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ard! Oh degenerate times, that living worth like that of Coke, of Windham, of Francis, of Erskine, should be no security to its possessors against the malice of libellers and pamphleteers !

If we were to be asked who were the Prince of Wales's most favoured associates, we should reply, all the most opulent, virtuous, and independent, among the dignified nobility of the land. Among the commons those who had distinguished themselves most for their talents, patriotism, and incorruptible public spirit. Such were the friends of his youth, and such are the chosen companions by whom now, in his maturer years, he is surrounded.

CHAPTER IV.

CONNECTION OF THE PRINCE OF WALES WITH

MRS. FITZHERBERT-REPORT OF A CLANDES. TINE MARRIAGE-REFUTATION OF THE CA. LUMNIES THAT HAVE BEEN PROPAGATED ON THIS SUBJECT-FIRST APPLICATION OF THE PRINCE FOR THE PAYMENT OF HIS DEBTS-RE. FUSAL ON THE PART OF HIS MAJESTYSPIRIT. ED LINE OF CONDUCT ADOPTED BY THE PRINCE ON THE OCCASION--REFLECTIONS ON THE STATE OF PARTIES AT THIS PERIOD-POLITICAL PAMPHLETS-VINDICATION OF THE PRINCE OF WALES-DISPUTES BETWEEN GEORGEI. AND HIS SUCCESSORAND BETWEEN GEORGE II. AND FREDERICK PRINCE OF WALES.

To quit this subject, which perhaps may be considered by some as a digression, we shall now proceed to give some account of a transaction, which at the time it happened gave rise to much obloquy, and was the occasion, it has been supposed, of causing a considerable coolness between the Prince and his royal father. The transaction to which we allude is the friendship which the Prince of Wales contracted with Mrs. Fitzherbert some time after the rupture of his intercourse with Mrs. Robinson,

In the beginning of the year 1786, this new intercourse formed a topic of general discourse. Mrs. Fitzherbert, from the best information we have been able to obtain, was a widow lady, of great accomplishments and beauty, some years older than his Royal Highness the Prince of Wales. Her family was respectable ; she was niece on her father's side to Sir Edward Smythe, of Acton Burnel, in the county of Salop, and distantly related to the noble family of Sefton, in the kingdom of Ireland. Her sister was married to Sir Carnaby Haggerstone, a baronet of considerable respectability and fortune in the county of York.

When this connection was first publicly made known, a rumour was circulated, and through popular credulity obtained a much larger share of credit than it really deserved, that the Prince of Wales was privately married to Mrs. Fitzherbert. No one, at all acquainted with the genius of the British people, need be told, that the more improbable any story is, the more greedily they listen to and devour it. Hence the facility with which impostors succeed in their devices, devices often so palpable that one cannot help wondering how any man with his eyes open could possibly be deceived by them.

That the heir apparent of the crown, or any other prince of the blood royal,

VOL. 1.

should not be privately married, was an event particularly guarded against by a celebrated act of parliament, passed soon after the commencement of the present reign, and commonly called the Royal Marriage Act.

By this act of parliament it was declared, that the descendants of George II. except the offspring of such of the princesses as were married to, or might marry, foreign princes, were incapable of marrying till the age of five and twenty years, without his majesty's consent previously obtained, or, after the age of five and twenty, in the event of his majesty's refusal, without the consent of both houses of parliament. The marriage of the Prince of Wales with Mrs. Fitzherbert, therefore, if it had even taken place in point of form, was null and void in point of law. The children, if

any

had been born of this

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