"THE present work ought not to have appeared for the next fifty years." Such is the general remark made on this publication. Granted; but it has been so harshly and so unjustly dealt with by critics and reviewers, and they have conveyed so totally false an impression of it to all who pin their faith on the dictum of those literary autocrats, that if the book could have been suppressed, or consigned to the "contempt" and "oblivion " which they affirm to be its desert, it must have met that fate long ago; whereas the reverse is the case.

It is a curious circumstance, that not one of the clever pamphlets and reviews which this work, so " insignificant" and contemptible," has elicited from some of the most distinguished

writers of the day, has given the lie to one single fact stated in its pages. A few errors in dates, a few discrepancies of time and place, (which do not impugn the authenticity of the matter,) are the only blunders those critics have substantiated; and not one of them, from the


Quarterly" down to Sir Herbert Taylor's “Remarks on the Edinburgh Review," has been able to defend the cause which he espoused.

There is one circumstance worthy of notice in Lord Brougham's criticisms on the work in the Edinburgh Review,-namely, that the passages which refer personally to the supposed author of the Diary are feeble compared with the rest, and assume the expression of mere female malice, in a style, too, quite unworthy of his lordship's vigorous pen, and strangely at variance with that of the rest of the article.

All the vituperation which has been lavished. on the Diary has, however, served to give the book a marked consequence, which leads us to consider it dispassionately, both in a literary and moral point of view.

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; and had it been fostered and cherished by those whose duty it was to have done so, a very 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 subjected, 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

« VorigeDoorgaan »