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LORD HERVE Y.
The village of Kensington was disturbed in its sweet repose one day, more than a century ago, by the rumbling of a ponderous coach and six, with four outriders and two equerries kicking up the dust; while a small body of heavy dragoons rode solemnly after the huge vehicle. It waded, with inglorious struggles, through a deep mire of mud, between the Palace and Hyde Park, until the cortège entered Kensington Park, as the gardens were then called, and began to track the old road that led to the red-brick structure to which William III. had added a higher story, built by Wren. There are two roads by which coaches could approach the house: “one,” as the famous John, Lord Hervey, wrote to his mother, so convex, the other so concave, that, by this extreme of faults, they agree in the common one of being, like the high-road, impassable.” The rumbling coach, with its plethoric steeds, toils slowly on, and reaches the dismal pile, of which no association is so precious as that of its having been the birth-place of our loved Victoria Regina. All around, as the emblazoned carriage impressively veers round into the grand entrance, savors of William and Mary, of Anne, of Bishop Burnet and Harley, Atterbury and Bolingbroke. But those were pleasant days compared to those of the second George, whose return from Hanover in this mountain of a coach is now described.
The panting steeds are gracefully curbed by the state coachman in his scarlet livery, with his cocked hat and gray wig underneath it: now the horses are foaming and reeking as if they had come from the world's end to Kensington, and yet they have only been to meet King George on bis entrance into London, which he has reached from Helvoetsluys, on his way from Hanover, in time, as he expects, to spend his birthday among his English subjects.
It is Sunday, and repose renders the retirement of Kensington and its avenues and shades more sombre than ever. Suburban retirement is usually so. It is noon; and the inmates of Kensington Palace are just coming forth from the chapel in the palace. The coach is now stopping, and the equerries are at hand to offer their respectful assistance to the diminutive figure that, in full Field-marshal regimentals, a cocked hat stuck crosswise on his head, a sword dangling even down to his
GEORGE II. ARRIVING FROM HANOVER.
heels, ungraciously heeds them not, but stepping down, as the great iron gates are thrown open to receive him, looks neither like a king 'nor a gentleman. A thin, worn face, in whiclı weakness and passion are at once pictured; a form buttoned and padded up to the chin; high Hessian boots without a wrinkle; a sword and a swagger, no more constituting him the military character than the “your majesty” from every lip can make a poor thing of clay a king. Such was George II.: brutal even to his submissive wife. Stunted by nature, he was insignificant in form, as he was petty in character; not a trace of royalty could be found in that silly, tempestuous physiognomy, with its hereditary small head: not an atom of it in his madeup, paltry little presence; still less in his bearing, language, or qualities.
The queen and her court have come from chapel, to meet the royal absentee at the great gate: the consort, who was to his gracious majesty like an elder sister rather than a wife, bends down, not to his knees, but yet she bends, to kiss the hand of her royal husband. She is a fair, fat woman, no longer young, scarcely comely; but with a charm of manners, a composure, and a savoir faire that causes one to regard her as mated, not matched to the little creature in that cocked hat, which he does not take off even when she stands before him. The pair, nevertheless, embrace; it is a triennial ceremony performed when the king goes or returns from Hanover, but suffered to lapse at other times; but the condescension is too great; and Caroline ends, where she began, “gluing her lips” to the ungracious hand held out to her in evident illhumor.
They turn, and walk through the court, then up the grand staircase, into the queen's apartment. The king has been swearing all the way at England and the English, because he has been obliged to return from Hanover, where the German mode of life and new mistresses were more agreeable to him than the English customs and an old wife. He displays, therefore, even on this supposed happy occasion, one of the worst outbreaks of his insufferable temper, of which the queen
is the first victim. All the company in the palace, both ladies and gentlemen, are ordered to enter: he talks to them all, but to the queen
says not a word. She is attended by Mrs. Clayton, afterward Lady Sundon, whose lively manners and great good-temper and good-willlent out like leasehold to all, till she saw what their friendship might bring—are always useful at these tristes rencontres. Mrs. Clayton is the amalgamating substance between chemical agents which have, of themselves, no cohesion; she covers
with address what is awkward; she smooths down with something pleasant what is rude; she turns off--and her office in that respect is no sinecure at that court—what is indecent, so as to keep the small majority of the company who have respectable notions in good humor. To the right of Queen Caroline stands another of her majesty's household, to whom the most defe ntial attention is paid by all present: nevertheless, she is the queen of the court, but not the queen of the royal master of that court. It is Lady Suffolk, the mistress of King George II., and long mistress of the robes to Queen Caroline. She is now past the bloom of youth, but her attractions are not in their wane; but endured until she had attained her seventy-ninth year. Of a middle height, well made, extremely fair, with very fine light hair, she attracts regard from her sweet fresh face, which had in it a comeliness independent of regularity of feature. According to her invariable custom, she is dressed with simplicity; her silky tresses are drawn somewhat back from her snowy forehead, and fall in long tresses on her shoulders, not less transparently white. She wears a gown of rich silk, opening in front to display a chemisette of the most delicate cambric, which is scarcely less delicate than her skin. Her slender arms are without bracelets, and her taper fingers without rings. As she stands behind the queen, holding her majesty's fan and gloves, she is obliged, from her deafness, to lean her fair face with its sunny hair first to the right side, then to the left, with the helpless air of one exceedingly deaf-for she had been afflicted with that infirmity for some years; yet one can not say whether her appealing looks, which seem to say, “Enlighten me, if you please”and the sort of softened manner in which she accepts civilities which she scarcely comprehends, do not enhance the wonderful charm which drew every one who knew her toward this frail, but passionless woman.
The queen forms the centre of the group. Caroline, daughter of the Marquis of Brandenburgh-Anspach, notwithstanding her residence in England of many years, notwithstanding her having been, at the era at which this biography begins, ten years its queen—is still German in every attribute. She retains, in her fair and comely face, traces of having been handsome; but her skin is deeply scarred by the cruel small-pox. She is now at that time of life when Sir Robert Walpole even thought it expedient to reconcile her to no longer being an object of attraction to her royal consort. As a woman, she has ceased to be attractive to a man of the character of George II.; but, as a queen, she is still, as far as manners are concerned, incomparable. As she turns to address various members