Judith Walker's Holiday 1830 - 4
Thursday, June 24, 1830
Mary received a reply from William regarding our invitation for him to come here to visit her. He is sorry but he must refuse, as he cannot be away from his work for the next four weeks.
He went on to possibly shed some light on the problem with his parents not recognizing Mary. He writes to her, “If I should think of coming, I would not without mentioning it first to them at home – I have always felt too much what my father said to me when talking of our trying to hide from him and my mother in the Botanic Gardens that afternoon, that he thought that I had been above attempting to deceive him in that way, ever to do anything again on which he could put the same interpretation, thought at the same time it was done to avoid one of those scoldings from my mother which so often interrupted the peace of our domestic circle.”
He goes on to talk about some of his other activities. “I was at Covent Garden at the closing of the Theatre last Tuesday. I wanted to see the Opera “Cinderella” which is considered one of the best there has been for a long time, and also Miss Mary Ann Paton and Miss Maria Foote. I hope that all that is said of Miss Paton (pictured above) is not true - at any rate some appellation is to be found in her husband's behaviour to her ( he is Lord William Pitt Lennox) and so the house seemed to think for she was received most enthusiastically throughout and at the end of the play there was a regular round of applause, waving of hats, etc.
"We afterwards had God Save the King in fine style, the whole company joining in chorus. The enthusiasm which was manifested owing to the state of his Majesty, the beauty of the singing and music made it have such a grand effect that I would not have missed it on any account.”
Mary has also received a letter from her sister, Agnes (four years younger so now 18) and she has graciously shared the content with us. Agnes is now back at home in Liverpool. She was very happy during her visit with relatives in Nottingham. It was amusing to hear her talk about the advice she got from her grandmama regarding getting a husband.
“Agnes” said she, “never marry a widower with children, for you see the consequences. I married a widower with five children and after bringing them all up and giving them a good education they have all proved ungrateful and left me.” She was step-mother to Edward and his brother, George, the girls' father. But I think they left home because of the unpleasantness between them.
Anyway, back to the letter. Agnes replied to her that she should never be guilty of such imprudence. And on her second visit to the grandmother, Agnes says that she was not nearly so complaisant, as she very soon told us we were killing her and said “I think if we had not gone directly, we should have had the pleasure of seeing her die, for as we were going out she stood at the top of the stairs, calling to Aunt to bring the salvolatine for she was dying. Grandpapa seemed very much affected at her behavior to us. He is a surprising old man for his age. He looks much better than papa does though he cannot walk so well, and his feet when he walks much begin to swell. He blessed us both before we left and seemed very much pleased with our brother Edward. He says he is the picture of what he himself was when he first was bound as an apprentice at Nottingham.
“The scenery about Nottingham is beautiful, it surpassed anything I had conceived.”
She did not apparently bear her journey home as well as she did going. She writes, “I suppose I fainted away twice when we crossed the hills, but the passenger who sat next me, and poor Ned were very kind. I however was nearly recovered when we reached Liverpool. You will be surprised that I have not seen William Newman yet, (her intended) for the same day I arrived, he set out for Wales on a visit.
“I have had a new tooth put in. He did not extract the old one, but broke it off and bored a hole up the nerve so as to destroy it, and large enough to admit a piece of wire which fastens the new one in. It did not hurt as much as I expected – it aches very much as present, but I must bear with that for two or three days.”
Saturday, 26th June
The big news of course, is the death of George IV and King William IV being proclaimed. Mary has asked William to send us the London papers so we can read more about the occasion.
We spent some time as a family talking about our dead king, and our future monarch. We all had little quips to remember and add.
Henry said that he had read that The Duke of Wellington went as far as to call King George IV “the worst man he ever fell in with his whole life, the most selfish, the most false, the most ill-natured, the most entirely without one redeeming quality.” But later he modified his views, and called George “a magnificent patron of the arts, the most extraordinary compound of talent, wit, buffoonery, obstinacy, and good feeling - in short a medley of the most opposite qualities, with a great preponderance of good - that I ever saw in any character in my life.” .
George had got ahold of the The Times newspaper which complained that King George IV preferred “a girl and a bottle to politics and a sermon.” But I’m sure he’s not the only English King to be guilty of that! The problem seemed to be (in a nutshell) that George was generally well meaning and fairly kindly disposed, but perhaps lacked the judgment and inclination for Kingship.
Hy said that she was amazed at what a large man he was. She said that she saw an article in a magazine showing a pair of his breeches. They were made out of light green wool, and their size says more than any newspaper or book ever could about George’s inclination toward over-indulgence. The waist size is 52 inches.
An obituary from the Times was produced. “There never was an individual less regretted by his fellow-creatures than this deceased king. What eye has wept for him? What heart has heaved one throb of unmercenary sorrow?”
He was born August, 12, 1762, and his parents were George III and Charlotte. He ascended to the throne on the death of his father in January 29, 1820, aged 57 years. He married Caroline (who had to undergo a public trial) and although he had one daughter, she died in childbirth. He died of a heart attack at aged 67.
“Tell me more about the trial,” said Mary. “I can remember when it was happening, but was too young to understand the implications.”
“It was claimed that Caroline had committed adultery with a low-born man, Barolomeo Pergami, Various witnesse were called during the reading of the bill, which was effectively a public trial of the Queen. The trial caused a sensation, as details of Caroline's familiarity with Pergami were revealed. Witnesses said the couple had slept in the same room, kissed, and been seen together in a state of undress. To her friends, Caroline joked that she had indeed committed adultery once - with the husband of Mrs. Fitzherbert, the King. Even during the trial, the Queen remained immensely popular, as witnessed by over 800 petitions and nearly a million signatures that favoured her cause.”
“Her husband was well known for his infidelities,” added Mary.
“Yes, he had several mistresses and in 1785 had secretly married a Catholic widow Maria Fitzherbert in contravention of the Act of Settlement and the Royal Marriage Act. They had at least two illegitimate children. Unlike his father he was extravagant with money and became badly in debt. He loved the fine things in life and undertook rebuilding of Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle.”
Here is a bit more from the newspaper account.
He was forced to deny his marriage with Mrs Fitzherbert and in return for paying off his debts officially marry Caroline of Brunswick whom he detested, so much so that when he became King George IV on the death of his father in 1820 he refused to let her attend his coronation. They had one child Princess Charlotte, but George refused to recognise Caroline as Queen and tried several times to annul his marriage to her. She died in 1821 claiming on her death bed that she had been poisoned.
George IV paid a state visit to Ireland but initially refused to support Catholic emancipation until 1829 when encouraged by the Duke of Wellington the Catholic Relief Act was passed. He visited Scotland in 1822, the first monarch to do so since Charles II, and encouraged by Sir Walter Scott wore full Highland regalia leading to a revival of Scottish tartan dress that had been banned after the Jacobite Rebellions.
His heavy drinking, indulgent lifestyle and taste for huge amounts of food made him obese, and he became an unpopular figure of ridicule when he appeared in public. He suffered from gout and towards the end of his life became mentally unstable.
If he ever had a friend, a devoted friend from any rank of life, we protest that the name of him or her never reached us.”
’Georgie Porgie, pudding and pie, kissed the girls and made them cry. When the boys came out to play, Georgie Porgie ran away’.
As he had no legitimate children, his younger brother, the Duke of Clarence, became King William IV.
“In my opinion,” said Henry, “he is like his father and brother, and prone to strange behaviour. I've heard that on the day he became king he raced through London in an open carriage, frequently removing his hat and bowing to his new subjects. Every so often he stopped and offered people a lift in his royal carriage. His habit of spitting in public also helps to obtain for him a reputation as an eccentric.”