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Amidst the political distractions, which have agitated other nations, it has been one of the greatest blessings, which this country has enjoyed to have had in WILLIAM THE FOURTH, a Monarch, who reigned not only the King, but the fond father of his people, while their cheerful and affectionate loyalty, constituted the happiness of his life, the chief glory of his crown, and the strength, prosperity, and splendour of the nation.
It has, however, been the will of Heaven to remove that much esteemed Monarch, from his earthly kingdom, and to gather him to his Fathers, at a most momentous crisis of the Country, when the people were looking up to him, as their chief hope to carry them victoriously, through those great measures for the reformation of all abuses, in the administration of the affairs of Church and State, and which a high and haughty Aristocracy, are using their utmost efforts to preserve and maintain. To WILLIAM The Fourth, the people of this country, have a large debt of gratitude to pay, and it must be generally admitted, that the Historian cannot point to the reign of any English Monarch, in which greater benefits have been conferred upon the people, than in the reign of WILLIAM THE FOURTH.
It has not indeed been distinguished by the universal war cry of GEORGE' III, nor the profligacy, debauchery, and extravagance of GEORGE IV., but in times of peace, under the sanction, and rule of a patriot king, the people have been restored to some of their rights, and WILLIAM THE FOURTH, lived to experience, that the brightest jewel in the Crown of a Monarch, is the love of his people. He has died with the lustre of that jewel unimpaired, and prosperity will award him a niche, in the temple of fame, which few of his predecessors deserve, and which it is hoped, his successors will endeavour to acquire.
We cannot stifle our attachment to persons and families, whose memory ought to be dear to every Englishman. It is not for malice and misrepresentation to make us forget that the Houses of Orange and Brunswick, have rendered us essential services, at critical times, and that to them, under Providence, we are indebted for the continued enjoyment of privileges, which distinguish us from the rest of the world. Such names have hitherto been mentioned with veneration, by our most ardent and enlightened Patriots; and their names, at the head of which now stands that of WILLIAM IV., will continue to be venerated by all who being rationally, as well as fervently attached to the constitution itself, cannot remember with indifference, those persons and families, which have been the instruments of its preservation.
In detailing the incidents of the private life of WILLIAM THE FOURTH, the Author is well aware, that he will frequently be obliged to tread on very tender ground. The actions of Monarchs are but little known, until they have been removed from this earth; but when all delicacy, and respect to the feelings of the existing King are removed, then it becomes the duty of the Historian, to give a faithful and impartial portraiture, uninfluenced by party spirit, or any consideration for the personal feelings of those, who, now that the shield of royalty is removed, from them, must appear in their real character to the world.
The political events of the life of William The Fourth are of more momentous import; but as the friend of the people, as the defender of their imperscriptible rights, the Author has in the course of this work, fearlessly exposed the political machinations, by which their rights were withheld from them, and whilst bestowing upon their patriot King, all the praise that is due to him, for his unflinching adherence to the cause of Reform, he has not less fearlessly investigated the causes, and the power of those, who, though admitted by the constitution to legislate for the people, are yet the people's enemies.
LIFE AND REIGN
WILLIAM THE FOURTH.
The greatest pride of a Briton, is his political Constitution, for by it he becomes invested with rights and privileges, which impart to him a character never to be discovered in the subjects of other countries, and place him in the highest scale of civilized life. An hereditary Monarchy, is one of the first principles of that Constitution; and the general consent of the people, evidenced by long and immemorial usage, has vested the executive power of the English Government, in the person of the King, or Queen; for, it is indifferent to which sex the Crown descends.
The consent of the people, however, is not to be so understood, as though there were really a time and a place, when and where the population of the Island met together to choose their King; there being no trace of any such event in history. And although this choice of the people, is a favourite article in the creed of some speculative politicians, it is probable that the fact never existed in any country, since the world began. Nothing, at least is farther from the truth, than that the Crown is so held by the King of England.
It is beyond all controversy, that the English Government ha been monarchical from the most remote period of its exist
That the royal office has always been hereditary, and not elective, has never been denied, but by the Republicans, who beheaded Charles I. They, indeed, asserted the inalienable right of the people, to elect their Supreme Governor; and soon afterwards, with great consistency, the Crown was offered to Cromwell, by a House of Commons, convened by the sole authority of the Usurper. But the title of Cromwell himself to the supreme power, rested merely upon the instrument of Government, which was drawn up by a council, consisting only of his general officers. What share the people had in proposing to make him a King, may be seen in the histories of those times.
The hereditary right to the Crown, acknowledged by the laws of England, originated with the wise founders of our Constitution, who preferred making it an hereditary, rather than an elective Monarchy. Their policy has obtained the general consent, and an established usage, and consequently, the King has the same title to the Crown, that a private man has to his hereditary estate.
!f, indeed, there were no corruption in the human heart, to endanger the exercise of just principles, an elective Monarchy would be most favourable to the liberties of the subject, because the most suitable person would, probably, under such circumstances, be chosen to the supreme authority. But the experience of all ages, has convinced every considerate man, that popular elections are unavoidably attended with great inconvenience, and that undue influence, ambition, power, and artifice, will almost always prevail over virtue and integrity.
Considering the peculiar situation in which this country stands, in regard to the succession to the throne, and threatened as it is, with a most severe calamity, in case of the demise of the present Queen without issue; it may not be inappropriate, to give a short historical detail of the law of succession, as it effects the Kings of England, and we ought to be most
grateful to our ancestors, that they have provided a remedy for the evil, to which we have just now alluded.
The Crown descends lineally to the issue of the reigning Monarch, as it did from King John, to Richard II., through a regular succession of six generations. The right of primogeniture amongst the males, and of the males in preference to the females, is also a constitutional rule in the descent of the Crown. Thus Edward took the Crown in preference to Richard, his younger brother, and to Elizabeth his elder sister. Upon failure of the male line, the Crown descends to the eldest of the female issue, and the heirs of her body, lawfully begotten, and not jointly to the female issue of the same degree, as in common inheritances.
The descent of the Crown to the female line, in failure of the male issue, is an ancient British custom. For our forefathers were often led to battle by women, and they paid no regard to sex with respect to the individual, who administered the executive Government.
The doctrine of representation, likewise, prevails in the descent of the Crown, as in other inheritances.' Thus Richard II., succeeded his grandfather ; Edward III., in right of his father, the Black Prince; and George III., took the crown on the demise of his grandfather, George II., in right of his father Frederick, Prince of Wales, and each to the exclusion of all their uncles.
In the event of lineal descendants, the Crown devolves to the next collateral relations of the late King, provided they are lineally descended from the royal stock, which originally acquired the Crown. Thus Henry I., succeeded to William II.; John, to Richard I.; and James I., to Elizabeth; being all derived from William the Conqueror. And if there be no kinsman of the whole blood, a relation of the half blood, will undoubtedly succeed to the throne; as was the case with Mary I., who succeeded Edward VI.; and of Elizabeth, who ascended the throne on the death of Mary; all being the children of Henry VIII., and each by different mothers.
The doctrine, however, of hereditary right, by no means