George IV.—The First Gentleman in Europe
EORGE III. died in January
George III. was called Farmer George, because he liked a peaceful country life, and would have been a very good farmer, although he was not a very wise King. He had reigned sixty years, including the last ten, during which he really did not rule.
George IV. was called "the
first gentleman in Europe," because he was
handsome, and had fine manners, very
different from those of his homely father. He tried to make
friends with all his people through his fine manners. Soon
after he became King he went to Ireland, where the people
received him with great joy. He made speeches to them, and
laughed and cried with them. He wore the order of
George next went to Hanover, for he was King of Hanover, as well as king of Britain. There he talked German, and wore a Hanoverian Order, sang German national songs, and told the people with tears in his eyes that he was truly German at heart; and perhaps the German people believed him too.
Next he went to Scotland. Since the time of
George had wept and laughed with his Irish subjects, yet when a chance came for him to prove that he loved them as he had said he did, he did not willingly take it.
In the fierce old days the Roman Catholics had killed and tortured the Protestants whenever they had the power and, in dread of them, an act had been passed forbidding Roman Catholics to hold any public office. Those days were long passed. No one was now killed or tortured because of his religion, yet the laws against the Roman Catholics still remained. No Catholic might be an officer in the army or navy, no Catholic might sit in Parliament, or serve his country in any way.
Yet nearly all the Irish people were Roman Catholics, and generous men for many years had felt these laws to be unjust. The younger Pitt had tried in vain to make George III. do away with them. Now wise men tried to make George IV. repeal them. But the King, who said he was Irish at heart, refused. "My father," he said, "would have laid his head on the block rather than yield, and I am equally ready to lay my head there for the same cause."
The great Duke of Wellington was Prime Minister at this
time, and as he had conquered Napoleon in war, so now he
George IV. died in June