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S.A. Bent, comp. Familiar Short Sayings of Great Men. 1887.

George III.

  • [King of England; grandson of George II.; born June 4, 1738; ascended the throne, 1760; at first under the influence of Lord Bute; on his resignation the Grenville ministry harassed the American Colonies, which during the ministry of Lord North gained their independence, peace being signed with the United States, France, and Spain, in 1783; the wars against the French republic and Napoleon occupied the later years of the king’s life, who died after ten years’ seclusion from affairs, January, 1820.]
  • Born and educated in this country, I glory in the name of Briton.

  • Words added by himself to his first speech to Parliament, 1760. He was riding out when news of the death of George II. reached him. He remarked aloud, without betraying any emotion, that his horse had fallen lame, and turned towards home, where he said to his groom, “I have said this horse is lame: I forbid you to say the contrary.”
  • One of his first acts was to knight a gentleman named Day. “Now,” said he, “I know that I am king, for I have turned Day into knight.”
  • When Lord Eldon, in answer to his question, told him he read his speech at the opening of a Parliament very well; “I am glad of that,” said his Majesty, “for there was nothing in it.” Kings’ speeches, like Charles II.’s actions, are the work of their ministers; and this particular one might have been the composition of the lord chancellor.
  • When told that a handsome house near Richmond belonged to his Majesty’s card-maker, the king said, “This man’s cards have all turned up trumps.”
  • Rather than submit to the hard terms proposed by Pitt, I would die in the room I now stand in.

  • To Grenville, on accepting his resignation after the passage of the obnoxious legislation against America, 1763. The king’s obstinacy only prolonged a useless struggle: thus much later in his life he said of Catholic emancipation, “I can quit my palace, and live in a cottage; I can lay my head on a block, and lose my life: but I cannot break my oath.” In the case of America, however, he accepted the result of the Revolution with a good grace, and received John Adams, the first minister of the United States to the Court of St. James’s, with the words, “I was the last to consent to the separation; but the separation having been made, and having become inevitable, I have always said, as I say how, that I would be the first to meet the friendship of the United States as an independent power.”
  • But was there ever such stuff as great part of Shakespeare? Is there not sad stuff? But one must not say so.

  • To Miss Burney. George III. took his dislike of poetry by descent. His grandfather, the hero of Dettingen, was more soldier than scholar, and, after saying that he could see no merit in “that Pope,” of whom he heard so much, added, “I hear a great deal, too, of Shakespeare; but I can’t read him, he is such a bombast fellow.” flis prejudice extended to art; for when told that Hogarth, of whom he had also heard, was a painter, he replied, “A painter? I hate painting, and poetry too: neither the one nor the other ever did any good.” This was merely an amplification of what the first George put more tersely, when in his Bœotian English he refused to allow a poem to be dedicated to him: “I hate all Boets and Bainters.”—CAMPBELL: Life of Lord Mansfield, chap. xxx., note.
  • George the Third had probably never read Voltaire, else he could have fortified his opinion with the slur of the French poet, who called the divine William “an ugly ape” (il n’était qu’un vilain singe), and said that “he was the Corneille of London, but a great fool anywhere else.”