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the sovereign who succeeded him had so long withdrawn Chap.
him from the public gaze, the death of George III. made —
a profound impression on the British heart. The very circumstances under which the demise had taken place Deep i inadded to the melancholy interest "which it excited, and the which his feelings with which the bereavement was regarded by the onathemad' people. Nearly the whole existing generation had grown countryup during his long reign of sixty years; there was no one who had not been accustomed to regard the 4th of June, the well-known birthday of the sovereign, as a day of rejoicing; no one could form an idea of a king without the aged form which still flitted through the halls of Windsor occurring to the mind. The very obscurity in which his last days had been shrouded, the mental darkness which had prevented him from being conscious of the surpassing glories of the close of his reign, the malady which had secluded him from the eyes of his affectionate people, added to the emotion which his death occasioned. Old feelings were revived, former affections, long pent up, gushed forth, and flowed without control. The realisation of the catastrophe, though not of the sorrows, of Lear on the theatre of the world, profoundly affected every heart. The king had survived all his unpopularity ; he had lived down the bitterest of his enemies. When the eloquent preacher quoted the words of Scripture, "And Joseph asked them of their welfare, and said, Is your father well % the old man of whom ye spake, is he yet alive 1 And they answered, Our father is yet alive. And they bowed their heads, and made obeisance,"* all felt that now, as in • the days of the patriarchs, the same affections of a people to their common father were experienced. The removal of the aged king from this earthly scene made no change in the political world; it was unfelt in the councils or cabinets of princes; but, like a similar bereavement in private life, the circle of the domestic affections was for a
* Sormon on the Jubilee, 1810, by Hev. A. Alison—Sermons, i. 419.
Chap. season drawn closer, from the removal of one who had
! shared in its brightness. Nor did it lessen the emotion
1820" felt on this event, that it occurred at the time -when the mighty antagonist of the departed sovereign was declining in distant and hopeless captivity, and that while George III. slept to death in the solitude of his ancestral halls, Napoleon was dying a discrowned exile in the melancholy main.
40 The French said, in the days of their loyalty, "The Birth king is dead—long live the king!" Never was the value torfa. of this noble maxim more strongly felt than on the pre18&29' sent occasion. The death of the king, preceded as it had been by that of the Princess Charlotte, the heiress of the throne, the age and circumstances of the sovereign who had just ascended it, and the situation of the other members of the royal family, had long awakened a feeling of disquietude as to the succession to the monarchy. The Duke of York, now the heir-apparent, was married, had no family, and the duchess was in declining health; the Duke of Clarence, the next in succession, was advanced in years, and although he had had children, they had all died in infancy or early youth. The successors to the crown, after the present sovereign, whose health was known to be in a precarious condition, were, a prince from whom no issue could now be expected, and, after him, an infant princess. Many were the gloomy apprehensions entertained of the eventual consequences of such a state of things, at a time when Europe was convulsed by revolutionary passions, and vigour and capacity on the throne seemed, in an especial manner, requisite to steer the monarchy through the shoals with which it was surrounded. But how often does the course of events deviate from what was once anticipated, and Providence, out of seeming disaster, educe the means of future salvation! Out of this apparently untoward combination of circumstances arose an event of the last importance in after times to the British empire. George IV. Chap. reigned just ten years after his accession to the throne, x' the Duke of Clarence only seven; and his demise opened im' the succession to our present gracious sovereign, then an infant in the arms, who, uniting the courage and spirit of her Plantagenet and Stuart, to the judgment and integrity of her Hanoverian ancestors, has reunited, in troubled times, all hearts to the throne, and spread through her entire subjects the noble feelings of disinterested loyalty. The sequel of this history will show of what incalculable importance it was that, at a time when every crown in Europe was shaking on the brow of its wearer, and the strongest monarchies were crumbling in the dust, a Queen should have been on the British throne, whose virtues had inspired the respect, while her intrepidity had awakened the admiration of all her subjects, and who, like her ancestress Queen Mary, was regarded with warmer feelings of chivalrous devotion than any king, how eminent soever, could have been; for towards her, to all that could command respect in the other sex were united
"the gallantry of man
In lovelier woman's cause."
The English were soon made aware on how precarious a footing the succession to the throne was placed, and Alarming how soon they might have to mourn a second death QeorgViv. among their monarchs. Hardly had the new king ascended the throne, when he was seized with a violent attack of inflammation in the chest, which was the more alarming, from its being the same complaint which had so recently proved fatal to the Duke of Kent. For several days his life was in imminent danger, and almost despaired of; but at length the strength of his constitution, and the, Ann skill of his physicians, triumphed over the virulence of}^17,the disease, and the alarming symptoms disappeared.1 L84wTMfo6!' He long continued, however, very weak, from the copious
Chap. bleedings which he had undergone; and when his royal x' father was laid in the grave at Windsor, on the 16th
im' February, the highest in station was absent, and the Duke of York was chief mourner.
Parliament met again, after the prorogation, on the Ominous 17th February. By the Constitution, the House of reading Commons must be dissolved within six months after the JioVof1*" demise of the king, and the state of the public business roSnV3*" rendered it advisable that this should take place as soon 2TM£jin as possible, in order to get it over by the ordinary time 'of prorogation. It was indispensable, however, for Ministers to obtain some votes in supply before the House was dissolved; and, in doing so, they received early warning of a serious difficulty which awaited them at the very threshold of their career as ministers of the new monarch. Hitherto Queen Caroline had been prayed for in the Liturgy as the Princess of Wales. But as the king was determined never, under any circumstances, to acknowledge her as Queen of England, it was deemed indispensable to make a stand at the very Feb. 12. outset; and, accordingly, her name was omitted in the Liturgy by an order of the Privy Council. This gave rise to an ominous question in the House of Commons a Feb. 18. few days after. Mr Hume asked, on the 18th February, whether the allowance of £35,000 a-year, hitherto made to her Royal Highness, was to be continued; and Lord Castlereagh having answered in the affirmative, no further notice of the subject took place, though Mr Brougham, her chief legal adviser, was present, and had made a violent attack on the Government. But on the 21st, when a motion was made that the House should resolve itself into a committee of supply, Mr Hume again introduced 1 Ann. Reg. tne subject, and said that, without finding fault with any 2G-°pafi'. exercise of the prerogative, on the part of the sovereign, me Ig'ow as head or" tuc Church,1 he might be permitted to ask why i62i|i623.' an address of condolence and congratulation had not been voted to her Majesty on her accession to the throne,
and to express his regret at the manner in which she had Chap. been treated. Was she to be left a beggar upon the x' Continent, and the Queen of England to be thrown a 1820" needy suppliant on the cold charity of foreign princes 1 Something definite should be fixed in regard to the future provision for her.
The speech of Mr Brougham on this occasion was very remarkable, and seemed to presage, as he was the RemarkQueen's Attorney-general, a more favourable issue to this ofMrpeech unhappy division than could have been at first anticipated. Brousha,nHe deemed it unnecessary to lay any stress on the omission of her name in the Liturgy, or her being called by the King's ministers in this debate an "exalted personage" instead of Her Majesty. Was she not the wedded wife of the sovereign? What she was called could not alter her position one way or other. These are trifles light as air, which can never render her situation either precarious or uncertain. If the advisers of the Crown should be able to settle upon her what was necessary to maintain her rank and dignity out of the civil list, there would be no need to introduce her Majesty's name. He had refused to listen to any surmise; he had shut his ears to all reports; he knew nothing of any delicate investigations; but if any charge was preferred against her Majesty, he, M Deb would be prepared to meet it alike as her Majesty's confi- *n. i6ic;' dential adviser, and as an independent member of Parlia- lm, 27?' ment.1
Nothing further followed on this conversation, and Parliament, having been prorogued to the 13th March, was Quo street next day dissolved, and writs issued for the election of a ThiSST7' new Parliament to meet on 27th April. But ere it could ^ *ifeT assemble the nation was horror-struck by the discovery of one of the most atrocious murderous conspiracies that ever disgraced the annals of mankind, and which was only prevented from ending in the massacre of the whole Cabinet by the timidity or treachery of one of the members of the gang, who revealed the plot to the Government.