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The demise of a British Monarch is an event of no ordinary interest; it breaks asunder one of the dearest ties of a civilized people, and is sometimes the forerunner of their decline in the scale of nations. It is a period accompanied with intense anxiety, for the time is then come when the veil is to be drawn aside which delicacy or state policy may have prudently thrown over certain transactions ; the deeds which, during the lifetime of the Monarch, were concealed, from motives of personal interest or esteem, then stand forth exhibited in their genuine colours; and the historian becomes thereby enabled to bequeath to posterity a clear and faithful narrative of those momentous circumstances which possessed such a preponderating influence on the general relations of the country.
The Royal Family of England, which, by the Act of Succession, includes all the members of the illustrious House of Brunswick, have long been regarded by the country as a species of public property, in which the humblest subject of the land claims a deep and lively interest. It is, therefore, a rational deduction, that whatever stands immediately connected with the honour and happiness of those exalted individuals, necessarily becomes a source of national concern; we feel ourselves identified with all that relates to them, and we revert to the scenes of their lives as if we were individually interested in them, and as being the source from which are to emanate the renown and glory of the kingdom.
The reign of George IV. has been to this nation one of momentous import. In it our foreign and domestic relations have assumed a wholly new and enlarged character; the arts and sciences have been fostered and encouraged by a zeal unexampled in any former period of our history; and we may proudly point to it as an era which was distinguished by a constellation of genius in every branch of useful knowledge which can confer honour on the human
It has been marked by events to which the historian points with exultation, and which, whilst they cemented the glory and prosperity of the country, contributed, at the same time, to exalt its character in every quarter of the globe, and to establish its ascendancy in the scale of civilized governments.
Considered in a general point of view, it may, with propriety, be affirmed, that there is scarcely a monarch, who ever wielded the sceptre of this country, whose private and public life abounds with more extraordinary and interesting incidents than that of George IV. But it must be admitted, at the same time, that there are also some circumstances in it, over which has been suspended a dark panoply of mystery, and from which the public attention was, at the period of their occurrence, artfully diverted by the deep-laid maneuvres of crafty politicians, or the more zealous efforts of private and confidential friends; but the time is now come when that panoply will be removed, and that of which only a partial glimpse has been hitherto obtained, or which has been wholly concealed, from a sense of delicacy and respect to the feelings of the existing monarch, will now be fearlessly exposed, uninfluenced by party spirit, and unawed by personal considerations of the consequences which may result to some of the yet living characters who figured in the eventful drama, and who, now that the shield of royalty is taken from before them, must rise or fall in the estimation of the British people, according to the greater or less degree of virtue which they displayed. It may be considered premature to allude in particular to any of those circumstances, as they must, necessarily, form a part of the present work; but we will, as an example, allude to two-the marriage of the Prince of Wales with Mrs. Fitzherbert, and the death of the Princess Charlotte. In regard to the latter, some extraordinary things have crept out through the dark cranny of the night, which require a deep and solemn investigation: the facts, as they have been disclosed to us, shall be fully and impartially related; and if we should be the means of clearing away some of the mysteries which attended that melancholy event, we shall have performed the part of the Patriot and the Christian.
In regard to the publication of the following work, it has not been resolved upon from the sudden impulse of the moment, nor is it founded on any crude and undigested plan; several years have been occupied in collecting information from sources purely authentic and original; and the deepest researches have been made into the records and documents in the British Museum, on subjects of historical notoriety or of doubtful character, with the view of stamping that validity and importance on the work which can alone render it valuable to the historian, or useful to posterity.
GEORGE THE FOURTH.
[From 1762 to 1780.]
AMONGST the royal houses of Europe, there is not one which can boast of a more illustrious line of ancestors than that which, fortunately for the liberty and independence of their subjects, is placed on the throne of Britain. The German genealogists suppose it to have descended through females from the Saxon family, so renowned in the early periods of our history, and to which the majority of the royal families of Europe proudly ascribe their pedigrees. On the other hand, antiquarians have traced the descent of the house of Brunswick to those ages that immediately succeeded the subversion of the Roman empire, and reckon, amongst the founders of the family, Caius Ctius, a noble Roman who flourished in the latter part of the fourth century, and who was a relation of the Emperor Augustus. Pharamond, duke of the Franks, and many other renowned chieftains, whose names are consecrated in the annals of the earlier periods of modern European history, may be also considered as the progenitors of the illustrious house of Brunswick, although their immediate history is enveloped in the obscurity of the darker ages. The representative of all these noble houses, Henry the Lion, duke of Brunswick, married Maud, the daughter of Henry II. king of England, who was lineally descended from Egbert, the first king of England; and, consequently, in his veins flowed the blood of Alfred the Great, and of the pure Saxon race of English Sovereigns.
From George I., and his father the elector of Hanover, we ascend in a clear and regular series to the first duke of Brunswick and Lunenburg, who received his investiture from Frederick II., about the middle of the thirteenth century. If their ample possessions had been the gift of the Emperor to some adventurous soldier, or to some faithful client, we might be content with the antiquity and lustre of a noble race, which had been enrolled nearly six hundred years amongst the princes of Germany; but our ideas are exalted, and our prospect is enlarged by the discovery, that the first duke of Brunswick was rather degraded than adorned by his new titles, since it imposed the duties of feudal service on the free and patrimonial estate, which alone had been saved in the shipwreck of the more splendid fortunes of his house. His ancestors had been invested with the powerful duchies of Bavaria and Saxony, which extended far beyond the limits laid down in modern geography; for, from the Baltic sea to the confines of Rome, they were either obeyed or feared; and in the quarrels of the Guelphs and Ghibelines, the former appellation was derived from the name of their progenitors in the female line. The genuine masculine descent, however, of the princes of Brunswick must be explored beyond the Alps; for the venerable tree which has since overshadowed Germany and Britain was planted in the Italian soil. As far as our light can reach, we discover the first founders of the race in the Marquesses of Este, of Liguria, and, perhaps, of Tuscany. In the eleventh century, the primitive stem was divided into two branches; the elder migrated to the banks of the Danube and the Elbe; the other more humbly adhered to the neighbourhood of the Adriatic. The dukes of Brunswick and the kings of Great Britain are the descendants of the first; the dukes of Ferrara and Modena were the offspring of the second.
Passing by the intermediate genealogies of the house of Brunswick, through the course of the middle centuries, as not generally interesting to the majority of our readers, it would only be necessary very briefly to show in what way arose the proximity of blood, which, in the early part of the last century, caused the Brunswick line to be called to the throne of these kingdoms. The marriage of Henry VII. with Elizabeth, daughter of Edward IV., in 1485, by uniting the pretensions of the rival houses of York and Lancaster, put an end to the factions that had for so many reigns desolated England, and
stained the land with the blood of the flower of its princes, nobility, and gentry. Henry left issue by this marriage a son, Henry VIII., and a daughter, married to James IV., king of Scotland. On the failure of the line of Tudor, in the person of queen Elizabeth, James VI. of Scotland, and first of that name in England, succeeded, as matter of right, to the crown, being descended, in the third generation, from Henry VII. and Elizabeth of York, and, consequently, uniting in his own person all the claims of the different lines that had successively wielded the sceptre of England.
Elizabeth, daughter of James I., married Frederic, Elector Palatine, and afterwards king of Bohemia. By this prince she had a daughter, Sophia, married to Ernestus, elector of Hanover, and representative of the house of Brunswick, Hanover, Lunenburg, Wolfenbüttel, Zelle, &c., whose posterity, by virtue of the Act of Settlement, now fills the throne of Great Britain.
Those who augured a prosperous reign to George 1JI., from the circumstance of his ascending the throne on the anniversary, of the victory of Agincourt, deemed it an equally auspicious circumstance, that an heir apparent should be born on the forty-eighth anniversary of the accession of the house of Brunswick. We will not stop to discuss the merits of these anguries, considering them in the same light as we do the geese of the Roman augurs, and especially as the pages of history are open to every one to determine their truth or fallacy ; but in regard to the battle of Agincourt, if the prophecy had run that the reign of George III. was to be distinguished by the most ruinous wars, in one of which the American possessions were to be lost for ever to the British crown, and in another of which a national debt was to be accumulated, which sits as an exterminating incubus on the prosperity and energies of the nation, we consider that it would be rather a difficult task for the sapient augurs to prove that they were not in an error, when they drew their prophecy of the glory of the reign of George III, from his having ascended the throne on the anniversary of the battle of Agincourt.
The marriage of George III, with the princess Charlotte of Mecklenburg Strelitz took place on the 8th September, 1761