through Lower Saxony and Westphalia. He had obtained permission from
... d permission from the elector of Mainz to garrison Erfurt, which made him master of Upper Saxony, while his treaty with the duke of Brunswick-Wolfenbiittel gave him command over Lower Saxony, on the direct road to Hanover. If he could have obtained the right of garrisoning the town of Brunswick also, he would have had Westphalia at his mercy, and then nothing could have saved Holland from him, while Russian troops could easily have been brought into Germany, and the kings of Denmark and Sweden would have had to stay at home to guard their own dominions. At the same time his alliances with the elector palatine and the electors of Cologne, Mainz, and Treves gave him the command of the Rhine and a strong position for resisting any flank attacks by the French, and finally the permission to use Mainz as a place of arms allowed him to secure his rear against any attempt by the French to get round into Suabia and Franconia. 2 The plan of operations proposed by England to meet this attack was that the English and Hessian troops should take up a position in Lower Germany against the emperor and elector of Cologne's attack on Hanover, and that the Dutch should make a camp of observation at Nimeguen to protect their own country against invasion, and be able to render assistance to the English and Hessians if necessary. At the same time the French should send one army to occupy the Maas and keep in touch with the Dutch, while another should be 1 Add. MS. (Brit. Mas.) 32746, f. 250. • See Public Eecord Office, Treaty Papers, 116 (paper entitled ' Observations on the Abstract of Treaties, 1725-7 '). F 2 at University of Iowa Libraries/Serials Acquisitions on June 28, 2015 http://ehr.oxfordjournals.org/ Downloaded from 68 THE FOREIGN POLICY OF Jan. sent by them across the Rhine at Rheinfeld, near Basel. There were two objections to this scheme, the first being suggested by Horace Walpole, that the Dutch at Nimeguen would be cut off from communication with the English and Hessians in Germany and with the army on the Maas by the king of Prussia's slice of territory on the Ehine about Wesel, and though it would have been possible, as the French first suggested, to take Wesel by storm, it was not thought wise to come to hostilities with Frederick William before he had actually entered the field on the emperor's side. On their side the French objected to crossing the Rhine at Rheinfeld, as the country was hilly and ill adapted for military operations, and there was no bridge to give them a retreat if necessary. Accordingly they proposed marching. 68,000 men across the Rhine below Strassburg, in order to take up a position near Heilbronn, between the Neckar and the Main. In touch with this army the allies were to postone composed of 12,000 Hessians,24,000Danes, 12,000English, 20,000 Dutch, and 20,000 Hanoverians between the Elbe and the Main. This plan was approved of by the English commissary, Colonel Armstrong, as it would quite cut off the emperor and take away all fear of Prussia ; and even if the 30,000 Russians came into Germany they could be dealt with by the allies. 3 But the strength of these alliances and the success of these carefully elaborated plans of campaign were not put to the test, for so far the emperor was concerned hostilities were never begun. The emperor had not from the first entered in a very hearty fashion into the alliance with Spain, which separated him definitely from his old friends the maritime powers, and he had only been induced to accede to it by a desire to secure the Ostend trade. But when he saw that the maritime powers were not frightened by his new engagements, and were perfectly determined to put a stop to this undertaking, he began seriously to consider whether he would be justified in maintaining a commerce which the superiority of the English fleet would always render precarious, in view of the enormous expense and the difficulty of a war against so strong a combination which his enterprise would entail. He had also miscalculated the state of feeling in England, and had been so far mistaken as to expect support from the nation against the government. But he was undeceived on this point by the result of an ill-advised move which he ordered his envoy Count Palm to make. In the speech from the throne of January 1727 the king had drawn attention to the dangerous character of the engagements between the emperor and the king of Spain, with an especial reference to the emperor's ' usurped and extended exercise of trade and commerce ' and the king of Spain's ' engagements to support the • kid.