Obrazy na stronie

whom she conversed, was eminently displayed in a certain quarter; and, as some objections to the intended union had been already expressed by the Princess Charlotte, a portion of the duchess's rhetoric would, it was thought, be highly conducive to the removal of those objections. By one act, however, certainly not anticipated on her part, she contributed more to confirm the objections of the Princess Charlotte, than she could possibly undo by all the arguments, which skill or ingenuity could devise, although aided by her masterly powers of eloquence.

The Duchess of Oldenburgh had taken up her residence at the Pulteney hotel, which became in consequence the resort not only of the nobility of this country, but also of the numerous foreigners of distinction, who had been attracted to London, by the presence of the allied sovereigns. Amongst these visitors, was Prince Leopold of Saxe-Coburg ; who, one morning, on paying a visit to the Duchess of Oldenburgh, was introduced by her to the Princess Charlotte of Wales, who was also then paying a morning visit to the duchess. This was a decisive moment for the Princess Charlotte; for the dignified and pleasing manners of the prince made a deep impression upon her, and laid the basis of that affection, which afterwards, springing to maturity, became the source of her happiness.

Amongst the many objections, which were now urged with peculiar force by the Princess

Charlotte, was her aversion to quit her native land, even for a temporary period, and which was considered by the Prince of Orange as a sine qua non of their union. The Prince of Orange, however, in order to parry this objection of the Princess Charlotte, is said to have engaged only to take her over for a short time to Holland, with a view to shew her to the Dutch, pledging his word of honor, as a prince and gentleman, that he would himself return with her, even in a fortnight, and never ask her to go again. Suddenly, however, the Princess is said to have expressed her doubts as to the security tendered to her, that she should not be obliged to reside longer than she wished in Holland; and to have demanded that a clause should be inserted in the marriage contract, prohibiting her ever quitting this kingdom, on any account, for any time, however short. To this condition the princely suitor had not the power to consent, as he was already engaged to the Dutch to take the Princess among them for a short time; but still offering to pledge himself, as a man of honor, to return to England with her after her first introduction to his nation. In order, however, to remove any unfavorable impression, which this objection of the Princess Charlotte might excite, and wholly to acquit her of any unnecessary vacillation of conduct, it must be stated, that her objection to being carried out of the kingdom, at that particular juncture, arose from the unpleasant situation in which her


mother was placed, which particularly called for
her countenance and support. A sense, there-
fore, of filial duty influenced her to the line of
eonduct which she adopted, and which was, in a
degree, forced upon her, by the imperious state
of the circumstances in which she was, at that
time, unpleasantly placed.

The Prince of Orange refused, at first, to shew
the letter, containing the Princess's demands, to
her royal father; still induced to hope, by affec-
tion for her person, and unwilling to sustain
disappointment, that her Royal Highness might
change her mind; but, in the mean time, the
letter was transmitted to the Prince Regent, and
to the Queen, by the writer herself.

Nothing official appearing on the part of Government, respecting this marriage, and some very unpleasant reports being afloat, of its being entirely broken off, it was publicly brought before Parliament, on the 20th June, and gave rise to the following debate :

Sir Matthew White Ridley, bart., rose and said that, seeing a right honorable gentleman in his place, he was anxious to ask him a question, relative to a circumstance of the utmost importance to the interests of this country- he alluded to the intended marriage of her Royal Highness the Princess Charlotte of Wales with the hereditary Prince of Orange; a record of which intended marriage was already on the Journals of that House. Whenever that question should be

[merged small][ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

brought before Parliament, it would, from its extreme importance, necessarily occupy their attention very largely; and he was, therefore, the more anxious to know, at this advanced period of the session, whether it was the intention of ministers to make any communication to the House on this subject ? : The Chancellor of the Exchequer said he could give no other answer to the question of the honorable baronet, than to say, that the ministers of his Royal Highness had received no authority to make any communication to Parliament.

Mr. Whitbread rose, and said, it was impossible the answer they had just heard from the right honorable gentleman could satisfy either that House, or the country at large. It had been solemnly announced by the sovereign prince of the United Netherlands to his own people, that an alliance was about to take place between his son, the hereditary Prince of Orange, and her Royal Highness the Princess Charlotte of Wales ; a record of which intended marriage was already on the Journals of that House. And it had been proclaimed by her Royal Highness the Princess of Wales, in her communication to that House, now entered upon their Journals, that the illustrious Prince of Orange had announced himself to her as her future son-in-law. Questions on this most important subject had been asked from time to time, but they had never been answered; they were uniformly evaded by ministers; but he thought the

time was now come when the House should no longer suffer itself to be treated with that disrespect.

The right honorable Charles Bragge Bathurst rose to order. He did not think it exactly right, when ministers had declared they had no commission to make any communication to the House, that a discussion should be prematurely forced on: such a practice was both inconvenient and irregular.

Mr. Whitbread said, he would put the matter in a shape which would render it regular, by concluding with a motion; he repeated, that the House of Commons had been treated disrespectfully: if ministers, in so important a case, and after such a lapse of time, had no authority to communicate to the House the state of the proceedings, it became the House to interfere, and to address his Royal Highness the Prince Regent to give authority for such a communication. The right honourable gentleman opposite had not denied that the assertion in her Royal Highness the Princess of Wales's letter, of the intended marriage of her royal daughter with the hereditary Prince of Orange, was true; it had been, however, publicly reported, and was as publicly believed, that the intended marriage, which, with the consent of his Royal Highness the Prince Regent, had been so long proceeding, was suddenly at an end; the grounds had even been stated, on which it had terminated, and those grounds

« PoprzedniaDalej »