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A History of the Four Georges and of William IV, V

Then he pursued his way to Hanover


to have ended the royal visit

so far as history is concerned, for, although the King's return to England was delayed for several days by contrary winds, he had nothing more to do with his Irish subjects. Byron {27} wrote some satirical verses, which he prefaced with the words of Curran, the great Irish advocate and orator, describing Ireland like "a bastinadoed elephant kneeling to receive the paltry rider," and in which he made mockery of O'Connell's loyalty, paid a just and generous tribute to Grattan, and proclaimed sincerely his own love for Ireland and his thorough appreciation of her national cause. Then the royal visit was over, and the Irish people were soon to learn the value of the King's profession of sympathy with the wishes and the wants of his devoted Irish subjects. A curious illustration of the sincerity of these royal sentiments may be found in a letter written by the King not very long after to his Prime Minister, Lord Liverpool, and marked "Most secret and confidential." The letter had reference to the appointment of a new occupant to the exalted office of Primate of All Ireland, and the King says, "I do not like, I cannot reconcile myself to have the Primacy of Ireland filled by an Irishman." The King, when writing this letter, appears to have been in one of his deeply religious moods. "I am too far advanced in life," he says, "not to give subjects of this description the most serious and attentive consideration. It is, alas! but too true that policy is too often obliged to interfere
with our best intentions, but I do think where the head of the Church is concerned, especially at such a moment, we ought alone to be influenced by religious duty. Do not be surprised at this scrupulous language, for I am quite sincere." Very likely King George was quite sincere in this momentary burst of religious emotion. It was a part of his artistic nature to be able thus to fill himself with any emotion which helped out the performance he had in hand; but it is at least an odd comment on his recent emotions of love for the Irish people and absolute trust in their loyal devotion, that he could not reconcile himself to the idea of allowing any Irishman to occupy the position of Primate of All Ireland. There was no question in this of Protestant against Roman Catholic, and that Coronation Oath, which had in the former reign proved so formidable an obstacle to the recognition of any Catholic {28} claims, was in no wise brought into question. Nobody suggested that a Roman Catholic bishop should be made Primate of All Ireland, but it was strange that soon after George's reiterated professions of love for his Irish people, and absolute trust in them, he could not reconcile himself to the idea of any Protestant bishop, however meritorious, being raised to such an office if the Protestant bishop happened to be an Irishman.

[Sidenote: 1822--George the Fourth visits Scotland]

King George had to leave his capital again in order to visit other lands where he had subjects to gratify with the pleasure of his presence. He paid a visit to Hanover, and then to Scotland. George, it need hardly be said, was King of Hanover as well as of England, and he thought it right that he should illumine the Hanoverians with the light of his royal countenance. So he made his way to Hanover, taking Brussels in his course. He was accompanied thus far by the Duke of Wellington and other eminent persons, and he took the opportunity of surveying the field of Waterloo, and having all the striking points of the battle-field pointed out and explained to him by the Duke of Wellington. It would appear that the sovereign's personal survey of the field on which Napoleon's last great battle had been fought only served to strengthen the impression on his mind that he had himself taken a part, and even a distinguished and heroic part, in that immortal struggle. Here again the artistic nature asserted itself. No doubt it had long seemed to George that the heir to the English throne ought to have taken a leading part in a battle which was a turning-point in the history of England, and by degrees he had contrived to persuade himself into the belief that he had actually done the deeds required by the dramatic fitness of things, for it was well known that, at certain seasons of inspiration, he had described himself as leading a desperate charge at Waterloo. Then he pursued his way to Hanover, and he made much the same demonstrations of deep emotion as those which had delighted the crowds at Dunleary and in Dublin. Again and again he protested his love and his devotion for his Hanoverian subjects, again and again he accompanied {29} with voice and with gesture the singing of patriotic hymns, and on more than one occasion the royal eyes were seen to be streaming over with sympathetic tears.


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