GEORGE IV. AND WILLIAM IV.
The Royal family did not, in those difficult days, inspire such feelings of respect as might have counterbalanced*) the hatred aroused by the leading ministers. If it did not excite so violent an aversion, it is only because men cannot hate what they despise. Utter contempt was the feeling most generally evoked by all George III. 's six sons, of whom the eldest was Regent during his father's long periods of madness, and was king after him from 1820 to 1830. Thackeray draws an unflattering portrait of him in his lectures on The four Georges (a).
After George IV. 's death in 1830 his brother William IV. reigned until 1837. He was a less depraved2), but also a less intelligent man than his predecessor had been. That it was impossible to feel anything like respect for him is clear from the entries in Charles Greville's Journal which we quote (b).
Greville was Clerk to the Privy Council *) and moved in governing circles. His famous diary, which covers the period from 1818 tot 1852 and was published shortly after Greville's death in 1865 (when it moved the indignation of Queen Victoria), is full of first-hand political gossip, often somewhat ill-natured.
1. to counterbalance: to cause the second of a pair of scales to be even; to neutralize the effect of.
2. depraved: morally bad, corrupt.
3. Privy Council: originally the Privy [privï] i.e. private, Council was a body of men selected by the King to advise him in the administration of the country. The administration of justice is now entirely (or almost entirely) independent of it. For the rest the administration is now actually under the Cabinet, which is looked upon as a committee of the Council. Most of the business of the full Privy Council is now of a formal kind.—The Clerk to the Privy Council had nevertheless "exceptiónal opportunities for observing the inner workings of high political circles."