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THE IMPERIAL MAGAZINE.
BRIEF MEMOIR OF HIS MOST GRACIOUS MAJESTY WILLIAM IV.
(With a Portrait.)
Ir exalted station, dignity, and power, can entitle any individuals of the human family to the particular notice of the biographer, monarchs, above all others, have a right to command this mark of respectful attention. Crowns and sceptres can, however, never excite genuine homage in a subject, unless public virtue shall cast a lustre over the insignia of greatness with which they are adorned.
Among the numerous rulers of the earth, few have ever ascended the thrones of their ancestors under more auspicious circumstances, than those which marked the accession of WILLIAM THE FOURTH.
Nearly all Europe was in a state of peace; and neither foreign nor domestic commotion threatened to disturb the tranquillity of his reign.
Born in Great Britain, educated in his native land, and initiated into English habits, manners, and customs from his earliest years, he was not a stranger to the character of his subjects. Conformably to this knowledge, he has uniformly conducted himself since the diadem, has been associated with his name; and all his actions towards the nation at large have tended to rivet him more firmly in the affections of his people.
Instead of secluding himself in haughty retirement from popular observation, he has thrown aside this fashionable appendage of royalty; and, so far as prudence would allow, consistently with the elevation of his office, shown himself openly and without reserve to the people, whom, in the order of Providence, it is his lot to govern. This circumstance has endeared him to his subjects; and never, perhaps, has the heart more cordially co-operated with the voice, than when "God save the King," or "Long live King William," has been uttered by ten thousand tongues. That his dominion may continue as it has begun, and that he may long live to reign over a free and powerful empire, must be the sincere desire of every loyal heart.
His present Majesty, Prince William Henry, the third son and the fourth child of King George the Third, was born the 21st of August, 1765. His royal father having determined to bring one son up in the navy, this prince was selected for that purpose; and at the age of fourteen, towards the close of the American war, his Royal Highness entered the service on board the Prince George, as a midshipman, under the especial care and superintendence of the late Admiral the Honourable Robert Digby. It was not, however, the intention of the king that his son should find any royal road to promotion. On the contrary, the young naval aspirant went regularly through all the grades of his profession, and was not promoted until he was reported qualified, according to the rules of the service. In this manner, in the usual course, he became a lieutenant, afterwards a master and commander, and subsequently a post-captain.
The Prince George bearing a part in the great naval engagement between the English and Spanish fleets the former commanded by Lord Rodney, 2D. SERIES, NO. 1.-VOL. I.
and the latter by Don Juan de Langara; his Royal Highness was very early initiated in naval warfare, and inured to a service of danger. He was present at the capture of a French man-of-war, and three smaller vessels, forming part of a considerable convoy; and on this and similar occasions, Admiral Digby so approved of his conduct, that he named after him a Spanish manof-war, the Prince William.
It was about this period, that Don Juan de Langara, on visiting Admiral Digby, was introduced to his Royal Highness. During the conference between the two admirals, the Prince withdrew; but when it was intimated that Don Juan wished to retire, his Royal Highness appeared in the uniform of a midshipman, and respectfully informed the admiral that the boat was ready. The Spaniard was surprised to see the son of his Britannic majesty acting in the capacity of an inferior officer; and he emphatically observed to Admiral Digby, "Well does Great Britain merit the empire of the seas, when the humble stations in the navy are filled by princes of the blood."
The Prince's intimacy with the immortal Nelson is well known as one of the most interesting incidents of this hero's life. They first met at Quebec in 1782, when Nelson was in the Albemarle, which was then off that station, and from this time they became much attached to each other. At the close of the war they met again, both being appointed to the Leeward Island station, where Nelson had soon an opportunity of witnessing the Prince's strict and resolute obedience to orders, in the face of great personal danger, and amidst temptations of no ordinary kind.
Whilst his Royal Highness's vessel formed part of Lord Hood's squadron in 1782, he successfully interceded with Admiral Rowley, the commanderin-chief, in favour of Mr. Benjamin Lee, a midshipman, who was found guilty of disrespect to a superior officer, and condemned to death. In the same year, Prince William Henry visited Cape François and the Havannah, when another circumstance took place, which in a still more exalted degree shewed the excellence of his disposition, and that benevolence of feeling with which he was invariably characterized. Some of the British prisoners had very improperly subjected themselves to the vengeance of the Spanish Government, and a sentence of death was the natural result; but on the personal interference of his Royal Highness they were pardoned. The letter which on this occasion was addressed to Don Galvez, the governor of Louisiana, will always be quoted as a document highly creditable to his enthusiastic kindness of heart.
In 1785, after an actual service of six years and three months, his Royal Highness was promoted lieutenant of the Hebe. Ten months afterwards the Prince served as captain of the Pegasus, and subsequently of the Andromeda.
In 1789, Prince William Henry was, by letters patent, created Duke of Clarence, and his Royal Highness took his seat as such in the House of Lords. The revival of the title of Duke of Clarence was a subject of interest and curiosity at the time, it not having existed for upwards of three centuries; and the origin and etymology of the title, and its connexion with the name of the office of Clarencieux, king at arms, were industriously traced in some of the journals of that time. Its source has been found in Clarents, a harbour in Greece, which in ancient time gave name to a Greek duchy.
In 1790, when, in consequence of a dispute between the Court of London and Madrid, respecting some territory at Nootka Sound, in North America, hostilities were for a time threatened, or expected, a considerable naval armament was fitted out, the Duke of Clarence was appointed to the
MEMOIR OF HIS MAJESTY, WILLIAM IV.
command of the Valiant of seventy-four guns; but this ship was paid off, the negociations with Spain having been amicably terminated, and the armament being in consequence no longer necessary.
It was then that the Duke of Clarence received a mark of distinction, with reference to his profession, which is only granted to members of the royal family; his royal highness being, by virtue of an order in council, promoted to the rank of rear-admiral of the blue, over the heads of the captains who were senior to him. But the Duke had literally worked his way through the inferior grades of his profession, in the same manner as others of greatly inferior station, and it was no more than a just and proper compliment, both to himself and to the royal family, which had thus honoured the navy, to allow the royal seaman the honour of a flag, before, according to strict rule, he would have been entitled to it.
The Duke of Clarence, on his first entrance into the House of Lords, was politically opposed to the Pitt administration, and continued in opposition to it till its dissolution in 1801. Whether this was the reason that, in the war with France, which commenced in 1793, his Royal Highness was never employed as a naval officer, or appointed to any command, or whether such was the will of the King his father, has never been explained. It is certain, however, that the Duke was not employed, and equally so, that his Royal Highness was in opposition to the administration. The illustrious admíral was, however, always regularly included in the naval promotions, as regarded rank, whenever they took place; this, indeed, was a matter of course.
To the Addington administration, which succeeded, his Royal Highness had no such decided objection; more especially, as the Earl St. Vincent, for whom he had a high regard, was appointed First Lord of the Admiralty; and when that noble Earl moved the thanks of the House of Lords to Sir James Saumarez, for his victory obtained off Cadiz, which was afterwards called by some the first victory of Trafalgar, the Duke of Clarence very warmly supported the motion. His Royal Highness also supported the peace with France, in 1802; but he opposed the well-known bill for naval inquiry, though afterwards his Royal Highness moved the printing of the ninth report of the commissioners acting under that bill, observing, that it contained something particular: that "something particular" was, of course, the memorable examination of the first Viscount Melville, and other circumstances which led to the impeachment and trial of that noble Lord, though terminating in his acquittal.
On the death of the Earl of St. Vincent, the Duke of Clarence was appointed Admiral of the fleet, but although extremely anxious to enter into active service, he was not employed during what might be called the second part of the war with France, commencing in 1803; nor, indeed, was there any opening for his Royal Highness to be actively engaged in his profession, since from his rank he could only have held a chief or high command, and all the stations of importance were already filled by officers in whom the country had the greatest confidence; while their victorious career, epecially that of the great and gallant Nelson, soon left upon the seas no enemy to contend with, unless in comparatively petty details, though gallantry, and skill, and seamanship, were still, in numberless instances, pre-eminently displayed.
In 1814, after what was then supposed to be the termination of the war, the late Emperor of Russia and the King of Prussia, having expressed their desire to visit this country, the Duke of Clarence took the command of the royal yacht, and sailed for Calais, in order to conduct those illustrious personages to England. After their arrival, they wished to witness a naval
review, and the Prince Regent having given the requisite orders, the Duke of Clarence, as Admiral of the Fleet, on the 19th June hoisted the Union at the main, on board the Jason frigate, at Spithead. On the following day, the flag of the Lord High Admiral (the Admiralty flag), was hoisted on board the Ville de Paris, and his Royal Highness then shifted his flag, as Admiral of the Fleet, to the Impregnable. On the 21st, his Royal Highness again shifted it to the Bombay Castle. He received his brother, the Prince Regent, at the Government House, and also the illustrious visitors, the Emperor of Russia, and the King of Prussia.
On the 23d, the Emperor of Russia, the King of Prussia, and the Prince Regent, embarked at the King's Stairs; the Duke of Clarence, as Admiral of the Fleet, in his own barge, leading the larboard line of boats. The Prince Regent, and the illustrious visitors, were received by the Duke of Clarence, on board the Impregnable, in which ship the Royal Standard was hoisted, and the Union was shifted to the Chatham. On the 24th, the illustrious party visited the dock-yard. The Prince Regent and the King of Prussia went on board the royal yacht; the Duke of Clarence gave the signal, and the Fleet put to sea, and went through several manœuvres, returning to Spithead in the evening. On the 26th the royal visitors quitted Portsmouth.
In 1826, his Royal Highness was appointed Lord High Admiral, and during the period he held the office, was very popular in the navy. The Duke set to work, con amore, in making regulations and arrangements, and that too with strict justice and impartiality. He made a tour in person, to inspect the dock-yards and naval establishments, in which his Royal Highness suggested various improvements, some of which were carried into effect. The objection generally made against naval first lords, was, that they were too partial to particular branches or sections of the service, to the exclusion of others; but this certainly did not apply to the Lord High Admiral, who acted as the patron and chief of the service in general, with perfect fairness and impartiality, and spared no trouble, nor personal attention, in executing the duties of the office with which his Royal Highness had been entrusted. In 1828 his Royal Highness resigned his office.
In his parliamentary career, his Royal Highness was a frequent speaker in the House of Lords. He never, however, followed the fashion of making long speeches, but always spoke sensibly and with animation on points of great national importance. On many occasions his observations have elicited considerable applause. On subjects connected with the army or navy, his Royal Highness was always one of the foremost to award the meed of praise to officers, either of the army or navy, whose distinguished services were deemed worthy to receive the thanks of Parliament, or to whom it was thought right to adjudge rewards. It is also to be remembered that his Royal Highness supported the measure for repealing the penal laws (with certain exceptions) affecting the Roman Catholics.
We now come to the important period of his Royal Highness succeeding to the Throne of the British empire, on the demise of his Royal Brother George IV., by the style and title of WILLIAM THE FOURTH. This is the first instance of a collateral succession, since the era of the accession of the House of Brunswick, comprising an interim of 116 years; and, as already in effect observed, it could at one period, and that too for a considerable time, have been scarcely considered within the range of probability. His Majesty has succeeded to the Throne with many advantages as to knowledge and experience upon several subjects, not hitherto possessed by sove reigns; and with a character that can be more distinctly and justly appre
CREATION: NO. I.
13 ciated by his subjects, marked, as it has been, with an invariable desire to promote, as far as he possibly could, the welfare and prosperity of his country, and contribute to the happiness of mankind. We are quite sure that there is no individual in the empire, who possesses a more truly British heart than our present Sovereign, or whose mind is more completely interwoven with the interests or the destinies of the British Empire. His Majesty may truly say, as his father did, that he glories in the name of Briton; and we are firmly convinced, that with regard to true and genuine British feelings, his Majesty will not give place to any one of his subjects, himself being the representative of all that is truly noble in the English character.
At the conclusion of this brief Memoir of his most Gracious Majesty, his Autograph, which follows, cannot be deemed unappropriate. It has been procured from an exalted quarter as an especial favour, and as such it was inserted in our number for November last. His Majesty's Signature in general being only "W. R." this is one of the few specimens in which it has been written in full, since his accession to the Throne, on which account it must be the more gratifying to our readers.
THE calling into existence that which previously had no existence, is a creation. We know of no being, save the Almighty self-existent, which is capable of such an act. Therefore, if this circumstance had not been made the subject of an express revelation in so many words, viz. "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth;" the work itself, visible and tangible to his senses, would have pointed him out to man. Hence, to the nations where copies of this revelation of God do not abound, or are not known, "the heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament sheweth his handy work. Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge. There is no speech nor language where their voice is not heard. Their line is gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world." This passage confirms the general opinion, viz. That the creation noted "in the begin ning," by the Bible, was that of the whole solar system.
The disposing of created substances into order, in the vast, as well as the minute, and therefore forming rich varieties of things, such as the universe and all it contains, is also evidently the work of infinite wisdom and power, and must therefore be
the work of God. It is revealed to us, that God did form all things; and after a lapse of nearly six thousand years, the united efforts of the millions of beings that have appeared, and in succession passed away from this universe, have failed to discover any other source of being, save that Elohim, who announces himself as the creator and builder or former of all things; nor have their united efforts sufficed to add to, or diminish aught from, his creation. Therefore, upon the foundation of the revelation of God himself, and the nature and fitness of things, in the absence of all evidence to the contrary, we must pronounce, that, "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth," and assert, with the psalmist, "The heavens are thine, the earth also is thine: as for the world, and the fulness thereof, thou hast founded them. The north and the south, thou hast created them." And, with Zechariah, acknowledge "the Lord, which stretcheth forth the heavens, and layeth the foundation of the earth, and formeth the spirit of man within him."
What does this portion of the creations of God, which we denominate the universe, or the solar system, contain? This is a question of importance to every man, be