Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 21.djvu/203

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George IV
George IV
197

reminder that 'should the implacable enemy so far succeed as to land, you will have an opportunity of showing your zeal at the head of your regiment; 'nor could the prince enlist the assistance of the commander-in-chief, his brother the Duke of York. The publication of some correspondence on this subject with the prince's connivance still further embittered his relations with the king.

All through 1804 the king's health was again uncertain, and a regency appeared to be imminent. Addington, on the pretence of saving the king trouble, proposed that a council of regency should be named, of which the prince should be a member. The prince accordingly endeavoured to balance himself dexterously between the ministry and the opposition, depending on the advice of his favourite, the Earl of Moira, and communicating through Sheridan with Addington. Though he still occasionally communicated with Fox, all intimacy had ceased between them. Yet, little as he had maintained his old relations with the whig leaders, when Erskine consulted him as to the acceptance of the proffered attorney-generalship, he expressed his astonishment that such a suggestion should have been brought before him. At the same time, on his own behalf he was willing to approach Pitt, and sent Moira to the lord advocate in March 1804 with a message, intended for Pitt, saying that he had informed Fox and Grey that he would not consult them in the event of a regency, but would leave himself in Moira's hands, and suggesting a union of Fox and Pitt under Moira's moderating leadership. Pitt declined to commit himself, and when he returned to office the prince found that his elaborate strategy had failed (Russell, Memorials of Fox, iv. 63; Stanhope, Pitt, iv. 137; Moore, Sheridan, ii. 321-6).

During the next three years the prince's relations with his wife and daughter grew more critical. The king, who always remained friendly to his daughter-in-law and devoted to his grandchild, was desirous of providing satisfactorily for the Princess Charlotte's education. Owing to recent events, the prince had been studiously uncivil to his father. He had absented himself from the birthday drawing-room on 4 June, though he knew that the king especially desired the attendance of all his family on that day; and to show that his absence was not due to indisposition he ostentatiously showed himself in the streets all day. However, in the summer of 1804 negotiations for a reconciliation were begun by Pitt and Eldon on the king's part, and Moira and Tierney on the prince's. As a first step, an interview between the king and the princo was arranged on 12 Nov., and they became, outwardly at least, reconciled, though the prince's ill-humour was so visible that it was not thought the reconciliation could be lasting (Buckingham, Courts and Cabinets of George III, p. 366). Moira saw Pitt on behalf of the prince, and the king and his minister understood the prince to consent to provision being made by the king for the Princess Charlotte's education at Windsor. The prince, however, declared that he had given no such consent. Negotiations were resumed in December between the lord chancellor, acting for the king, and the prince; and at the end of the year it was arranged toplace the princess under the care of Lady de Clifford and the Bishop of Exeter. Deprived of his own child, the prince interested himself in a protegee of Mrs. Fitzherbert's, Miss Mary Seymour, daughter of Lady Horace Seymour, even canvassing the House of Lords for votes when the chancery suit about the guardianship of the child came before that tribunal. He was successful in procuring a decision that the child should be placed under care of Lord Hertford, who transferred her to Mrs. Fitzherbert. It was in the course of this suit that the prince became intimately acquainted with Lady Hertford, who ultimately supplanted Mrs. Fitzherbert in his affections.

In November 1805 the Duke of Sussex took up the scandalous charges which Sir John and Lady Douglas had made against the Princess of Wales, and laid them before the prince. Actuated solely by a sense of duty, the prince consulted Thurlow and Romilly upon them in December. They advised him that the present charges were inadequately supported, and recommended further inquiry. Ultimately a commission was constituted by the king on 29 May 1806 to examine the princess's conduct. During this inquiry the prince seems to have remained passive as soon as he had obtained its institution, but the princess was ultimately exonerated by the commissioners on 14 July.

In the various changes of ministry of 1805 and 1806 the prince played a very subordinate part. He had let it be known on Pitt's return to office that, though still generally favourable to catholic emancipation, he did not wish to press the question forward at present. When Fox succeeded Pitt the prince stood aloof, and although in September, after Fox's death, he wrote effusively about it to Grey, still from this time, thinking himself not sufficiently consulted by the whig leaders, he practically severed himself from that party. In effect all that he really desired was profit for himself and place for his friends, and he saw no great prospect of obtaining either from