George the Third by Stanley Ayling (Collins £4.50)
GEORGE III is not an easy subject. He is by general acceptance a dull monarch bluff, stupid. jovial (what a terrible word that is), his kindliness more than outweighed by an overwhelmingly pigheaded ignorance on all important topics. The uniform dullness of his character is relieved only by his madness, and even this, though pathetic, is not as colourful as it might be. The greatest tribute which can be paid to Mr. Ayling's intelligent, patient and readable book is that he has abolished for ever that trite crude assessment.
As a young man George consumed work at the same rate which historians marvel at in Victoria's Albert. When Chatham turned melancholymad, finally hiding himself away at North End, it was the King who got through much of his "chief minister's" business. It may not take a clever man to do that. but such work certainly cannot be performed by an imbecile.
Mr. Ayling does not overlook George's problems but he has the good sense to see them in context. George's behaviour on the Catholic Emancipation and on the Irish Question in general had disastrous consequences, yet it is debatable whether any radically reforming legislation on the topic would have got through the House of Lords. And George's position on this — as on all subjects — was a matter of conscience.