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it is generally believed that, but for this speech of Brougham's, the Ministers would have been again in a minority. If this had happened, many persons believe or profess to believe that the Ministers would have been turned out. Poor Brougham is loaded with the reproaches of his friends ; and many of them who are most impatient to get into office look upon him as the only cause that they are still destined to labour on in an unprofitable opposition. I have no doubt that, whatever had been the division, the Ministers would still have continued in office. But it is not the less true, that Brougham's speech was very injudicious as well as very unjust ; for, with all the Prince's faults, and they are great enough, it is absurd to speak of him as if he were one of the most sensual and unfeeling tyrants that ever disgraced a throne. Brougham is a man of the most splendid talents and the most extensive acquirements, and he has used the ample means which he possesses most usefully for mankind. It would be difficult to overrate the services which he has rendered the cause of the slaves in the West Indies, or that of the friends to the extension of knowledge and education among the poor, or to praise too highly his endeavours to serve the oppressed inhabitants of Poland. How much is it to be lamented that his want of judgment and of prudence should prevent his great talents, and such good intentions, from being as great a blessing to mankind as they ought to be!”1
Mr. Brougham had entered the House of Commons in 1810, as the representative of the close borough of Camelford, under the patronage of the Earl of Darlington, and had there remained true to the liberal political principles which he had from the first espoused. He had moved an address to the Crown for the more effectual suppression of the slave trade, and obtained the passage of a penal statute; he had with Horner and Lord King fought against the use of an inconvertible paper currency; and had procured, in 1812, the rescinding of the orders in Council as far as America was concerned, having in vain advocated the cause of the distressed merchants and manufacturers of London, Hull, Manchester, and Liverpool, at the bar of both Houses, when they had petitioned for such relief four years before.
An unsuccessful attempt to defeat Mr. Canning at the election for Liverpool in 1812, kept Mr. Brougham out of Parliament for four years; but in 1816 he was returned to Parliament as member for Winchelsea, another pocket borough of the Earl of Darlington's.
i Romilly's Memoirs, üi. 236, 237.
As has been before said, Mr. Brougham had taken no pains to conceal his contempt for the Regent, and this, connected with the reputation which he had won as an advocate and as a parliamentary orator, led to his being employed as counsel of the injured and despised wife of George IV. This gave him his highest position as an advocate, together with great popularity. Lord Jeffrey, writing in 1817, calls Mr. Brougham “the most powerful, active, and formidable speaker” in the House of Commons.1 In the autumn of that year he visited the Princess Caroline in Italy, having then been acting as her legal adviser some three or four years.
The story of this unhappy woman's life is one of the saddest and most interesting ; a life rendered utterly miserable by the combined effects of a very deficient early training, and a husband's unceasing persecution and brutality. The Prince of Wales being plunged in debt by his extravagant and dissipated course of life, and looking about him for some feasible way to raise money, found that marriage would extract from Parliament that which no appeals of his could obtain. He at once determined to take a wife, though this proceeding was eminently distasteful to him ; and his cousin, Caroline of Brunswick, was selected as the victim. She was the daughter of the old Duke of Brunswick, principally distinguished as a soldier, who, when he had endeavored to advise her, had frightened her by his sternness, and who had given her an instance of every thing that was bad by his own example. She was thoughtless and frivolous, but kind-hearted and charitable, with no idea, however, of thre value of money. She had little or no education ; she wrote and spelt badly; knew French and German tolerably; but, although her mother was an English woman, she said afterwards that she knew only one English word when she landed in England. Great pains had been taken to mould her religious convictions so that she might, without difficulty, assimilate them to those of whatever Roman Catholic, Protestant, or neutral husband any royal bargain might consign her, and with the usual result. She was lacking in dignity, either as a lady or a princess; she was coarse in her language, rather from ignorance than immorality; and was extremely untidy in her person. In short, what could be expected of a young woman brought up in a court entirely lacking in the commonest examples of decency or decorum, under the guidance of a depraved and licentious father, and dining at a table which was graced by her father's mistress, who was disgusted at the indecent stories there told by the good lady of the house, the duchess ? Lord Malmesbury, who was despatched by George III. to bring home his son's bride for him, gives a most amusing account of his experiences in Brunswick. Her father said of her, “ Elle n'est pas bête, mais elle n'a pas de jugement:” “ She is not a fool, but she has no judgment;" her father's mistress re-echoed his opinion, saying, “ that she was not clever, or ill-disposed, but of a temper easily wrought on, and had no tact ;” adding afterwards, “ De plus elle a beaucoup de vanité, et quoique pas sans esprit, avec peu de fond.” “Elle n'a pas le cour depravé, - elle n'a jamais rien fait de mauvais, mais la parole en elle devancé toujours la pensée.”2 She had good natural qualities, but want of training, either by precept or example, had nearly spoiled her.
1 Life: London, 1852, ii. 166. Sir James Mackintosh thus characterizes Lord Brougham, in 1818: “ The address and insinuation of Brougham are so great, that nothing but the bad temper which he cannot always hide, could hinder him from mastering everybody as he does Romilly. He leads others to his opinion; he generally appears at first to concur with theirs, and never more than half opposes it at once. This management is helped by an air of easy frankness, that would lay suspicion herself asleep. He will place himself at the head of an opposition, among whom he is unpopular; he will conquer the House of Commons, who hate, but who now begin to fear him." - Life: London, 1835, ii. 345. 2 McGilchrist, 79.
3 Rogers's Table Talk.
With no English ideas, with a head full of loose foreign notions, Lord Malmesbury, in the short time while she was with him, endeavored to prepare her for the uncommonly trying experience she was doomed to undergo. By constant advice, going into the fullest particulars, even down to cleanliness of person and of dress, he schooled her in her duties as Princess of Wales and future Queen of England, explaining to her what would be required of her in England; what sacrifices she would have to make to public opinion; what she would have to blind her eyes to in the shape of her husband's weaknesses; and, above all, the importance of making a good impression on the old king and queen. But how could he, a man, be expected to instil, in a few days, the lessons which it was a mother's duty to have made her familiar with from her birth? The marriage treaty was signed December 4, 1795; and on the 29th of the same month she left home with Lord Malmesbury. Starting with the best intentions, but with a very imperfect idea of what she ought to do; and feeling in her breast the womanly yearning after domestic bliss, — such poor notion of it as her distorted imagination could form of that blessing, — all in vain, as it was something which her future husband neither desired nor could comprehend ; she bade good-by to her parents. Arrived at Greenwich on Easter Sunday, April 5, 1796, after a long and uncomfortable winter's journey, how was she received ? Not by an eager bridegroom, anxiously awaiting her coming; but, after an hour's suspense, when the royal carriages at last drove up, she was met, not by her future husband, but by that husband's mistress, considerately delegated to accompany her to the royal family. Instead of enjoying the endearments of the prince, she suffered the vulgar criticism and ridicule of Lady Jersey. At last, when she had reached the Duke of Cumberland's apartments in London, she was visited by Prince George, who, hastily embracing her, with hardly a word, called at once for a glass of brandy; and, disgusted at her personal untidiness, instantly withdrew. The marriage, a cold, heartless affair, the bridegroom being very drunk, was celebrated in the Chapel Royal, St. James's, three days after.
1 Lord Eldon writes, in 1820, referring to the omission of her name from the liturgy, “She said, as I hear, to one of her counsel, who called upon her the other day, just after prayers, when she was eating, “This praying makes me very hungry; if they put me in the liturgy, I shall be absolutely famished.'” - Twiss's Life of - Eldon, ii. 376.
2 Malmesbury's Diaries, iii. 164, 165, 169.
Neglected for his mistresses, left alone, unloved, actually driven from him, she soon took refuge at Montague House, Blackheath, where she drew around her a small coterie of persons, the friendship of many of them being undoubtedly dictated by political motives and enmity to her husband. Among these visitors, the most distinguished were Mr. Canning, Lord Eldon, and his brother, Sir William Scott. During this retirement, she was very imprudent in her acquaintances, and indiscreet in her conduct. She evinced a great fondness for infants, and, unfortunately, adopted a child from the Brownlow-street lying-in hospital ; an action which her enemies soon took advantage of, by charging her with being its
1 Mr. R. Rush, formerly our Minister at the Court of St. James, says, that he was told " that when she lived at Blackheath, she had many a time played blind-man'sbuff with Sir William Scott, Mr. Canning, and others, who made up her parties.” Residence at the Court of London, 1819–1825, p. 343.
mother. This led to the so-called “ Delicate Investigation,” the matter being referred, in May, 1806, to a commission, consisting of Lords Erskine, Grenville, Spencer, and Ellenborough. Although the hearing was entirely ex parte, she was proved to be clear of guilt, while she was reprimanded for her rash course. Whatever she may have deserved, the treatment she met with was most unjust. She was denied admission to the court, owing to her husband's relentless persecution, prompted by a simple feeling of distaste for her. Mr. Perceval and his political associates took her up. At last, she obtained a tardy acquittal. The Duke of Portland's ministry, in 1807, recommended her reception at court, and declared her innocence. She was accordingly received at court in May of that year. Her father was killed at Jena, at the age of seventy-one, and her mother, an exile, sought refuge with her in England; an accession which brought little of happiness or credit with it.
At length the Princess of Wales, being in debt, signed a deed of separation ; in consequence of which her debts were partially paid, and she had a fixed income settled on her. When her husband became regent, she was honored with no higher title, and received no greater emolument. Her conduct was marked by the same bad traits which had always characterized her. She gave frequent dinner parties, and entertained many guests; but she alienated the nobility, and lost friends; her behavior being undignified, and not calculated to command the respect of the English people. She was denied free intercourse with her only child, the Princess Charlotte. The Privy Council reported that restriction on her was necessary. Through the influence of the regent, she was treated with contempt, neglected in society, and excluded from court. Mr. Whitbread then took up her cause, tried to regulate her actions, defended her in Parliament, and looked generally after her interests. In consequence of the flight of the Princess Charlotte from Warwick House to her mother's residence in July, 1814, the regent prohibited any further intercourse whatever between mother and daughter, and took stringent measures to enforce this resolve. The Princess of Wales then determined to go on to the continent to travel, and with her husband's approval, — who was only too glad to be rid of her, - sailed from England on the 9th of August, 1814. For six years she remained abroad, visiting Brunswick, Germany, France, Switzer