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ciples, and possessing at the same time, with all its virtues, the noble character of a British sailor, should so sully that character as to become a spy upon the actions of his future Queen, and secretly and clandestinely to report the issue of his researches into her conduct, cannot for a 'moment gain belief in the minds of those who have the slightest knowledge of the intrinsically honorable character of Lord Exmouth. But his fleet had visited the scenes of her temporary residence on the African coast, and many individuals had joined his feet in the Mediterranean, who were acquainted with the tenor of her life on the southern shores of Europe. As, in the most wholesome flock, some individuals may be met with unsound, so, even amongst the crew of a British fleet, it is not improbable some mercenary and unprincipled fellow might be found, who, in the true spirit of malignity, and in order to satisfy the cupidity of his dastard soul, would seize upon the floating rumours of the day, and then hurry with them to that quarter from which he expected a high reward would issue for his meritorious deeds.
The first intelligence which the public received of the tendency of these reports, so highly injurious to the character of the Princess of Wales, and so excruciating to the feelings of the Princess Charlotte, was through the medium of one of the ministerial journals, which, in a pompous tone, announced the immediate publication of some important letters, materially affecting the character of an illustrious female. The tocsin of alarm was sounded in the ears of the friends of her
Royal Highness, and her accuser was nobly and manfully dared to bring forward his charge. The offence charged to her Royal Highness was of no trifling import, -it was an adulterous intercourse with a foreigner; and sufficient evidence, it was said, would be adduced, on which to found an immediate application for a divorce. A very able letter appeared at this juncture, addressed to Lord Eldon, whom the writer considers as principally interested in the future discussion of this question, from the high office he holds under the crown, and the responsibility naturally attached to him for the propriety of the proposal and its ultimate success. The question itself was of the most vital importance, and it was examined in its most remote and proximate bearings; it was considered in the two only modes, in which it appears
it could be brought before the public; for however congenial a proceeding by bill of attainder might be, it would not be tolerated in the present age. The first inquiry was, whether his Royal Highness and the Princess were to be considered as private persons, and whether the measure itself could be brought forward before the ecclesiastical court; but a doubt here presented itself, whether the ecclesiastical court had any jurisdiction. If it had, then the Princess must necessarily be entitled to the ordinary defence employed in that court, viz., recrimination. It must, however, be considered as verging upon a moral impossibility, that Lord Eldon could advise the Prince to commence a suit, in which a defence of such a nature might be employed; well knowing what the unpleasant disclo
sures might be. As, therefore, this mode of
process could not be adopted, it was supposed that the measure would be brought forward on the statute of Treasons, the 25th of Edward III., which declares, that, “ if a man defile the companion of the king's eldest son and heir, he shall be deemed guilty of bigh treason.” As, however, the offence was charged as having been committed in a foreign country, and by an alien, who, consequently, neverowed any allegiance to the King, how could the offender be said to have violated his allegiance, never having owed any; and, of course, he having thus committed no crime, how could the Princess be considered as partaker of that crime? Besides, in the statute above quoted, the wife of the king's eldest son is described as his “companion;" but the Princess, it was well known, was separated from his Royal Highness by articles, which undoubtedly were ratified by Parliament, in their voting her a separate establishment. Certainly the Princess, under such circumstances, and especially residing out of the realm, with the consent, and by special licence of his Royal Highness, could not with any propriety nor truth be called his companion. Lord Eldon, by advising his Royal Highness to permit the Princess to reside abroad, deprived her of that salutary safeguard, by which the severity of the above statute is mitigated. Would his Lordship act in such a manner with any ward of Chancery? If not, why then be less attentive to the Princess ? and why deprive her of the protection to which she is legally entitled by the wise provisions of Parliament ?
The exclusion of her Royal Highness from the Queen's drawing-room, necessarily disgraced her, and led her to be viewed as an outcast from society; and therefore, her wish to quit a country where she had experienced such severe treatment was by no means astonishing; and her Royal Highness reasonably considered, that her abode any longer in this country, would eventually injure her beloved daughter. Should it not have been the aim of an individual, holding so exalted a station as Lord Eldon, to provide for the union and harmony of the Royal Family, and to avoid endangering either by an advice, which, agreeable as it might be to one particular branch of the Royal Family, yet could not fail in the end of exciting dissension amongst its members? Why did he, therefore, give his advice to the Queen, to exclude the Princess of Wales from the Drawing-Room, and, at the saine time, to receive the Duchess of Cumberland ? Although that advice was not acted upon, for reasons which have never been satisfactorily explained, the consequences of it are still apparent, in regard to its influence on the concord and harmony of the Royal Family.
The proposed divorce, as considered in connexion with the situation of her Royal Highness the Princess Charlotte, being the presumptive heiress to the throne, possesses an interest of a very important nature. Her succession to the throne of England, would be the disjunction of Hanover from the British dominions, which, as a male fief, would descend to the Duke of York; and this alone, in the eyes
politicians, would prove of no trifling importance to the country. It was indeed strongly urged by several very able and profound writers, at that time, that this alone was a sufficient reason for not pressing a divorce, without in the least taking into consideration the personal views of the illustrious parties.
Whatever malignity could devise or malice execute was put in force by some despicable myrmidons, to bring home the guilt with which she was charged to the Princess of Wales ; but the popular indignation again burst forth, and stifled the base calumny of her
But still the feelings of the Princess Charlotte were deeply lacerated at the base insinuations of guilt, which were expressed against her mother; and which appeared to spring more from a desire to widen the breach between her illustrious parents, than from a conviction of actual guilt. With this important business was connected the visit, already mentioned, of an illustrious individual to Camelford-House; and the side which the latter had uniformly espoused, on all occasions in which the character or the interests of the Princess of Wales were concerned, is too generally known, not to admit of the supposition, that from the highly irritated state of the feelings of the Princess Charlotte, arising from a just and well founded indignation at the base attempts to traduce the character of her mother, some unguarded expressions might have escaped her Royal Highness, which could not have any other tendency than to increase