41. George I, A.D. 1714—1725
The Electress Sophia, who had always desired to be queen of England, had died a few months before Queen Anne; and her son George, who liked his own German home much better than the trouble of reigning in a strange country, was in no hurry to come, and waited to see whether the English would not prefer the young James Stuart. But as no James arrived George set off, rather unwillingly, and was received in London in a dull kind of way. He hardly knew any English, and was obliged sometimes to talk bad Latin and sometimes French, when he consulted with his ministers. He did not bring a queen with him, for he had quarreled with his wife, and shut her up in a castle in Germany; but he had a son, also named George, who had a very clever, handsome wife —Caroline of Anspach, a German princess; but the king was jealous of them, and generally made them live abroad.
Just when it was too late, and George I. had thoroughly settled into his kingdom, the Jacobites in the North of England and in Scotland began to make a stir, and invited James Stuart over to try to gain the kingdom. The Jacobites used to call him James III., but the Whigs called him the Pretender; and the Tories used, by way of a middle course, to call him the Chevalier—the French word for a knight, as that he certainly was, whether he were king or pretender. A white rose was the Jacobite mark, and the Whigs still held to the orange lily and orange ribbon, for the sake of William of Orange.
The Jacobite rising did not come to any good. Two battles were fought between the king's troops and the Jacobites—one in England and the other in Scotland—on the very same day. The Scottish one was at Sheriff-muir, and was so doubtful, that the old Scottish song about it ran thus—
Some say that we won,
But of one thing I'm sure,
And we ran, and they ran,
The English one was at Preston, and in it the Jacobites were all defeated and made prisoners; so that when their friend the Chevalier landed in Scotland, he found that nothing could be done, and had to go back again to Italy, where he generally lived, under the Pope's protection; and where he married a Polish princess and had two sons, whom he named Charles Edward and Henry.
This rising of the Jacobites took place in the year 1715, and is, therefore, generally called the Rebellion of the Fifteen. The chief noblemen who were engaged in it were taken to London to be tried. Three were beheaded; one was saved upon his wife's petition; and one, the Earl of Nithsdale, by the cleverness of his wife. She was allowed to go and see him in the Tower, and she took a tall lady in with her, who contrived to wear a double set of outer garments. The friend went away, after a time; and then, after waiting till the guard was changed, Lady Nithsdale dressed her husband in the clothes that had been brought in: and he, too, went away, with the hood over his face and a handkerchief up to his eyes, so that the guard might take him for the other lady, crying bitterly at parting with the earl. The wife, meantime, remained for some time, talking and walking up and down as heavily as she could, till the time came when she would naturally be obliged to leave him—when, as she passed by his servant, she said to him that "My lord will not be ready for the candles just yet,"—and then left the Tower, and went to a little lodging in a back street, where she found her husband, and where they both lay hid while the search for Lord Nithsdale was going on, and where they heard the knell tolling when his friends, the other lords, were being led out to have their heads cut off. Afterwards, they made their escape to France, where most of the Jacobites who had been concerned in the rising were living, as best they could, on small means—and some of them by becoming soldiers of the King of France.
England was prosperous in the time of George I., and the possessions of the country in India were growing, from a merchant's factory here and there, to large lands and towns. But the English never liked King George, nor did he like them; and he generally spent his time in his own native country of Hanover. He was taking a drive there in his coach, when a letter was thrown in at the window. As he was reading it, a sudden stroke of apoplexy came on, and he died in a few hours' time. No one ever knew what was in the letter, but some thought it was a letter reproaching him with his cruelty to his poor wife, who had died in her prison about eight months before. He died in the year 1725.
Gentlemen were leaving off full-bottomed wigs now, and wearing smaller ones; and younger men had their own hair powdered, and tied up with ribbon in a long tail behind, called a queue. Ladies powdered their hair, and raised it to an immense height, and also wore monstrous hoops, long ruffles, and high-heeled shoes. Another odd fashion was that ladies put black patches on their faces, thinking they made them handsomer. Both ladies and gentlemen took snuff, and carried beautiful snuff-boxes.