Page:English Caricaturists and Graphic Humourists of the nineteenth century.djvu/141

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79
POPULARITY OF THE KING.

It is one of the peculiarities of our "Glorious Constitution," that while the ministers who acted under his direction incurred all the blame, the prime instigator of all these exposures was enabled to shelter himself behind the backs of his "advisers." The ministers were unpopular,—they deserved to be so, for, whatever might have been the consequences to themselves so far as loss of office was concerned, they should have refused from the first to lend themselves to the publication of a scandal so utterly grievous. The king himself at this time was far from unpopular; the odium he had incurred the previous year by the thanks he had caused to be conveyed to Major Trafford, "and the officers, non-commissioned officers, and privates" of the yeomanry who had signalized themselves in the massacre at Manchester (an outrage which, by the way, led to a number of pictorial satires), seemed to have wholly passed away. He was at Ascot only two days before the queen's arrival, and "was always cheered by the mob as he went away. One day only a man in the crowd called out "Where's the Queen?"[1] Again, we find on the same authority, that on the night of the 6th of February, 1821: "The king went to the play (Drury Lane) for the first time, the Dukes of York and Clarence and a great suite with him. He was received with immense acclamations, the whole pit standing up, hurrahing and waving their hats. The boxes were very empty at first, for the mob occupied the avenues to the theatre, and those who had engaged boxes could not get to them. The crowd on the outside was very great. . . . A few people called 'The Queen!' but very few. A man in the gallery called out, 'Where's your wife, Georgy?'[2] His reception at Covent Garden the following night appears to have been equally loyal and gratifying.

The truth was, that the numerous and truly honest people who sympathized with Queen Caroline, did so from little admiration for herself, but because she had been the victim of twenty-five years' persecution; because, however great her follies, they had been


  1. "Greville Memoirs," vol. i. p. 27.
  2. Ibid., p. 43.