Imágenes de página
PDF
ePub

Mailborne, and one other person. To prevent all suspicion, her majesty would frequently * stand for some minutes in her shift talking to her ladies ; and though labouring with so dangerous a complaint, she made it so invariable a rule never to refuse a desire of the king, that every norning at Richmond she walked several miles with bim ; and more than once when she had the gout in her foot, she dipped her whole leg in cold water to be ready to attend him. The pain, her bulk, and the exercise, threw her into such fits of perspiration as vented the gout-but those exertions hastened the crisis of her distemper. It was great shrewdness in Sir Robert Walpole, who, before her distemper broke out, discovered her secret. On my mother's death, who was of the queen's age, her majesty asked Sir Robert many physical questions--but he remarked, that she oftenest reverted to a rupture, which had not been the illness of his wife, When he came home, he said to me, “ Now, Horace, I know by possession of what secret lady Sundon has preserved such an ascendant over the queen.” He was in the right. How lady Sundon had wormed herself into that mystery was never known. As Sir Robert maintained his influence over the clergy by Gibson bishop of London, he often met with troublesome obstructions from lady Sundon, who cspoused, as I have said, the heterodox clergy; and Sir Robert could never shake her credit..

Yet the queen was constant in her protection of Sir Robert, and the day before she died gave a strong mark of her conviction that he was the firmest support the king had. As they two alone were standing by the queen's bed, she pathetically recommended, not the minister to the sovereign, but the master to the servant. Sir Robert was alarmed, and feared the recommendation would leave a fatal impression-but a short time after the king reading with Sir Robert some intercepted letters from Germany, which said that now the queen was gone Sir Robert would have no protection : “ On the contrary,” said the king, “ you know she recommended me to you." This marked the notice he had taken of the expression; and it was the only notice he ever took of it : nay, his majesty's grief was so excessive and so sincere, that his kindness to his minister seemed to increase for the queen's sake.

• The queen's dread of a rival was a feminine weakness; the behaviour of her eldest son was a real thorn. He early displayed his aversion to his mother, who perhaps assumed too much at first ; yet it is certain that her good sense and the interest of her family would have prevented if possible the mutual dislike of the father and son.

•* While the queen dressed, prayers used to be redde in the outward room, where hung a naked Venus. Mrs. Selwyn, bed-chamberwoman in waiting, was one day ordered to bid the chaplain Dr. Madox (afterwards bishop of Worcester) begin the service. He said archly, “ And a very proper altar-piece is here, madam !” Queen Anne had the same custom; and once ordering the door to be shut while she shifted, the chaplain stopped. The queen sent to ask why he did not proceed? He replied, “ he would not whistle the word of God through the kcy-hole."

and

and their reciprocal contempt. As the opposition gave into all adula. tion towards the prince, his ill-poised head and vanity swallowed all their incense. He even early after his arrival had listened to a high act of disobedience. Money he soon wanted : old Sarah, duchess of Malborough *, ever proud and ever malignant, was persuaded to offer her favourite grand-daughter lady Diana Sper.cer, afterwards duchess of Bedford, to the prince of Wales, with a fortune of an hundred thousand pounds. He accepted the proposal, and the day was fixed for their being secretly married at the duchess's lodge in the great park at Windsor. Sir Robert Walpole got intelligence of the project, prevented it, and the secret was buried in silence.

Youth, folly, and indiscretion, the beauty of the young lady, and a large sum of ready money, might have offered something like a plea for so rash a marriage, had it taken place : but what could excuse, what indeed could provoke, the senseless and barbarous insult offered to the king and queen by Frederic's taking his wife out of the palace of Hampton-court in the middle of the night when she was in actual labour, and carrying her, at the imminent risk of the lives of her and the child, to the unaired palace and bed at St. James's ? Had he no way of affronting his parents but by venturing to kill his wife and the heir of the crown? A baby that wounds itself to vex, its nurse is not more void of reflection. The scene which commenced by unfeeling idiotism closed with paltry hypocrisy

* That woman, who had risen to greatness and independent wealth by the weakness of another queen, forgot, like the duc D'Epernon, her own unmerited exaltation, and affected to brave successive courts, though sprung from the dregs of one. When the prince of Orange came over to marry the princess royal Anne, a boarded gallery with a pent-house roof was erected for the procession from the windows of the great drawing-room at St. James's cross the garden to the Lutheran chapel in the friary. The prince being indisposed and going to Bath, the marriage was deferred for some weeks, and the boarded gallery remained, darkening the windows of Marlborough-house. "Í'he dnchess cried, “ I wonder when my neighbour Gcorge will take away his orange chest !”—which it did resemble. She did not want that sort of wit t, which ill-temper, long knowledge of the world, and insolence can sharpen-and envying the favour which she no longer possessed, Sir R. Walpole was often the object of her satire. Yet her great friend lord Godolphin, the treasurer, had enjoined her to preserve very different sentiments. The duchess and my father and mother were standing by the earl's bed at St. Albans as he was dying. Taking Sir Robert by the hand, lord Godolphin turned to the duchess and said, “ Madam, should you ever, desert this young man, and there should be a possibility of returning from the grave, I shall certainly appear to you.”-Her grace did not believe in spirits.'

« + Baron Gleicken, minister from Denmark in France, being at Paris soon after the king his master had been there, and a French lady being so ill-bred as to begin censuring the king to him, saying, “ Ah! monsieur, c'est une tete!" " Couronnée," replicd he instantly, stopping her by so genteel a hint.'

The

Tlre queen, on the first notice of her son's exploit, set out for St. James's to visit the princess by seven in the morning. The gracious prince, so far from attempting an apology, spoke not a word to his mother; but on her retreat gave her his hand, led her into the street to her coach-still dumb !-but a crowd being assembled at the gate, he kneeled down in the dirt, and humbly kissed her majesty's kand.—Her indignation must have shrunk into contempt!

• After the death of the queen, lady Yarmouth came over, who bad been the king's mistress at Hanover during his latter journeys —and with the queen's privity, for he always made her the conti. dante of his amours; which made Mrs. Selwyn once tell him, be should be the last man with whom she would have an intrigue, for she knew he would tell the queen. In his letters to the latter from Hanover, he said, “ You must love the Wai:noden, for she loves me." She was created a countess, and had much weight with hin, but never employed her credit but to assist lvis ministers, or to convert some honours and favours to her own advantage. She had two sons, who both bore her husband's name ; but the younger, though never acknowledged, was supposed the king's, and consequently did act miss additional homage from the courtiers. That incense being one of the recommendations to the countenance of lady Yarmouth drew lord Chesterfield into a ridiculous distress. On his being made secre: tary of state, he found a fair young lad in the anti-chamber at St. James's, who seeming much at home, the earl, concluding it was the mistress's son, was profuse of attentions to the boy, and more prodigal still of his prodigious regard for his mamman The shrewd boy received all his lordship's vows with indulgence, and without betraying himself immat last he said, “ I suppose your luidship takes me for master Louis ; but I am only Sir William Russel, one of the pages.”

The king's last years passed as regularly as clock-work. At nine at night he had cards in the apartment of his daughters the princesses Amelia and Caroline, with lady Yarmouth, two or three of the late queen's ladies, and as many of the most favoured officers of his own houshold. Every Saturday in summer he carried that uniform party, bat without his daughters, to dine at Richmond; they went in coaches and six in the middle of the day, with the heavy horse-guards kicking up the dust before them, dined, walked an hour in the gar. den, returned in the same dusty parade ; and his majesty fancied himself the most gallant and lively prince in Europe.

• His last year was glorious and triumphant beyond example; and his death was most felicitous to himself, being without a pang, with. out tasting a reverse, and when his sight and hearing were so nearly extinguished, that any prolongation could have but swelled to cala. mities'

In this chapter, Lord Orford has discovered a secret, which, had it been divulged during his father's administration, would have occasioned great clamour: we mean the supplying the Qucer with money from the Treasury. We hope that his successors have no such unlimited power over the national purse.

Chap

Chap. VIII. is more and more severe on the royal family: Kings are men, and, like the rest of their species, may be fre. quently weak and even wicked: but that the son of a favourite minister, who was implicitly allowed to guide and govern our kings of the Brunswick race, should be more severe on them than even the adherents to the house of Stuart, is somewhat extraordinary!- The characters of the Duchesses of Marlborough and Buckingham in Chap. IX. will be found very entertaining.

It must be allowed that our author had a great deal of fancy, or, rather, that he had a great many odd fancies. In the Hier). glyphic Tales, many of his allusions are extremely sarcastic, personal, and sometimes profane. In the preface, p. 322 at the bottom, we have a sneer at the clergy, and at the Mosaic account of the creation. There seems also, p. 323, to be a stroke at the Hermes of the late Mr. Harris, and a knock at King David, p. 324.

Tale I. Plato's Atlantis-Goat's eggs! yes — this is my supposition --- no matter whether I believe it myself or not. Í will write against and abuse any man that opposes my hypo. thesis. It would be fine indeed if learned men were obliged to believe what they assert.'—Exactly the case with the author's Historic Doubts. He wrote with fury against every one who. opposed them.-- Fairy tales-- Leonidas - Councils ---the late, Emperor and Empress of Russia--are here his butts.

The 2d tale, if it means any thing, is a ridicule on the marriage of Princess Mary with the Prince of Orange-on Princess Anne

and on the Revolution of 1688. Tale III. More Bible-ridicule.

Tale IV. Ridicule on the present king's first specch in par. liament, in which his majesty said that “his heart was Enge lish:"-on Lord Bute, his nurse, and prime minister :-more sarcasms against courts;-—and more profaneness. These are not skilful imitations of Voltaire.

Tale V. The late King, the Prince of Wales, and his consort, (Brunswickers,) are all here typified.

The Vith Tale is the most unobjectionable of the number. The suspense is artfully protracted, and the sarcasms are fair.

' A true Love Story. • In the height of the animosities betwecn the factions of the Guelfs and Ghibellines, a party of Venetians had made an inroad into the territories of the Viscontis, sovereigns of Milan, and had carried off the young Orondates, then at nurse. His family were at that time under a cloud, though they could boast of being descended from Canis Scaliger, lord of Verona. The captors sold the beautiful Orondates to a rich widow of the noble family of Grimaldi, who, having no children, brought him up with as much tenderness as if he

had

[ocr errors]

liad been her son. Her fondness increased with the growth of his stature and charms, and the violence of his passions were augmented by the signora Grimaldi's indulgence. Is it necessary to say that love reigned predominantly in the soul of Orondates? or that in a city like Venice a form like that of Orondates met with littic resistance ?

The Cyprian Queen, not content with the numerous oblations of Orondates on her altars, was not satisfied while his heart remained unengaged. Across the canal, over-against the palace of Grimaldi, stood a convent of Carmelite nuns, the abbess of which had a young African slave of the most exquisite beauty, called Azora, a year younger than Orondates. Jet and japan were tawney and without lustre, when compared to the hue of Azora. Afric never produced a female so perfect as Azora; as Europe could boast but of one Orondates.

The signora Grimaldi, though no bigot, was pretty regular at her devotions; but as lansquenet was more to her taste than praying, she hurried over her masses as fast as she could, to allot more of her precious time to cards. This made her prefer the church of the Carmelites, separated only by a small bridge, though the abbess was of a contrary faction. However, as both ladies were of equal quality, and had had no altercations that could countenance incivility, reciprocal curtsies always passed between them, the coldness of which cach pretended to lay on their attention to their devotions, though the signora Grimaldi attended but little to the priest, and the abbess was chiefiy employed in watching and criticising the inattention of the signora.

Not so Orondates and Azora. Both constantly accompanied their mistresses to mass, and the first moment they saw each other was decisive in both breasts, Venice ceased to have more than one fair in the eyes of Orondates, and Azora had not remarked till then that there could be more beautiful beings in the world than some of the Carmelite nuns.

The seclusion of the abbess, and the aversion between the two ladies, which was very cordial on the side of the holy one, cut off all hopes from the lovers. Azora grew grave, and pensive, and melancholy; Orondates surly and intractable. Even his attachment to his kied patroness relaxed. He attended her reluctantly but at the hours of prayer. Often did she find him on the steps of the church cre the doors were opened. The signora Grimaldi was not ant to make observations. She was content with indulging her own passions, seldom restrained those of others; and though good offices rarely presented themselves to her imagination, she was ready to exert them when applied to, and always talked charitably of the unhappy at her cards, if it was not a very unlucky deal.

• Still it is probable that she never would have discovered the passion of Orondates, had not her woman, who was jealous of his favour, given her a hint ; at the same time remarking, under affectation of good will, how well the circumstances of the lovers were suited, and, that as her ladyship was in years, and would certainly not think of providing for a creature she had bought in the public market, it would be charitable to marry the fond couple, and settle them on her farm in the country.

· Fortunately

« AnteriorContinuar »