Reference > Quotations > S.A. Bent, comp. > Familiar Short Sayings of Great Men
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S.A. Bent, comp.  Familiar Short Sayings of Great Men.  1887.
 
George II.
 
        [King of England; only son of George I.; born at Hanover, 1683; fought against the French at Oudenarde, 1708; became king, 1727; gained the battle of Dettingen, 1743; suppressed the rebellion of 1745; became the ally of Prussia in the Seven Years’ War, 1756–62, when his forces gained a series of victories over France in Canada, India, and at sea; died Oct. 25, 1760.]
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In this country ministers are king.
          Contrasting parliamentary government with the petty despotisms of Germany, and indicating by his remark his appreciation of the relative position of king and ministers in a constitutional government. When Pitt, his prime minister, expressed the wish of the House of Commons, that Admiral Byng should be pardoned, the king replied, “Sir, you have taught me to look for the sense of my subjects in another place than in the House of Commons;” meaning, probably, that not so much the ministers were king, as the people. Voltaire wrote in the preface of the “Henriade,” that Byng was hanged (having failed to relieve Minorca besieged by the French with a superior force) “to encourage the others” (pour encourager les autres).
  George I. found that sovereignty in England had its limitations, if the following story be true, which is told in the king’s own words: “This is a strange country. The first morning after my arrival at St. James’s, I looked out of my window, and saw a park with walks, a canal, etc., which they told me were mine. The next day Lord Chetwynd, the ranger of my park, sent me a fine brace of carp out of my canal, and I was told I must give five guineas to Lord C.’s servant for bringing my own carp out of my canal in my own park.”
  Challenged by a Jacobite lady at a masked ball to drink to the health of the Pretender, George II. gallantly replied,—with, however, a suggestive use of the word “unfortunate,”—“I drink with pleasure the health of all unfortunate princes.”
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