It is beyond question that the accession to the British throne gave no thrill of pleasure to the King. He was fifty-four years of age, and had no desire to change his state. It was necessary for him, as the present writer has said elsewhere, now to go from a country where he was absolute, to another where, so far from being supreme, when King and people differed on a matter of vital importance, the monarch had to give way—the price of resistance having been fixed, at worst at death, at best exile or civil war. He had to go from a country where he was the wealthiest and most important personage to another where he would be merely regarded as a minor German princeling set up as a figurehead, and where many of the gentry were wealthier than he. This point was appreciated by Lady Mary when she went to Hanover in November, 1716, for she wrote from there to the Countess of Bristol: “I have now made the tour of Germany, and cannot help observing difference between travelling here and in England. One sees none of those fine seats of noblemen that are so common among us, nor anything like a country gentleman’s house, though they have many situations perfectly fine. But the whole people are divided into absolute sovereignties, where all the riches and magnificence are at Court, or communities of merchants, such as Nuremberg and Frankfort, where they live always in town for the convenience of trade.”
Worse than all George must set forth by no means sure of his reception, and with no love, nor even liking, for the people over whom he was called to reign. That he did go at all is greatly to his credit, for he was doubtful if he would be allowed to remain, and he never revisited Hanover without some suspicion that he might not be able to return to England. He would have been a much happier man if he could have remained at his beloved Herrenhausen. He never felt he owed Britain anything, and indeed he did not: the throne had been settled on his mother, not for love of her, but simply because she was the only alternative to the succession of the dreaded Roman Catholic heirs. So George came as a visitor, rather submitting to be King of England, than anxious for the honour, prepared to be forced by circumstances to return, little dreaming that two hundred years later his descendants would be firmly seated upon his throne.
It may be mentioned that Lady Mary, as she became better acquainted with the King, grew to like him. In the letter from Hanover just quoted, she says: “His Majesty dines and sups constantly in public. The Court is very numerous, and his affability and goodness make it one of the most agreeable places in the world to me.” The King was indeed at his best when in residence at Herrenhausen. Lord Peterborough said that George was so happy there that he believed he had forgot the accident that occurred to him and his family on the 1st of August, 1714.