« ElőzőTovább »
Book ii, example. It was as a practical agriculturist that the chap. iv. King (under a slight veil of pseudonymity *) made his bow kgko»oi°a* ■ *° *he reading public by the publication of seven articles in LiBRARi. Arthur Young's useful and then well-known periodical, the Annals of Agriculture.
Those articles have a threefold aim. They inculcate the wisdom, for certain soils, of an intermediate system of treatment and of cropping, midway between the old routine and the drill-husbandry, then of recent introduction; they describe several new implements, introduced by Ducket of Esher and of Petersham; and they advocate an almost entire rejection of fallows. They further describe a method, also introduced by Parmer Ducket, and then peculiar, of destroying that farmer's pest, couch-grass (triticum repens), by trench-ploughing it deep into the ground, and contain many other practical suggestions, some of which seem to have been empirical, and others so good that they have become trite.
But the best service rendered by George The Third to the agricultural pursuits, of which he was so fond, was his introduction of the Merino flocks, which became conspicuous ornaments to the great and little parks at Windsor. Part of the success which, for a time, attended the importation of those choice Merino breeds was due to the zealous cooperation of Lord Somerville and of Sir Joseph Banks [see the next chapter], but the King himself took a real initiative in the matter; acquired real knowledge about it; and deserved, by his personal efforts, the cognomen given him (by some of those worthy farmers who used to attend the annual sales at Windsor) of ' the Royal Shepherd.'
* 'Ralph Robinson' is the name signed to the communications to the Annals of Agriculture, but they are dated from Windsor. (See Annah, vol. vii, 1787.)
The recreative pursuits, alike of the book-collector and Book n of the agriculturist, as well as the labours of the consci- The n entious monarch, were at length to be arrested by that great calamity which, after clouding over some months of Li"*«the years of vigour, was destined to veil in thick gloom all TM the years of decline—the years when great public triumphs arid crushing family afflictions passed equally unnoted by the recluse of Windsor.
'Thy lov'd ones fell around thee.
Didst walk unconscious through thy royal towers,
But who can tell what visions might be thine P
When George The Third died at Windsor Castle, on ai,i>hi3
the 29th of January, 1820, the public mourning was
Since his death, political writers have usually been somewhat harsh to his memory. But the verdict of history has not yet been given in. When the time for its delivery shall at length come, there will be a long roll of good deeds to set off against many mistakes in policy. Nor will the genuine piety, and the earnest conscientiousness of the individual man—up to the measure of the light vouchsafed
Book Ii, to him—be forgotten in the preliminary summing up. chap iv. ^yjiaj- George The Third did for Britain simply in con■kgko«o°av ferring upon it the social blessings of a pure Court, and of Libham. a bright personal example, is best to be estimated by contemplating what, in that respect, existed before it, and also what came immediately after it. Comparisons of such a sort will serve, eventually, to better purpose than that of feathering the witty shafts of reckless satirists, whether in prose or in verse. Meanwhile, it is enough to say that no honester, no more God-fearing man, than was George The Third, ever sat upon the throne of England.
During all the time of his long illness, the King's Library had continued, more or less, to grow. When he died, it contained sixty-five thousand two hundred and fifty volumes, besides more than nineteen thousand unbound Statf Of tracts. These have since been bound severally. The total number of volumes, therefore, which the Collection comprised was about eighty-four thousand. At the time of the King's decease, the annual cost of books in progress, and of periodical works, somewhat exceeded one thousand pounds. The annual salaries of the staff—four officers and two servants—amounted to eleven hundred and seventy-one pounds. The Library occupied a fine and extensive suite of rooms in Buckingham Palace. One of them was large enough to make a noble billiard-room.
The Royal Library, therefore, embarrassed King George The Fourth in two ways. It cost two thousand two hundred pounds a year, even without making any new additions to its contents. It occupied much space in the royal residence which could be devoted to more agreeable purposes. Then came the welcome thought that, instead of being a charge, it might be made a source of income. The
Thk Kino's Library In January,
Emperor of Russia was known to covet, as a truly imperial Bo<« n, luxury, what to the new King of Great Britain was but a 0 1 M
costlv burden. He broached the idea—but met, instead of *'N0'S os,
* 9 Georgian'
encouragement, with strong remonstrance. Library.
The news of the royal suggestion soon spread abroad. Amongst those who heard of it with disgust were Lord Farnborough (who is said to have learnt the design in talking, one day, with Princess Lieven) and Richard Heber. Both men bestirred themselves to prevent the King from publicly disgracing the country in that way. Lord Farnborough betook himself to a conference with the Premier, Lord Liverpool. Mr. Heber discussed the matter with Lord Sidmouth. By the ministers, public opinion upon the suggested sale was pretty strongly and emphatically conveyed to His Majesty, whatever may have been the courtliness of tone employed about it.
George The Fourth, however, was not less strongly Conferirapressed by the charms of the prospective rubles from mra" Russia. He felt that he could find pleasant uses for a GroEG,!lv
» AND HIS
windfall of a hundred and eighty thousand pounds, or so. MlN,sTM And he fought hard to secure his expected prize—or some 07 indubitably solid equivalent. 'If I can't have the rubles/
n 1 • 1 • Fonl''"
said the King, 'you must find me their value in pounds oaQmrurit sterling.' The Ministers were much in earnest to save the Ismt^' Library, and, in the emergency, laid their hands upon a J^1TM'p certain surplus which had accrued from a fund furnished some years before by France, to meet British claims for losses sustained at the date of the first French Revolution. J^„of But the expedient became the subject of an unpleasant fjkdTM"ylk! hint in the House of Commons. And the Government, it Co—**TMis said, then resorted to that useful fund, the 'Droits of Hfus. (also in Admiralty.' By hook or crook, George The Fourth ^°),pp,n7, received his 'equivalent/ He then sat down to his writing
table (at Brighton), to assure Lord Liverpool—in his official capacity—of the satisfaction he felt in having 'this means of advancing the Literature of my Country.' Then he proceeded to add :—' I also feel that I am paying a just tribute to the memory of a Parent, whose life was adorned with every public and private virtue.'
The Executors or Trustees of King George The Third knew well what the monarch's feelings about his Library would, in all reasonable probability, have been, had he possessed mental vigour when preparing for his last change. They exacted from the Trustees of the Museum a pledge that the Royal Library should be preserved apart, and entire.
Parliament, on its side, made a liberal provision for the erection of a building worthy to receive the Georgian Library. The fine edifice raised in pursuance of a parliamentary vote cost a hundred and forty thousand pounds. It provided one of the handsomest rooms in Europe for the main purpose, and it also made much-needed arrangements for the reception and exhibition of natural-history Collections, above the books.
The removal of the Royal Library from Buckingham House was not completed until August, 1828. All who saw the Collection whilst the building was in its first purity of colour—and who were old enough to form an opinion on such a point—pronounced the receptacle to be eminently worthy of its rich contents. The floor-cases and the heavy tables—very needful, no doubt—have since detracted not a little from the architectural effect and elegance of the room itself.
Along with the printed books, and the extensive geographical Collections, came a number of manuscripts—on