Alas. This week’s installment of By Geroge!, Mr. Al’s discussion of the life and times of George IV, brings this series to an end. Thank you for well over a year fo entertaining history, Mr. Al. There will be other series in the future. Drop by next week to discuss it.
Among all the paraphernalia acquired over a lifetime of profligate spending were packets of love letters. Big packets of love letters. And among the letters were found “quantities of womans gloves, and locks of womens hair of all colors and lengths, some having powder and pomatom yet sticking to them.” Interestingly, he made copies of the letters he sent; “Descriptive of the most furious passion.”
Passionate they may have been, brief they were not. Much of it was between The Prince and Mrs Fitzherbert. The letters that had passed between the Prince Regent and Lady Jersey had already been destroyed by her executor. Mrs Fitzherbert was asked to return the letters she had received from His Highness. She insisted on retaining some of them, particularly those that established her marriage. These letters went into a safe deposit box in a London bank and were not re-discovered until 1905. They then passed into the Royal Archives.
Lady Conyngham no doubt had her letters as well. Though, perhaps, not as many as Mrs Fitzherbert and Lady Jersey. After all, Lady Conyngham actually moved in with His Majesty. Her and her entire family, husband and all.
Continue reading By George! It’s the Bitter End
AUTHORS NOTE: I know I said this would be the last George blog, but I lied. My summing up will have to wait until next week because I haven’t dealt with His Majesties funeral or anything! My bad.
Said The Times of his Majesties passing:
“There never was an individual less regretted by his fellow creatures than the deceased King. What eye has wept for him? What heart has heaved one throb of unmercenary sorrow?…For the Leviathan of the haute ton, George IV, if ever he had a friend -a devoted friend from any rank of life- we protest that the name of him has never reached us.”
Continue reading By George! The King is Dead. Time to Party!
While there may have been some who viewed the George IV’s imminent demise with sorrow, this outlook was not shared by many of those who knew him best. Which certainly says something. His brothers were beside themselves at the prospect of better days. Wouldn’t it be nice to have the government spend real money on them for a change?
The people the King counted as real friends were pretty much gone. Fox had died long ago, the Earl of Moira, Sir John McMahon, the Duke of Northumberland, the Duchess of Devonshire. All gone. No one, to this day knows how many illegitimate children he sired. Having it off with serving girls and the like simply didn’t count. There was little doubt in anyones mind that Lady Conyngham would be deeply grieved to loose the steady stream of expensive baubles her liaison with his Majesty produced.
Continue reading By George! I’ll Give This to You, and That to You, and…
The year 1829 closed with little of His Majesty’s situation changed. This was as he preferred it. He still dodged official business. Indeed, he would go so far as to ask parliament to appoint someone to act and sign papers in his name. Parliament told him that the only way they could legally do so would be with reports from His Majesty’s doctors that he was beyond help. Such reports would have to made public. You know, like the situation with dad. His Majesty “withdrew his proposal instantly.”
He still kept Lady Conyngham as close to hand as she would allow. Which at that point was not very. I should probably give her a mention. Rather ungentlemanly of me to ignore her for so long. In November, 1829 she had fallen ill with “a bad bilious fever.” The King was much concerned and visited her room every evening for conversation and hand holding.
It was noted by many that his concern for her was in marked contrast to her concern for him. Although, in fairness it should be noted that keeping up with the Kings illnesses, and expressing appropriate sympathy, would have been beyond most people. Still, those who were close to both found her behavior, if understandable, in bad form.
Continue reading By George! They’re on His “Manbits”
The year of 1829 marked both a high and low for his Majesty. While his health continued to deteriorate, his relations with his Ministers improved. At least after the contentious Catholic Relief Act was finally passed. But the improvement was quite gradual, and not all Ministers were treated equally. At Ascot he had “a whole party of Canningites in his house (box) and not one Minister. He gave a bad reception to all the friends of government who went to his stand, and said to Mr Peel that he should have as soon expected to see a pig in a church as him at a race! Mr Peel was invited to dine at the Lodge, but he pretended he had no clothes and refused to go.”
But he spoke highly of Wellington. “It would be difficult to find a man of such consummate integrity, possessing such straightforward, true political wisdom, or such unsullied principles that comprehend everything that is noble, everything that is great.” Wellington was aware of this change of attitude and grateful for it. He was always ready to praise the King for his good points. His charm and his willingness to see the good in most people. His intelligence and his ability to grasp the details of almost any problem, that is, if you could get him to pay attention in the first place.
Continue reading By George! How to Rule from Bed
When last we saw His Majesty, he had exiled himself to his bed chamber. The physical reasons were the usual, gout and rheumatism. Various other ailments. This lasted all through January and well into February of 1828. And, as usual, the physical ailments were a wonderful excuse to avoid political problems, of which he had a basket full.
Harriette Wilson made a re-appearance at this point. She had published her memoirs in Holland in four small volumes in 1825. These caused a sensation at the time. The publisher went through thirty printings to keep up with demand. His Majesty apparently paid to make sure his role in them was reduced from guest star to walk-on. But now, she was back for more. Suddenly “remembering” things that had not made it into the first edition of her memoirs, she wondered if His Majesty might have some suggestions as to how she could forget what she had suddenly remembered.
Continue reading By George! Wellington It Is.
In the few short years after finally becoming king, and not merely regent, George IV had a devil of a time finding good people to fill the post of Prime Minister.
The death of Canning meant, of course, that his Majesty needed to find yet another Prime Minister. Such a bother, particularly since his Majesties priorities were not necessarily those of the government. This was something that all concerned were deeply, painfully aware of. As the Duke of Wellington had said of Canning “Canning and all his present men had got their hold upon the King by indulging him in all his expenses and whims.” There was more than a grain of truth to this, but it was hardly fair to Canning. Indulging the the King was part of the job description Being PM to George IV wasn’t something just anyone could do. And it is certainly telling that Wellington didn’t take the job until he felt he had to.
In fact, the King faced the same problem that he did after the death of Lord Liverpool. Many fellows who would be right for the job, precious few who actually wanted it. Wellington, whose name always cropped up when a PM hunt was afoot, didn’t want it. I would imagine that at that point in his professional life the Duke would have considered wearing a placard around his neck with the word “NO” painted on it.
Continue reading By George! It’s One Man After Another