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With the Warwick House escapade ends Miss Knight's appearance on the historical stage. She was dismissed, as we have seen, that evening. She kicked and bounced a good deal,' as Lord Eldon would have phrased it; begged to know in what she had offended;' but the Regent answered, he made no complaints, and should make none.' She was excessively angry when the Morning Post' informed mankind that, by means of one of the most pious and virtuous characters of the land, it was soon discovered that many of the Princess's associates were persons possessing pernicious sentiments alike hostile to the daughter, the father, and the country,' and wrote to the Bishop of Salisbury to know if she was one of the 'obnoxious associates' in question. What answer the pious and virtuous prelate made does not appear. She once more endeavoured to mollify the Prince Regent, whom she assured I have no acquaintance, nor have I had any communication, with persons of seditious principles, improper conduct, or sentiments hostile to your Royal Highness; but equally in vain. It is clear she was suspected of aiding and comforting the Whigs in their designs against the heiress presumptive. The exalted Toryism of this Autobiography reads like a posthumous protest against such injustice. She was never admitted within the precincts of the Regent's household again. But she was allowed the consolation of attending one drawing-room, in March, 1815. She had a pension of 3007. a-year 'as a compensation for having left the Queen's service to attend on Princess Charlotte;' in strictness perhaps a sufficient acknowledgment, but not a very ample one, for the devotion of her later years to the service of the family. She was gratified when a person who had the means of knowing many things relative to the Princess Charlotte told her the Regent and Queen had opened their eyes with respect to her, and were now persuaded that her conduct had been such as they could not think injurious to themselves. It is probable,' she adds, that they knew who was the mischief-maker' (vol. ii. p. 113). After the final separation from the Court her little chronicle loses, of course, its historical importance, if such a phrase can be used in reference to it. But for those readers who find some amusement in tracing the 'romance of a dull life,' there is something of interest in watching the way in which the poor lady clung for a long time to the associations of that circle from which she was now dissevered. She catalogues very fondly every letter she received from Princess Charlotte, and these were at first rather numerous and affectionate;' entering into details respecting the little occupations and annoyances of her life. Their frequency soon diminishes; as in the ordinary case of friendship between a
superior and an inferior. When their personal communication is interrupted, the former breaks gradually away, not through unkindness, but engrossed by new scenes and subjects, from that tie of intimacy which the latter still cherishes, and vainly endeavours to maintain. Marriage, and its new employments, obliterated the impressions left by the old humble companion. At last, on July 30, 1817, Miss Knight, on going abroad, called to take leave of Princess Charlotte, but could not see her, as Prince Leopold was suffering from a pain in his face! She wrote me a very affectionate note afterwards to apologise.' Such was the end of their intimacy, for in a few months more the young Princess had ceased to exist. The entry in Miss Knight's diary, on this afflicting subject, is brief and inexpressive,' says the editor.
'I received a visit from Miss Knight,' says Lady Charlotte Bury, in 1820; 'her presence recalled Kensington and the poor Princess to my mind. She conversed with sense and kindliness on these topics, but her exceeding prudence always restrains the expression of her feelings, and she appeared averse to dwelling on the subject. . . . Miss Knight has a very refined mind, and takes delight in every subject connected with literature and the fine arts. She is exceedingly well read, and has an excellent judgment in these matters. I alluded once to the poor Princess Charlotte's death, but Miss Knight only replied, "Ah! that was a melancholy event," and passed on to other subjects. She did not impress me with the idea of lamenting the Princess so much as I supposed she would have done. But perhaps she may in reality mourn her melancholy fate, and only forbears speaking of her lest she should say too much. Certainly Miss Knight was very ill-used by the Queen and the Regent, and I do not think Princess Charlotte liked, though she esteemed her. Miss Knight was not sufficiently gay, or of a style of character suited to Her Royal Highness.'-Diary, vol. iv. p. 7.
Certainly the misgiving that her own life had, after all, been thrown away by mistake, seems to have visited the poor excompanion in her disgrace :
I have lived,' she says, near the close of her life, 'to witness the termination of many things, and I humbly bend with resignation and gratitude to the Divine dispensations. With respect to myself all I can say is this, I cannot help regretting having left the Queen. My intentions were not bad, but in many respects I consulted my feelings more than my reason. My mind was then too active, perhaps now it is too indolent; but either I ought to have remained with the Queen, or I ought to have carried things with a higher hand to be really useful while I was with Princess Charlotte. I had no support from the
good Duchess [of Lecds], nor, indeed, from any one. I had the romantic desire that Princess Charlotte should think for herself, and think wisely. Was that to be expected from a girl of seventeen, and from one who had never had proper care taken of her since early childhood? She might have been great indeed. She had a heart and mind capable of rendering her so. She had the most charitable disposition possible.'-vol. ii. p. 86.
She seems, indeed, to have been a promising creature, whose faults lay on the surface, while her better qualities formed the substratum of her character. If we could receive Lord Brougham's account of her, she must, as we have pointed out, have been vulgarly hoydenish, and at the same time capable of deep dissimulation; but we hope his Lordship mistook her. Her attachment to a few cherished friends was warm indeed. She had much of the best part of her unhappy mother's character-her readiness to love those whom she had found serviceable and friendly, in whatever rank of life, and to take a sympathizing interest in their affairs. Her carefulness for her poor dying attendant, Mrs. Gagarin, and sorrow for her loss, are very pleasingly narrated by Miss Knight. Generous she was to a fault in her own little sphere. Indeed her father quarrelled with her extravagance in this respect, and, with his usual tact, complained that 'young ladies of immense fortunes' would accept presents from his daughter! (vol. i., p. 275.) She liked giving presents to all her friends,' says one who loved her. She was extravagant, from not knowing the value of what she ordered.' On this account, those who could take the liberty sometimes expostulated with her, and refused her gifts. Her favourite presents were her portraits, contained her hair, and had inscriptions in them. Whether we call her resolution in the matter of the Prince of Orange firmness or obstinacy, it was successful at all events, and it secured the happiness of her short life; and her demeanour in the quarrels between her parents, and especially on the Douglas occasion, evinced, as we have seen, an amount of delicacy and self-respect strangely contrasting with the lessons she could have received from either.
The remainder of Miss Knight's long life seems to have been spent chiefly in wanderings on the Continent, and she was a lively and indefatigable chronicler of events and personages met with in the course of her migrations. Her ancient Toryism was much roused by the events of 1830, and she collected very assiduously all the bits of gossip within her reach to the discredit of the Citizen-King. We do not remember to have met with the following before:
A stranger happening to be in Paris soon after the Revolution of July, 1830, was stopped by a young chimney-sweeper, who asked him if he had seen the King of the French. The other replied in the negative. "Would you like to see him?" continued the chimneysweeper; "only give me a piece of five francs, and you shall see him." The stranger agreed to do so, and they went away together to the Palais Royal. As soon as they were in sight of the balcony the boy began to call out, "Louis Philippe! Louis Philippe !" in which cry he was joined by the rabble near him. The King of the French came out to make his obeisance, and the gentleman gave a five-franc piece to the sweeper. "Now," said the boy, "if you have a mind to hear him sing, only promise me five more, and you shall be satisfied." The stranger assented, and His Majesty, at the command of the mob, joined in the Marseillaise Hymn, with all the appropriate grimaces.'-vol. ii. p. 196.
Her last sojourn was in Paris, where, in the words of her editor, she closed her long and well-regulated life on the 17th December, 1837, in the eighty-first year of her age.'
Miss Knight's Autobiography' is a work which must necessarily have a permanent though limited value, as an authentic record of certain very undignified passages in our history. The more reason, therefore, have we to complain of the very superficial way in which editorial duties have been discharged. Mr. Kaye is one of our first historical scholars, and a book really edited by him could not be otherwise than valuable; but he confesses that his time was engrossed by other occupations,' and acknowledges assistance. It is clear that the drudgery fell into hands either too ignorant or too lazy to perform it. The Anecdotes recorded by Miss Knight mostly at the end of her journals,' which occupy the last sixty pages, were little worthy of preservation, and are evidently inserted merely by way of padding,' as the modern phrase is. But not a single note from the editor helps us to ascertain the date, place, or circumstances of any of them. How far the endless misspellings of foreign names which disfigure the book are the printer's fault or Miss Knight's, we cannot say in any case, no attempt has been made to correct them. Her frequent historical mistakes are left for the most part equally unnoticed, and others quite as careless are added in the notes, apparently from memory. It was hardly fair to leave such historical slipslop as Miss Knight's notions about the Pallavicini family (vol. ii., p. 185); or that Cardinal Bernis was Prime Minister of France; or that the same Cardinal was dismissed from his embassy to Rome in 1791, because he would not take the oath of allegiance to the Republic!' (i., 99); or to add such
Autobiography of Miss Cornelia Knight.
loose statements by way of note as that the Duke of Wellington called the battle of Navarino an untoward accident' (ii., 270). The biographical notices in the notes of persons mentioned by Miss Knight are of the usual order of indolence: those comparatively unknown, of whom we should have been glad to learn something, are regularly passed over without remark; while we are treated to detailed memoirs of those with whom everybody is familiar. These, however, are not always very appropriate-as when the only mention made of the literary works of the gay Chevalier de Bouflers is that he 'published a book called Libre Arbitre,' and of those of the once famous M. de Fontanes, that he 'translated into French Pope's Essay on Man.' Miss Knight says of Dumouriez, He had been both a lawyer and a soldier, and I used to fancy that I could trace in him the distinctive features of both professions.' This, says the editor, is an error. At the age of eighteen young Dumouriez distinguished himself at an affair of the advanced posts under Marshal d'Estrées, and in the following year he obtained a cornetcy of horse.' True; but he does not add that Dumouriez was reformed' immediately afterwards that for twenty years he performed scarcely any military duty, but, though never a lawyer, was employed almost wholly as a civilian; which accounts for the tàm Marte quàm Mercurio air which the fair writer ascribes to him. These may seem trifles to remark on; but, in truth, they are not so to those who are really fond of biographical study, and know how much the good editing of a book of that description contributes to the pleasure of reading it.
ART. III.-1. Report of the Commissioners appointed to inquire into the State of Popular Education in England. 6 vols. 1861. 2. Suggestions on Popular Education. By Nassau W. Senior. London, 1861.
3. Letter to Earl Granville, written by Sir James Kay Shuttleworth on the Report of the Commission appointed to inquire into the State of National Education. 1861.
4. Remarks on some Portions of the Report of the Royal Commission on Education. London, 1861.
5. Remarks on the Discouragements to Religious Teaching in the Report of the Royal Commissioners appointed to inquire into the State of Popular Education in England. London, 1861. 6. Report of the Committee on Council of Education for 1860-1. London, 1861.