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THE TRUTH DISCOVERED,
outer apartment with the Duke of Cumberland, a page came to the duke to speak to the prince in the passage.
It was to prefer a request to see his mother. This message was conveyed by Lord Hervey to the king, whose reply was uttered in the most vehement rage possible. “This,” said he,“ is like one of his scoundrel tricks; it is just of a piece with his kneeling down in the dirt before the mob to kiss her hand at the coach door when she came home from Hampton Court to see the princess, though he had not spoken one word to her during her whole visit. I always hated the rascal, but now I hate him worse than ever. He wants to come and insult his poor dying mother; but she shall not see him; you have heard her, and all my daughters have heard her, very often this year at Hampton Court desire me if she should be ill, and out of her senses, that I would never let him come near her; and while she had her senses she was sure she should never desire it. No, no! he shall not come and act any of his silly plays here."
In the afternoon the queen said to the king, she wondered the Griff, a nickname she gave to the prince, had not sent to inquire after her yet; it would be so like one of his paroitres. “Sooner or later,” she added, “I am sure we shall be plagued with some message of that sort, because he will think it will have a good air in the world to ask to see me; and, perhaps, hopes I shall be fool enough to let him come, and give him the pleasure of seeing the last breath go out of my body, by which means he would have the joy of knowing I was dead five minutes sooner than he could know it in Pall Mall.”
She afterward declared that nothing would induce her to see him except the king's absolute commands. “Therefore, if I grow worse,” she said, “and should I be weak enough to talk of seeing him, I beg you, sir, to conclude that I doat-or rave.
The king, who had long since guessed at the queen's disease, urged her now to permit him to name it to her physicians. She begged him not to do so; and for the first time, and the last, the unhappy woman spoke peevishly and warmly. Then Ranby, the house-surgeon, who had by this time discovered the truth, said, “There is no more time to be lost; your majesty has concealed the truth too long; I beg another surgeon may be called in immediately."
The queen, who had, in her passion, started up in her bed, lay down again, turned her head on the other side, and, as the king told Lord Hervey, “shed the only tear he ever saw her shed while she was ill.
At length, too late, other and more sensible means were resorted to: but the queen's strength was failing fast. It must have been a strange scene in that chamber of death. Much as
THE QUEEN'S DYING BEQUESTS.
the king really grieved for the queen's state, he was still sufficiently collected to grieve also lest Richmond Lodge, which was settled on the queen, should go to the hated Griff ;* and he actually sent Lord Hervey to the lord chancellor to inquire about that point. It was decided that the queen could make a will, so the king informed her of his inquiries, in order to set her mind at ease, and to assure her it was impossible that the prince could in any way benefit pecuniarily from her death. The Princess Emily now sat up with her mother. The king went to bed. The Princess Caroline slept on a couch in the antechamber, and Lord Hervey lay on a mattress on the floor at the foot of the Princess Caroline's couch.
On the following day (four after the first attack) mortification came on, and the weeping Princess Caroline and Lord Hervey were informed that the queen could not hold out many hours. Lord Hervey was ordered to withdraw. The king, the Duke of Cumberland, and the queen's four daughters alone remained, the queen begging them not to leave her until she expired; yet her life was prolonged many days.
When alone with her family, she took from her finger a ruby ring, which had been placed on it at the time of the coronation, and gave it to the king. “This is the last thing,” she said, “I have to give you; naked I came to you, and naked I go from you; I had every thing I ever possessed from you, and to you whatever I have I return." She then asked for her keys, and gave them to the king. To the Princess Caroline she intrusted the care of her younger sisters; to the Duke of Cumberland, that of keeping up the credit of the family.
Attempt nothing against your brother, and endeavor to mortify him by showing superior merit,” she said to him. She advised the king to marry again; he heard her in sobs, and with much difficulty got out this sentence: “ Non, j'aurai des maitresses.” To which the queen made no other reply than “ Ah, mon Dieu! cela n'empêche pas." “I know,” says Lord Hervey, in his Memoirs, " that this episode will bardly be credited, but it is literally true.”
She then fancied she could sleep. The king kissed her, and wept over her; yet when she asked for her watch, which hung near the chimney, that she might give him the seal to take care of, his brutal temper broke forth. In the midst of his tears he called out, in a loud voice, “Let it alone! mon Dieu! the
queen has such strange fancies; who should meddle with your seal ? It is as safe there as in my pocket.”
The queen then thought she could sleep, and, in fact, sank to rest. She felt refreshed on awakening and said, “I wish it
* Prince Frederick.
ARCHBISHOP POTTER IS SENT FOR.
was over; it is only a reprieve to make me suffer a little longer;
I can not recover, but my nasty heart will not break yet.” She had an impression that she should die on a Wednesday: she had, she said, been born on a Wednesday, married on a Wednesday, crowned on a Wednesday, her first child was born on a Wednesday, and she had heard of the late king's death on a Wednesday.
On the ensuing day she saw Sir Robert Walpole. “My good Sir Robert,” she thus addressed him, “you see me in a very indifferent situation. I have nothing to say to you but to recommend the king, my children, and the kingdom to your care.”
Lord Hervey, when the minister retired, asked him what he thought of the queen's state.
“My lord,” was the reply, “she is as much dead as if she was in her coffin; if ever I heard a corpse speak, it was just now in that room !”
It was a sad, an awful death-bed. The Prince of Wales having sent to inquire after the health of his dying mother, the queen became uneasy lest he should hear the true state of her case, asking, “if no one would send those ravens, meaning the prince's attendants, “out of the house. They were only," she said, “watching her death, and would gladly tear her to pieces while she was alive.” While thus she spoke of her son's courtiers, that son was sitting up all night in his house in Pall Mall, and saying, when any messenger came in from St. James's, “Well, sure, we shall soon have good news, she can not hold out much longer.” And the princesses were writing letters to prevent the princess royal from coming to England, where she was certain to meet with brutal unkindness from her father, who could not endure to be put to any expense. Orders were, indeed, sent to stop her if she set out. She came, however, on pretense of taking the Bath waters; but George II., furious at her disobedience, obliged her to go direct to and from Bath without stopping, and never forgave her.
Notwithstanding her predictions, the queen survived the fatal Wednesday. Until this time no prelate had been called in to pray by her majesty, nor to administer the Holy Communion; and as people about the court began to be scandalized by this omission, Sir Robert Walpole advised that the Archbishop of Canterbury should be sent for: his opinion was couched in the following terms, characteristic at once of the man, the times, and the court:
“Pray, madam,” he said to the Princess Emily, “let this farce be played; the archbishop will act it very well. You
THE DUTY OF RECONCILIATION.
may bid him be as short as you will: it will do the queen no hurt, no more than any good; and it will satisfy all the wise and good fools who will call us atheists if we don't pretend to be as great fools as they are."
Unhappily, Lord Hervey, who relates this anecdote, was himself an unbeliever; yet the scoffing tone adopted by Sir Robert seems to have shocked even him.
In consequence of this advice, Archbishop Potter prayed by the queen morning and evening, the king always quitting the room when his grace entered it. Her children, however, knelt by her bedside. Still the whisperers who censured were unsatisfied—the concession was thrown away. Why did not the queen receive the communion ? Was it, as the world believed, either “ that she had reasoned herself into a very low and cold assent to Christianity ?” or “that she was heterodox;" or "that the archbishop refused to administer the sacrament until she should be reconciled to her son ?” Even Lord Hervey, who rarely left the antechamber, has only by his silence proved that she did not take the communion. That antechamber was crowded with persons who, as the prelate left the chamber of death, crowded around, eagerly asking, “ Has the
received ?" “ Her Majesty," was the evasive reply, "is in a heavenly disposition :" the public were thus deceived. Among those who were near the queen at this solemn hour was Dr. Butler, author of the “ Analogy.” He had been made clerk of the closet, and became, after the queen's death, Bishop of Bristol. He was in a remote living in Durham, when the queen, remembering that it was long since she had heard of him, asked the Archbishop of York“ whether Dr. Butler was dead?” “No, madam," replied that prelate (Dr. Blackburn)," but he is buried;" upon which she had sent for him to court. Yet he was not courageous enough, it seems, to speak to her of her son and of the duty of reconciliation; whether she ever sent the prince any message or not is uncertain; Lord Hervey is silent on that point, so that it is to be feared that Lord Chesterfield's line,
“And, unforgiving, unforgiven, dies !" had but too sure a foundation in fact; so that Pope's sarcastic
“ Hang the sad verse on Carolina's urn,
And hail her passage to the realms of rest;
All parts performed, and all her children blest," may have been but too just, though cruelly bitter. The queen lingered till the 20th of November. During that interval of agony her consort was perpetually boasting to every one of
THE DEATH OF QUEEN CAROLINE.
her virtues, her sense, her patience, her softness, her delicacy; and ending with the praise, “Comme elle soutenoit sa dignité avec grace, avec politesse, avec douceur !” Nevertheless he scarcely ever went into her room. Lord Hervey states “ that he did, even in this moving situation, snub her for something or other she did or said.” One morning, as she lay with her eyes fixed on a point in the air, as people sometimes do when they want to keep their thoughts from wandering, the king coarsely told her “she looked like a calf which had just had its throat cut.” He expected her to die in state. Then, with all his bursts of tenderness he always mingled his own praises, hinting that though she was a good wife, he knew he had deserved a good one, and remarking, when he had extolled her understanding, that he did not “think it the worse for her having kept him company so many years.” To all this Lord Hervey listened with, doubtless, well-concealed disgust; for cabals were even then forming for the future influence that might or might not be obtained.
The queen's life, meantime, was softly ebbing away in this atmosphere of selfishness, brutality, and unbelief. One evening she asked Dr. Tessier impatiently how long her state might continue ?
* Your Majesty," was the reply, “ will soon be released.” “So much the better,” the queen calmly answered.
At ten o'clock that night, while the king lay at the foot of her bed, on the floor, and the Princess Emily on a couch-bed in the room, the fearful death-rattle in the throat was heard. Mrs. Purcel, her chief and old attendant, gave the alarm : the Princess Caroline and Lord Hervey were sent for; but the princess was too late, her mother had expired before she arrived. All the dying queen said was, “I have now got an asthma; open the window :" then she added, “ Pray!” That was her last word. As the Princess Emily began to read some prayers, the sufferer breathed her last sigh. The Princess Caroline held a looking-glass to her lips, and finding there was no damp on it, said, “'Tis over!" Yet she shed not one tear upon the arrival of that event, the prospect of which had cost her so many heart-rending sobs.
The king kissed the lifeless face and hands of his often-injured wife, and then retired to his own apartment, ordering that a page should sit up with him for that and several other nights, for his majesty was afraid of apparitions, and feared to be left alone. He caused himself, however, to be buried by the side of his queen, in Henry VII.'s chapel, and ordered that one side of his coffin and of hers should be withdrawn; and in that state the two coffins were discovered not many years ago.