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determined that the Lord Chancellor Mr. Perceval, was already named in should be considered as the presump- the sacred circle of the Opposition tive exponent of the sovereign's will ; leaders. Lord Grenville was to be and that the assent of this functionary premier : Grey, Whitbread, Erskine, should be held equivalent to the assent Romilly, and other such ancient symof the first estate of the realm. This bols of opposition, were at length to is one of those instances illustrative of govern the state. Mr. Perceval was, the theory of our constitution which no doubt, in a very hazardous posiis laid down by Blackstone in the tion. While he ruled at Whitehall, words, “that necessity is above all Fox and Sheridan were ruling at
law.” An emergency had arisen, for Carlton House. Such a state of - which the foresight of the constitu- things has no parallel in our consti
tion had never provided in actual tutional history. Such innocent faterms. A legal casuist might assert, vourites as Lord Bateman under the on the one hand, that every act of the ministry of Lord North (see “ Fox's Regency was illegal and null--that no Memoirs”), or the better known Sir government existed between the illness Benjamin Bloomfield under that of and the death of the king—and that, Lord Liverpool, had often exerted a consequently, the battle of Waterloo certain influence over the mind of the was an act of piracy. It might, again, Sovereign. But here was the Minisbe asserted, on the other, with an try ruling at Whitehall, and the Parequal amount of plausible sophism, liamentary Opposition intervening bethat there was no law in our statuté tween the cabinet and the throne ! book which restricted the royal prero
In Moore's “ Life of Sheridan,” it gative by any considerations of sanity: is stated that the Prince of Wales and that, therefore, the king, sane or sent immediately for Lords Greninsane, was equally entitled to the ville and Grey to draw up the anadministration of public affairs. If swer which he should return to the Parliament had heretofore been able Houses of Parliament. These statesto establish a commission de lunatico men, however, very properly refused inquirendo on the sovereign, a verdict a charge which should have fallen, of of unsound mind might have been re- course, on the insulted Perceval. Miturned in more than a single instance. nisters meanwile resorted to every It might be replied, however, at once
scheme for their maintenance in to all this badinage, that such argu- power. Even Sheridan was brought ments might apply to the act of set- over to their side ; and it is from tlement, and to the act of the Hano- that circumstance that he first fell verian succession themselves—that the into disrepute with his own party. question at issue was based upon those The course which negociations took acts, and merely strove to render the at this juncture may thus be caught necessities of the state compatible at a glance from the following ex: with them, by an application of the tract from the Diary of Mr. Wilprinciples which they recognised to an berforce :existing crisis in public affairs. A Jacobite lawyer, desirous of ridiculing Wilberforce makes entry in his diary on the principles of the Hanoverian suc- the 1st and 2nd of February :-No one cession, and the earlier principles of
knows what the Prince means to do, whether the act of settlcment, might have said
to change his ministry or not. plausibly enough, that there was a con
Lord Bathurst believes they are all to go out ; dition that the sovereign should be a
but Perry, the editor of the Morning ChroProtestant, but that it was no condi
nicle, told Stephen that the Prince of Wales
has examined the physicians at Carlton tion that he should be of sound mind; House as to the state of the King's health, and therefore, so predominant was the and has determined against changing his miprofession of religious opinion over the nisters. Otherwise, it had been decided that possessing intellectual capacity, that a Lord Grenville was to be First Lord of the madman and a Protestant would have Treasury, in spite of his letter to Perceval. been preferred to the most intelligent Prince determined upon keeping the present
I am assured that before the Catholic in the State ! The confidence of the Whigs was
Ministers, he sent to Mrs. Fitzherbert and now at its height. The Whig cabi
Lady Hertford, and they both advised it,'"net, which the predilections of the
(vol. i. p. 30.) Prince were to substitute for that of Such is the story of a bed-chamber
plot devised to establish petticoat Go- that that most fortunate event will rescue him vernment !
from a situation of unexampled embarrass, Thus, between physicians suborned ment, and put an end to a state of affairs into making all kinds of contradic
ill-calculated, he fears, to sustain the intetory statements regarding the King's
rests of the United Kingdom in this awful
and perilous crisis, and most difficult to be health, with a view of influencing
reconciled to the genuine principles of the the Prince on either side, and the
British Constitution.”—p. 32. ladies of the Court acting as the diplomatic functionaries employed by
It would certainly be difficult to the different parties in the legislature, it becomes almost impossible to fol
equal, in point of inconsistency, hy.
pocrisy, and cant, this response of the low the labyrinth of plots which led at
Whig oracle of Carlton House. What length to the re-establishment of the
genuine principles of Tory administration under Mr. Per
the British Constitution with which ceval. But the following letter from
the Regent deemed his elevation irrethe Prince, intimating to that minis
concileable? What was the value of ter the course upon which he had resolved, and finally settling the ques
all this profession of “truth and sintion at issue, bears strong impress,
cerity,”, in a letter containing the
most obvious falsehood ? Mr. Sheboth in style and in matter, of Mr. Sheridan's inditing; and illustrates
ridan's good genius appears to have
forsaken him in a critical moment, if the conflict between the professional opinions recorded by the doctors in
we may ascribe to him the chief au
thorship of this letter ; although, inthe Liverpool interest, and the un
deed, the Duke of Buckingham supwilling abdications of power on the
poses that the obliquity of the phraseopart of the Whig leaders :
logy is here and there to be referred
to the inditing of Lord Sidmouth. " THE PRINCE OF WALES TO MR. PER
The Duke very aptly observes :CEVAL,
“ Be this as it may, its filial profes" Carlton House, Feb. 4, 1811.
sions must be tested by a reference to " The Prince of Wales considers the mo
the conduct of the assumed writer, ment to arrive which calls for his decision when the King was in an equally with respect to the persons to be employed
pitiable state, and by his extravagant by him in the administration of the executive rejoicings as soon as he could display government of the country, according to the the resources of his new position.” powers vested in him by the Bill passed by The Prince soon vitally offended the two Houses of Parliament, and now on his ministers, by an insolent habit of the point of receiving the sanction of the
corresponding with them through the Great Seal. The Prince feels it incumbent
subordinate officers of the court. In upon him, at this precise moment, to com
a letter to Earl Temple, we readmunicate to Mr. Perceral his intention not to remove from their stations those whom he
“ That it was very hard for ministers to finds there as his Majesty's official servants. At the same time the Prince owes it to the
go on with a man who had secret advisers. truth and sincerity of his character, which he
'I hey have taken the greatest offence at the trusts will appear in every action of his life,
Prince Regent's invariably communicating
with them individually and officially, when in whatever situation placed, explicitly to declare, that the irresistible impulse of filial
in writing. through the medium of Mac
mahon and Turner, which is indecorous to duty and affection to his beloved and afflicted parent (the italics are the Duke's] leads him
them, and quite unprecedented even in the to dread that any act of the Regent's might,
King's practice, Ministers have determined
not to submit to it." in the smallest degree, have the effect of interfering with the progress of the Sovereign's authority (recovery?). This consideration
The same letter contains an amusalone dictates the decision now communicated
ing statement of the monomania to Mr. Perceral.
which was then afflicting the old “ Haring thus performed an act of indis- King :pensable duty, from a just sense of what is due to his own consistency and honour, the “ Your Lordship well knows the nature of Prince has only to add, that among the the King's delusions. Suffice it that, within many blessings to be derived from his Ma- these eight-and-forty hours, he said to the jesty's restoration to health, and to the per- Duke of Sussex, . Is it not a strange thing, sonal exercise of his royal functions, it will Adolphus, that they still refuse to let mo go not, in the Prince's estiination, be the least, to Lady Pembroke (the old Countess), al
though every one knows I am married to the State. There were then three her ; but what is worst of all is, that that classes of the Opposition : these were infamous scoundrel Halford (Sir Henry) was the "Old Opposition," whose leaderby at the marriage, and bas now the effront
ship, on the death of Fox in 1806, ery to deny it to my face.'"-pp. 50-52.
had been accounted to devolve on
Lord Grey : the “New Opposition,” Before we pass from the subject of formed by a secession from the gothe Prince Regent, let us advert to vernment of Mr. Pitt, at first Lord Temple's account of a grand headed by Lord Grenville, but now fête apparently given in honour of the virtually amalgamated with the elder imbecility of the King, and finely Whigs : and thirdly, the more anoillustrative of the taste of his Royal malous party headed by the Marquess Highness. Among the principal tro- Wellesley and Mr. Canning. Of phies felicitously designed to compli- these two eminent statesmen, the ment the distinguished guests of the former had quarrelled with Mr. PerPrince, was a Spanish urn taken ceval, much as the latter had done so from the invincible Armada," à with Lord Castlereagh, although in propos of the presence of his Excel- Lord Wellesley's case no open hostility lency the Spanish ambassador! Next had ensued. It was now anticipated
the royal crown and his Ma- that the whole of this party would jesty's cypher,splendidly illuminated," coalesce under the leadership of Lord à propos of the derangement of his Grenville ; and assume the governMajesty's intellect! Then there were ment of the country. Who, then,
sixty servitors,” generally dressed foresaw any event so improbable as in scarlet liveries, with the exception the loss of Perceval and the accesof a few " in a complete suite of an- sion of Lord Liverpool, during fifteen cient armour," as though standing years of irresponsible power ? out in bold relief to the radiant hues On this head we would especially of royal servitude. Then came what commend to the notice of the public Sir Samuel Romilly-himself a guest a letter addressed to Lord Buckingat this inaugurating banquet-- terms ham in 1811, but too voluminous for " a fish-pond, running though a din- quotation--(vol. i., pp. 122-28). Lord
a ing-table.” Along the centre of a Wellesley, up to that time in Percetable two hundred feet long” (ex- val's Cabinet, was, as it appears
from plains the Duke)," about six inches this letter, in a very striking manner from the surface, a canal of pure wa- doing his utmost to eject Perceval ter continued flowing from a silver from his own Administration, with a fountain, beautifully constructed at view of becoming its head, and of the head of the table. Its banks reinstating Canning: The claims of were covered with green moss and
the different candidates were very aquatic flowers. Gold and silver nicely poised : and it can hardly be fish swam and sported through the doubted that if the destinies of this bubbling current, which produced a country had been committed to a pleasing murmur where it fell, and Wellesley and Canning, instead of a formed a cascade at the outlet " !!! Liverpool and Castlereagh adminisSir Samuel Romilly remarks, that the tration during the remaining years of incongruities of this marvellous en- the war, the affairs of Europe would tertainment were most happily cha- ever after have worn a very different racteristic of its princely designer. complexion from that which they
It is singular to observe, as the were destined to present. year 1811 dragged its weary length There is much in the present work along, how strangely the political which throws light on the domestic predictions of that period were falsi- relations of the Regent and his brofied in almost every particular. The thers. These illustrious princes apreturn of the Whigs was generally pear to have constituted anything anticipated, even by the Tory leaders. but a happy family. The Regent and Had those' leaders known how soon the Duke of Cumberland were, very Perceval would have been lost to soon, scarcely upon terms of them, they would have made no quaintance. Mr. W. H. Freemantle, doubt of such a result. It was anti- who was frequently about the Court, cipated that there would be a general was a constant correspondent of the coalition against the high party in then Marquess of Buckingham, who
it appears, treasured up all the gossip with which his friend could supply him. This gentleman (vol. i., p. 145) gives his lordship an account of the origin of the feud subsisting between these exalted personages, in the following terms :
While the Princess Charlotte was Oatlands, she was endeavouring to dance the Scotch step called the Highland fling, and there was a laugh in endeavouring to make Adam (who was one of the party) teach her. The Prince got up and said he would show her; and in doing so evidently wrenched his ancle this took place ten days ago, since which he has never been out of his bed. He complained of violent pain and spasmodic affection; for which he prescribed for himself, and took a hundred drops of laudanum every three hours. + · He will sign nothing, and converse with no one on business (I speak up to yesterday); and you may imagine therefore the distress and difficulty in which Ministers are placed. The Duke of Cumberland is going about saying it is all sham, and that he could get up, and would be perfectly well if he pleased. I protest, I think he is so worried and perplexed by all the prospect before him, and by the necessity which now arises for his taking a definitive step, that it has harassed his mind and rendered him totally incapable, for want of nerves, of doing anything; and in order to shun the necessity, he encourages the illness and continues to lie in bed.(pp. 145, 46).
This is certainly a deplorable picture of the head of the British Government, in a period of peril and of war. While the forces of Napoleon were once more compassing the destruction of our national liberties--while our armies in Spain were preparing for that heroic effort for the subjugation of the French authority in the south, which resulted in the capture of Madrid-while we were threatened much as we are threatened now with hostilities from the other shores of the Atlantic,-never was greater injustice encountered by an able Administration.
To continue, however, this family portraiture, Mr. Freemantle tells Lord Buckingham in another letter, that-
There has been a complete quarrel between him (the Regent) and the Duke of C-, for the cause I before mentioned to you, and another subject relating to a German officer of the 15th Dragoons. The Prince has had no explanation with him, but
has determined never to see him alone; and now, when he calls, the Prince always keeps some one in the room.-(p. 162).
This amusing gossip, Mr. Freemantle proceeds to give as the grounds of a yet more deadly quarrel between the Dukes of Cumberland and Clarence. The interference of his Royal Highness of Cumberland turned, on this occasion, upon the fair sex :
You have probably heard all the history of the Duke of Clarence. Before he went to Ramsgate he wrote to Lady C- L to propose, who wrote him [Mr. Freemantle is evidently too ardent a gossip to be very grammatical] a very proper letter in answer, declining the honour in the most decided terms. After his arrival, he proposed three or four times more: and on his return to town, sent her an abstract of the Royal Marriage Act, altered, as he said it had been agreed to, by the Prince of Wales, whom he had consulted; and also conveyed the queen's best wishes and regards-to neither of whom he had said one word on the subject (!) Upon finding she had accepted Pole (who, by-the-bye, is solely indebted to him for this acceptance) he wrote to Lord Keith to propose for Miss Elphinstone, who in the most decided and peremptory terms rejected him he is, notwithstanding, gone to his house (!)
During all this, when he returned to town, he wrote to Mrs. Jordan at Bushy, to say she might have half the children-viz,, five; and he would allow her £800 per annum. She is most stout in rejecting all compromise till he has paid her what he owes her; she stating that during the twenty years she has lived with him, he has constantly received and spent all her earnings by acting; and that she is now a beggar by living with and at times supporting him. This she repeats to all the neighbourhood of Bushy, where she remains and is determined to continue.
While all his (the Duke of Clarence's) gallantry was going on at Ramsgate, the Duke of Cumberland, who must interfere in everything, apprised Mrs. Jordan of what he was doing. Mrs. Jordan then writes him a most furious letter, and another to the Duke of Cumberland, to thank him for the information. By mistake, she directs them wrong, the consequence of which is that there has been, of course, a scene between the two brothers, &c.
Now it is impossible to imagine charges more discrediting than these to the character of King William IV. To begin with, while there is already a lady at Bushy by whom he has had
a family of ten children, he solicits corroborative evidence of their truth. marriage with a high-born and accom- These letters generally emanate from plished lady (whose name is not to be quarters which preclude our dismiss. concealed by the initials), whom he ing the statements they contain as knows that he can no more render his idle fabrications. It is, therefore, only wife than he can render Mrs. Jordan fair to all parties that the character his wife. No sooner is this proposal of any man, living or dead, high or low rejected, than he is described by Mr. in social station, should not be thus Freemantle as repeating it, and sup- carelessly dealt with, and be made deporting the application by three flag- pendant upon the gossip of a courtier. rant falsehoods. He first tells the We hope that his Grace, in another lady, who is supposed to be ignorant edition of this book, will give us some as to the power of the Crown to re- careful annotation on points of impeal an Act of Parliament, that portance such as that of which we he has obtained from the Prince an now speak. They will greatly increase alteration of the Marriage Act, which the merit of his work, and they may he must have well known that the afford scope for the development of Regent had no power to change. the critical abilities of which he shows Secondly, it appears (if this writer is himself to be possessed. to be credited) that he had never seen We now pass to some very cuthe Prince on the subject: and thirdly, rious correspondence, illustrative of the message from the Queen, evidently the internal dissensions subsisting beconveyed with a view of intimating tween the different parties in the the royal favour towards the lady in State. The authorship of these comquestion, was, it appears, a fraud and munications is left in obscurity. They
are addressed to “the Marquess of No sooner, again, is this lady en- Buckingham;" but his Grace stugaged to another, than he precipi. diously conceals the name of the tately transfers his affections to a writer, which leads to a plausible supdaughter or ward of Lord Keith. He
position that they must be written by declines to take a refusal ; and a Duke a living politician; and that politician, of the blood royal goes to the house too, one who had access to the politiof a modern peer, to “
cal secrets of the day, if not a cabinet question," and possibly to be kicked minister. out. Then there is the discrediting The Prince, it appears from these circumstance of Mrs. Jordan telling letters, cordially hated Mr. Percival ; all the inhabitants of Busly, that and that minister, it seems, held office (somewhat inverting the usual rela- on the precarious tenure of the royal tions of life) the Duke of Clarence has indolence. The Regent, in truth, not kept her, but that she has kept would rather go on with a minister the Duke ; that she is now a beggar whom he mistrusted and despised, for her generosity and folly; and that than encounter the embarrassments the Duke purposes to pay her a cer- of a change. tain sum sufficient to keep herself and Here is an instance of the cordiality half her children, in lieu of his subsisting between Prince and minissquandering, during twenty years, of
ter :--all her earnings as an actress! Then The little scheme I enclosed your lordship finally comes the meddling of the for the proposod double establishment to bo Duke of Cumberland, the inadvertence moved for the next day of the meeting of of Mrs. Jordan in putting the wrong Parliament, was perfectly correct. . letters into the wrong envelopes ; and but some restlessness of Percival's upon that the scene ends in an explosion between
point induced him to reopen it very unexthe two Dukes, something between a pectedly by a fresh project, that the grant to comedy, a tragedy, and an extrava- defray the early expenses of the Regency ganza!
should only extend to £100,000 instead of We must say, here, as dispassionate
£150,000, as at first agreed on; which, critics, that we think that the Duke
after a severe struggle with himself, and of Buckingham, before he published
no small bitterness towards Mr. Percival,
to whom he made use of the following strong such charges against the conduct of a
Janguage :-"Sir, I am not afraid of your sovereign whose latter years at least bringing the whole of my debts before the have endeared his memory to his country, provided you don't misrepresent me;" people, ought to have produced some he consented to take, &c.; p. 171.