GEORGE III (1738-1820), King of England. A series of 22 autograph letters signed ('Your most affectionate Father George R'; one, in apparent forgetfulness, signed 'Your most affectionate brother'), to his third son, the future William IV, Queen's House [Kew], Windsor Castle and St James's and n.p., 13 June 1779 - 6 May 1785 and n.d., 31 pages, 4to, three autograph address leaves (to 'My Dearly Beloved son Prince William'), remains of seals, blanks, (seal tears, one address leaf partly cut away, splits in folds, a few tape repairs on verso);
with approximately 51 letters addressed to Prince William by Queen Charlotte, his brothers and other correspondents, and 8 other letters. Provenance: Sir John Barton (personal secretary to Prince William as Duke of Clarence; Secretary to Queen Adelaide after his accession); and by descent.
BRACING ADVICE TO A FUTURE KING ON HIS BEING SENT TO JOIN THE ROYAL NAVY: 'You are now launching into a scene of life, where you may either prove an Honour, or a Disgrace to your Family; it would be very unwelcoming of the love I have for my children, if I did not at this serious moment give you advice, [on] how to conduct yourself dictated from no other motive than the anxious feelings of a Parent, that his Child may be happy, and deserve the approbation of Men of worth and integrity Though when at home a Prince, on board of the Prince George you are only a Boy learning the naval Profession; but the Prince so far accompanies you that what other Boys might do, you must not: It must never be out of your thoughts that more Obedience is necessary from You to Your superiors in the Navy, more Politeness to your Equals, and more good nature to your Inferiors than from those who have not been told that these are essential for a Gentleman'.
George III, an affectionate father to his fifteen children, arranged for Prince William to enter the Navy at the tender age of thirteen, largely to remove him from the influence of his elder brother, the future George IV, whose extravagant and undutiful ways were far from the sober and respectable style of the court of his parents. William joined as midshipman on the Prince George on 15 June 1779, but although reasonably competent, and likeable and friendly in a boisterous way, found it difficult to work with others and never achieved a senior command. Meanwhile his relationship with his father developed along familiar Hanoverian lines, alternating between affectionate obedience and defiance.
The flow of fatherly advice invariably includes injunctions to strive harder, at first softened by expressions of pleasure at any reports of William meeting his commander's approval ('I flatter myself your conduct has changed this year much to your advantage'), and followed by hopeful anticipation of seeing his children 'turn out an Ornament to their Country and a comfort to their Parents'. But before long hints of the unwelcome influence of Prince George give way to unfavourable comparisons of William's conduct with that of the 'perfectly compliant' Prince Frederick who in 1783 is also sent to Hanover with his tutor. William shows an 'unhappy disposition to resist control' which culminates in his 'deliberately displeasing' his father by making visits in Germany without seeking parental approval, notably to the Abbess of Gandersheim [Augusta Dorothea, Princess of Brunswick-Wofenbuttel]. The King's optimism that William's apparent repentance would bear fruit ('You plainly show sorrow at having displeased your Parents'), is overtaken in the last [undated] letter by a furious rebuke on learning of his debts. 'I cannot too strongly set out before you that if you permit yourself to indulge every foolish idea You must be wretched all your life; for with thirteen children I cannot with the greatest care make both ends meet and am not in a situation to be paying their debts if the[y] contract any I am sorry to say your manners [are] still compared as I too well saw when you returned from America to the frequenters of the forecastle, and your love of improper company particularly of some ill behaved Englishmen that have been at Hanover'.
The collection also includes letters addressed to Prince William by his mother, Queen Charlotte (16, 1780-5), his brothers the future George IV (three, 1783 (2) and 8 December 1818, the latter on the inexpressibility of his feelings at the death of his mother), Frederick, Duke of York (nine, 1772-1784, one in French), and Edward, Duke of Kent (seven, 1779-1819, one in French), by other royal signatories, chiefly from Paris in April-June 1814, including Louis XVIII of France, Louis Philippe, Duke of Orleans, Francis I of Austria, Alexander I of Russia and Frederick William III of Prussia; and by others including [Major-General] Bude (William's Hanoverian tutor) and Viscount Castlereagh; and a group of letters addressed to Sir John Barton by William IV (1816) and Queen Adelaide (four, in one asking him to get her tickets for the lottery ('I am determined to avail myself of this opportunity of getting rich') and Mrs Jordan (two, in one referring to the financial difficulties of supporting her children); and another item. (81)