Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 21.djvu/191

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either of them into my service’ (Life of Pitt, i. App. ii.) But Pitt again refused, and on 2 April the long interministerium ended in George's acceptance of the coalition administration. During this period George constantly resided at Kew from May to November, though he was sometimes at Windsor. He lived in great retirement, going into London on Wednesdays and Fridays to hold levees and talk with his ministers. His chief amusements were hunting and walking; and he occasionally had artists to play or recite before him. His life was quiet and respectable, and his court intensely dull (for particulars see authorities stated below).

The king hated his new ministers, and told Temple that he meant to take the first opportunity of getting rid of them, expressing his ‘personal abhorrence’ of North, who had, he considered, betrayed him (Court and Cabinets, i. 303). He thwarted them as much as he could, and used to wish that he ‘was eighty, or ninety, or dead.’ The proposal of the ministers to grant the Prince of Wales 100,000l. a year greatly angered him, and he would probably have openly quarrelled with them had not Temple advised him not to do so on a private matter. The ill conduct of the prince caused him much uneasiness [see under George IV]. Bad as the prince was, his father was not blameless in his treatment of him. George's temper was sullen and unforgiving, and it is probable that his eldest son was not lying when he said that he knew that his father hated him (Malmesbury, ii. 129). Fox's India bill gave the king the opportunity he wanted. Thurlow roused his jealousy by presenting him on 1 Dec. with a paper pointing out the effect which the bill would have on the royal authority (Court and Cabinets, i. 288). On 11 Dec., after the bill had passed the commons, he gave Temple a paper stating that ‘whoever voted for the bill was not only not his friend, but would be considered by him as his enemy’ (ib. p. 285). The bill was thrown out by the lords on 17 Dec.; on the same day the king's action was commented on in the commons, and a resolution was passed declaring that to ‘report any opinion or pretended opinion of his majesty upon any bill’ depending in parliament to influence votes was a ‘high crime and misdemeanor.’ The next day the king dismissed the ministers, and at once sent for Pitt. He took the deepest interest in Pitt's struggle against the hostile majority in the commons, and steadily refused to dismiss his new ministers, or to dissolve parliament before the opposition had lost its majority in the house and its popularity in the country [see under Fox, Charles James, and Pitt, William]. He prorogued parliament in person on 24 March 1784, with a view to its dissolution the next day.

In one sense Pitt's success, which was completed by the result of the general election, was a victory for the king. George got rid of the ministers whom he hated, he gained a minister who as long as he lived proved himself able to preserve him from again falling into the hands of the whigs, and he found himself more popular than he had been since his accession. But he had, on the other hand, to give up the system of personal government for which he had hitherto struggled. The result of the crisis was a diminution of the direct influence of the crown, and an immense increase in the power of the first minister. For many years George could not have afforded to quarrel with Pitt, for he was his one hope of salvation from Fox whom he hated (Lecky). The ‘king's friends’ consequently disappeared as a party, most of them becoming supporters of the minister whom he wished to keep in office. George never expressed the same personal affection for Pitt that he had for North, and he did not always like his measures. He disapproved of the Westminster scrutiny [see under Fox] and of Pitt's plan for parliamentary reform (Life of Pitt, i. App. xv.), but refrained from opposing it, and appears to have disliked the proceedings against Warren Hastings, from whom he allowed the queen to accept an ivory bed (ib. p. 296); the court took its tone on this question from him and the queen, but he did not interfere in the matter. Although on 7 Aug. 1783 he had virtually refused to receive a minister from the United States (Memorials of Fox, ii. 140), he consented to receive John Adams on 1 June 1785. He behaved with dignity during the interview, though he showed that he was affected by it, and assured the minister that as he ‘had been the last to consent to the separation,’ so he ‘would be the first to meet the friendship of the United States as an independent power’ (Adams to Jay, Adams, Works, viii. 257, ed. 1853). On 2 Aug. 1786 an attempt was made to stab him at the gate of St. James's by a mad woman named Margaret Nicholson; he behaved with perfect composure (Annual Register, 1786, p. 233; Papendiek, i. 260).

In the spring of 1788 the king suffered much from bilious attacks, supposed to have been brought on by the worry and fatigue of business, combined with exhaustion produced by the violent exercise which he was in the habit of taking to prevent corpulence (ib. pp. 297, 298, 303). On 12 June he went to Cheltenham to drink the waters, and while