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Caroline, Princess of Wales, with whom she had sympathised for some years. The situation was not a pleasant one, as the Princess was separated from her husband, the powerful and vindictive Prince of Wales, and estranged by Queen Charlotte's dislike to her, from the Court. To add more difficulties, she, by her own imprudence, follies and indiscreet conduct, was continually making her position and that of her ladies and gentlemen, which was bad at all times, worse than it might have been. Deserted by her husband soon after the birth, in 1796, of their only child, the Princess Charlotte, the Princess of Wales had been involved in serious charges of adultery brought against her by two treacherous friends, Sir John and Lady Douglas, whom she, though knowing little of their antecedents, had foolishly made much of during her retirement at Blackheath. Though cleared of the charges in 1806 by “the Delicate Investigation ” of a Commission of Peers appointed by her uncle the Kingalways her friend-she was reproved for levity of manners, and though allowed to appear at Court, she was coldly received by the old Queen and debarred from seeing much of her daughter. The scandal which attached to those proceedings naturally was reflected on her circle, and as she still continued to keep with her a child, William Austin, said, by rumour, to be her own, but whom the “ Delicate Investigation ” held to be the child of a poor woman at Deptford whom the Princess had taken under her protection, there were still many people who believed the former scandals, which therefore came to the surface from time to time, and these timid worthies either avoided the Princess's Court or at most gave it only quasi-recognition, particularly after her persecuting husband became Prince Regent in 1811. As she was always pressed for money, in addition to her Court duties, Lady Charlotte attempted to make an income by literature. In 1812 she published a novel (the precursor of many others) called “Self-Indulgence,” but in 1813 the affairs of the Princess of Wales involved more of her attention as they took a turn for the worse. She was bearer of a letter in January from the Princess to her husband, now Prince Regent, petitioning for freer intercourse with Princess Charlotte, her daughter, but on account of this embassy she was received in a most insulting manner.* During her term of waiting at the Princess's Court (she was then living at 13 Upper Brook Street and going much into society as well), she kept, as we shall see later, a full Diary and in it recorded her impressions and opinions as well as the foibles of her mistress, the Princess of Wales, for whom, in spite of her undignified conduct, she seems to have had a genuine compassion and a real though contemptuous affection. In 1814, the service of the Princess became, through her exhibition of favouritism, too compromising however, and on the excuse of taking her family to Geneva, Lady Charlotte went abroad, but she still remained on friendly terms with her former mistress and corresponded with the Princess and her suite. In October Lady Charlotte was somewhat surprised to find that the Princess of Wales, who had also gone abroad to seek a freer air, arrived also at Geneva, appeared in a bizarre manner at a ball where she was, and extracted a promise that she would rejoin her later during her journeys on the Continent. She accordingly left Nice for Genoa in April 1815 in the Princess of Wales' frigate, the Clorinda, joining the Princess at Genoa and went with her to Milan, not leaving her service finally until May 1815, having remained longer than any other member of her English suite, who could not suffer the favour the Princess showed to her ex-courier Bartolomeo Bergami. Lady Charlotte returned to England, “more eaten up with sentiment than ever,” says Miss Ferrier, and going
abroad again, displeased her family * and friends by marrying at Florence on March 17, 1818, a young clergyman of good birth who possessed a real taste for Art, the Rev. Edward John Bury, who had travelled in Italy with her eldest son, and under the name of Lady Charlotte Bury she was cited as a witness for the defence at the trial of Queen Caroline in 1820, and was in England during her sad last days and death. Her husband's extravagant tastes as well as her own impecunious circumstances forced Lady Charlotte, now in England, now abroad, to take up her pen anew,and her novels came thick and fast. She published “Conduct is Fate” (1822), “ Alla Giornata " (1826), “ Flirtation, a Marriage in High Life” (1828), “The Exclusives,” “The Separation” (1830), “The Disinherited,” “ The Ensnared” (1834), “The Devoted” (1836), “The Divorced,” “Love” (1837). “Family Records," “ The History of a Flirt ” (1840), and “The Manæuvring Mother" (1842). Her books sold well and she obtained (says N. P. Willis) as much as £200 for each of these sentimental tales. In addition she published a work in verse, “ The Three Sanctuaries of Tuscany,” in 1833, which was, owing to her husband's illustrations, of real value, and several religious books, the title of one of which (published also in 1830) “Suspirium Sanctorum ; or, Holy Breathings,” cannot fail to remind us of Thackeray's “Heavenly Chords” in his paper on “The Fashionable Authoress.”
Lady Charlotte, after many tempestuous and wandering years, died, still beautiful, and, in spite of what illinformed writers say, by no means alone and neglected,* but lovingly tended by her surviving daughters, Lady Arthur Lennox and Mrs. William Russell, at her own house, 91 Sloane Street, London, on March 31, 1861, having attained to the advanced age of eighty-six.
* Her family, some of whom made brilliant marriages, consisted of : (1) Walter Campbell of Islay ; (2) John; (3) Eliza, m. Sir William Cumming, Bart. ; (4) Eleonora, m. Lord Uxbridge, afterwards Marquis of Anglesey ; (5) Beaujolais, m. Earl of Charleville ; (6) Adelaide Constance, m. Lord Arthur Lennox ; (7) Emma, m. William Russell, Esq. ; (8) Julia, m. Langford-Brooke, Esq. She had one surviving daughter by her second marriage ; (9) Bianca Bury, m. David Lyon, Esq.
In 1838 there had been published the book which, now known under her name, was then anonymous and entitled the “ Diary Illustrative of the Times of George IV.” It is said that Mr. Bury, wanting money,t“ took possession of” Lady Charlotte's private journal, never intended for publication, that he “made a few alterations and additions, introducing some remarks on Lady Charlotte by way of disguise, and published it without her knowledge, adding many letters addressed to her.” To this were added very pharisaical notes and a few quasiembellishments or disguises, and the whole was printed with many internal evidences of hasty preparation for the Press. It had at once un succès de scandale and an immense sale. Of the “ Literary Gazette ” of Almack's, which indicated some of the characters, 5000 copies alone were sold. It was fiercely attacked in the reviews, which said it was vulgar, untrustworthy, unreliable or vulgar as they chose, and the best-known criticism which tore it to pieces was W. M. Thackeray's satire, “Skimmings from the Diary of George IV.," by C. Yellowplush, Esq. But though Thackeray had nothing too bad to say of the diary itself, this did not prevent him quoting some of its most pregnant passages when he desired to use them as brilliant illustrations of his immortal “ Four Georges.”
The extent of the Lady Charlotte's complicity in the publication of the Diary has been variously stated, * E.g. “Queens of Beauty," by W. Willmott Dixon.
2 vols. 1907 † See “ Three Generations of Fascinating Women,” p. 201, by Lady Charlotte Campbell's grand-daughter, Lady Russell of Swallowfield; but as the Rev. Edward John Bury died, aged forty-two, in May 1832, this must mean that he took possession of the journal and letters some time before the book was actually published.
but that the Diary-save for a few disguising facts -was the work of herself alone cannot possibly be denied. In spite of the “disguise " every one coupled her name with it, and indeed the thinness of the veil was obvious. Tom Hood penned the following lines :
The poor dear dead have been laid out in vain,
When I resign this world so briery,
To have across the Styx my ferrying,
I die without a DIARY!
And be interr'd without a BURY-ing ! which showed to whom popular rumour attributed the book. The Earl of Albemarle (1799–1891) quotes it in his “ Fifty Years of My Life,” as does Karoline Bauer in her “ Memoirs,” as of her authorship. Many of her friends were indignant when they saw it and did not wish to meet her, and Charles Kirkpatrick Sharpe, Lady Charlotte's own correspondent, wrote in a natural fury at its publication. “I cannot express my vexation about the book you mention . . . in all my reading and experience I never knew anything of the kind. When I wrote the silly, impertinent letters in question, between twenty and thirty years ago, I knew that I was writing to the Duke of Argyle's daughter, and thought myself safe by all the common rules of good breeding and morality. But I find I was extremely deceived. I could say more on this head, but my gratitude gets the better of my spleen, for I am eternally bound to remember that Lady Charlotte Bury is Lady Wemyss' sister-in-law and Mr. Campbell's mother."
The Diary gives, however, what no other book does, an account of the curious and undignified Court of Caroline, Princess of Wales, at home and abroad, and, purged of many of the unnecessary pharisaical notes which have disfigured the former editions, we now present it in this