Imatges de pÓgina

watch the attempts of these parties, to force the inexorable past to comply with fancied expediency-conduct which has had the natural effect of hitherto exiling many important characters from their proper stations on the pages of historical biography: one party wholly refusing to listen to any wrong of its idol, and the other to any right of its victim. Now, if the one faction insists upon snatching all the black yarn and the other all the white, which, mythological metaphor affirms, make the blended thread of human life, where is an honest narrator, willing to present that mingled twine, to look for any material ?

Away with these childish wranglings with the unalterable past! Facts regarding the queenly sisters, both of Tudor and of Stuart, remain extant, defying all attempts to stifle them, guarded in manuscript among our archives, or those of France. Incidents may be told maliciously or apologetically—in both cases, the author's comment may stand in absurd contradiction to quoted authority; but these deviations from the majestic simplicity of rectitude will have the consequence of disgusting the public, and will ever render a narrative unreadable. Can a more absurd spectacle exist than when the comments of writers appear at open war with the facts they have just cited from documents ?

Judging merely by the princess Anne's outward demeanour, it has been said, that she bore the death of her son, the duke of Gloucester, with the characteristic apathy of her nature—a nature supposed to have been devoid of the tenderer emotions of the female heart. She


however, one proof of sensibility on this melancholy occasion, which affords indubitable evidence that feelings of a more poignant nature than maternal grief were awakened in her heart by the unexpected blow that had made her house desolate. Temporal judgments were according to the spirit of the theology of that century, and the conscience of Anne Stuart brought them home to herself. The daughter who had assisted in dethroning and driving her king and father into exile, for the sake of aggrandizing her own offspring and supplanting her brother, was rendered


"Lamberty's Memoirs for the Seventeenth Century, vol. i. p. 121.

childless. Her sin was called to remembrance by the death of her son. He, the desire of her eyes, has been taken from her by a stroke.

In that dark moment, when the object of all her sinuous policy was in the dust, the princess Anne felt a yearning and desire for the sympathy of that injured parent, who had so often mourned with her over her blighted maternal hopes on former occasions ; and she despatched an express, but very secretly, to St. Germains, with her letter, to inform king James of the calamity that had befallen her in the untimely death of her son and his grandchild, the duke of Gloucester.

Upon lord Marlborough, the duke of Gloucester's governor, had devolved the duty of announcing to the king the death of his near relative. The demise of the duke of Gloucester took place in July, and the information to king William was sent as soon as it occurred; but it was October before his majesty condescended to reply.

The princess Anne pertinaciously remained at Windsor Castle, although the body of her only child lay in state in the suite of apartments which had been devoted to his use there. On the 4th of August, the earl of Marlborough and Mr. Sayer escorted the corpse from thence, by torch-light, through the Little Park and Old Windsor, and by Staines and Brentford, to Westminster. The body of the young prince arrived at the place of destination, being the “prince's robing-room,” Westminster Hall, at two o'clock the same morning; where it lay in state until the night of solemn interment in the vault, near Henry VII.'s chapel, on the night of August 9th.?

The reason of king William's unexampled neglect of the communication announcing the death of his heir was, be

1 Christian Cole, the author of Memoirs of Affairs of State, endeavours to controvert this assertion, which he affects to consider highly derogatory to Anne's duty to her brother-in-law, William III. He even says that the contrary is proved by the earl of Manchester's Letters, edited by him. He could neither have read the work he edited himself, nor could he ever have expected any other person so to do, for the earl of Manchester says positively, “ that his first intelligence of the death of the duke of Gloucester came from St. Germains." These are his words: 6 Yesterday morning, they had an express at St. Germains from England, with news that the duke of Gloucester is dead. I fear it is too true. My letters are not yet come."-(Letter of the earl of Manchester to Mr. Blathwayte, in Christian Cole's Affairs of State, p. 193.)

Pyne's Palaces. Roger Coke and Toone's Chronology.


yond all dispute, because the princess Anne had written, in her grief, to her father. As some historians have bestowed great pains in clearing the princess of this crime, it is only proper to verify the fact from documentary sources.

Lamberty, whose evidence is indisputable, as he had been the confidential secretary of Portland and William III., thus declares his knowledge on the subject :' “ The duke of Gloucester, who was the hope of the English, happening unfortunately to die, the princess Anne, his mother, sent very clandestinely an express to the court of St. Germains, to notify his death there. The earl of Manchester, who was ambassador from England at Paris, and who watched that court, was advised of it. He despatched his secretary, Chetwynd, under other pretences, to Loo, to inform the king of it.” This person was actually sent to Loo, to communicate to William the particulars of a new plot for poisoning him. .66 It was because,” pursues Lamberty,

such a sort of step-so contrary to what the princess Anne had always shown-made it appear that she had ill designs; we shall see it by a secret writing, which was found when she was dead.” William's coldness and contempt to the feelings of the princess Anne and her consort, in regard to the mourning for the young prince, their son, though he had always professed affection for him, afford confirmation of this statement. In fact, his conduct, on that occasion, was not commonly humane, considering the nearness of the relationship of the boy to himself, independently of his being the nephew of queen Mary. Court mournings are lightly passed over in these days of utilitarianism ; but the state of feeling in that age was different -everything being then regulated according to the solemn régime of state etiquette on funereal matters.

Vernon, one of William's secretaries of state, writes on the subject of young Gloucester's death :

66 We have very little news at present, after having had too much last week. The prince and princess are as well as can be expected under their great affliction. The duke of Gloucester's body was brought up last Thursday night, by my lord Marlborough and Mr. Sayers, and deposited in the Prince's


1 Lamberty's Memoirs for the History of Seventeenth Century. Ibid., vol. viii. Much curious information has been found regarding Anne in these Memoirs of Lamberty, but not the paper here alluded to.

» 1

Chamber at Westminster.” This letter is dated August 5. The earl of Manchester says, in his next :

August 18. “ You may easily imagine the great concern I was under when I received yours of the 1st inst., that being the confirmation of what I had heard before from St. Germains, they having had expresses both by way of Rouen and Calais; the latter was sent by Pigault, a merchant there. I desire the favour of you, as you think it proper or have an opportunity, to express my great sense of the loss to their royal highnesses.

“I suppose,” pursues the perplexed ambassador, “I shall soon have orders how I am to act, which, I fear, if from Loo, will not be so full as I could wish. First, if my coaches and servants must be in mourning; in what manner I must notify the duke of Gloucester's death, whether in a private audience of the king [of France], or publicly of the whole court? If so, I must have letters to them, as I had at my first coming.

“ I am told for certain that the court of St. Germains will go into mourning, and that they are already preparing. I need not say how pleased they are, and confident of being soon in England.

“ Yesterday,” pursues his excellency, “ I was at Versailles, where the king [Louis XIV.] asked me privately if the news of the duke of Gloucester's death was true.

No one could be placed in a more embarrassing position, as regarded royal etiquette, than was William III.'s unlucky representative, at the court of the most ceremonious monarch in the world, by the perversity of his royal master, in giving him no intimation in what manner he was to announce the demise of his heir. In fact, William III. was in one of his long-lasting fits of silent rage, occasioned by the certainty of the renewed communication between the princess Anne and her father, nor did he perceive any possible way of awakening in her mind a contrary interest to that of her nearest relatives. As far as was apparent to his perception, his sister-in-law had no object of affection likely to stand between the yearning of her heart towards her father, brother, and sister in France. In this he was, perhaps, deceived. Quiet and retiring as he was, prince George of Denmark had exercised from the first the most unbounded political influence over his wife, of any person in the world. His religious feelings were far more earnest than those of the king, although he made little show of them, and had long ceased raising any political cry concerning his protestantism. He by no means despaired of future offspring, since his princess had, within the last few months, been the mother of an infant; while prince George lived, king William need have had little apprehension of the feelings of

· Letters of the Earl of Manchester, in Cole,

Anne towards her own family being other than evanescent. But then unfortunately William hated and loathed Anne much, but George still more, and he could only endure the least communication with them, while he looked upon them as the passive and submissive tools of his despotic will. There was assuredly, as shown on a particular occasion, soon after, an involuntary yearning of remorse and even of unconscious affection in the recesses of his heart towards his uncle James, but no circumstances, however calamitous they might be, could awaken the slightest feeling of sympathy in him for the bereaved parents of the duke of Gloucester, although they had repeatedly proved his most efficient allies in the attainment of his desires.

According to the foregoing despatch of the English ambassador in France, the whole court of St. Germains was actually paying the external mark of respect to the memory of the princely child who was the hope of protestant England, and whose birth had been partly the cause of keeping his young uncle in a state of expatriation, before king William could be induced to acknowledge, either to his own or to foreign courts, that he had ever heard of his demise. Yet the injured son of James II. had put off his sports out of respect for the death of his nephew, while William III. refused to show the least token of concern.'

Louis XIV., in token of his own near kindred to the princess Anne, professed himself ready to order his court to put on mourning and to assume it himself for his youthful cousin, her son, as soon as the notification of his decease should have been formally announced to him by the British ambassador. That unfortunate diplomatist, meantime, fretted himself into a fever from the awkward predicament in which he stood between William and his successor Anne, to say nothing of his old sovereign king James. Not only was he unable to signify the demise of the young prince to the king of France, but he was left in uncertainty what he and his suite were to do about their own mourning, till the 22nd of August, when Mr. Blathwayte, William's secretary at Loo, communicated his royal master's gracious pleasure in the following pithy terms, brought in at the end of various political notices about foreign affairs, “ Your lordship will have found the

Cole's Memoirs for Affairs of State, 199.

« AnteriorContinua »