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REGENCY AND REIGN OF GEORGE IV.
From the Birth of the King to his Marriage.
30. THIS king, who was born on the 12th of August, in the year 1762, was the eldest son of King George III., and of Charlotte, Princess of Mecklenburgh Strelitz. Matters relating to his childhood and his boyish days are as uninteresting to the world as are the matters relating to a blackbird, or linnet, from the time of its being hatched to that of its flying from the paternal nest. Matters relating to his amours, and other sensual indulgences, at a more advanced period, could, even if we could come at an accurate de
tail of them, only serve as entertainment to the idle, encouragement to the profligate, and to fill the sensible and sober with disgust. To be sure, as a cause of great expense to the nation, he was always, from his very birth, an object of interest; but, unless we knew, or had heard of, something in his juvenile conduct to hold up as an example to our children, which, as far as my knowledge and hearing have gone, is not the case here, it is best to pass over this comparatively insignificant part of his life, come at once to the period when he came openly in contact with the nation's purse, and, turning a deaf ear to both sycophants and satirists, relate truly what he did, or what was done in his name, leaving the world to judge of his character by his actions.
31. For these reasons I shall pass over all the previous part of this king's life, and come at once to the time when he entered into that marriage which led to consequences which have engaged the attention, as well as excited some degree of feeling, in every part of the civilized world. The brave and unfortunate CAROLINE, who was the victim of this matrimonial contract, and of whose persecutions, sufferings, death, and burial, the historian's duty will be to give, in the proper place, a full and faithful account, was the second daughter of Charles William, Duke of Brunswick, and was, at the time of her marriage, twenty-six years of age. The Prince of Wales (since
George IV.), her husband, who had then attained the age of thirty three years, was greatly embarrassed with debts, which, until this marriage was proposed, the nation was by no means disposed to pay. The country was at this time involved in a most expensive and wasteful war against the people of France: a war undertaken to put down principles, and, in the opinions of all considerate men, tending to produce, eventually, great suffering to the English nation; and, therefore, the people were not in a very good humour with royalty.
32. The discussions relative to the American revolution had produced a revolution in France and it had been found, that, in like manner, this latter event would produce a revolution in England. Various are the words made use of by the parties in the disputes touching these revolutions; but the short and true state of the case is this the people of all these nations were become sensible that they suffered from the whole of the governing powers being in the hands of the privileged orders. The Americans had successfully resisted the attempts to keep them under the yoke. The French had risen and broken the yoke to pieces. And now the English were making an attempt to regain their right of choosing their representatives.
33. In the midst of a general ferment, arising from this cause, war against the French people was commenced by PITT, in 1793, which war
was going on at the time of the marriage of the Prince of Wales with the Princess of Brunswick. The taxes, on account of the war, pressed heavily upon the nation; the government armed itself at all points. Soldiers of all descriptions; barracks; new laws relative to the press; the Habeas Corpus Act was suspended; every thing, in short, to restrain and compel; but still money was necessary; and, under such circumstances, an enormous sum, granted to pay the debts of a prince who had always received a large annual stipend out of the taxes, was what even PrTT, daring as he was, had not the confidence to propose without being furnished with some plausible pretence for the proposition. The marriage, as we shall by-and-by see, furnished this pretence; every thing that could be thought of was done to make the people part with the money freely. 34. The marriage took place on the 8th of April; and though it was, of course, to be considered as a measure of state-policy, it certainly gave great and universal satisfaction. The Prince, notwithstanding his extravagance, was, at this time, by no means unpopular. He had been studiously shut out from all public authority, was regarded as in opposition to his father's ministers, and, as those were very cordially and justly hated, the Prince, except with regard to his expenses, stood in rather a favourable light. The Princess, who was of a most frank and kind disposition,
extremely affable and gracious in her deportment, by no means suffered in a comparison with the Queen; and, upon the whole, the nation seemed delighted with the prospect that their future king and queen held out to them.
35. In a few days after the celebration of the marriage; that is to say, on the 27th of April, the king officially communicated to the parliament his request, that a settlement should be made on the Prince, suitable to the alteration in his situation; and he observed, at the same time, that "the benefit of any settlement that the "House might make must fail in its most desir"able effect, if means were not provided to "extricate his Royal Highness from the incum"brances under which he laboured to a great "amount."
36. Upon this message from the king, PITT founded his proposition to the House. Those members who composed what was called the opposition, or Whigs, or, at least, the most active of them, such as Fox, Sheridan, the Duke of Bedford and others, were also personal friends of the Prince. They, therefore, were ready to concur with the minister in this particular case. But, there were men, on both sides of the House, to oppose any grant of money with a view of paying the debts of the Prince. Amongst these was Mr. GREY, now Earl GREY, who actually made a motion to take 20,000l. a year from the sum pro