« PoprzedniaDalej »
tinguished watering-place. In the evening there was a general illumination.
The second visit to Weymouth, although highly conducive to the establishment of the health of the Princess Charlotte, was not accompanied with that high degree of pleasure which she experienced during her former visit. The scenery was no longer new to her, and the memorable objects in the vicinity had lost the charms of novelty. Her inquiring mind had on a previous occasion, investigated every circumstance connected with those objects, in their minutest points, and little now remained on which her mental energies could be exercised. There were, however, some events, the recollection of which was attended with the most gratifying feelings. The pensioners, who had formerly subsisted on her bounty; the orphans, for whom she had provided a home; the widowed and the aged, who, by her charity, had found an asylum from want and indigence; these were objects which again presented themselves to her eye, and in the effusions of their gratitude, she reaped the richest reward which a heart like hers could know. But it was not only to the indigent and distressed of Weymouth, that the aid of this illustrious female was proffered ; for the following act will testify, that in whatever quarter want and necessity presented themselves, there was her Royal Highness prepared to tender her relief. The Lord Bishop of Salisbury having informed
her Royal Highness, that many weavers of that city were out of employ, she immediately issued her commands that an order should be sent to Messrs. Stevens and Blackmore of Salisbury for a large quantity of flannels to be immediately manufactured, and sent down to Weymouth for the use of the poor. Thus this truly Christian Princess gave employment to the suffering and distressed manufacturer, and at the same time was providing raiment for the naked.-She has her reward!
It was during this visit to Weymouth, that her Royal Highness displayed one of those distinguishing traits of character, which, at various periods of her life, have rendered her so conspicuously great, and on which the expectations of the nation were founded, in regard to the excellence and virtues of its future Queen. The attachment of the Princess Charlotte to marine excursions, had since her former visit to Weymouth, suffered no abatement, and every opportunity was embraced by which her inclination could be gratified. Her Royal Highness was one day at sea in her yacht, when the Leviathan of 74 guns, being under sail, brought to, and fired a salute to the royal standard flying from the yacht. The Leviathan was commanded by Captain Nixon, who immediately rowed on board the yacht, to pay his respects to her Royal Highness. The Princess received him on deck; and the usual ceremonies being gone through,
she expressed herself highly pleased with the appearance of the man-of-war, and intimated a wish to go on board. Some objections to this step were urged by the Bishop of Salisbury, then standing close to her, who was fearful that her Father might express his displeasure at her going upon the sea, which was then in a rough state, in an open boat. To this her Royal Highness answered,
Queen Elizabeth took great delight in her navy, and she never entertained any fear of going on board a man-of-war in an open boat, in whatever state the sea might be; why then should I?” Turning to Captain Nixon, she said, “ Have the goodness to receive me into your barge, and let me be rowed on board the Leviathan, for I am not only desirous, but determined to inspect her.” As her Royal Highness appeared resolute, and as it was well known that a resolution, once formed by her, was tantamount to the actual execution of it, the necessary preparations were made; and her Royal Highness was handed into Captain Nixon's barge, followed by the worthy Bishop and her two ladies in attendance. The party had been scarcely seated, when the spray of a wave dashed into their faces, which, from the ludicrous gestures of her ladies, 'excited the mirth of her Royal Highness. On coming alongside the Leviathan, the yards were instantly manned, and a chair of state was let down to hoist her Royal Highness on board. To this, however, she objected, saying,
“ I prefer going up in the manner that a seaman does. Captain Nixon, you will be kind enough to take care of my clothes; and, when I am on deck, then the chair may be let down for the remainder of the party.” Her Royal Highness ascended with an agility which proved a source of great delight and astonishment to the whole crew. The royal suite being upon deck, the ship's officers were severally introduced ; and the freedom with which her Royal Highness returned their salutations was highly pleasing and gratifying to the gallant fellows who were the objects of it. The surprise of her Royal Highness was great at the space and strength of the ship, and she exclaimed, “ Well may such noble structures be called the wooden walls of Old England !” She then told Captain Nixon, that she would not be satisfied with an introduction to his state cabin only, but that she was anxious to see every part of his ship between decks, and even below. Accordingly, Captain Nixon accompanied her Royal Highness over every part of the ship, and she inspected not only the births, but the cockpit, powdermagazine, store-holds, &c.; and, on her return upon deck, she expressed her thanks to Captain Nixon and his attendant officers in the most gracious terms, assuring them, that they had afforded her an exhibition of more interest to her mind, than any she had hitherto beheld. The Princess, having presented a purse to Captain Nixon, de. siring him to apply it for the benefit of the crew,
as a token of her respect for them, descended as she rose, under a royal salute, and the still more gratifying cheers of a British man-of-war.
The circumstances of this occurrence were no sooner made public, than a two-fold accusation was brought by some prejudiced and illiberal persons against the Princess Charlotte, of which it requires only a slight knowledge of her character, to establish the invalidity. In the first place, she was accused of wantonly rendering the venerable Bishop ridiculous in the eyes of a whole ship’s crew, by her masculine exertions in mounting the ship's side, and with a sneer directing at the same time that the chair should be let down for the Bishop.--Now, there is no truth whatever in the statement, that her Royal Highness mentioned the Bishop in that manner, so as to render him an object of ridicule; on the contrary, she never mentioned the Bishop at all, but merely directed that the chair might be let down for the accommodation of the remainder of the party.' Those persons must possess a very circumscribed acquaintance with the real character of the Princess Charlotte, who could attribute to her the slightest levity of expression, or the most distant inuendo, which might tend to degrade the clerical character; and especially, the professional character of an individual, whom she respected for his virtues, whom she admired as a Christian, whom she extolled as the watchful shepherd of his flock, and to whom she was indebted for instruc