Letter signed (“George R”) and subscribed, in French, to Wilhelm Frederick, King of Prussia, accrediting the bearer, “le Sieur Hammond, Mon Sous Sécrétaire d’Etat, au Departement des Affaires etrangères, lequel J’ai chargé d’une Mission extraordinaire auprès de Votre Majesté”. 2 pages 9 x 7 inches, plus integral address leaf, gilt edges, in fine fresh and attractive condition, bearing two seals in red wax with ends of red silk ties, St James, 30 July 1796 SIGNED BY A RELUCTANT GEORGE III ON BEHALF OF HIS FORMER MINISTER TO THE UNITED STATES. The bearer of this letter, George Hammond, had returned to England after serving as the first British Minister to the United States of America in 1795. He was then promoted by George Grenville, the Foreign Secretary, to act as his senior Under-Secretary with George Canning serving as the second. Meanwhile, faced with Napoleon’s victories in Italy and the Rhineland, Pitt’s First Coalition was facing collapse. Grenville, keen on an alliance with Prussia, proposed that her support could be ensured by giving her a free hand in annexing either of the Belgic provinces or extensive domains in Germany; a plan that was turned down by George III with the cutting observation that ‘Italian politics are too complicated for my understanding’. Nevertheless, as Ward puts it, the British Cabinet was in its desperation ‘prepared to act on the degrading principle of gaining the help of a powerful State by conniving at its annexation of a week neighbour’ (Cambridge History of British Foreign Policy, ii, p. 267). Hammond, as per our letter, was therefore despatched to Berlin, with George III’s reluctant agreement. But he had no luck. For when he got to Berlin, he discovered that the King was away and nothing could be done in his absence. So he let the matter drop.