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“St. Omer's, five o'clock, June 4. 1820. My dear Sir, “ I should wish that you would enter into a more detailed explanation ; but, to show you my anxious and sincere wish for an accommodation, I am willing to send a courier to England to ask for further instructions, provided her majesty will communicate to you whether any part of the proposition which I have made would be acceptable to her : and, if there is any thing which she may wish to offer to the English government, on her part, I am willing to make myself the medium through which it may pass. “ I have the honour to be, &c.
The queen having discharged her foreign suite, including her chamberlain and supposed paramour, Bergami, had left St.Omer's an hour before, attended by lady Hamilton and alderman Wood, and was proceeding, as fast as French post-horses could carry her, by the Calais road towards England. The letter of lord Hutchinson, despatched after her by Mr. Brougham, found her on board the Calais packet. It was earnest and conciliating. Mr. Brougham also attempted by direct counsel, and even supplication, to dissuade her from proceding to England. “Once more,” said he, in a letter enclosing lord Hutchinson's, “ I most earnestly implore your majesty to refrain from rushing into certain trouble and possible danger ; or, at least, to delay taking the step until lord Hutchinson shall have received fresh instructions." The queen was resolute, declared in
reply that she saw no reason for changing her purpose, and sailed for Dover.
Lord Hutchinson's unlucky mission subjected him to much popular obloquy at the time. There appears not the slightest ground for any imputation upon the motives of that gallant and truly honourable person ; but nothing could be more clumsily imagined than the commission with which he was charged. It was conceived with an utter disregard of the known spirit and character of the princess who was its object. How lord Liverpool could be the author, and lord Hutchinson become the vehicle, of an experimental threat to one of the most fearless of women, is unaccountable. Mr. Brougham also had his share in the obloquy of this contemptible negotiation. It was asked repeatedly, and pointedly, why he withheld from the queen all knowledge of the proposition placed in his hands by lord Liverpool. He gave no distinct explanation. Private and unforeseen casualties, he said, prevented his communicating it; but what the circumstances were he never stated.
Mr. Brougham was accused of attempting a politic, if not a double game ; to win over the queen to a compromise of which he might make a merit with the king. The supposition was not merely improbable, but absurd. A man fully conscious of his great faculties, maintaining a certain independence, not merely of power but of party, obviously and systematically building the fabric of his ambition and renown upon the public effect of his popular and indefatigable genius ; — such a man could not, without momentary infatuation, court fortune with the arts of a vice-chamberlain or lord
of the bedchamber. The mission to St. Omer's, however, is, to a certain extent, involved in mystery; and an understanding of silence on the subject is said to.exist still between lords Hutchinson and Brougham.
Mr. Brougham evidently found the queen in an uncompromising temper, for which he was unprepared. The change was ascribed to the counsels of alderman Wood, who had joined her at Montbard. The alderman incurred the responsibility with some, and obtained the éclat with others, of having defeated the embassy to St. Omer's. It would appear that he even thwarted and piqued Mr. Brougham ; who retaliated only by a sarcasm in a milder form
upon his friend. He spoke of “ certain counsels not characterised by absolute wisdom ;” and the appellative of “ absolute wisdom ” long adhered to the alderman.
The queen, after a peregrination of six years, which proved fatal to her happiness, and, even supposing the accusation against her false, discreditable to her memory, landed at Dover, on the 6th of June. Neither the king nor his ministers contemplated her arrival; no orders were sent to Dover; and the commandant received her with a royal salute. Had this ceremony been omitted, the vast multitude, the banners, the shouts, and the real enthusiasm which met her on the beach, would have consoled her. From Dover to London, her journey was a continually increasing triumphant procession. The metropolis poured out its vast population, as if to give her assurance that she had friends. The procession went along Pall Mall, — halted for a moment, acci
dentally or from design, before Carlton House, and shouted its clamorous exultation in the ears of her husband. It was said that he saw her from one of the upper windows, and remarked, in terms of levity and aversion, how well she looked. No residence was prepared for her; and she proceeded to the house of alderman Wood, in South Audley Street.
The hearts of the ministers now quailed within them. An exhibition by which the country would be agitated, and the crown dishonoured, seemed inevitable; and they had the effrontery to say that it was forced on them. The ministers, on the contrary, brought it on themselves. With the whole case before them in February, they declined proceeding against the queen, on the ground that the case was insufficient. Having before them only the same evidence in May, they offered a compromise, accompanied with the express and threatened alternative of proceeding against her : they negotiated the compromise with such bungling folly as almost to ensure its failure ; – this because they had not sufficient honesty and firmness to prefer their convictions, consistency, and public duty, to the personal caprices and despotic will of the sovereign ;- and yet they continued to assert that the proceeding was forced on them.
The queen's rejection of the terms, proposed to her, and her arrival at Calais, on her way to England, were communicated from Dover by telegraph on the evening of the 5th of June. Ministers deliberated in a cabinet council during several hours of the night, and the whole morning of the 6th. The result of the cabinet meetings was, that, whilst the
queen proceeded with her triumphant escort from Dover, the king on his side took the field. Parliament was sitting at the time. He went in state to give the royal assent to such bills as had passed both houses; and, having gone through this ceremony, left lord Liverpool charged with the following message, to be immediately on his departure delivered to the house of lords:
“ George R. The king thinks it necessary, in consequence of the arrival of the queen, to communicate to the house of lords certain papers respecting the conduct of her majesty since her departure from this kingdom, which he recommends to the immediate and serious attention of this house.
“ The king has felt the most anxious desire to avert the necessity of disclosures and discussions, which must be as painful to his people as they can be to himself; but the step now taken by the queen leaves him no alternative.
“ The king has the fullest confidence that, in consequence of this communication, the house of lords will adopt that course of proceeding which the justice of the case, and the honour and dignity of his majesty's crown, may require.
« GEORGE R."
The papers referred to were laid on the table under seal, in a green bag. A similar message and sealed bag were presented to the house of commons by lord Castlereagh. Both ministers announced the intention to move an address to the king, and the reference of the papers to a secret committee on the following day. A solemn silence was observed by the lords, probably from an impression