Графични страници
PDF файл
ePub

of rewarding their devotion were, from the same causes, uncertain and remote.

The alarming illness of the Monarch, however, gave a new turn to the prospect

-Hope was now seen, like the winged Victory of the ancients, to change sides; and both the expectations of those who looked forward to the reign of the Prince, as the great and happy millenium of Whiggism, and the apprehensions of the far greater number, to whom the morals of His Royal Highness and his friends were not less formidable than their politics, seemed now on the very eve of being realised.

On the first meeting of Parliament, after the illness of His Majesty was known, it was resolved, from considerations of delieacy, that the House should adjourn for a fortnight; at the end of which period it was expected that another short adjournment would be proposed by the Minister, In this interval, the following judicious letter was addressed to the Prince of Wales by Mr. Sheri

dan :

6 SIR,

- From the intelligence of tu-day we are led to think that Pitt will make something more of a speech, in moving to adjourn on Thursday, than was at first imagined. In this case we presume Your Royal Highness will be of opinion that we must not be wholly silent. I possessed Payne yesterday with

ту

sentiments on the line of conduct which appeared to me best to be adopted on this necasion, that they might be submitted to Your Royal Highness's consideration, and I take the liberty of repeating my firm conviction, that it will greatly advance Your Royal Highness's credit, and, in case of events, lay the strongest grounds to baffle every attempt at opposition to Your Royal Highness's just claims and right, that the language of those who may be, in any sort, suspected of knowing Your Royal Highness's wishes and feelings, should be that of great moderation in disclaiming all party views, and avowing the utmost readiness to acquiesce in any reasonable delay. At the same time, I am perfecly aware of the arts which will be practised, and the advantages which some people will attempt to gain by time : but I am equally convinced that we should advance their evil views by showing the least impatience or suspicion at present; and I am also convinced that a third party will soon appear, whose efforts may, in the most decisive manner, prevent this sort of situation and proceeding from continuing long. Payne will probably have submitted to Your Royal Highness more fully my idea on this subject, towards which I have already taken some successful steps.* Your Royal Highness will, I am sure, have the goodness to pardon the freedom with which I give my opinion ;-after which I have only to add, that whatever Your Royal Highness's judgment decides, shall be the guide of my conduct, and will doubtedly be so to others.”

Captain (afterwards Admiral) Payne, of whom mention is made in this letter, held the situation of Comptroller of the Household of the Prince of Wales, and was in attendance upon His Royal Highness during the early part of the King's

un

* This must allude to the negotiation with Lord Thurlow,

illness, at Windsor. The following letters, addressed by him to Mr. Sheridan at this period, contain some curious particulars, both with respect to the Royal patient himself, and the feelings of those about him, which, however secret and confidential they were at the time, may now, without scruple, be made matters of history :

“ My Dear SHERIDAN, Half-past ten at night. “ I arrived here about three quarters of an hour after Pitt had left it. I inclose you the copy of a letter the Prince has just written to the Chancellor, and sent by express, which will give you the outline of the conversation with the Prince, as well as the situation of the King's health. I think it an advisable measure,* as it is a sword that cuts both ways,

out being unfit to be shewn to whom he pleases, - but which he will, I think, understand best himself. Pitt desired the longest delay that could be granted with propriety, previous to the declaration of the present calamity. The Duke of York, who is looking over mc, and is just come out of the King's room, bids me add, that His Majesty's situation is every moment becoming worse. His pulse is wcaker and weaker ; and the Doctors say it is impossible to survive it long, if his situation does not take some extraordinary change in a few hours.

“ So far I had got when your servant came, meaning to send this by the express that carried the Chancellor's letter; in addition to which, the Prince has desired Doctor Warren to write an account to him, which he is now doing. His letter says, if au amendment does not take place in twenty-four hours, it is impossible for the King to support it:-he adds to me, he will answer for his never living to be declared a lunatic. I say all this lo you in confidence, (though I will not answer for being intelligible,) as it goes by your own servant; but I need not add, your own discretion will remind you how necessary it is that neither my name nor those I use should be quoted even to many of our best friends, whose repetition, without any ill intention, might frustrate views they do not see.

* Meaning, the communication to thc Chancellor.

“ With respect to the papers, the Prince thinks you had better leave them to themselves, as we cannot authorise any report, nor can he contradict the worst; — a few hours must, every individual says, terminate our suspense, and, therefore, all precaution must be needless :— however, do what you think best. His Royal Highness would write to you himself ; - the agitation he is in will not permit it. Since this letter was begun, all articulation even seems to be at an end with the poor King; but for the two hours preceding, he was in a most determined frenzy. In short, I am myself in so violent a state of agitation, from participating in the feelings of those about me, that if I am intelligible to you, 'tis more than I am to myself. Cataplasms are on His Majesty's feet, and strong fomentations have been used without effect : but let me quit so painful a subject. The Prince was much pleased with my conversation with Lord Loughborough, to whom I do not write, as I conceive 'tis the same, writing to you.

“ The Archbishop has written a very handsome letter, expressive of his duty and offer of service; but he is not required to come down, it being thought too late.

" Good night.--I will write upon every occasion that information may

be useful.
“ Ever yours, most sincerely,

6. J. W. PAYNE." " I have been much pleased with the Duke's zeal since my return, especially in this communication to you."

66 DEAR SUERIDAN, Twelve o'clock, noon. “ The King last night about twelve o'clock, being then in a situation he could not long have survived, by the effect of James's powder, had a profuse stool, after which a strong perspiration appeared, and he fell into a profound sleep. We were in hopes this was the crisis of his disorder, although the doctors were fearful it was so only with respect to one part of his disorder. However, these hopes continued not above an hour, when he awoke, with a well-conditioned skin, no extraordinary degree of fever, but with the exact state he was in before, with all the gestures and ravings of the most confirmed maniac, and a new noise, in imitation of the howling of a dog; in this situation he was this morning at one o'clock, when we came to bed. The Duke of York, who has been twice in my room in the course of the night, immediately from the King's apartment, says there has not been one moment of lucid interval during the whole night,—which, I must observe to you, is the concurring, as well as fatal testimony of all about him, from the first moment of His Majesty's confinement. The doctors have since had their consultation, and find His Majesty calmer, and his pulse tolerably good and much reduced, but the most decided symptoms of insanity. His theme has been all this day on the subject

« ПредишнаНапред »