« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »
declared King and Queen, to hold the Crown and royal dignity during their lives, and the life of the survivor of them, and after their deceases, the said Crown and royal dignity to be to the heirs of the body of the said Princess; and for default of such issue to the Princess Anne of Denmark, and the heirs of her body, and for default of such issue to the heirs of the body of the said Prince of Orange.” From this important transaction, justified clearly from the necessity of the case, some have inferred the inherent right of the people of England to cashier their Kings. Yet nothing can be more fallacious than such reasoning; it being the indispensable duty of every Christian to submit himself to the lawful authority established in this country. So long then as the King of England governs his conduct by the law of the realm, he cannot be resisted nor dethroned by his subjects, without their being guilty of open rebellion against God.
Towards the end of the reign of King William, the Duke of Gloucester, the son of Anne (afterwards Queen,) dying, with him all hopes of a Protestant succession failed; and, the Parliament had previously enacted, that no person possessing the Popish faith, should ever be capable of inheriting, possessing, or enjoying the Crown of these realms.
In this dilemma, therefore, the remainder of the Crown expectant, on the death of King William and Queen Anne, without issue, was settled by Statutes 12 and 13, Wm. III. ch. 2, on the Princess Sophia, Dowager Electress of Hanover, and grand-daughter of King James I., and on the heirs of her body, being Protestants.
Queen Anne succeeded to the throne on the death of King William ; she died without issue, but surviving the Princess Sophia of Hanover, transmitted the Crown to her son and heir, King George I. To him succeeded his son, King George II., on whose demise, King George III. ascended the throne of his ancestors. Few monarchs reigned so long, and none during so important a period as George III.; and, it may be confidently added, that there is no reign marked with such disastrous events to this country. His love of war lost
him America, the most important jewel in his Crown, and by the reprehensible policy of a high aristocratic minister, increased the national debt to an amount, to pay the interest of which, a system of taxation must be adopted, which paralyzes the best energies of the country. The pension list of Pitt is still an oppressive incubus on the finances of the country; a dead weight, which, if the representatives of the people were true to the trust reposed in them, would have been long since removed, leaving the Arabellas and Matildas, the Johns and Richards of our pauper nobility, to earn their livelihood by honest industry, and not live at the nation's expence, contemning those who labour to support them, and flaunting about in the character of titled paupers, as the vilest excresences on the body politic of a nation.
To George III. succeeded his libertine son, George IV. who in the annals of the country stands recorded as one of the most profligate and extravagant Princes, that ever swayed the sceptre of these realms. If his father squandered the treasures of the country, and beggar'd us and our posterity as long as there may be a King on the throne of England by his quixotic wars, so did his son contribute to the utmost of bis power to drain the resources of the country, by his continual demand upon them to support his reckless extravagance and his habits of profligacy. In the investigation of the character of our Princes, we enter not upon the disquisition of Royalty in an abstract sense, but we judge of them as individuals, as they display themselves to the nation, and the influence which their conduct has had upon its general interests. Still in the spirit of liberality it must be admitted, that the sons of the King of England are by the rigour and unjustness of the laws, placed in a situation worse than any other Princes of a civilized country. The laws by which they are exclusively governed, forces them to be debauchees, and this should have been taken into the consideration of the moral, and the pious George III. before he put his sign manual to the Royal Marriage Act, by which he constrained his sons to be either fornicators or adulterers. In this respect, we are bound to look upon the actions of our Princes, through a different medium than that by which we examine the actions of other men. The above remark will particularly apply to the illustrious subject of the present history, and when we enter upon that period of his life which brings him immediately within the pale of the laws, now adverted to, we trust that we shall be able to show, that in his departure from the rigid rule, which morality has laid down for the conduct of men, the blame is not so much to be attached to him, as to the individual, who for the sake of keeping the Guelphic blood in a pure and uncontaminated state, enacted a law at variance with Christianity, and repugnant to human nature.
If persons of inferior rank in life would consider the great difficulties that Princes have to encounter, they would be less inclined to judge them with so much severity as they generally do. They ought in the first place to consider that in ordinary life, the vices, the errors and the foibles of the man are easily concealed, and that it is only the careless and the imprudent who allow half their faults to be known.
From the beginning of time, from the earliest periods of recorded history such has been the situation of Princes, and the consequence is that their characters have been transmitted to us in a more unfavourable light than those of other men, who have ostentatiously displayed their virtues and cautiously concealed their vices.
We, however, as introductory to the history of the life of William the IV. cannot avert our attention from some of the extravagances of George the IV. as they have an immediate bearing on some parts of the conduct of William thel V. when Duke of Clarence, and which involved him in debts, which although the honour of three Princes of the Blood Royal of England was pledged for their payment, are to this moment unliquidated.
The satraps of the Court must give us credit for the knowledge that Kings are but men, that thrones are made of gilded wood, and frequently as worm-eaten, as the putrid body of the King himself, though covered with his perfumed cerements. We know that courtiers are a set of base, truckling sycophants; that a mass of brick and mortar, promoted to the rank of a palace, as being the habitation of a King, is a mere gewgaw of the most insufferable vanity, and that all the swelling grandeur, all the pomp, all the outward circumstances of royalty are nothing more than glare and tinsel. We know further, that royalty is inevitably attended with expense, and therefore we are ready to admit, that it would be ungracious to quarrel with that expense, provided it was kept within proper and legal bounds, but when we are told, that the well known private tastes, munificence, public spirit, and other high sounding virtues of George the IV., were one of the greatest blessings ever conferred on the country, we confess that we turn sick at such inflated nonsense, and especially, when we consider the drains which were made upon the pockets of the people, at a time when our streets were filled with mourning, and our houses with woe, merely to uphold the said “ tastes, munificence and public spirit of the royal voluptuary. It may be considered irrelevant, but it will be found, that the extravagances of the princely profligate were in some instances, closely connected with the conduct of the Duke of Clarence, afterwards William the IV., and for that reason, they are here introduced, that a proper clue may be at hand, for the unravelling of many circumstances, which had a direct tendency to impugn the character of the Duke of Clarence, whereas in fact, he acted more as the dupe and instrument of others, than from his own free will or principles.
In 1783, when the Duke of Clarence was in his 19th year, the career of “ private tastes, munificence, and public spirit,” had been for some time persevered in, the consequence of which was, that the three elder branches of the royal family were overwhelmed with debt. In the above-mentioned year, Parliament voted the Prince of Wales, for the purpose of keeping up the dignity of his high station, and as a separate establishment, his nonage having expired, £50,000 a year, and £60,000 as an outfit. This sum exceeded the revenue of six of the pauper principalities of Germany, from whence the royal
family of this country draw their females, for the perpetuation of the Guelphic race, and twice the amount of the civil list of Denmark or Sweden. This sum, however, which any prudent and economical prince would have found amply sufficient, to provide him with all the luxuries of life, and fully adequate to support the dignity of his station, was by the royal libertine, found wholly insufficient for the support of his profligate habits, and in 1787, his debts, which had been for some time the subject of conversation, and particularly amongst the Jews of Houndsditch, who with their accustomed rascality, were ready to advance their hundreds, or thousands, on receiving cent per cent, were brought before Parliament by the Whig opposition, to which he at that time had attached himself, and the public heard a vast deal of the scandal and shame of allowing the heir apparent of the Crown, to be so overwhelmed with debt, but not a word was uttered of the scandal and shame, attached to the heir apparent, in contracting those debts at all. King George the Third was notoriously, one of the richest men in Europe, but so dense is the veil, which is thrown over the secrets of royalty, that not the slightest information has ever been obtained of the manner in which those riches were disposed of; had a few thousands been appropriated for the honour and dignity of the family, to the liquidation of the debts of his moral son, the Duke of York, several families would have been saved from destitution, and the name of the Duke of York not pronounced, with a heavy curse attached to it. The heir apparent to the Crown is the protegee, or to speak in a humbler strain, the pet of the nation, and therefore how inconsistent, how impolitic would it appear in the vaunted FathER OF HIS PEOPLE to pay the debts of a son, of whom he was the natural Father, when the people would so gladly and willingly relieve him from such an onerous imposition. He, therefore very wisely sends a message down to his faithful Commons, which, in plain English, is little more than a command ; stating that from the fulness of his generosity, which was sheer humbug, he had made an advance of £10.000 a year from the civil list, which