He longed for the time when "decrepitude or death" might put an end to Pitt; and even when death had freed him from "this trumpet of sedition," he denounced the proposal for a public monument to the great statesman as " an offensive measure to me personally." But dull and petty as his temper was, he was clear as to his purpose and obstinate in the pursuit of it. And his purpose was to rule. "George," his mother, the Princess of Wales, had continually repeated to him in youth, " George, be king." He called himself always "a Whig of the Revolution," and he had no wish to undo the work which be believed the Revolution to have done. But he looked on the subjection of his two predecessors to the will of their ministers as no real part of the work of the Revolution, but as a usurpation of that authority which the Revolution had left to the crown. And to this usurpation he was determined not to submit. His resolve was to govern, not to govern against law, but simply to govern, to be freed from the dictation of parties and ministers, and to be in effect the first Minister of the State. How utterly incompatible such a dream was with the Parliamentary constitution of the country as it had received its final form from Sunderland it is easy to see; but George was resolved to carry out his dream.
And in carrying it out he was aided by the circumstances of the time. The spell of Jacobitism was broken by the defeat of Charles Edward, and the later degradation of his life wore finally away the thin coating of disloyalty which clung to the clergy and the squires. They were ready again to take part in politics, and in the accession of a king who, unlike his two predecessors, was no stranger but an Englishman, who had been born in England and spoke English, they found the opportunity they desired. From the opening of the reign Tories gradually appeared again at court. It was only slowly indeed that the party as a whole swung round to a steady support of the Government; but their action told at once on the complexion of English politics. Their withdrawal from public affairs had left them untouched by the progress of political ideas since the Revolution of 1688, and when they returned to political life it was to invest the new sovereign with all the reverence which they had bestowed on the Stuarts. A "King's party" was thus ready made to his hand; but George was able to strengthen it by a vigorous exertion of the power and influence which was still left to the Crown. All promotion in the Church, all advancement in the army, a great number of places in the civil administration and about the court, were still at the King's disposal.
If this vast mass of patronage had been practically usurped by the ministers of his predecessors, it was resumed and firmly held by George the Third; and the character of the House of Commons made patronage, as we have seen, a powerful engine in its management. George had one of Walpole's weapons in his hands, and he used it with unscrupulous energy to break up the party which Walpole had held so long together. He saw that the Whigs were divided among themselves by the factious spirit which springs from a long hold of office, and that they were weakened by the rising contempt with which the country at large regarded the selfishness and corruption of its representatives. More than thirty years before, Gay had set the leading statesmen of the day on the public stage under the guise of highwaymen and pickpockets. "It is difficult to determine," said the witty playwright, " whether the fine gentlemen imitate the gentlemen of the road, or the gentlemen of the road the fine gentlemen." And now that the " fine gentlemen " were represented by hoary jobbers such as Newcastle, the public contempt was fiercer than ever, and men turned sickened from the intrigues and corruption of party to a young sovereign who aired himself in a character which Bolingbroke had invented, as a Patriot King.
Had Pitt and Newcastle held together, supported as the one was by the commercial classes, the other by the Whig families and the whole machinery of Parliamentary management, George must have struggled in vain. But the ministry was already disunited. The Whigs, attached to peace by the traditions of Walpole, dismayed at the enormous expenditure, and haughty with the pride of a ruling oligarchy, were in silent revolt against the war and the supremacy of the Great Commoner. It was against their will that he rejected proposals of peace from France which would have secured to England all her conquests on the terms of a desertion of Prussia, and that his steady support enabled Frederick still to hold out against the terrible exhaustion of an unequal struggle. The campaign of 1760 indeed was one of the grandest efforts of Frederick's genius. Foiled in an attempt on Dresden, he again saved Silesia by a victory at Liegnitz, and hurled back an advance of Daun by a victory at Torgau; while Ferdinand of Brunswick held his ground as of old along the Weser. But even victories drained Frederick's strength. Men and money alike failed him. It was impossible for him to strike another great blow, and the ring of enemies again closed slowly round him.
His one remaining hope lay in the firm support of Pitt, and triumphant as his policy had been, Pitt was tottering to his fall. The envy and resentment of his colleagues at his undisguised supremacy found a supporter in the young King. The Earl of Bute, a mere Court favourite, with the temper and abilities of a gentleman usher, was forced into the Cabinet. As he was known to be his master's mouthpiece, a peace-party was at once formed; but Pitt showed no signs of giving way. In 1761 he proposed a vast extension of the war. He had learnt the signature of a treaty which brought into force the Family Compact between the Courts of Paris and Madrid, and of a special convention which bound the last to declare war on England at the close of the year. Pitt proposed to anticipate the blow by an instant seizure of the treasure fleet which was on its way from the Indies to Cadiz, by occupying the Isthmus of Panama, and by an attack on the Spanish dominions in the New World. But his colleagues shrank from plans so vast and daring; and Newcastle was backed in his resistance by the bulk of the Whigs. The King openly supported them.