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WILLIAM III. AT KENSINGTON.
stood ; our national manners they hardly attempted who came to England in order to import the art of to acquire. The most important part of their duty shipbuilding into his dominions in his own proper they performed better than any ruler that had pre- mechanical person.” Peter is stated to have freceded them : for they governed strictly according quently dined at Kensington Palace; and it has to law; but they could not be the first gentlemen been wondered how the two sovereigns got on so of the realm-the heads of polite society. If ever well together. Leigh Hunt tells a story how that they unbent, it was in a very small circle, where one day the king took the Russian monarch to the hardly an English face was to be seen ; and they House of Lords, when the latter, owing to a natural were never so happy as when they could escape shyness, made the lords and the king himself for a summer to their native land. They had, laugh, by peeping strangely at them out of a indeed, their days of reception for our nobility and window in the roof. He got the same kind of gentry; but the reception was a matter of form, sight at the House of Commons; and even at a and became at last as solemn a ceremony as a ball at Kensington, on the Princess Anne's birthfuneral.” To the head-quarters of the Court at day, he contrived to be invisibly present in a closet Kensington these remarks are to be applied quite prepared for him on purpose, where he could see literally.
without being seen. William III. usually held his Courts at Kensing- Here, when William was ill with the dropsy, he ton, and the decoration of the apartments of its called in the Court physician, Dr. Radcliffe, to palace was one of the chief amusements of his pay him a professional visit. Showing him his royal consort. And yet, fond as he was of swollen ankles, he exclaimed, “Doctor, what do Kensington, King William would often say that he you think of these?” “Why, truly," answered preferred to be hunting on the shores of Guelder- Radcliffe, “I would not have your Majesty's two land rather than riding over the glades of this legs for your three kingdoms." With this ill-timed place or Hampton Court-a taste in which he was jest, though it passed unnoticed at the moment, followed by George II. Indeed, with a natural it is needless to add that the doctor's attendance love for his Dutch home, William made this palace on the Court at Kensington ceased. It is true and the gardens surrounding it look as much like that in 1714 he was sent for by Queen Anne upon his native country as he could.
her death-bed; but he was too ill to leave his Although William was not over-fond of his new house at Carshalton. His refusal, however, nearly subjects, and his Court, for the most part, was as exposed him to "lynch law,” for the mob at the gloomy as his gardens, yet there still might occa- West End threatened to kill him if he came to sionally be seen here some of the liveliest wits and London. The mob, however, was disappointed, courtiers that have left a name in history. Here for a few months later he died of the gout. came the Earl of Dorset, Prior's friend, who had The following story, relating to a scene which been one of the wits of the Court of Charles II. ; happened in the royal apartments here, we tell in Prior himself, too, was there, and succeeded in ob- the words of Lord Sackville, as they stand recorded taining an appointment as one of the “gentlemen in the gossiping pages of Sir N. W. Wraxall :of the king's bedchamber;" Congreve, whose plays “My father, having lost his own mother when very were admired by Queen Mary; Halifax, who is young, was brought up chiefly by the Dowager spoken of as a “minor wit, but no mean states- Countess of Northampton, his grandmother, who man ;” Swift, and Sir William Temple ; Burnet, the being particularly acceptable to Queen Mary, she gossiping historian, who afterwards became a bishop; commanded the countess always to bring her little the Earl of Devonshire, “whose nobler zeal,” as grandson, Lord Buckhurst, to Kensington Palace, Leigh Hunt puts it, “had made him a duke, one though at that time hardly four years of age ; and of a family remarkable for their constant and happy he was allowed to amuse himself with a child's combination of popular politics with all the graces cart in the gallery. King William, like almost all of their rank.” Among other visitors here at this Dutchmen, never failed to attend the tea-table period, too, were Lord Monmouth, afterwards Earl every evening. It happened that her Majesty of Peterborough, “the friend of Swift and Pope, having one afternoon, by his desire, made tea, and conqueror of Spain, and lover, at the age of seventy, waiting for the king's arrival, who was engaged in of Lady Suffolk ;” Sheffield, afterwards Duke of business in his cabinet, at the other extremity of Buckinghamshire, "a minor wit and poet, in love the gallery, the boy, hearing the queen express her with (the rank of) the Princess Anne;" and last impatience at the delay, ran away to the closet, not least, Peter the Great, the “semi-barbarian, the dragging after him the cart. When he arrived at premature forcer of Russian pseudo-civilisation, the door, he knocked, and the king asked, 'Who is there?' ' Lord Buck,' answered he. And Queen Mary, consort of William III., died here what does Lord Buck want with me?' replied of the small-pox, and the king's attachment to the his Majesty. "You must come to tea directly,' palace is said to have increased, from the circumsaid he; "the queen is waiting for you.' King stance of its having been the scene of the last William immediately laid down his pen, and opened acts of the queen, who was justly entitled to his the door ; then taking the child in his arms, placed affection. It was here that the king also died, in Lord Buckhurst in the cart, and seizing the pole, consequence of an accident in riding at Hampton drew them both along the gallery, quite to the room Court a few days previously. The readers of
in which were seated the queen, Lady Northampton, Macaulay will not have forgotten the picture which and the company.
But no sooner had he entered he draws in the very last page of his history, when the apartment than, exhausted with the effort, which William, knowing that death was approaching, sent had forced the blood upon his lungs, and being for his friends Albemarle, Auverquerque, and naturally asthmatic, threw himself into a chair, and Bentinck, while Bishops Burnet and Tillotson read for some minutes was incapable of uttering a word, the last prayers by his bedside. After his Majesty's breathing with the utmost difficulty. The Countess death, bracelets composed of the queen's hair were of Northampton, shocked at the consequences of found upon his arm. her grandson's indiscretion, which threw the whole The Court at Kensington in Queen Anne's time circle into great consternation, would have punished was not much livelier than it had been in that of him; but the king interposed in his behalf; and King William. Swift describes Anne, in a circle the story is chiefly interesting because (as serving of twenty visitors, as sitting with her fan in her to show how kindly he could behave to a trouble- mouth, saying about three words once a minute to some child) it places that prince in a more amiable those that were near her, and then, upon hearing point of view than he is commonly represented that dinner was ready, going out. Addison and in history.”
Steele might have been occasionally seen at her
QUEEN ANNE AND THE JACOBITES.
Kensington levees, among the Whigs; and Swift, on Queen Anne, had their dinner here; and he Prior, and Bolingbroke among the Tories. Marl- tells us that Richard Steele liked the latter far borough would be there also; his celebrated better than his own chair at the former, “where duchess, Sarah Jennings, had entered upon a court there was less wine and more ceremony.” Steele, life at an early age as one of the companions of who came to London in the suite of the Duke of Anne during the princess's girlhood.
Ormond, figures in the above work as “Scholar The last memorable interview between Queen Dick;” he was one of the gentlemen ushers or Anne and the Duke of Marlborough took place members of the king's guard at Kensington. here. When Queen Anne was lying in the agonies When Esmond comes to England, after being
of death, and the Jacobite party were correspon- i wounded at Blenheim, he finds Mrs. Beatrix indingly in the agonies of hope and expectation, stalled as a lady-in-waiting at the palace, and two noblemen of the highest rank-John, Duke of thenceforth "all his hopes and desires lay within Argyll, and the "proud” Duke of Somerset, who Kensington Park wall." had been superseded in office at the time of the George I., whose additions to the palace were union with Scotland --suddenly, and unbidden, the cupola-room and the great staircase, frequently appeared at the council, and their unexpected resided here, as also did his successor, George II. presence is said to have stifled Lord Bolingbroke's Here, free from the restraint caused by Sir Robert designs, if he ever entertained any, of recalling the Walpole's presence, the latter king, when angry exiled Stuarts. On such slight events—accidents with his ministers or his attendants, would fly into as we often call them—do the fates of dynasties, furious rages, expending his anger even on his and indeed of whole nations, depend.
innocent wig; whilst his clever spouse, Queen We learn from Thackeray's “Esmond” that Caroline, stood by, maintaining her dignity and selfwhile the royal guard had a very splendid table possession, and, consequently, her ascendancy over laid out for them at St. James's, the gentlemen him, and acting as a “conducting wire” between ushers who waited on King William, and afterwards the sovereign and the premier. A good story is told by Horace Walpole, showing the lax and love and cherish her, she did but little to win the romping manners of the Court under the early respect and regard of either the Court or the Georges -“ There has been a great fracas at Ken- nation at large. The hangers-on of the Princess sington (he writes in 1742). One of the mesdames would seem to have been of the ordinary type of (the princesses) pulled the chair from under Countess summer friends.”
At all events, one of her Deloraine at cards, who, being provoked that her ladies in waiting writes thus, with a vein of unmonarch was diverted with her disgrace, with the conscious sarcasm : “These noblemen and their malice of a hobby-horse gave him just such another wives continued to visit her royal highness the fall. But, alas ! the monarch, like Louis XIV., is Princess of Wales till the old king was declared mortal in the part that touched the ground, and too ill to reign, and the Prince became in fact was so hurt and so angry, that the countess is dis- regent; then those ladies disappeared that moment graced, and her German rival remains in the sole from Kensington, and were never seen there and quiet possession of her royal master's favour.” more. It was the besom of expediency which The Countess of Deloraine was governess to the swept them all away.” It appears, however, that young princesses, daughters of George II., and the Princess of Wales was well aware that her was a favourite with the king, with whom she hangers-on were not very disinterested. At all generally played cards in the evenings in the prin- events, she writes: “Unless I do show dem de cesses' apartments. Sir Robert Walpole considered knife and fork, no company has come to Kensingher as a dangerous person about the Court, for she ton or Blackheath, and neither my purse nor my possessed, said the shrewd minister, “a weak head, spirits can always afford to hang out de offer of a pretty face, a lying tongue, and a false heart.” an ordinary.' Lord Hervey, in his “Court Ballad," written in The friends of the Princess formed a circle by 1742, sarcastically styles her “virtuous, and sober, themselves. It included Lord and Lady Henry and wise Deloraine;" and in his “Memoirs,” under Fitz-Gerald, Lady C. Lindsay, Lord Rivers, Mr. H. date of 1735, he describes her as “one of the (afterwards Lord) Brougham, Lord and Lady vainest as well as one of the simplest women that Abercorn, Sir Humphry Davy, Lady Anne ever lived; but to this wretched head,” he adds, Hamilton, Mr. (afterwards Sir William) Gell, Mr. "there was certainly joined one of the prettiest Craven, Sir J. Mackintosh, Mr. R. Payne Knight, faces that ever was formed, which, though she was Mr. and Lady E. Whitbread, Lord and Lady Grey, now five-and-thirty, had a bloom upon it, too, that and Lord Erskine—a most strange and heterogenot one woman in ten thousand has at fifteen." neous medley. Very frequently the dinners at Ken
George II. died quite suddenly as he sat at sington were exceedingly agreeable, the company breakfast in the palace, on Saturday, October 25, well chosen, and sufficient liberty given to admit of 1760. The building underwent considerable altera- their conversing with unrestrained freedom. This tions during his reign, and he was the last monarch expression does not imply a licentious mode of who resided here, George III. having chosen as conversation, although sometimes discretion and his homes St. James's Palace, Kew Gardens, and modesty were trenched upon in favour of wit. Buckingham House.
Still, that was by no means the general turn of the The palace, too, was the home of the Princess discourse. Sophia, the poor blind daughter of George III. One of the ladies of the Princess Caroline writes, Miss Amelia Murray, in her “Recollections,” under date of 1810: “The Princess often does the speaks of having constantly spent an evening with most extraordinary things, apparently for no other her in her apartments here, and bears testimony to purpose than to make her attendants stare. Very the goodness of her disposition, as “an example frequently she will take one of her ladies with her of patient and unmurmuring endurance such as to walk in Kensington Gardens, who are accordingly can rarely be met with.”
dressed (it may be) in a costume very unsuited to Here, too, the unfortunate Caroline, Princess of the public highway; and, all of a sudden, she will Wales, was living from 1810 down to 1814, when bolt oat at one of the smaller gates, and walk all she removed to Connaught Place. Here she held, over Bayswater, and along the Paddington Canai, if we may so speak, her rival Court, and kept up a at the risk of being insulted, or, if known, mobbed, kind of triangular duel with her royal husband, enjoying the terror of the unfortunate attendant and her wayward child, the Princess Charlotte, not who may be destined to walk after her. One day, at all to the edification of those around her, who her royal highness inquired at all the doors of were obliged to feel and to own that, injured as Bayswater and its neighbourhood if there were any she undoubtedly was by one who had sworn to houses to be let, and went into many of them, till
CAROLINE, PRINCESS OF WALES.
at last she came to one where some children of a they replied favourably; but her lady, I observed, friend of hers (Lord H. F.) were placed for change was considerably alarmed, and was obliged to of air, and she was quite enchanted to be known draw her veil over her face to prevent betraying by them, and to boast of her extraordinary mode herself; and every moment I was myself afraid that of walking over the country.”
something not so favourable might be expressed Her royal highness gave plenty of balls and by these good people. Fortunately, this was not parties whilst residing here, and amused herself the case, and her royal highness walked away pretty well as she chose. In 1811 she is thus undiscovered, having informed them that, if they described by Lady Brownlow, in her "Reminis- would be at such a door at such an hour at cences of a Septuagenarian :"-"I had scarcely the palace on any day, they would meet with the ever seen the Princess, and hardly knew her by Princess of Wales, to see whom they expressed sight. At the time of which I speak, her figure the strongest desire. This Haroun Al-Raschid was fat and somewhat shapeless; her face had expedition passed off happily, but I own I probably been pretty in youth, for her nose was dreaded its repetition.” well formed, her complexion was good, and she On another occasion her royal highness made had bright blue eyes; but their expression was a party to go to a small cottage in the neighbourbold-this, however, might be partly caused by hood of Bayswater, where she could feel herself the quantity of rouge which she wore. Her fair unshackled by the restraints of royalty and hair hung in masses of curls on each side of her etiquette ; there she received a set of persons throat, like a lion's mane. Everybody, before the wholly unfit to be admitted to her society. It peace with France, dressed much according to is true that, since the days of Mary of Scotland their individual taste; and her royal highness (when Rizzio sang in the Queen's closet), and in was of a showy turn : her gowns were generally the old time before her, all royal persons have ornamented with gold or silver spangles, and her delighted in some small retired place or apartment, satin boots were also embroidered with them. where they conceived themselves at liberty to cast Sometimes she wore a scarlet mantle, with a gold off the cares of their high station, and descend trimming round it, hanging from her shoulders; from the pedestal of power and place to taste the and as she swam, so attired, down an English sweets of private life. But in all similar cases, this dance, with no regard to the figure, the effect was attempt to be what they were not has only proved rather strange.
The princess's parties injurious to them : every station has its price—its themselves," Lady Brownlow continues, “were penalty. By the Princess, especially, a more unmarvellously heterogeneous in their composition. wise or foolish course could not have been pursued, There were good people, and very bad ones, fine than this imitation of her unfortunate sister-queen ladies and fine gentlemen, humdrums and clever of France. All the follies, though not the elegance people ; among the latter the Rev. Sydney Smith, and splendour, of Le Petit Trianon were aped in who, I thought, looked out of place there.
the rural retreat of Bayswater; and the Princess's Her royal highness made rather a fuss with us, foes were not backward at seizing upon this and we both always supped at her table. On one circumstance, and turning it (as well they might) to occasion I was much amused at seeing my father effect her downfall. opposite to me, seated between the Duchess of “Monk" Lewis, under date November, 1811, Montrose and Lady Oxford. Sure were writes : “I have neither seen nor heard anything of there more incongruous supporters; and my the Princess since she removed to Blackheath, father's countenance was irresistibly comic. “Me- except a report that she is in future to reside at thought,' said he, as we drove home, that I was Hampton Court, because the Princess Charlotte Hercules between Virtue and Vice.'”
wants the apartments at Kensington ; but I cannot The following anecdote of her royal highness believe that the young princess, who has been shows how little of good sense or dignity she always described to me as so partial to her mother, possessed :—“One day, the Princess set out to would endure to turn her out of her apartments, or walk, accompanied by myself and one of her suffer it to be done. I have also been positively ladies, round Kensington Gardens. At last, being assured, that the Prince has announced that the wearied, her royal highness sat down on a bench first exertion of his power will be to decide the fate occupied by two old persons, and she conversed of the Princess; and that Perceval, even though he with them, to my infinite amusement, they being demurred at endeavouring to bring about a divorce, perfectly ignorant who she was. She asked them gave it to be understood that he should have no all manner of questions about herself, to which objection to her being excluded from the corona