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George IV
George IV
198

the whigs. His friends, Moira, Erskine, and Romilly, were provided for in the 'Talents' administration, but he was not favourably disposed to Howick's Army Bill, and when the ministry fell he was gratified at the event, and announced that he had ceased to be a party man. He now extended his long-standing dislike of Grey to Lord Grenville, and when next he appeared prominently before the public was carried by these feelings of personal hostility into an opposition to them both unconstitutional and dangerous. In October 1810 the king again became deranged. The prince at first thought it wise to remain passive. Perceval determined to follow the precedents of Pitt. Parliament met on 1 Nov., and was successively adjourned till 12 Dec. The prince gave out that he would continue the present ministry subject to the admission to it of a friend of his own. Perceval, however, communicated to him on 19 Dec. that the restrictions to be proposed upon the regency were to be as before: restrictions from making peers, from granting offices in reversion or pensions, from dealing with the king's property, and from having the custody of the king's person. The prince replied evasively; but having assembled his brothers prevailed upon them to sign a protest against the restrictions, and the Duke of Sussex spoke against them in the House of Lords on 27 Dec. During the first days of 1811 the ministry met with more than one defeat in parliament, and the prince at once veered towards Lords Grenville and Grey. He consulted them upon the answer which he was to return to the address of the two houses, and they submitted to him a draft of his reply. The prince, however, then privately submitted it to Adam and Sheridan, and, following their counsel, decided to reject it and to prepare another. With this Lord Grey, who disapproved of it altogether, would have nothing to do, and on 11 Jan. he and Grenville addressed a brief note to the prince to the effect that they understood they had been applied to as his public and responsible advisers, expressing their 'deep concern' at his treatment, and declining to be in any way responsible for his letter. Sheridan's own account of the transaction did not get rid of the inference that Grey and Grenville had been both foolishly and uncivilly treated, but rather convicted himself and the prince of duplicity (see Sheridan's 'Letter to Lord Holland,' 15 Jan., in Moore's Sheridan). Amends were eventually made to the two lords, and they undertook the task of considering what administration they could form, stipulating, however, with the prince that he was not to call into council any secret advisers. By 21 Jan. the general outlines of arrangements were settled, but when they came to the distribution of particular offices they found that the prince had already made promises of the chancellorship to Erskine, the Irish secretaryship to Sheridan, and similar dispositions. These they rather unceremoniously overrode. But at this point, about the end of the month, the king seemed in a fair way of recovery, and the prince oscillated again towards his father's ministers. He consulted his friends Lady Hertford and Mrs. Fitzherbert, who used their powerful influence with him in favour of Perceval, and through Sir Henry Halford he was in communication with the queen, and through her with the ministers. He yielded at last to these advisers, and on 1 Feb. announced to Lords Grenville and Grey that he should not require their services, and on the 4th to Perceval his intention of continuing his father's servants in office. The disappointment of the whigs was great, but they hoped for future favour when the period of restriction upon the regent's powers should have expired.

The Regency Bill having passed on 5 Feb. 1811, the prince took the oaths as regent, and virtually, though not in form, began his reign. But although, contrary to general expectation (Romilly, Diary, ii. 365; Life of Wilberforce, iii. 492), he had decided not to dismiss the ministry, he took care to let them feel that his favour was not to be counted upon. He placed busts of Fox and the Duke of Bedford in the privy council chamber; he communicated with his ministers through his servants, Macmahon and Turner. On 20 Feb. he held his first levee, and he celebrated his accession to power by a costly entertainment of the most tasteless and extravagant kind at Carlton House on 19 June. He made use of this occasion to break with Mrs. Fitzherbert, by refusing her at his table any precedence above that to which her own position entitled her. In his political sympathies he showed a curious vacillation. He sanctioned the suppression of the Irish 'catholic committee' on the one hand, and, on the other, caused a radical address in favour of reform, which had been presented to him, to be printed in the 'Gazette.' He occupied himself with the plans for laying out the Regent's Park and surrounding terraces, and, having returned to Brighton for the recess, amused himself by giving a number of concerts. As, however, the time for the expiry of the restrictions approached, signs appeared of an intention to reconsider the constitution of his ministry. He began about September to cultivate close relations with one member of the cabinet, the Marquis Wel-