Page images
[ocr errors]


Mary, Captain Campbell, then lying off Deptford, received sailing orders, and weighed anchor for Calais. His Majesty of Great Britain was sending his own private vessel to bring over his brother of Denmark, travelling under the transparent incognito of “Prince of Travandahl.” It was confidently expected, the yacht being a swift sailer, that she would be at Calais so early as the 3d of the following month-taking only five days for the passage. His Majesty would embark the following day.

Meantime the minds of the expectant English were kept on the strain by magnificent rumours brought by the foreign journals. By advices dated Copenhagen, it was found that the treasury had been paying for the expenses of the King's journey at the splendid figure of 13,0001. a month; and that this sum being found insufficient, a further sum of 30001. or 40001. had been commanded to be furnished steadily, until, say, the month of November. Here was really a sumptuous traveller! Besides, a credit had been opened with two Hamburgh merchants for 30001. or 40001., under the head of “Presents” and “ Testimonials.” In the fulness of time a share of these good things would be scattered among the English lieges.

At length, readers of Lloyd's Evening Post found in that journal of August the 12th, that the King and his august party had landed at Dover the preceding evening at eleven o'clock. T'he Mary yacht had the honour of bringing them over. The Dover cannon thundered as the yacht entered the little barbour, and the people and authorities of the place received them “with every possible mark of respect.” They staid the night there, and on the following morning set out for London, where they arrived the same day, and alighted at St. James's, where apartments were provided for them. Curious to say, the royal traveller was not the guest, strictly, of the King of England, though he was entertained at that monarch's charges. St. James's was given up to him as a sort of magnificent hostelry; and there he resided, and played Inst graciously enough. Instantly all London became absorbed in his mitions. Gossiping Mrs. Delany, so skilful at mysterious works in Berlinwools, needlework, and general tittle-tattle, caught the infection at once “We went,” she writes, “to my Lord Carlisle's, in Cleveland Cout, to see the King of Denmark, who is in Lord Bathe's old house. His lajesty was dressing, and the blinds down all but a little peep: the Duches had the satisfaction of a glimpse of him, and I of his valet de chambe." He was attended by a large and imposing suite. Horace Walpol has etched-in some sketches of these followers in that wonderful epistolar aqua fortis of his. They are perfect cartes-de-visite. First, for the cente figure, “the puppet of the day,” he writes, “is the King of Denmark-in truth, puppet enough; a very miniature of our late king, his grandather. White, strutting, dignified, prominent eyes; gallant and condetending enough to mark that it is condescension.” That shrewd intelligenceof the king of letter-writers actually read-off the character

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

of the youth, and even his future career; for “puppet” en titre, he was indeed destined to be.

There was a young Count Holcke—a Danish noble, some threeand-twenty years old—who was chief favourite ; and who, young as he was, was Ausled with victory in a certain recent court intrigue. Inimitable Horace touches him off in a stroke or two: “A Lord High Favourite-a pert young gentleman, who seems rather proud of his favour than shy of displaying it.” Just before the travelling party bad set out, a young lord of the bed-chamber, named Brandt, had been fast rising in favour, had been a guest at the private suppers of the King, and had naturally calculated on being elected into the select company who were to attend the monarch in his journey. But, to his surprise, be found he was left out; an exclusion he attributed—possibly with reasonto the influence of the successful young “Lord High Favourite." An anonymous letter soon after reaching the King, and warning him sgairst the seditious nature of his favourite, was at once set down to the account of Brandt; and he was banished the court with twenty-four hours' notice. But Brandt's day was yet to come; and he was reserved for a higher destiny, and a miserable but romantic end.

There was also of the party Count Bernstorff—“a grim old man," says Horace Walpole, “ bowing and cringing at every word of the King with Eastern obsequiousness.” Clearly a Polonius for this new Danish Hamlet ; future Prime Minister also; and to attain a certain reputatim. Curious to say, the person who was to be predecessor, and on whose ruin “the grim old man" was to flourish, was also of the party; a young physician of Altona, and son to an obscure deacon of Sleswick-a Docto: Struensee; a creature then of small account, and whom the newspapers brought in a little contemptuously at the close of all their royal flourishes. He does not turn up in any of the letters and memoirs of the time. Of course the fine lords and fine gentlemen who talked of “Holcke and Bernstorff behaving well” could scarcely have eyes for the obscure doctor of the King's train. Yet during that very English journey he wa securing bis elevation, strengthening bis influence, and indirectly hurring to his fall. “He possessed,” says delightful Sir N. Wraxall, who eame prying into Copenhagen a year or so after the overthrown miniter had been broken on the wheel,“ many qualities calculated to advnce their possessor at court. His manners were polished, his address asy, and his conversation lively as well as amusing. Throughout his le, as well as at his death, he manifested personal courage; but in principe and virtue he was totally deficient.” The story of the physician tht travelled with the Danish king to England is now the libretto of a opera. Sir N. Wraxall, rambling out of Copenbagen one day at abor a mile and a balf away, came upon “ the bones of these unhappy persons" ” (Brandt and Struensee) “ exposed upon wheels. I have view them," he adds, in his deliciously pompous manner, “with minglerawe and commiseration. They hold up an unful and affecting lesso/or future


[ocr errors]



statesmen." The poor physician's remains were headless; for four English sailors, “belonging to a Russian man-of-war commanded by Admiral Greig,” had carried off the head. This was the grotesque end to the quiet doctor whom the English newspapers “observed” in the royal suite. The newspapers also“ observed" the Baron de Bulow; M. de Scheemacker, counsellor “of conferences,” and private secretary; Baron de During, aide-de-camp; and “Messrs. Temler and Sturz, counsellors of embassy, of the office of Foreign Affairs.” Going up to London, the retinue made a sort of procession of four post-chaises and fifteen mounted servants. King George had sent down all his state carriages to Dover; but the Danish king, eager to be in the metropolis, left all the grand equipages behind ; and taking a series of post-chaises, hurried away at a pace that the well-fed tenants of the royal stables could not be expected to imitate. He was at once waited on by the Earl of Hertford and Lord Falmouth, who were sent to compliment bim upon his arrival.”

The journals kept their eye steadily upon him; and henceforth the sham Prince of Travandabl was a marked royal personage. On the Sunday he is watched out to prayers at the little Danish church in Wellclose Street, built by her late Majesty Queen Anne for the special curing of the soul of the royal George of Denmark. It was found out that he went to his devotions, attended indistinctly by “ several of the nobility.” He came back to St. James's “about two” (no more precise information could be obtained), and afterwards went to dine with his own ambassador at St. James's Square, where, however, a most awkward contretemps occurred; for he was just sitting down, when he found himself “slightly indisposed.” And yet the phrase would seem to have been an allowable suppression of the truth, to avoid disquieting the minds of the lieges. It must have been of a more serious description; for after “making an apology to the ambassador on the occasion," be abruptly retired, and withdrew to his Palace of St. James's. This would seem satisfactory testimony of sickness; and yet we are again embarrassed by hearing that his Majesty “dined there."

He was taken to see all the established lions; and on the 19th the Marquis of Granby (of sign and public-house notoriety) and General Conway (Horace Walpole's Mr. Conway), together with “other persons of distinction," came to take him over the Tower. In all the proceedings of the royal sightseer may be remarked the fitfulness and uncertainty which, in the Prince of Denmark that is so dear to us, came of a morbid turn of mind, and the brooding over a particular purpose; but which, in this “puppet of the hour,” was the result of weakness and unsteadiness. Thus, on this Tower visit, the great barge of the establishment, arrayed in all its nautical finery, was moored at the wharf to take him down the river ; but he preferred returning through the City in the coach he came in. There was an immense crowd assembled to see him, “to whom he complaisantly bowed.” He drove off amid “loud huzzas.”

The Princess Amelia then lived at Gunnersbury House, and that

[ocr errors]

evening she invited the King to a magnificent entertainment,-a supper and ball. The Foot Guards attended at the door. The Duke of Gloucester," their Serene Highnesses the two Princes of Saxe-Gotba" (even a hundred years ago Saxe-Gotha was in honour at the English Court), and a host of the nobility, were of the company. The supper consisted of “120 dishes; a grand firework was played off;" and the whole concluded about three o'clock.

It was understood at York, that towards the 29th,—the great York races then coming off,—the Danish sun would blaze out upon them fitfully. They were busy along the road with stupendous preparations, when suddenly the “slight indisposition" which had before prevented his dining, now interfered with his racing, and prevented “his Majesty's gracious intentions” of self-amusement. But to the hearts of the York innkeepers, and other persons interested pecuniarily in his coming, he endeared himself eternally, by ordering every thing “commanded” to be paid for; but at the same time qualifying his liberality by requiring what was so ordered to be distributed



poor. By the next day the mysterious “indisposition” was quite gone; for his Majesty turns up quite suddenly at Cambridge, among the "doctors in their scarlet robes," and "a brilliant company of ladies in the galleries;” he being simply arrayed “in his riding-dress and boots.” When his Majesty entered, they all “testified their joy by every possible mark of respect.How sadly this thermometer of royalty has sunk since those rapturous days! He had then to undergo the painful formality of “ receiving the compliments of the heads of the colleges,” and of “ being conducted in procession to the library.” He afterwards entertained the whole party,“ doctors in their scarlet robes,” and all, at supper; and went away the following morning.

And in what direction, can it be guessed? To York, after all. After the "slight indisposition," and the paying of the innkeepers, and the distributions to the poor, the fitful King suddenly presented himself in that city, with a modest suite of one hundred and twenty persons. The Lord Mayor wished to celebrate his coming magnificently; but the King was disinclined to state; travelled post through the Minster, and other buildings; and flew off to Derby the following day. The day after, he was back again at St. James's, having in the space of a week got over seren hundred miles; this, in coaching and posting times, and considering the usual snail-like movements of royalty, was marvellous.

He was curious to see our famous player, and went to the theatre to see Mr. Garrick in Ranger. Mrs. Delany had an account of the scene from an eye-witness. In the pit they were “so close and so hot, that every man pulled off his coat and sat in his waistcoat.” The foreign monarch must have been confounded at the sight. sleeves, more had none, and the various hues made a most surprising sight. When the King came in, the clapping and noise was prodigious : the poor boy looked frightened, but bowed on all sides over and over.”

For «

some had

Even this account hints at a certain niaiserie. For “when Garrick came

a in, the house redoubled (sic): his little Majesty took it all to himself, and redoubled his bows. Many of the men fainted away; there were few or no women in the pit.” This heroine of embroidery and chenille-work also noted the uncertainty in his movements; for Mrs. Dashwood came in from the Duke of Ancaster's with word that the King had just dropped in to breakfast at four o'clock! And then records that he had gone on to dine somewhere else at nine.

On the Saturday following, this wonderful King is at the Opera ; and after the Opera, appears at the Soho Rooms of that notorious lady, Mrs. Cornelys. She had only a few hours' notice of the august visit; but contrived to extemporise some magnificent preparations, and lit up the place with “2000 wax-lights”—"additional,” it is to be presumed. All the nobility again were here; indeed the nobility seem to have been indefatigable, and as constant in their attendance as the supernumeraries of a theatre. On the royal entrance, “the music,” consisting of “ French horns, clarionets, bassoons," &c., began playing: “all the nobility" bowed and looked on him; and, naturally enough, his Majesty seemed immensely gratified at “the agreeable manner of his reception." It would have been supposed that “dancing" would have been the natural accompaniment of such a festival; but it seems to have been merely a sudden thought, for we are told that “dancing was proposed.” The King opened the ball with the Duchess of Ancaster, and “named” the second minuet with the Countess of Harrington. Then came country dances, French cotillons—the French horns, bassoons, &c., discoursing most melodious music; and, finally, the company "withdrew to tea," &c.

The Duke and Duchess of Northumberland next came forward, and threw the Morning Post of the time into convulsions of delight. Sion House was decorated superbly for the occasion, with “an inexpressible rariety of emblematical devices," and illuminated with more than 15,000 lamps. A temple was erected in the court, and the "transparent paintings” had the “happiest effect.” At this entertainment Miss Shipley fainted away; but by a happy compensation was held up by H. R. H. the Duke of Cumberland, who kept the crowd off. Again the faithful nobility rallied round him, and “vied with each other,” says Jenkins of the hour, “in showing their respect to the royal guest." The Queen next took up the duty of entertaining, and broke out into “a very grand entertainment.” Hither came the Princess Dowager, the Duke of Gloucester, and "a large number of the nobility." His Majesty of Denmark arrived at half past seven, and remained until half past four! Colonel Brudenell officiated as M.C.

On the 19th he was away again on a second tour, and flew to Oxford, where the “ doctors in their scarlet robes," and a “numerous and genteel company," assembled; and where, amid “acclamations” and “universal testimonies of joy," degrees were conferred wholesale upon his Majesty. Curious to say, the retiring physician, Doctor Struensee, of whom the Morn

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
« EelmineJätka »