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greatly beloved by her friends and relations, popular in the world, and treated with uniform distinction and respect by the Royal Family.”
Mrs. Fitzherbert was hospitable and very charitable ; she was also very discreet. Indeed, Creevey said of her that she was “the best-hearted and most discreet being that ever was to be with a particle of talent.” Even at the zenith of her power she never endeavoured to do a
job” or in any way to interfere in the political life of the country. Though she heard much of what was going on and was well acquainted with much secret history, no unguarded word ever passed her lips. As regards her own affairs, she was silence itself. Never, even under the greatest provocation, did she avow her marriage with George, who must more than once have trembled at what might happen had she done so. Instead, she contented herself with preserving only those papers that proved the marriage, and these she placed under seal in Coutts's Bank. The seals were not broken until 1905, when King Edward entrusted the documents to the late W. H. Wilkins, who based upon them his story of Mrs. Fitzherbert and George the Fourth. The papers are now in the private archives of Windsor Castle.
Mrs. Fitzherbert being, so to speak, deposed, Lady Hertford reigned in glory for some years, only, in turn to be succeeded in the royal favour by Lady Conyngham. Lady Hertford's indignation knew no bounds, though she was discreet enough as a general rule to say little ; but when someone one day asked her if George had ever mentioned Lady Conyngham to her, “ Intimately as I have known the King, and openly as he has always talked to me upon every subject,” she said with the utmost hauteur,“ he has never ventured to speak to me on that of his mistresses."
PRINCESS CHARLOTTE OF WALES (1796–1817)
The Prince Regent's conduct towards Caroline—Princess Charlotte as a
young girl—The Prince restricts her intercourse with her motherCaroline protests vigorously-Colonel Desbrowe-Brougham advises Caroline-Her remonstrance to the Regent—Her remonstrance appears in the Morning Chronicle—The Regent's anger-A ministerial enquiry-Protest to Parliament–The Douglases denounced perjurers—A “foul company "-The Duchess of Brunswick-The French Royalties—Caroline weary of the long struggle—A fête at Vauxhall—The Allied Sovereigns in London—The Queen refuses to receive Caroline at Court-A further protest to Parliament-Parliament votes Caroline an income-Charlotte engaged to the Prince of Orange-She refuses to live abroad-She runs away to her motherThe engagement broken off—The Regent secludes Charlotte-The Duke of Sussex raises the question in the House of Lords—The rigour of Charlotte's confinement mitigated-Caroline goes abroadCharlotte marries Prince Leopold of Saxe-Coburg—She dies in childbirth.
DAMN the west ! and damn the east ! and damn Wellington,” the Prince of Wales cried, when one day at Carlton House somebody was talking of Wellington's victories in the South of Spain. “ The question is, how am I to get rid of this damned Princess of Wales?”
George could not get rid of his Consort : all that he could do was to endeavour to distress her, and this he did to the best of his ability. His principal line of annoyance was to restrict the intercourse between her and the Princess Charlotte. During this struggle, on the one side were the Prince Regent, the Queen, and the Princesses—a formidable body; on the other side, Caroline and a few loyal friends. It looked as if it must be an easy victory for the Court party, and it must indeed have so proved but for the fact that Princess Charlotte, when she grew up, took a hand in the fight.
In 1804, the King, as has been said, granted the Prince and Princess equal rights over their daughter. Princess Charlotte, however, was brought up in an establishment apart from her parents, at Shrewsbury House, Blackheath. There Caroline visited her; while the young girl was taken to see her mother at Montagu House close by. When Caroline was in residence at Kensington Palace, Charlotte used to come to her there twice a week.
Now, early in 1812, the Regent forbade mother and daughter to meet more than once a fortnight. This was regarded by both as intolerable, and they were determined not to endure such a restriction. Brougham, who was consulted, found Caroline very difficult to handle in this matter, and it required all his tact to prevent her from taking some drastic step that would bring about another conflict between herself and the Regent. He told her again and again that by law the care of the Princess Charlotte, as heir-presumptive to the throne, was entrusted to her father until she came of age, but he comforted her by adding that, although the Prince Regent had this power of control, yet, in his own interest, he would have to exercise it with due regard to the wisdom of Parliament and the sense of the country. At last his views prevailed.
There were certainly all the makings of a very pretty scandal at hand, if the only way to obtain redress was by appealing publicly to Parliament. This, certainly, the Prince Regent did not desire. He proposed to remove Lady de Clifford, Princess Charlotte's governess. “ Lady de Clifford,” Caroline wrote to Lady Charlotte Lindsay,
was to have been sent away, if she had not shown proper spirit in mentioning to the Regent that, if he intended to send her away, Lord Albemarle and her son, Lord de Clifford, would ask an audience of the Regent to be acquainted with the reason for which Lady de Clifford was dismissed; for which reason, for the present, she is not moved. Charlotte is quite aware of it, and is perfectly determined to refuse any Governess whatever, as she knows that she is of age, and wishes to keep Lady de Clifford about her, either as Governess or Lady of the Bedchamber.”
The fight now began in real earnest. Charlotte, who was at Lower Lodge, Windsor, was forbidden to visit her mother, so her mother announced her intention to go to her there. Colonel Disbrowe, the Vice-Chamberlain, was sent to the Princess to endeavour to stop her going. “I was just sitting in Lady Anne Hamilton's room, opposite to the sofa on which she was placed, when he was announced ; she had never heard of his name and supposed that he was a young and fashionable beau,” Caroline told Lady Charlotte Campbell. “She behaved like Joan of Arc in the whole of this business ; was immovable ; not a muscle of her face altered at the eloquent speech of this knight-errant. I desired him to write it down on paper, to refresh my memory now and then with it; but he refused. Lady Anne then took her pen, and, in the presence of this ambassador, she conveyed his message to paper, which he read himself before he left the room and took his departure. I think this scene will make a pretty figure in the Morning Chronicle or in the Examiner, but I leave that to a much abler pen than mine." The Princess said she would obey the request, not to go to Windsor, if her daughter came to see her as usual. As this was refused, Caroline went to Windsor on October 4, 1812, and saw the Queen, who referred her to the Prince Regent.
Brougham now drew up for the Princess a remonstrance in which she complained of her daughter being separated from her, and of her daughter being kept in close confinement. She was ably backed by Princess Charlotte, a high-spirited girl, now sixteen years of age.
age. “I must tell you that the Princess Charlotte is extremely solicitous that her mother should be openly vindicated, and the Princess's wish for this proceeds almost as much from the desire of gratifying her as of punishing her husband,” Brougham wrote to Lord Grey in November. “The young one is quite furious at their treatment of her. I mean Queen, Princesses, Dukes, and her father as much as any. She says she complained of her letters being opened at the post-office by his orders, which he denied circumstantially; and that she pressed him until she was obliged to stop, to avoid the unpleasant necessity of convicting him of a plain lie. This is her own story.
. As for the confinement at Windsor, she entertained a plan of escaping as soon as she was of age (for she conceives she is so next birthday-very falsely, in point of law). She also desired my advice on this and other matters, and I am to write a representation as strongly as possible against it.” The first round went to "the young one,” who, after a stormy scene with her father, was granted Warwick House, in the grounds of Carlton House, as a London residence.
On her seventeenth birthday Princess Charlotte was to have been presented at Court, and she insisted that her mother should make the presentation. The Queen and the Prince Regent, however, decided that the Duchess of York should be her sponsor. The Princess of Wales came to the drawing-room, but when the Princess Charlotte was informed of her father's decision, “Either my mother, or no one,” she said, and, as she