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urgent demands, sometimes one or other was compelled to pledge jewels or plate.
“ The Prince is too much a lady's man ever to be the man of any lady,” Sheridan said, and the truth of this remark became increasingly obvious. One of the results, direct or indirect, was a degree of estrangement. The Duke of Gloucester told Mrs. Harcourt, who, of course, made a note of it, that “the marriage between the Prince and Mrs. Fitzherbert was without much love on either side. He had his amusements elsewhere, but he had much consideration for her. She was sometimes jealous and discontented; her temper violent, though apparently so quiet. He hoped the Prince would remain in her hands, as she was no political intriguer, and probably, if they parted, he would fall into worse hands."
What the Duke of Gloucester feared soon came to pass. The Prince came under the influence of Frances, wife of George Bussy Villiers, fourth Earl of Jersey, a man of courtly manners, who has been described by Mrs. Montagu as the “Prince of Maccaronies.” His wife, the daughter of the Bishop of Raphoe, had been known
the beautiful Miss Twysden, and, although she was now forty-one and the mother of a large family, she was still extremely handsome. She exercised what Wraxall has described as her“ irresistible fascination and charm to effect the conquest of the Heir-Apparent. Her success was not long delayed. News of this new affair of the Prince was soon communicated to Mrs. Fitzherbert, and, when His Royal Highness had broken one or two engagements with her, her pride rebelled, and she went abroad for a while.
CAROLINE, PRINCESS OF WALES (1768–1821): (1) WIFE
“ Your Majesty's Greatest Enemy”—The Prince of Wales's Marriage
His heavy financial liabilities—He applies to Pitt for relief-An execution at Carlton House-Carlton House closed-Mrs. Fitzherbert -The Prince consents to marry-Princess Caroline of BrunswickThe Court of Brunswick-Caroline as a child-Her wit and waywardness—An attractive girl—Her love of children—Sir James Harris demands her in marriage for the Prince—His accounts of Caroline Lady Jersey-Caroline comes to England-Her first meeting with the Prince—Marriage_George takes a dislike to his bride His illtreatment of her-The birth of Princess Charlotte of Wales—Separation agreed upon.
WHEN an officer of his Household informed George IV of the death of Napoleon in May 1821 in these words, “ Your Majesty's greatest enemy is dead,” “ Thank God she is dead," replied the King piously, assuming that it was the death of his Consort which was thus announced to him.
For years, and times without number, it had been urged upon the Prince of Wales that it was his duty to marry, but he had always refused point-blank. The mere fact that it was his father's wish he should contract an alliance was in itself sufficient for him passionately to desire to remain single. “I will never marry! My resolution is taken on that subject! I have settled it with Frederick! No, I will never marry !” he said excitedly to Sir James Harris (afterwards created Earl of Malmesbury) in 1784, who tried to mediate between the King and his eldest son in this matter. The efforts of others met with as little success. Later, his relations with Mrs. Fitzherbert further complicated the question.
The Prince was heavily in debt, largely owing to his extravagance and his dissipated manner of living, and the matter was becoming a public scandal. Parliament was not unwilling to relieve the Heir-Apparent from his embarrassments. The King, however, would have none of it, and commanded his Ministers to reject any suggestion of a grant. Of course, the King said, in effect, when the marriage of his son was announced, then it would be possible, indeed it was quite clear that it would be necessary, to reconsider the position.
This unpleasing, sordid quarrel continued. Neither father nor son would give way. In 1786 the Prince asked Pitt to propose in the House of Commons a vote of a quarter of a million. Pitt temporised ; in the end did nothing. The Prince, in despair, approached the King, who, after some correspondence, declined in definite terms to sanction any application for an increase of his son's allowance.
Thereupon the Prince announced that it was his intention to shut up Carlton House and live in the country as a private gentleman on a small estate, and to set aside forty thousand a year of his income for his creditors. The King did not regard the threat seriously, and was unmoved in his attitude.
Perhaps the deciding point was that in this year an execution was put in at Carlton House for six hundred pounds, and the sheriff's officers remained in possession for some days, until with difficulty a surety could be found for this small debt. The Prince closed Carlton House, and stopped the building operations there that were then in progress—he had a mania for building; he greatly reduced his racing stud; sold many of his carriage horses, and even some of the carriages—the horses and carriages realised 7,225 guineas; and he dismissed his Household, retaining only the services of three gentlemen. Into further details of his drastic economies it is unnecessary to enter.
The unequal struggle went on, becoming more and more bitter every year. It endured until 1794, when the Prince capitulated. He undertook to marry, provided his liabilities were met, and an allowance that he regarded as adequate was conceded. It was, no doubt, as much for this reason as for any other that his Royal Highness broke off his relations with Mrs. Fitzherbert.
George III was greatly pleased. All his life, and in every incident in his life, he was the most obstinate of men, and now this game, after a fight enduring ten years, he had won. He at once communicated with Pitt. Agreeable to what I mentioned to Mr. Pitt before I came here,” he wrote to the Prime Minister from Weymouth, August 24, 1794, “I have this morning seen the Prince of Wales, who has acquainted me with his having broken off all connection with Mrs. Fitzherbert, and his desire of entering into a more creditable line of life by marrying ; expressing at the same time that my niece, the Princess of Brunswick, may be the person. Undoubtedly she is the person who naturally must be most agreeable to me. I expressed my approbation of the idea, provided his plan was to lead a life that would make him appear respectable, and consequently render the Princess happy. He assured me that he perfectly coincided with me in opinion. I then said that, till Parliament assembled, no arrangement could be taken except my sounding my sister, that no idea of any other marriage may be entertained.”
It was immaterial to the King whom the Prince of Wales married, save that she must be of royal blood and, of course, a Protestant. As regards His Royal Highness, it is reported that he said, “One damned German frau is as good as another.” And he really seems to have meant it.
In effect there were only two persons eligible.
One was Louisa, a Princess of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, who afterwards became Queen of Prussia. She, however, was a niece of the Queen, herself from the same State. This decided his Royal Highness, who said unkindly, but with the utmost sincerity, “One of that family is enough."
The other was Caroline Amelia Elizabeth, second daughter of Charles William Ferdinand, Duke of Brunswick-Wolfenbuttel, and his Consort (née Princess Augusta of England, eldest daughter of Frederick, Prince of Wales, and sister of George III). It was this lady who was chosen to be Princess of Wales. She was then in her twenty-seventh year, six years the junior of the Prince of Wales.
There was a certain elegance at the Court of Brunswick, and the Duke was a man of polished manners, and not without dignity ; but impartial observers noted a lack of morality remarkable even in a German Court in the eighteenth century. Indeed, it modelled itself on Versailles. The Duke had a mistress, an accomplished woman, Madame de Hertzfeldt, who was so good an influence and kept him so well under control that, whenever the Duke began to show an interest in another woman, the Duchess, a good-natured but foolish woman, joined with Madame de Hertzfeldt to keep the disturber of the peace at a safe distance from the amorous monarch. Caroline, always precocious, noticed many things that might have escaped the attention of other children. She hated her formal governesses and attendants, and always