Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 21.djvu/196

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thought so and meant it so;’ he would have no ‘exclusions’ (Horner, Memoirs, i. 331; Colchester, Diary, ii. 32). The only difficulty arose from his wish that the army should be under the direct control of the crown, while the incoming ministers contended that the control should belong to a ministerial department. It was settled by their promise that they would introduce no changes in the army without his approval (Life of Sidmouth, ii. 415). He received Fox graciously, expressing a wish to forget ‘old grievances,’ and when Fox died on 13 Sept., said that the country could ill afford to lose him, and that he little thought that he should ever live to regret his death (Lewis, Administrations, p. 292; Life of Sidmouth, ii. 435). Grenville's proposals as to the changes of office consequent on Fox's death were accepted by the king with satisfaction (Court and Cabinets, iv. 77). His sight grew worse, and at the beginning of 1807 it was remarked that he was becoming apathetic, and only wished to ‘pass the remainder of his days in rest and quiet’ (Malmesbury, iv. 358). He was roused on 9 Feb. 1807 by the proposal of his ministers to introduce a clause in the Mutiny Bill removing a restriction on Roman catholics, and at once expressed his strong dissent. A further communication from the cabinet led him to imagine that the proposal did not go beyond the Irish act of 1793; he therefore, on 12 Feb., promised his assent, declaring that he could not go one step further. On finding on 3 March that he was mistaken as to the scope of the act, which would have admitted English Roman catholics to hold commissions in the army and navy, without the restrictions of the Irish act, he was much disturbed, and on 11 March declared that he was surprised at the extent of the proposal which Lord Howick then laid before him, informing Lords Grey and Howick that he would not go beyond the act of 1793. On the 15th he received a note from the cabinet agreeing to drop the bill, but adding that, in view of the present state of Ireland, they should feel at liberty to propose ‘from time to time’ such measures respecting that country ‘as the nature of the circumstances shall appear to require.’ In answer he wrote requiring a ‘positive assurance from them that they would never again propose to him any concessions to catholics.’ He was informed on 18 March that his ministers considered that it would be inconsistent with their duty as his ‘sworn counsellors’ to give him such an assurance. The king then said that it was impossible for him to keep his ministers; that between dismissing them and ‘forfeiting his crown he saw no medium,’ and he accepted their resignation. He had on 13 March received a letter from the Duke of Portland advising him to refuse his assent to the bill, and offering to form an administration (ib. iv. 358–72; Rose, ii. 318–33; Colchester Diary, ii. 96, 99; Memoirs of the Whig Party, ii. 173–205). On 19 March 1807 he commissioned Eldon and Hawkesbury to request the duke to do so, remarking that he had no restrictions, no engagements or promises to require of him. During this interview he was calm and cheerful. A resolution condemning the acceptance by ministers of pledges which should bind them as regards offering advice to the crown was moved in both houses; it conveyed a distinct censure on the king's conduct; in the lords it was supported by 90 against 171, and in the commons by 226 against 258 (Lewis, Administrations, p. 296).

During 1808 the king, who was now quite incapacitated from reading or writing, led a quiet and cheerful life. He was much distressed by the scandal about the Duke of York in 1809. The conduct of the Prince of Wales with reference to this affair added much to his trouble (Court and Cabinets, iv. 291, 325). He supported his ministers, who were quarrelling among themselves, and his influence is said to have enabled them to retain office (ib. pp. 234, 288). Early in June (1808) he sanctioned Canning's proposal that Lord Wellesley should be substituted for Lord Castlereagh as war minister, but in September, when Portland's resignation was imminent, he by no means approved of Canning's pretensions to the position of first minister, and was in a perfect agony of mind lest he should be forced to admit Grenville and Grey to office (Memoirs of Castlereagh, i. 18; Life of Eldon, ii. 80–94). He wrote a dignified paper to the cabinet on the impropriety of the duel between Canning and Castlereagh. Having offered Perceval the headship of the administration, which was now disorganised by the retirement of the two secretaries as well as of Portland, he with much reluctance allowed Perceval on 22 June to make overtures to Grenville and Grey for the purpose of forming an extended administration (Life of Eldon, ii. 98; Rose, ii. 390, 394). He was much relieved by their refusal. At Perceval's request he exacted no pledge on the catholic question from his new ministers, though he assured them that he ‘would rather abandon his throne’ than ‘consent to emancipation.’ On 25 Oct. the jubilee of the reign was kept with great rejoicings (Jubilee Year of George III, 1809, reprinted 1887). For some months after this George, who was then blind, lived in seclusion; he still rode out, and walked on the