Sunday, July 6, 2014

George III

From Fr. Rutler:
King George was not unworthy of the toga of that enlightened Aurelian emperor, if only for his intellectual bent. He founded the heart of the national library with a collection that impressed even Dr. Johnson, established numerous academies of arts and science, was an informed agriculturist and horologist and tinkerer with gadgets, and built the world’s largest telescope for Herschel who first named the planet Uranus for his king. A line in his diary early in his reign was Stoical enough to be worthy of Aurelius: “I am born for the happiness or misery of a great nation and consequently must often act contrary to my passions.” One of his passions was anger and in an attempt to control it, he spent long hours in prayer and spiritual reading, not only from the received texts of ambiguous Anglican divines, but from the Scriptures and Patristic writings, and began a lifelong practice of giving half his income to charity. These ways were instilled in him by his pious mother, the Dowager Princess of Wales, instilling a piety which served him in controlling the other passion for which monarchs of his day usually indulged by an assumed right. The King’s brother the Duke of Cumberland and Strathearn was a flagrant adulterer and set the mood for much of the court.

King George read in the “Georgics” (evidently and appropriately his favorite work of Virgil since he loved rural life, especially pig breeding, and thus enjoyed the sobriquet “Farmer George”) the line “Casta pudicitiam servate domus” for which his Latinity needed no translation, for all his Hanoverian forebears on the throne of England, if incapable of English itself, were fluent Latin speakers. Pitt the Elder’s own Latin helped to get him his job. But George III also knew Dryden’s version (the King admired Dryden, if not approving his refusal to take the oath of loyalty to William III): “His faithful bed is crown’d with chaste delight.” King George astonished many by his total fidelity to Queen Sophia Charlotte of Mecklenberg-Strelitz, and was what we would now call “pro-life” by fathering and loving fifteen children. Understanding himself as father of his people, he promoted moral order, culminating in the 1787 “Proclamation for the Discouragement of Vice” which included a long list of details on the subject. (Read more.)

1 comment:

The King's Man said...

A great article here. George III is one of those great misunderstood figures of history. In truth, he was a fine king and a fine gentleman, but his name is forever associated with the American Revolution and with the mental illness that overshadowed the last years of his long life. It's a shame. His Majesty deserves more credit for the moral standard he set his subjects and his contributions to agriculture and science.

I don't think I have commented on your blog before, so I'd just like to say how much I enjoy it. Thank you for running it!