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and summoning them to devote their most unexhausted vigour and masculine ambition to the service of a sovereign, at whose right and left, like the urns of Homer's Jove, stood the golden founts of glory. London was becoming Paris in all but the name. There never was a period when the tone of our society was more polished, more animated, or more corrupt. Gaming, horseracing, and still deeper deviations from the right rule of life, were looked upon as the natural embellishments of rank and fortune. Private theatricals, one of the most dexterous and assured expedients to extinguish, first the delicacy of woman, and then her virtue, were the favourite indulgence; and, by an outrage to English decorum, which completed the likeness to France, women were beginning to mingle in public life, try their influence in party, and entangle their feebleness in the absurdities and abominations of political intrigue. In the midst of this luxurious period the Prince of Wales commenced his public career. His rank alone would have secured him flatterers; but he had higher titles to homage. He was, then, one of the handsomest men in Europe: his countenance open and manly; his figure tall, and strikingly proportioned; his address remarkable for easy elegance, and his whole air singularly noble. His contemporaries still describe him as the model of a man of fashion, and amusingly lament over the degene
racy of an age which no longer produces such
But he possessed qualities which might have atoned for a less attractive exterior. He spoke the principal modern languages with sufficient skill; he was a tasteful musician; his acquaintance with English literature was, in early life, unusually accurate and extensive; Markham's discipline, and Jackson's scholarship, had given him a large portion of classical knowledge; and nature had given him the more important public talent of speaking with fluency, dignity, and vigour.
Admiration was the right of such qualities, and we can feel no surprise if it were lavishly offered by both sexes. But it has been strongly asserted, that the temptations of flattery and pleasure were thrown in his way for other objects than those of the hour; that his wanderings were watched by the eyes of politicians; and that every step which plunged him deeper into pecuniary embarrassment was triumphed in, as separating him more widely from his natural connexions, and compelling him in his helplessness to throw himself into the arms of factions alike hostile to his character and his throne.
THE PRINCE'S EMBARRASSMENTS.
I 1787, the state of the prince's income began to excite the anxious attention of parliament and the country. The allowance given three years before had been found totally inadequate to his expenditure, and there was at length no resource but to apply to the nation.
On the original proposal of 50,000/. a year, the prince's friends," for he had already found political protectors, had strenuously protested against the narrowness of the sum. But the prince decorously reprehended their zeal, and declared his readiness to submit entirely to the will of his father, and his extreme reluctance to be the cause of any misunderstanding between the king and his ministers.
Yet a short experience shewed that the income was altogether inadequate to the expenses of Carlton House. The prince was now upwards of 150,000/. in debt. His creditors, perhaps in some degree alarmed by the notorious alienation of the court, had begun suddenly to press for payment. The topic became painfully public; the king was applied to, and by his command a full statement was laid before him. But the result
was a direct refusal to interfere, formally conveyed through the ministers.
Family quarrels are proverbial for exhibiting errors on both sides; and even the quarrel on this occasion, high as the personages were, made no exception to the rule. The prince was treated sternly; in return, the prince acted rashly. The royal indignation might have been justly softened by recollecting the inexperience, the almost inevitable associates, and the strong temptations of the heir apparent; and the measure ought to have been made an act of favour, which was so soon discovered to be an act of necessity. On the other hand, the prince, impetuously, on the day after the royal answer, broke up his household, dismissed his officers in attendance, ordered his horses to be sold, shut up every apartment of his palace not required for immediate personal accommodation, and commenced living the life of a hermit, which he called that of a private gentleman; his political friends, that of an ancient sage; and the court, that of a young rebel. The decided impression on the king's mind was, that this sudden resolution was suggested by individuals whose first object was to enlist the sympathies of the nation against the minister, and who also had no reluctance to see the king involved in the disgrace of his cabinet. A remarkable incident at this period made the alienation palpable to the empire. Margaret Nicholson's attempt to assassinate the
an attempt which failed only from the accidental bending of the knife, had been immeCabely communicated to all the authorities, and tas principal persons connected with the royal famy, with but one exception. To the prince to communication was made. He heard it at Bognton, and hastened to Windsor, where he was receed by the queen alone. The king was inaccessible.
But the system of seclusion was too little adapted to the great party who had now totally engrossed the direction of the prince; and too repulsive to the natural habits of rank and birth, to last long. The windows of Carlton House were gradually opened, and the deserted halls gave their pomps to the light once more. His advisers prompted him to strengthen his public influence by private hospitality; and, from all the records of those years, we must believe that no host possessed more abundantly the charm of giving additional zest to the luxuries of the banquet. He now began to give frequent entertainments; from personal pleasure, the feeling grew into political interest; and it was at length resolved, that the price owed it to his own character to shew that he was not afraid of public investigation.
The opening of the budget was considered a proper time, and the subject was confided to the
August 2, 1786.
+ April 20, 1787.