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George III
George III

ment of his preceptors in after life see Rose, Diaries, ii. 187). The prince passed his youth in an atmosphere of intrigue and jealousy. Waldegrave found him 'full of prejudices which were fostered by women and pages;' he was completely under his mother's influence, and knew nothing of the outside world. Except his brother Edward, he had no young companions, for the princess was afraid lest his morals should be corrupted, and he was shy and did not like company. He was, his mother used to say, an 'honest boy,' good-natured and cheerful, but he was obstinate, and apt when displeased to be sullen. From his youth he seems to have been high-principled and religious. Although he was fairly intelligent he was not quick; he was idle, and, according to Scott, used to sleep all day. At the age of thirteen he was remarkably backward (Waldegrave, pp. 8, 9; Dodington, pp. 171, 255, 289, 325, 355; Walpole,' George II, ii. 94). George II, anxious to prevent the princess marrying him to any of her Saxe-Gotha relations, proposed in 1755 that he should marry Sophia Caroline Maria, elder daughter of the Duke of Brunswick-Wolfenb├╝ttel. The princess set her son against the marriage, telling him that his grandfather's only motive in proposing it was to advance the interest of Hanover. The scheme failed, and the prince imbibed undutiful feelings towards the king (Waldegrave, pp, 39-41; Dodington, p. 354; Walpole, Letters, ii. 475). He attained his majority on his eighteenth birthday (1756); Harcourt resigned his office, and a new household was appointed. The king and his ministers were anxious to remove him from his mother's influence, and George II offered him 40,000l. a year, and requested him to set up a separate establishment. He took the money, but refused to leave his mother. At his request the Earl of Bute was appointed his groom of the stole, and at once became his chief instructor. The princess, used to the royalty of a petty German court, taught him to hold exaggerated ideas about prerogative, and her constant exhortation to him was 'George, be king' (Nicholls, Recollections, p. 11). Bute procured him the manuscript of Blackstone's 'Commentaries,' the substance of which was delivered as lectures at Oxford in 1758 and succeeding years, to raise his view of the prerogative of the crown (Adolphus, i. 12), while he seems to have gained from Bolingbroke's works the idea of exalting the royal authority through the overthrow of party distinctions. To this period belongs the scandal about the prince's attachment to a certain Hannah Lightfoot, the 'fair quaker,' daughter or niece of a linendraper, whose shop was in St. James's Market. It is said that through the intervention of Elizabeth Chudleigh [q. v.], who became Duchess of Kingston, he persuaded her to leave her home, and go through the form of marriage with one Axford, and that he frequently met her afterwards, and it is even pretended that he secretly married her, and had a daughter by her, who became the wife of a man named Dalton. It is probable that he showed some admiration for this girl, or at least for some one of her rank (Wraxall, i. 305), but the story rests merely on anonymous letters of a late date, and certain vile publications (Monthly Magazine, li. 532, lii. 110, 197; Authentic Records of the Court, pp. 2-7, revised as Secret Hist. i. 26-30; Notes and Queries, 1st ser. x. 228, 328, 430; the worthlessness of the story is exposed by Thoms, Hannah Lightfoot, &c., 1867). In July 1759 the prince wrote to the king offering his services in the war (Hardwicke, iii. 182). He succeeded to the throne on the death of George II on 25 Oct. 1760.

Up to the time of his accession George had been kept in perfect seclusion by his mother and Bute, in London at Carlton House or Leicester House, and in the country at Kew (Chesterfield, Works, ii. 472). He had no knowledge of public business, but shook off his youthful indolence, and became an industrious, and indeed an exceedingly managing, king. He was fairly tall, and had a florid and good-natured countenance. Although he bore himself with dignity on all public occasions, and spoke impressively and with a naturally fine voice, his bearing in private was homely and undignified; his utterance was rapid, he swung himself to and fro as he talked, asked numbers of questions, had a trick of ending each with 'what? what?' and often repeated his words. Generally affable in manner, he was often rude to those who offended him. He set a high value on small points of ceremony, never talked to a minister except standing and keeping the minister standing however long the interview might last, and refused to allow the judges to dispense with their wigs when not on the bench: 'I will have no innovations,' he said, 'in my time' (Life of Eldon, i. 340). He spoke French and German, and knew something of Italian, but had little Latin and less Greek, a slight acquaintance with history, and a very slender stock of general information; he wrote English ungrammatically, and always spelt badly. Although, perhaps owing to Bute's instructions, he encouraged genius where it took a form which he liked and understood, his taste was execrable. Shakespeare he thought wrote much 'sad stuff'