And, strange though it may seem, this pretty, childish fancy has been often used to support the belief that Fitzroy and she were really man and wife. Mrs. Villiers, however, who was Amelia's constant and most intimate companion during her later years, has testified to the utter falsity of all such statements. But such testimony, surely, is unnecessary; Amelia's letters alone are sufficient proof, and two, at any rate, both written in 1707, are worthy of being quoted. The first is particularly interesting. The modern girl, perhaps, really is not so terribly modern, after all. She may smoke like a man, she may want to vote like a man, but her predecessors took snuff like men, even the gentle Amelia.
"My ever beloved Angel," she wrote to Fitzroy from Weymouth, "I do hope I shall see you. How I long for it ! This is a fine day for Ld. B's marriage, which I hope is a good omen for him, but to me it is melancholy, for I envy those who can marry. I shall send you some commissions to execute for me-that is, to get a watch mended, my curb chain . . . and to get me some snuff. ... If I should meet you out, will-you, my dear love, come up to me? Remember, you must come to my side of the carriage, and I sit on the right side. . . ."
. This was written in February. The following is an extract from a later letter: " Your dear letter-o, what a treasure ! I shall keep it and read it over and over every day. I do esteem you and love you the better. If we go to town you shall hear to-night, but I hope not. I long for a comfortable ride. Pray don't alter in your manner to me in anything, you dear Angel. I really must marry you, though inwardly united, and in reality that is much more than the ceremony, yet that ceremony would be a protection. O my precious darling, how often do I say-would to God my own husband and best friend and guardian were here to protect me and assist me, as I am sure was destined in Heaven, I should have nothing to fear."
"I envy those who can marry"; "I really must marry "-such phrases surely prove conclusively that no secret ceremony had been performed. In another year, moreover, Amelia would be twenty-five, and, in spite of ill-health, she was wildly excited at the thought of laying her declaration before the Privy Council. But before she could do this, there were many difficulties to be encountered. Although, at this time, it seemed that love ultimately would surely triumph, it was impossible that the peace of the last few years should remain long undisturbed, for Amelia was reckless; she made no effort to conceal her feelings. "Conscious innocence," declared Mrs.villiers, prevented her from pausing "to consider the opinion of the world, and she gloried in her attachment to so honourable and upright a man as Charles Fitzroy."
Reports and rumours, therefore, spread rapidly in all directions, and, in the latter part of the year 1808, Miss Gomme received several anonymous letters accusing her of connivance. In order to save herself, Miss Gomme endeavoured to throw the blame upon the Queen, and on one occasion was so foolish as to declare that Her Majesty had promised to give her approval to the marriage as soon as the King was dead. The Queen, naturally, was greatly angered by these statements, but, as usual, caution won the day. And now, to keep the matter from the notice of the King, it would be necessary to exercise extreme caution. Accordingly, she addressed a remarkable letter to Amelia, a letter in which she tried to give the impression that she had only just heard of her daughter's attachment.
"You are now beginning to enter into years of discretion," she wrote, "and will, I do not doubt, see how necessary it is to subdue at once every Passion in the beginning, and to consider the impropriety of indulging any impression which must make you miserable, and be a disgrace to yourself and a misery to all who love you. Add to this the melancholy situation of the King at this present moment (George III. was mad), who, could he be acquainted of what has passed, would be miserable for all his life, and I fear it would create a breach in the whole family."
This, surely, was a foolish policy for the Queen to adopt-it was too late in the day now for her to pose as the wise and thoughtful mother. And subsequent events proved that this was so, for the effect of the letter upon the Princess was to make her seriously to consider the question of an elopement. Indeed, it was only by appealing to her affection for her father that Mrs. Villiers was able to dissuade her from going to Fitzroy then and there and imploring him to put an end to all delay.
However, even had she failed,- there can be no doubt but that Fitzroy himself would have succeeded, for his was not the character of the dauntless hero of romance, prepared always to assume the initiative or to take the law into his hands. No; in Amelia's lover the fire of duty burned even more strongly than the flame of love; he was a solid, phlegmatic Britisher. Besides, so he argued with himself, if he defied the law and obeyed his heart, he would lose his position at Court. That he could not afford to do, for he was but a younger son, and his small fortune was much too slender to support a disinherited princess.
Eventually, however, in spite of all precautions, the inevitable happened; the King heard the story of Amelia's love-affair. This took place in the spring of 1808, and an angry interview between father and daughter followed-a very angry interview, for Amelia subsequently referred to George as her "late father." This breach with the King was the sorest of all her trials, and the bitterness of her sorrow was intensified by the fact that in her hour of need the family all forsook her, with one exception. The Prince of Wales stood by her nobly, and his help strengthened her not a little. But this is not surprising, for but rarely has a man been endowed with a more tender and captivating manner than the prince who subsequently became King George IV.
The King's estrangement from Amelia, however, was not of long duration, for, at any rate so far as his youngest daughter was concerned, George III. was an indulgent father. But this quarrel, the culmination of all her trials, proved fatal to the Princess. Her health, already greatly overtaxed, broke down completely, and the symptoms were unmistakably the symptoms of consumption. The Shadow of Death
The shadow of death already lay broad across her path. Amelia saw it, but, none the less, as soon as she became twenty-five, still hoping against hope, she presented her marriage petition to the Privy Council. Perhaps she might be able to marry, even yet. For a while she was buoyed up by hope. And then, when months elapsed, and still Parliament did not utter one word of dissent, hope became confidence, and her health and spirits both revived.
The rally, however, was but a temporary one; she could not throw off the fatal malady, and, although it did not claim her finally until November 2, 1810, death marched towards her with slow but certain footsteps.
The King was distracted with grief when he realised that Amelia was dying, and, poor man, blind though he was, he used to visit her bedside daily. General Fitzroy accompanied him, and his sorrow was even harder to bear, because it had to be borne in silence.
During one of these visits (it was the last visit) Amelia slipped on her father's finger a ring which had been made specially. On it was a crystal tablet containing a lock of hair, and it was inscribed with the words "Amelia-Remember Me."
"Pray wear this for my sake," she said, "and I hope you will not forget me."
"That I can never do," replied the King. "You are engraven on my heart." Then he burst into tears and, bending down, kissed her-for the last time.
FitzRoy, however, contrived also to see Amelia privately. In this, the Princesses Mary and Augusta helped him, and for hours he would sit talking, a faithful lover, by the bedside of the suffering invalid whose devotion to him was robbing her of life.
The inevitable end was slow in coming, very slow, but at length a note arrived for him. It was from Princess Mary. Fitzroy knew what it contained. He opened it. "My dear Fitzroy," it ran, "our beloved Amelia is no more, but her last words to me were, 'tell Charles I die blessing him.' Before I leave this house, I obey her. last wishes. Far or near, your affectionate friend, Mary."
Thus ends the story. At the funeral no place could be found for the chief and truest mourner. And, in spite of its tragic pathos, it is a pretty story.
In 1816 General Fitzroy married, but the memory of the Princess Amelia never faded from his mind, and it was that memory alone which, in after years, gave Mrs. Fitzroy cause for jealousy. famous love passages in english literature: