The Early History of Charles James Fox

By George Trevelyan Otto | Go to book overview

CHAPTER IV.

George the Third. -- His Education. -- His Assiduity in Public Business. -- His Theory of Personal Government. -- The King's Friends. -- The King's Interference in the Details of Parliament and of Elections. -- His Dislike of the Whigs. -- Formation of the Whig Party. -- Lord Rockingham's Administration. -- His Dismissal. -- Lord Chatham's Government and the Successive Changes in its Composition. -- General Election of 1768. -- Fox chosen for Midhurst. -- His Political Opinions and Prejudices. -- He selects his Party and takes his Seat. -- Lord Shelburne. -- Fox as a Young Politician.

THE venality and servility of Parliament presented an irresistible temptation to a monarch who aimed at extending the influence of the crown. George the Second, whose solid and unambitious intellect had taught him that the true secret of kingcraft was to get the best ministers he could find, and then leave them responsible for their own business, had seen England safe through immense perils, and had died at the very height of prosperity arid renown.1 "In times full of doubt and danger to his person and his family," he maintained, as Burke most truly said, the dignity of the throne and the liberty of the people not only unimpaired, but improved, for the space of three-and-thirty years. A different policy from his, pursued during the next two-and-twenty years, mutilated the empire, loaded the nation with debt, reduced the military rep

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1
"What an enviable death! In the greatest period of the glory of this country and of his reign, in perfect tranquillity at home, at seventyseven, growing blind and deaf, to die without a pang before any reverse of fortune; nay, but two days before a ship-load of bad news!" ( Walpole to Mann, October 28, 1760.) "Upon the whole" (wrote Lord Waldegrave in his old employer's lifetime), "he has some qualities of a great prince, many of a good one, none which are essentially bad; and I am thoroughly convinced that hereafter he will be numbered among those patriot kings under whose government the people have enjoyed the greatest happiness."

-102-

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