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Dinner At Kew Fetes At Syon House Queen Adelaide's Fund

False Rumours About The Queen

A Week-end Visit To Windsor

Dinner To Their Majesties At Boston House

A Brief Account Of Boston House And The Clitherow Family

Defeat Of The Ministry Dinner At St James's

The Royal Birthday Fetes

Death Of The King

An Appreciation Of King William Iv And His Reign

In The Beginning

Least Viewed

Luncheon At Windsor Visits To Windsor And St James's

In The Beginning

An Appreciation Of King William Iv And His Reign

Death Of The King

The Royal Birthday Fetes

Defeat Of The Ministry Dinner At St James's

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

In The Beginning

THE little Duchy of Saxe-Meinengen was once a portion of the
inheritance of the princely Franconian house of Henneberg. The failure
of the male line transferred it, in 1583, to the family of reigning
Saxon princes. In 1680, it fell to the third son of the Saxon Duke,
Ernest the Pious. The name of this son was Bernard. This Duke is looked
upon as the founder of the House of Meinengen. He was much devoted to
the study of Alchemy, and was of a pious turn, like his father, as far,
as may be judged by the volumes of manuscript notes he left behind
him--which he had made on the sermons of his various court-preachers.

The law of primogeniture was not yet in force when Duke Bernard died,
in 1706. One consequence was, that Bernard's three sons, with Bernard's
brother, ruled the little domain in common. In 1746, the sole surviving
brother, Antony Ulrich, the luckiest of this ducal Tontine, was monarch
of all he surveyed, within a limited space. The conglomerate ducal
sovereigns were plain men, formal, much given to ceremony, and not much
embarrassed by intellect. There was one man, however, who had enough
for them all: namely, George Spanginburg, brother of the Moravian
bishop of the latter name, and who was, for some time, the Secretary of
State at the court of Saxe-Meinengen.

Antony Ulrich reigned alone from 1746 to 1763. He was of a more
enlightened character than any of the preceding princes, had a taste
for the arts, when he could procure pictures cheaply, and strong
inclination towards pretty living pictures, which led to lively rather
than pleasant controversies at court. His own marriage with Madame
Scharmann disgusted the young ladies of princely houses in Germany, and
especially exasperated the aristocracy of Meinengen. They were scarcely
pacified by the fact, that the issue of the marriage was declared
incapable of succeeding to the inheritance.

The latter fell in 1763 to two young brothers, kinsfolk of Antony, and
sons of the late Duke of Gotha, who reigned for some years together.
The elder, Charles, died in 1782. From that period till 1803, the other
brother, George, reigned alone. He had no sooner become sole sovereign,
than he married the Princess Louisa of Hohenlohe Langenburg. At the end
of ten years, the first child of this marriage was born, namely
Adelaide, the future Queen of England.

Eight years later, in the last year of the last century A.D. 1800, a
male heir to the pocket-duchy was born, and then was introduced into
Meinengen the law which fixed the succession in the eldest male heir
only. Saxe-Meinengen was the last country in Europe in which this law
was established.

The father of the Princess Adelaide, like his brother Charles, was a
man of no mean powers. Both were condescending enough to visit even the
burgher families of Saxe-Meinengen; and Charles had so little respect
for vice in high places, that when a German prince acted contrary to
the rights of his people, the offender found himself soundly lashed in
paper and pamphlet, the pseudonymous signature to which could not
conceal the person of the writer--the hasty Duke Charles. If this
sometimes made him unpopular over the frontier, he was beloved within
it. How could the people but love a sovereign Duke who, when a child
was born to him, asked citizens of good repute rather than of high rank
to come and be gossips?

In the revolutionary war, Duke George fought like a hero. At home, he
afforded refuge to bold but honest writers, driven from more mighty
states. He beautified his city, improved the country; and, without
being of great mental cultivation himself, he loved to collect around
him, scholars, philosophers, artists, authors, gentlemen. With these he
lived on the most familiar terms, and when I say that Schiller and John
Paul Richter were of the number, I afford some idea of the society
which Duke George cared chiefly to cultivate. He buried his own mother
in the common church-yard, because she was worthy, he said, of lying
among her own subjects. The majority of these were country folk, but
George esteemed the country folk, and at rustic festivals he was not
unwilling to share a jug of beer with any of them. Perhaps the rustics
loved him more truly than the sages, to whom he proved, occasionally,
something wearisome. But these were often hard to please. All, however,
felt an honest grief, when, on the Christmas night, of 1803, Duke
George died, after a brief illness, caused, it is said, by a neglected
cold, and the rage at an urgent demand from the Kaiser, of 60,000
florins, fine-money for knightly orders, ducally declined.

The Duke left a young family, Adelaide, Ida, and his son and successor,
Bernard, then only three years of age. The mother of these fatherless
children took upon herself the office of guardian, with that of Regent
of the duchy. The duties of both were performed with rare judgment and
firmness, during a time of much trouble and peril, especially when the
French armies were overrunning and devastating Germany.

On the young ladies, gently and wisely reared in this little court,
Queen Charlotte had begun to look with the foresight of a mother who
had elderly and wayward sons to marry. When the death of the Princess
Charlotte of Wales threatened to interrupt the direct succession of the
crown, the unmatched brothers of the Regent thought of taking unto
themselves wives. Cumberland had married according to his, but to no
other person's, liking, hardly even that of his wife. The Dukes of Kent
and Cambridge made better choice; and there then remained but the
sailor-prince to be converted into a Benedict. The Queen selected his
bride for him, and he approved, or acquiesced in the selection. He
might, as far as age goes, have been her father, but that was of small
account; and when Adelaide of Saxe-Meinengen was spoken of, men
conversant with contemporary history, knew her to be the good daughter
of an accomplished and an exemplary mother.

The preliminaries of the marriage were carried out amid so much
opposition, that at one moment the accomplishment of the marriage
itself wore a very doubtful aspect. The difficulty was of a pecuniary
nature. The Dukes of Kent and Cambridge were content, on the occasion
of their respective marriages, to accept an addition to their income of
L6,000. The Duke of Cumberland was compelled to rest content, or
otherwise, without any addition at all,--save the expenses of a wife.
With the Duke of Clarence it was different. He already possessed
L18,000 per annum, and ministers resolved, after a private meeting with
their supporters, to request the Parliament to allow him an increase of
L10,000. On the 13th of April, 1818, a message from the Prince Regent
to that effect, was submitted to either House, by Lord Castlereagh and
the Earl of Liverpool. In the Commons, the first-named Lord hinted at
the dependence of our Princes on the liberality of Parliament, since
the time when the crown had surrendered its long uncontrolled disposal
of revenues. But the House was not to be "suggested" into a generosity
which might be beyond justice. Tierney, the gad-fly of his period,
complained of the previous meeting of the friends of ministers, and the
communication to them, before it was made to the House, of the amount
to be applied for. Methuen insisted, that before the Commons would
grant a farthing, they must be made acquainted with all the sources
from which the King's sons derived their present revenue, as well as
the amount of the revenue itself. Finally, Holme Sumner met the
proposal of an additional L10,000, by a counter-proposal of L6,000.
This was carried by a narrow majority of one hundred and ninety-three
to one hundred and eighty-four; and when this sum was offered to the
Duke, he peremptorily declined to accept it.

Things did not progress more in tune with marriage-bells in the House
of Lords. There, when Lord Liverpool stated what his royal client would
be contented to receive, Lord King started to his legs and exclaimed,
"That the question was not what it might please the Duke of Clarence to
take, but what it might please the people to give him!" They were not
willing to give what he expected, and for a time it seemed as if there
would consequently be no marriage with the Princess of Saxe-Meinengen.
But only for a time.

"The Duke of Clarence is going to be married, after all," was a common
phrase launched by the newspapers, and taken up by the people, in 1818.
If the phrase had but one meaning, it had a double application. In the
former sense, it had reference to the disinclination of Parliament to
increase his income, without which he had expressed his determination
not to marry. It was further applied, however, to the old course of his
old loves. There were the years spent with Dora Bland, then "Mrs.
Jordan," the actress,--years of an intercourse which had much of the
quiet, happy character of a modest English home,--the breaking-up of
which brought such great grief to the mother in that home, that even
every service subsequently rendered to her, seemed to partake of the
quality of offence. It has been registered as such, by those who heard
more of the wailing of the Ariadne, than they knew of the
groundlessness of it, when vented in reproaches for leaving her
unprovided for as well as deserted.

Then the public remembered how this light-of-heart Duke had been a
suitor to other ladies. He was the rival of Wellesley Pole, for the
favour and the fortune of the great heiress, Miss Tilney Long. That
ill-fated lady conferred on this wooer of humbler degree, the office of
slaying her happiness, sapping her life, and mining her estate. The
other lady, who declined the Duke's offer of his hand, or petition for
her own, was Miss Sophia Wykeham, of Thame Park, daughter and sole
heiress of an Oxfordshire 'squire. Each lady had merits of her own, and
other attractions besides those which lay in the beaux yeux de sa
cassette; but, perhaps, each remembered the clauses of the royal
marriage act; however this may have been, Miss Tilney chose between her
suitors, while Miss Wykeham, after turning from the prayer of the Duke,
never stooped to listen to a lowlier wooer.

These were the "antecedents" of the lover who, in maturer age, took,
rather than asked for, the hand of Adelaide of Saxe-Meinengen. Of all
the actions of his life, it was the one which brought him the most
happiness; and with that true woman he had better fortune than is
altogether merited by a man, who, after a long bachelorship of no great
repute, settles down in middle-life to respectability and content,
under the influences of a virtuous woman, gifted with an excellent
degree of common-sense.

In the dusk of a July evening, in the year 1818, this unwooed bride
quietly arrived, with her mother, at Grillon's Hotel, Albemarle Street.
She had but cool reception for a lady on such mission as her own. There
was no one to bid her welcome; the Regent was at Carlton House at
dinner, and the Duke of Clarence was out of town on a visit. Except the
worthy Mr. Grillon himself, no person seemed the gladder for her
coming. In the course of the evening, however, the Regent drove down to
Albemarle Street; and, at a later hour, the more tardy future-husband
was carried up to the door in a carriage drawn by four horses, with as
much rapidity as became a presumed lover of his age, in whom a certain
show of zeal was becoming.

The strangers became at once acquainted; and acquaintance is said to
have developed itself speedily into friendship. The family-party
remained together till near upon the "wee sma'" hours; there was much
indulgence there, we are told, of good, honest, informal hilarity; and
when the illustrious and joyous circle broke up, the easy grace,
frankness, and courtesy of the Regent, and the freedom and
light-heartedness of the Duke, are said to have left favourable
impressions on both the mother and the daughter.

Quaintest of royal weddings was that which now took place in old Kew
Palace. Indeed, there were two, for the Duke of Kent who had gallantly
fetched his wife from abroad, and had married her there, according to
Lutheran rites, was now re-married to his bride, according to the forms
of the Church of England. Early in the day, there was a dinner, at
which the most important personages in that day's proceedings were
present. The old house at Kew seemed blushing in its reddest of bricks,
out of pure enjoyment. The Regent gave the bride away; and, the
ceremony concluded, the wedded couples paid a visit to the old Queen in
her private apartment. She was too ill, then, to do more than
congratulate her sons, and wish happiness to the married. The Duke and
Duchess of Kent thereupon departed, but the Duke and Duchess of
Clarence remained,--guests at a joyous tea party, at which the Regent
presided, and which was prepared alfresco, in the vicinity of the
Pagoda. It must have been a thousand times a merrier matter than
wedding state-dinners of the olden times, at which brides were wearied
into suffering and sulkiness. If the figure about "cups which cheer but
not inebriate" had not been worn to the finest tenuity, I might at once
give it, here, application and illustration. Suffice it to say, that a
more joyous party of noble men and women never met in mirthful
greenwood; and when the princely pair took their leave, for St.
James's, the Regent led the hilarious cheer, and sped them on their
way, with a "hurrah!" worthy of his bright and younger days.

The Regent, undoubtedly, manifested a clearer sense of the fitness of
things, on this occasion, than either of the managers of the theatres,
honoured by the presence of the newly-married couple soon after the

At Drury Lane, was given the "Marriage of Figaro," and Covent Garden
complimented the Duke and Duchess with the "Provoked Husband."

It cannot be said that the public looked with much enthusiasm on any of
the royal marriages. Such unions with rare exceptions, are unpleasantly
free from sentiment or romance; and, in the present instances, there
was such a matter-of-fact air of mere "business" about these contracts
and ceremonies, such an absence of youth, and the impulses and the
dignity of youth, that the indifferent public, even remembering the
importance of securing a lineal succession to the throne, was slow to
offer either congratulation or sympathy. The caricaturists, on the
other hand, were busy with a heavy and not very delicate wit; and
fashionable papers, uniting implied censure with faint praise, observed
that "the Duchesses of Kent, Clarence, and Cambridge are very deficient
in the English language. They can scarcely speak a sentence. They
possess most amiable dispositions." It may be added, that they also
possessed true womanly qualities which won for them the esteem of
husbands, of whom two of the three, at least, had never been remarkable
for a chivalrous, a gentlemanlike, a manly respect for women. That was
a sort of homage rarely paid by most of the sons of George III., and I
am afraid, that our fathers generally are obnoxious to the same remark.

After a brief residence at St. James's, and as brief a sojourn at the
Duke's residence in Bushey Park, the Duke and Duchess of Clarence
repaired to Hanover, and remained there about a year,--no incident
marking the time that is worthy of observation. The issue of this
marriage scarcely survived the birth. In March 1819, a daughter was
born, but to survive only a few hours. In December 1820, another
princess gladdened the hearts of her parents, only to quench the
newly-raised joy by her death in March of the following year. The loss
was the keener felt because of the hopes that had been raised; and the
grief experienced by the Duke and Duchess was tenderly nourished,
rather than relieved, by the exquisite art of Chantrey, which, at the
command of the parents, reproduced the lost child, in marble,--sleeping
for ever where it lay.

The household at Bushey was admirably regulated by the Duchess, who had
been taught the duties as well as the privileges of greatness. The
fixed rule was, never to allow expenditure to exceed income. It is a
golden rule which, when observed, renders men, in good truth, as rich
as Croesus. It is a rule which, if universally observed, would render
the world prosperous, and pauperism a legend. It was a rule the more
required to be honoured in this case, as the Duke had large calls upon
his income. When those were provided for, old liabilities effaced, and
current expenses defrayed, the surplus was surrendered to charity.
There was no saving for the sake of increase of income,--economy was
practised for justice-sake, and the Duke and Duchess were so just, that
they found themselves able to be largely generous. With the increased
means placed at their disposal by the death of the Duke of York, there
was but trifling increase of expenditure. If something was added to
their comforts, they benefitted who were employed to procure them; and,
if there was some little additional luxury in the rural palace of
Bushey, the neighbouring poor were never forgotten in the selfish
enjoyment of it.

In 1824, the Duke and Duchess of Clarence had apartments in St. James's
Palace, where, however, they seem to have been as roughly accommodated,
considering their condition, as any mediaeval prince and princess in
the days of stone walls thinly tapestried and stone floors scantily
strewn with rushes. The Duke cared little about the matter himself, but
he gallantly supported the claims of his wife. In a letter addressed to
Sir William Knighton, the King's privy purse, in 1824, he thus
expresses himself--from St. James's Palace:--

"His Majesty having so graciously pleased to listen to my suggestion
respecting the alteration for the Hanoverian office, at the palace, I
venture once more to trouble you on the point of the building intended
for that purpose. To the accommodation of the Duchess, this additional
slip at the back of the present apartments, would be most to be wished
and desired, and never can make a complete Hanoverian office without
our kitchen, which the King has so kindly allowed us to keep. Under
this perfect conviction, I venture to apply for this slip of building
which was intended for the Hanoverian office. I am confident His
Majesty is fully aware of the inconvenience and unfitness of our
present apartments here. They were arranged for me in 1809, when I was
a bachelor, and without an idea at that time of my ever being married,
since which, now fifteen years, nothing has been done to them, and you
well know the dirt and unfitness for the Duchess of our present abode.
Under these circumstances, I earnestly request, for the sake of the
amiable and excellent Duchess, you will, when the King is quite
recovered, represent the wretched state and dirt of our apartments, and
the infinite advantage this slip would produce to the convenience and
comfort of the Duchess .... God bless the King and yourself, and ever
believe me, &c.--WILLIAM."

Though often as ungrammatical and inelegant, it was seldom the Duke was
so explicit in his correspondence as he is in the above letter.
Generally, he wrote in ambiguous phrases, very puzzling to the
uninitiated; but when his Duchess Adelaide was in question, and her
comfort was concerned, he became quite graphic on the "state and dirt"
in which they passed their London days, in the old, dingy, leper-house
palace of St. James's.

With the exception of the period during which the Duke held the office
of Lord High Admiral, 1827-28,--an office which may be said to have
been conferred on him by Canning, and of which he was deprived by the
Duke of Wellington,--with the exception above noted, this royal couple
lived in comparative retirement till the 26th of June, 1830, on which
day, the demise of George IV. summoned them to ascend the throne.

It is said that when the news of the death of George IV. was announced
to the Duchess of Clarence, the new Queen burst into tears. The
prayer-book she held in her hand, at the moment, she conferred on the
noble messenger, as a memorial of the incident, and of her regret. The
messenger looked, perhaps, for a more costly guerdon; but she was
thinking only of her higher and stranger duties. If Queen Adelaide
really regretted that these now had claims upon her, not less was their
advent regretted by certain of the labouring poor of Bushey, whose
harvest-homes had never been so joyous as since the Duke and Duchess of
Clarence had been living among them.

The course of life of the new Queen was only changed in degree. Her
income was larger, so also were her charities. Her time had more calls
upon it, but her cheerfulness was not diminished. Her evenings were
generally given up to tapestry work, and as she bent over the frame,
many of the circle around her already sorrowingly remarked, that the
new Queen, though not old in years, seemed descending into the vale of

The esteem of her husband for her was equal to her merits. His
affection and respect were boundless; and when the senate granted her,
on the motion of Lord Althorpe, L100,000 per annum, with Marlborough
House and Bushey Park, in case she survived the King, the good old
monarch was the first to congratulate her, and was pleased to put her
in office, himself, by appointing her Perpetual Ranger of the Park,
which was to become her own at his decease.

I shall not anticipate matters very violently, or unjustifiably,
perhaps, if I notice here, that William IV. was not forgetful of his
old loves, and that Queen Adelaide was not jealous of such memories.
She looked more indulgently than the general public did, on the
ennobling of his children of the Jordan family. If that step could have
been met by objections, in these later days, it was at least supported
by that amazingly powerful, but sometimes perilous engine, precedent.
Though indeed, there was precedent for the contrary; and perhaps the
husband of Queen Adelaide would have manifested a greater sense of
propriety on this occasion, had he rather followed the decent example,
in a like matter, of the scrupulous Richard the Third than that of
Henry the Eighth or the Second Charles.

There was another ennobling, however, which the public as warmly
approved as the Queen heartily sanctioned. In 1834, her husband raised
to the dignity of a Baroness, the lady who had declined to share with
him whatever of higher or more equivocal honour he could have
conferred, by marrying her. In that year, Miss Wykeham became, by the
grateful memory and good taste of her old royal lover, Baroness Wenman
of Thame Park, Oxon. This testimony of the memory of an old affection
was an act to be honoured by a Queen, and to it that royal homage was
freely tendered. Enquirers, on turning over the peerage books, may
discover many honours conferred on women too ready to listen to the
suit of a monarch; but, here, for the first time, was a title of
nobility presented to a lady who had declined to give ear to royal
suit, paid in honesty and honour.

The fact is that there was something chivalrous in the bearing of the
King towards ladies; hearty, but a courteous heartiness. This sort of
tribute he loved to render to his wife; and there was nothing so
pleasant to hear, in his replies to addresses, after his accession, as
the gallant allusions to the qualities of the Queen, who stood at his
side, serenely satisfied. This heartiness was not an affectation in
him. "It was of his nature; and another phase of his character was
manifested by King William at the first dinner after he ascended the
throne, at which his relations only were present. On that pleasant
occasion, although it was a family dinner, he gave as a toast:--"Family
peace and affection;" it was the hearty sentiment of a citizen King who
loved quiet and simple ways, who walked the streets with his intimate
friends, and often occupied the box-seat of his carriage, turning round
to converse with the Queen, inside.

When Adelaide became Queen Consort, some persons who would not have
been ill-pleased to see her fail, affected to fear that the homely
Duchess should prove to be unequal to the exigencies of the queenly
character. One person, I remember, hinted that, in this matter, she
would not do ill, were she to take counsel of the Princess Elizabeth of
Hesse Homburg, "than whom none could better record to Her Majesty the
forms, and usages, and prescriptions of the court of Queen
Charlotte." But Queen Adelaide needed no such instruction as the good
daughter of George III. could give her. She observed the forms and
usages that were worthy of observance; and as for proscriptions, she
could proscribe readily enough when duty demanded the service,--as the
Church felt, with mingled feelings, when she declined to invite
clergymen to her state balls or to her dancing soirees. The dancing
clergy had their opportunity for censure, when the King and Queen gave
dinner-parties on the Sunday.

The court was essentially a homely court. The two sovereigns fed
thousands of the poor in Windsor Park, and looked on at the feasting.
The Queen went shopping to Brighton Fancy Fairs, and when on one
occasion she bent to pick up the "reticule" which an infirm old lady
had dropped, as much was made of it as of the incident of King Francis,
who picked up (or did not pick up) Titian's pencil, and handed it to
that sovereign gentleman among artists.

Then the new sovereigns paid more private visits than any pair who had
hitherto occupied the British throne. While the Queen called on Sir
David and Lady Scott, at Brighton, her royal husband, with whom she had
just previously been walking, on the Esplanade, would suddenly appear
at the door of some happy but disconcerted old Admiral, and invite the
veteran and his wife to dinner. To the hearty, "Come along, directly,"
if there was a glance from the lady at her toilet, the Citizen-King
would encourage her by an intimation, never to mind it, for he and his
wife were quiet people; "and, indeed," as he once remarked, "the Queen
does nothing after dinner but embroider flowers." Which, indeed, was
true enough, and--to tell the truth--very dull, as I am assured, did
the finer people find it.

The consequence of this familiarity of the sovereigns with their
humbler friends, was a rather audacious familiarity ventured upon by
people who left their queer names in the book at the King's door, and
more than once successfully passed it, and penetrated to the Queen's
drawing-room. This evil, however, was soon remedied. There were other
matters Queen Adelaide was bold enough to, at least, attempt to remedy.
Indecorousness of dress, in a lady, she would censure as sharply as
Queen Charlotte; and if, when Mrs. Blomfield appeared at her first
drawing-room, in a "train of rich immortal velvet," as the fashionable
chroniclers of the day call it, she did not even hint surprise, it was
perhaps out of respect for the successor of the Apostles, of whom that
good, but richly velvetted, lady was the honoured wife.

The letter-writers who dealt with court incidents at the period of the
accession of this domestic couple tell of various illustrations of the
simplicity of the new sovereigns, When the Duke of Norfolk had an
interview with William IV. at Bushey,--on the affair which had brought
him thither being concluded, the King declared he must not leave the
house without seeing the Queen; and thereupon ringing the bell, he bade
the official who answered the summons to "tell the Queen I want her."

This lady, at the time when her husband was Duke of Clarence and Lord
High Admiral, had been accustomed, on her visits to Chatham, to be
received and entertained by the daughters of the then Commissioner,
Cunningham. As soon as the Duchess became Queen, among her first
invited visitors to Bushey were these ladies. At the meeting, they
offered to kiss Her Majesty's hand, but "No, no," said Queen Adelaide,
"that is not the way I receive my friends. I am not changed;" and
therewith ensued a greeting less dignified, but not less sincere.

There are other stories told of incidents at Windsor, which indicate
the difference of the court going out from that of the court coming in.
This change required the removal from the palace of a little household,
the head lady of which reluctantly gave way to the new Queen. These
incidents, however, belong rather to the Chronique Scandaleuse than
to mine. I will only add, therefore, that people generally rejoiced in
seeing a "wife" installed where "queans" used to rule it; and that,
when William IV. was seen walking arm-in-arm with Watson Taylor, or
some other happy courtier, they added one incident to the other, and
comparing the new court with the old, exclaimed, "Here is a change,
indeed!" No one ever dreamed at that moment that the time would come
when party-spirit would stir up the "mobile" against the sovereigns;
that the Queen would be accused of plotting with the Duke of Wellington
against Reform; that stones would be cast at the royal carriage as it
bore the King and his Consort from the theatre; and "that, when matters
went adversely to the humour of the ultra-chiefs of the popular
movement, the first lady in the land should be marked out for vengeance
by the famous cry, "The Queen has done it all!"

The drawing-room of which I have before spoken, at which good Mrs.
Blomfield appeared in "immortal velvet," was remarkable, however, for
another incident, which I will relate in the words of a writer in
"Frazer's Magazine," John Wilkes, ex-M.P. for Sudbury, who thus relates
it in his "Regina's Regina"--"The drawing-room of Her Majesty Queen
Adelaide, held in February 1831, was the most magnificent which had
been seen since that which had taken place on the presentation of the
Princess Charlotte of Wales, upon the occasion of her marriage. No
drawing-room excited such an interest, when compared with that, as the
one held by Queen Adelaide, at which the Princess Victoria was
presented on attaining her twelfth year. It was on this occasion that
the Duchess of Kent and her illustrious daughter arrived in state,
attended by the Duchess of Northumberland, Lady Charlotte St. Maur,
Lady Catherine Parkinson, the Hon. Mrs. Cust, Lady Conroy, La Baronne
Letzen, Sir John Conroy, and General Wetheral. This was the first
public appearance of the Princess Victoria at court. Her dress was made
entirely of articles manufactured in the United Kingdom. Victoria wore
a frock of English blonde, simple, modest, and becoming. She was the
object of interest and admiration on the part of all assembled, as she
stood on the left of Her Majesty on the throne. The scene was one of
the most splendid ever remembered, and the future Queen of England
contemplated all that passed with much dignity, but with evident

Nearly three-quarters of a century had elapsed since a Queen-Consort
had been crowned in Great Britain. On the present occasion, such small
pomp as there was, was confined to the religious part of the ceremony.
The procession, to and from Westminster Hall, the banquet there, and
the dramatic episode of the entry of the champion, were all dispensed
with. There was an idea prevalent, that the cost would be too great,
and that the popular voice would be given to grumble;--as if money
spent in the country, and made to circulate rapidly through many hands,
would not have been a public benefit rather than a public injury. The
ministry, however, would only sanction the maimed rites which were
actually observed;--the privileged people were deprived of many a
coveted perquisite, which might have dipped deeply into the public
purse, and the heir of Marmion and the owner of Scrivelsby, kept his
horse and his defiance at home in the domain of the Dymokes. The
public, cheated of their show, called it a "half-crownation."

There was only one incident at this ceremony which is worth narrating.
The Queen-Consort's crown was a rich little toy, sparkling but small.
It would hardly fit a baby's head, and, accordingly, Queen Adelaide's
hair was turned up in a knot, in order that on this knot the little
crown might safely rest. The Archbishop of Canterbury, in place of
fitting the crown down upon this knot of hair, only lightly placed the
glittering toy on the top of it. Had the Queen moved, she would have
been discrowned in an instant, and all the foolish people whose
footsteps go wandering on the borders of another world, instead of
going honestly straightforward in this, would have had a fine
opportunity of discussing the value of omens. But, in a case of
adornment, the ladies had their wits about them, and were worth the
whole episcopal bench when the matter at issue was surmounting a head
of hair with its supreme adornment of a crown. Some of those in
attendance stepped forward, saved their embarrassed mistress from an
annoyance; and Queen Adelaide was crowned in Westminster Abbey, by a
couple of ladies-in-waiting!

It may be that the Archbishop was not so much to blame on this
occasion. The little crown was made up at her own expense for the
occasion, by Rundell, out of her own jewels, and it may not have fitted
easily. She had a dread of unnecessary outlay, and, perhaps, remembered
that at George the Fourth's coronation, the sum charged by Rundell
merely for the hire of jewels by the King, amounted to L16,000, as
interest on their value. The whole expense of the double coronation of
William and Adelaide, did not amount to much more than twice that sum.

The Queen herself was not ill-dressed on this occasion, as will be seen
by the record made by those who have registered the millinery portion
of the ceremony:--"Her Majesty wore a gold gauze over a white satin
petticoat, with a diamond stomacher, and a purple velvet train, lined
with white satin, and a rich border of gold and ermine. The coronet
worn by Her Majesty, both to and from the Abbey, was most beautiful. It
was composed entirely of diamonds and pearls, and in shape very similar
to a mural crown."

It may not be irrelevant to state, that when the modest coronation of
William and Adelaide was yet a subject of general conversation, the
expensive finery of that which preceded it was actually in the market,
and was subsequently sold by public auction. Out of the hundred and
twenty lots "submitted" by Mr. Phillips, the new King and Queen might
have been tempted to secure a souvenir of their predecessor; but they
had no taste for "bargains;" perhaps, small regard for their defunct
kinsman. Nevertheless, so thrifty a lady as the Queen may have sighed
at the thought of the coronation ruff of Mecklin lace going "dirt
cheap" at two pounds; and she may have regretted the crimson velvet
coronation mantle, with its star and gold embroidery, which originally
costing five hundred pounds, fetched, when yet as good as new, only a
poor seven-and-forty guineas. There was the same depreciation in other
articles of originally costly value. The second coronation mantle of
purple velvet, fell from three hundred to fifty-five pounds; and the
green velvet mantle, lined with ermine, which had cost the Czar, who
presented it to the late King, a thousand guineas, was "knocked down"
at a trifle over a hundred pounds. Sashes, highland-dresses,
aigrette-plumes,--rich gifts received, or purchases dearly acquired,
went for nothing; and, after all, seeing into what base hands
coronation bravery is apt to fall, the economical King and Queen were
not without justification in setting an example of prudence, which was
followed at the next great crowning.

Perhaps not the least remarkable incident in connection with this
coronation, was the absence of the heiress-presumptive to the crown,
the Princess Victoria. No place had been assigned to her, nor any
preparation made in expectation of her gracing or witnessing the
ceremony. It has been said by some persons that Earl Grey, the prime
minister, obstinately opposed all idea of inviting the Princess to be
present. But the grounds for such opposition are so unapparent, that it
is difficult to give credit to them at all. By others, it has been
asserted that the Duchess of Northumberland, the governess of the
Princess, in the exercise of a superior and enlightened judgment, and
in consideration of the then alleged delicate health of her young
charge, advised that her pupil should not be present at the coronation
of King William and Queen Adelaide. This reason seems hardly to account
for the fact. In the absence of a better, it was accepted by those at
least who did not throw the blame of that "conspicuous absence" on
Queen Adelaide herself and her royal consort; but, as an anonymous
writer remarked,--"Who that knew the good King William and his
incomparable Queen, would believe that any slight was put by them on
their well-beloved niece and the heiress-presumptive to the throne?"
The same enemies also stated that "the Duchess of Northumberland was
seeking to give a political bias to the education of the Princess; and
some uneasiness was therefore created at the palace." The "Times"
asserted, with iteration, that the Duchess of Kent had "refused to
attend, yes, refused to attend," and reproved Her Royal Highness, in
the harsh terms which illustrated many of the controversies of the day,
for the impertinence of the widow of a mediatized German Prince, in
withholding her daughter from a ceremony at which she could never, at
one time, have expected to see daughter of hers, as heiress-presumptive
to the crown of England! Other papers made this alleged refusal rest on
the course taken by Lord A. Fitzclarence, who, in marshalling the
coronation procession, on paper, had assigned a place to the Princess
Victoria, after the other members of the royal family, instead of next
to the King and Queen. Finally, the "Globe," on authority, declared
that the Duchess having pleaded the delicate state of her daughter's
health, had obtained the king's sanction to her absence,--a version of
the end of a story which began, nevertheless, more like the current
report of it than would seem here to be indicated. As marked an
instance of absence as that of the Princess, was that of the whole of
such members of the preceding administration, as happened to be members
of the House of Commons. This, however, little affected the King, who,
at the subsequent dinner at St. James's Palace, gave, as a toast, the
"Land we live in," and declared that, except as a formality and
memorial, the coronation was an useless affair, as far as he was
concerned, for no oath he had there taken could bind him more
stringently to fulfil his duty towards the people than he felt himself
to be bound as soon as the responsibility of his position had fallen
upon him.

The land he lived in now speedily became agitated by that wave of
revolution which was shaking many of the monarchies of Europe. England
endured as great revolution as any of them, but with this difference,
that here it was effected according to law, and albeit not exempt from
very vast perils, was carried through to its natural consequences, to
the mutual advantage of the government and the governed.

When the first rumours began to spread of an opposition establishing
itself at court against the progress of reform, the press manifested
particular desire to exonerate the Queen from the charge of
participating in, or heading such a course. The "Times" especially
interfered to protect that lady from similar aspersions. Papers of less
influence, but of like principles, had openly named Queen Adelaide, the
two daughters of George III., Elizabeth, (Princess of Hesse Homburg,)
and Mary, (Duchess of Gloucester,) as mischievously active in impeding
the popular will. In answer to such accusations, the "Times" (April 9,
1831) in a brief, but spirited and courteous leader, denounced the
falsehood, and showed the improbability and the unfairness of such
allegations. On a like occasion, that paper fairly urged that whatever
opinions might be expressed by members of the household, they were not
to be attributed to the mistress of that household. At the same time,
on these members and on the fair frequenters of drawing-rooms who there
gave utterance to sentiments which they carried into action elsewhere,
against the great consummation sought by the people, the pro-reform
paper thundered its bolts and showered its sarcasm with unsparing
hands. On most occasions, however, so much was made of the apparent
heartiness of the King, that excess of praise in that direction, took
the form of censure on the lukewarmness if not the hostility of the
Queen. Contrasts rather than parallels were the favourite medium for
turning the public attention to the two sovereigns. The Ex-Chancellor
Eldon was said to have assured Queen Adelaide, that if reform was
carried, the days of her drawing-rooms were numbered, and that royalty
would do well to follow a counsel which was given by Earl Grey to the
bishops,--namely, set its house in order. On the other hand, we hear of
the new Chancellor Brougham attending the court with his huge official
purse so full of petitions in favour of parliamentary reform, that as
he continued to extract and present them, he apologized to King William
for troubling him with such piles of the public prayers or demands.
Whereupon the King is said to have remarked, in the hearing of the
Queen, "My Lord Chancellor, I am willing to receive anything from that
purse, except the seals!" The wit was small, but the suggestiveness was
considered important, and gossips, on both sides, jumped to conclusions
which had questionable affinity with the premises.

While the Queen was thus treated with a certain degree of moderation by
the press, she is said to have been seriously coerced by the liberal
ministry of the day. The charge was distinctly made, after the Queen's
death, in a funeral sermon, preached by the Rev. Mr. Browne, Vicar of
Atwick. The occasion was so solemn, that an honest man was not likely
to be led even into exaggeration, much less into deliberate
misrepresentation. I will therefore quote the preacher's own words:--

"The Queen-Consort had witnessed in her father-land, some of the
dreadful effects of the French revolutionary movements; and she was
known to disapprove, out of womanly feeling and fear for her husband's
safety, of popular tumults and agitations. With the narrow-minded and
impure, suspicion is proof, and is followed by resentment. This pure
being was a sufferer by the machinations and exactions of the ephemeral
favourites of the misguided populace. Her influence over her royal
husband was too great to be trusted, and she was forbidden,--I speak
advisedly, and mean nothing less than 'forbidden'--to have a kindred
spirit near her during the agitation and intimidation, by which the
measure called the Reform Bill, was supported and carried."

It was when that bill was in jeopardy, when the King,--who had made so
many knights that the very pages called them the "Arabians," the
"Thousand and One,"--hesitated to create a sufficient number of new
lords to secure the passing of the bill in the Upper House; it was then
that the press began to admonish the King and to menace the Queen. On
one occasion, when they attended at the opening of the new Staines
Bridge, where, by the way, they were so closely pressed upon by the
mob, that maids of honour and gentlemen in waiting had their pockets
picked, the Conservative wits remarked, that the King might make new
bridges, but that he must leave the peers alone. The Whig party at once
assumed that Queen Adelaide was at the head of a faction, whose object
was to give reality to such jokes, and thenceforward the Queen was
little spared. The "Times" asserted that it was by "domestic
importunity" alone that the free action of the King's mind was impeded.
The Queen was compared to Queen Amata, in the "AEneid," cajoling or
raging at her older consort, Latinus, because the latter preferred
AEneas to Turnus, as a husband for their daughter, Lavinia. There was
not much alike in the two cases, for Amata was a staunch Conservative,
who detested the idea of a foreign prince obtaining the hand of her
daughter, and exercising influence within the limits of Latium. But
there were strong terms in the original which suited the purpose of the
hour, and the Queen was pelted with them most unmercifully.

Occasionally, there was a truth mixed up with the harder words, which
even ultra-Tories could not gainsay, as when the "Times" remarked, that
"a foreigner was no very competent judge of English liberties, and
politics are not the proper field for female enterprize or exertion."
When this strong hint was taken to have failed, and Queen Adelaide was
still supposed to be conspiring with the daughters of George III. to
turn King William from his liberal views, this was the tone with which
the royal lady was lectured by the press:--"There is a lady of high
rank, who must be taught a salutary, though a very painful, lesson. She
may be bold as an amazon, be troublesome, importunate, or overbearing,
but her present course is one from which can follow nought but final
wretchedness. Why has she so eagerly, within these few hours, bidden
her gossips not to despair? Why such haste to tell them, all will be
well! The King will do without the Whigs! Yes, madam, but England will
not. Still less will England do without the unmutilated Bill."

At another time, Queen Adelaide was reminded that if a female influence
drove Necker from the court of Louis XVI., one of the consequences was
the destruction of the most influential lady; another, the ruin of the
country. The influence being assumed to be still active, allusion was
made to the "foreign woman whom the nation may have too easily
adopted." Reports were rife that intrigues were on foot, the object of
which was to induce liberal peers to betray their party, and then the
public censor showered imprecations on "blandishments and intreaties,
urged with a force and pertinacity which, coming from a monarch, are
difficult to be refused."

On the other hand, the Conservative press drew its own inferences, and
made its own accusations. When the cholera was raging, during the
reform fever, Queen Adelaide's drawing-room happened to be very thinly
attended. The real cause was lost sight of, and Her Majesty was
respectfully assured that the scanty attendance was entirely owing to
Lord Grey's revolutionary government, beneath which all old English
energy, vitality, and spirit, had become so extinct, that it was
unequal to the exertion of even manifesting respect for an English

These old English qualities did, however, manifest themselves at a
Conservative festival in Gloucestershire, where the health of "the
Queen" was "received with great applause." Upon which announcement the
"Times" significantly asked, "Is that meant as a compliment to Her
Majesty, or will it sound as such in the ears of the unanimous people?"
Then, when reiteration was made of the alleged co-operation of the
sisters of William IV. with Queen Adelaide, in efforts to overthrow the
Reform Bill, the "Times" stepped forward with the following testimony
in favour of those ladies and their mother, with the accompanying
admonition to the Queen:--"No one will be persuaded that any daughter
of George III. could so mistake their position in this country, or so
disregard their duty. Queen Charlotte was advised by her mother, before
she ever touched the shores of England, to make entire and religious
abstinence from politics the rule of her life, as a British Princess;
and for twenty-eight years, till the question of the first Regency
forced Queen Charlotte upon the stage, as a reluctant actress, she had
satisfied herself with being a modest spectatress, living in strict
observance of maternal counsel: and what was the consequence? Down to
the abovementioned period of her wedded life, Her Majesty enjoyed, in a
degree not experienced by any Queen-Consort for centuries past, the
respect and good-will of the whole community. Is it then to be supposed
that the leading maxim of her own mother, was not impressed by that
judicious and estimable woman, upon the minds of her daughters, the six
Princesses, two of whom still adorn the court of England with their
constant presence? The Princess Augusta and the Duchess of Gloucester
owe little to the gossips who thus abuse the delicacy of their
illustrious names."

Party-spirit was, doubtless, aggravated on either side by the tone of
the press. Influential cities announced their refusal to pay taxes, and
tavern-clubs possessing pictures of King and Queen, turned them heels
uppermost, with an intimation that they should be righted as soon as
the originals had made themselves right with the people. If Tories of
eminence talked of coercing the King, Whigs equally exalted hinted at
the possibility of sending his Consort to Germany, and of rousing the
men of the provinces in order to make an impression upon people in high
places. One well-known "man about town" presiding at a public dinner,
refused to propose the Queen's health, and, among the lower
caricature-shops, she might be seen pictured, wending her way, the
ejected of England, to a dull, dreary, and unwelcoming Germany.

Publicly, however, she had her champions too. Mr. Baring, from his
place in parliament, protested against the language of the Whig papers,
generally. His own description of it, as applicable to the Queen, was,
that it comprised foul slander against the highest personage of a sex,
from insulting which every manly mind would recoil. The gallant
champion added, with less discretion, perhaps, that the full measure of
scornful indifference and silent contempt with which the Queen repaid
all the insults heaped upon her, had elevated her in the hearts of
those whose homage was a worthy tribute. Mr. Hume, ultra-reformer as he
was, exhibited very excellent taste on this occasion, and pointed out
in a few words marked by good common sense, that the name of the
exalted lady, in question, should never be dragged into the debates,
the discussions, and the dissensions of that house.

Less, perhaps, by way of championship, than in the character of
consolers, did the bishops, or a certain number of them, with the
Archbishop of Canterbury at their head, address Queen Adelaide. They
had, previously, "been up" to the King, who was just then being
counselled in various ways, by everybody, from wary old politicians to
the 'prentice-boys of Derry. They brought to his Consort the usual
complimentary phrases,--but, in the present instance, they carried
weight with the Queen, for amid the din of abuse with which she was
assailed, a few words of assurance and encouragement, of trust,
counsel, and consolation, must have fallen pleasantly upon her ear. She
said as much, at least, in a brief phrase or two, indicative of the
satisfaction she experienced at hearing such words from such men, at a
period when she was the object of so much undeserved calumny and insult.

The scene was, undoubtedly, made the most of by those who rejoiced most
in its occurrence; perhaps, too much was made of it; and this induced
the ridicule of the opposite side. The "Times" courageously denied its
existence. The presentation of the prelates was admitted, but the
Queen's speech was defined as a hoax. There was nobody by, it was said,
but the knot of diocesans and a body of maids of honour,--and, of
course, any report emanating from such a source was to be received with
more than ordinary suspicion.

Long before the press had commenced directing an undesired notice upon
the Queen, private circles were canvassing her conduct with regard,
especially, to this matter of reform. "By-the-bye," says Moore in his
Diary, "the Queen being, as is well known, adverse to the measure which
is giving such popularity to her royal husband, reminds me a little of
the story of the King of Sparta, who first gave his assent to the
establishment of the Ephori. His wife, it is said, reproached him with
this step, and told him that he was delivering down the royal power to
his children, less than he had received it. 'Greater,' he answered,
'because more durable.' This is just such an answer as William the
Fourth would be likely to give to his wife. But the event proved the
Spartan Queen to have been right, for the Ephori extinguished the royal
power; and if Queen Adelaide's bodings are of the same description,
they are but too likely to be, in the same manner, realized,"--a
curious avowal from Lord Lansdowne's Whig friend.

There are few things which more forcibly strike a student of the
political literature of this period, than its wide difference from that
which now generally prevails. It seemed, in those days, as if no public
writer could command or control his temper. The worst things were
expressed in the worst forms, and writers had not reached, or did not
care to practise, the better style by which a man may censure sharply
without doing undue wrong to the object of his censure, without losing
his own self-respect or forfeiting that of his readers.

Taken altogether, the year 1832 may be said to have been the most
eventful, and the least felicitous, in the life of Queen Adelaide. It
was a year which opened gloomily for the court, both politically and
personally. At one of the small festivities held at the Pavilion, the
King's old friend, Mr. Greenwood, of the firm of Cox and Greenwood,
Army Agents, was playing whist, after dinner, with the Queen for a
partner, and the King and Sir Herbert Taylor for adversaries. During
the progress of the game he was taken ill, became insensible, and, on
being removed from the room by Sir Herbert and Lord Erroll, died in an
adjoining apartment, within a quarter of an hour. The Queen was very
much shocked at this incident, and the elder ladies about court who
thought it ominous of a fatal year,--for already were movements hostile
to monarchy becoming active,--considered the next month's omen of
unpleasant significance too, when the fog in London, on the night of
the anniversary of the Queen's birth-day, was so dense, that not a lump
of the illuminations was visible through the mist. Then ensued, in the
subsequent spring, the unpleasant feud with the Sefton family, in which
Queen Adelaide's name was so prominent.

Soon after the temporary resignation of the Grey ministry, King William
invited the Jockey Club to dinner at St. James's Palace. Among the
invited was old Lord Sefton, who was a Whig and something more, and
who was resolved to avenge on the King the wrongs inflicted, as he
assumed, by that dissembling monarch on his friends of the late
administration. Lord Sefton, accordingly withdrew from the club, in
order that he might be able to decline the royal invitation, as a
member. The unsuspicious King at once invited him as a friend, but Lord
Sefton was ungracious enough to absent himself, and did not condescend
to restore the sovereign to favour, till Lord Grey was once more at the
helm of the national ship,--steersman and captain too. His lordship and
family appeared at the ball given by the Queen, in May to which, of
course, they had been all invited. Meanwhile, however, the King had
learned how he stood in the estimation of the Earl, meeting whom in the
Queen's ball-room, he turned his royal back upon him, publicly. Thence
arose embittered feelings on the part of the offended peer. Vivere
sat, vincere, "to conquer, is to live enough," is the Sefton motto,
and the bearers of it seem to have been determined to have this taste
of life, by putting down the royal offenders, and appearing before them
to enjoy their humiliation. "Lord Molyneux" (Lord Sefton's son, says
Mr. Raikes, in his Diary,) "has attended a public meeting at
Liverpool, where he made a speech, and actuated by his father's
feelings, alluded very bitterly to the conduct of both the King and
Queen. He afterwards came to town, and appeared, with his family, at
the ball. On the following day, the King commanded Mr. W. Ashley, as
vice-chamberlain to the Queen, to write to Lord Molyneux, and request
he would not appear at court again. Nothing could be more just. This is
only a slight instance," adds the Tory Diarist, "of Whig insolence and
ingratitude. Sefton has been made a peer, and treated with the most
marked courtesy and attention by the present King."

In the following June, Lord Lichfield, master of the buck hounds,
prepared a list of guests invited by him to meet the King, at the
conclusion of Ascot races; at dinner, at Lord Lichfield's house, Fern
Hill. The King expressly ordered that Lord Sefton should not be
invited. Considering the offence, it was singular that any one should
have thought of winning the Queen over to use her interest in
influencing her husband to withdraw the command. Lady Lichfield,
however, did so, intimating to Her Majesty, that if the King had been
moved by what was reported to have passed at the Jockey Club, she was
enabled to say how that matter had been much misrepresented. The Queen
confined all reply and comment to the words, coldly uttered, that, she
hoped it was so.

It certainly was not a period when Queens could expect to be cordial
with people who insulted them, and whose speeches in public were
exercising a very unwholesome influence on the more ignorant of the
lower orders. At the above very Ascot races, the King was grievously
assaulted, in the Queen's presence, by a ruffian in the crowd. Their
Majesties had just taken their seats in the grand stand, and the King
had then risen to salute the people in view, when the ruffian in
question flung a stone at him, which struck the King on the forehead,
but did not inflict any serious mischief. The assailant was let cheaply
off; but Queen Adelaide was much distressed by his act; and the
impression it made upon her was only increased, a week later, when she
appeared with the King at the review in Hyde Park. There she was
treated with such incivility and rudeness, that at the fete, at the
Duke of Wellington's, in the evening, where they held a little court,
the Queen wore a spiritless and sorrowing aspect, while King William,
his buoyant spirits all quenched, looked aged and infirm, weary of his
vocation and vexations.

The season, certainly, was not one for monarchs to be abroad in, with
joyous exterior. In the summer of this year, there passed through
London a princess whose story bore with it a great moral to the wearers
of crowns. I allude to the Duchess of Angouleme, the daughter of Louis
XVI. She had experienced the widest extremes of fortune, but had been
longest and most intimately acquainted with misfortune. She was again a
fugitive and an exile,--one never destined to behold her country again.
The Queen visited her at her modest apartments in Charles Street,
Grosvenor Square; and she took leave of that illustrious victim of many
revolutions, with evil forebodings of the issue of the spirit of the
then present time. Her Majesty did not, indeed, lack a certain spirit
of her own, wherewith to meet the other and revolutionary spirit. Thus,
when her friend and faithful servant, Lord Howe, was compelled to give
up his office of chamberlain to the Queen, his mistress would never
accept the nomination of any other person to the same post. Lord Howe
remained in attendance upon his mistress unofficially; but he
positively refused to be reinstated by Lord Grey, to whom his reply
was, "That he had been wantonly dismissed by him, and would receive no
favour at his hands." The act of Lord Grey was, probably, far more
keenly felt at court, than that of the two new radical members (Messrs.
Wigney and Faithful) returned for the royal borough of Brighton; and
who, "under the very nose of the court," as it was said, "talked openly
of reducing the allowance made to the King and Queen." This was a
foolish speech; but there was an even more indiscrete tongue
within the Pavilion, than those of the new radical senators without. In
1833, the King himself declared in favour of a republican form of
government! What must the feelings of Queen Adelaide have been,--she
who had a horror of revolutions, and a hatred for republicanism,--on
that never-to-be-forgotten Sunday evening, the 6th of January, 1833?
The American Minister was a guest at the dinner table that evening. At
the dessert, the King, instead of wisely going to sleep, as he was
accustomed to do after his second glass of wine, would be lively and
talkative. When he was in this vein, he was addicted to make speeches,
and on this occasion, before the ladies had retired, he delivered
himself of a very notable one, considering the times and the speaker,
in which he expressed his great regret that he had not been born a
free, independent, American: seeing that he entertained deep respect
for the United States, and considered Washington to be the greatest man
that ever lived. Queen Adelaide must have been astounded when listening
to this profession of political faith, and to this eulogy of a man who
had struck the brightest jewel out of the crown of his panegyrist's
royal father!

To old royalists, such a speech as the above savoured of that period
which is called "the end of the world." Speculative individuals who
heard of it, were amazed. "The aristocracy are hourly going down in the
scale; royalty is become a mere cypher." Well might Mr. Raikes make
this entry in his journal, when a King of England manifested a liking
for "rowdyism." The influences of these passing events, even on men of
intellect, are well marked by a contemporary passage in the diary of
the merchant, whose commercial affairs were going the way he fancied
the monarchy was tending. "I was walking the other day," he writes, in
February 1833, "round the Royal Exchange, the enceinte of which is
adorned with the statues of Kings. Only two niches now remain vacant;
one is destined to our present ruler, and that reserved for his
successor is the last. Some people might say it was ominous." So,
indeed, it proved to be; half-a-year after the accession of Queen
Victoria, when there were as many niches as there had then been
sovereigns, and room for no more, destruction ensued, but it was the
Royal Exchange that fell (by fire), and not the monarchy. That has
grown stronger. May it ever so flourish!

Meanwhile, it is to be observed, that Queen Adelaide after this time
began to re-conquer the popular esteem. When, in July 1834, she
embarked at Woolwich as Countess of Lancaster, on board the royal
yacht, for Rotterdam, in order to visit her relations in Germany, the
spectators of the scene received her with demonstrations of great
respect, and, on her return, in the following month, she landed at the
same place amid acclamations of loyalty and welcome.

It was after her return that the King began to bear symptoms of
restlessness and fatigue, which betokened that decay which gradually
made progress, and was ultimately accelerated in 1837, when his
daughter, Lady de Lisle, died to the grief of many, but especially to
the heart of her father.

As the King's health began to give way, so also did his temper more
easily yield before small provocations, and more freely did he indulge
in that early acquired habit of using strong expletives which has been
noted, in her diary, by Fanny Burney. William the Conqueror, it is
said, used to ungallantly beat his wife, Matilda, of whom he was
otherwise so fond. William the Fourth was guilty of an offence only
next to it in criminality,--by swearing in presence of his Consort,
Adelaide. There is a well-known instance of this told in connection
with a visit to the Royal Academy, in 1834. The occasion was that of a
private view, with a very large public attendance, at Somerset House.
The President of the Royal Academy received the illustrious visitors,
and accompanied them through the rooms. In the course of their
progress, he pointed out to the King the portrait of Admiral Napier,
who had recently been in command of the Portuguese fleet, for Don
Pedro. The King's political wrath was too strong for his infirmity,
and, without forgetting the presence of his wife, nay, making such
presence an excuse for not breaking forth into greater unseemliness, he
exclaimed:--"Captain Napier may be d----d, sir! and you may be d----d,
sir! and if the Queen was not here, sir, I would kick you down stairs,
sir." Such a scene indicated as much infirmity as bad taste on the part
of the chief actor, and must have sorely tried the patience and shaken

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