« PoprzedniaDalej »
was, however, in this retreat that she may be said to have enjoyed a positive degree of happiness, compared with that which she experienced when subject more particularly to the forms and etiquette of a residence in the metropolis. It was here that the native hilarity of her disposition burst forth; it was here that she felt herself unfettered from the tiresome ceremonies attendant on her elevated rank; and her eye beamed with sparkling lustre as she threw its glances over that ocean on which the bulwarks of her nation rode, bearing the thunder of their vengeance on her country's foes, and triumphantly defending her shores from the insatiable grasp of a tyrant's power. The condescension of her manners, the affability of her conversation, the ease and freedom with which she received and returned the visits of the neighbouring gentry, the ready access to her presence on all occasions, when suffering indigence or sudden misfortune had a claim upon her bounty, endeared her to all ranks of people, and laid the basis to that high esteem and veneration for her virtues, which exists in that part of the country to the present hour.
Dressed like the simple lady, without the garnish of exterior ornament, it was highly pleasing to see her tripping down to Richardson's the baker's, about the time when she knew his buns were ready; and, entering the shop, would sit and partake of them, and talk to the worthy baker about his business, as if she took an active
interest in his concerns. Then, accompanied by Lady De Clifford, she would mount her car, drawn by her beautiful grey poneys, and, full of youthful mischief, she would drive into a field belonging to Sir Thomas Troubridge, which happened to be very uneven, and full of knolls and ruts, over which she would drive with uncommon speed, to the great annoyance of her com. panion, who made many a wry face at the sudden jolts which she received, and uttered many a shriek at the danger to which she was exposed; to all of which, and to her ardent expostulations, her Royal Highness exclaimed, “Nothing like exercise, my lady; nothing like exercise.”
The Princess took particular pleasure in strolling on the beach, and collecting a species of sea weed which bears a hard black berry, of which she formed some very beautiful necklaces. In one of her rambles, about two miles eastward of Bognor, her attention was excited by some pieces of wood apparently decayed, on which a kind of metal, bright as gold was thickly incrusted, and formed into configurations similar to the metallic ores in their crude state. On searching farther, a stratum of this apparently natural phenomenon was discovered in one of the banks,
In the year 1810, I visited this spot, and obtained some very beautiful specimens of this incrustation ; but I think the opinion must be entertained that it is not a natural production, but originates from the wreck of a copper-bottomed vessel, the metal of which, by being acted upon by some acid, has assumed those
and two labourers were procured, who, in a short time, obtained some beautiful specimens, which her Royal Highness carried home with her. The heart of the Princess was not of that stamp to allow two labourers to work for her unrewarded, and she ordered that two guineas should be given to them. From some particular circumstances, the mystery of which would not require a Delphic oracle to solve, this bounty never reached the labourers; and so prone is human nature, especially of the lowest class, to attach a stigma to those of an elevated station, that her Royal Highness was immediately denounced as mean and pitiful, and unworthy of the name of a princess. It happened about three weeks afterwards, that the wife of one of these labourers was brought-to-bed, which, on coming to the knowledge of the Princess Charlotte, she directed that a necessary supply of linen and other articles should be immediately conveyed to the woman; the bearer of this bounty had no sooner delivered the royal gift, than the good woman exclaimed,“ Aye, aye! now let people say what they will — I will maintain that she is a princess—and God bless her for ever.” “And what reason,' asked the messenger, “have the people to say, that her Royal Highness is not
forms which are so beautifully depicted on the wood. On being exposed to heat in a crucible, not a particle of metal is discernible, but the whole mass dissolves into a blackish substance, which when cold, falls into a very fine and almost impalpable powder.
Princess?” “Why, they say,"answered the woman, “ that it was mean and scandalous in her, when my husband and Tom Farlingham digged those queer things for her Royal Highness out of the bank by the sea-side, that she did not give them as much as a sup of beer, though they sweated manfully for her.” “The accusation is false,” said the mes. senger, “for to my positive knowledge, her Royal Highness ordered two guineas to be given to your husband and his companion; and were they not given?” “Not one farthing," answered the woman, The messenger left the cottage, and the circumstance was fully developed to her Royal Highness, who set an immediate investigation on foot; the culprit, who had retained the two guineas for his own use, was discovered, and immediately dismissed the royal service. The vane of public opinion changes with the accidents of the day; and the individual, on whom in the morning every opprobrious epithet has been hurled, may, before the evening sets in, be extolled as one of the brightest patterns of moral excellence and purity.
Another beautiful trait in the character of this accomplished and truly virtuous female was exhibited in the case of an officer, of a long standing in the army, who was arrested at Bognor for a small sum; and being unable, at a distance from his friends, to procure sufficient bail, was on the point of being taken away from his family to Arundel jail.
The circumstance came to the knowledge of the Princess, who, in the moment
of a high and generous feeling, exclaimed, “ I'll be his bail !" then suddenly recollecting herself, she inquired the amount of the debt, which being told her, “ There,” said she, “ take this to him; it is hard that he who has exposed his life in the field of battle, should ever experience the rigours of a prison *.”
Of the opinion which the Princess Charlotte entertained of the preceptress which had been selected for her, the following letter will convey a sufficient proof, and it also opens to us a beautiful trait in the character of her Royal Highness. It was written to the Countess of Albemarle, the daughter of Lady De Clifford, and the interest of this letter is particularly enhanced by a lamentable event, the detail of which would be here prematurely introduced.
* With just feelings of pride I may declare, that I had once the honour of experiencing the urbanity and condescension of this illustrious female. I one evening accompanied Mr. Gray, her house, steward, from Worthing to Bognor, and the wind becoming adverse, we were detained on the water until two o'clock in the morning. On our arrival at Bognor, the hotel was shat, and no bed was to be procured there for the night. Mr. Gray, therefore, took me to the Princess Charlotte's, where the most excellent accommodation was provided for me. On the following morning, whilst Mr. Gray was shewing me the beautiful stud of grey poneys, the Prina cess Charlotte came suddenly upon us from a garden-door. We retired immediately ; but in the most affable manner, she accosted Mr. Gray,“ This is a friend of yours, I suppose, Mr. Gray : “ It is, your Royal Highness.” “ Then,” replied the Princess, “ do not let me disturb you in shewing him any thing he may wish to see."