페이지 이미지
PDF
ePub

cution now, and not before, will be stated byand-by, and will be found to be a matter of great importance, connected as those reasons were with political measures deeply affecting the interests of the country.

THE WARRANT.

GEORGE R.

Whereas Our right trusty and well-beloved Councillor Thomas Lord Erskine, Our Chancellor, bas this day laid before Us an Abstract of certain written Declarations touchia ing the Conduct of Her Royal Highness the Princess of Wales: We do hereby authorise, empower, and direct, the said Thomas Lord Erskine, Our Chancellor; Our right trusty and right well-beloved Cousin and Councillor George John Earl Spencer, one of Our Principal Secretaries of State ; Our right trusty and well-beloved Councillor William Wyndham Lord Grenville, First Commissioner of Our Treasury; and Our right trusty and well-beloved Councillor Edward Lord Ellenborough, Our Chief Justice, to hold Pleas before Ourself, to inquire into the truth of the same, and to examine upon oath such Persons as they shall see fit, touching and concerning the same, and to report to Us the result of such Examinations. Given at Our Castle of Windsor, on the twenty-ninth day of May, in the forty-sixth year of Our Reign.

G. R.

[merged small][ocr errors]
[ocr errors][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small]

May it please your Majesty, Your majesty having been graciously pleased, by an instrument under your majesty's royal sign manual, a copy of which is annexed to this report, to "authorise, empower,

and direct us to inquire into the truth of certain written decla. “ rations, touching the conduct of her royal highness the r Princess of Wales, an abstract of which had been laid before “your majesty, and to examine upon oath such persons as we " should see fit, touching and concerning the same, and to " report to your majesty the result of such examinations," we have, in dutiful obedience to your majesty's commands, pro• ceeded to examine the several witnesses, the copies of whose depositions we have hereunto annexed; and, in further execution of the said commands we now most respectfully submit to your majesty the report of these examinations as it has appeared to us: but we beg leave at the same time humbly to refer your majesty, for more complete information, to the examinations themselves, in order to correct any error of judgment into which we may have unintentionally fallen with respect to any part of this husiness. On a reference to the above-mentioned declarations, as the necessary foundation of all our proceedings, we found that they consisted in certain statements, which had been laid before his royal highness the Prince of Wales, respecting the conduct of her royal highness the Princess. That these statements not only imputed to her royal highness great impropriety and indecency of behaviour, but expressly asserted, partly on the ground of certain alleged declarations from the princess's own mouth, and partly on the personal observation of the informants, the following most important facts, viz.: That her royal highness had been preg. nant in the year 1802, in consequence of an illicit intercourse, and that she had in the same year been secretly delivered of a male child, which child had ever since that period been brought up by her royal highness, in her own house, and under her immediate inspection.

[merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors]
[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][merged small]

These allegations thus made, had, as we found, been followed by declarations from other persons, who had not indeed spoken to the important facts of the pregnancy or delivery of her royal highness, but had related other particulars, in themselves extremely suspicious, and still more so when connected with the assertions already mentioned.

In the painful situation in which his royal highness was placed by these communications, we learnt that his royal highness had adopted the only course which could, in our judgment, with propriety be followed. When informations such as these had been thus confidently alleged, and particularly detailed, and had been in some degree supported by collateral evidence, applying to other points of the same nature (though going to a far less extent), one line only could be pursued.

Every sentiment of duty to your majesty, and of concern for the public welfare, required that these particulars should not be withheld from your majesty, to whom more particularly belonged the cognizance of a matter of state so nearly touching the honour of your majesty's royal family, and, by possibility, affecting the succession of your majesty's crown.

Your majesty had been pleased, on your part, to view the subject in the same light. Considering it as a matter which, ou every account, demanded the most immediate investigation, your majesty had thought fit to commit into our bands the duty of ascertaining, in the first place, what degree of credit was due to the informations, and thereby enabling your majesty to decide what further conduct to adopt concerning them.

On this review, therefore, of the matters thus alleged, and of the course hitherto pursued upon them, we deemed it proper, in the first place, to examine those persons in whose declarations the occasion for this inquiry bad originated. Because if they, on being examined upon oath, bad retracted or varied their assertions, all necessity for further investiga-tion might possibly have been precluded.

We accordingly first examined on oath the principal in. formants, Sir John Douglas, and Charlotte his wife ; who both

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

positively swore, the former to his baving observed the fact of the pregnancy of her royal bighness, and the latter to all the important particulars contained in her former declaration, and above referred to. Their examinations are annexed to this report, and are circumstantial and positive.

The most material of those allegations, into the truth of which we had been directed to inquire, being thus far supported by the oaths of the parties from whom they had proceeded, we then felt it our duty to follow up the inquiry by the examination of such other persons as we judged best able to afford us information as to the facts in question.

We thought it beyond all doubt that, in this course of in. quiry, many particulars must be learnt which would be necessarily conclusive on the truth or falsehood of these declarations. So many persons must have been witnesses to the appearances of an actually.existing pregnancy; so many circumstances must have been attendant upon a delivery; and difficulties so numerous and insurmountable must have been involved in any attempt to account for the infant in question, as the child of another woman, if it had been in fact the child of the princess; that we entertained a full and confident ex. pectation of arriving at complete proof, either in the affirmative or negative, on this part of the subject.

This expectation was not disappointed. We are happy to declare to your majesty our perfect conviction that there is no foundation whatever for believing that the child now with the princess is the child of her royal highness, or that she was delivered of any child in the year 1802; nor has any thing appeared to us which would warrant the belief that she was pregnant in that year, or at any other period within the compass of our inquiries,

The identity of the child now with the princess, its parentage, the place and the date of its birth, the time and the circumstances of its being first taken under her royal highness's protection, are all established by such a concurrence both of positive and circumstantial evidence, as can, in our judgment, leave no question on this part of the subject. That child was,

[ocr errors]
[merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

beyond all doubt, born in the Brownlow-street hospital, on the 11th of July, 1802, of the body of Sophia Austin, and was first brought to the princess's house in the month of November following. Neither should we be more warranted in ex. pressing any doubt respecting the alleged pregnancy of the princess, as stated in the original declarations-a fact so fully contradicted, and by so many witnesses, to whom, if true, it must in various ways have been known, that we cannot think it entitled to the smallest credit. The testimonies on these two points are contained in the annexed depositions and letters. We have not partially abstracted them in this report, lest by any unintentional omission we might weaken their effect; but we humbly offer to your majesty this our clear and unanimous judgment upon them, formed on full deliberation, and pronounced without hesitation on the result of the whole inquiry.

We do not, however, feel ourselves at liberty, much as we should wish it, to close our report here. Besides the allegations of the pregnancy and delivery of the princess, those declarations, on the whole of which your majesty has been pleased to command us to inquire and report, contain, as we have already remarked, other particulars respecting the condact of her royal highness, such as must, especially considering ber exalted rank and station, necessarily give occasion to very unfavourable interpretations.

From the various depositions and proofs annexed to this report, particularly from the examinations of Robert Bidgood, William Cole, Frances Lloyd, and Mrs. Lisle, your majesty will perceive that several strong circumstances of this description have been positively sworn to by witnesses, who cannot, in our judgment, be suspected of any unfavourable bias, and whose veracity in this respect we have seen no ground to question.

On the precise bearing and effect of the facts thus appear. ing, it is not for us to decide; these we submit to your majesty's wisdom : but we conceive it to be our duty to report on this part of the inquiry as distinctly as on the former facts, that, as on the one hand, the facts of pregnancy and

[merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small]

..

[ocr errors]

E

« 이전계속 »