A History of the Four Georges and of William IV, Volume III (of 4)
by Justin McCarthy and Justin Huntly McCarthy
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E-text prepared by Al Haines

Transcriber's note:

Page numbers in this book are indicated by numbers enclosed in curly braces, e.g. {99}. They have been located where page breaks occurred in the original book. For its Index, a page number has been placed only at the start of that section.

In the original volumes in this set, each even-numbered page had a header consisting of the page number, the volume title, and the chapter number. The odd-numbered page header consisted of the year with which the page deals, a subject phrase, and the page number. In this set of e-books, the odd-page year and subject phrase have been converted to sidenotes, usually positioned between the first two paragraphs of the even-odd page pair. If such positioning was not possible for a given sidenote, it was positioned where it seemed most logical.

In the original book set, consisting of four volumes, the master index was in Volume 4. In this set of e-books, the index has been duplicated into each of the other volumes, with its first page re-numbered as necessary, and an Index item added to each volume's Table of Contents.




In Four Volumes


Harper & Brothers Publishers New York and London 1901

Copyright, 1901, by Harper & Brothers, All rights reserved.



XLII. "SUPREME IRONIC PROCESSION" . . . . . . . . . . . 1 XLIII. GEORGE AND THE DRAGONS . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22 XLIV. THE "NORTH BRITON" . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 46 XLV. NUMBER FORTY-FIVE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 87 XLVI. THE AMERICAN COLONIES . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 71 XLVII. EDMUND BURKE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 93 XLVIII. THE STAMP ACT . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 102 XLIX. WILKES REDIVIVUS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 115 L. THE SPIRIT OF JUNIUS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 128 LI. CHARLES JAMES FOX . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 141 LII. ON THE CHARLES RIVER . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 147 LIII. THE "VICAR OF WAKEFIELD" . . . . . . . . . . . . 167 LIV. YANKEE DOODLE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 178 LV. THE GORDON RIOTS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 190 LVI. TWO NEW MEN . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 211 LVII. FOX AND PITT . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 238 LVIII. WARREN HASTINGS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 245 LIX. THE GREAT IMPEACHMENT . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 272 LX. THE CHANGE OF THINGS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 290 LXI. "NINETY-EIGHT" . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 306 LXII. NAPOLEON BONAPARTE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 331 INDEX . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 350







For six and forty years England had been ruled by German princes. One Elector of Hanover named George had been succeeded by another Elector of Hanover named George, and George the First and George the Second, George the father and George the son, resembled each other in being by nature German rather than English, and by inclination Electors of Hanover rather than Kings of England. Against each of them a Stuart prince had raised a standard and an army. George the First had his James Francis Edward, who called himself James the Third, and whom his opponents called the Pretender, by a translation which gave an injurious signification to the French word "pretendant." George the Second had his Charles Edward, the Young Pretender who a generation later led an invading army well into England before he had to turn and fly for his life. A very different condition of things awaited the successor of George the Second. George the Second's grandson was an English prince and an Englishman. He was born in England; his father was born in England; his native tongue was the English tongue; and if he was Elector of Hanover, that seemed an accident.

The title was as unimportant and trivial to the King of {2} England as his title of King of France was unreal and theatrical. The remnant of the Jacobites could not with truth call the heir to the throne a foreigner, and they could not in reason hope to make such a demonstration in arms against him as they had made against his grandfather and his great-grandfather. The young King came to a much safer throne under much more favorable auspices than either of the two monarchs, his kinsmen and his namesakes, who had gone before him.

[Sidenote: 1760—Accession of George the Third]

The young King heard the first formal news of his accession to the throne from the lips of no less stately a personage than the Great Commoner himself—the foremost Englishman then alive. George the Third, as he then actually was, had received at Kew Palace some messages which told him that his grandfather was sinking fast, that he was dying, that he was dead. George resolved to start for London. On his way, and not far from Kew, he was met by a coach and six, which, from the blue and silver liveries, he knew to be that of Mr. Pitt. George received the congratulations of his great minister—the great Minister whom, as it was soon to appear, he understood so little and esteemed so poorly. Then Pitt, turning his horses' heads, followed his sovereign into London. Never perhaps in English history was a young king welcomed on his accession by so great a minister. Among the many auspicious conditions which surrounded the early days of George the Third's reign not the least auspicious was the presence of such a bulwark to the throne and to the realm. For the name of Pitt was now feared and honored in every civilized country in the world. It had become synonymous with the triumphs and the greatness of England. Pitt was the greatest War Minister England had yet known. He was the first English statesman who illustrated in his own person the difference between a War Minister and a Minister of War.

Truly this journey of the King and the Prime Minister from Kew to London was what George Meredith calls a "supreme ironic procession, with laughter of gods in the background." The ignorant, unwise young King led the {3} way, the greatest living statesman in England followed after. One can hardly imagine a procession more supremely ironic. Almost all the whole range of human intellect was stretched out and exhausted by the living contrast between the King who went first and the Minister who meekly went second. Pitt had made for young George the Third a great empire, which it was the work of George the Third not long after to destroy, so far as its destruction could be compassed by the stupidity of a man. Pitt had made the name of England a power all over the civilized world. Rome at her greatest, Spain at her greatest, could hardly have surpassed the strength and the fame of England as Pitt had re-made it. George, from the very first, felt a sort of coldness towards his superb Minister. He had all the vague pervading jealousy which dulness naturally shows to genius. It was a displeasure to him from the first that Pitt should have made England so great, because the work was the inspiration of the subject and not of the sovereign. No one can know for certain what thoughts were filling the mind of George as he rode to London that day in front of William Pitt. But it may fairly be assumed that he was not particularly sorry for the death of his grandfather, and that he was pleasing his spirit with the idea that he would soon emancipate himself from Mr. Pitt. "Be a king, George," his mother used to say to him. The unsifted youth was determined, if he could, to be a king.

At the time of his accession George was in his twenty-third year. He was a decidedly personable young Prince. He had the large regular features of his race, the warm complexion of good health, and a vigorous constitution, keen attractive eyes, and a firm, full mouth. He was tall and strongly made, and carried himself with a carriage that was dignified or stiff according to the interpretation of those who observed it. Many of the courtly ladies thought him extremely handsome, were eagerly gracious to him, did their best to thrust themselves upon his attention, and received, it would seem, very little notice in return for their pains. If George showed himself {4} indifferent and even ungallant to his enthusiastic admirers, his brother Edward was of a different disposition. But though Edward, like his brother, was an agreeable-looking youth, and keen to win favor in women's eyes, he found himself like Benedict: nobody marked him because he was not the heir to the throne.

In some illustrated histories of the reign two portraits of George the Third are placed in immediate and pathetic contrast. The one portrait represents George as he showed in the first year of his reign—alert, young, smiling, with short-cut powdered hair, a rich flowered coat, and the star and ribbon of the Garter on his breast. So might a young king look called in the flower of his age to the control of a great country, pleased, confident, and courageous. The other picture shows how the King looked in the sixtieth year of his reign. The face is old and wrinkled and weary; the straggling white locks escape from beneath a fur-trimmed cap; the bowed body is wrapped in a fur-trimmed robe. The time of two generations of men lay between the young king and the old; the longest reign then known to English history, the longest and the most eventful.

[Sidenote: 1760—George's qualifications for King]

George the Third started with many advantages over his predecessors of the same name. He was an Englishman. He spoke the English language. It was his sincere wish to be above all things English. He honestly loved English ways. He had not the faintest desire to start a seraglio in England. He had no German mistresses. He did not care about fat women. He was devoted to his mother—perhaps a good deal too devoted, but even the excess of devotion might have been pardonable in the public opinion of England; certainly it was only his own weakness and perversity that made it for a while not pardonable. He was of the country squire's order of mind; his tastes were wholly those of the stolid, well-intentioned, bucolic country squire. He would probably have been a very respectable and successful sovereign if only he had not been plagued by the ambition to be a king.

It is curious to remember that the accession of George {5} the Third was generally and joyfully welcomed. A hopeful people, having endured with increasing dislike two sovereigns of the House of Hanover, were quite prepared to believe that a third prince was rich in all regal qualities; in all public and private virtues. It would, perhaps, have been unreasonable on the part of any dispassionate observer of public affairs to anticipate that a third George would make a worse monarch than his namesakes and immediate predecessors. The dispassionate observer might have maintained that there were limits to kingly misgovernment in a kingdom endowed with a Constitution and blessed with a measure of Parliamentary representation, and that those limits had been fairly reached by the two German princes who ruled reluctantly enough over the fortunes of England. This same dispassionate observer might reasonably, assuming him to possess familiar knowledge of certain facts, have hazarded the prediction that George the Third would be a better king than his grandfather and his great-grandfather. He was certainly a better man. There was so much of a basis whereupon to build a hope of better things. The profligacy of his ancestors had not apparently vitiated his blood and judgment. His young life had been a pure life. He was in that way a pattern to princes. He had been, which was rare with his race, a good son. He was to be—and there was no more rare quality in one of his stock—a good husband, a good father. He was in his way a good friend to his friends. He was sincerely desirous to prove himself a good king to his people.

The youth of George the Third had passed under somewhat agitated conditions. George the Second's straight-forward hatred for his son's wife opened a great gulf between the Court and Leicester House, which no true courtier made any effort to bridge. While the young Prince knew, in consequence, little or nothing of the atmosphere of St. James's or the temper of those who breathed that atmosphere, attempts were not wanting to sunder him from the influence of his mother. Some of the noblemen and clergymen to whom the early instruction of the young {6} Prince was entrusted labored with a persistency which would have been admirable in some other cause to sever him not merely from all his father's friends but even from his father's wife. There was indeed a time when their efforts almost succeeded in alienating the young Prince from his mother. The wildest charges of Jacobitism were brought against the immediate servants of the Princess, charges which those who made them wholly failed to substantiate. The endeavor to remove the Prince from the tutelage of his mother was abandoned. The education of the Prince was committed to more sympathetic care. The change had its advantage in keeping George in the wholesome atmosphere of Leicester House instead of exposing him to the temptations of a profligate Court. It had its disadvantages in leaving him entirely under the influence of a man to whose guidance, counsel, and authority the Princess Dowager absolutely submitted herself.

[Sidenote: 1760—Lord Bute]

Observers of the lighter sort are pleased to insist upon the trifles which have the most momentous influence upon the fortunes of peoples and the fates of empires. A famous and facile French playwright derived the downfall of a favorite and of a political revolution from the spilling of a glass of water. There are times when the temptation to pursue this thread of fancy is very great. Suppose, for instance, it had not chanced to rain on a certain day at Clifden, when a cricket match was being played in which Frederick, Prince of Wales, happened to be interested. A fretted Prince would not have had to retire to his tent like Achilles, would not have insisted on a game of whist to cheer his humor. There would have been no difficulty in forming a rubber. There would have been no need to seek for a fourth hand. No wistful gentleman-in-attendance seeking the desirable would have had to ask the aid of a strange nobleman perched in an apothecary's chariot. Had this strange nobleman not been so sought and found, had the apothecary not been wealthy enough to keep a chariot, and friendly enough to offer a poor Scotch gentleman a seat in it, it is possible that the {7} American Colonies might yet form portion and parcel of the British Empire, that Chatham's splendid dreams might have become still more splendid realities, that the name of Wilkes might never have emerged from an obscurity of debauch to association with the name of liberty. For the nobleman who made the fourth hand in the Prince of Wales's rubber was unfortunately a man of agreeable address and engaging manners, manners that pleased infinitely the Prince of Wales, and cemented a friendship most disastrous in its consequences to England, to the English people, and to an English king. The name of the engaging nobleman was Lord Bute.

At the time of this memorable game of whist Lord Bute was thirty-six years old. He was well educated, well read, tall of body, pleasing of countenance, quick in intelligence, and curious in disposition. These qualities won the heart of the Prince of Wales, and lifted the young Scotch nobleman from poverty and obscurity to prominence and favor. The Prince appointed Bute a Lord of the Bedchamber and welcomed him to his most intimate friendship. The death of the Prince of Wales two years later had no disastrous effect upon the rising fortunes of the favorite. The influence which Bute had exercised over the mind of Frederick he exercised over the mind of Frederick's wife and over the mind of Frederick's heir. Scandal whispered, asserted, insisted then and has insisted ever since, that the influence which Lord Bute exercised over the Princess of Wales was not merely a mental influence. How far scandal was right or wrong there is no means, there probably never will be any means, of knowing. Lord Bute's defenders point to his conspicuous affection for his wife, Edward Wortley Montagu's only daughter, in contravention of the scandal. Undoubtedly Bute was a good husband and a good father. Whether the scandal was justified or not, the fact that it existed, that it was widely blown abroad and very generally believed, was enough. As far as the popularity of the Princess was concerned it might as well have been justified. For years no caricature was so popular as that which displayed the Boot and the {8} Petticoat, the ironic popular symbols of Lord Bute and the Princess.

By whatever means Lord Bute gained his influence over the Princess of Wales, he undoubtedly possessed the influence and used it with disastrous effect. He moulded the feeble intelligence of the young Prince George; he guided his thoughts, directed his studies in statecraft, and was to all intents and purposes the governor of the young Prince's person. The young Prince could hardly have had a worse adviser. Bute was a man of many merits, but his defects were in the highest degree dangerous in a person who had somehow become possessed of almost absolute power. In the obscurity of a private life, the man who had borne poverty with dignity at an age when poverty was peculiarly galling to one of his station might have earned the esteem of his immediate fellows. In the exaltation of a great if an unauthorized rule, and later in the authority of an important public office, his defects were fatal to his fame and to the fortunes of those who accepted his sway. For nearly ten years, from the death of Frederick, Prince of Wales, to the death of George the Second, Bute was all-powerful in his influence over the mother of the future King and over the future King himself. When the young Prince came to the throne Lord Bute did not immediately assume ostensible authority. He remained the confidential adviser of the young King until 1761. In 1761 he took office, assuming the Secretaryship of State resigned by Lord Holdernesse. From a secretaryship to the place of Prime Minister was but a step, and a step soon taken. Although he did not occupy office very long, he held it long enough to become perhaps the most unpopular Prime Minister England has ever had.

[Sidenote: 1760—Hannah Lightfoot and Lady Sarah Lennox]

The youth of George the Third was starred with a strange romance. The full truth of the story of Hannah Lightfoot will probably never be known. What is known is sufficiently romantic without the additions of legend. Hannah Lightfoot was a beautiful Quaker girl, the daughter of a decent tradesman in Wapping. Association with the family of an uncle, a linendraper, who lived near the {9} Court, brought the girl into the fashionable part of the town. The young Prince saw her by accident somehow, somewhere, in the early part of 1754, and fell in love with her. From that moment the girl disappears from certain knowledge, and legend busies itself with her name. It is asserted that she was actually married to the young Prince; that William Pitt, afterwards Earl of Chatham, was present at the marriage; that she bore the Prince several children. Other versions have it that she was married as a mere form to a man named Axford, who immediately left her, and that after this marriage she lived with the Prince. She is supposed to have died in a secluded villa in Hackney. It is said that not only the wife of George the Third but the wife of George the Fourth believed that the marriage had taken place. We must not attach too much importance to a story which in itself is so very unlikely. It is in the last degree improbable that a statesman like Pitt would have lent himself to so singular a proceeding. Even if an enamoured young Prince were prepared to sanction his affections by a marriage, he would scarcely have found an assistant in the ablest politician of the age. The story of the Axford marriage is far more probable. If Hannah Lightfoot had been married to George she would have been Queen of England, for there was no Royal Marriage Act in those days.

Another and more famous romance is associated with the youth of George the Third. Lady Sarah Lennox, the youngest daughter of the second Duke of Richmond, was one of the most beautiful women of her time. The writers of the day rave about her, describe her as "an angel," as lovelier than any Magdalen by Correggio. When she was only seventeen years old her beauty attracted the young King, who soon made no secret of his devotion to her. The new passion divided the Court into two camps. The House of Lennox was eager to bring about a marriage, which was not then obstructed by the law. Henry Fox, one of the most ambitious men of that time or of any time, was Lady Sarah's brother-in-law, and he did his best to promote the marriage. On the other hand, the {10} party which followed the lead of the Princess Dowager and Lord Bute fought uncompromisingly against the scheme. The Princess Dowager had everything to lose, Lord Bute had everything to lose, by such an alliance. The power of the Princess Dowager over the young King would vanish, and the influence of Lord Bute over the Princess Dowager would cease to have any political importance. Lord Bute did all he could to keep the lovers apart. Henry Fox did all he could to bring the lovers together. For lovers they undoubtedly were. George again and again made it plain to those who were in his confidence that he was in love with Lady Sarah, and was anxious to make her his queen; and Lady Sarah, though her heart is said to have been given to Lord Newbottle, was quite ready to yield to the wishes of her family when those wishes were for the crown of England. On the meadows of Holland House the beautiful girl, loveliest of Arcadian rustics, would play at making hay till her royal lover came riding by to greet her.

But the idyll did not end in the marriage for which Fox and the Lennoxes hoped. It is said that the King was jealous of Lord Newbottle; it is said that a sense of duty to his place and to his people made him resolve to subdue and sacrifice his own personal feelings. He offered his hand and his crown to the Princess of Mecklenburg-Strelitz. Lady Sarah lost both her lovers, the King and Lord Newbottle, who, in the words of Grenville, "complained as much of her as she did of the King." But she did not remain long unmarried. In 1762 she accepted as husband the famous sporting Baronet Sir Thomas Charles Bunbury, and nineteen years later she married the Hon. George Napier, and became the mother of an illustrious pair of soldier brothers, Sir Charles Napier, the hero of Scinde, and Sir William Napier, perhaps the best military historian since Julius Caesar. Lady Sarah died in 1826, in her eighty-second year. In her later years she had become totally blind, and she bore her affliction with a sweet patience. At her death she is described by the chroniclers of the time as "probably the last surviving {11} great-grand-daughter of King Charles the Second." A barren honor, surely.

[Sidenote: 1760—Princess Charlotte Sophia]

The young Princess whom George married was in many ways well and even excellently qualified to make a good queen. It is said that she was discovered for her young husband after a fashion something resembling a tale from the "Arabian Nights." The Princess Dowager, eager to counteract the fatal effect of the beauty of Lady Sarah Lennox, was anxious to have the young King married as soon as possible. Her own wishes were in favor of a daughter of the House of Saxe-Gotha, but it is said that fear of a disease hereditary in the family overruled her wishes. Then, according to the story, a Colonel Graeme, a Scotch gentleman upon whose taste Lord Bute placed great reliance, was sent on a kind of roving embassy to the various little German Courts in search of the ideal bride. The lady of the quest was, according to the instructions given to Colonel Graeme, to be at once beautiful, healthy, accomplished, of mild disposition, and versed in music, an art to which the King was much devoted. Colonel Graeme, with this pleasing picture of feminine graces ever in his mind, found the original of the portrait in Charlotte Sophia, the second daughter of Charles Lewis Frederick, Duke of Mecklenburg-Strelitz.

There is another version of the manner of George's wooing which nullifies the story of Colonel Graeme's romantic mission. According to this other version George fell in love with his future queen simply from reading a letter written by her. The tale sounds as romantic as that of the Provencal poet's passion for the portrait of the Lady of Tripoli. It is true, however, that the letter of Charlotte Sophia was something of the nature of a state paper. The Duchy of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, of which the Princess Charlotte's brother was the sovereign, had been overrun by the troops of the King of Prussia. The young Princess wrote a letter to the Prussian King, which came to George's notice and inspired him, it is said, with the liveliest admiration for the lady who penned it. Whatever the actual reason, whether the report of Colonel Graeme or the {12} charms of her epistolary style, the certain thing is that George was married, first by proxy and afterwards in due form, to the young Princess in 1761. The young Princess was not remarkably beautiful. Even the courtiers of the day, anxious to say their strongest in her praise, could not do much more than commend her eyes and complexion and call her "a very fine girl," while those who were not inclined to flatter said her face was all mouth, and declared, probably untruly, that the young King was at first obviously repelled by the plainness of his wife's appearance. If she was plain, her plainness, as Northcote, the painter, said, was an elegant, not a vulgar plainness, and the grace of her carriage much impressed him. Walpole found her sensible, cheerful, and remarkably genteel, a not inconsiderable eulogy from him. She was fairly educated, as the education of princesses went in those days. She knew French and Italian, knew even a little English. She had various elegant accomplishments—could draw, and dance, and play, had acquired a certain measure of scientific knowledge, and she had what was better than all these attainments, a good, kindly, sensible nature. The marriage could hardly be called a popular marriage at first. Statesmen and politicians thought that the King of England ought to have found some more illustrious consort than the daughter of a poor and petty German House. The people at large, we are told from a private letter of the time, were "quite exasperated at her not being handsome," beauty in a sovereign being a great attraction to the mass of subjects. The courtiers in general were amused by, and secretly laughed at, her simple ways and old-fashioned—or at least un-English—manners.

[Sidenote—1761—The Coronation of George the Third]

After the wedding came the coronation, a very resplendent ceremony, which was not free from certain somewhat ludicrous features, and was not denied a certain tragic dignity. It was enormously expensive. Horace Walpole called it a puppet-show that cost a million. Loyal London turned out in its thousands. Surprisingly large sums of money were paid for rooms and scaffolds from which the outdoor sight could be seen, and much larger were paid {13} for places inside the Abbey. It was very gorgeous, very long, and very fatiguing. The spectator carried away, with aching senses, a confused memory of many soldiers, of great peers ill at ease in unbecoming habits, of beautiful women beautifully attired, of a blaze of jewels that recalled the story of Aladdin's mine, and of the wonderful effect by which the darkness of Westminster Hall was suddenly illuminated by an ingenious arrangement of sconces that caught fire and carried on the message of light with great rapidity. The heralds in whose hands the ceremonial arrangements lay bungled their business badly, causing fierce heartburnings by confusions in precedence, and displaying a lamentable ignorance of the names and the whereabouts of many wearers of stately and ancient titles. When the King expressed his annoyance at some of the blunders, Lord Effingham, the Earl Marshal, offered, for amazing apology, the assurance that the next coronation would be conducted with perfect order, an unfortunate speech, which had, however, the effect of affording the King infinite entertainment. The one tragic touch in the whole day's work may be legend, but it is legend that might be and that should be truth. When Dymoke, the King's Champion, rode, in accordance with the antique usage, along Westminster Hall, and flung his glove down in challenge to any one who dared contest his master's right to the throne of England, it is said that some one darted out from the crowd, picked up the glove, slipped back into the press, and disappeared, without being stopped or discovered. According to one version of the incident, it was a woman who did the deed; according to another it was Charles Edward himself, the Young Pretender—now no longer so very young—who made this last protest on behalf of his lost fortunes and his fallen House. It is possible, it is even probable, that Charles Edward was in London then and thereafter, and it seems certain that if he was in London King George knew of it and ignored it in a chivalrous and kingly way. The Young Pretender could do no harm now. Stuart hopes had burned high for a moment, fifteen years earlier, when a handsome young {14} Prince carried his invading flag halfway through England, and a King who was neither handsome nor young was ready to take ship from Tower Stairs if worse came of it. But those hopes were quenched now, down in the dust, extinguished forever. No harm could come to the House of Hanover, no harm could come to the King of England, if at Lady Primrose's house in St. James's Square a party should be interrupted by the entrance of an unexpected guest, of a man prematurely aged by dissipation and disappointment, a melancholy ruin of what had once been fair and noble, and in whom his amazed and reverent hostess recognized the last of the fated Stuarts. There were spies among those who still professed adherence to Charles Edward and allegiance to his line, spies bearing names honorable in Scottish history, who were always ready to keep George and George's ministers posted in the movements of the unhappy Prince they betrayed. George could afford to be magnanimous, and George was magnanimous. If it pleased the poor Pretender to visit, like a premature ghost, the city and the scenes associated with his House and its splendor and its awful tragedies, he did so untroubled and unharmed. It was but a cast of the dice in Fortune's fingers, and Charles Edward would have been in Westminster Hall and had a champion to assert his right. But the cast of the dice went the other way, and George the Third was King, and his little German Princess was Queen of England.

[Sidenote—1761—The London gayeties of the time]

It is probable that those early days in London were the happiest in the little Queen's long life. She had come from exceeding quiet to a great and famous city; she was the centre of splendor; she was surrounded by splendid figures; she was the first lady of a great land; she was the queen of a great king; she was the fortunate wife of a loyal, honorable, and pure-minded man. She was young, she was frank, she was fond of all innocent pleasures, keenly alive to all the entertainment that Court and capital could offer her. She crammed more gayeties into the first few days of her marriage than she had dreamed of in all her previous life. The girl, who had never seen {15} the sea until she took ship for England, had never seen a play acted until she came to London. Mecklenburg-Strelitz had its own strong ideas about the folly and frivolity of the stage, and no Puritan maiden in the sternest days of Cromwellian ascendency, no Calvinist daughter of the most rigorous Scottish household, could have been educated in a more austere ignorance of the arts that are supposed to embellish and that are intended to amuse existence. She went to playhouse after playhouse, alarmed at the crowds that thronged the streets to see her, but fascinated by the delights that awaited her within the walls. She attended the opera. She saw "The Beggar's Opera," which may have charmed her for its story without perplexing her by its satire. She saw "The Rehearsal," and did not dream that twenty years later the humors of Bayes, which she probably did not understand, would be eclipsed forever by the fantasies of Mr. Puff. She carried the King to Ranelagh, to that amazing, enchanting assembly where all the world made masquerade, and mandarins, harlequins, shepherdesses, and much-translated pagan divinities jostled each other through Armida's gardens, where the pink of fashion and the plain citizen, the patrician lady and the plebeian waiting-maid made merry together in a motley rout of Comus, and marvelled at the brilliancy of the illuminations and the many-colored glories of the fireworks.

The London to which the little Princess came, and which she found so full of entertainment, was a very different London from the city for which the first of the Georges had quitted reluctantly the pleasures of Hanover and the gardens of Herrenhausen. The Hanoverian princes had never tried, as the Stuart sovereigns had tried, to stop by peremptory legislation the spread of the metropolis. London had been steadily spreading in the half-century of Guelph dominion, eating up the green fields in all directions, linking itself with little lonely hamlets and tiny rustic villages, and weaving them close into the web of its being, choking up rural streams and blotting out groves and meadows with monuments of brick and mortar. Where {16} the friends of George the First could have hunted and gunned and found refreshment in secluded country ale-houses, the friends of George the Third were familiar with miles of stony streets and areas of arid squares. London was not then the monster city that another century and a half has made it, but it was even more huge in its proportion to the size of any of its rivals, if rivals they could be called, among the large towns of England. The great city did not deserve the adjective that is applied to it by the poet of Chevy Chase. London was by no means lovely. However much it might have increased in size, it had increased very little in beauty, and not at all in comfort, since the days when an Elector of Hanover became King of England. It still compared only to its disadvantage with the centres of civilization on the Continent; it still was rich in all the dangers and all the discomforts Gay had celebrated nearly two generations earlier. And these dangers and discomforts were not confined to London. The world beyond London was a world of growing provincial towns and increasing seaports connected by tolerable and sometimes admirable highways, and of smaller towns and villages reduced for the most part to an almost complete isolation by roads that were always nearly and often quite impassable. To travel much in England in those days was scarcely less adventurous even for an Englishman than to travel in Africa to-day; for a foreigner the adventure was indeed environed by perils.

[Sidenote: 1761—Fashions under George the Third]

Dress and manners had changed in the Hanoverian half-century, though not as much as they were to change in the fifty years that were still in futurity. Extravagance of attire still persisted, though the extravagance had changed its expression. The gigantic hoops in which ladies had delighted had diminished, had dwindled, and gowns were of a slender seemliness. But reformed below, fantasy rioted above. The headdresses of women in the early days of the third George were as monstrous, as horrible, and as shapeless in their way as the hideous hoops had been in theirs. Vast pyramids of false hair were piled on the heads of fashionable ladies, were pasted together with pomatums, {17} were smothered in powder and pricked with feathers like the headgear of a savage. These odious erections took so long to build up that they were suffered to remain in their ugly entirety not for days but for weeks together, until the vast structure became a decomposing mass. It is rather ghastly to remember that youth and beauty and grace allowed itself to be so loathsomely adorned, that the radiant women whose faces smile from the canvases of great painters, and whose names illuminate the chronicles of the wasted time of the reign of George the Third, were condemned to dwell with corruption in consenting to be caricatured. Till far on in the lifetime of Queen Charlotte the fashion in women's wear oscillated from one extreme to another, the gracious of to-day becoming the grotesque of yesterday, and mode succeeding mode with the confusion and fascination of a masquerade.

The men were no less remarkable than the women for the clothes they wore, no less capricious in their changes. A decided, if not a conspicuous, turn of public taste had done much since the accession of the first George to minimize if not to obliterate the differences between class and class. Men no longer consented readily to carry the badge of their calling in their daily costume, and the great world came gradually to be no longer divided sharply from the little world by marked distinction of dress. But still, and for long after 1760, the clothes of men were scarcely less brilliant, scarcely less importunate in their demands upon the attention of their wearers, than the clothes of women. Men made a brave show in those days. A group of men might be as strong in color and as vivid in contrast as a group of women; the neutralization of tone, the degradation of hue, did not begin till much later, and only conquered in the cataclysm of the birth-throes of two republics. Blue and scarlet, green and yellow, crimson and purple, orange and plum-color were the daily wear of the well-to-do; and even for the less wealthy there were the warm browns and murreys, the bottle-greens and clarets, and lavenders and buffs which made any crowd a thing to please a painter in the eighteenth century. In all the {18} varying breeds of beaux and macaronis and dandies, of bucks and fribbles, into which the fine gentlemen of the age allowed themselves to be classified, the one dominant feature, the one common characteristic, was the love for gold and silver and fine laces, for gaudiness of color and richness of ornament, for every kind of exquisite extravagance, every refinement in foppishness. There was a passion for the punctilio of dress, for the grace of a gold-headed cane and a chased sword-hilt, for the right ribbon, the right jewel, the right flower, and the right perfume, for the right powder in the hair and the right seals on the fob and the right heels and buckles on the shoes. There was an ardent appreciation, an uncompromising worship of the fine feathers that make fine birds.

[Sidenote: 1761—The wine-drinking propensities of the age]

The social system of the polite world had been slowly changing with the successive Georges. The familiar events in the lives of the well-to-do classes were growing steadily later. The dinner hour, which was generally at noon or one in the reign of Queen Anne, had crept on to three o'clock under the first, and to four o'clock under the second George. Under the third it was to grow later and later, until it made Horace Walpole rage as if the world were coming to an end because among fashionable folk it had settled itself at six o'clock. In the country, indeed, for the most part people lived the quiet lives and kept the early hours of Sir Roger de Coverley. But, however, London lived, and whatever London chose to do, England's simple honest King and England's simple honest Queen would have no concern with the follies of fashion and the luxuries of late hours. However much the rashness and wrong-headedness of his public policy forced him to accept the services and prime the pockets of a gang of drunkards and debauchees who called themselves and were called the King's friends, the evil communications had not the slightest influence upon the royal good manners, and did not alter by one jot the rigid frugality of George's life and that of his royal consort. The King's friends were only the King's jackals; they never were suffered for a moment to cross the line which severed the {19} sovereign's private life from his public actions. Indeed, it may be assumed that few of the hard-drinking, hard-living, gambling, raking ruffians who battened on the King's bounty, and who voted white black and good bad with uncompromising pertinacity and unappeasable relish, would have welcomed the hard seats at the royal table, the meagre fare on the royal platters, the homely countrified air the royal couple breathed, and the homely countrified hour at which the royal couple took up their candles and went to bed. George the Third would be long asleep at an hour when his friends would be thinking of paying a visit to Ranelagh, or preparing to spend a pleasant evening over their cards, their dice-box, and their wine.

Especially their wine. The one great characteristic of the gentility of the day was its capacity for drinking wine. "Wine, dear child, and truth," says a Greek poet, naming the two most admirable gifts of life. Truth was not always very highly prized by the men who set manners and made history in the second half of the eighteenth century, but to wine they clung with an absolutely unswerving and unalterable attachment. If the great Oriental scholar who adorned the age had been more fortunate in his studies, if Sir William Jones had chanced to make acquaintance with a Persian poet who has since become very famous among Englishmen, he would have found in the quatrains of Omar Khayyam the very verses to please the minds and to interpret the desires of the majority of the statesmen, soldiers, divines, lawyers, and fine gentlemen of the day. It is as impossible to imagine the men of the eighteenth century without their incessant libations of wine as it is impossible to imagine what the eighteenth century would have been like if it had been for the most part abstemious, sober, or even reasonably temperate. As we read the memoirs of the day, and if we believe only a part of what they tell us, making the most liberal allowance for the exaggeration of the wit and the satire of the cynic, we have to picture the political and social life of the time as a drunken orgy. Undoubtedly there were then, as always, men of decent behavior and discreet life, men who would {20} no more have exceeded in wine than in any other way. But the temper of the age and the tone of the fashionable world was not in tune with their austerity. Wonder at the frequency with which men of position got drunk then is only rivalled by wonder at the amount which they could drink without getting drunk.

[Sidenote: 1761—Unpropitious time for the King's rule]

The cry of the Persian nightingale to the Persian rose, "wine, wine, wine," was the cry to which hearts responded most readily in all the Georgian era. Walpole the father made Walpole the son drink too much, that he might not be unfilially sober while his father was unpaternally drunk. A generation later the younger Pitt plied himself with port as a medicine for the gout. The statesmen of the period, in the words of Sir George Trevelyan, sailed on a sea of claret from one comfortable official haven to another. The amount of liquor consumed by each man at a convivial gathering was Gargantuan, prodigious, hardly to be credited. Thackeray tells, in some recently published notes for his lectures on the four Georges, of a Scotch judge who was forced to drink water for two months, and being asked what was the effect of the regime, owned that he saw the world really as it was for the first time for twenty years. For a quarter of a century he had never been quite sober. This man might be taken as a type of the bons vivants, the buveurs tres illustres of the eighteenth century. They were never quite sober all through their lives. They never saw the world as it really was. They pleaded, preached, debated, fought, gambled, loved, and hated under the influence of their favorite vintage, saw all things through a vinous fume, and judged all things with inflamed pulses and a reeling brain. But it must not be forgotten that the population of the country was not entirely composed of corrupt, hard-drinking politicians, profligate, hard-drinking noblemen, and furious, hard-drinking country gentlemen. If these were, in a sense, the more conspicuous types, there were other types very different and very admirable. Apart from the great mass of the people, living their dull daily lives, doing their dull daily tasks, quiet, ignorant, unconscious that they {21} could or should ever have any say in the disposition of their existences, there were both in town and country plenty of decent, sober, honorable, and upright men and women who had nothing in common with the fine gentlemen and the fine ladies who fill the historical fashion plates. If, unfortunately, Squire Western and Parson Truliber were true pictures, at least Parson Adam and Sir Roger de Coverley still held good. None the less a young, self-willed King, not too intelligent and not too well educated, could scarcely have come to his sovereignty at a time less like to be fruitful of good for him or for the country that he was resolved to govern.




[Sidenote: 1760—George the Third as a "Briton"]

The King was not lucky in his first act of sovereignty. In his speech at the opening of Parliament on November 18, 1760, he used a form of words which he, and some of those who advised him, evidently believed to be eminently calculated to advance his popularity. "Born and educated in this country, I glory in the name of Briton," the King said; and the words would seem to suggest such an intimacy of association between the King and the kingdom as must needs knit the hearts of ruler and of ruled more closely together. Yet the choice of words gave offence in certain quarters, and for two quite distinct reasons. Many of the adherents and admirers of the late King—for even George the Second had his admirers—were indignant at the contrast which the new King seemed deliberately to draw between himself and his grandfather. In accentuating the fact that he was born and bred in England, George the Third appeared by imputation to be casting a slur upon the German nature and German prejudices of George the Second. This boast, however much it might offend the feelings of the friends of the late King, was not at all calculated to affect the mass of the public, who had little love for George the Second, and whose affection for the new King was based mainly on the hope and the assumption that he would prove to be as unlike the old King as possible. But there was another interpretation to be put upon the royal words which was likely to cause a wider impression and a wider hostility. It would seem that some of the King's advisers wished him to write that he gloried in the name of Englishman; it would even seem that the King had actually used this word in the written draft of his speech. {23} Lord Bute, it was said, had struck out the word "Englishman," and had induced the King to accept the word "Briton" as a substitute. The difference would not be quite without moment now: it appeared very momentous to many then, who read in the word chosen a most convincing proof of the Scotch influence behind the throne. The King's pride in styling himself a Briton was taken to be, what indeed it was, evidence of his affection for the Scotch peer who had been so lately sworn into his Privy Council; and the alarm and indignation of all who resented the Scotch influence was very great. The Duke of Newcastle in especial was irritated by the use of the word "Briton," and the evidence it forced upon him of his own waning influence and the waxing power of Bute. He even went so far as to wish that some notice should be taken of the "royal words" both in the motion and the address; but in the end he and those who thought with him felt that they must submit and stifle their anger for the time, and so the King, unchallenged, proclaimed himself a Briton.

Whatever else George had learned in the days of his tutelage, he had learned to form an ideal of what a king should be and a determination to realize that ideal in his own rule. The old idea of the personal authority of the sovereign seemed to be passing away, to be dropping out of the whole scheme and system of the English Constitution along with the belief in the theory of the Divine right of kings. The new King, however, was resolved to prove that he was the head of the state in fact as well as in name; that with his own hands he would restore to himself the power and authority which his grandfather and his great-grandfather had allowed unwisely to slip through their fingers. The difficulties in the way of such an enterprise might very well have disheartened any being less headstrong, any spirit less stubborn. There were forces opposed to him that seemed to overmatch his puny purpose as much as the giants overmatched the pigmy hero of the nursery tale. St. George in the chivalrous legend had but one dragon to destroy; the young royal St. George set himself {24} with a light heart to attack a whole brood of dragons—the dragons of the great Whig party.

When George the Third came to the throne the government of the country was entirely in the hands of the Whigs. The famous stately Whig Houses, the Houses of Cavendish, of Russell, of Temple, of Bentinck, of Manners, of Fitzroy, of Lennox, of Conway, of Pelham, of Wentworth, were as little subservient to the sovereign as the great Frankish nobles who stood about the throne of the Do-nothing kings. The Tory party was politically almost non-existent. No Tory filled any office, great or little, that was at the disposal of the Whigs, and the Whigs had retained their ascendency for well-nigh half a century. Jacobitism had been the ruin of the Tory cause. All Tories were not Jacobites, but, roughly speaking, all Jacobites were Tories, and there were still, even at the date of George's accession, stout-hearted, thick-headed Tory gentlemen who believed in or vaguely hoped for a possible restoration of a Stuart prince. It is curious to find that, though the Whig ranks stood fast in defence of the House of Hanover, had made that House, and owed their ascendency to their loyalty to that House, the latest Hanoverian sovereign not only disliked them, but dealt them blow after blow until he overthrew their rule. The Tories, who sighed for a Stuart prince over the water, suddenly found to their astonishment that they had a friend in the Hanoverian Guelph, whose name they hated, whose right to the throne they challenged, and whose authority they derided, when they dared not despise.

[Sidenote: 1761—The corrupt methods of the Whig party]

It cannot be denied that the Whigs had often abused, and more than abused, the privileges which their long lease of power had given to them. All political parties ruled by corruption during the last century. The Whig was not more corrupt than the Tory, but it can hardly be maintained that he was less corrupt. The great Whig Houses bought their way to power with resolute unscrupulousness. A majority in either House was simply a case of so much money down. The genius of Walpole had secured his own pre-eminence at the cost of the almost total degradation {25} of the whole administrative system of the country. When George the Third came to the throne the Whigs were firmly established in a powerful league of bigotry and in tolerance, cemented by corruption, by bribery, by purchase of the most uncompromising, of the basest kind. George the Third had fostered through youthful years of silence those strong ideas of his own about the importance of the kingly office which he was now to proclaim by his deeds. In the way of those strong ideas, in the way of the steadfast determination to be King in fact as well as in name, stood the great Whig faction, flushed with its more than forty years' debauch of power, insolent in the sense of its own omnipotence. George was resolute to show that the claim to omnipotence was a sham, and, to do him justice, he succeeded in his resolve.

At the head of the Whig party in the House of Lords was the Duke of Newcastle. At its head in the House of Commons was William Pitt. These two ministers seemed fixed and irremovable in their supreme authority. While Newcastle lavished the money of the state in that spacious system of bribery which welded the party into so formidable a mass, it was the proud privilege of Pitt to illuminate its policy by his splendid eloquence at home and by the splendor of his enterprises abroad. Both the ministers were an enormous expense to the country. Newcastle never counted the cost so long as there was a county member to be bought or a placeman to be satisfied. Pitt never counted the cost so long as he could add another trophy of victory to the walls of Westminster Abbey and inscribe another triumph on England's roll of battles. The sordid skill of Newcastle and the dazzling genius of Pitt seemed between them to make the Whig party invulnerable and irresistible. There was no opposition in Upper or Lower House; there had been for many years no hint of royal opposition. Everything promised a long continuance of the undisputed Whig sway when suddenly the secret determination of a young King and the secret instigations of a Scotch peer dissipated the stately fabric that had endured so long.


The fixed purpose of Lord Bute was to get rid of Pitt. The fixed purpose of Lord Bute created the fixed purpose of the King, and the hours of Pitt's administration were numbered. After a season of rare glory, of resplendent triumph, Pitt found himself face to face with a formidable coalition of interests against him, a coalition of interests none the less formidable because it was headed by a man for whose attainments, opinions, and ability Pitt must have felt, and scarcely concealed, the greatest contempt. Pitt had not made himself an object of personal affection to those with whom he was brought into immediate contact. In the time of his supremacy he had carried himself with a haughty arrogance, with an austere disdain which had set the smaller men about him raging in secret antagonism. The King, driven on by his own dreams of personal authority, disliked the great minister. Bute, drunk with the wild ambitions of a weak man, seems to have believed that in succeeding to Pitt's place he could also succeed to Pitt's genius. Pitt soon became aware of the strength of the cabal against him. While some of his colleagues were disaffected, others were almost openly treacherous. Bute's manner waxed more arrogant in Council. The King's demeanor grew daily cooler. The great question of war or peace was the question that divided the Cabinet. On a question of war or peace Bute triumphed and Pitt fell.

Pitt was all for carrying on the war, which had thus far proved so successful for the British flag. But Pitt was not powerfully supported in his belief. If he had his brothers-in-law James Grenville and Lord Temple on his side, he had ranged against him a powerful opposition formed by Henry Fox and George Grenville, by Lord Hardwicke and the Duke of Bedford. On the side of the peace party Bute ranged himself, bringing with him all the enormous weight that his influence with the King gave him. The case of the peace party was a simple, straight-forward case. Why, they asked, should we continue to fight? Our sweet enemy France is on her knees and ready to accept our terms. Let us enforce those terms and make {27} a triumphant peace instead of further bleeding our exhausted treasury in the prosecution of a war from which we have now nothing more to gain. Chance gave the peace party their opportunity. Pitt had become cognizant of the treaty between France and Spain known as the "Family Compact," the secret treaty which we have already fully described, by which the two Bourbon princes agreed to make common cause against England. Pitt straightway proposed that the hostile purposes of Spain should be anticipated by an immediate declaration of war against Spain and the immediate despatch of a fleet to Cadiz. Bute promptly opposed the proposal in the Cabinet, and carried the majority of the Council with him in his opposition. Pitt instantly resigned.

[Sidenote: 1761—Pitt's probity]

A curious thing had happened at the coronation ceremony. One of the largest jewels in the royal crown got loose and fell from its place. This was looked upon at the time by superstitious people as a sinister omen. These now saw the fulfilment of their forebodings in the loss to the state of the services of the great minister. The King himself had no sense that his regal glory was dimmed in its lustre by the resignation of Pitt. He was so delighted at having got rid thus easily of the great obstacle to his own authority that he could readily consent to lend to the act of parting a gracious air of regret. Much was done to lighten Pitt's fall. Very liberal offers were made by the King, offers which seemed to many to mask a hope, and more than a hope, of undermining the popularity of the great leader. Pitt declined several offers that were personal to himself, but expressed his readiness to accept some signs of the royal favor on behalf of his wife and his family. A barony was conferred upon Pitt's wife and a pension of three thousand a year upon Pitt for three lives. There was nothing unworthy in Pitt's action. He was notoriously poor; he was no less notoriously honest; it was perfectly certain that, in an age when a successful politician was for the most part a peculator, no shilling of public money had ever stuck to Pitt's fingers. If he was instantly attacked by libels and pamphlets that were {28} probably paid for by Bute, or that at least were inspired by a desire to please Bute, the attacks did Pitt more good than harm. They produced a prompt reaction, and only had the effect of making Pitt more dear to the people than before. His pictures had an enormous sale, and his partisans on the press poured out caricatures and lampoons upon Bute and his Scotchmen in greater volume and with greater violence than ever.

Bute was not content with the overthrow of Pitt. He wished to stand in isolated splendor, and to accomplish this Newcastle too must go. The great briber of yesterday had to give way to the great briber of to-day, and Bute stood alone before the world, the head of the King's Ministry, the favorite of the King, the champion of a policy that promised peace abroad and purity at home, and that resulted in a renewal of war under conditions of peculiar disadvantage and a renewed employment of the basest forms of political corruption. Bute had gained the power he longed for, but Bute was soon to learn that power need not and did not mean popularity. "The new Administration begins tempestuously," Walpole wrote on June 20, 1762. "My father was not more abused after twenty years than Lord Bute is after twenty days. Weekly papers swarm, and, like other swarms of insects, sting." Bute affected an indifference to this unpopularity which he did not really feel. It is not flattering to a statesman's pride to be unable to go abroad without being hissed and pelted by the mob, and it is hard for a minister to convince himself of the admiration of a nation when a strong bodyguard is necessary to secure him from the constant danger of personal attacks. Bute's character did not refine under the tests imposed upon it. His objectionable qualities grew more and more unpopular. The less he was liked the less he deserved to be liked. Adversity did not magnify that small soul. In his mean anger he sought for mean revenge. Every person who owed an appointment to the former ministry felt the weight of the favorite's wrath. Dismissal from office was the order of the day, and Whig after Whig was forced to leave his place or office open for {29} some Tory who was ready to express an enthusiasm for the statesmanship of Bute.

[Sidenote: 1762—Bute's foreign policy]

Bute's idea of a foreign policy was to reverse the policy of Pitt. He abandoned Frederick of Prussia to his enemies by cutting off the subsidy which Pitt had paid him, on the ground that the time agreed on for the subsidy was up, and that as England only granted it for her own purposes, and not to benefit Frederick, she was justified in discontinuing it whenever it suited her. Only a chance saved the Great Frederick from what seemed like inevitable ruin. The Czarina, Elizabeth of Russia, died, and was succeeded by Peter the Third. With the change of sovereign came a change in the purposes of Russia. The Russian army, which had fought with Austria against Frederick, now received orders to fight with Frederick against Austria. The war with Spain that Pitt had predicted Bute was obliged to wage. The conduct of Spain made it impossible for him not to declare war, and, aided by Pitt's preparations, he was able to carry on the war with considerable success. But the credit for such success was generally given to Pitt, and when Bute made peace with Spain and France it was generally felt that the terms were not such as Pitt would have exacted after so long and splendid a succession of victories. There was, indeed, a good deal to be said for the peace, but at the time those who tried to say it did not get a very patient hearing. It was well that the long Continental war was ended. Few of those engaged in it had gained much by it. Prussia, indeed, though it left her wellnigh bankrupt and almost ruined by the enormous burdens she had sustained, was better in position. She came out of the struggle without the loss of a single acre of territory, and with what Frederick especially coveted, the rank of a first-rate Power in Europe. If Prussia, which had been so long England's ally, had gained, England had not lost. Undoubtedly Pitt's war was popular; no less undoubtedly Bute's peace was unpopular, and the unpopularity of the policy intensified the unpopularity of the minister. In the eyes of the bulk of the English people Lord Bute, as a Scotchman, was {30} a foreigner, as much a foreigner as if he hailed from France or the Low Countries. Lord Chesterfield was finely disdainful of the popular opposition to Bute on account of his nationality. "If the vulgar are ever right," he said, "they are right for the wrong reason. What they selected to attack in Lord Bute was his being a Scotchman, which was precisely what he could not help." But it was not Bute's nationality, so much as his flagrant partiality to his fellow-countrymen, that made him unpopular. His affection for his own countrymen, however admirable and even touching in itself, was resented fiercely by the English people, who found themselves threatened by a new invasion of the Picts and Scots. Across the Border came a steady stream of Bute's henchmen, men with names that seemed outlandish and even savage to the Londoner, and every Scotchman found, or hoped to find, through the influence of Bute his way to office and emolument. The growing hatred for Bute extended itself as rapidly as unjustly to the nation from which Bute came.

The story of Bute's Ministry is a story of astonishing mistakes. The Tories, who for five-and-forty years had inveighed against the political corruption which, fostered by Walpole, seemed to have culminated under Newcastle, now boldly went in for a system of flagrant bribery which surpassed anything yet essayed by the most cynical of Whig ministers. The Paymaster's Office became a regular mart where parliamentary votes were bought and sold as unblushingly as humbler folk bought and sold groceries across a counter. A Ministry weakened by an unpopular peace, and only held together by such cynical merchandise, was not likely to withstand a strong storm, and the storm was not long in rising.

To swell the exchequer, the Ministry proposed to raise revenue by a tax on cider and perry. It was resolved to levy an imposition of four shillings per hogshead on the grower of the apple wine and the pear wine. The cider counties raised a clamor of indignation that found a ready echo in London. Pitt, Beckford, Lyttelton, Hardwicke, Temple, all spoke against the proposed measure and {31} denounced its injustice. George Grenville defended the bill.

[Sidenote: 1763—George Grenville's characteristics]

Grenville was one of those honorable and upright statesmen who do not contrive to make either honor or rectitude seem lovable qualities. He had first made himself conspicuous as one of the Boy Patriots who rallied with Pitt against Walpole. His abilities ran with swiftness along few and narrow channels. He was desperately well informed about many things, and desperately in earnest about anything which he undertook. Blessed or cursed with a solemnity that never was enlivened by a gleam of humor, a ray of fancy, or a flash of eloquence, Grenville regarded the House of Commons with the cold ferocity of a tyrannical and pompous schoolmaster. A style of speech that would have made a discourse upon Greek poetry seem arid and a dissertation upon Italian painting colorless—if it were possible to conceive Grenville as wasting time or thought on such trifles—added no grace to the exposition of a fiscal measure or charm to the formality of a phalanx of figures. He was gloomy, dogged, domineering, and small-minded. His nearest approach to a high passion was his worship of economy; his nearest approach to a splendid virtue was his stubborn independence. He abandoned Pitt for Bute because he detested Pitt's prodigal policy, but Bute was the more deceived if he fancied that he was to find in Grenville the convenient mask that he had lost in Newcastle; and the King himself had yet to learn how indifferent the dry, morose pedant and preacher could be not merely to royal favor, but even to the expression of royal opinion. It was truly said of him by the greatest of his contemporaries that he seemed to have no delight out of the House except in such things as in some way related to the business that was to be done within it. The "undissipated and unwearied application" which he devoted to everything that he undertook was now employed in exasperating the country. The time was not yet ripe for it to be employed in dismembering the empire.

In his support of the cider tax Grenville managed to {32} make it and himself ridiculous at the same time. In his defence he kept asking, over and over again, "Where will you find another tax? tell me where." Pitt, who was listening disdainfully to his arguments, followed one of these persistent interrogations by softly singing to himself, very audibly, the words which belonged to a popular song, "Gentle shepherd, tell me where." The House took the hint with delight, and the title of Gentle Shepherd remained an ironical adornment of Grenville for the rest of his life.

Bute's disregard of public opinion was contrasted to his disadvantage with the conduct of Sir Robert Walpole, who bowed to the demonstration against his far wiser system of excise. Bute forced his tax forward in defiance of the popular feeling, and then, apparently alarmed by the strength of the spirit he had himself raised, he answered the general indignation by a sudden and welcome resignation on April 8, 1763. This was the end of Bute's attempt to be the recognized head of a government, though he still hoped and believed that he could rule from behind the throne instead of standing conspicuously at its side. To his unpopularity as a foreigner, to his unpopularity as a favorite, public hostility added a fresh, if a far-fetched and fantastic reason for detesting Bute. It was pointed out that he had Stuart blood in his veins, that an ancestor of his had been the brother of a Scottish King. Any stick is good enough to strike an unpopular statesman with, and there were not wanting people to assert, and perhaps even to believe, that Bute had entertained insidious schemes for raising himself to the throne. Bute is said to have declared that he resigned in order to avoid involving the King in the dangers with which his minister was threatened. If he did feel any fears for the King's safety he had certainly done his best to make those fears reasonable. It has not often been given to any statesman to hold the highest office in the state for so short a time, and in that time to accomplish so large an amount of harm. And the immediate harm of that year and a half was little as compared with the harm that was to follow, a fatal legacy, {33} from the principles that Bute advocated and the policy that Bute initiated.

[Sidenote: 1763—The retirement of Bute]

With Bute retired two of his followers, Dashwood and Fox. Dashwood went to the Upper House as Lord Le Despencer; Fox accompanied him as Lord Holland. The disappearance of Dashwood from the Commons was a matter of little importance. The disappearance of Fox marked the conclusion of what had been a remarkable, of what might have been a great career. From this time Fox ceased to take any real part in public business, and if his presence lent no lustre to the Lords, his absence made the character of the Commons more honorable. Fox, with all his faults, and they were many and grave, had in him the gifts of the politician and the capacity of the statesman. Dashwood was a vulgar fool, who, as Horace Walpole said, with the familiarity and phrase of a fishwife, introduced the humors of Wapping behind the veil of the Treasury. But Fox was a very different type of man. Had he been as keen for his own honor as he was eager in the acquisition of money, had he been as successful in building up a record of great deeds as he was successful in building up an enormous fortune, he might have left behind him one of the greatest names in the history of his age. But he carried with him to the Upper House the rare abilities which he had put to such unworthy uses, and he lives in memory chiefly as the father of his son. In having such a son he rendered the world a good service, which he himself labored with infinite pains to make into an evil service.

A young, inexperienced, and headstrong King found himself suddenly the central figure of perhaps as singular a set of men as ever were gathered together for the purpose of directing the destinies of a nation. A famous caricature of the period represents the front of a marionette-show, through an aperture of which the hand of Bute pulls the wires that make the political puppets work, while Bute himself peeps round the corner of the show to observe their antics. No stranger dolls ever danced around a royal figure to the manipulation of a favorite's fingers. At {34} a time when political parties as they are now familiar to us did not exist, when Whiggism was so dominant that Opposition in the modern sense was unknown, when the pleasures and the gains of administration were almost entirely reserved for a privileged caste, and when self-interest was the rarely disavowed spur of all individual action, it is scarcely surprising to find that the vast majority of the statesmen of the day were as unadmirable in their private as they were unheroic in their public life. For then and long after, the political atmosphere, bad at its best, was infamous at its worst, and by an unhappy chance the disposition of the King led him to favor in their public life the very men whose private life would have filled him with loathing, and to detest, where it was impossible to despise, the men who came to the service of their country with characters that were clean from a privacy that was honorable. Many, if not most, of the leading figures of that hour would have been more appropriately situated as the members of a brotherhood of thieves and the parasites of a brothel than as the holders of high office and the caretakers of a royal conscience. There were men upon the highway, rogues with a bit of crape across their foreheads and a pair of pistols in their holsters, haunting the Portsmouth Road or Hounslow Heath, with the words "Stand and deliver" ever ready on their lips, who seem relatively to be men of honor and probity compared with a man like the first Lord Holland or like Rigby. There were poor slaves of the stews, wretched servants of the bagnios, whose lives seem sweet and decorous when compared with those of a Sandwich or a Dashwood or a Duke of Grafton. Yet these men, whose companionship might be rejected by Jack Sheppard, and whose example might be avoided by Pompey Bum, are the men whose names are ceaselessly prominent in the early story of the reign, and to whose power and influence much of its calamities are directly due.

[Sidenote: 1763—The Duke of Grafton]

It is not easy to accord a primacy of dishonor to any one of the many statesmen whose names degrade the age. Possibly the laurels of shame, possibly the palms of infamy {35} may be proffered to Augustus Henry Fitzroy, third Duke of Grafton. When George the Third came to the throne the Duke of Grafton was only twenty-five years old, and had been three years in the House of Lords, after having passed about twice as many months in the House of Commons. Destined to live for more than half a century after the accession, and to die while the sovereign had still many melancholy years to live, the Duke of Grafton enjoyed a long career, that was unadorned by either public or private virtue. There is no need to judge Grafton on the indictment of the satirist who in a later day made the name of Junius more terrible to the advisers of King George than ever was the name of Pietro Aretino to the princes whom he scourged. The coldest chronicle of the Duke's careers, the baldest narrative of his life, proves him to have been no less dangerous to the public weal as a statesman than he was noxious to human society as an individual. He had not even the redeeming grace that the charm of beauty of person lent to some of his companions in public incompetency and private profligacy. His face and presence were as unattractive as his manners were stiff and repellent. His grandfather, the first Duke, was an illegitimate son of Charles the Second by the Duchess of Cleveland, and the Duke's severest critic declared that he blended the characteristics of the two Charles Stuarts. Sullen and severe without religion, and profligate without gayety, he lived like Charles the Second, without being an amiable companion, and might die as his father did, without the reputation of a martyr.

Grafton did not die the death of his royal ancestor. He lived through seventy-six years, of which less than half were passed in the fierce light of a disgraceful notoriety, and more than half in a retirement which should be styled obscure rather than decent. The only conspicuously creditable act of that long career was the patronage he extended to the poet Bloomfield, a patronage that seems to have been prompted rather by the fact that the writer was born near Grafton's country residence than by any intelligent appreciation of literature. His curious want of taste {36} and feeling allowed him to parade his mistress, Nancy Parsons, in the presence of the Queen, at the Opera House, and to marry, when he married the second time, a first cousin of the man with whom his first wife had eloped, John, Earl of Upper Ossory. If his example as a father was not admirable, at least he showed it to a numerous offspring, for by his two marriages he was the parent of no fewer than sixteen children.

[Sidenote: 1763—Rigby and the Duke of Bedford]

Perhaps the prize for sheer political ruffianism, for the frank audacity of the freebooter, unshadowed by the darker vices of his better-born associates, may be awarded to Rigby. Not that Rigby redeemed by many private virtues the unblushing effrontery of his public career. It was given to few men to be as bad as Dashwood, and Rigby was not one of the few. But his gross and brutal disregard of all decency in his acts of public plunder—for even peculation may be done with distinction—was accompanied by a gross and brutal disregard of all decency in his tastes and pleasures with his intimate associates. Richard Rigby sprang from the trading class. He was the son of a linen-draper who was sufficiently lucky to make a fortune as a factor to the South Sea Company, and who was, in consequence, able to afford his son the opportunity of a good education, and to launch him on the grand tour of Europe with every aptitude for the costly vices that men in those days seemed to think it the chief object of travel to cultivate, and with plenty of money in his pocket to gratify all his inclinations. Rigby did not take much advantage of his educational opportunities. His Latinity laid him open to derision in the House of Commons, and there were times when his spelling would have reflected little credit upon a seamstress. But he was quite capable of learning abroad all the evil that the great school of evil was able to teach a willing student. He returned to England, and began his life there with three pronounced tastes: for gambling, for wine, and for the baser uses of politics. His ambitions prompted him to adhere to the party of the Prince of Wales, and his ready purse won him a welcome among the courtiers of Leicester House. The Prince of {37} Wales did little to gratify his hopes, and Rigby would have found it difficult to escape from the straits into which his debts had carried him if his gift of pleasing had not procured for him a powerful patron. The Duke of Bedford had been attracted by the remarkable convivial powers of Rigby, powers remarkable in an age when to be conspicuous for conviviality demanded very unusual capacity both of head and of stomach. To be admired by Bedford was in itself a patent of dishonor, but it was a profitable patent to Rigby. The Duke, who was accused at times of a shameful parsimony, was generous to profusion towards the bloated buffoon who was able and willing to divert him, and from that hour Rigby's pockets never wanted their supply of public money.

There were few redeeming features in Rigby's character. It was his peculiar privilege to be false to his old friends and to corrupt his young ones. In an age when sobriety was scorned or ignored he had the honor to be famous for his insobriety. A sycophant to those who could serve him and a bully to those who could not, Rigby added the meanness of the social parvenu to the malignity of the political bravo. At a time when men of birth and rank came to the House of Commons in the negligence of morning dress, Rigby was conspicuous for the splendor of his attire, and illuminated the green benches by a costume whose glow of color only faintly attenuated the glowing color of his face. There were baser and darker spirits ready for the service of the King; there was no one more unlovely.

Rigby's patron was as unadmirable as Rigby himself. He was fifty years old when George the Third came to the throne, and he had lived his half a century in the occupation of many offices and through many opportunities for distinction without distinguishing himself. He had still eleven years to live without adding anything of honor or credit to his name, or earning any other reputation than that of a corrupt politician whose private life was passed chiefly in the society of gamblers, jockeys, and buffoons. He had been Governor-General of Ireland, and had {38} governed it as well as Verres had governed Sicily. He had been publicly horsewhipped by a county attorney on the racecourse at Lichfield. His career, always unimportant, was ignominious when it was not incapable, and it was generally both the one and the other.

All the statesmen of the day were not of the school of Grafton. There were numerous exceptions to the rule of Rigby. The Graftons and the Rigbys gain an unnatural prominence from the fact that then and later it was to such tools the King turned, and that he always found such tools ready to his hands. There were many men who, without any show of austerity or any burden of morality, were at least of a very different order from the creatures whom the King did not indeed delight to honor, but whom he condescended to employ. The Earl of Granville, with the weight of seventy years upon his shoulders, carried into active political life under his fourth sovereign the same qualities both for good and evil that adorned or injured the name of Carteret. He accepted Lord Bute's authority, and he did not live long enough to witness Bute's fall. He accorded to the peace brought about by Bute "the approbation of a dying statesman," as the most honorable peace the country had ever seen. He died in the January of 1763, leaving behind him the memory of a long life which had always been lived to his own advantage but by no means to the disadvantage of his country. He left behind him a memory of rare public eloquence and graceful private conversation, of an elegant scholarship that prompted him to the patronage of scholars, of a profound belief in his own judgment, and a no less profound contempt for the opinions of others. His public life was honest in an epoch when public dishonesty was habitual, and the best thing to be said of him was the best thing he said of himself, that when he governed Ireland he governed so as to please Dean Swift.

[Sidenote: 1763—Dr. Samuel Johnson]

At a time when the King was surrounded by such advisers as we have seen, the King's chief servant and most loyal subject was a man no longer young, who had nothing to do with the courts or councils, and who yet was of {39} greater service to the throne and its occupier than all the House of Lords and half the House of Commons. Long years before George the Third was born, a struggling, unsuccessful schoolmaster gave up a school that was well-nigh given up by its scholars and came to London to push his fortune as a man of letters. When George the Third came to the throne the schoolmaster had not found fortune—that he never found—but he had found fame, and the name of Samuel Johnson was known and loved wherever an English word was spoken or an English book read. The conditions of political life in England in the eighteenth century made it impossible for such a man as Samuel Johnson ever to be the chosen counsellor, the minister of an English king. The field of active politics was reserved for men of family, of wealth, or of the few whom powerful patronage served in lieu of birth and aided to the necessary opulence. Johnson was one of the most influential writers of his day, one of the strongest intellectual forces then at work, one of the greatest personalities then alive. But it would no more have occurred to him to dream of administrative honors and a place in a Ministry than it would have occurred to George the Third to send one of his equerries to the dingy lodgings of an author with the request that Dr. Johnson would step round to St. James's Palace and favor his Majesty with his opinion on this subject or on that. It is not certain that the King would have gained very much if he had done anything so unusual. Dr. Johnson's views were very much the King's views, and we know that he would have been as obstinate as the King in many if not most of the cases in which the King's obstinacy was very fatal to himself.

When Queen Anne was still upon the throne of England, when James the Second still lived with a son who dreamed of being James the Third, and when George the First was only Elector of Hanover, people still attributed to the sovereign certain gifts denied to subjects. They believed, for instance, that the touch of the royal fingers could cure the malady of scrofula, then widely known in consequence of that belief as the King's Evil. In obedience to that {40} belief, in the spring of 1712 some poor folk of Lichfield travelled to London with their infant son, in the hope that Queen Anne would lay her hand upon the child and make him whole. There were days appointed for the ceremony of the touch, and on one of those days the Johnsons of Lichfield carried their little Samuel into the royal presence, and Queen Anne stroked the child with her hand. For more than seventy years a dim memory remained with Johnson of a stately lady in black; for more than seventy years the malady that her touch was thought to heal haunted him. When the man who had been the sick child died, the third prince of a foreign house was seated on the throne of England, and the third of the line owed, unconscious of the debt, no little of his security on his throne and no little of his popularity with the mass of his people to the struggling author who had received the benediction of the last Stuart sovereign of England.

Samuel Johnson was born at Lichfield, in Staffordshire, on September 8, 1709. His father was a bookseller, perhaps too fond of books to be a good dealer in them. But his crowded shelves were a paradise to his son when at the age of sixteen he came home from the last of many schoolings, each of which had taught him much. For two years he read his way recklessly, riotously, and joyously through his father's migratory library. He took the advice of the varlet in "The Taming of the Shrew," and studied what he most affected. His memory was as vast as his head was huge and his body bulky. He read what he liked, and he stored his mind with as miscellaneous a mass of knowledge as ever was heaped up within the pent-house of one human skull. That youthful zeal and fiery heat of study remained youthful with him to the end of his many days; the passion for learning never burned low in that mighty brain. The man who in his old age studied Dutch to test the acquiring powers of his intellect, and still found them freshly tempered, acted in his ebullient boyhood as if, like Bacon, he had taken all knowledge to be his province. The man who in his old age found an exquisite entertainment in reading a Spanish romance of chivalry, in his eager {41} boyhood found the Latin poems of Petrarch sweeter than apples. The great Italian who counted the sonnets to which he owes his immortality but as the clouds of a dream, and who built his hopes of fame upon that "Africa" which the world has been willing to forget, found the reader he would have welcomed and the student he would have cherished in the ungainly youth who pored over him in a garret. The boy Johnson, bent over the great folio, forgot that he was poor, forgot that he was ill-clad, under the spell of the stately lines that their poet believed to be not less than Virgilian. He had set out on an errand even more trivial than that of Saul the son of Kish, and he had found the illimitable kingdom of dreams.

[Sidenote: 1728—The college days of Dr. Johnson]

Chance sent the student of Petrarch to Pembroke College, Oxford, where he passed two years eating the bitter bread of poverty in the bitter pride of youth. He was hungry, he was ragged, he was conscious of his great knowledge and his great gifts, and he saw all around him men in high places whose attainments he despised, and men seeking the same goal as himself whose happy ease of circumstances he affected to disdain and was compelled to envy. His wild soul rose in rebellion at the inequalities of life. He passed for a mutineer.

His college days were bitter and rebellious; days of hunger and thirst and ruined raiment. Some well-meaning person, moved to pity by the sight of Johnson's shabby shoes, patched and mended till they were past all wholesome cobbling, placed a new sound pair at Johnson's door in nameless benevolence. Johnson cast them from him with fury, too proud to be shod by another man's bounty. He drifted through his few and gloomy college days deriding and despising those in authority; seemingly wasting his time and yet not wasting it; translating Pope's "Messiah" into such noble Latin that Pope, moved by honest admiration, declared that future times would be unable to tell which was the original and which was the translation. Johnson could be nowhere without learning, and he learned something at Oxford; but in any case his stay was short, and he drifted back to Lichfield, leaving on the {42} banks of the Isis an amazing memory of a sullen savage creature, brimmed with the strangest miscellaneous learning. In Lichfield his father's death, following hard upon his return from Oxford, left him lonelier and poorer than ever, troubled by the grim necessity to be fed, clothed, and sheltered, and by the uncertainty how to set about it. He did set about it, earnestly, strenuously, if not very fruitfully.

[Sidenote: 1737—Johnson and his work]

He was ready to do anything, to turn to anything, to write, to translate, to teach. He fell in love with an amazing woman more than twenty years his senior, monstrously fat, monstrously painted, monstrously affected and absurd; he fell in love with her, and he married her. She had a little money, and Johnson set up an academy for the instruction of youth. But youth would not come to be instructed. One youth came, one of the very few, a soldier's son and a grandson of a Huguenot refugee, named David Garrick. The master and the pupil became friends, and the friendship lasted with life. Master and pupil resolved to make the adventure of the town together. The eyes of aspiring provincials turned always to the great city, every ambitious provincial heart beat with desire for the conquest of London. The priest of letters and the player of parts, the real man and the shadow of all men, packed up bag and baggage and came to London to very different fame and very different fortune. The great city had one kind of welcome to give to the man who desired to speak truth and another to the man who proposed to give pleasure. The chances for men of letters and for players were very unlike just then. The two strands of life ran across the web of London, the strand of Johnson iron-gray, the strand of Garrick gleaming gold. Through long years Johnson hid in dingy courts and alleys, ill-clothed, ill-fed, an uncouth Apollo in the service of Admetus Cave and his kind, while the marvellous actor was climbing daily higher and higher on the ladder of an actor's fame, the friend of the wealthy, the favored of the great, the admired, the applauded, the well-beloved. Garrick deserved his fame and his fortune, his splendid successes and {43} his shining rewards; but the grand, rough writer of books did not deserve his buffets and mishaps, his ferocious hungers, his acquaintanceship with sponging-houses, and all the catalogue of his London agonies. His struggle for life was a Titan's struggle, and it was never either selfish or ignoble. He wanted to live and be heard because he knew that he had something to say that was worth hearing. He needed to live for the sake of his ardent squalid affections, for the sake of the people who were always dependent upon his meagre bounty, for the sake of the wife he loved so deeply, mourned so truly when she died, and remembered with such tender loyalty so long as life was left to him. Miserably poor himself, he always had about him people more miserable and more poor, who looked to him for the very bread and water of their affliction, dependents whom he tended not merely generously, but, what was better still, cheerfully. Under conditions of existence that would have seemed crushing to men of letters with a tithe of Johnson's greatness of soul, Johnson fought his way inch by inch in the terrible career of the man who lived by his pen, and by his pen alone. He wrote anything and everything so long as it was honorable to write and promised to make the world better. But it was not what Johnson wrote so much as what Johnson did that commanded his age and commands posterity. In the truest sense of the word, he lived beautifully. "Rasselas" and "The Idler," "London" and "The Vanity of Human Wishes," "The Rambler" and the "Sessions of Lilliput," and the "Lives of the Poets," and even the famous "Dictionary," only claim remembrance because they were done by a man who would be as interesting a study and as ennobling an example if he had never written a line of the works that bear his signature in every sentence of their solemn, even their portentous majesty. Johnson had the kindest heart wrapped in a rugged hide. One of the noblest of the many noble stories about him relates how he and a friend, whose name of Burke was not then famous, found a poor woman of the streets houseless, hungry, and exhausted in the streets. Burke had a room which he could {44} offer the poor creature for a night's shelter; but Burke could not get the woman there. Johnson had no room—his dependents swarmed over every available space at his command—but he had the strength of a giant, and he used it as a giant should, in carrying the poor wretch in his arms to the roof that Burke could offer her. Long years later, another man of letters, hungry, homeless, and friendless, sick almost unto death, found a kind friend and gentle nurse in a woman of the streets. In succoring De Quincey we may well think that Anne was repaying something of the debt owed by one of her unhappy class to two of the glories of literature and of humanity.

Slowly and surely Johnson's fame spread. The "Dictionary," massive fruit of many vigils, reward of many supplications, made him illustrious. It might have been dedicated to Chesterfield, if Chesterfield had shown to the struggling author the courtesy he was eager to extend to the established writer. Chesterfield need not be blamed if he was reluctant to welcome a queer ungainly creature whose manners were appalling, and of whose genius no one save himself was assured. But he was to be blamed, and he deserved the stern punishment he received in Johnson's stinging letter of repudiation, for attempting, when Johnson was distinguished and beyond his power to help, to win the great honor of a dedication by a proffer of friendship that came too late. Johnson needed no Chesterfield now. London had learned to reverence him, had learned to love him. His friends were the best Englishmen alive; the club which Johnson established bore on its roll the most illustrious names in the country; at the home of the Thrales Johnson tasted and appreciated all that was best in the home life of the time. He had a devoted friend in the person of a fussy, fantastic, opinionated, conceited little Scotch gentleman, Mr. James Boswell of Auchinleck, who clung to his side, treasured his utterances, cherished his sayings, and made himself immortal in immortalizing his hero. It is good to remember that when George the Third came to the throne a man like Johnson was alive. It is not so good to remember how seldom he found himself {45} face to face with the King, whom he might have aided with his wisdom, his counsel, and his friendship.

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