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DEATH OF THE PRINCESS AMELIA.
1779, was made post-captain. On the termination of the American war, he married Sarah, the daughter of Mr. Blackett, an eminent merchant of Newcastle-by whom he had two daughters; so that the title fell with the noble admiral, the idea of which hurt him very much. Lady Collingwood died September 17, 1819.
The death of the Princess Amelia, on the second of November this year, though an event which had been long expected, was attended with such affecting circumstances, as could not fail to make a deep impression upon the heart of the Duke of Clarence. At the funeral, which took place by torch-light in the evening of the thirteenth, his Royal Highness, who supported the Prince of Wales on the left, as the Duke of York did on the right, was observed during the service to weep much; and so, indeed, did all the family that were present. The scene was so touching, that there was not an individual spectator who did not sympathize with the royal mourners. If any thing could heighten this afflictive distress, it was the knowledge of the state to which the King had been reduced by his last visit to the dying Princess, when she placed a ring, composed of her hair, upon his finger, and said, “Remember me.” From that moment, the external world became a blank to the royal mind ; and it was found necessary for parliament to supply the seat of government by a regency.
In the debates upon this important subject, the measures which Mr. Pitt and Lord Thurlow pursued in 1788 and the following year, were now closely adopted as a precedent, and, though vigorously opposed, were carried completely into effect.
The most remarkable speech delivered on this occasion, was that of Mr. Stephen, which for its beauty well de
ILLNESS OF THE KING.
serves to be partly extracted. After arguing powerfully in favour of the Regency Bill, he said:
“There was one passage in the physicians' report, which could not fail of giving a melancholy pleasure to all who read it: he meant that in which they unanimously attributed his Majesty's complaint to the affliction of his mind at the sufferings of a beloved child. This statement carried within itself the consolation of a speedy recovery. When the shock by which the system had suffered died away, when the self-supporting energy of the constitution began to act—then the reinstatement might be expected. But, (said Mr. Stephen,) how amiable is the origin of our present calamity! Who is there that does not sympathize in the feeling by which it has been caused ? Who does not recall the fine description of the poet, whose images not only fire the imagination, but affect the heart:
"Some feelings are to mortals given,
Upon a duteous daughter's head.'
with sad lamentations, viewing the last beams of her departing spirit, hearing the last throb of her interrupted respiration, and at length, with feeble hand, receiving the fatal ring—the last token of the premature victim, whose most anxious act was the consolation of her aged father's grief, and the justification of his fondness—her life passed in filial love, and shewed “the ruling passion strong in death."
Ministers having framed their plan of a regency, upon the basis of that which had only been prevented from becoming alaw by the former recovery of the King, submitted the same to the Prince of Wales; who, in answer, observed, that as no step had yet been taken by parliament, he did not think it consistent with his respect for the two houses, to give any opinion on the subject. Meanwhile, he communicated the plan to all the male branches of his family; and, in consequence, the royal Dukes with one consent drew up a declaration and protest against the form of proceeding; which they addressed to Mr. Perceval, for the information of ministers at large. It stated in substance_“That, understanding from his Royal Highness the Prince of Wales, that it was intended to propose to the two houses the measure of supplying the royal authority by the appointment of a Regency, with certain limitations and restrictions as described; they felt it to be their duty to declare, that it was the unanimous opinion of all the male branches of his Majesty's family, that they could not view this mode of proceeding without alarm; as a regency, so restricted, was inconsistent with the prerogatives which were vested in the royal authority, as much for the security and benefit of the people, as for the strength and dignity of the crown itself; and they, therefore, most solemnly protest against this violation of the principles which placed their Family on the throne.”
This protest was subscribed by the Dukes of York, Clarence, Kent, Cumberland, Sussex, Cambridge, and Gloucester.
Mr. Perceval, in his answer, said, that he had submitted the royal document to the consideration of his Majesty's confidential servants. That however much they had to regret that the course of proceeding which they had adopted on the melancholy occasion of his Majesty's illness, had not the good fortune to receive the approbation of the illustrious persons, the male branches of the royal family, yet they continued to consider it as the only legal and constitutional course, in which they could be supported by precedent; that it was the course prescribed in the years 1788 and 1789, when it had not only bee: adopted, after long and painful discussions by the two Houses of Parliament, but had received the universal approbation of the country at large ; and they were still further gratified by the reflection, that, on the re-establishment of his Majesty's health, the proceedings in parliament upon that occasion, had received his Majesty's gracious confirmation, and had been even honoured with expressions of his personal gratitude.
By what ingenuity the authors of this protest found out that the bill was in violation of the principles which placed the Royal Family on the throne, cannot be conceived. If parliament had the right to dispose of the crown, it certainly had a right to appoint a restricted regency.
Notwithstanding the opposition thus unaccountably set up against the measure, the Regency Bill passed into a law on the 5th of February, 1811; and, on the day following, the Prince of Wales was sworn into his high office before the privy council.
END OF VOL. I.