Obrazy na stronie
PDF
ePub

He announced to me,--the Princess of Wales, in the first communication made" to me, with respect to this proceeding, the near approach of two attornies (one of them, I since find, the solicitor employed by Sir John Douglas), claiming to enter my dwelling, with a warrant, to take away one half of my household, for immediate examination upon a charge against myself. Of the nature of that charge, I was then uninformed. It now appears, it was the charge of High Treason, committed in the infamous criine of adultery. His Royal Highness, I am sure, will do me the justice to represent to your Majesty, that I betrayed no fear, that I manifested no symptoms of conscious guilt, that I sought no excuses to prepare, or to tutor, my servants for the examination which they were to undergo. The only request which I made to his Royal Highness was, that he would have the goodness to remain with me till my servants were gone; that he might bear witness, that I had no conversation with them before they went. In truth, Sire, my anxieties, under a knowledge that some serious mischief was planning against me, and while I was ignorant of its quality and extent, had been so great, that I could not but rejoice at an event, which seemed to promise me an early opportunity of ascertaining what the malice of my enemies intended against me.

It has not been, indeed, without impatience the most painful, that I have passed the interval, which bras since elapsed. When once it was not only known to me, but to the world (for it was known to the world) that Inquiry of the gravest nature had been instituted into my conduct, I looked to the conclusion, with all the eagerness that could belong to an absolute conviction, that my innocence, and my honour, to the disgrace and confusion of my accusers, would be established; and that the groundless malice, and injustice of the whole charge would be manifested to the world, as widely as the calumny had been circulated. I knew that the result of an ex parte inquiry, from its very nature, could not, unless it fully asserted my entire innocence, be in any degree just. And I had taught myself most firmly to believe, that it was utterly impossible, that any opinion, which could, in the smallest degree, work a prejudice to my honour and character, could ever be expressed in any terms, by any persons, in a Report upon a solemn formal Inquiry, and more especially to your Majesty, without my having some notice, and some opportunity of being heard. And I was convinced, that, if the Proceeding allowed me, before an opinion was expressed, the ordinary means, which accused persons have, of vindicating their honour and their innocence, my honour and my innocence must, in any opinion, which could then be expressed, be fully vindicated, and effectually established. What then, Sire, must have been my astonishment, and my dismay, when I saw, that notwithstanding the principal accusation was found to be utterly false, yet some of the wit

1

nesses to those charges which were brought in support of the principal accusation,—witnesses, whom, any person, interested to have protected my character, would easily have shewn, out of their own mouths, to be utterly unworthy of credit, and confederates in foul conspiracy with my false accusers, are reported to be “ free from all suspicion of unfavourable bias ;” their veracity,“ in the judgment of the Commissioners, not to be questioned;" and their infamous stories, and insinuations against me, to be “ such as deserve the most serious consideration, and as must be credited till decisively contradicted."

The Inquiry, after I thus had notice of it, continued for above* two months. I venture not to complain, as if it had been unnecessarily protracted. The important duties, and official avocations of the Noble Lords, appointed to carry it on, may naturally account for, and excuse, some delay. But however excusable it may have been, your Majesty will easily conceive the pain and anxiety, which this interval of suspense, has occasioned ; and your Majesty will not be surprised, if I further represent, that I have found a great aggravation of my painful sufferings, in the delay which occurred in communicating the Report to

For though it is dated on the 14th July, I did not receive it, notwithstanding your Majesty's gracious commands, till the 11th of August. It was due, unquestionably, to your Majesty, that the result of an Inquiry, commanded by your Majesty, upon advice which had been offered, touching matters of the highest import, should be first, and immediately, commur.icated to you. The respect and honour due to the Prince of Wales, the interest which he must necessarily have taken in this Inquiry, combined to make it indisputably fit, that the result should be, forthwith, also stated to His Royal Highness. I complain not, therefore, that it was too early communicated to any one: I complain only, (and I complain most seriously, for I felt it most severely) of the delay in its communication to me.

me,

* The time that the Inquiry was pending, after this notice of it, is here confounded with the time which elapsed before the Report was communicated to Her Royal Highness. The Inquiry itself only lasted to the 14th or 16th of July, which is but between five and six weeks from the 7th of Jupe.

Rumour had informed the world, that the Report had been early communicated to your Majesty, and to his Royal Highness. I did not receive the benefit, intended for me by your Majesty's gracious command, till a month after the Report was signed. But the same rumour had represented me, to my infinite prejudice, as in possession of the Report, during that month, and the malice of those, who wished to stain my honour, has not failed to suggest all that malice could infer, from its remaining in that possession, so long unnoticed. May I be permitted to say, that, if the Report acquits me, my innocence entitled me to receive from those, to whom your Majesty's commands had been given, an immediate notification of the fact that it did acquit me. That, if it condemned me, the weight of such a sentence should not have been left to settle, in any mind, much less upon your Majesty's, for a month, before I could even begin to prepare an answer, which, when begun, could not speedily be concluded; and that, if the Report could be represented as both acquitting, and condemning me, the reasons, which suggested the propriety of an early communication in each of the former cases, combined to make it proper and necessary in the latter,

And why all consideration of my feelings was thus cruelly neglected; why I was kept upon the rack, during all this time, ignorant of the result of a charge, which affected my honoar and my life; and why, especially in a case, where such grave matters were to continue to be “ crcdited, , to the prejudice of my honour,” till they were “ decidedly contradicted,” the means of knowing what it was, that I must, at least, endeavour to contradict, were withholden from me, a single unnecessary hour, I know, not, and I will not trust myself, in the attempt, to conjecture.

On the 11th of August, however, I at length received from the Lord Chancellor, a packet containing copies of the Warrant or Comınission authorizing the Inquiry; of the Report-and of the Examinations on which the Report was founded. And your Majesty may be graciously pleased 1

« PoprzedniaDalej »