« ZurückWeiter »
meet its accusers boldly, face to face, than attempt to throw the veil of mystification over its actions. Where there is no doubt as to the commission of an act, it becomes the indisputable right of the historian to portray that action, whether virtuous or atrocious, and to comment upon its effects, as far as they regard the interests of the state, or the well-being and happiness of society in general. We reiterate our declaration that, in the disclosure of the following facts, we make no personal accusation; we could, indeed, point to several individuals whom we suspect to have been deeply implicated in the concoction and accomplishment of the diabolical scheme; and although their iniquity was concealed at the time, by the suppression of every paper and pamphlet which publicly treated of the subject, yet the whole forms so extraordinary a feature in the life of William IV., and possesses withal such a high degree of interest, that it would be reproachful and unpardonable in us to omit it.
The afflicting malady of George III. was hailed by the party of the Prince of Wales as the commencement of that fortunate era which was to bring him an accession of power, and with that power, an accession also of riches, sufficient to enable him to continue his career of extravagance and profligacy. The Duke of York also required an immediate supply of money, to enable him to support the demands of the tennis-court, where he passed a great part of his time in indiscriminate society, even with the very lowest, who infest a public tennis-court, and where he lost immense sums of money. The domestic calamity of the father was deemed very propitious for raising money on a contingency supposed not to be very distant; and the opportunity it afforded of pecuniary accommodation was eagerly embraced as the means of relieving the Prince from the pressure of his embarrassments. A council of finance was assembled on the occasion, composed of the Prince's most intimate friends, and the dangerous resource of a post-obit bond was determined on. Here the Prince should have halted: he had hitherto been improvident—flagrantly imprudent; and the step that follows imprudence presented itself. Did his Royal Highness pause, or did he follow the path unchecked ?
The post-obit bonds were to have been tried in England, under the direction of Mr. Louis Weltjie, Clerk of the Prince's Kitchen; in Ireland by Mr. Annesley Shee, formerly a LotteryOffice Keeper; and in Scotland by Mr. Dunbar, a MoneyBroker in the City. These bonds were to be secured by the Prince of Wales, the Duke of York, and the Duke of Clarence. Mr. Weltjie, fearing the consequences, withdrew himself from the concern by introducing to the Prince of Wales, Mr. Henry Jones, of Frith-street, Soho, and Mr. John Cator, of the Adelphi, both men of property, and of extensive money connections. When first employed by the Prince, Mr. Cator engaged to pay down ten thousand pounds of a bond of treble the amount, payable when a certain event should take place. The bargain was perfected on the 16th of December, 1788, witnessed by Andrew Robinson and Charles Bicknell, and on the same day the money was paid.
The form of these bonds may be matter of curiosity to many of our readers, and is as follows:
KNOW ALL MEN by these presents that We, George Prince of Wales, Frederick Duke of York, and William Henry Duke of Clarence, all living in the City of Westminster, in the County of Middlesex, are jointly and severally, justly and truly indebted to John Cator, of Beckenham, in the County of Kent, Esquire, and his executors, administrators, and assigns, in the penal sum of Sixty Thousand Pounds of good and lawful money of Great Britain, well and truly paid to us at or before the sealing of these presents. Sealed with our seals this 16th day of December, in the 29th year of the reign of our Sovereign Lord George III., by the Grace of God, King, Defender of the Faith, Anno Domini 1788.
•The condition of the above-written obligation is such, that if the above bounden George Prince of Wales, Frederick Duke of York, and William Henry Duke of Clarence, or any or either of them, or any other of their heirs, executors, or administrators, shall well and truly pay or cause to be paid unto the above-named John Cator, his executors, administrators, or assigns, the full sum of Thirty Thousand Pounds of lawful
money of Great Britain, within the space or time of six calendar months next after any one or either of us, the said George Prince of Wales, Frederick Duke of York, and William Henry Duke of Clarence, shall come to and ascend the throne of England, together with lawful interest on the same, to be computed from the day that such event shall happen, up and home to the time of paying off this obligation, then, and in such case, the same shall become null and void; otherwise to be and remain in full force and virtue.
GEORGE Prince of Wales, L. S.
These post-obit bond transactions began, however, in time to wear a very serious aspect, when Mr. Jones and Mr. Cator withdrew themselves entirely from the business. The purchasers of the bonds became alarmed, and, even up to the present hour, have been afraid of acknowledging they held any such obligations. This arises from the treasonable nature of the transactions, inasmuch as the death of the sovereign is anticipated, and therefore subjects the parties to all the penalties of petty treason. Upon this transaction, upon the mode, the inducements to, and the time of adoption, it would be an easy matter to enlarge in terms of strong and just execration ; but we forbear, and pass to circumstances of a still deeper dye.
The Princes were now destitute of rescources, when Sir Thomas Dundas, whose eminent services to his country in a short time advanced him to the peerage, discovered a new channel. He got introduced to Mr Hugh Watts, of the Sun Fire-office, Mr. Abraham Goldsmidt, and other monied persons. Mr. Goldsmidt, for a reasonable commission, undertook to raise money for the Princes in Holland, from his correspondents, Messrs. Abraham and Simeon Boas, of the Hague, who were bankers of great credit. They consented to advance three hundred and fifty thousand guilders, for twelve years, and receive the joint bond of the three Princes, payable to
them, and vesting in them a power of attorney to partition the security, and sell it in shares or debentures of one thousand guilders each.
The bond was sent to Holland by Mr. Goldsmidt, who in a short time received the amount in bills payable to his own order, which he discounted, and took the money to the Prince. His Royal Highness paid Mr. Goldsmidt many compliments for his attention, and tendered his services, but said, as the Duke of York, who was to receive part of the money, was not present, he must bey Mr. Goldsmidt's indulgence for the payment of the commission, till he had arranged the division of the money with the Duke. Mr. Goldsmidt, with great good humour, bowed and retired.
This transaction caused the ruin of the lenders, who sold the entire bond in shares of a thousand guilders each, payable at their own house. To keep up their credit, for two years they paid the interest themselves; but as they received no money from the Princes, they were compelled to stop payment, and became bankrupts. Before the last examination under their commission, the French entered Holland, and seized all their property, and, as a part of it, the Princes' bond, and the two Boas put a period to their existence—the one by a pistol, the other by poison.
Some time after, Mr. Goldsmidt was again applied to, to negotiate another loan on the continent, to the utmost extent he could borrow; but Mr. Goldsmidt declined dealing with princes. On the marriage of the Prince, commissioners were appointed a second time to manage his affairs, and to them shares of this bond were presented for payment, which was refused, because the debt was concealed in the schedule, presented to parliament, and no provision was made for its payment. By this concealment of the full amount of his debts, the creditors of the Prince of Wales were cruelly wronged, the faith of the British parliament was trifled with and imposed upon, and the generosity of the British public most scandalously abused.
It not being found practicable to raise the money in Eng
land, it was at last resolved to try what could be done in Holland and France; and a convenient agent was found in a Mr. John James de Beaume, who undertook the business, and through whom a sum not less than £200,000. in money and jewels, abating the interest and other expenses, was raised for the occasion; and on the 3d of June, 1790, the three royal brothers, George, Frederick, and William Henry, executed a bond in favour of Mr. de Beaume, for £100,000, acknowledging themselves to be justly and truly indebted to him in the said sum of £100,000 sterling, well and TRULY advanced to them as a loan, to be paid to the said John James de Beaume, or his attorney, or his executors, heirs, or assigns, or to any one authorized to receive the same on their behalf, at the time and in the proportions thereinafter mentioned. And further, that the said parties hereto engage and bind themselves, jointly and severally, and all and every their respective revenues, goods, effects, and property, in whatsoever place they may be situate, and of whatsoever nature or kind; and further covenanting to pay the interest at the rate of five per cent. per annum, for the term of twenty-five years, to commence the 1st of July 1721; and the capital sum to be paid as follows, namely, on the 1st of June, 1806, and the other parts every year, up to the year 1815. And further reciting that the same parties renounce and disclaim all subterfuge, pretext, or reserves, that might be to the contrary, to the intents of the said agreement: and further that, to facilitate the said J. J. de Beaume in raising the said sum for the said parties, they give him full power to grant and publish parts or portions of the said loan, under his signature, to such person or persons as may be inclined to take shares in the same, by debentures of £100 each debenture, though in a printed form, to be of valid force, provided the same be verified by the signatnre of the said J. J. Beaume, signed thereto, aud the same to carry equal force and value as the original bond of £100,000, the said parties acknowledging to have received, at the signing the said obligation, the consideration therein named.'
It is impossible for the operative parts of a deed to be more