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THE chief excellence of an historical Memoir of the private or public actions of an individual, rendered celebrated by the display and practice of eminent virtues, or the commission of heroic deeds, depends on its strict adherence to truth, and a positive rejection of all incidents or events which cannot be traced to an authentic or genuine source. In proportion, however, to the privacy of the mode of life which an individual may adopt, of whatever rank or station in life, is the difficulty of obtaining those authentic particulars, which ought to form the basis of the labours of the historian, 'and which alone can render him worthy of the confidence of the present age, or of posterity.
The life of the Princess Charlotte may be justly considered as one of privacy and seclusion; few of her actions transpired beyond the circuit of her own immediate residence, and were consequently only known to those few select individuals whom she honored with her confidence. To attempt, therefore, a faithful delineation of the private life of such an exalted individual, encircled but by few, and whose actions, though guided by the principles of virtue, possessed not any public notoriety from their splendor, or their political influence, might have been considered as wholly fruitless, in regard to a fidelity of colouring, or a strict adherence to those nice and distinct shades by which individual characters are particularly distinguished. The daily journalists, though guided by a laudable desire to catch every important event, as it floats down the stream of time, are yet often deceived in the validity or the truth of the objects which are presented to them; and thence a very nice discriminating power is necessary in the historian, who, from those
treasures, selects the materials with which his own fabric is to be erected. In the arrangement, therefore, of the following work, a greater attention has been paid to the sources of private than to public information; and it is with feelings of a just and grateful pride, that a public acknowledgment is here made by the author, of the disinterested manner in which certain eminent and illustrious individuals stepped forward to assist him in the prosecution of his work, and without whose aid many of those interesting traits in the character, and those important events in the life of the lamented Princess, which are now first made public, would, perhaps, have never digressed beyond the knowledge of the circle, in which her Royal Highness immediately moved. The confidence which has been reposed in the author by one exalted individual in particular, will be ever remembered, with the most genuine sentiments of respect and esteem, and in no single instance will it be found that it has been abused.
The mean and insidious attempts which have been made by disappointed individuals to call in question the authenticity of these memoirs, for the purpose of palming upon the public a crude and undigested work of their own, have throughout been met, on our part, with that contempt which they deserve. The distinguished patronage and support of an enlightened public have accompanied us through our arduous undertaking ; animated by their confidence, difficulties apparently insuperable have been overcome,
and whilst displaying for the benefit of posterity, one of the brightest examples of female excellence and virtue, the interests of the country in a political sense, have not been overlooked. We wish only to be tried by the test of excellence—the only Test which merit ever seeks.
IN future times, when the impartial historian collects for the advantage of posterity, the many momentous events wbich have characterized the present era, and from which the honour or the glory, the misery or the afflictions of the country have emanated,-in the wide range of his observations, no circumstance will rivet his attention more closely, or engross the powers of his heart and mind more forcibly, thạn that which has given rise to the present work.
Justly glorying in their political constitution, the people of this country attach a particular interest to every event which affects the succession to the throne. It is the grand principle of hereditary succession in one family, connected with the elevated rank assigned to royalty, that protects this nation against the evils of civil convulsions. The
attainment of sovereign power is no longer a matter of doubt, a speculation, amongst us ; it is as clearly ascertained and as well established as the order of nature. A subversion of the hereditary right of succession, either by forced or natural means, brings with it anarchy and confusion ; it is a wholesome check on the encroachment of aristocratical power, and it is now a truth, admitted by every one, that, without an hereditary monarchical government, England would not for a single month enjoy that freedom, which distinguishes her so particularly from other European states, and to which she is indebted for the elevated rank she holds in the scale of nations,
England, after one of the most arduous contests ever recorded in her'annals, in which, single-handed, she braved and defeated the confederated force of Europe, beheld herself rewarded for her exertions in the great cause of her national independence, and in the rescue of the majority of the European states from the lawless dominion of a tyrant's sceptre, by a glorious and an honourable peace. Admired and envied by surrounding nations, she stood triumphant on the pinnacle of her greatness ; and her people, renowned for excellence in every art and science, were looking forward to the enjoyment of those blessings resulting from an unrestricted state of commerce, and from a more general intercourse with the civilized world. The partial evils, the natural result of a sudden transition from a state of war to that of peace, were gradually dispersing, and the most cheering prospects began to dawn upon the country.
Amongst those prospects; the fairest, the brightest, the most exhilarating to the nation, was the interesting situation of the presumptive heiress to the British throne. - With her were connected the highest interests, as well as the highest hopes of the nation. She was the brightest ornament of the sphere in which she moved, a pattern to her own sex, and an object of universal admiration to the other. In the endearing relations of a daughter and a wife she had shone pre-eminent, and an admiring world hailed the approaching pea, riod when she was to shine forth in the still more tender one of mother. To her, the nation looked as the parent of its future sovereign; and well indeed was the expectation founded, that, under the guidance and
superintendence of such a mother, a being worthy of wielding the sceptre of this mighty empire would have fourished to maturity. Cradled