« AnteriorContinuar »
CORONATION OF WILLIAM IV. Comparison with that of George IV.-The Pageant without and within
The Regalia-The Ceremonies and Coronation-Festivities and Illu. minations-Queen Caroline's Disgrace and Death-A Coronation Ban. quet--The King's Champion and his Challenge.
If the coronation of William IV. had less of preparation and show than that of George IV., there was also less of anxiety in the mind of the prince, and a less perturbed state of the public mind. The claims of Queen Caroline had annoyed her royal consort, and kept the nation in great excitement. The coronation was even deferred a year after the first appointment-from the 1st of August, 1820, to July 19th, 1821-on account of the unexpected arrival of the queen from the Continent, and her avowed determination to claim the prerogatives of queen-consort.
The well-known cessation of the conjugal connexion between the Prince of Wales and the Princess Caroline Amelia Elizabeth, after a train of painful events, had banished or led her to the Continent, till the death of George III. and the accession of her husband to the throne. A provision of £50,000, or $240,000, had been put by the government at her disposal and use, in the hope that she would be content to remain abroad, and not assert her rights as Queen of England. On the 10th of May, 1820, summonses were issued to the peers of the United Kingdom to attend the coronation of George IV. on the 1st of August. On the 6th of June the queen landed at Dover, proceeded to London under the most marked demonstrations of popular welcome, and signified her intention to claim a participation in the rites and ceremonies of coronation. The coronation was deferred indefinitely ; a bill of pains and penalties was brought into the House of Lords against the queen for conjugal infidelity; she was tried and acquitted; but was still denied the honours of a queen. On the 19th of July, 1821, the second day appointed for the coronation, she made her appearance at Westminster Abbey at an early hour, and was refused admittance; she then presented herself at the door of the House of Lords, and was excluded there. She then returned to her house-in a few days sickened—and died on the 7th of August, saying, “ They have destroyed me-my disease is here”-pointing to her heart. She “hailed death as a friend," and " forgave all her enemies.”
Queen Caroline was believed by the people to be innocent. They had all along taken her part against the king and her accusers; and the scene of her going to Westmin
ster Abbey and to the House of Lords, on the day of the coronation, was public, in presence of the assembled nation. And the excitement occasioned by her disgrace may easier be conceived than described. The day was the farthest possible from being a happy one to any and to all concerned; and no one could be indifferent.
Not so the coronation of William IV. ten years afterward. The English, who are a king-loving people, if the king behaves well, had many good reasons for cherishing an ardent affection for the reigning monarch. All his acts had been popular. He had called around his throne a popular ministry; he had dissolved a parliament that had refused to undertake reform, and called on the people to elect a new House of Commons. He was in all respects the man of the people—that is, of the great majority of the nation; and the queen, if not equally beloved, was at least unobnoxious-was respected. Every thing contributed to make the day of his coronation a grateful and joyous one.
The great expense of the coronation of George IV. and the thousand wasteful extravagances of his life and reign, which added no trifling fraction to the vast burdens of the nation, were all too sensibly felt by Parliament and by the public, to justify such another prodigal expenditure for a coronation pageant. But, notwithstanding this prevailing spirit of economy, and the comparative want of interestforasmuch as the impressions of the last and recent occasion of the kind were not particularly grateful-yet the arrangements were on a scale in no small degree imposing; and the popularity of the prince was sure to draw to one centre, from such a city as London, and from such a country as England, a countless multitude, to witness the public ceremonials of his consecration. To a republican eye, such a pageant, which is rarely afforded to the subjects of kings, and as one of the public demonstrations of regal honour and dignity, it would be affectation in me to say that it had no attractions.
As for obtaining a ticket for the Abbey, it was out of the question for any but certain classes, viz. the peers and their families (a very numerous class in Great Britain); members and high officers of government; members of the House of Commons; ministers and ambassadors of foreign nations; bishops and favoured clergy, generally those known and in favour at court; numerous connexions of all these classes; and, lastly, those who were willing to occupy most disadvantageous seats, among the vulgar, or behind the columns of the edifice, at the comfortable price of fifteen, or twenty, or thirty guineas each. Besides, those who were admitted to the ceremonies within the walls of the Abbey must necessarily be deprived of the opportunities of observing the extraordinary, and, in many respects, more
imposing pageant without: such as the artillery, brought into St. James's Park for the occasion: regiments of household troops, of horse and foot, in their most glittering attire, lining the grand avenue appropriated to the procession, from the palace to the Abbey, by the way of Pall Mall, Charing Cross, and Parliament-street, all reflecting the beams of the sun from their burnished armour and military trappings; the metropolitan police, and their modes of operation; the dense crowds, occupying every foot of ground in all directions not kept open for the procession; the temporary scaffoldings and platforms, erected along the entire line, and burdened with their tens of thousands of well-dressed people of both sexes; the doors, windows, balconies, and roofs of houses, exhibiting their waiting and gazing throngs; the constant stream of carriages, belonging to the nobility and others, moving all the morning to the Abbey under their burdens, with coachmen and footmen in their best livery; the occasional passing of public and distinguished persons, with their suites, and their recognition by the multitudes such, for example, as the Duke of Wellington, rolled on in solemn silence, as if to a funeral, or Lord Brougham, hailed by the shouts and acclamations of all; the different members of the royal family and their separate suites; carriago after carriage of four, six, or eight horses, with a groom at the head of every animal, and footmen, two, three, and four, all in the richest livery, covered with gold; troops of gentlemen-at-arms on foot; and, lastly, the state carriage, a piece of old magnificence, drawn by eight cream-coloured horses, with the king and queen, preceded, followed, and flanked by the household troops, a grand and most imposing display, while the countless thousands shouted their joyous acclamations, waving hats and handkerchiefs all along, as their majesties passed, like the wind that moves to and fro the arms and foliage of the dense forest ;-all animated by the successive bands of music, which had their places at different stages of the long procession. Such as these, and nameless others of their kind, changing variously throughout the day, were features of the scene without, too interesting and attractive to be lost by a stranger, if he had never seen the like before, even though he might purchase it by the sacrifice of a tolerable view of what was passing within.
I had visited and walked along the entire line of procession the day previous with a friend, to see if we could select a satisfactory position. Everywhere were to be seen advertisements for seats to view the procession, with various commendations of their superlative merits, the price of tickets graduated on a scale of wholes and halves, from five guineas down to ten shillings and sixpence. The choice was so embarrassing that we chose to keep our money, and run the chance for a selection the next day ; in which decision
we were very wise. For, in case we had purchased tickets for any platform, or window, or housetop, we should have felt obliged to resort to it at the earliest hour, and retain the place all 'day, with no variety of views except what could have been had at the point assumed. As it was, we were at liberty to range from one end of the line to the other, while the crowds were collecting in the morning, and those who had tickets were taking up their positions ; to go round about the Abbey, and witness the preparations and movements there ; to stroll into St. James's Park; to see the members of parliament, in their full dress and various costume, cross the street from the parliamentary buildings to the sacred edifice; to notice the various military and police arrangements, and their order; and finally, to obtain a most advantageous position in the garden of St. Margaret, directly under the shade of Westminster Abbey, where, within a few feet of the procession, we had a perfect view of the king and queen, as they came and went, being able to distinguish the minutest features of their faces, and all the various and most interesting public exhibitions of the day. .
The ceremonies of consecration within the Abbey are long and complicated; the Archbishop of Canterbury, Primate of all England, being the officiating priest for the occasion-for which service he is endowed, as a fee, with “the purple velvet chair, the cushion, and the footstool assigned to him during the ceremony."
The Regalia employed on this occasion, and which may be seen at the Tower of London, are :—The Crown the Sceptre--the Verge, or Rod of Power--the Orb, or mound of Sovereignty—the Swords of Mercy and of Justice-the Ring of Alliance with the kingdom-the Armillæ, or Bracelets the Spurs of Chivalry—the Ampulla, or Golden Eagle -the Coronation Chair, &c. The new imperial crown made for George IV. has the appearance of a heavy mass of diamonds, and is surmounted by a pearl of immense value. It is an extravagant trinket, and so, perhaps, are some other parts of the Regalia.
All being assembled, and in their appropriate places, the archbishop addresses the people as follows:
“ Sirs, I here present to you King William the Fourth," or whoever he may be, “the undoubted king of this realm. Wherefore, all ye that are come this day to do your homage, are ye willing to do the same ?"
The people respond—“God save King William the Fourth. And the trumpets sound.
Then comes what is called “The First Oblation,” accompanied with an offering of a pound weight of gold, during which the king kneels by the altar, and the people join in
the service. After this a sernon; then the “Coronation Oath,” after this manner :
The Archbishop of Canterbury asks the king, “Sir, is your majesty willing to take the oath ?" The king answers, “ I am willing.”
The archbishop then proposes to the king the following questions :
“ Will you solemnly promise and swear to govern the people of this kingdom of Great Britain, and the dominions Thereunto belonging, according to the statutes in Parliament agreed on, and the respective laws and customs of the same ?"
King. “I solemnly promise so to do."
Archbishop. “Will you, to the utmost of your power, cause law and justice, in mercy, to be executed in all your judgments ?"
King. “I will.”
Archbishop. “Will you, to the utmost of your power, maintain the laws of God, the true profession of the Gospel, and the Protestant Reformed Religion established by law? And will you maintain and preserve inviolably the settlement of the Church of England, and the doctrines, worship, discipline, and government thereof, as by law established, within the kingdoms of England and Ireland, the dominion of Wales, and town of Berwick-upon-Tweed, and the territories thereunto belonging before the union of the two kingdoms? And will you preserve unto the bishops and clergy of England, and the churches there committed to their charge, all such rights and privileges as by law do or shall appertain unto them, or any of them ?”
King. “All this I promise to do.”
Then the king approaches and kneels at the altar, lays his hand upon the Gospels in the open Bible, and says, “ The things which I have here before promised, I will perform and keep. So help me God;" and then kisses the book and signs the oath.
Next the Anointing, beginning with the anthem—“Veni, Creator Spiritus." After which the archbishop prays :-“0 Lord, Holy Father, who, by anointing with oil, didst of old make and consecrate kings, priests, and prophets, to teach and govern thy people Israel, bless and sanctify thy chosen servant William, who by our office and ministry is now to be anointed with this holy oil, and consecrated king of this realm. Strengthen him, O Lord, with the Holy Ghost, the Comforter. Confirm and establish him with thy pure and princely spirit, the spirit of wisdom and government, the spirit of counsel and ghostly strength, the spirit of knowledge and true godliness; and fill him, O Lord, with the spirit of thy holy fear, now and for ever. Amen."
Then comes the coronation anthem :-“Zadock the priest