« PoprzedniaDalej »
“ cerning the same, and to report to your
Majesty the result of such examinations,” We have, in dutiful obedience to your Majesty's commands, proceeded to examine the several witnesses, the copies of whose depositions we have hereunto annexed; and, in further execution of the said commands, we now most respectfully submit to your Majesty the report of these examinations as it has appeared to us: But we beg leave at the same time humbly to refer your Majesty, for more complete information, to the examinations themselves, in order to correct any error of judgment, into which we may have unintentionally fallen, with respect to any part of this business. On a reference to the above mentioned declarations, as the necessary foundation of all our proceedings, we found that they consisted in certain statements, which had been laid before his Royal Highness the Prince of Wales, respecting the conduct of her Royal Highness the Princess. That these statements, not only, imputed to her Royal Highness great impropriety and indecency of behaviour, but expressly asserted, partly on the ground of certain alledged declarations from the Princess's own mouth, and partly on the personal observation of the informants, the following most important facts; viz. That her Royal Highness had been pregnant in the year 1802, in consequence of an illicit intercourse, and that she had in the same year been secretly delivered of a male child, which child had ever
since that period been brought up by her Royal Highness, in her own house, and under her immediate inspection.
These allegations thus made, had, as we found, been followed by declarations from other persons, who had not indeed spoken to the important facts of the pregnancy or delivery of her Royal Highness, but had related other particulars, in themselves extremely suspicious, and still more so when connected with the assertions already mentioned.
In the painful situation, in which his Royal Ilighness was placed, by these communications, we learnt that his Royal Highness had adopted the only course which could, in our judgment, with propriety be followed. When informations such as these had been thus confidently alledged, and particularly detailed, and had been in some degree supported by collateral evidence, applying to other points of the same nature (though going to a far less extent,) one line only could be pursued.
Every sentiment of duty to your Majesty, and of concern for the public welfare, required that these particulars should not be withheld froma your Majesty, to whom more particularly belonged the cognizance of a matter of State, so nearly touching the honour of your Majesty's Royal Family, and, by possibility, affecting the Succession of your Majesty's Crown.
Your Majesty had been pleased, on your part, to view the subject in the same light. Considering it as a matter which, on every account, demauded the most immediate investigation, your Majesty had thought fit to commit into our hands the duty of ascertaining, in the first instance, what degree of credit was due to the informations, and thereby enabling your Majesty to decide what further conduct to adopt concerning them.
On this review therefore of the matters thus alledged, and of the course hitherto pursued uponi them, we deemed it proper, in the first place, to examine those persons in whose declarations the occasion for this Inquiry had originated. Because if they, on being examined upon oath, had retracted or varied their assertions, all necessity for further investigation might possibly have been precluded.
We accordingly first examined on oath the principal informants, Sir John Douglas, and Charlotte his wife; who both positively swore, the former to his having observed the fact of the pregnancy of her Royal Highness, and the latter to all the important particulars contained in her former declaration, and above referred to. Their examinations are annexed to this Report, and are circumstantial and positive.
The most material of those allegations, into the truth of which had been directed to inquire we being thus far supported by the oath of the parties from whom they had proceeded, we then felt it our duty to follow the Inquiry by the examina. tion of such other persons as we judged best able to afford us information, as to the facts in question.
We thought it beyond all doubt that, in this course of inquiry, many particulars must be learnt which would be necessarily conclusive on the truth or falsehood of these declarations. So
many persons must have been witnesses to the appearances of an actually existing pregnancy; so many circumstances must have been attendant upon a real delivery; and difficulties so numerous and insurinountable must have been involved in any attempt to account for the infant in question, as the child of another woman, if it had been in fact the child of the Princess; that we entertained a full and confident expectation of arriving at complete proof, either in the affirmative or negative, on this part of the subject.
This expectation was not disappointed.' We are happy to declare to your Majesty our perfect conviction that there is no foundation whatever for believing that the child now with the Princess is the child of her Royal Highness, or that she was delivered of any child in the year 1802; nor has any thing appeared to us which would warrant the belief that she was pregnant in that
year, or at any other period within the compass of our inquiries.
'The identity of the child, now with the Princess, iis parentage, the place and the date of
its birth, the time and the circumstances of its being first taken under her Royal Highness's protection, are all established by such a concurrence both of positive and circumstantial evidence, as can, in our judgment, leave no question on this part of the subject. That child was, beyond all doubt, born in the Brownlow-Street Hospital, on the 11th day of July, 1802, of the body of Sophia Austin, and was first brought to the Princess's house in the month of November following. Neither should we be more warranted in expressing any doubt respecting the alledged pregnancy of the Princess, as stated in the original declarations m-a fact so fully contradicted, and by so many witnesses, to whom, if true, it inust in various ways bave been known, that we cannot think it entitled to the smallest credit. The testimonies on the se two points are contained in the annexed depositions and letters. We have not partially abstract. ed them in this Report, lest, hy any unintentional emission, we might weaken their effect; but we humbly offer to your Majesty this our clear and unanimous judgment upon them, formed on ful deliberation, and pronounced without hesitation on the result of the whole Inquiry.
We do not however feel ourselves at liberty, runch as we should wish it, to close our Report Prere. Besides the allegations of the pregnancy and delivery of the i rincess, those declarations, on the whole of which your Majesty has been pleased to command us to inquire and report, contain