Stedman and Hutchinson, comps. A Library of American Literature: An Anthology in Eleven Volumes. 1891. Vols. VIVIII: Literature of the Republic, Part III., 18351860
George the Third
By George Bancroft (18001891)
[From History of the United States of America, from the Discovery of the Continent. The Authors Last Revision. 188285.]
HE had many qualities that become a sovereign: temperance, regularity, and industry; decorous manners and unaffected piety; frugality in his personal expenses, so that his pleasures laid no burden on his people; a moderation which made him averse to wars of conquest; courage, which dared to assume responsibility, and could even contemplate death serenely; a fortitude that rose with adversity.
But he was bigoted, morbidly impatient of being ruled, and incapable of reconciling the need of reform with the establishments of the past. He was the great founder and head of the new tory or conservative party, which had become dominant through his support. In zeal for authority, hatred of reform, and antipathy to philosophical freedom and to popular power, he was inflexibly obstinate and undisguised; nor could he be justly censured for dissimulation, except for that disingenuousness which studies the secret characters of men, in order to use them as its instruments. No one could tell whether the king really liked him. He could flatter, cajole, and humor, or frown and threaten; he could conceal the sense of injuries and forget good service; bribe the corrupt by favors, or terrify deserters by punishment. In bestowing rewards, it was his rule to make none but revocable grants; and he required of his friends an implicit obedience. He was willing to govern through parliament, yet was ready to stand by his ministers, even in a minority; and he was sure that one day the government must disregard majorities.
With a strong physical frame, he had a nervous susceptibility which made him rapid in his utterance; and so impatient of contradiction that he never could bear the presence of a minister who resolutely differed from him, and was easily thrown into a state of excitement bordering upon madness. Anger, which changed Chatham into a seer, pouring floods of light upon his mind and quickening his discernment, served only to cloud the mind of George III., so that he could not hide his thoughts from those about him, and, if using the pen, could neither spell correctly nor write coherently. Hence the proud, unbending Grenville was his aversion; and his years with the compliant Lord North, though full of public disasters, were the happiest of his life. Conscious of his devotion to the cause of legitimate authority, and viewing with complacency his own correctness of morals, he identified himself with the cause which he venerated. The crown was to him the emblem of all rightful power. He had that worst quality of evil, that he, as it were, adored himself; and regarded opposition to his designs as an offence against integrity and patriotism. He thought no exertions too great to crush the spirit of revolution, and no punishment too cruel or too severe for rebels.