Page images
PDF
EPUB

viously slipped a guinea, and the prince two guineas, into the hands of the rustic.

The man was thunderstruck; nor could he help relating the particulars of his adventures the moment he reached Windsor. He was assured that it must have been to the king and the prince that he had been so highly indebted ; and the only circumstance that seemed to puzzle the man himself, and make him doubt the fact, was, that the prince should have given him two guineas, while the king gave him but

one.

Every thing, as here related, soon reached the ears of the monarch ; and happening the week following to meet the same man again on his way to market, he stopped him, and smiling, said, “Well, my friend, I find you were rather dissatisfied with the little present I made you when we last met; the son you thought more munificent than the father. He was so, I confess; but remember, my good fellow, that I am obliged to be just, before I can be generous; my son has, at present, nobody to care for but himself; and I (with an infinite deal of more anxiety in my mind than you can possibly experience) am bound to promote the happiness' of millions, who look to me for that protection, which your children at home expect, and have a right to demand, from you.”

RIOTS OF 1780. In the disgraceful riots of 1780, when the metropolis was for three days left to the mercy of a lawless and infuriated mob, his majesty displayed singular resolution and firmness of character. At the council on the morning of the 7th of June, his majesty assisted in person. The great question was there discussed on which hinged the protection and preservation of the capital---a question respecting which the first legal characters were divided, and on which Lord Mansfield himself was with reason accused of never having clearly expressed his opinion up to that time. Doubts existed whether persons riotously collected together, and committing outrages and infractions of the peace, however great, might legally be fired on by the military power, without staying previously to read the Riot Act. Lord Bathurst, President of the Council, and Sir Fletcher Norton, Speaker of the House of Commons, who were both present, on being appealed to for their opinions, declared, that “a soldier, was not less a citizen because he was a soldier, and consequently that he might repel force by force.But no minister would sign the order for the purpose. In this emergency, when every moment was precious, Mr. Wedderburn, who was then attorney-general, and was afterwards successively raised to the dignity of a baron, and of an Earl of Great Britain, having been called into the council-table, and ordered by the king to deliver his official opinion on the point, stated in the most precise terms, that any such assemblage might be dispersed by military force, without waiting for forms, or reading the act in question. “Is that your declaration of the law, as attorney-general ?" said the king. Wedderburn answering decidedly in the affirmative, “ Then so let it be done,” rejoined his majesty. The attorney-general drew up the order immediately, which the king himself signed, and on which Lord Amherst

acted the same evening ; the complete suppression of the riots followed in the course of a few hours.

Previous to this decision of the council, his majesty, during the two nights of the riots, sat up with several general officers in the Queen's Riding House, whence messengers were constantly despatched to observe the motions of the inob. Between three and four thousand troops were in the queen's gardens, and surrounded Buckingham House. During the first night the alarm was sơ sudden, that no straw could be got for the troops to rest themselves on ; which being told his majesty, he, accompanied with one or two officers, went through the ranks, telling them, “ My lads, my crown cannot purchase you straw to night, but depend on it, I have given orders that a sufficiency shall be here to-morrow morning; as a substitute for the straw, my servants will instantly serve you with a good allowance of wine and spirits, to make your situation as comfortable as possible ; and I shall keep you coinpany myself until morning.” The king did so, walking mostly in the garden, sometimes visiting the queen and children in the palace, and receiving all messages in the Riding House, it being in a manner head quarters. When his majesty was told that part of the mob was attempting to get into St. James's, and to the Bank, he forbade the soldiers to fire, but to keep off the rioters with their bayonets; the mob, in consequence of that, were so daring, as to take hold of the bayonets and shake them, defying the soldiers to fire or hurt them ; however, the means were effectual, as nothing farther was attempted on the part of the rioters in that quarter.

On the meeting of Parliament on the 17th of June, pursuant to their adjournment, the king went in state to the House of Peers, and in his speech “lamented the necessity which had obliged him, by every tie of duty and affection to his people, to employ the force entrusted to him for the suppression of those acts of felony and treason, which had overbome all civil authority, and threatened the immediate subversion of all legal power, the destruction of all property, and the confusion of every order in the state ; at the same time renewing his assurances, that he had no other object than to make the laws of the realm, and the principles of the constitution, the rule and measure of his conduct.”

DUKE OF CLARENCE. Few things in the life of George III. did more honour to his reign, than the devotion of his son, Prince William Henry, to the service of the British navy; nor can any thing be considered more honourable to an individual, than that son's spirited acceptance of the professional life proposed to him by his royal father. The naval character is one of the dearest to the interests of Britain. Every rank of lifé alike looks up to it for protection and security. Naval fame is, however, dearly earned. The sailor's warfare is in the farthest extreme of sufferance and danger. “ The very elements,” to use the words of an elegant writer, " are his foes ;” and he often receives more injury from them, than from those of his country. He has to contend not only with a faithless ocean, replete with danger, but with the change of climate, with the trying succession of burning suns and freezing skies. He is borne away from his friends and native land, confined to the ship in which he sails, and deprived of every communication that may cheer his heart in the moment of distress, and at the extremities of the globe. The hour of combat approaches him with redoubled danger; and it not unfrequently proves his lamentable fate to fly from the quick approach of consuming fire, to find a tomb in the devouring wave. The first years of the infant seaman's life, are fatigue and hardship. Removed from a parent's tender care, and all the comforts of a protecting home, it is his lot to enter upon a scene, where the severe discipline of rigorous instruction prepares him to bear with resolution the future toils of his profession."

His royal highness served his full time as a midshipman and lieutenant, without the smallest deviation from the customary course of servitude. The first actual service in which he was engaged, was the battle between Lord Rodney and the Spanish fleet under Langara, when, as elsewhere particularly related (ANECDOTES OF Youth, p. 135) he exhibited, to the surprise and admiration of the enemy, the novel spectacle of a king's son stripped to the shirt, and plying at an oar like a common sailor. The duke was also present at the capture of the Curacoa fleet, the convoy to which (a Spanish ship of the line called El Guipuscoana,) was named the Prince William, in compliment to his royal highness. · His career of duty was incessant. All the West India Islands, and even the dreary inhospitable regions of Nova Scotia and Canada, witnessed his professional ardour.

The prince was every where received with the most

« PreviousContinue »