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marriage with a Papist, is a point which, in the minds of many, still remains a question. There are, it is well known, analogous cases in Law, where the nullity of an illegal transaction does not do away the penalty attached to it.* To persons, therefore, who believed that the actual solemnization of the marriage could be proved by witnesses present at the ceremony, this view of the case, which seemed to promise an interruption of the Succession, could not fail to suggest some disquieting apprehensions and speculations, which nothing short, it was thought, of a public and authentic disavowal of the marriage altogether would be able effectually to allay.
If in politics Princes are unsafe allies, in connections of a tenderer nature they are still more perilous partners; and a triumph over a Royal lover is dearly bought by the various risks and humiliations which accompany it. Not only is a lower standard of constancy applied to persons of that rank, but when once love-affairs are converted into matters of state, there is an end to all the
* Thus a man, by contracting a second marriage pending the first marriage, commits a felony; and the crime, according to its legal description, consists in marrying, or contracting a marriage-though what he does is no more a marriage than that of the Heir-Apparent would be under the circumstances in question.
The same principle, it appears, runs through the whole Law of Entails, both in England and Scotland; and a variety of cases might be cited, in which, though the act done is void, yet the doing of it creates a forfeiture.
delicacy and mystery that ought to encircle them. The disavowal of a Royal marriage in the Gazette would have been no novelty in English history;* and the disclaimer, on the present occasion, though intrusted to a less official medium, was equally public, strong, and unceremonious.
Mr. Fox, who had not been present in the House of Commons when the member for Devonshire alluded to the circumstance, took occasion, on the next discussion of the question, and, as he declared, with the immediate authority of the Prince, to contradict the report of the marriage in the fullest and most unqualified terms :-it was, he said, "a miserable calumny, a low malicious falsehood, which had been propagated without doors, and made the wanton sport of the vulgar; -a tale, fit only to impose upon the lowest orders, a monstrous invention, a report of a fact which had not the smallest degree of foundation, actually impossible to have happened." observation from Mr. Rolle, that "they all knew there was an Act of Parliament which forbade such a marriage; but that, though it could not be done under the formal sanction of the law, there were ways in which it might have taken place, and in which that law, in the minds of some per
* See in Ellis's Letters of History, vol. iii, the declarations of Charles II. with respect to his marriage with " one Mrs. Walters," signed by himself, and published in The London Gazette.
sons, might have been satisfactorily evaded,”. Mr. Fox replied, that "he did not deny the calumny in question merely with regard to certain existing laws, but that he denied it in toto, in point of fact as well as of law :-it not only never could have happened legally, but it never did happen in any way whatsoever, and had from the beginning been a base and malicious falsehood,”
Though Mr. Rolle, from either obstinacy or real distrust, refused, in spite of the repeated calls of Mr. Sheridan and Mr. Grey, to declare himself satisfied with this declaration, it was felt by the minister to be at least sufficiently explicit and decisive, to leave him no further pretext, in the eyes of the public, for refusing the relief which the situation of the Prince required. Accordingly, a message from the Crown on the subject of His Royal Highness's debts was followed by an addition to his income of 10,000l. yearly out of the Civil List; an issue of 161,000l. from the same source, for the discharge of his debts; and 20,000l. on account of the works at Carlton House.
In the same proportion that this authorised declaration was successful in satisfying the public mind, it must naturally have been painful and humiliating to the person whose honour was involved in it. The immediate consequence of this feeling was a breach between that person and Mr. Fox, which, notwithstanding the continuance,
for so many years after, of the attachement of both to the same illustrious object, remained, it is understood, unreconciled to the last.
If, in the first movement of sympathy with the pain excited in that quarter, a retractation of this public disavowal was thought of, the impossibility of finding any creditable medium through which to convey it must soon have suggested itself to check the intention. Some middle course, however, it was thought might be adopted, which, without going the full length of retracting, might tend at least to unsettle the impression left upon the public, and, in some degree, retrieve that loss of station, which a disclaimer, coming in such an authentic shape, had entailed. To ask Mr. Fox to discredit his own statement was impossible. An application was, therefore, made to a young member of the party, who was then fast rising into the eminence which he has since so nobly sustained, and whose answer to the proposal is said to have betrayed some of that unaccommodating high-mindedness which, in more than one collision with Royalty, has proved him but an unfit adjunct to a Court. The reply to his refusal was, "Then, I must get Sheridan to say something;"-and hence, it seems was the origin of those few dexterously unmeaning compliments, with which the latter, when the motion of Alderman Newenham was withdrawn, endeavoured, without in the least degree weakening the decla
ration of Mr. Fox, to restore that equilibrium of temper and self-esteem, which such a sacrifice of gallantry to expediency had naturally disturbed. In alluding to the offer of the Prince, through Mr. Fox, to answer any questions upon the subject of his reported marriage, which it might be thought proper to put to him in the House, Mr. Sheridan said, "That no such idea had been pursued, and no such enquiry had been adopted, was a point which did credit to the decorum, the feelings, and the dignity of Parliament. But whilst His Royal Highness's feelings had no doubt been considered on this occasion, he must take the liberty of saying, however some might think it a subordinate consideration, that there was another person entitled, in every delicate and honourable mind, to the same attention; one, whom he would not otherwise venture to describe or allude to, but by saying it was a name, which malice or ignorance alone could attempt to injure, and whose character and conduct claimed and were entitled to the truest respect."
END OF THE FIRST VOLUME.