Monday, 13 September 2010

September 13, 1738 - The Kicking Habits of George II

‘It is not yet become a Custom in any Court of Europe, the more is the pity, for I think it would be a truly Royal Exercise for a Prince to divert himself with kicking two or three of his Ministers every Morning...’
An Essay on Kicking’, Common Sense, or the English Man’s Journal (13 September 1738)

Historically and politically George II was a fairly uninteresting monarch. He spoke poor English, was politically weak, if not impotent (in 1744 he even conceded that ‘the Ministers are the Kings in this country’) and was often criticised for acting with Hanover’s interests in mind rather than Britain’s.

As a person, however, George II had a remarkable reputation for having a notoriously short temper - which he vented with his feet. Numerous satirical prints, ballads, plays and barely-coded allegories depict the king booting his hat in violent fits of temper. It was not only his hat that was on the receiving end of George’s rage, as Lady Mary Wortley Montagu declared: ‘He looked upon all men and women as creatures he might kick or kiss for his diversion’.

[Detail of] Anon, The Festival of the Golden Rump. London: 1737- here George II is depicted as a satyr passing wind and hoofing a minister.

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