Current Essays

109 George

From 3rd June 1987
But for the technicality of his death in 1820 George III would be 249 years old tomorrow.

Now George for all his occasional nuttiness was really quite a regular guy, so I can’t quite fathom why he seems to be so much less regarded over here than one might expect, given the phenomenal popularity of Royalty (remember all those weddings everyone seemed to get up at 3 in the morning to watch) and considering the fact that he was your last real King.
I think to make amends we should really celebrate his birthday tomorrow, especially here in Rochester the only place in America that can boast that it was once visited by George III.

It all came about because George was one of the 18th Century’s great Horticulturists. After all he founded the Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew, just outside London: he was the first British king to really concern himself with the doings of farmers: for example he would often be caught talking to trees and when, in 1767, he first heard of our Lilac Festival he of course rushed right over here with the wife and kids to enjoy the fun and maybe shoot the breeze with some bushes.

By all reports George had a splendid time at the festival, and the Rochestarians of the time seemed to enjoy it too. Unfortunately though there was bad feeling in other parts of the country caused on the one hand by George’s refusal to visit Niagara Falls, on the grounds that between the Falls and flushing of the bathroom there was but a difference in scale and between the Falls and flushing of the Royal bathrooms that difference was not great enough to justify the trip, and on the other hand and more importantly, by George’s insistence that the Colonies pay for the trip.

I can to a certain extent understand George’s position. The war against the French in America had proved, as wars do, to be rather expensive, it was becoming extremely difficult for him to raise taxes in Britain, and in that decade of political instability at home he knew that Pitt (or Lord Chatham as he then was) was not going to co-operate in the least.

Poor George, his only remaining option was to try to tax the colonies, and we all know where that led. You probably also know that one of the other major causes of the American Revolution was a desire to avoid having to pay for the administration. The revolutionaries fought hard for it, and by their victory they won that right, which at the moment I believe stands somewhere in excess of a trillion dollars.

Cheerio for now
from Richard Howland-Bolton.

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