Page images
PDF
EPUB

sa

eat

ays

ever

el,

his

buld

bear

her

with

his

and

led

epa

who

it

was

ac

deli

2 his

ently

ed in

f the

bmit solve tood ould

s he

should retain the right to alter it. This answer
produced the written proposal, which must be
preserved here in the prince's own words.
Shameful words to be by any man addressed to
any woman. What must they be then when ad-
dressed by a husband to a wife, and to a wife,
too, with an only child in her arms, and that
child only three months old! The man over-
comes the historian here, and makes him, for the
honour of his sex and country, recoil at the
thought of putting the words upon record.
record. But
not only is this demanded by truth and justice;
it is necessary to a clear understanding of the
most important transactions of the regency and
the reign of this king.

Windsor Castle, April 30, 1796.

MADAM,

As Lord Cholmondeley informs me that you wish I would define, in writing, the terms upon which we are to live, I shall endeavour to explain myself upon that head, with as much clearness and with as much propriety as the nature of the subject will admit. Our inclinations are not in our power, nor should either of us be held unswerable to the other, because naturc has not made us suitable to each other. Tran. quil and comfortable society is however in our power; let our intercourse therefore be restricted to that, and I will distinctly subscribe to the condition which you required through Lady Cholmondeley, that even in the event of any accident happening to my daughter, which I trust Providence in its mercy will avert, I shall not infringe the terms of the restriction, by proposing at any period, a connexion of a more par-· ticular nature. I shall now finally close this disagreeable

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 Prrt, 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; and 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

[ocr errors]

posed by the minister. This motion was lost; but 99 members voted for it; and the speech of Mr. GREY was well calculated to produce upon the country an impression very little favourable to the Prince, who had had his debts paid by parliament once before, and who was now pretty loudly reminded of that fact by some members sitting on both sides of the House.

37. This former payment of the Prince's debts took place in 1787. The amount was, at that time, very large; and, certainly, with a clear annual allowance of sixty thousand pounds, money enough to maintain 3,000 labourers' families, the nation had a right to complain, when a new clearing off of debts was called for. Nevertheless the new debt, which had arisen, the reader will perceive, in the space of little more than seven years, amounted to the enormous sum of 639,8907. sterling; that is to say, to 80,000. for every year since the last clearing off of his. debts; and, as will be perceived, to 20,0001. a-year more than the whole of his annual allowThus he had been spending at the rate of 140,000l. a-year instead of 60,000l., and had been living on what would have maintained 7,000 labourers' families!

ance.

38. The minister, who liked well enough to make this exhibition of the Prince, proposed, as the amount of his new settlement, 125,000l. a year, besides the rents of the Duchy of Cornwall,

[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][ocr errors]

valued at 13,000l. a year more.
But out of this
138,000l. a year, 73,000l. was to go towards the
payment of his debts, and was to be placed, for
that purpose, in the hands of commissioners!
Thus leaving him 65,000l. a year to live on, a sum
not equal to half of that which he had annually
expended for seven years before. At the same
time an act of parliament was passed "to pre-
vent future princes of Wales from contracting
"debts," an act which seemed wholly unneces-
sary, except for the purpose of conveying, in
an indirect way, the censure of the parliament
on the conduct of the prince. As to "future
princes of Wales," this was, however, an act of
flagrant injustice. It was an act to keep them, by
law, in a state below that of what the law calls a
femme covert, and, indeed, to keep them in a
state of infancy; a state little compatible with
the sacredness of the person of the party. But,
as we shall all along perceive, it has been the
constant policy of the aristocracy to prevent the
kingly part of the government from being over-
burdened with popularity or respect.

39. The minister was most vehemently censured for this by the personal friends of the prince, who declared it to be an insult intended and contrived; and this it certainly was. Yet

it was not easy to blame Pitt and his party for their conduct upon this occasion; for how was a minister, after the large sum paid for a similar

« PreviousContinue »