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with a maid in her service to do the work of the house. Her Majesty added that she would allow me 300l. a-year, and that I should be present at her evening parties when invited, and always on Sundays and red-letter days, and be ready to attend her in the morning when required to do so.'-vol. i. p. 168.
In this capacity she passed the melancholy season of the death of the Princess Amelia and final seclusion of George III.; and she adds some touching details of these events to those already known. In 1813 she was transferred, or rather transferred herself, to the service of the Princess Charlotte; but the circumstances of the change are very warily recounted, and not quite intelligibly. It seems that she had got heartily tired of the Queen's dreary little society-dull, uninteresting, and monotonous; every year more confined, and ever, from the kindness of the Royal Family, condemned to listen to all their complaints and private quarrels.' Nor does Queen Charlotte seem to have cared particularly for Miss Knight. But Her Majesty had the tenacity of soured old age. Miss Knight could not, therefore, get herself liberated without a most disproportionate amount of finesse and diplomacy. Sir Henry Halford was the agent employed by the Regent, as it should seem, to effect the lady's extradition. He wrote her a most pressing letter, offering her among other things, as she asserts, the title of 'Honourable;' and 'with this letter came two from the Princess Elizabeth, one of which was written by the Queen's desire, to give me a hint that the Prince wished I should come forward to assist him. . . . but adding, that the Queen would not bias me either way. The other letter was a private one, in which she urged me to write a letter to the Queen, showing an inclination to accept, and offering to consider myself still as in her service, or terms to that effect.' The answer she received was unsatisfactory. 'I saw,' she says, 'that the Queen wished me to take the refusal on myself, that she might not offend the Prince.' She was dreadfully disappointed; and went, with a heavy heart, after an hysterical fit,' to the Castle, where she met such a reception as compelled her to decline the Prince Regent's proposal. But the pressure on the part of Carlton House continued, until (if we may believe her) she adopted an expedient which seems to carry one back to the days when Queen Elizabeth's courtiers used to propitiate her with purses full of broad pieces. She was aware that Her Majesty was just at this time hard pressed for cash; and, renewing her supplication for permission to depart, 'offered some arrangements which I thought would serve to free Her Majesty from embarrassment, and particularly the loan of one thousand pounds, without interestwhich I knew the Queen was at that time very desirous to pro
cure, and which, added to the salary which I gave up, and the house which she might let, would set her completely at her ease in respect to Frogmore and the farm.' But the Queen, unlike the governor of Tilbury, was proof against the allurement of the 'thousand pounds.' To this letter I received, next day, two answers-the one, relative to my offer, of course private; and the other respecting my acceptance of the employment. Both were resentful and bitter to a high degree.' Miss Knight was very angry, and so she told Lord Moira's wife and sister. 'The ladies approved of my feelings, but Lord Moira did not. He thought my nerves ought to be braced against marks of resentment which he did not think I had deserved. I did not mention to them the pecuniary part of the correspondence; nor is it known to any human being except one friend, who will never repeat it.' (Vol. i. p. 196.) At last the arrangement was effected, as she tells us, by means of an urgent letter from the Prince Regent himself; possibly the pecuniary part of the correspondence' had diminished her mistress's reluctance to part with her. But the Queen remained at least in Miss Knight's belief-her fixed enemy to the end of her days; and she herself, as we shall see, ultimately repented having left Her Majesty.
On the 25th January, 1813, Miss Knight was 'presented' on her new appointment. The establishment into which she had, with full knowledge of the facts, introduced herself, was certainly not such as the well-regulated mind of a duenna of fifty would usually select as a refuge after the storms of life. The daughter of George and Caroline was now just seventeen; a fine spirited girl, with much talent, much nobleness of heart, an ungoverned will, but a most affectionate, and through affection a controllable disposition. Such is the verdict posterity may fairly pass on the poor perishing creature who then filled such a space in the public eye-the bright ephemeron of our history, or the fair-haired daughter of the isles,' of whom those who were grown men forty years ago can even now hardly read without some emotion. So hemmed in from childhood upwards by every evil influence-the victim of so much sinister design -that she should have won love and respect-that calumny should have glanced harmless from beside her, is surely enough to prove her real merit, even after all allowance for the exaggerations both of flattery and of faction, which, in her case, happened to combine. At the time when the Regent chose Miss Knight to attend her, he had been seized with a sudden fear lest his clever child should all at once chip the shell, and soar beyond his control. She had just had the boldness to ask her father, through Lord Liverpool, that, as she understood
Vol. 111.-No. 221.
Lady de Clifford had resigned, she might have no other governess, but an establishment of her own, and ladies-in-waiting.' 'I believe,' says Miss Knight, she wrote that letter by the advice of Miss Mercer Elphinstone, her old and intimate friend.' We believe Miss Knight's suspicion of Miss Mercer's interference to be entirely false; and it will be seen presently how this misstatement is in keeping with many other particulars asserted or insinuated in this Autobiography respecting the lady in question, now Countess de Flahault. The Prince, however,
was violently angry when he heard of the letter, and took Lord Eldon down with him to Windsor, where in the Queen's room, before Her Majesty, Princess Mary, and Lady de Clifford, in a very rough manner the learned Lord expounded the law of England as not affording Her Royal Highness what she demanded; and, on the Prince's asking what he would have done as a father, he is said to have answered, "If she had been my daughter, I would have locked her up." Princess Charlotte heard this with great dignity, and answered not a word; but she afterwards went into the room of one of her aunts, burst into tears, and exclaimed, "What would the King say if he could know that his grand-daughter had been compared to the grand-daughter of a collier?"-vol. i. p. 184.
The story is differently told (as the editor points out) in Lady Charlotte Bury's Diary, and more plausibly, as the epigram is ascribed to Lady de Clifford instead of the girlish Princess. Most probably neither version is true. The result, however, of 'things being in this uncomfortable state,' as Miss Knight calls it, was, that the new establishment, with the Duchess of Leeds at the head as 'Governess,' was framed by the Regent and Sir Henry Halford as nearly on a nursery model as the case would admit of. The Princess's coming out,' if such a phrase be applicable to Princesses, was indefinitely postponed. Warwick House' was selected as her place of confinement. We copy the description of it for the benefit of modern Londoners, and to show what accommodation was thought sufficient for presumptive royalty in the times when King George III. was content with a couple of lodging-houses on the Esplanade at Weymouth, and his offspring with the brick boxes about Kew:
'Warwick House, in which Princess Charlotte and I, with an excellent family of old servants, were now the only residents, was an old, moderate-sized dwelling, at that time miserably out of repair, and almost falling to ruins. It was situated at the extremity of a narrow lane,* with a small courtyard and gates, at which two sentinels were placed. On the ground floor were a hall, dining-room, library, comp
At the end of Warwick Street, which stretches from Cockspur Street towards the modern Carlton House Terrace,' says the editor.
troller's-room, and two very small rooms, with a good staircase, and two back staircases much the reverse. . . . . Yet for a private family it was far from being uncomfortable, though anything but royal. The drawing-room and Princess Charlotte's bedroom, with bay windows, looked on a small garden with a wall, and a road which divided it from the garden of Carlton House, to which there was a door of communication. Nothing could more perfectly resemble a convent than this residence; but it was a seat of happiness to Princess Charlotte compared with the Lower Lodge at Windsor, and she was anxiously desirous to remain in town as much as possible.'
She was promised, according to Miss Knight, parties and balls, and drawing-rooms without number, to sweeten her seclusion; but no such promises were kept. 'Every consideration was to be sacrificed to the plan of keeping the Princess Charlotte as much as possible a child;' and here we have the secret unconsciously revealed of great part of Miss Knight's dissatisfaction with her new office; for the title of Sub-governess,' which the Court people persisted in giving her, and against which she continually remonstrated, was in keeping with that jealousy of the Princess's years which would fain have revoked the prema ture grant of a lady companion.'
In this strictly watched retirement the poor young Princess had to endure a far severer trial than those of such petty annoyances -the tribulation brought on her by the quarrels between the Regent and Princess of Wales, which, in this summer, reached their height. We know that the natural yearning of a child's heart made the Princess lean strongly to the side of her mother. Great part of the people, and even of the Court, sympathised strongly with this tendency on her part. All London was affected on the famous occasion when their carriages met during a period of prohibited intercourse on Constitution Hill, and mother and daughter almost threw themselves into each other's arms-an event, by the way, to which Miss Knight does not advert, though it made a great sensation at the time. We know now what the Princess could not know, for none could explain it to her with the observance of the common sanctity of the maternal relation, why it was absolutely necessary to stifle that voice of affection. We know that in enforcing the separation as far as he could, the Regent was performing no more than a duty, however repulsive. But then he, of all men, was the most utterly unfitted to enforce on a daughter precepts in themselves salutary. His deep sins against that mother-the unmanly, undignified character of his dealings with his family-the vices of his crapulous Court-all these rose up in judgment against him, whenever he endeavoured to take what, in the case of another E 2
father, might have been deemed salutary precautions. And all his faults were known to his daughter but too well, while the evidence of her mother's failings rested on hearsay, which she would not believe. The Regent, it must be plainly said for truth's sake, was one of those men on whom a course of hard profligacy has wrought out its own last revenge. Even when he meant well he could no longer act well. He had lost the refined sense of delicacy and honourable courtesy in dealing with man or woman; all that was left was a certain plausibility of and even that manner has been severely observed upon by persons well qualified to judge. When his daughter was 'thrown into agonies of grief' by the daily discussions about her mother's guilt, on the occasion of the famous Douglas Charges (in the spring of 1813), he could not forbear, according to Miss Knight, from forcing the poor girl to go with him through the hateful subject of the investigation' in the presence of Lord Liverpool, as his confidential servant!' The Princess was dreadfully overcome' by this piece of coarseness, and the Regent could not, for the life of him, conceive why, for she had taken everything he had said to her, when alone, perfectly well!' Scenes illustrating the same deficiency of moral perception on his part abound throughout these pages.
"The Prince took me aside this evening [very shortly after her engagement with the Princess], and talked to me for a long while against the Princess of Wales, and the little regard she had shown for Princess Charlotte when a child, and how by her negligence there was a mark on the Princess Charlotte's nose, having left her hands at liberty, whereas he used continually to watch beside her cradle. He said very severe things of the Princess of Wales in every way, and even accused her of threatening to declare that the Princess was not his daughter. I really had not remarked this little blemish on the smooth and beautiful skin of my young Princess, and should have had great difficulty in forbearing to smile at the seriousness with which that important misfortune was mentioned, if I had not been horrified by the rest of the conversation.'—vol. i. p. 211.
Even when the Regent meant kindly, his tactless and frivolous ways of proclaiming his authority were almost as annoying as his displeasure.
'He was in high good humour this evening, but in the midst of it tapping me on the shoulder, said, "Remember, however, my dear Chevalier" (his pet name for Miss Knight), "that Charlotte must lay aside the idle nonsense of thinking that she has a will of her own; while I live she must be subject to me as she is at present, if she were thirty, or forty, or five-and-forty." This, of course, I did not repeat to Her Royal Highness.'