Obrazy na stronie
PDF
ePub

Lowten, who should have communicated this circumstance to his Royal Highness ; but that, in all fairness, it ought unquestionably to have been communicated by

[merged small][ocr errors]

I dare not trust myself with any inferences from this proceeding; I content myself with remarking, that it must now be felt, that I was justified in saying, that neither his Royal Highness, nor your Majesty, any more than myself, had been fairly dealt with, in not being fully informed upon this important fact; and your Majesty will forgive a weak, unprotected woman, like myself, who, under such circumstances, should apprehend that, however Sir John and Lady Douglas may appear my ostensible accusers, I have other enemies, whose ill-will I may have occasion to fear, without feeling myself assured, that it will be strictly regulated, in its proceeding against me, by the principles of fairness and of justice.

I have now, Sire, gone through all the evidence which respects Captain Manby ; whether at Montague-ilouse, Southend, or East Cliff, and I do trust, that your Majesty will see, upon the whole of it, how mistaken a view the Commissioners have taken of it. The pressure of other duties engrossing their time and their attention, has made them leave the important duties of this investigation, in many particulars, imperfectly discharged-a more thorough attention to it must have given them a better and truer in. sight into the characters of those witnesses, upon whose credit, as I am convinced, your Majesty will now see, they have without sufficient reason relied. There remains nothing for me, on this part of the charge to perform ; but, adverting to the circumstance which is falsely sworn against me by Mr. Bidgood, of the salute, and the false inference and insinuation, from other facts, that Captain Manby slept in my house, either at Southend, or East Cliff, on my own part most solemnly declare, that they are bott utterly false; that Bidgood's assertion as to the salute is a malicious slanderous invention, without the slightest shadow of truth to support it; that his suspicions and insinuations, as to Captain Manby's having slept in my house, are also the false suggestions of his own malicious mind; and that Captain Manby never did, to my knowledge or belief, sleep at my house at Southend, East Cliff, or any other house of mine whatever; and, however often he may have been in my company, I solemnly protest to your Majesty, as I have done in the former cases, that nothing ever passed between him and me, that I should be ashamed, or unwilling, that all the world should have seen. And I have also, with great pain, and with a deep sense of wounded delicacy, applied to Captain Manby to attest to the same truths, and I subjoin to this letter his deposition to that effect.

I stated to your Majesty, that I should be obliged to return to other parts of Fanny Lloyd's testimony. At the end of it, she says, I never told Cole that M. Wilson, when she supposed the Princess to be in the library, had gone iuto the Princess's bed. room, and had found a mau there at breakfast with the Princess; or that there was a great to do about it, and that M. Wilson was sworn to secrecy, and threatened to be turned away, if she divulged what she had seen.” This part of her examination your Majesty will perceive, must have been called from her, by some precise question, addressed to her, with respect to a supposed communication from her to Mr. Cole.“ In Mr Cole's examination, there is not one word upon the subject of it. In his original declaration, however there is; and there your Majesty will perceive, that he affirms thé fact of her having reported to him Mary Wilson's declaration, in the very same words in which Fanny Lloyd denies it, and it is therefore evident that the Commissioners, in putting this question to Fanny Lloyd, must have put it to her from Cole's declaration. She positively denies the fact; there is then a fiat and precise contradiction, between the examination of Fanny Lloyd and the origiiral statement of Mr. Cole." It is therefore

impossible that they both can have spoken true. The Commissioners, for some reason, dou't examine Cole to this point at all; don't endeavour to trace out this story; if they had, they must have discovered which of these witnesses spoke the truth ; but they leave this contradiction, not only unexplained, but upinquired after, and in that state, report both these witnesses, Cole and Fanny Lloyd, who thus speak to the two sides of a contradiction, and who therefore cannot by possibility both speak truth, as witnesses who cannot be suspected of partiality, whose credit they see no reason to question, and whose story must be believed till contradicted.

But what is, if possible, still more extraordinary, this supposed communication from F. Lloyd to Cole, as your Majesty observes, relates to something which M. Wilson is supposed to have seen and to have said; yet though M. Wilson appears herself to have been examined by the Commissioners on the same day with Fanny Lloyd, in the copy of her examination, as delivered to me, there is no trace of any question relating to this declaration having been put to her.

And I have not less reason, to lament, than to be surprised, that it did not occur to the. Commissioners to see the vecessity of following this Inquiry still further. For, if properly pursued, it would have demonstrated two things, both very important to be kept in mind in the whole of this consideration. First, how hearsay representations of this kind, arising out of little or nothing, become magnified and exaggerated by the circulation of prejudiced, or malicious reporters; and, Secondly, it would have shewn the industry of Mr. and Mrs. Bidgood, as well as Mr. Cole, in collecting information in support of Lady Douglas's statement, and in improving what they collected by their false colourings, and malicious additions to it. They would have found a story in Mrs. Bidgood's declaration, as well as in her husband's (who relates it as having heard it from his wife,) which is evidently the same as that which W. Cole's declaration con. tains. For the Bidgoods' declarations state, that Fanny Lloyd told Mrs. Bidgood that Mary Wilson had gone into the Princess's bed room, and had found her Royal Highness and Sir Sydney in the must criminal situation ; that she had left the room, and was so shocked, that 'she fainted away at the door. Here then are Mrs. Bidgood, and Mr. Cole, both declaring what they had heard Fanny Lloyd say, and Fanny Lloyd denying it. How extraordinary is it that they were not all coufronted ! and your Majesty will see presently how much it is to be lamented that they were not.' For, from Fanny Lloyd's original declaration, it appears that the truth would have come out. As she there states that, “ To the best of her knowledge Mary Wilson said, that she had seen the Princess and Sir Sydney in the Blue Room, but never heard Mary Wilson say

she was so alarmed as to be in a fit." If then, on confronting Fanny Lloyd with Mrs. Bidgood and Mr. Cole, the Commissioners had found Fanny Lloyd's story to be what she related before, and had then put the question to Mary Wilson, and had heard from her what it really was which she had seen and related to Fanny Lloyd, they could not have been at a loss to discover which of these witnesses told the truth. They would have found, I am perfectly confident, that all Mary Wilson ever could have told Fanny Lloyd, was that she had seen Sir Sydney and myself in the Blue Room, and they would then have had to refer to the malicious, and confederated inventions of the Bidgoods and Mr. Cole, for the conversion of the Blue Room into the bed-room, for the vile slander of what M. Wilson was supposed to have seen, and for the violent effect which this scene had upon her. I say their confederated inventions, as it is impossible to suppose that they could have been concerned in inventing the same additions to Fanny Lloyd's story, unless they had communicated together upon it. And when they had once found Mrs. Bidgood and Mr. Cole, thus conspiring together, they would have had no difficulty in connecting them both in tlae same conspiracy with Sir John Douglas, by shewing how connected Cole was with Sir John Douglas, and how acquainted with his proceedings, in collecting the evidence which was to support Laly Douglas's declaratiou.

For, by referring to Mr. Cole's declaration, made on the 23d of February, they would have seen that Mr. Cole, in explaining some observation about Sir Sydney's supposed possession of a key to the garden door, says that it was what “ Mr. Lampert, the servant of Sir John Douglas, mentioned at Cheltenham to Sir Jobu Douglas and Mr. Lowten.'' How should Mr. Cole know that Sir John Douglas and Mr. Lowten had been down to Cheltenham, to collect evidence from this old servant of Sir Johu Douglas's? How should be have known what the evidence was, unless he had either accompanied them himself, or at least had had such a communication either with Sir John Douglas, or Mr. Lowten, as it never could have occurred to any of them to have made to Mr. Cole, unless, instead of being a mere witness, he were a party to this accusation? But whether they had convinced themselves that Fanny Lloyd spoke true, and Cole and Mrs. Bidgood falsely; or whether they had convinced themselves of the reverse, it could not have been possible, that they both could have spoken the truth; and, consequently, the Commissioners could never have reported the veracity of both to be free from suspicion, and deserving of credit.

There only remains that I should make a few observations on what appears in the examinations relative to Mr. Hood (now Lord Hood,) Mr. Chester, and Captain Moore. And I really should not have thought a single observation necessary upon either of them, except that what refers to them is stated in the examinations of Mrs. Lisle.With respect to Lord Hood it is as follows :

“I was at Catherington with the Princess,--remember Mr. (now Lord Hood) there, and the Princess going out airing with him, alone, in Mr. Hood's little whiskey ;-and his servant was with them; Mr. Hood drove, and staid out two or three times ;-more than once, three or four times. Mr. Hood dined with us several times; once or twice he slept in a house in the garden; she appeared to pay no attention to him but that of common civility to an intimate acquaintance.” Now Sire, it is undoubtedly true that I drove out several times with Lord Hood in his one horse chaise, and some few times, twice I believe at most, without any of my servants attending us; and considering the time of life, and the respectable character of my Lord Hood, I never should have conceived that I incurred the least danger to my reputation in so doing. If indeed it was the duty of the Commissioners to inquire iuto instances of my conduct in which they may conceive it to have been less reserved and dignified than what would properly become the exalted station which I hold in your Majesty's Royal Family, it it possible that, in the opinions of some, these drives with my Lord Hood were not consistent with that station, and that they were particularly improper in those instances in which we were not attended by more servants, or any servants of my own. Upon this I have only to observe, that these instances occurred after I had receiyed the news of the lamented death of your Majesty's brother, the Duke of Gloucester. I was at that time down by the sea side for my health. I did not like to forego the advantage of air and exercise for the short remainder of the time which I had to stay there; and I purposely chose to go out, not in my own carriage, and unattended, that I might not be seen and known, to be driving about (myself and my attendants out of mourning) while his Royal Highness was known to have been so recently dead. This statement, however, is all that I have to make upon my part of the case, and whatever indecorum or impropriety of behaviour the Commissioners have fixed upon me by this circumstance, it must remain; for I cannot deny the truth of the fact, and have only the above explanation to offer of it. As to what Mrs. Lisle's examination contains with respect to Mr. Chester and Captain Moore, it is so connected, that I must trouble your Majesty with the statement of it altogether.

“ I was with her Royal Highness at Lady Sheffield's at Christmas, in Sussex ; 1 inquired what company was there when I came, she said, only Mr. Johan Chester, who was there by her Royal Highness's srders ; that she could get no other company to meet her, on account of the roads, and the seasou of the year. He dined and slept there that night; the uext day other company came, Mr. Chester remained. I heard her Royal Highness say she had been ilì in the night, and came out for

light, and lighted her candle in her servant's room. I returned from Sheffield-place to Blackheatha with the Princess; Captain Moore dined there; I left him and the Princess twice aloue, for a short time; he might be alone, half an hour with her in the room below, in which we liad been sitting. I went to look for a book to complete a set her Royal Highness was lending to Captain Moore. She made him a present of an inkstand, to the best of my recollection. He was there one moruing in January last, on the Princess Charlotte's birth-day; he went away before the rest of the company. I might be about twenty minutes the second time I was away, the night Captain Moore was there. At Lady Sheffield's, her Royal Highness paid more attention to Mr. Chester than to the rest of the company. I know of her Royal Highness walking out alone, twice, with Mr. Chester in the morning alone; once, a short time it rained, the other not an hour, Hot long. Mr. Chester is a pretty young man; her attentions to him were not uncommon; uòt the same as to Captain Manby.”

And first, Sire, as to what relates to Mr. Chester. If there is any imputation to be cast upou my character by what passed at Sheffield-place with Mr. Chester, (and by the Commissioners returning to examine Mrs. Lisle upon my attention to Mr. Chester, my walking out with him, and above all “ as to his being a pretty young man," I conceive it to be so intended) I am sure your Majesty will see that it is the hardest thing, imaginable upon me, that, upon au occurrence which passed in Lady Sheffield's house, on a visit to her, Lady Sheffield herself was never examined; for if she had been, I am convinced that these Noble Lords, the Commissioners, never could have put me to the painful degradation of stating any thing upon this subject.

The statement begins by Mrs. Lisle's inquiring what company was there ? and Lady Sheffield saying “ only Mr. John Chester, who was there by her Royal Highness's orders; that she could get wo other company on account of the roads." Is not this, Sire, left open to the inference that Mr. John Chester was the only person who had been invited by my orders? If Lady Sheffield had been examined, she would have been able to have produced the very letter in which, in answer to her Ladyship’s request, that I sliould let her know what company it would be agreeable for me to meet, I said,

every thing of the name of North, all the Legges and Chesters, William and John, &c. &c. and Mr. Elliott.”. Instead of singling out, therefore, Mr. John Chester, I included him in the enumeration which I made of the near relations of Lady: Sheffield; and your Majesty from this alone cannot fail to see how false a colour even á true fact can assume, if it be not sufficiently inquired into and explained,

As to the circumstance of my having been taken ill in the night, being obliged to get up, and light my candle; why this fact should be recorded I am wholly at a loss to conceive. All the circumstauces however respecting it,, connected very much as they are with the particular disposition of Lady Sheffield's house, would have been fully explained, if thought material to have been inquired after, by Lady Sheffield herself; and I should have been relieved from the painful (legradation of alluding at all to a circumstance, which I could not further detail, without a degree of indelicacy; and as I cannot possibly suppose such a detail can be necessary for my defence, it would, especially in addressing your Majesty, be wholly inexcusable. With respect to the attention wbich I paid to Mr. Chester, and to my walking out twice aloue with him for

h

a short time, I kuow not how to notice it. At this distance of time I am uot certain that I can, with perfect accuracy, account for the circumstance. It appears to have been a rainy morning; it was on the 27th or 28th of December; and whether, wishing to take a walk, I did not desire Lady Sheffield, or Mrs. Lisle, or any Lady, to accompany me in doing what, in such a morning, I might think miglit be disagreeable to them, I really cannot precisely state to your Majesty.

But here again, perhaps, in the judgment of some persons, may be an instance of familiarity which was not consistent with the dignity of the Princess of Wales; but surely prejudice against me and my character must exceed all natural bounds in those minds in which any inference of crime, or moral depravity, can be drawn from such a fact. As to Captain Moore, it seems he was left alone with me, and twice in one afternoon by Mrs. Lisle ; he was alone with me half an hour. The first time Mrs. Lisle left us, her examination says, it was to look for a book which I wished to lend Captain Moore. How long she was absent on that occasion she is not asked, but it could have been but ten minutes, as she appears to have been absent twenty minutes the second time. The Commissioner's, though they particularly return to the Inquiry with respect to the length of time of ber second absence, did not require her to tell them the occasion of it; if they had, she would have told them, that it was in search of the same book ;-that having on the first occasion looked for it in the drawing-room, she went afterwards to see for it in Mrs. Fitzgerald's room.-But I made him I present of an inkstand. I hope your Majesty will not think I am trifling with your patience when I take notice of such trifles. But it is of such trifles as these that the evidence consists, when it is the evidence of respectable witnesses speaking to facts, and consequently speaking only the truth. Captain Moore had conferred on me what I felt as a considerable obligation. My mother is very partial to the late Dr. Moore's writings. Captain Moore, as your Majesty knows, is his son, and he promised to lend me, for the purpose of sending it to my mother, a manuscript of an unpublished work of the Doctor's. In return for this civility I begged his acceptance of a trifling present.

There is one circumstance, alluded to in these examinations, which I know not how to notice, and yet feel it impossible to omit-I mean what respects certain anonymous papers, or letters, marked A. B. and C. to which Lord Cholmondeley appears to have been examined, upon the supposition of their being my hand-writing. A letter, marked A. appears, by the examination of Lady Douglas, to have been produced by her; and the two papers, marked B. and a cover, marked C. appear to have been produced by Sir John. These papers I have never seen; but I conclude them to be the same as are alluded to in Lady Douglas's original Declaration, and from her representation of them, they are most infamous productions. From the style aud language of the letter, she says, Sir John Donglas, Sir Sidney Smith, and kerself, would have no manner of hesitation in swearing point blank (for that is her phrase) to their being in my hand-writing; and it seems, from the statement of his Royal Highness the Duke of Kent, that Sir Sidney Smith had been imposed upon to believe that these letters and papers were really written and sent to Sir Johu and Lady Douglas by me. I cannot help, however, remarking to your Majesty, that, though Sir John and Lady Douglas produce these papers, and mark them, yet neither the one nor the other swears to their belief of my hand-writing; it does not, indeed, appear, that they were asked the question ; and when it once occurred to the Commissioners to be material to inquire whose handwriting these papers were, I should have been much surprised at their not applying to Sir John and Lady Douglas to swear it, as in their original Declaration they offer to do, if it had not been that, by that time, I suppose, the Commissioners had satisfied

« PoprzedniaDalej »