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George I
George I

plicit instructions for the religious education of his grandson (Havemann, iii. 568); in German ecclesiastical affairs he was a staunch and active member of the Corpus Evangelicorum, and in England he showed respect to the institutions of the national religion, and interested himself intelligently in projects for 'church extension' in London (Political State, x. 59, 63-4). He was at the same time quite free from superstition (an instance of quasi 'touching,' Doran, London in Jacobite Times, i. 345, notwithstanding) and from bigotry of any kind. He was never passionate or in extremes; and in his electorate had doubtless been rightly esteemed a just and therefore beneficent prince. In the case of those who had taken part in the rebellion of 1715 and on other lesser occasions he showed a complete absence of vindictiveness. Towards the exiled family of the Stuarts he repeatedly displayed generosity of feeling (see Horace Walpole, Reminiscences, p. cxv; cf. Jesse, Memoirs of the Court of England, ii. 309; Doran, i. 48-9); and both at Hanover and in England he showed compassion to persons imprisoned for debt (Political State, viii. 210; Jesse, ii. 310). On the other hand he was, unlike the Stuarts, rarely unmindful of services rendered to him; and in some degree justified the boast, fathered by flattery both on him and on his son, that it was 'the maxim of his family to reward their friends, do justice to their enemies, and fear none but God' (Political State, viii. 327). No doubt could exist as to his courage, which he had shown on many a battle-field, and of which he gave constant proof in London, often dispensing with guards, and appearing almost unattended in places of public resort (Doran, i. 25). In Lord Cowper's opinion (see ib. i. 140), had the insurrection of 1715 been successful, King George I would have speedily passed from the throne to the grave; for neither he nor his family would have condescended to save themselves by flight.

A considerable share in the permanent establishment of the new order of things in this kingdom belongs to George I. Though his own tendencies were entirely in the direction of absolute government, he mastered rebellion and kept down disaffection without giving the aspect of tyranny to a constitutional rule. He was possibly, as Shippen sneered, no better acquainted with our constitution than he was with our language; but he learnt to accustom himself to a system of government under which William III had constantly chafed. Before his accession to the British throne he kept out of the conflict of parties; afterwards there was but one that he could trust. Among the whigs he preferred the more to the less pliant leader, but even on this head he ultimately gave way.

The whigs and the country needed him as he needed them. The foreign policy of Great Britain, unsettled since the advent of the tories to power, and the conclusion of the peace of Utrecht, required to be directed by one who commanded the situation, and who enjoyed the confidence of Great Britain's old allies. The triple and quadruple alliances made that peace a reality, and the ambition of Spain, even when, linked with the dynastic interests of Austria, broke helplessly on the rock of a firm alliance between Great Britain and France. The interests of Hanover were, it is true, paramount in the eyes of George I, but with the exception of the ill-judged designs against the czar in 1716, the interests of Hanover were in substance those of England, and when they seemed to conflict in 1725, the king was found ready to postpone the less to the greater. Unlovable in himself and in his chosen surroundings, George I was worthy of his destiny, and shrank from no duty imposed upon him by the order of things.

Portraits by Kneller are at Windsor and in the National Portrait Gallery.

[The best connected account of the public and private life of George I as a German prince is to be found in Havemann's Geschichte der Lande Braunschweig und Lüneburg, vol. iii. (Göttingen, 1857). See also Schaumann's art. 'George I' in Allgemeine deutsche Biographic, vol. viii. (1878). Toland's Account of the Courts of Prussia and Hanover (published 1705; the characters of George I and his son and daughter-in-law were reprinted in an enlarged form 1714) describes him and his surroundings in 1702. Scattered notices occur in the Memoiren der Herzogin Sophie, &c., ed. Köcher (Leipzig, 1879) and the Correspondance de Leibniz avec l'Electrice Sophie, ed. Klopp (3 vols. Hanover, 1874); and in the Letters of Elizabeth Charlotte. Duchess of Orleans (Stuttgart, 1843 and 1867, Paris, 1869, &c.) The official events and ceremonials at the court of Hanover before and after his accession to the British throne are detailed in C. E. von Malorlie's Beiträge zur Geschichte des Br. Lüneb. Hauses und Hofes (Hanover, 1860-2). More varied, and less decorous, information is supplied in vol. i. of E. Vehse's Geschichte der Höfe des Hauses Braunschweig in Deutschland und England (Hamburg, 1853), on which Thackeray founded his lecture. A sufficient survey of the literature concerning Sophia Dorothea and her catastrophe is given in the Quarterly Review for July 1885, art. 'The Elertress Sophia.' For the official correspondence of the Elector George Lewis concerned with the question of the Hanoverian succession, see Macpherson's Original Papers, 2 vols. 1775, and J. M. Kemble's selected State Papers and Correspondence, &c. (1857); the entire history of these transactions