小说搜索     点击排行榜   最新入库
首页 » 英文短篇小说 » Fanny Burney and her Friends » CHAPTER VIII.
选择底色: 选择字号:【大】【中】【小】
The King’s Health—Royal Visit to Cheltenham—Excursions—Robert Raikes—Colonel Digby—The Duke of York—The Court attends the Musical Festival at Worcester—Return to Windsor—M. de Lalande, the Astronomer—His Compliments—His Volubility—Illness of the King—The King grows worse—‘The Queen is my Physician’—Alarm and Agitation—Grief of the Queen—The King Insane—Arrival of the Prince of Wales—Paroxysm of the King at Dinner—The Queen Ill—The Physicians—The Royal Pair separated—The Prince takes the Government at the Palace—Prayers for the King’s Recovery—The King and his Equerries—Sir Lucas Pepys—A Privy Council—Preparations for leaving Windsor—Departure for Kew—Mournful Spectacle—Mrs. Schwellenberg arrives.

For many years George III. had enjoyed unbroken good health. ‘The King,’ wrote a well-informed gossipper[85] in January, 1788, ‘walks twelve miles on his way from Windsor to London, which is more than the Prince of Wales can do.’ Early in June, however, his Majesty was disturbed by passing symptoms, which proved to be fore-runners of an illness famous in English history. The complaint, in its first stage, was called a bilious attack; and when the patient appeared to have thrown it off, he was advised by his physician to drink the waters at Cheltenham for a month, in order to complete his recovery. On June 8, the King sent his old friend Dr. Hurd, Bishop of Worcester, a letter, in which he announced his intended journey into Gloucestershire; and, at the same time, proposed to enlarge his excursion by paying a visit to Hartlebury, and afterwards attending the Festival of the Three Choirs, which that year was to be 202held at Worcester. His Majesty went on to say that, as feeding the hungry was a Christian duty, he should expect his correspondent, while welcoming the sovereign to his cathedral city, to provide some cold meat for his refreshment.

The hearty old English gentleman, in fact, was minded to enjoy his holiday in the homely way that pleased him best. On July 12, the Court travelled from Windsor to Cheltenham, where Bays Hill Lodge, a seat of the Earl of Fauconberg, situated just outside the town, had been engaged for the royal party. The Lodge was so small that their Majesties, with the three eldest Princesses who accompanied them, could only be housed there at a considerable sacrifice of state and ceremony. No bed could be provided within its walls for any male person but the King. The female attendants on the Queen and her daughters were limited to one lady-in-waiting, Miss Burney, Miss Planta, and the wardrobe women.

‘Is this little room for your Majesty?’ exclaimed Fanny, in astonishment.

‘Stay till you see your own,’ retorted the Queen, laughing, ‘before you call this little.’

Colonel Gwynn, the King’s equerry, and Colonel Digby, the Queen’s vice-chamberlain, slept in a house at some distance. The Queen consented to dine with these officers, though until then the German etiquette in which she was trained had prevented her from sitting at table with men of much higher rank.

During his stay at Cheltenham, the King drank the waters at six o’clock every morning, and afterwards took exercise in the ‘Walks.’ This parade was conducted in the same manner as the terracing at Windsor. The King led the way, with the Queen leaning on his arm; the Princesses followed them; and the equerry brought up 203the rear. The unaccustomed spectacle drew crowds from the town and the country round, causing at first a good deal of inconvenience, which the King bore with his usual good-nature. In the course of July, he made excursions with his family to several places of interest in the neighbourhood: to Oakley Grove, the seat of Lord Bathurst, patron of Pope and Prior, and friend of Bolingbroke and Atterbury; to the Abbey Church of Tewkesbury; to Gloucester Cathedral; to Croome Court, the abode of Lord Coventry and his beautiful Countess.

Miss Burney and Miss Planta were not of the suite on these expeditions, and altogether enjoyed much more liberty than fell to their lot at Windsor or Kew. Sometimes they amused themselves by making little excursions on their own account. On the day of the royal visit to Oakley Grove, they went over to Gloucester, where Miss Planta had an acquaintance in the person of the philanthropic printer, Robert Raikes, still remembered as the originator of Sunday-schools. Mr. Raikes felt himself a man of importance; he had been invited to Windsor, and had had the honour of a long conversation with the Queen. Apparently the notice taken of him had left traces on his manner. ‘He is somewhat too flourishing,’ Fanny whispered to her Diary, ‘somewhat too forward, somewhat too voluble; but he is worthy, benevolent, good-natured, and good-hearted, and therefore the over-flowings of successful spirits and delighted vanity must meet with some allowance.’ Bating this little self-complacency, the good man proved himself a capital host and guide, entertaining the royal attendants in a handsome and painstaking manner, which obtained their warm acknowledgments.

But Miss Burney beguiled her leisure principally in improving her acquaintance with Colonel Digby, who 204paid her marked attention during their attendance at the Gloucestershire watering-place. This courteous, insinuating colonel suited her taste far better than the more soldier-like equerries whom she met at Court. She had conceived a decided inclination for him from the moment of his first introduction to her. ‘He is a man,’ she then wrote, ‘of the most scrupulous good-breeding; diffident, gentle, and sentimental in his conversation, and assiduously attentive in his manners.’ He had now the additional recommendation that belongs to a widower grieving over joys departed, yet not despairing of consolation. In this state of mind, he neglected no opportunity of making himself agreeable to a lady whose disposition was so congenial to his own. Even a fit of the gout, which detained him from his official duties, could not prevent him from limping over to the Lodge to sit with Miss Burney. They talked of many things, but chiefly of books, of the affections, of happiness, and of religion. The famous authoress astonished her admirer not a little by the discovery she was fain to make of the many books she had never yet read. Her candour encouraged him to produce his own stores of literature, which were much more extensive than hers. This pensive gentleman, we need scarcely say, was addicted to reciting poetry and passages of pious sentiment. One line especially, which was often in his mouth, about ‘the chastity of silent woe,’ Fanny found peculiarly beautiful, though it might have reminded her of the Irish Commissary whom she had met at Brighton. Very soon quotations were succeeded by readings. The pair studied together Akenside’s poems, Falconer’s ‘Shipwreck,’ Carr’s Sermons, and a work[86] entitled ‘Original Love-Letters,’ with which we own ourselves unacquainted. Presently, 205however, as the air of Cheltenham did not appear to suit the Colonel’s gout, he began to think of taking leave of absence.

A visit from the Duke of York was expected while the Court was at Cheltenham. So eager was the King for the society of this his favourite son, that he caused a portable wooden house to be moved from the further end of the town, and joined on to Bays Hill Lodge, for the reception of the Prince and his attendants. The work consumed much time and money, but the fond father was bent on lodging his Frederick close to himself. All this care and affection met with the too familiar return. The Duke arrived on August 1, according to his appointment; and Miss Burney describes the King’s joy as only less extreme than the transport he had shown when, a year before, she had seen the darling appear at Windsor after long absence in Germany. But the Prince, so much looked for, would remain no more than a single night. Military business, he declared, required him to be in London by the next day but one, which was Sunday; however, he would travel all Saturday night that he might be able to spend a second evening with his parents. ‘I wonder,’ cried Colonel Digby, with the sententious propriety which charmed our Fanny, ‘how these Princes, who are thus forced to steal even their travelling from their sleep, find time to say their prayers!’

On August 5 the Court visited Worcester for the purpose of attending the Musical Festival. When the royal cortége stopped at the Bishop’s palace, “the King had an huzza that seemed to vibrate through the whole town, the Princess Royal’s carriage had a second, and the equerries a third. The mob then,” proceeds the Diary, “as ours drew on in succession, seemed to deliberate whether or not we also should have a cheer; but one of 206them soon decided the matter by calling out, ‘These are the maids of honour!’ and immediately gave us an huzza that made us quite ashamed.” The opening performance of the Festival next morning did not much gratify the historian. ‘It was very long and intolerably tedious, consisting of Handel’s gravest pieces and fullest choruses, and concluding with a sermon, concerning the institution of the charity, preached by Dr. Langhorne.’[87] A second morning performance to which she went did not strike her more favourably. One of the evening concerts she liked better. Of another she observes that it ‘was very Handelian, though not exclusively so.’

At the close of the Festival the royal party and their suite returned to Cheltenham. On the same evening Colonel Digby took his departure, ‘leaving me,’ says Fanny, ‘firmly impressed with a belief that I shall find in him a true, an honourable, and even an affectionate friend for life.’ Next day an express came from him with a letter for Miss Burney, begging her to inform the Queen that the Mastership of St. Katharine’s Hospital, which was in her Majesty’s gift, had just become void by the death of the occupant. In a few more days it was announced that the vacant appointment had been conferred on Mr. Digby.

By August 16, the Court was again established at Windsor, and a rumour began to circulate of the Colonel’s gallantry at Cheltenham, mingled with a second rumour of his being then confined by gout at a house where lived Miss Gunning, for whom he had been supposed to have an admiration. Both reports were disregarded by Mrs. Schwellenberg’s assistant, who could think of nothing but the change from the pleasant society which she had lately enjoyed to the arrogance, the contentiousness, the presuming 207ignorance, that assailed her in the hated dining-room at the Queen’s Lodge. ‘What scales,’ she wrote, ‘could have held and weighed the heart of F. B. as she drove past the door of her revered lost comforter, to enter the apartment inhabited by such qualities!’

One strange visitor, however, she had at starting, who provided her with some little amusement:

“August 18th.—Well, now I have a new personage to introduce to you, and no small one; ask else the stars, moon and planets! While I was surrounded with band-boxes, and unpacking, Dr. Shepherd[88] was announced. Eager to make his compliments on the safe return, he forced a passage through the back avenues and stairs, for he told me he did not like being seen coming to me at the front door, as it might create some jealousies amongst the other Canons! A very commendable circumspection! but whether for my sake or his own he did not particularize.

“M. de Lalande, he said, the famous astronomer, was just arrived in England, and now at Windsor, and he had expressed a desire to be introduced to me....

“His business was to settle bringing M. de Lalande to see me in the evening. I told him I was much honoured, and so forth, but that I received no evening company, as I was officially engaged. He had made the appointment, he said, and could not break it, without affronting him; besides, he gave me to understand it would be an honour to me for ever to be visited by so great an astronomer....

“In the midst of tea, with a room full of people, I was called out to Dr. Shepherd!... I hurried into the next room, where I found him with his friend, M. de Lalande. What a reception awaited me! how unexpected a one from a famed and great astronomer! M. de Lalande 208advanced to meet me—I will not be quite positive it was on tiptoe, but certainly with a mixture of jerk and strut that could not be quite flat-footed. He kissed his hand with the air of a petit ma?tre, and then broke forth into such an harangue of Eloges, so solemn with regard to its own weight and importance, and so fade with respect to the little personage addressed, that I could not help thinking it lucky for the planets, stars, and sun, they were not bound to hear his comments, though obliged to undergo his calculations.

“On my part sundry profound reverences with now and then an ‘Oh, monsieur!’ or ‘c’est trop d’honneur,’ acquitted me so well, that the first harangue being finished, on the score of general and grand reputation, Eloge the second began, on the excellence with which ‘cette célèbre demoiselle’ spoke French!

“This may surprise you, my dear friends; but you must consider M. de Lalande is a great discoverer.

“Well, but had you seen Dr. Shepherd! he looked lost in sleek delight and wonder, that a person to whom he had introduced M. de Lalande should be an object for such fine speeches.

“This gentleman’s figure, meanwhile, corresponds no better with his discourse than his scientific profession, for he is an ugly little wrinkled old man, with a fine showy waistcoat, rich lace ruffles, and the grimaces of a dentist. I believe he chose to display that a Frenchman of science could be also a man of gallantry.

“I was seated between them, but the good doctor made no greater interruption to the florid professor than I did myself: he only grinned applause, with placid, but ineffable satisfaction.

“Nothing therefore intervening, Eloge the third followed, after a pause no longer than might be necessary for due 209admiration of Eloge the second. This had for sujet the fair female sex; how the ladies were now all improved; how they could write, and read, and spell; how a man nowadays might talk with them and be understood, and how delightful it was to see such pretty creatures turned rational!

“And all this, of course, interspersed with particular observations and most pointed applications; nor was there in the whole string of compliments which made up the three bouquets, one single one amongst them that might have disgraced any petit ma?tre to utter, or any petite ma?tresse to hear.

“The third being ended, a rather longer pause ensued. I believe he was dry, but I offered him no tea. I would not voluntarily be accessory to detaining such great personages from higher avocations. I wished him next to go and study the stars; from the moon he seemed so lately arrived there was little occasion for another journey.

“I flatter myself he was of the same opinion, for the fourth Eloge was all upon his unhappiness in tearing himself away from so much merit, and ended in as many bows as had accompanied his entrance.

“I suppose, in going, he said, with a shrug, to the Canon, ‘M. le Docteur, c’est bien gênant, mais il faut dire des jolies choses aux dames!’

“He was going the next day to see Dr. Maskelyne’s[89] Observatory. Well! I have had him first in mine!”

The King, at his return to Windsor, appeared to be restored to his usual health. In less than two months, however, he was again out of order. We give the most noteworthy passage in Miss Burney’s account of his subsequent illness as it fell under her observation. She 210was doing double duty at this time, in the absence of Mrs. Schwellenberg, who had gone to Weymouth for her health. The Court was at Kew when the first apprehensions arose:

“October 17th.—Our return to Windsor is postponed till to-morrow. The King is not well; he has not been quite well some time, yet nothing I hope alarming, though there is an uncertainty as to his complaint not very satisfactory.

“19TH.—The Windsor journey is again postponed, and the King is but very indifferent. Heaven preserve him! there is something unspeakably alarming in his smallest indisposition. I am very much with the Queen, who, I see, is very uneasy, but she talks not of it.

“20TH.—The King was taken very ill in the night, and we have all been cruelly frightened; but it went off, and, thank Heaven! he is now better.

“25TH.—The King was so much better, that our Windsor journey at length took place, with permission of Sir George Baker,[90] the only physician his Majesty will admit.

“I had a sort of conference with his Majesty, or rather I was the object to whom he spoke, with a manner so uncommon, that a high fever alone could account for it; a rapidity, a hoarseness of voice, a volubility, an earnestness—a vehemence, rather—it startled me inexpressibly, yet with a graciousness exceeding all I ever met with before—it was almost kindness! Heaven—Heaven preserve him! The Queen grows more and more uneasy. She alarms me sometimes for herself; at other times she has a sedateness that wonders me still more.

“Sunday, Oct. 26th.—The King was prevailed upon 211not to go to chapel this morning. I met him in the passage from the Queen’s room; he stopped me, and conversed upon his health near half an hour, still with that extreme quickness of speech and manner that belongs to fever; and he hardly sleeps, he tells me, one minute all night; indeed, if he recovers not his rest, a most delirious fever seems to threaten him. He is all agitation, all emotion, yet all benevolence and goodness, even to a degree that makes it touching to hear him speak. He assures everybody of his health; he seems only fearful to give uneasiness to others, yet certainly he is better than last night. Nobody speaks of his illness, nor what they think of it.

“November 1st.—Our King does not advance in amendment; he grows so weak that he walks like a gouty man, yet has such spirits that he has talked away his voice, and is so hoarse it is painful to hear him. The Queen is evidently in great uneasiness. God send him better!...

“During the reading this morning, twice, at pathetic passages, my poor Queen shed tears. ‘How nervous I am!’ she cried; ‘I am quite a fool! Don’t you think so?’

“‘No, ma’am!’ was all I dared answer.

“The King was hunting. Her anxiety for his return was greater than ever. The moment he arrived he sent a page to desire to have coffee and take his bark in the Queen’s dressing-room. She said she would pour it out herself, and sent to inquire how he drank it.

“The King is very sensible of the great change there is in himself, and of her disturbance at it. It seems, but Heaven avert it! a threat of a total breaking up of the constitution. This, too, seems his own idea. I was present at his first seeing Lady Effingham on his return 212to Windsor this last time. ‘My dear Effy,’ he cried, ‘you see me, all at once, an old man.’

“I was so much affected by this exclamation, that I wished to run out of the room. Yet I could not but recover when Lady Effingham, in her well-meaning but literal way, composedly answered, ‘We must all grow old, sir; I am sure I do.’

“He then produced a walking-stick which he had just ordered. ‘He could not,’ he said, ‘get on without it; his strength seemed diminishing hourly.’

“He took the bark, he said; ‘but the Queen’ he cried, ‘is my physician, and no man need have a better; she is my Friend, and no man can have a better.’

“How the Queen commanded herself I cannot conceive.... Nor can I ever forget him in what passed this night. When I came to the Queen’s dressing-room he was still with her. He constantly conducts her to it before he retires to his own. He was begging her not to speak to him when he got to his room, that he might fall asleep, as he felt great want of that refreshment. He repeated this desire, I believe, at least a hundred times, though, far enough from needing it, the poor Queen never uttered one syllable; He then applied to me, saying he was really very well, except in that one particular, that he could not sleep....

“3RD.—We are all here in a most uneasy state. The King is better and worse so frequently, and changes so, daily, backwards and forwards, that everything is to be apprehended, if his nerves are not some way quieted. I dreadfully fear he is on the eve of some severe fever. The Queen is almost overpowered with some secret terror. I am affected beyond all expression in her presence, to see what struggles she makes to support serenity. To-day she gave up the conflict when I was 213alone with her, and burst into a violent fit of tears. It was very, very terrible to see!...

“5TH.—I found my poor Royal Mistress, in the morning, sad and sadder still; something horrible seemed impending....

“I was still wholly unsuspicious of the greatness of the cause she had for dread. Illness, a breaking up of the constitution, the payment of sudden infirmity and premature old age for the waste of unguarded health and strength—these seemed to me the threats awaiting her; and great and grievous enough, yet how short of the fact!...

“At noon the King went out in his chaise, with the Princess Royal, for an airing. I looked from my window to see him; he was all smiling benignity, but gave so many orders to the postilions, and got in and out of the carriage twice, with such agitation, that again my fear of a great fever hanging over him grew more and more powerful. Alas! how little did I imagine I should see him no more for so long—so black a period!

“When I went to my poor Queen, still worse and worse I found her spirits....

“The Princess Royal soon returned. She came in cheerfully, and gave, in German, a history of the airing, and one that seemed comforting.

“Soon after, suddenly arrived the Prince of Wales. He came into the room. He had just quitted Brighthelmstone. Something passing within seemed to render this meeting awfully distant on both sides. She asked if he should not return to Brighthelmstone? He answered yes, the next day. He desired to speak with her; they retired together....

“Only Miss Planta dined with me. We were both nearly silent: I was shocked at I scarcely knew what, and she seemed to know too much for speech. She 214stayed with me till six o’clock, but nothing passed, beyond general solicitude that the King might get better.

“Meanwhile, a stillness the most uncommon reigned over the whole house. Nobody stirred; not a voice was heard; not a motion. I could do nothing but watch, without knowing for what: there seemed a strangeness in the house most extraordinary.

“At seven o’clock Columb came to tell me that the music was all forbid, and the musicians ordered away!

“This was the last step to be expected, so fond as his Majesty is of his concert, and I thought it might have rather soothed him: I could not understand the prohibition; all seemed stranger and stranger.”

One after another, the usual evening visitors made their appearance. First the equerries, and then Colonel Digby, who had reached the palace that afternoon, came in to tea. “Various small speeches now dropped, by which I found the house was all in disturbance, and the King in some strange way worse, and the Queen taken ill!” Presently the whole truth was divulged. “The King, at dinner, had broken forth into positive delirium, which long had been menacing all who saw him most closely; and the Queen was so overpowered as to fall into violent hysterics. All the Princesses were in misery, and the Prince of Wales had burst into tears. No one knew what was to follow—no one could conjecture the event.”

At ten o’clock, Miss Burney went to her own room to be in readiness for her usual summons to the Queen:

“Two long hours I waited—alone, in silence, in ignorance, in dread! I thought they would never be over; at twelve o’clock I seemed to have spent two whole days in waiting.... I then opened my door, to listen, in the passage, 215if anything seemed stirring. Not a sound could I hear. My apartment seemed wholly separated from life and motion. Whoever was in the house kept at the other end, and not even a servant crossed the stairs or passage by my rooms.

“I would fain have crept on myself, anywhere in the world, for some inquiry, or to see but a face, and hear a voice, but I did not dare risk losing a sudden summons.

“I re-entered my room, and there passed another endless hour, in conjectures too horrible to relate.

“A little after one, I heard a step—my door opened—and a page said I must come to the Queen.

“I could hardly get along—hardly force myself into the room; dizzy I felt, almost to falling. But the first shock passed, I became more collected. Useful, indeed, proved the previous lesson of the evening: it had stilled, if not mortified my mind, which had else, in a scene such as this, been all tumult and emotion.

“My poor Royal Mistress! never can I forget her countenance—pale, ghastly pale she looked; she was seated to be undressed, and attended by Lady Elizabeth Waldegrave and Miss Goldsworthy; her whole frame was disordered, yet she was still and quiet.

“These two ladies assisted me to undress her, or rather I assisted them, for they were firmer, from being longer present; my shaking hands and blinded eyes could scarce be of any use.

“I gave her some camphor julep, which had been ordered her by Sir George Baker. ‘How cold I am!’ she cried, and put her hand on mine; marble it felt! and went to my heart’s core!

“The King, at the instance of Sir George Baker, had consented to sleep in the next apartment, as the Queen was ill. For himself, he would listen to nothing. Accordingly, 216a bed was put up for him, by his own order, in the Queen’s second dressing-room, immediately adjoining to the bedroom. He would not be further removed. Miss Goldsworthy was to sit up with her, by the King’s direction.

“I would fain have remained in the little dressing-room, on the other side the bedroom, but she would not permit it.... I went to bed, determined to preserve my strength to the utmost of my ability, for the service of my unhappy mistress. I could not, however, sleep. I do not suppose an eye was closed in the house all night.

“6TH.—I rose at six, dressed in haste by candle-light, and unable to wait for my summons in a suspense so awful, I stole along the passage in the dark, a thick fog intercepting all faint light, to see if I could meet with Sandys,[91] or anyone, to tell me how the night had passed.

“When I came to the little dressing-room, I stopped, irresolute what to do. I heard men’s voices; I was seized with the most cruel alarm at such a sound in her Majesty’s dressing-room. I waited some time, and then the door opened, and I saw Colonel Goldsworthy and Mr. Batterscomb. I was relieved from my first apprehension, yet shocked enough to see them there at this early hour. They had both sat up there all night, as well as Sandys. Every page, both of the King and Queen, had also sat up, dispersed in the passages and ante-rooms; and oh, what horror in every face I met!

“I waited here, amongst them, till Sandys was ordered by the Queen to carry her a pair of gloves. I could not resist the opportunity to venture myself before her. I glided into the room, but stopped at the door: she was in bed, sitting up; Miss Goldsworthy was on a stool by her side!

217“I feared approaching without permission, yet could not prevail with myself to retreat. She was looking down, and did not see me. Miss Goldsworthy, turning round, said, ‘’Tis Miss Burney, ma’am.’

“She leaned her head forward, and in a most soft manner, said, ‘Miss Burney, how are you?’

“Deeply affected, I hastened up to her; but, in trying to speak, burst into an irresistible torrent of tears.

“My dearest friends, I do it at this moment again, and can hardly write for them; yet I wish you to know all this piercing history right.

“She looked like death—colourless and wan; but nature is infectious; the tears gushed from her own eyes, and a perfect agony of weeping ensued, which, once begun, she could not stop; she did not, indeed, try; for when it subsided, and she wiped her eyes, she said, ‘I thank you, Miss Burney—you have made me cry; it is a great relief to me—I had not been able to cry before, all this night long.’

“Oh, what a scene followed! what a scene was related! The King, in the middle of the night, had insisted upon seeing if his Queen was not removed from the house; and he had come into her room, with a candle in his hand, opened the bed-curtains, and satisfied himself she was there, and Miss Goldsworthy by her side. This observance of his directions had much soothed him; but he stayed a full half-hour, and the depth of terror during that time no words can paint. The fear of such another entrance was now so strongly upon the nerves of the poor Queen that she could hardly support herself.

“The King—the royal sufferer—was still in the next room, attended by Sir George Baker and Dr. Heberden,[92] 218and his pages, with Colonel Goldsworthy occasionally, and as he called for him. He kept talking unceasingly; his voice was so lost in hoarseness and weakness, it was rendered almost inarticulate; but its tone was still all benevolence—all kindness—all touching graciousness.

“It was thought advisable the Queen should not rise, lest the King should be offended that she did not go to him; at present he was content, because he conceived her to be nursing for her illness.

“But what a situation for her! She would not let me leave her now; she ... frequently bid me listen, to hear what the King was saying or doing. I did, and carried the best accounts I could manage, without deviating from truth, except by some omissions. Nothing could be so afflicting as this task; even now, it brings fresh to my ear his poor exhausted voice. ‘I am nervous,’ he cried; ‘I am not ill, but I am nervous: if you would know what is the matter with me, I am nervous. But I love you both very well; if you would tell me truth: I love Dr. Heberden best, for he has not told me a lie: Sir George has told me a lie—a white lie, he says, but I hate a white lie! If you will tell me a lie, let it be a black lie!’

“This was what he kept saying almost constantly, mixed in with other matter, but always returning, and in a voice that truly will never cease vibrating in my recollection.”

In the course of the morning, a third physician—Dr. Warren[93]—arrived. His opinion was eagerly awaited by the Queen; but he did not come to her, though repeatedly summoned. At length, Lady Elizabeth brought news that he and the other two physicians were gone over to the Castle to the Prince of Wales.

“I think a deeper blow I had never witnessed. Already to become but second, even for the King! The tears were now wiped: indignation arose, with pain, the severest pain, of every species.

“In about a quarter of an hour Colonel Goldsworthy sent in to beg an audience. It was granted, a long cloak only being thrown over the Queen.

“He now brought the opinion of all the physicians in consultation, ‘That her Majesty would remove to a more distant apartment, since the King would undoubtedly be worse from the agitation of seeing her, and there could be no possibility to prevent it while she remained so near.’

“She instantly agreed, but with what bitter anguish! Lady Elizabeth, Miss Goldsworthy, and myself attended her; she went to an apartment in the same row, but to which there was no entrance except by its own door. It consisted of only two rooms, a bedchamber, and a dressing-room. They are appropriated to the lady-in-waiting when she is here.

“At the entrance into this new habitation the poor wretched Queen once more gave way to a perfect agony of grief and affliction; while the words, ‘What will become of me! What will become of me!’ uttered with the most piercing lamentation, struck deep and hard into all our hearts. Never can I forget their desponding sound; they implied such complicated apprehension.”

Of the scene in the King’s rooms that night, Miss Burney had only a momentary glimpse. Being sent on some commission for the Queen, “When I gently opened,” she writes, “the door of the apartment to which I was directed, I found it quite filled with gentlemen and attendants, arranged round it on chairs and sofas, in dead 220silence. It was a dreadful start with which I retreated; for anything more alarming and shocking could not be conceived—the poor King within another door, unconscious anyone was near him, and thus watched, by dread necessity, at such an hour of the night!” How the hours passed she heard the next day.

“7TH.—While I was yet with my poor royal sufferer this morning the Prince of Wales came hastily into the room. He apologized for his intrusion, and then gave a very energetic history of the preceding night. It had been indeed most affectingly dreadful! The King had risen in the middle of the night, and would take no denial to walking into the next room. There he saw the large congress I have mentioned: amazed and in consternation, he demanded what they did there? Much followed that I have heard since, particularly the warmest eloge on his dear son Frederick, his favourite, his friend. ‘Yes,’ he cried, ‘Frederick is my friend!’—and this son was then present amongst the rest, but not seen!

“Sir George Baker was there, and was privately exhorted by the gentlemen to lead the King back to his room; but he had not courage: he attempted only to speak, and the King penned him in a corner, told him he was a mere old woman—that he wondered he had ever followed his advice, for he knew nothing of his complaint, which was only nervous!

“The Prince of Wales, by signs and whispers, would have urged others to have drawn him away, but no one dared approach him, and he remained there a considerable time, ‘Nor do I know when he would have been got back,’ continued the Prince, ‘if at last Mr. Digby[94] had not undertaken him. I am extremely obliged to Mr. 221Digby indeed.’ He came boldly up to him, and took him by the arm, and begged him to go to bed, and then drew him along, and said he must go. Then he said he would not, and cried, ‘Who are you?’ ‘I am Mr. Digby, sir,’ he answered, ‘and your Majesty has been very good to me often, and now I am going to be very good to you, for you must come to bed, sir: it is necessary to your life. And then he was so surprised that he let himself be drawn along just like a child; and so they got him to bed. I believe else he would have stayed all night!’”

On the following morning, an incident occurred which showed the revolution that had taken place in the palace. Mr. Smelt had travelled post from York on hearing of the King’s illness, but had not yet been able to see either him or the Queen. Accidentally meeting with the Prince of Wales, he was received by his old pupil with much apparent kindness of manner, and invited to remain at Windsor till he could be admitted to the Queen’s presence. Not small, then, was his surprise when, on returning shortly afterwards to the Upper Lodge, the porter handed him his great-coat, saying that he had express orders from the Prince to refuse him re-admission.[95] ‘From this time,’ continues Miss Burney, ‘as the poor King grew worse, general hope seemed universally to abate; and the Prince of Wales now took the government of the house into his own hands. Nothing was done but by his orders, and he was applied to in every difficulty. The Queen interfered not in anything; she lived entirely in her two new rooms, and spent the 222whole day in patient sorrow and retirement with her daughters.’

The next news which reached the suite was that the Prince had issued commands to the porter to admit only four persons into the house on any pretence whatever; and these were ordered to repair immediately to the equerry-room below stairs, while no one whatsoever was to be allowed to go to any other apartment. ‘From this time,’ adds the Diary, ‘commenced a total banishment from all intercourse out of the house, and an unremitting confinement within its walls.’ The situation was rendered even more intolerable by the sudden return of Mrs. Schwellenberg from Weymouth. On the 10th, Miss Burney writes: ‘This was a most dismal day. The dear and most suffering King was extremely ill, the Queen very wretched, poor Mrs. Schwellenberg all spasm and horror, Miss Planta all restlessness, the house all mystery, and my only informant and comforter [Colonel Digby] distanced.’

Then began a series of tantalizing fluctuations. From November 12 to the 15th, the King showed some signs of amendment; but on Sunday, the 16th, all was dark again in the Upper Lodge. ‘The King was worse. His night had been very bad; all the fair promise of amendment was shaken; he had now some symptoms even dangerous to his life. Oh, good heaven! what a day did this prove! I saw not a human face, save at dinner; and then what faces! gloom and despair in all, and silence to every species of intelligence.’ The special prayer for the King’s recovery was used this day for the first time in St. George’s Chapel. Evidences of the general distress were apparent on all sides. ‘Every prayer in the service in which he was mentioned brought torrents of tears from all the suppliants that joined in them.’ Fanny ran away after the service to avoid inquiries.

223Of the afternoon she writes: ‘It was melancholy to see the crowds of former welcome visitors who were now denied access. The Prince reiterated his former orders; and I perceived from my window those who had ventured to the door returning back in tears.’ She received letters of inquiry, but was not at liberty to write a word. The night of the 19th was no better than that of the 16th. ‘Mr. Charles Hawkins came,’ proceeds the Diary. ‘He had sat up. Oh, how terrible a narrative did he drily give of the night!—short, abrupt, peremptorily bad, and indubitably hopeless. I did not dare alter, but I greatly softened this relation, in giving it to my poor Queen.’ On this day Dr. Warren told Mr. Pitt that there was now every reason to believe that the King’s disorder was no other than actual lunacy.

All the equerries, except one who was ill, were now on duty. The King, in his rambling talk, reproached them with want of attention. They lost their whole time at table, he said, by sitting so long over their bottle; ‘and Mr. Digby,’ he added on one occasion, ‘is as bad as any of them; not that he stays so long at table, or is so fond of wine, but yet he’s just as late as the rest; for he’s so fond of the company of learned ladies, that he gets to the tea-table with Miss Burney, and there he stays and spends his whole time.’ Colonel Digby, in repeating this speech to the lady interested, was good enough to explain to her that what the King had in his head was—Miss Gunning. The Colonel went on to mention Miss Gunning’s learning and accomplishments with great praise, yet ‘with that sort of general commendation that disclaims all peculiar interest;’ touched, in a tone of displeasure, on the report that had been spread concerning him and her; lightly added something about its utter falsehood; and concluded by saying that this, in the then 224confused state of the King’s mind, was what his Majesty meant by ‘learned ladies.’ More puzzled than enlightened by this explanation, Fanny, with some hesitation, assented to the insinuating Chamberlain’s suggestion that she should think no more of what the King had said, but allow the Colonel ‘to come and drink tea with her very often.’

From the 20th to the 28th there was no improvement in the condition of the sick monarch. Nearly all who saw him, whether physicians or members of the suite, began to abandon hope of his recovery; only Sir Lucas Pepys, an old friend of the Burneys, who was now added to the medical attendants, inclined to a more encouraging view. The proceedings of the 28th are entered in the Diary, as follows:

“Sir Lucas made me a visit, and informed me of all the medical proceedings; and told me, in confidence, we were to go to Kew to-morrow, though the Queen herself had not yet concurred in the measure; but the physicians joined to desire it, and they were supported by the Princes. The difficulty how to get the King away from his favourite abode was all that rested. If they even attempted force, they had not a doubt but his smallest resistance would call up the whole country to his fancied rescue! Yet how, at such a time, prevail by persuasion?

“He moved me even to tears, by telling me that none of their own lives would be safe if the King did not recover, so prodigiously high ran the tide of affection and loyalty. All the physicians received threatening letters daily, to answer for the safety of their monarch with their lives! Sir George Baker had already been stopped in his carriage by the mob, to give an account of the King; and when he said it was a bad one, they had furiously exclaimed, ‘The more shame for you!’

225“After he left me, a Privy Council was held at the Castle, with the Prince of Wales; the Chancellor, Mr. Pitt, and all the officers of state were summoned, to sign a permission for the King’s removal. The poor Queen gave an audience to the Chancellor—it was necessary to sanctify their proceedings. The Princess Royal and Lady Courtown attended her. It was a tragedy the most dismal!

“The Queen’s knowledge of the King’s aversion to Kew made her consent to this measure with the extremest reluctance; yet it was not to be opposed: it was stated as much the best for him, on account of the garden: as here there is none but what is public to spectators from the terrace, or tops of houses. I believe they were perfectly right, though the removal was so tremendous.

“The physicians were summoned to the Privy Council, to give their opinions, upon oath, that this step was necessary.

“Inexpressible was the alarm of everyone, lest the King, if he recovered, should bear a lasting resentment against the authors and promoters of this journey. To give it, therefore, every possible sanction, it was decreed that he should be seen both by the Chancellor and Mr. Pitt.

“The Chancellor went into his presence with a tremor such as, before, he had been only accustomed to inspire; and when he came out, he was so extremely affected by the state in which he saw his Royal master and patron that the tears ran down his cheeks, and his feet had difficulty to support him.

“Mr. Pitt was more composed, but expressed his grief with so much respect and attachment, that it added new weight to the universal admiration with which he is here beheld.

226“All these circumstances, with various others of equal sadness which I must not relate, came to my knowledge through Sir Lucas, Mr. de Luc, and my noon attendance upon her Majesty, who was compelled to dress for her audience of the Chancellor.

“Saturday, November 29th.—Shall I ever forget the varied emotions of this dreadful day!

“I rose with the heaviest of hearts, and found my poor Royal Mistress in the deepest dejection: she told me now of our intended expedition to Kew. Lady Elizabeth hastened away to dress, and I was alone with her for some time.

“Her mind, she said, quite misgave her about Kew: the King’s dislike was terrible to think of, and she could not foresee in what it might end. She would have resisted the measure herself, but that she had determined not to have upon her own mind any opposition to the opinion of the physicians.

“The account of the night was still more and more discouraging: it was related to me by one of the pages, Mr. Brawan; and though a little I softened or omitted particulars, I yet most sorrowfully conveyed it to the Queen.

“Terrible was the morning!—uninterruptedly terrible! all spent in hasty packing up, preparing for we knew not what, nor for how long, nor with what circumstances, nor scarcely with what view! We seemed preparing for captivity, without having committed any offence; and for banishment, without the least conjecture when we might be recalled from it.

“The poor Queen was to get off in private: the plan settled between the Princes and the physicians was that her Majesty and the Princesses should go away quietly, and then that the King should be told that they were 227gone, which was the sole method they could devise to prevail with him to follow. He was then to be allured by a promise of seeing them at Kew; and, as they knew he would doubt their assertion, he was to go through the rooms and examine the house himself.

“I believe it was about ten o’clock when her Majesty departed: drowned in tears, she glided along the passage, and got softly into her carriage, with two weeping Princesses, and Lady Courtown, who was to be her Lady-in-waiting during this dreadful residence.

“Then followed the third Princess, with Lady Charlotte Finch. They went off without any state or parade, and a more melancholy scene cannot be imagined. There was not a dry eye in the house. The footmen, the housemaids, the porter, the sentinels—all cried even bitterly as they looked on....

“It was settled the King was to be attended by three of his gentlemen in the carriage, and to be followed by the physicians, and preceded by his pages. But all were to depart on his arrival at Kew, except his own Equerry-in-waiting....

“Miss Planta and I were to go as soon as the packages could be ready, with some of the Queen’s things. Mrs. Schwellenberg was to remain behind, for one day, in order to make arrangements about the jewels....

“In what confusion was the house! Princes, Equerries, physicians, pages—all conferring, whispering, plotting, and caballing, how to induce the King to set off!

“At length we found an opportunity to glide through the passage to the coach; Miss Planta and myself, with her maid and Goter....

“We were almost wholly silent all the way.

“When we arrived at Kew, we found the suspense with which the King was awaited truly terrible. Her Majesty 228had determined to return to Windsor at night, if he came not. We were all to forbear unpacking in the meanwhile....

“Dinner went on, and still no King. We now began to grow very anxious, when Miss Planta exclaimed that she thought she heard a carriage. We all listened. ‘I hope!’ I cried.... The sound came nearer, and presently a carriage drove into the front court. I could see nothing, it was so dark; but I presently heard the much-respected voice of the dear unhappy King, speaking rapidly to the porter, as he alighted from the coach....

“The poor King had been prevailed upon to quit Windsor with the utmost difficulty: he was accompanied by General Harcourt, his aide-de-camp, and Colonels Goldsworthy and Welbred—no one else! He had passed all the rest with apparent composure, to come to his carriage, for they lined the passage, eager to see him once more! and almost all Windsor was collected round the rails, etc., to witness the mournful spectacle of his departure, which left them in the deepest despondence, with scarce a ray of hope ever to see him again.

“The bribery, however, which brought, was denied him!—he was by no means to see the Queen!...

“I could not sleep all night—I thought I heard the poor King. He was under the same range of apartments, though far distant, but his indignant disappointment haunted me. The Queen, too, was very angry at having promises made in her name which could not be kept. What a day altogether was this!

“Sunday, November 30th.—Here, in all its dread colours, dark as its darkest prognostics, began the Kew campaign. I went to my poor Queen at seven o’clock: the Princess Augusta arose and went away to dress, and I received her Majesty’s commands to go down for inquiries. 229She had herself passed a wretched night, and already lamented leaving Windsor.

“I waited very long in the cold dark passages below, before I could find anyone of whom to ask intelligence. The parlours were without fires, and washing. I gave directions afterwards to have a fire in one of them by seven o’clock every morning.

“At length I procured the speech of one of the pages, and heard that the night had been the most violently bad of any yet passed!—and no wonder!

“I hardly knew how to creep upstairs, frozen both within and without, to tell such news; but it was not received as if unexpected, and I omitted whatever was not essential to be known.

“Afterwards arrived Mrs. Schwellenberg, so oppressed between her spasms and the house’s horrors, that the oppression she inflicted ought perhaps to be pardoned. It was, however, difficult enough to bear! Harshness, tyranny, dissension, and even insult, seemed personified. I cut short details upon this subject—they would but make you sick.”


©英文小说网 2005-2010

有任何问题,请给我们留言,管理员邮箱:tinglishi@gmail.com  站长QQ :点击发送消息和我们联系56065533