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and to the well-being of those around her, built cottages for those of her domestics who married, had a school which was under her protection," Greville wrote, on hearing that she had passed away.
“ Her hours were singular : she was read to most part of the night, and took her sleep late in the day. Several large dogs shared her apartment, and were often dirty companions, from the vicissitudes of life. The Duke and her were always on a friendly footing of acquaintance, and no Green Bag discussions.”,
· This phrase arose out of the trial of Queen Caroline, when the papers relating to the case were enclosed in green bags.
MARY ANNE CLARKE (1776-1852)
The Duke of York—His military career—Mary Anne Clarke-Her early
days—She becomes the Duke's mistress-Her extravagance-Her lovers—Lloyd Wardle—Her illicit sale of commissions in the armyDiscussion in the House of Commons-Peter Pindar's “ Epistle to Mrs. Clarke "-The Duke resigns the office of Commander-in-ChiefThe cynical attitude of Mrs. Clarke—The Rival Princes—Mrs. Clarke settles at Paris-Death of the Duchess of York—The Duke of York and the Duchess of Rutland-Stafford House.
The Duke of York was more than reasonably fond of women, and he had innumerable affairs, the first of which occurred in his very early youth, when he was discovered by the King in the grounds of Kew Palace, sitting beside a rustic beauty employed in the royal kitchen assisting her in the operation of shelling peas. For some time the lovely Kate Novell lived under his protection. However, it was not until Mary Anne Clarke became his mistress that there was any serious scandal.
The Duke was then Commander-in-Chief. soldier in the field he had been far from successful. In 1793 he commanded the English army sent to Flanders to co-operate with the Austrians under the Prince of Coburg, and in this campaign he failed to capture Dunkirk. He was no more fortunate six years later when
. he was in charge of the Helder expedition. The caricaturists dealt with him savagely, and the lampoons were no less unkind.
The mighty Duke of York,
And when they were up, they were up;
At home, however, the Duke did good work. There was much corruption in all departments of the Army, and he set himself the unpopular and strenuous task of weeding out the dishonest and incompetent administrators and officers, and for seven or eight years he worked hard and effectively. He improved the lot of the men. He discouraged favouritism. He won golden opinions from those best qualified to judge-and then in 1808 the Clarke scandal burst, and he had to resign.
Who Mary Anne Clarke was has never been satisfactorily settled. Her earliest biographer, Elizabeth Taylor, has it that her father was one Thompson, and that she was born in a slum off Chancery Lane. The story goes that, on the death of Thompson, her mother married a compositor called Farquhar, and that the son of Farquhar's master was attracted by Mary and sent her to a good school. Certainly she had, for those days, a good education. She was possessed of extraordinary good looks and charm, and apparently from her early age she had lovers. She herself has put it on record that she married a man called Clarke in 1794, when she was eighteen, by which time it is said that she was the mother of two children. It would appear that she was unfaithful to him. According to one account, she left him and went on the stage, and did well enough to be entrusted with the part of Portia at the Haymarket Theatre.
In or about 1805 she met the Duke of York. How they became acquainted is not known. Gronow has it that the Duke accosted her at Blackheath, and she did not repel his advances, although ignorant of his identity. Indeed, Gronow adds, she only found out who he was on an evening when he took her to a theatre, and some one, supposing her to be the Duchess, addressed her as your Royal Highness.
It soon became known that she was the Duke's mistress; and she set up house at No. 18, Gloucester Place, not far from Marble Arch. There she lived in great splendour, regardless of expense. Her extravagance was, in fact, preposterous, considering that all she had to live on was an income of £1,000 a year from the Duke during pleasure—an income which it is certain was paid irregularly. On her kitchen she spent a couple of thousand pounds; for the dining-room she purchased the plate of the Duc de Berri, for which she paid, or owed, a small fortune. She had several carriages, eight or ten horses, and a score of servants. Further, she acquired a large house at Weybridge, so as to be near her royal lover when he was in residence at Oatlands Park; and this house was so large that it is said that oilcloth for the hall cost fifty-pounds !
How Mrs. Clarke managed at all is difficult to understand, but it is reasonable to assume that she obtained assistance from her other lovers, for she was no more faithful to the Duke than to another. One of these lovers was Lord Folkestone (afterwards third Earl of Radnor), another, according to Gronow,was Captain Gwillym Lloyd Wardle. Wardle certainly, as will be shown, had some connection with her. Gronow's story is at least circumstantial. Wardle, as he relates, was with Mrs. Clarke at Gloucester Place when the royal carriage drove up to the house. He, thinking it was the Duke, hid under or behind a sofa.
However, the visitor was one of the Commander-inChief's aides-de-camp, who proceeded to discuss with his hostess the secret sale of commissions in the Army, the proceeds of which went into the pockets of the lady and