« EdellinenJatka »
more especially as the Report and the Depositions must necessarily find their way to the knowledge of so many persons. It was impossible, that, when so many persons were examined, the purport of the accusations should remain a secret. Indeed it was very well known; and it is also very well known, that it gave rise to very serious doubts and unfavourable impressions. Was it not, then, very hard upon the accused party, that the accusation should have been received and recorded, and reported upon by a tribunal, whose incompetence on her side was such as not to constitute perjury any thing that might be sworn falsely against her? Such, however, now appears to have been the fact; and upon that fact I shall not, for I am sure it is quite unnecessary, offer you any further observation of mine, being convinced that you will want no one to assist you in forming a correct opinion with respect to it.
Sir John Douglas, however, has presented a petition to the House of Commons, on behalf of himself and of Charlotte, his wife, praying the House to put them in a You will naturally be anxious to know, situation to re-swear all that they have whether any measure, and what, has been before sworn. That the prayer of this adopted by the ministry, the parliament, petition could not be granted, they knew or the people, in consequence of the dis- very well. However, as the petition was closure, which has now, fortunately for the upon the Table of the House, Mr. COCHcause of truth, taken place. By the mi- RANE JOHNSTONE, one of the members, nistry no measure has, as yet, been adopted. upon the ground, that, while it so lay, In parliament there have been some move- without any opinion of the House proments, but, hitherto, without producing nounced upon it, it seemed to receive some any measure of a decided character. A degree of countenance from the House, motion has been brought forward by Mr. moved, on the 24th instant, the following Whitbread for the prosecution of Sir John resolution: "That the petition of Sir John and Lady Douglas for perjury; but was "Douglas, in behalf of himself and of given up, upon its appearing, that they" Charlotte his wife, is regarded by this could not be so prosecuted, having given" House as an audacious effort, to give, their oaths before persons, acting in a capa- "in the eyes of the nation, the colour of city which did not make it perjury for any "truth to falsehoods before sworn to, one lo swear falsely before them. Of this, "during the prosecution of a foul and deas you will perceive, the Princess complains "testable attempt against the peace and in her defence. And, surely, it was very "happiness, the honour and life of Her hard for her to have her conduct tried, to "Royal Highness the Princess of Wales." have evidence touching her honour and her This motion, upon the ground of there life, taken down before a tribunal, whose being no documents regularly before the competence did not extend far enough to House, whereon to ground such a resoluallow of false swearers being prosecuted for tion, was got rid of by a motion to adperjury. This should have been thought journ; but, during the debate that took of before the warrant was issued; for, it place, it was avowed on all hands, that seems to me, that the hardness of the case the opinion which the resolution expressed is without a parallel. If the oaths had was perfectly just. been taken before the Privy Council, or found in the House to attempt to justify, Not a single man was before magistrates, a prosecution for per- to excuse, or to palliate the conduct of the jury might have dollared and, it is to be petitioners; and, therefore, the effect of greatly lavente is most important the motion of Mr. COCHRANE JOHNSTONE circumstanc o in time; upon the public mind has been just the
nocent of every charge preferred against her; not only of every charge of criminality, but also of every charge of indecency or impropriety or indiscretion of conduct; and 1 am further assured, that you will agree with me, that there are comparatively very few married women, though living happily with their husbands, whose conduct would bear such a scrutiny as that which the conduct of this calumniated Lady has been compelled to undergo. Tried and retried and tried again and again; rummaged and sifted and bolted as it has been, through statements and declarations and depositions and minutes and debates and pamphlets and paragraphs, it comes out at last without any thing sticking to it, which the most modest and happy married woman in the world might not own without a blush; and, after having carefully read and impartially weighed every word of these documents, I most solemnly declare, that, if I had a daughter twenty years married, I should think myself a happy and a fortunate father, if as little could be said against her conduct as has been proved against the conduct of the Princess of Wales.
same as it would have been if the motion | doubt, that, though acquitted upon all had been carried by an unanimous vote of capital points, she was still an immoral the House. woman; an opinion, too, which I will fairly avow, was neither removed nor: shaken by her public reception at court and her restoration to apartments in one of the Royal Palaces; acts which, without being over-suspicious, I might, and indeed, I did, ascribe to mere prudence, which must have dictated to the whole of the Royal Family to use all the means in their power to cause a veil to be drawn for ever over the whole transaction. I was, moreover,
The public feeling, which was before strong on the side of the injured Princess, has now received the sanction of the conviction of her perfect innocence; and, which is well worthy of remark, this conviction has been produced, in general, by the reading of the Evidence only; for, there is not, up to this hour, one person out of fifty thousand in the kingdom, who has read the Defence, contained in the letter of the 2d of Oct., the greater part of which I now pub-influenced in the forming of this opinion by the total silence of the Princess herself; for, one must have actual experience of forbearance and magnanimity like hers, before one can possibly believe in their existence. If I viewed the matter in this light, how must others, with less opportunity of getting at the truth, have viewed it? Certainly in a light less advantageous to the Princess, who, it appears to me, must have had very faithless advisers; or, she could not, for so long a time, have remained silent."
lish in this Double Number. What, then, must be the feelings of the people, when time and circumstances shall have enabled them to read and well reflect on that Defence and the Affidavits in support of it?
Another thing worthy of remark, is, that those news-papers, which, upon the appearance of Her Royal Highness's Letter to the Prince, and upon that of the farbetter letter which she addressed to the Speaker of the House of Commons; those news-papers, which called her a misguided woman, an unfortunate woman, a rash woman, who taunted her with the evidence of Cole, Bidgood, and Fanny Lloyd, and who menaced her with a new Inquiry; those same news-papers, perceiving the universal cry excited by their baseness, accompanied with a disclosure of all the dark machinations of her vindictive enemies, have, all of a sudden, turned round, and, while they have become her panygerists, have fallen, in the most violent manner, upon Sir John and Lady Douglas; just as if the conduct of these persons were not now what it always had been known to be! You will be shocked to hear of such a perversion of that noble instrument, the Press; but, my friend, you must be here, and be acquainted with the means made use of to move that instrument; you must see the working of the secret wheels, before you can have a sufficient horror of the cause of so apparently unaccountable an effect. For my own part, I confess, that, without any motive whatever to bias my judgment, I, for a long while, for several years, thought the Princess guilty to some considerable extent. The very existence of a commission to inquire into her conduct was sufficient to produce that impression in my mind; and this, added to the tales and anecdotes which were circulated with an industry and in a way, of which you, who live in a happy ignorance of the crafty intrigues of this scene, cannot form the most distant idea, had left me in little
The fact which first led me to suppose, that I had formed a wrong opinion upon this point, I was informed of about eighteen months ago. It to be much attached to the Prince, had expendwas this; that a certain Noble Earl, well known ed, through the hands of a gentleman, some hundreds of pounds in purchasing up a stray copy of could be the motive? From that time I began THE BOOK. What could this be for? What to think, that the Princess was not so very guilty; and, when, soon afterwards, Mr. Perauthor of the Book; when he, who was now ceval, who was well known to have been the become the prime Minister of the Prince, and who had been chosen to that office to the exclusion of the Prince's old friends; when, in open parliament, he explicitly declared, the Printhat had been preferred against her, I could no cess to be perfectly innocent of all the charges longer doubt of her perfect innocence; and, from that hour, as the pages of my Register will show, I did all in my little power to inculcate the same opinion on my readers.
of London upon his being constituted Regent, I When the Prince was addressed by the City thought that the Princess ought to have been addressed too. I think so still; and, if she had, at that time, been placed in a situation to hold a probability, have slept in quiet. The want of court, THE BOOK would still, in all human wisdom in the advisers of the Prince and the sense and courage of the Princess have combined to order it otherwise; and, I should be a very for it. The disclosure will do great good in many great hypocrite if Lwere now to affect to be sorry ways, while to the nation at large, and especially to the calumniated Princess, it is impossible that it should do any harm. With this remark I well satisfied, that you will need nothing more leave you to the perusal of the Princess's defence, to enable you to form a correct judgment upon every part of this memorable transaction. I remain your faithful friend, Botley, 26 Mar. 1813, WM. COBBETT.
such persons as they think fit: and to report to
can be any question upon the legality of such a
till they are decisively contradicted."From this opinion, this judgment of the Commissioners bearing so hard upon my character (and that a female character, how delicate, and how easily to be affected by the breath of calumny, your
Majesty well knows), I can have no appeal; for, as the charges constitute no legal crimes, they cannot be the subjects of any legal trial, I can call for no trial. I can, therefore, have no appeal; I can look for no acquittal. Yet this opinion, or this judgment, from which I can have no appeal, has been pronounced against me upon mere ex parte investigation.
her proceedings may be had against me (desirab as it may have been thought that the Inquiry should have been of the nature which has, in this instance,obtained), your Majesty would be graciously pleased to require to be advised, whether my guilt, if were guilty, could not be as effectually discovered and punished, and my honour and innocence, if nocent, be more effectually secured and establisted by other more known and regular modes of proceeding.Having, therefore, Sire, upon these grave reasons, ventured to submit, I trust without offence, these considerations upon the nature of the Commission and the proceedings under, I will now proceed to observe upon the Report and the examinations; and, with your Majesty's permission, I will go through the whole matter, in that course which has been observed by the Report itself, and which an examination of the important matters that it contains, in the order in which it states them, will naturally suggest.—The Report, after referring to the Commission or War. rant under which their Lordships were acting, after stating that they had proceeded to examine the several witnesses, whose depositions they annexed to their report, proceeds to state the
This hardship, Sire, I am told to ascribe to the nature of the proceeding under this Warrant or Commission; for had the inquiry been entered into before your Majesty's Privy Council, or before any magistrates, authorized by law as such, to inquire into the existence of treason, the known course of proceeding before that Council, or such magistrates, the known extent of their jurisdiction over crimes, and not over the proprieties of behaviour, would have preserved me from the possibility of having matters made the subjects of inquiry, which had in law no substantive criminal character, and from the extreme hardship of having my reputation injured by calumny altogether unfounded, but rendered at once more safe to my enemies, and more injurious to me, by being uttered in the course of a proceeding assuming the grave semblance of legal form. And it is by the nature of this proceed-effect ing (which could alone have countenanced or admitted of this licentious latitude of inquiry into the proprieties of behaviour in private life, with which no court, no magistrate, no public law has any authority to interfere), that I have been deprived of the benefit of that entire and unqualified acquittal and discharge from this accusation, to which the utter and proved falsehood of the accusation itself so justly entitled me,I trust, therefore, that your Majesty will see, that if this proceeding is not one to which, by the known laws of your Majesty's kingdom, I ought to be subject, that it is no cold formal objection which leads me to protest against it.—I am ready to acknowledge, Sire, from the consequences which might arise to the public from such misconduct as have been falsely imputed to me, that my honour and virtue are of more importance to the State than those of other women. That my conduct, therefore, may be fitly subjected, when necessary, to a severer scrutiny. But it cannot follow, because my character is of more importance, that it may, therefore, be attacked with more impunity. And as I know, that this mischief has been pending over my head for more than two years, that private examinations of my neighbours' servants, and of my own, have, at times, during that interval, been taken, for the purpose of establishing charges against me, not, indeed, by the instrumentality of Sir John and Lady Douglas alone, but by the sanction, and in the presence of the Earl of Moira (as your Majesty will perceive by the deposition of Jonathan Partridge, which I subjoin); and as I know also, and make appear to your Majesty likewise by the same means, that declarations of persons of un-(though going to a far less extent), one line could questionable credit respecting my conduct, at- only be pursued."- "Every sentiment of duty testing my innocence, and directly falsifying a to your Majesty, and of concern for the public most important circumstance respecting my sup-welfare, required that these particulars should posed pregnancy, mentioned in the declarations, not be withheld from your Majesty, to whom on which the Inquiry was instituted; as I know, more particularly belonged the cognizance of a I say, that those declarations, so favourable to matter of state, so nearly touching the honour me, appear, to my infinite prejudice, not to have of your Majesty's Royal Family, and by possibibeen communicated to your Majesty when that lity affecting the succession to your Majesty's Inquiry was commanded; and as I know not crown."The Commissioners, therefore, your how soon nor how often proceedings against me Majesty observes, going, they must permit me to
of the written declarations, which the Commissioners considered as the essential foundation of the whole proceeding. "That they were statements which had been laid before His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales, respecting the conduct of Her Royal Highness the Princess; that these statements not only imputed to Her Royal Highness great impropriety and indecency of behaviour, but expressly asserted, partly on the ground of certain alleged declarations from the Princess's own mouth, and partly on the per sonal observation of the informants, the following most important facts, viz. that Her Royel Highness had been pregnant in the year 1802, in consequence of an illicit intercourse, and that she had in the same year been secretly delivered of a male child, which child had ever since that period been brought up by Her Royal Highness in her own house, and under her immediate inspection. These allegations thus made, had, as the Commissioners found, been followed by declarations from other persons, who had not, in deed, spoken to the important facts of the preg nancy or delivery of her Royal Highness, but had related other particulars, in themselves extremely suspicious, and still more so, when connected with the assertions already mentioned. The Report then states, that, in the painful situ ation in which His Royal Highness was placed by these declarations, they learnt that he had adopted the only course which could, in their judg ment, with propriety be followed, when informations such as these had been thus confidently alleged and particularly detailed, and had in some degree been supported by collateral evidence, applying to other points of the same nature
may be meditated by my enemies, I take leavesay, a little out of their way, begin their Report to express my humble trust, that, before any by expressing a clear and decided opinion, that
His Royal Highness was properly advised (fe | your Majesty will undoubtedly conclude, pat, upon a subject of this importance, His Royal Highness could not but have acted by the advice of others), in referring this complain to your Majesty, for the purpose of its undergoing the investigation which has followes And unquestionably, if the charge referred to in this Report, as made by Sir John and Lady Douglas, had been presented under circumstances in which any reasonable degree of credit could be given to them, or even if they had not been presented in such a manner as to impeach the credit of the informers, and to hear internal evidence of their own incredibility, I should be the last person who would be disposed to dispute the wisdom of the advice which led to make them the subject of the gravest and most anxious inquiry. And your Majesty, acting upon a mere abstract of the declarations, which was all that, by the recital of the warrant, appears to have been laid before your Majesty, undoubtedly could not but direct an inquiry concerning my conduct. For though I have not been furnished with that abstract, yet I must presume that it described the criminatory contents of these declarations, much in the same manner as they are stated in the Report. And the criminatory parts of these declarations, if viewed without reference to those traces of malice and resentment with which the declarations of Sir John and Lady Douglas abound; if abstracted from all these circumstances, which shew the extreme improbability of the story, the length of time which my accuser had kept my alleged guilt concealed, the contradictions observable in the declarations of the other witnesses, all which, I submit to your Majesty, are to an extent to cast the greatest discredit upon the truth of these declarations;-abstracted, I say, from these circumstances, the criminatory parts of them were unquestionably such as to have placed your Majesty under the necessity of directing some inquiry concerning them. But that those, who had the opportunity of reading the long and malevolent narration of Sir John and Lady Douglas, should not have hesitated before they gave any credit to it, is matter of the greatest astonishment to me.- The improbability of the story would of itself, I should have imagined (unless they believed me to be as insane as Lady Douglas insinuates), have been sufficient to have staggered the belief of any unprejudiced mind: for, to believe that story, they were to begin with believing, that a person guilty of so foul a crime, so highly penal, so fatal to her honour, her station, and her life, should gratuitously and uselessly have confessed it. Such a person, under the necessity of concealing her pregnancy, might have been indispensably oblig-how maliciously every circumstance that imaed to confide her secret with those, to whom she gination could suggest, as most calculated to was to look for assistance in concealing its conse- make a woman contemptible and odious, was quences. But Lady Douglas, by her own ac- scraped and heaped up together in this Narracount, was informed by me of this fact, for no tive, must surely have had their eyes opened purpose whatever. She makes me, as those who to the motives of my accusers, and their minds read her declarations cannot fail to have observ- cautioned against giving too easy a credit to ed, state to her, that she should, on no account, their accusation, when they found my converbe intrusted with any part of the management sation to be represented as most loose, and inby which the birth was to be concealed. They famous, my mind uninstructed and unwilling to were to believe also, that, anxious as I must have learn; my language, with regard to your Majesty been to have concealed the birth of any such and the whole of your Royal Family, foully dischild, I had determined to bring it up in my own respectful and offensive; and all my manners house; and what would exceed, as I should ima- and habits of life most disgusting, I should have gine, the extent of all human credulity, that I flattered myself, that I could not have been, in had determined to suckle it myself: that I had character, so wholly unknown to them, but laid my plan, if discovered, to have imposed it that they must have observed a spirit, and a
upon His Royal Highness as his child. Nay, they were to believe, that I had stated, and that Lady Douglas had believed the statement to be true, that I had in fact attempted to suckle it, and only gave up that part of my plan, because it made me nervous, and was too much for my health. And, after all this, they were then to believe, that having made Lady Douglas, thus unnecessarily, the confidant, of this most important and dangerous secret; having thus put my character and my life in her hands, I sought an occasion, wantonly, and without provocation, from the mere fickleness and wilfulness of my own mind, to quarrel with her, to insult her openly and violently in my own house, to endeavour to ruin her reputation; to expose her in infamous and indecent drawings enclosed in letters to her husband. The letters, indeed, are represented to have been anonymous, but, though anonymous, they are stated to have been written with my own hand, so undisguised in penmanship and style, that every one who had the least acquaintance with either, could not fail to discover them, and (as if it were through fear, lest it should not be sufficiently plain from whom they came) that I had sealed them with a seal, which I had shortly be fore used on an occasion of writing to her hus band. All this they were to believe upon the declaration of a person, who, with all that loyalty and attachment which she expresses to your Majesty and His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales, with all her obligation to the whole Royal Family (to whom she expresses herself to be bound by ties of respectful regard and attachment, which nothing can ever break), with all her dread of the mischievous consequences to the country which might arise from the disputed succession to the crown, on the pretensions of an illegitimate child of mine, nevertheless continued, after this supposed avowal of my infamy and my crime, after my supposed acknowledg ment of the birth of this child, which was to occasion all this mischief, to preserve, for near a twelvemonth, her intimacy and apparent friendship with me. Nay, for two years more, after that intimacy had ceased, after that friendship had been broken off, by my alleged misbehaviour to her, continued still faithful to my secret, and never disclosed it till (as her declaration states it) "The Princess of Wales recommenced a fresh "torrent of outrage against Sir John; and Sir "John discovered that she was attempting to "undermine his and Lady Douglas's character."
Those, then, who had the opportunity of seeing the whole of this Narrative, having had their jealousy awakened by these circumstances to the improbability of the story, and to the discredit of the informer, when they came to observe,