Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 21.djvu/202

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George IV
George IV

27 April his pecuniary position came before parliament and was debated in May . His total income was then about 73,000l. His debts since the last grant amounted to 639,890l., 500,000l. being on bonds or I O U's bearing interest. Pitt proposed to give the prince a total income of about 140,000l., with 28,000l. down for jewels and 26,000l. for Carlton House. His debts were to be liquidated by setting aside 25,000l. per annum. Even the whigs were no longer close allies of the prince, and, to his lasting displeasure, Grey moved to limit the parliamentary income to 100,000l., and Fox doubted whether it was wise after the pledges of 1787 again to apply to parliament for aid. It was said on the prince's behalf that he had never received the arrears of revenue of his duchy of Cornwall, which had accumulated during his minority to the enormous amount of 233,764l., exclusive of interest; the whole of it had been retained by the king. Pitt's proposals eventually passed the House of Commons by 93 to 68, and received the royal assent on 26 June; and a commission, consisting of the speaker, the chancellor of the exchequer, the master of the rolls, the master of the king's household, the accountant of the court of chancery, and the surveyor of the crown lands for the time being respectively, was appointed to investigate and compromise his creditors' claims. This produced much dissatisfaction, and one creditor, Jeffreys, a jeweller, who found himself almost ruined, published a series of pamphlets attacking the prince and Mrs. Fitzherbert.

The prince meantime was occupying himself with public affairs. He was persuaded by Grattan that he ought to be appointed viceroy of Ireland, and he addressed to Pitt two long memorials, dated 8 Feb. and 29 Aug. 1797, urging his claims to that post, but Pitt declined so much as to bring the subject before the king. Subsequently, in June 1798, the prince was prevailed upon to exert himself actively to obtain a pardon or commutation of sentence for Lord Edward Fitzgerald (Moore, Life of Lord Edward Fitzgerald, 1875, p. 203), and in the same year he again applied to the king to be sent abroad on active service with his regiment, the 10th light dragoons, of which he had been appointed colonel in 1793; his request was refused on the ground that 'military command was incompatible with the situation of the Prince of Wales.'

Meantime the Princess of Wales had been delivered of a daughter on 7 Jan. 1796. As soon as the princess recovered, a final separation took place. On 30 April, after some negotiation through Lord Cholmondeley, he wrote to her a coldly insulting letter, dated 30 April 1796, renouncing further cohabitation. The princess continued for some time to have rooms reserved for her at Carlton House, while the prince lived principally at Windsor and at Brighton. After the princess had removed to Blackheath he returned to Carlton House, and presently resumed his intimacy with Mrs. Fitzherbert.

For some time the prince concerned himself but little with public affairs. He amused himself with letters and with art. He inspected Ireland's Shakespeare forgeries, and was disposed to believe them genuine; he despatched the Rev. John Hayter to Naples to unroll papyri, at great expense and with no result; he practised music and played at faro. In 1801 he again was brought into political prominence. Under the influence of Lord Moira [see Rawdon, Francis, 1754-1826] he for the time being entertained opinions favourable to catholic emancipation. Accordingly, when the king became temporarily insane in February, the prince on 23 Feb. willingly made overtures to Pitt. Pitt insisted that if a regency should be found necessary it must be on the terms of the bill of 1789. The prince acquiesced and was in high spirits. The king, however, recovered early in March, and, in spite of a relapse a few weeks later, was able to continue to occupy the throne much as before.

After the peace of Amiens the question of the heavy arrears of the civil list came before parliament, and advantage was taken of the opportunity by the prince's friends to press his claims to the proceeds of the duchy of Cornwall during his minority. Addington desired to get rid of this inconvenient claim by a compromise, and proposed a grant of 60,000l. to the prince for three years from the previous January; this was in addition to the augmented grant of 1795 and to a further augmentation of 8,000l. a year which had been arranged by Addington in 1801; and, in spite of the fact that, as Pitt wrote to Rose on 8 March, 'these debts have been contracted in the teeth of the last act of parliament, and in breach of repeated and positive promises,' the further arrangement was carried out in February 1803. Having found Addington complaisant in money matters, the prince renewed his claim to military rank and employment. He addressed himself first to the minister on 18 July 1803, and subsequently a long correspondence took place with the king. The king, however, was resolute. He met his son's impassioned prayer to be allowed 'to shed the last drop of my blood in support of your majesty's person, crown, and dignity' with the cool