George Augustus Frederick lived from 1762 until 1830. He reigned over the United Kingdom of Britain and Ireland, and Hanover from January 29, 1820. A dishonorable king, often involved in family disputes, he entertained numerous women while accomplishing little or nothing for his people. Some of his most interesting blunders include: denying his 1785 marriage to Maria Fitzherbert in order to conciliate Parliament, employing others (i.e. "Knighton") to deal with his debts, excluding his wife from his coronation ceremony and forcing ministers to bring in a Divorce Bill (1827-28), marrying for a second time in 1795 only to pursue an affair with Lady Jersey and, apparently, retire often to Brighton and Windsor with Lady Conyngham. He distributed appointments without consulting his ministers and staunchly opposed the Catholic Emancipation Bill to the last. Later, his health failed and he became prone to delusions. According to the second volume of The Concise Dictionary of National Biography, "The power of the Crown much diminished under his reign."
Hence, Carlyle's reference to "sacred George the Fourth" among other "sacred Charleses, Jamses, Georges and Defenders of the Faith" serves further to ridicule the English nation's wanton and irrational erection of statues. Cynically, yet humorously, he alludes to Cromwell's probable disappointment, humiliation and digust, if he were nominated alongside such fools as a candidate for statue-hood. Carlyle explains how a statue built in celebration of an individual, even a truly heroic individual, no longer serves to honor or even compliment that individual, simply because too many veritable idiots have already been captured in such a way. No longer does public representation of a figure necessarily mean that the individual displayed deserves even remote acknowledgement or remembrance. Carlyle finds this state of affairs deplorable, if not tragic. He uses George the Fourth as a perfect example of the stereoptypical ignoramus England blindly chooses to objectify and idolize — to put forth as an example for the rest of the country.
Last modified 23 October 2002