chapter  2
10 Pages

The Themes of Policy

The fall of the Walpole ministry in 1742 reflected in part a crisis of confidence and public support that owed much, though far from all, to a sense of the government as having failed to defend Britain's interests and, indeed, reputation and honour. The fall also led both to a new foreign policy by the reconstituted ministry, and to contrary pressure for a different new policy. Admiral Edward Vernon's success in the Caribbean at Porto Bello in 1739 led to much celebration, in which the ministry could share and to optimistic, indeed bold, hopes of further British gains. James III became disillusioned about the prospect of French support, which, indeed, was a realistic view while Cardinal Fleury remained first minister. Fleury, was affected by pressure at Court from aristocratic circles eager for conflict. France and Frederick II encouraged other powers to act, and they did so realising the opportunities presented by what appeared to be a Europe in flux.