The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 51
George II. (1727—1760.)
George II. (1727—1760.)
George the First was succeeded by George the Second of our stock of "wee wee German lairdies." He can hardly be regarded as much of an improvement on his father, who, by the way, never, except for State reasons, acknowledged the paternity. He commenced by unceremoniously making away with his father's will. There was, however, a troublesome duplicate in the hands of the Duke of Brunswick, who had to be heavily bribed to give it up. Needless to say the British tax-payer had to pay the bribe. Macaulay thus comprehensively characterises him:—"Not one magnanimous or humane action is recorded of him, but many instances of meanness and of a harshness which, but for the strong constitutional restraints under which he was placed, might have made the misery of his people."
During his reign the nation was never done paying his debts, subsidising his continental allies, and fighting in his Hanoverian quarrels. His allies he changed as often as caprice or the supposed interests of Hanover required. The national debt he more than doubled, raising it to £146,000,000.
The morality of his court was equally incredible and indescribable. Queen Caroline, a woman of bad heart, but mas- page 87 culine head, not merely tolerated the presence of his concubines, but even at times acted as his procuress. His dutiful daughter advocated a beneficial change of mistress from Lady Suffolk, who had become stale; while, to improve the royal temper, Walpole admonished the queen to bring him in contact with pretty Lady Tankerville, "it being impossible that it should be otherwise, since the king had tasted better things," i.e., than Caroline herself.
Both king and queen hated their hopeful son and heir, Frederick, Prince of Wales, father of George III., with undying rancour. "My dear lord," said Caroline, to Lord Harvey, "I will give it you under my hand, if you are in any fear of my relapsing, that my dear first-born is the greatest ass, and the greatest liar, and the greatest canaille, and the greatest beast in the whole world, and that I heartily wish he were out of it." Thus spoke a loving royal mother! Her wish was gratified. Frederick preceeded his father to the grave.
But of all the death-bed scenes on record, that of Queen Caroline is, perhaps, the most grotesque and suggestive of the order of moral ideas engendered by royalty. The king blubbered freely, alternately praising his wife's virtues and his own. "You should marry again," moaned the dying woman. "Non, j'aurai des maîtresses (No, I will have mistresses), sighed the Defender of the Faith. "Cela n'empêche pas" (That is no obstacle), faintly articulated Caroline, and passed, let us hope in charity, into that better land, "where," according to stern republican George Buchanan, "few kings dare enter."
With exemplary fidelity the inconsolable sovereign persevered with maîtresses, Ladies Walmoden, Yarmouth, and others, to the last. Truly if ever there was, as Frederick's mother called him, an absolute canaille and beast in this world, it was the second of the illustrious house of Guelph.