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ministers in St. James's Palace, a mob beset the gates, and a hearse was driven into the courtyard decorated with insulting emblems, and having on the roof a man dressed as an executioner, masked, and with an axe in his hand. A sharp though short struggle took place before the rioters were dispersed. During the whole time the king remained perfectly unruffled, and talked as calmly as usual (ib. p. 416; Wraxall, Memoirs, i. 333). In July the lord mayor presented a petition to the king from the livery against the ministers, complaining specially of the employment of soldiers in repressing disturbances, and of the late affair in St. George's Fields; other petitions, one from ten thousand freeholders of Yorkshire, were also presented against the violation of the right of electors in the Wilkes case, and on 19 Dec. was published Junius's ‘Address to the King,’ which was made the subject of legal proceedings (Ann. Register, 1769, pp. 200–5; Letters of Junius, i. 225; May, Const. Hist. ii. 252). The speech with which George opened parliament on 9 Jan. 1770 began with a reference to a distemper then prevailing ‘among horned cattle;’ it was bitterly and unjustly ridiculed by Junius as containing ‘nothing but the misery of a ruined grazier, and the whining piety of a methodist’ (Letters, i. 272; Stanhope, History, v. 246). Chatham's return to parliament had been welcomed by the king the previous July, but the earl attacked the administration with such vigour that its fall became imminent. When it was necessary to dismiss Lord-chancellor Camden, George urged Charles Yorke to accept the great seal. Yorke refused, for he shrank from deserting his party, the ‘Rockinghams.’ On the next day, 17 Jan. 1770, the king at the levee called him into his closet, charged him on his loyalty to accept the office, and declared that if he did not do so it should never be offered to him again. Thus pressed Yorke yielded, and his acceptance caused his death on the 20th (Life of Hardwicke, iii. 465–79). Grafton resigned on the 28th, and the king gave the treasury to Lord North, at that time chancellor of the exchequer. Chatham renewed his attacks, and reflected on the king by inveighing against the ‘invisible counsels of a favourite,’ meaning that George allowed Bute to direct his policy, which was certainly not the case. Grafton defended the king, but Chatham renewed his accusation. On 14 March George received a petition from the lord mayor (Beckford) and the livery, declaring that the House of Commons did not represent the people, praying for a dissolution, and referring to a ‘secret and malign influence which under each administration had defeated every good, and suggested every bad intention’ (Ann. Register, 1770, p. 200). He made a short and not undignified reply, which seems to throw great doubt on the story that when the lord mayor was leaving the presence, he ‘turned round to his courtiers and burst out a laughing’ (Junius, i. 284). He was determined not to dissolve, for he knew that a new house would force him to part with his ministers, and perhaps to receive the whig families back into power. ‘I will have recourse to this,’ he said, laying his hand upon his sword, ‘sooner than yield to a dissolution.’ On 23 May he received another petition from the common council of much the same kind. After he had made a short answer the lord mayor addressed him in a magniloquent and impertinent speech, to which he returned no answer. The increase of the ministerial majority in parliament gratified him. Beckford's death (21 June 1770) brought the active hostility of the city to an end, and the distrust which existed between the followers of Chatham and of Rockingham strengthened the position of the administration. George had gained a signal success, for he had found in North a minister of considerable sagacity, courage, and parliamentary tact. His scheme of government was fully realised; parties were broken up; the ‘power of the crown, almost dead and rotten as prerogative, [had] grown up anew, with more strength and far less odium under the name of influence’ (Burke). George had succeeded in setting up a system of personal rule through a minister who commanded a large majority in parliament, and consented to shape his policy in accordance with commands given him in the closet. During the next twelve years he carried out his own system of government, and the affairs of the country were directed by an irresponsible king acting through responsible ministers.

George continued to indulge his love for a retired and simple life. He still lived much at Kew, and while there enjoyed domestic pleasures and homely pursuits (for a courtly account of his life at Kew during the summer see Annual Register, 1775, ii. 1); he took much interest in farming, a taste which increased as time went on, and in later days wrote some letters to Young on agriculture (Young, Annals of Agriculture, vii. 65, 332); was said to have farmed for profit, and to have looked sharply after it, and was made fun of in satires and caricatures as ‘Farmer George.’ He liked trifling mechanical occupations, and was at this time constantly ridiculed as the ‘royal button-maker’ (Wright). While not illiberal in his charities, he and his queen were extremely economical. His health was at this time good; he was afraid