Imatges de pÓgina

the very highest scarcely as a ble this respect, the most marked change mish. The proficiency of our lords has now taken place. All the efforts and ladies is duly attested by the va- of ingenuity and philanthropy have luable works which they have pro- been exhausted, that even the humduced, and by the number who stand blest British subject may attain those at the very head of our literature. first principles of knowledge, which With respect to the latter, also, we are essential to his moral and religious are happy to understand that this qua- welfare. The religious, the literary, lification has not been found to inter- and the political worlds, have combifere either with their agreeableness in ned their efforts in this great purpose. society, or with the regulations of do. With the means, the desire of knowmestic economy.

ledge has also become general. The After all, however, the most im- political events of the present day, portant revolution, and that which peculiarly calculated to act on the seems pregnant with the greatest mind of the lower orders, had no changes, consists in the extension of doubt a wonderful effect in rousing knowledge in quite a different direc- them from their apathy. Knowledge, tion-in the diffusion of its elements besides, possesses so many attractions among that humbler and more nume- for the human mind, that when plarous class, who were formerly suppo- ced within view and within reach, the sed to be shut out entirely from the desire of attainment can scarcely fail pale of intellectual existence-desti- to be excited. Thus, it is no longer ned to be the mere hewers of wood doubtful, that all the subjects of the and drawers of water for the more crown of Great Britain, will, in the fortunate part of their species. In next age, be a reading generation. Scotland, indeed, for more than a The consequences may not be of that century, the valuable institution of pa. wholly unmixed good which sanguine rish schools had diffused, at least philanthropists are apt to conceive. through all its rural districts, benefits We have no doubt that evils will which were universally acknowledged. arise ; perhaps we have already expeBut in England, and the rest of the rienced some, and others may follow, empire, the first principles of educa- which cannot now be discerned by tion could be obtained only at a high- the narrow range of human intellect. er price than the labouring class had But none of these considerations can, the means, or at least the inclination, we apprehend, deter the well-wisher to afford. The English labourer, even of his species from putting his hand when receiving ample wages, remain- to a work which cannot now be ared usually sunk in fat contented igno- rested, and must, in its ultimate efrance, and did not even care to col- forts, be productive of a general imlect that scanty measure of know. provement, ledge which circumstances would In closing this hasty survey, it is have allowed. He fell into that stu- impossible not to remark, that Bripified and benumbed state to which tain, at the end of the reign of George the labouring class is liable in a com. III., occupied a more conspicuous mercial state of society ; when the di- place in the system of Europe, and of vision of labour, reducing the occu- the world in general, than at any pation of every individual to a narrow former period of her history. She mechanical routine, withdraws all dai- held that which France had taken ly demands upon his intellect. In since the reign of Lewis XIV., and which Spain had held before-as the purity, and respect for religion, leadcentre of power and civilization the ing features in his external deportmodel upon which other nations seek ment, without forbidding austerity, to form themselves the hinge round to guard the gaieties of a court from which all the great changes in the degenerating into licentiousness ;world revolve. How long she may re- these, which in an absolute prince tain this proud pre-eminence, so dear- are only secondary qualities, become ly purchased, while so great a fer- of the first value in the head of a li. ment prevails in the world, and revo- mited monarchy. The eminent delutions are every where afloat, can- gree in which they were displayed by not be too confidently predicted. It our late venerable Sovereign, has excan only be said, that there is no torted universal applause. present appearance of rivalry to it In regard to public measures, the among any other European power or King gave some striking proofs of people; and that it may probably be willingness to remain in his place as expected to last till Europe itself be a member of a constitutional monareclipsed by the mighty empires rising chy; and even where obvious expebeyond the Atlantic.

diency dictated, to extend the powers The question now arises, amid these of those branches which were indegreat changes which marked the fate pendent of himself. This appeared of Britain during this reign, what the conspicuously in the measure recomMonarch himself was, and what in- mended by himself from the throne, fluence he exercised ? It must first be within six months after his accession, admitted, that there can be no room of rendering the office of judge indefor ascribing to George III. that en- pendent of the executive. The naergy and originality of mind which tion was thus indebted to the sponcould enable him, like Lewis XIV., taneous act of its King, for the most or Charles V., to stamp his own cha- important accession to public liberty racter on the age. In the great events which the constitution has received which took place in Britain, or which since the Revolution. Lord North was she effected in the nations around, it accustomed to say, " The King would never could be said that the Monarch live on bread and water to preserve himself gave the main impulse. But the constitution of his country. He the fact is, that this is a quality under would sacrifice his life to maintain it the want of which the nation has in inviolate.”—“. Born and educated in no degree suffered ; and which it is this country,” said he, “ I glory in the neither desirable nor desired that a name of Briton.” And he had accordBritish King should display. That ingly shaken off entirely that preferprinciple, the necessary basis of a li- ence of Hanover, which had been felt mited monarchy, which imposes upon as odious in the former monarchs of ministers all the responsibility of pub- that race. It could never, indeed, be lic measures, vests in them the actual expected, that, steering through his direction of these measures, and esta- whole life between opposite parties, blishes the King rather as an orna- and shewing preferences to one or ment and central support of the poli- another, he should escape severe strictical system, than an active member tures on his public career. There are of it. To do well the honours of his not wanting those who charge upon situation—to exhibit the virtues of himself, personally, all the measures private life-to make dignity, moral of his reign which have had an unfore

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tunate issue. There was always room charge of his enemies is that of rash
for this; because, as a curtain con- and imprudent zeal to effect this ob-
stantly hides the process by which of- ject; and we never heard it once al-
ficial measures are formed, the re- leged that it was a system forced up-
spective shares of the King and Mi- on him, and into which he reluctant-
nisters are a subject open to whispers ly entered. Mr Addington, (Lord
and conjectures, and are usually Sidmouth,) well known to be a favour-
moulded by each party according to ite minister of the King, came in on a
their views and prepossessions. He peace-making basis, and made peace.
is openly charged with a passion for It has been said, that the King ex-
war. This accusation really appears pressed surprise when he heard of the
to us somewhat too bold. What are signature of the peace of Amiens;
the facts ? George III. came to the but it is admitted, that he immediate-
throne in the midst of the most splen- ly expressed his wish that it might be
did and glorious war ever waged by Jasting. With regard to the renewal of
Britain. He came at the age when the war in 1803, no interference of the
mankind are most liable to be smitten King was ever heard of ; and the ar-
with the love of military glory. How rogant demands of Buonaparte-the
did he act? From the moment of ac- conflict between the periodical presses
cession, all his aims were pacific. He of France and England—and the fer-
sacrificed his minister, in hopes of ment it excited in the nation, are
avoiding an extension of the theatre quite sufficient to render any further
of hostilities; and he finally made an solution superfluous.
entire sacrifice of his popularity, by George III. was much and long
concluding peace sooner, and on charged with favouritism. The guides
worse terms, than the nation fondly of his political judgment were said to
expected. What proof could be more be, not his ostensible ministers, but
decisive of a peculiar reluctance to private individuals, whose opinions he
engage in war? After this, supposing preferred. The cry of “ an influence
him to have favoured the American behind the throne, greater than the
contest, (which we shall speak to pre- throne itself,” was re-echoed from
sently,) can any one suppose him to Burke to Belsham, and continued to
have driven so valuable a part of his be a standing topic of declamation.
empire into rebellion, and hazarded its We need not assemble facts relative
loss, rather than not have war in some to this charge, since it is entirely
shape or other? With regard to the re- given up, even by the severest critics,
volutionary conflict, supposing it true who now universally admit, that he
that it was promoted by the King's per- never had any such private adviser.
sonal influence, it was surely a cause The charge at present is, that he never
which interested, too strongly, all the paid due regard to any advice, pub-
feelings of royalty, to render it neces- lic or private ; that his object, from
sary to infer any abstract love of war. the first, was to be his own minister,
But, in fact, we find nothing but bare as- and to have his own will in every
sertion as to any peculiar interference thing. We are told, that the first les-
of the King upon this occasion. Mr son instilled into him by his mother,
Pitt, assuredly, was never suspected the Dowager Princess of Wales, was,
of any want of zeal in keeping down “ George, be King ;” and that this
the growth of French power, and ef- precept was never forgotten. We are
fecting its humiliation. The standing not disinclined to admit, that, under

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some exaggeration, there may be tions, equally odious to King and peosome truth in this statement; and that ple, has obtained a majority in Parthe King really had somewhat of a de- liament, it can scarcely be called an termined will. It is already admitted, unconstitutional stretch of power to that the machine of a limited monar- make an appeal to the electors, by chy works more conveniently when the the dissolution of that assembly. InKing quietly leaves the chief direction deed we cannot help, by the way, reof affairs to his responsible advisers. marking, that the long adherence of But however convenient this may be, the King to a minister of such a lofty, would it tend to exalt our opinion of uncompromising, and almost imperithe individual so acting? Would there ous character as Pitt, seems incomnot be something ignavum in one who patible with that violent and headcontentedly suffered himself to be strong determination, of which so kept as a state pageant, like the in- much has been said. It is understood fant Lama of Thibet, mechanically to that they had quarrels; but on these perform a round of outward ceremo- critical occasions, the King, if we nies; and who should willingly view, mistake not, was usually obliged to as an unconcerned spectator, the yield. The only measure which was manner in which his kingdom was ad- certainly and avowedly his own, and ministered. That a King, by forming in support of which he shewed his deplans, and seeking their accomplish- termination to brave every consement, should act somewhat as a dis- quence, was one to which he consi. turbing force in the revolutions of the dered himself bound by a religious political wheel, is an evil which hu- obligation. Even on this point, howman nature obliges us to expect, in ever, he had to contend with his Micounterpoise of the benefits derived nisters only, and not with Parliament. from the regal branch of the consti- Nay, the opinion, enlightened or not, tution. But it would be difficult to of a majority of the nation, was here adduce instances in which this natu- in his favour. ral desire to exercise his own will re- We have now to consider George fused to bend to the constitutional III. in his private capacity; and here barriers which rose against it. No it is allowed, on all hands, that he former King of the Hanover dynasty, shone conspicuous. From those vices or since the Revolution, was ever con- which are almost inseparable from, trolled, on so many occasions, by the and by the world considered venial in, interference of Parliament; yet though the possessors of exalted rank and sometimes touched in the very tendere unbounded wealth, he was so wholly est part, he yielded on almost everyoc. exempt, that it would be difficult to casion, with a tolerable grace. There find a course of domestic life equally is, indeed, the striking exception of meritorious in the most private indiMr Pitt's first accession to the Minis. vidual. All the efforts of the royal try. He certainly was maintained pair were directed to the support of there, for a short time, against a Par. religious and moral principle throughliamentary majority ; but the circum- out the wide sphere of their influence. stances were so peculiar, that even The effect of this disposition was likeMr Nichols, a zealous whig, and se- ly to be the greater, since it was not vere critic on the King, applauds his accompanied with any recluse or forconduct on the occasion. In the pe- bidding austerity. It was peculiarly culiar case, where a coalition of fac- important in periods such as we have

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witnessed, when manners, among the marginal notes, marked by reflection
higher ranks, tended towards general and strong sense. Those who were in
dissoluteness, that every thing within the habit of conversing with him on
the precincts of the court should be business, declared, that his manner
kept thus perfectly pure. The King's then bore no marks of that frivolity
dutiful affection for a partner possess which sometimes prevailed in his or-
ed rather of solid than engaging qua- dinary discourse. He spoke with dig-
lities, and his strict attention to the nity and fluency; and shewed himself
education of a numerous progeny, completely master of every subject
were equally exemplary. At eight in which came under consideration.
the morning he regularly attended di- George III. has not been distin
vine service in the royal chapel, when tinguished either as literary, or a pa-
the solemnity of his deportment, and tron of literature. In letters from his
the fervour of his responses, were par- mother, the Princess Dowager, pre-
ticularly observed. Yet amid these served in the Diary of Bubb Dodding-
strong impressions of religion, joined ton, he is said to be an honest boy,
to particular attachment to the Church but not apparently to learn much
of England, he was always a friend to from his tutors. He grew up, ac-
toleration. He cordially concurred cordingly, with little knowledge of
in the numerous mitigations which Latin, and less of Greek; though he
took place during his reign of the spoke with fluency several modern
penal statutes against dissenters, with languages. Notwithstanding the dis-
out excepting Roman Catholics. He tinguished exceptions of Johnson and
extended a full pardon to a priest of Beattie, the eminent authors who il-
this persuasion who had been con- lustrated his reign, depended chiefly
demned, on an obsolete law, for the for patronage on public favour. Yet
saying of mass. His ultimate resist- there were several important respects
ance to the full extension of political in which the King shewed his value
privileges of this body, is allowed on for knowledge. He collected, singly,
all hands to have been founded on the most extensive library that per-
the most conscientious scruple. haps ever was accumulated by any

The King's understanding has been one individual. Several gentlemen a subject of doubt and criticism. It were continually employed, both at is now generally allowed to have been home and abroad, in procuring for respectable. He thoroughly under him the most valuable works. One stood public business, and paid con- of these informed the present writer, stant and unremitting attention to it. that he had instructions to procure At Windsor, his usual residence, pa- only useful books, and editions of sterpers and communications relative to ling value, to the exclusion of those matters of state, were transmitted to which had only rarity to recommend him by Ministers early in the morn. them. The King's favourite studies ing. He rose at six, and usually dis- were theology, history, and voyages patched the greater part of them be- and travels. These accordingly were fore breakfast. When any thing OC- the branches in which the library was curred in the course of the day, an richest. The collection of maps and express was sent out, to which he paid charts was also particularly extensive. immediate attention. Nothing sub- We have been assured, on the above mitted to him was passed over in a authority, that there was not a better hasty or indifferent manner. Every geographer in his dominions than the paper examined by him contained King himself. He is said, however,

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