Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

Lieutenant-Colonel Lennox pressed that the Duke of York should fire, which was declined, upon a repetition of the reason. Lord Winchelsea then went up to the Duke of York, and expressed his hope that his royal highness could have no objection to say, he considered Lieutenant-Colonel Lennox as a man of honor and courage. His royal highness replied, that he should say nothing; he had come out to give Lieutenant-Colonel Lennox satisfaction, and did not mean to fire at him; if Lieutenant-Colonel Lennox was not satisfied, be might fire again. Lieutenant-Colonel Lennox said he could not possibly fire again at the duke, as his royal highness did not mean to fire at him. On this, both parties left the ground. The seconds think it proper to add, that both parties behaved with the most perfect coolness and intrepidity.

“ Rawdon."
“ WINCHELSEA."

As soon as the affair was concluded at Wimbledon, letters were sent express to town to the Prince of Wales and the Duke of Cumberland, giving them an account of the proceedings; and, at the instant of the Duke of York's return, the Prince of Wales, with filial attention to the anxiety of his royal parents, set off to Windsor, lest hasty rumour should have made them acquainted with the business.

Such was the caution observed by the Duke of York to keep his meeting with Colonel Lennox a secret from the Prince of Wales, that he left his hat at Carlton House, and took with him a hat belonging to one of the household. During the whole of the affair the duke was so composed, that it is difficult to say whether his royal highness was aware of being so near the arm of death. One remarkable thing connected with this duel was, that the Earl of Winchelsea, the second of Colonel Lennox, was one of the lords of the bed-chamber to his majesty; and his mother, Lady Winchelsea, was employed in rearing his royal highness the Duke of York.

In consequence of the recovery of George Ill. from his lamented indisposition, the king's birth-day, in 1789, was celebrated with unusual splendor. In the evening a ball was given; and notwithstanding what had so recently happened, and the established etiquette, that no person should stand up at country dances who had not danced a minuet, Colonel Lennox appeared in the circle with Lady Catharine Barnard. This the Prince of Wales did not perceive until he and his partner, the Princess Royal, came to the colonel's place in the dance; when, struck with the impropriety, he took the hand of the princess, just as she was about to be turned by the colonel, and led her to the bottom of the dance. The Duke of York and the Princess Augusta càme next, and they turned the colonel without notice or exception. The Duke of Clarence with the Princess Elizabeth came next, and his royal highness followed the example of the Prince of Wales. The dance proceeded, however, and Colonel Lennox and his partner danced down ; but when they came to the prince and princess, his royal highness led his sister to the chair by the side of the queen. Her majesty then addressing her

self to the prince, said, “ You seem heated, sir, and tired.”_" I am heated and tired, madam,” said the prince,“ not with the dance, but with dancing in such company."-" Then, sir," said the queen, “it will be better for me to withdraw, and put an end to the ball."-" It certainly will be so," said the prince," for I never will countenance insults given to my family, however they may be treated by others." At the end of the dance, her majesty and the princess withdrew, and thus the ball concluded. The prince afterwards explained to Lady Catharine Barnard the reason of his conduct, assuring her ladyship, that it gave him much pain to be under the necessity of subjecting a lady to a moment's embarrassment.

On the 29th of September, 1791, his royal highness was married, at Berlin, to the Princess Charlotte Ulrique Catherine, eldest daughter of his majesty the King of Prussia, and on the 23rd of November they were, upon their arrival in England, re-married at St. James's, in the presence of the royal parents of his royal highness. This marriage was not followed by any issue, and was in other respects not accounted a happy one. Their royal highnesses continued to live together, but not very affectionately. Her royal highness died on the 6th of August, 1820, in the 54th year of her age. During the latter part of her life her royal highness lived in much retirement, exerting herself in her own neighbourhood to promote the welfare of the poorer classes. Her charities were unostentatious, but extensive; and a sincere and obvious grief showed how deeply the inhabitants of the villages around Oatlands regretted her loss. She was buried in the Church of Weybridge in a very private manner.

But to return to his royal highness; in 1793 he was sent to the Low Countries with the command of a body of English troops, destined to support the operations of the allied German and Dutch forces against the French. These troops continued on the Continent during the campaigas of 1793 and 1794, and were actively engaged in the siege of Valenciennes and Dunkirk, and in several engagements before Tournay and elsewhere. The union was imbecile, and disputes occurred which rendered all their endeavours ineffectual; and after suffering a variety of hardships and great loss, his royal highness returned to England. The want of success in these campaigns is by no means attributable to his royal bighness, who on many occasions behaved with great intrepidity and personal courage, As a general, we know not that he deserves great praise; but as a soldier, his merit was unquestionable. Upon one occasion he narrowly escaped falling into the hands of the enemy. He was attacked before Tournay by a French force of 30,000 men, which he drove back with great loss. The emperor immediately determined to march to his assistance, and a general attack was agreed upon. But the movements of the allies were disconcerted, and the whole French force turned against the troops of the Duke of York, who were in consequence obliged to give way in all directions. The duke himself, accompanied by an Austrian general and two other gentlemen, entered a village, supposing it to be in the hands of the allies; but on turning a corner at full gallop, they found a column of the enemy facing them, who, supposing the duke to be at the head of a body of troops, at first fled, after firing a volley, which killed the Austrian general. Recovering, however, from their error, they pursued the duke and his two companions so closely that they escaped with difficulty.

In 1799 the duke again appeared in the field, in the Low Countries, but the result was again unfortunate. The misconduct of the Russian auxiliaries occasioned the defeat of the British, on the 19th of September ; and after some further unsuccessful attempts, the duke agreed to a suspension of hostilities, and he and his army were allowed to evacuate the Dutch territories, on condition that 8000 French prisoners should be given up. These campaigns certainly added nothing to the military glory of the duke, or to the honor of the country; but by means of them the duke became thoroughly acquainted with the composition of our army, and himself became sensible of the want of those regulations which he afterwards introduced.

His royal highness's first appointment to the high station of commander-in-chief of the army took place on the 10th of February, 1795, and for several years subsequently to that period, he pursued a steady and uninterrupted course of improvement; until in 1809, a clamour was raised against him, which had the effect, not only of depreciating his character in the eyes of the public, but also of producing his resignation of the office of commander-in-chief. We, of course, allude to the charges preferred against him by Colonel Wardle, which amounted to this :--that Mrs. Mary Anne Clarke, a former mistress of the Duke of York, had been permitted by his royal highness to traffic in commissions, and that he had himself shared with her the gain of this scandalous practice. The fact of the duke's intimacy with Mrs. Clarke was admitted, and it also appeared that the duke had, in two or three instances, exerted his influence on behalf of persons recommended by her ; but all guilty participation was strongly denied. Mrs. Clarke was brought forward as the principal witness against the duke, and much scandal was raised by the disclosures which took place, especially upon the production of various letters which she had received from his royal highness. On the 23rd of February tbe duke addressed a letter to the Speaker of the House of Commons, in which, in the most solemn manner, his royal highness, upon his honor as a prince, most distinctly asserted his innocence, and claimed from the justice of the House, that he should not be condemned without a trial. After this most 'unpleasant business had occupied the attention of parliament and the nation for about three months, the following resolution was passed by a majority of 82. “ That this House having appointed a committee to investigate the conduct of the Duke of York as commander-in-chief, and having carefully considered the evidence which came before the committee, and finding that personal corruption, and connivance at corruption, have been imputed to his said royal highness, find it en

pedient to pronounce a distinct opinion upon the said imputation, and are accordingly of opinion, that it is wholly without foundation." Public opinion, however, could not be satisfied; an extraordinary clamor had been raised against the duke, and it was thought better to bend before the storm, than oppose its fury; accordingly the duke tendered his resignation to his majesty, and the same was accepted, and Sir David Dundas appointed in his stead. A short time after, circumstances were brought to light affecting Colonel Wardle, who had ventured to bring forward this charge, and Mrs. Mary Ann Clarke the principal witness, which tended to place both of them under much greater suspicion than was consistent with honesty, and the public began to perceive how little weight an accusation, founded upon such testimony, was entitled to. That his royal highness's intercourse with Mrs. Clarke was consistent with morality, or did not deserve censure, we do not contend; but we are fully convinced, that that intercourse, and the easy compliance with her artful requests, constitute all that is fairly chargeable against the Duke of York. The change of opinion which took place in the public mind, was indeed evinced two years afterwards, when his Majesty, then Regent, re-appointed his royal highness as successor to Sir David Dundas, in the office of commander-in-chief. Upon that occasion, an attempt was made in the House of Commons to procure a vote of censure against this appointment, but it was rejected by a triumphant majority of 249," and the duke," says an historian, “ resumed his post with all the facility of a public functionary who had quitted his office without imputation.”

In the year 1819, upon the death of her majesty Queen Charlotte, his royal highness the Duke of York was appointed guardian of the person of his father George III., who, it is well known, then labored under an afflicting mental malady. For the performance of this duty, 10,000l. per annum were granted to his royal highness, an allowance which many persons considered excessive.

On the 25th of April, 1825, bis royal highness delivered in the House of Lords à speech upon the Catholic question, which raised an outcry against him amongst the Catholic population, which is too fresh in the memory of the public to need any comment. The speech was as follows:

“ I hold in my hand a petition from the dean and chapter of the collegiate church of St. George, Windsor, praying that no further concessions may be made to the Roman Catholics. I am sure that any representation from so learned and respectable a body, will be received with the attention it deserves; and therefore I should not have troubled your lordships with any observations in support of it, if I did not feel this was an occasion on which any man may well be permitted to address your lordships. I do this the more readily on the present occasion, because feeling that I have not the habit of taking part in your discussions, I will not interrupt the progress of the debate on the bill to which the petitioners refer, if it should come into the House. It is now twenty-five years since this subject was VOL. I.

2 D

first brought into discussion. I cannot forget with what events that discussion was at that time connected. It was connected with the most serious illness of one now no more; it was connected also with the temporary removal of one of the ablest, wisest, and honestest ministers that this country ever had. From that time, when I gave my first vote on this question, to the present, I have never seen any reason to regret or to change the line which I then took. I have every year seen more reason to be satisfied with my decision. When the question comes regularly before your lordships, it will be discussed much more fully and ably than I can do it; but there are two or three subjects on which I am anxious to touch; one is, that you place the Church of England in a situation in which no other church in the world is placed. The Roman Catholic will not allow the Church of England or Parliament to interfere with his church, and yet he requires you to allow him to interfere with your church, and to legislate for it. There is another subject still more delicate, on which I cannot, however, help saying a few words. I speak (I beg to be understood) only as an individual. I desire not to be understood as speaking for any body else; but consider, my lords, in what à situation you place the sovereign; by the coronation oath the sovereign is bound to maintain the church established, in ber doctrine, discipline, and her rights inviolate. An act of parliament may release future sovereigns and other men from this oath, or from any other oath to be taken; but can it release an individual who has already taken it? I speak, I repeat it again, as an individual, but I entreat the House to consider the situation in which the sovereign is thus placed. I feel very strongly on this whole subject. I cannot forget the deep interest which was taken upon it by one now no more, and the long and unhappy illness in which-(here his royal highness was sensibly affected.) I have been brought up from my early years in these principles, and from the time when I began to reason for myself, I have entertained them from conviction, and, in every situation in which I may be placed, I will maintain them, so help me God !"

The chief objection which is urged against this speech, is its imprudence, and that it had a tendency to irritate and alarm the Roman Catholics, instead of allaying their fiery temperament. If this reasoning be admitted, and the Duke of York be held worthy of censure for having spoken such a speech, it follows that deception is in some cases allowable, and that it would have been better to cheer the Catholics by holding out to them expectations which it was not intended to fulfil, rather than declare opinions which were opposed to them. Tbis might have been a "prudent” course, but such prudence was not one of the qualities of the Duke of York. He held it more honorable to declare his opinions, than adopt the Machiavellian policy which the advocates of emancipation would have dictated. It does indeed appear most singular that these gentlemen would have preferred a smooth and artful hypocrisy to a bold and manly opposition.

This speech was one of the last public acts of his royal highness's

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »