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An Appreciation Of King William Iv And His Reign

In The Beginning



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In The Beginning

An Appreciation Of King William Iv And His Reign

Death Of The King

Defeat Of The Ministry Dinner At St James's

The Royal Birthday Fetes

A Brief Account Of Boston House And The Clitherow Family

Dinner To Their Majesties At Boston House

A Week-end Visit To Windsor

False Rumours About The Queen






An Appreciation Of King William Iv And His Reign








TO the letters already given, which cover the seven years of William
IV.'s reign, it seems appropriate to add two public utterances on the
occasion of his death. The cuttings containing them are pasted in a MS.
book belonging to Miss Clitherow's correspondent, himself a writer of
repute,[*] and are preceded by the following notes:

[*] The Rev. Edward Nares, D.D., Rector of Biddenden, Kent, and Regius
Professor of Modern History in the University of Oxford.

'No King ever departed this life with less of blame attached to him as
a King, or with more credit as a well-meaning, good-natured,
high-minded man. No King ever more truly acted upon the noble
principles of Louis XII. in forgiving, as King, all offences committed
against him while Duke of Orleans. When the Duke of Wellington was the
Minister of George IV., he saw fit, with a view to retrenchment in the
public interest of unnecessary expenditure, to remove H.R.H. the Duke
of Clarence from the office of Lord High Admiral. When H.R.H. succeeded
to the Crown, not only was this not resented, but nothing could exceed
the attentions the Duke of Wellington was in the way of receiving from
His Majesty on all anniversaries of the Battle of Waterloo. He
constantly honoured the Duke with his company at dinner, and lamented
the necessity of being absent on June 18, 1837, only two days before he
died.

'This striking instance of a greatness of mind highly becoming a King
of Great Britain was alluded to by the Duke of Wellington in the House
of Peers on the first day of their meeting after the King's demise.
There is extant in print what I believe to be a very authentic relation
of the magnanimity with which His Majesty, as King, forgave a bold
attack upon him as Duke of Clarence in his presence in the House of
Lords by the present Chief Justice of England, Lord Denman. I allude to
a memorable speech of the latter at the Queen's trial in 1820.

'Praises and commendations of Kings and Queens are so liable to the
suspicion of flattery that it cannot but be pleasant to a mind
constitutionally loyal to be able to produce testimony to that effect
of indisputable authority. In the course of a speech at the nomination
of candidates for North Lancashire, Lord Stanley, not long since a
member of a Whig Cabinet, said: "The country had just lost a Sovereign
whose virtues and transcendent attributes had earned for him an
immortal name. Those who knew least of His late Majesty did not
hesitate to ascribe to him an ever anxious delight in being kind and
affectionate to his people, attached to their wishes, and determined to
administer to their comforts. He thought little of himself when
promoting the happiness of those around him. Those who had ever an
opportunity of coming into immediate contact with the late Sovereign
could justly appreciate his excellent qualities. His attention to
business, his candour of manner in listening to the arguments of his
advisers, manifested a full knowledge of his constitutional duties. He
(Lord Stanley) had witnessed how His late Majesty had declined
asserting his prerogative when it in the slightest degree seemed to
interfere with public officers in the discharge of their public duties.
In the discharge of his duties as a Minister of the Crown it had
happened on three occasions that His Majesty had felt a deep interest
in the appointment of three individuals to office, and it did so happen
that he could not meet the private wishes of the Sovereign in making
those appointments, and he intimated to His Majesty the public grounds
on which he would rather they were not made. His Majesty immediately
with pleasure declined pressing his own views, which, he said, were
secondary compared with the public business of the country."'

This eulogium is confirmed by several passages in Miss Clitherow's
letters. The next extract is prefaced in her correspondent's MS. as
follows:


'Of the King's last moments nobody had a better account to give than
the Archbishop of Canterbury, who was with him, and who had it in his
power to bear undeniable testimony to the affectionate and unwearying
attentions of the Queen to the very last. Before His Majesty's funeral
I had this confirmed to me by the Archbishop himself, who also told me
that he had already seen the young Queen preside in three Councils with
singular propriety, dignity, and decorum, adding much in praise of the
good education she had received.'

Extract from the speech of the Archbishop (Howley) of Canterbury at a
meeting of the Metropolitan Churches' Fund:

'I attended on our late Sovereign during the last few days of his life,
and, truly, it was an edifying sight to witness the patience with which
he endured sufferings the most oppressive, his thankfulness to the
Almighty for any alleviations under his most painful disorder, his
sense of every attention paid to him, the absence of all expressions of
impatience, his anxiety to discharge every public duty to the utmost of
his power, his attention to every paper that was brought to him, the
serious state of his mind, and the devotion manifested in his religious
duties preparatory to his departure for that happy world where we may
humbly hope he has now been called. Three different times was I
summoned to his presence the day before his dissolution. He received
the sacrament first; on my second summons I read the Church Service to
him, and the third time I appeared the oppression under which he
laboured prevented him from joining outwardly, though he appeared
sensible of the consolation I offered him. For three weeks prior to the
dissolution the Queen had sat by his bedside, performing for him every
office which a sick man could require, and depriving herself of all
rest and refection. She underwent labours which I thought no ordinary
woman could endure. No language can do justice to her meekness and to
the calmness of mind which she sought to keep up before the King while
sorrow was preying on her heart. Such constancy of affection, I think,
was one of the most interesting spectacles that could be presented to a
mind desirous of being satisfied with the sight of human excellence.'

William IV.--a good husband, a good father, a good King, a good
friend--was indeed a happy contrast to the selfish, if more gifted,
brother who preceded him on the throne. He was an eminently
constitutional monarch, popular and patriotic. His reign was short,
and, though not free from riot and disturbance, was mainly
characterized by peace, retrenchment, and reform. Its social
legislation included the Reform Bill, the abolition of slavery, the
Factory Acts, the New Poor Law, and the Tithe Commutation Act, while
the modest grant of L20,000 per annum was the first recognition by the
State of its duty respecting the education of the people. At the same
time, the Empire was expanding, the colony of South Australia was
established, and its capital bore the name of the King's devoted and
sympathetic consort.

Thus the first steps were taken in many important movements for the
welfare of the people and the Empire, which, under his great and good
successor, were supported and developed, and the way was made plain for
the young Queen, to whom the nation looked with such well-founded hope,
whose long and glorious reign has been so abundantly blest, and whose
memory will ever be cherished with honour and respect.

GOD SAVE THE KING!





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