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[433] France and Spain had been made under the influence
chap. XIX.} 1762.
of Choiseul, a pupil of the new ideas, the enemy of the Jesuits, and the patron of philosophy; and the federation of the weaker maritime states presented itself to the world as the protector of equality on the seas. England, on the other hand, had no motive to continue hostilities, but the love of rapine and of conquest; and on the twelfth of January, about a week after the declaration against Spain, the king directed measures to be taken to detach Austria from the House of Bourbon, and recover its alliance for England.

The proposition was made through Sir Joseph Yorke, at the Hague, who was to tempt the empress by ‘the hope of some ulterior acquisitions in Italy.’ The experienced diplomatist promptly hinted to his employers that offers from Prussia, that is, the offer of the restoration of Silesia, would be more effective. A clandestine proposition from England to Austria was itself a treachery to Frederic and a violation of treaties; it became doubly so, when the consequence of success in the negotiation would certainly have been the employment of England's influence to compel Frederic to the cession of Silesia. To promise acquisitions in Italy, with all whose powers England was at peace, was an outrage on the laws of nations; the proposition, if accepted, equally implied perfidy in Austria towards France. ‘Her Imperial Majesty and her minister,’ said Kaunitz, ‘cannot understand the proper meaning of this confidential overture of the English;’ and it did not remain a secret.

No one desired the cessation of hostilities more than Frederic, if he could but secure his own possessions. ‘To terminate this deadly war advantageously,’

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