Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB
[graphic]

BER ROYAL HIGHNESS VICTORIA MARY LOISA, DUCHESS OF KENT.

Leapold, followed him to the “house appointed for all living." . .

The death of George III. left two brothers, both childless, between the Duke of Clarence and the throne. It was possible that his throne might be filled by his Royal Highness, when his temperate babits, and his constant attention to exercise, were considered, in their effeet upon a naturally healthy body. The Prince of Wales, who now became king, was indolent in bis habits, and grown enormously corpulent; and the Duke of York had lived a hard life, and from his appearance did not promise an existence of protracted duration. There was a good chance, therefore, then of the events which actually occurred taking place, sooner or later. In less than seven years the Duke of York's death left his brother of Clarence the heir presumptive-but this is anticipation.

George IV. mounted the throne determined to be every inch a king, and was scarcely proclaimed before there was digcovered a diabolical conspiracy to assassinate the ministers which has been called the Cato-street conspiracy. - The spies and informers in the hire of the government had, there is no doubt, tampered with men rendered desperate by poverty, and even furnished them with small sums of money to carry them forward in the treasonable design they were induced by these very spies in the first instance to adopt. The spy was valueless without he developed a conspiracy, and if he did not discover one, he got up one too often for the purpose. These vile tools of a degraded system of government were lucrati rely rewarded afterwards for their atrocious labours. The Cato Street plot had like to have re-acted upon the ministry, to whose agents it is pretty clear it owed its existence, in a most horrible manner. The design was fortunately frustrated, or many of those members of the cabinet who were too honourable to sanction the system of Castlereagh and Sidmouth—the system so carried out by the Irish government during the rebellion, that confounded guilty and innocent in one common immolation—would have fallen victims by a mode of death, whicb of all others, is most abhorrent to British feeling. The

police got some clue to the place where the conspirators met, and succeeded in arresting the parties concerned. Captain Frederick Fitzclarence commanded a company of the Guards that assisted, and was the principal means of securing the criminals, the leader of whom was one Thistlewood, a brokendown gambler, in the deepest pecuniary necessity.

Scarcely had this alarm lost its effect on the royal mind before Queen Caroline, the ill-fated wife of the Sovereign, caused him fresh trouble. Had her Majesty been treated with common fairness by her country, or had she been allowed the extremes of rank to which she was entitled, she might have lived in the most perfect state of separation and retirement from the royal view. This was not sufficient; she was pursued from the very first with a vindictiveness which could have no valid ground but in bad feeling in the royal bosom; and as the result of unwise actions is sure to make the author of them to suffer, the reign of George IV. became greatly degraded in the endeavour to crush a female against whom no one fact could be proved, whatever were her inadvertencies. In the affair of the trial of Queen Caroline, the Duke of Clarence was much censured in the part he took, but it is well known that at one time he was the Queen's friend, and the deference he paid to his brother, and the statements he received from the law-officers for the prosecution, and from the Court, there is no doubt impressed his Royal Highness with the belief of the lady's guilt. The attendance of the Dukes of York and Clarence, as peers of parliament, was a duty. The Duke of York took no part in the proceedings, yet both his Royal Highness and the Duke of Clarence were accused of belonging to a conspiracy against their ill-used sister-in-law. The fact was, that the Duke of Clarence had frequently spoken of the Queen with respect, and even affection, nearly up to the time when the charges were brought against her, and it is extremely probable that he believed her guilty. The Duke, too, was accused of seeking evidence against his noble relative abroad, which was utterly false. Her persecution was a most scandalous proceeding, and the conduct of the King throughout was cruel

[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors]

and vindictive; but there is not the smallest ground for supposing that the two Dukes, who were on an intimate footing with their brother, did not act conscientiously, believing there was ground for the rumours and charges alleged against her Majesty. If their Royal Highnesses acted contrary to their consciences, what shall be said of the eight or nine bishops, whom every truly christian principle should have kept from voting at all in such a case, were there no question about the Queen's guilt or innocence ?

On the 10th of December the Duchess of Clarence was delivered of a daughter prematurely, but vigorous and likely to live. Three months after it was born, however, it died from introsusception of the bowels. It was named Elizabeth at the . a'tar. The infant was the last hope of that succession from the family of the Duke of Clarence. Its decease was a great shock to the Duchess, who was so much afflicted by the loss, that she was attacked by illness, and her life placed in great danger; however, her Royal Highness recovered after a painful and a protracted indisposition. The Duke of Clarence married his eldest daughter, Miss Eliza Fitzclarence, to the Earl of Errol, at the close of the year 1820. In the beginning of the year, an addition of 6,000l. per annum, with arrears, was voted to the Duke of Clarence, by a very considerable majority of the House of Commons. George IV, was soon afterwards crowned at an expense and in a manner the most inconsistent with the habits of an enlightened age that could be imagined. All the empty pageantry and show of the olden time were revived on the occasion. The full amount of the expense incurred was never clearly known to the public. : The Duke of Clarence took a journey this year with his Duchess into Germany. They embarked on the 13th of June, 1822, on board the Royal Sovereign yacht, and sailed to Antwerp, proceeding from thence to Ghent, where they visited the Duke of Saxe Weimar, and then set off for Coblentz, spending a little time at Niewied with Prince Maximilian. They wert on to Frankfort, where they were received by the Landgrave and Landgravine of Hesse Homburg. They soon after

[ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]
« ZurückWeiter »