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In the first place, it is evident that the book is not the work of any one individual, but a selection from various documents-all, however, bearing internal evidence of their being genuine.
In the second place, it has been asserted that the work betrays and traduces Queen Caroline. This accusation is decidedly false. The character of that unfortunate Princess has for the first time been drawn with truth in these pages; she is neither eulogised beyond her deserts, as some have essayed to do, nor condemned with the injustice shown her by others.
The persons who compiled the work appear to have been unbiassed by party, or by any political creed whatever. Whig and Tory, Radical and Conservative, all are impartially reviewed, not so much in the light of politicians as of private individuals. Hence it may be inferred that the information to be gathered from these pages is more likely to be true than any which has yet transpired on the same subject. And as the journalists evidently wrote with perfect freedom, and without contemplating the possibility of their remarks and statements ever coming before the public, they would not have withheld any circumstance which had come to their knowledge, strengthening or substantiating the doubts and fears which appear occasionally to have crossed their minds, respecting the Princess's conduct. But is there any actually condemning fact recorded? No; the problem of their doubts and alarms was solved in the imprudence of the Princess's conversation and manners; and the only real blame-call it even a crime, if you will, for such it is in a woman-which attaches to her, was want of discretion. On the favourable side of her character, daily traits are narrated of the Princess, indicative of a noble and generous nature, which had it been fostered and cherished by those whose duty it was to have done so, a far different result would have ensued.
We repeat, therefore, that the publication of these private memoranda of a person or persons living with the Princess of Wales on terms of the greatest intimacy, is the strongest testimony ever yet given in her favour.
It may rather be suspected that those who bring this accusation of treachery against the compilers of the Diary, are themselves the bitter enemies who persecuted the unfortunate Princess to the death, and who cannot endure to see the way in which she was treated clearly brought to light, lest they themselves, her real persecutors, should be judged of according to their deserts.
The goads and indignities to which the Princess was constantly subject, from her first arrival in this country to the hour of her death, are recorded with an evident truth which must make an impartial reader pardon the follies or errors of which she may have been guilty. In fine, although not held up as a faultless character, she is represented to have been far more sinned against than sinning.
To return to the work itself;-another grave charge against it has been that of indecency and impiety. This is so utterly and even ridiculously false, that it is best refuted by a perusal of the work itself.
With respect to the gossip of the times, as noted in the Diary, it has been the subject of table-talk in every society and every newspaper for the last forty years; and what breach of private confidence is there in narrating the "on dits" of the day? Of what does Sir Walter Scott's Diary consist,-published by his son-inlaw, in which all his personal and private affairs are discussedwhat Moore's Life of Byron-and, in short, all the diaries that ever were compiled, collected, or written,—but similar shreds and patches of the times?
Lastly, the style of this Diary has been called coarse-trashy. We reply, it bears internal evidence of never having been intended for publication; it is careless and colloquial, but pungent and forcible. We admit, however, that there are passages which probably the writers would have expunged, had they anticipated that their note-books were ever to come before the public: there are private feelings expressed, of no interest to the world in general, which evidently were not intended for its perusal; and yet this Diary, so decidedly a collection of private memoranda, has been judged of as though it had been a production expressly designed for the press!
There has, perhaps, never been an instance in which criticism has been more unjustly dealt out, than in the numerous reviews of this work. But the public doubtless has been less influenced by the opinions set forth in the periodicals and other publications, from knowing or suspecting that much of the virulent abuse lavished on the Diary has been the vengeance taken by persons whose vanity has been mortified by some unwelcome personal reference to themselves in the work.
A future generation will, however, give to the Diary an impar
tial award; and it will undoubtedly remain a standard work for historians to refer to, as "notes" to future memoirs of the time of which it treats.
POSTSCRIPT BY THE PUBLISHER.
In consequence of the lamented decease of the distinguished person who has edited these volumes, the publisher thinks it right to state, that the original preface, and other documents connected with Mr. Galt's share in the publication, are in the publisher's possession, and may be seen by any one interested in the subject.
Great Marlborough Street,
CONTINUATION OF THE
THE TIMES OF GEORGE IV.
Rome, Tuesday, 23d of November.
LORD and Lady W. Bentinck are arrived; a circumstance which gives me pleasure, for they are both agreeable and friendly people.
This day I did penance, in the way of leaving visiting cards at the doors of all my acquaintance. Why will people not "do at Rome as they do at Rome?" why will they not dispense with the petty ceremonies of etiquette, which are allowable in other great towns, but which take up too much precious time here, and are quite at variance with the occupations and interests which ought to employ mind and time in this classic city. Who that has ever inhabited Rome, does not feel a pride and a pleasure in tracing the word! how many remembrances does it not recall! how the heart expands, and the stature seems to dilate, and the tongue to cry out "anch' io son Romano!" Yes, who that has trod these sacred stones, does not conceive themselves invested with the denizenship of the city of the world! Though for centuries every pen has eulogised, and every heart has echoed the praises of the eternal city, still an inexhaustible fund of interest remains for ages yet unborn, to expatiate upon, to analyse and to enjoy.
The life of Rome is a life apart from the rest of ex
istence; and for that very reason I pronounce it dangerous; for it is a parenthesis in existence which, however beautiful, life might be completed without; and when it is past, a preference to it is apt to create distaste for all that is less exciting. Fortunately, however, there is an instinct implanted in the human heart, which, like that which is felt for a disagreeable relation, still draws the affection to home and country; and in that common feeling shared by all, an equivalent exists in the long run, which makes amends for the want of more vivid sensations. Yes! repose, and not excitement is conducive to true happiness.
I employed myself in the evening, reading Lord John Russell's life of his ancestor Lord William Russell. The preface is modest, dignified, and forcible; the narrative is lucid; and the style is unaffected, and devoid of ornament, yet elegant. It is like the author. How much the sobriety of a sensible English book strengthens and refreshes the understanding, especially when we have lived some time in a dearth of English literature. Lord called on me. Misfortune has done him good; he is not so sulky or morose as he once was; one even forgets the past, to be sorry for his present distress and wandering life.
Wednesday, 24th November. Accompanied to see the Casini Palace. The Queen of Sweden* died there in 1699. It is a magnificent building, as to space
* CHRISTINA. The character of this Princess had a bright and a black side. For four years after her coronation, she governed liberally; but at the end of that time she became weary of the restraints on royalty, and abdicated in favour of the Count Palatine, Charles Gustavus, her cousin. She then went to Rome, and became a regular bas bleu. It did not however say much for her philosophy, that she became a Roman Catholic; nor did it impose any check on her licentiousness, which was rather too open. Once, when in Paris, she had an Italian, her equerry, murdered in her presence, for no other fault than because he did not think her immaculate. In 1660 she returned to Sweden, on the death of her cousin; but the change of her religion, and her notorious life, rendered it a most unpalatable domicile; so she in consequence returned to Rome, where she made the world lighter by a great sinner in 1699. Queen Christina, notwithstanding all her indiscretions, was, it is said, an accomplished and agreeable personage to those about her;-but as the reverend Mr. Duncan Douglas of Greenock once said in the pulpit, of Mrs. Potiphar, she was a light gipsy.