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But the great burst of public feeling in favour of George the Third, took place at a period somewhat later, when the coalition was formed betwixt the parties of North and Fox; when these two leaders, who had long stood in such inveterate hostility to each other, joined their forces for the purpose of taking the cabinet by storm, and placing the King at their discretion. In this emergency, the King made an appeal, which might be termed a personal one, to the public opinion of the nation, in opposition to a parliamentary majority, obtained by a union of parties so incongruous. A sense of the real worth and unostentatious merits of the Monarch had by degrees sunk into the minds of the middle classes of the people, (in whose voice, and neither in that of the highest nor of the lowest orders, public opinion really lodges,) and now that their feelings also were interested in the behalf of the Sovereign, the King's cause was adopted by general acclamation; nor did he ever afterwards lose the firm hold which he then attained on the hearts of his subjects.
Scotland may boast that she took the lead of the sister country, in perceiving, and rewarding by her affection, the virtues of the Sovereign. This did not, however, arise either entirely from the moral character or the sagacity usually imputed to our countrymen; it sprung from honest gratitude, for the King had been a friend to Scotland. Much of the abuse levelled against George III. by Wilkes, Churchill, and others, accused him of partiality to the northern part of his dominions; and the imputation designed to irritate the English, served to
attach their neighbours to the person of their prince. Besides, the gentleness and kindness of his disposition were well qualified to reclaim to their allegiance the adherents of the unhappy house of Stuart, who now found themselves objects rather of compassionate respect than of political hatred and persecution. The restoration of the forfeited estates completed the reconciliation of a bold and enthusiastic class of subjects with the reigning monarch; which was not the less perfect, that many, with an amiable inconsistency, retained in theory their old political tenets, and could not in conscience have taken the oath of allegiance to George the Third, while they would have spent in his defence the last drop of their blood.
These causes of the King's popularity were peculiar to those who dwelt "benorth the Roman Wall;" but that popularity soon became universal through Britain. It was in vain that the most indecent satire was directed against the harmless peculiarities of a manner and mode of expression, too precipitate to be graceful; and equally in vain that his private life and amusements were ransacked to serve the purposes of slander. It seemed as if men loved the King the better for knowing, that all which "much malice mingled with a little wit" could say against him, was exaggerated ridicule directed against trifling personal peculiarities, or the quiet pleasures of his inoffensive domestic life. His Majesty even gained by this rigorous examination he was loved in proportion as he was known.
The King's virtuous and exemplary conduct as
a parent and husband, his dislike of the pomp of attendance, and apparatus of royalty, the quiet and innocent tenor of his amusements, the exemplary diligence and precision with which he despatched the load of public business attached to his functions, were qualities of English growth, and made him dear to the hearts of Englishmen. It became known, though the King studied to conceal it, that if a strict economy regulated the expenditure of his palace, at least a fifth part of the income assigned to his Majesty by the state, was devoted to public and private charity, with a munificence truly royal. It became known also, that if, in his solitary rambles around Windsor, his conversation with those whom he casually encountered was marked by his usual rapidity of enquiry, it was also distinguished by traits of benevolence and good-nature, which might well atone for want of grace, or occasional departure from etiquette. In the most trifling instances, as well as in the most important, his Majesty's conduct towards those with whom he was placed in casual contact, was marked by that amiable bonhommie and wish to oblige, which indicated the most genuine good-nature. He respected age, and he loved childhood. Many anecdotes have been given of his private walks in Windsor Forest. That which follows is trivial, but we know it to be correct; and it shows the kindly benevolence which wished to make every one happy. Two Eton boys were spending their holidays with a friend at Sunning-hill, and had wandered into the Forest, where they met a fresh-looking old gentleman in the Windsor uniform, who stopped them, and jestingly
asked if they were playing truant. They gave an account of themselves, and said they had come to see the King's stag-hounds throw off. "The King does not hunt to-day," said the kind stranger, "but when he does, I will let you know; and you must not come to the ground by yourselves, lest you should meet with some accident." They parted; and two or three days after, while the family were at breakfast, one of the Royal Yeomanry-prickers rode up to the gate, to acquaint them that the King was waiting till he brought the two young gentlemen to a place of safety, where they might see the hounds thrown off: it is probable this little trait of overflowing good-nature made two Royalists for life.
All these anecdotes got abroad, and all told to the King's advantage. Great bounties may be bestowed in policy, and striking occasions may be chosen to do generous actions out of vanity and ostentation; but the bounty and the kindness which marked the King's disposition in the calm tenor of his privacy, could not be assumed as a disguise, and were appreciated as the generous effusions of his excellent heart.
Known popularly and familiarly by the name of Farmer George, the British people at once loved him as a father, respected him as their sovereign, and regarded even his peculiarities as something belonging to the character and humour of the nation, of whom he might be termed at once the king and the representative.
The deplorable circumstances of the malady with which he was seized, showed the regard of the subjects to their sovereign, and served to increase it by
interesting their compassion in his behalf; and we are persuaded that, from the period of his recovery to that of his death, there never lived a monarch so firmly enthroned in the hearts of his subjects. His conduct during the stormy period which followed that event, served to rivet their affections to him firmly and indissolubly. His name was the rallying word of patriotism and gallantry; and when Britons were called upon to fight for their all, it was the more willingly obeyed because they were also to fight for their good old king. No human voice was more fit to call a nation to arms, for no man possessed more courage in his own person than George the Third. During the period when disaffected and misguided men were forming daily plots against his person and life, he could not be persuaded to adopt any of the precautions which were recommended by his anxious counsellors. "My life," he said, "assume what precautions I may, must always be in the power of every man desperate enough to throw away his own; and to appear apprehensive on the topic, would be to invite the attempt." When the danger was imminent, his courage was as steady as his understanding was correct in judging of it at a distance. Upon one occasion, when his Majesty was assaulted by a furious rabble in the Park, and the carriage-doors nearly forced open, he was not observed to change countenance, or to alter a single muscle; and when the maniac Hatfield fired a pistol at him in the theatre, he was, when the smoke cleared off, discovered standing in the front of the box upright and unmoved, the only composed man in the crowded