Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 21.djvu/176

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George II
George II
170

nated French dominion in Canada. Pococke in the east, Boscawen, Saunders, and Hawke in the west, all but annihilated their fleet. In the midst of this blaze of military and naval glory the king died suddenly at Kensington on 25 Oct. 1760, between seven and eight o'clock in the morning, from a rupture of the right ventricle of the heart as he was preparing to go out for a walk in the gardens. The funeral service was performed in Westminster Abbey on 11 Nov. at night, the cathedral being 'so illuminated,' says Horace Walpole, 'that one saw it to greater advantage than by day; the tombs, the long aisles and fretted roof, all appearing distinctly and with the happiest chiaroscuro.' The king had left directions that his remains should be mingled with those of Queen Caroline. Accordingly, his coffin was placed by the side of hers, the adjacent sides of the coffins being removed, and both enclosed in a stone sarcophagus were deposited in the royal vault in Henry VII's Chapel (Gent. Mag. 1757-60, Hist. Chron. and For. Hist.; ib. 1760, pp. 486,539; Walpole, Memoirs, iii. 36, 58 et seq., 127, 190 et seq., 219, 230-1, 273, 302; Walpole, Letters, iii. 350; Hervey, ii. 541 n.)

In person George II was small and dapper, and carried himself rather stiffly, displaying a handsome leg adorned with the Garter, whence he derived the sobriquet of 'the little captain.' His features, though not handsome, were striking. A broad and high forehead receded gradually towards the crown of the head, while his nose, which was long and regular, as gradually protruded. His eyes, large and blue, stood out in high relief against a deep purplish-red complexion; his hair and eyebrows were fair, his mouth large and crescent-shaped, his chin handsome. A portrait of him as a boy by Sir Godfrey Kneller, another as a young man by Enoch Zeeman, and a third as king, 'after Pine,' are at Hampton Court. He was also painted in youth by Michael Dahl, in middle life by Thomas Hudson and John Shackleton, and by Thomas Worledge at the age of seventy. These portraits are in the National Portrait Gallery. There is also a portrait of him by Allan Ramsay in the possession of James Wolfe Murray, esq. A group by Hogarth, representing him together with the queen, the Prince of Wales, and the princesses, is in the National Portrait Gallery of Ireland. He was throughout life extremely regular in his habits, rose usually between five and six in the morning, went to bed for an hour's siesta in the afternoon, and distributed the rest of the day between business, pleasure, and exercise in the most methodical manner. His favourite sport was hunting. His evenings he generally spent at cards, or in the society of his mistress, supping at eleven o'clock and going to bed at midnight. During his later years he was somewhat troubled with the gout. To his wife, in spite of his various infidelities and the brutal rudeness with which he sometimes treated her, he was sincerely attached, and was so completely swayed by her in affairs of state that the king may be said to have been merged in the queen. This humiliating position he did his utmost to disguise, and the queen adroitly fell in with his humour, rather insinuating than stating her own opinions, and waiting patiently till they issued from him as his own. Nevertheless, it gradually came to be so notorious as to find its way into the pasquinades of the day, e.g.—

You may strut, dapper George, but 'twill all be in vain;
We know 'tis Queen Caroline, not you that reign.

He was, however, as fond of the pomp and ceremonial of royalty as his queen was of the substance. He was ambitious of military glory, but lacked the qualities of the general. At Dettingen he displayed only the common courage of a soldier. In political crises at home he was unmistakably timid. 'The king,' said Walpole, 'is for all his personal bravery as great a political coward as ever wore a crown, and as much afraid to lose it.' That Hanover occupied the first place in his mind, the empire the second, and England the third, is perhaps hardly matter for surprise; but his continental policy lacked grasp and steadiness, and consisted in fact of a mere series of temporary shifts. He was inordinately fond of money, as his suppression of his father's will, his anxiety to swell the civil list, his treatment of the Prince of Wales and of his mistresses—Lady Suffolk left him a poor woman, and he was by no means generous to Lady Yarmouth—abundantly prove. He gave little in charity, and the only present Walpole ever had from him was a diamond with a flaw in it. He must, however, have spent freely, probably in Hanover, for he died comparatively poor, leaving by his will only 50,000l.—one account says only 35,000l.—to be equally divided between the Duke of Cumberland, the Princess Amelia, and the Princess Mary of Hesse, and a legacy of 8,000l. or 10,000l. to Lady Yarmouth. The rest of his property he had given by deed in his lifetime to the Duke of Cumberland. When public interests were concerned, or his kingly pride was wounded, he did not err on the side of clemency, as he showed by his treatment of the Prince of Wales, Lord Lovat, Admiral Byng, Lord George Sack-