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One of my informants was a German bookbinder of great respectability, settled in London, and for many years employed by the Admiralty as a confidential binder of records or journals containing secrets of office, &c. Through this connection he had been recommended to the service of his Majesty, whom he used to see continually in the course of his attendance at Buckingham House, where the books were deposited. This bookbinder had, originally, in the way of his trade, become well acquainted with the money value of English books; and that knowledge cannot be acquired without some concurrent knowledge of their subject and their kind of merit. Accordingly he was tolerably well qualified to estimate any man's attainments as a reading man; and from him I received such circumstantial accounts of many conversations he had held with the King, evidently reported with entire good faith and simplicity, that I cannot doubt the fact of his Majesty's very general acquaintance with English literature. Not a day passed, whenever the King happened to be at Buckingham House, without his coming into the binding-room and minutely inspecting the progress of the binder and his allies the gilders, toolers, &c. From the outside of the book the transition was natural and pretty constant to its value in the scale of bibliography; and in that way my informant had ascertained that the King was well acquainted, not only with Robert of Gloucester, but with all the other early chronicles, &c., published by Hearne, and in fact possessed that entire series which rose at one period to so enormous a price. From this person I learnt afterwards that the King prided himself especially upon his early folios of Shakspeare; that is to say, not merely upon the excellence of the individual copies in a bibliographical sense, as tall copies' and having large margins, &c., but chiefly from their value in relation to
the most authentic basis for the text of the poet. And thus it appears, that at least two of our Kings, Charles I. and George III., have made it their pride to profess a reverential esteem for Shakspeare. This bookbinder added his attestation to the truth (or to the generally reputed truth) of a story which I had heard from higher authority — viz. that the librarian, or, if not officially the librarian, at least the chief director in everything relating to the books, was an illegitimate son of Frederick, Prince of Wales, (son to George II.,) and therefore half-brother of the King. His own taste and inclinations, it seemed, concurred with his brother's wishes in keeping him in a subordinate rank and an obscure station; in which, however, he enjoyed affluence without anxiety, or trouble, or courtly envy — and the luxury, which he most valued, of a superb library. He lived and died, I have heard, as plain Mr. Barnard. At one time I disbelieved this story, (which possibly may have been long known to the public,) on the ground that even George III. would not have differed so widely from princes in general as to leave a brother of his own, however unaspiring, wholly undistinguished by public honors. But having since ascertained that a naval officer, wellknown to my own family, and to a naval brother of my own in particular, by assistance rendered to him repeatedly when a midshipman in changing his ship, was undoubtedly an illegitimate son of George Ill., and yet that he never rose higher than the rank of Post Captain, though privately acknowledged by his father and other members of the Royal Family, I found the insufficiency of that objection. The fact is, and it does honor to the King's memory he reverenced the moral feelings of his country, which are, in this and in all points of domestic morals, severe and high-toned, [I say it in defiance of writers, such as Lord Byron, Mr. Hazlitt, &c., who hated alike the just and the
unjust pretensions of England,] in a degree absolutely incomprehensible to Southern Europe. He had his frailties like other children of Adam; but he did not seek to court and fix the public attention upon them, after the fashion of Louis Quatorze, or our Charles II. There were living witnesses (more than one) of his aberrations as of theirs; but he, with better feelings than they, did not choose, by placing these witnesses upon a pedestal of honor, surmounted by heraldic trophies, to emblazon his own transgressions to coming generations, and to force back the gaze of a remote posterity upon his own infirmi ties. It was his ambition to be the father of his people in a sense not quite so literal. These were things, however, of which at that time I had not heard.
During the whole dialogue, I did not even once remark that hesitation and iteration of words, generally attributed to George III.; indeed, so generally, that it must often have existed; but in this case, I suppose that the brevity of his sentences operated to deliver him from any embarrassment of utterance, such as might have attended longer or more complex sentences, where an anxiety was natural to overtake the thoughts as they arose. When we observed that the King had paused in his stream of questions, which succeeded rapidly to each other, we understood it as a signal of dismissal; and making a profound obeisance, we retired backwards a few steps; his Majesty smiled in a very gracious manner, waved his hand towards us, and said something in a peculiarly kind accent which we did not distinctly hear; he then turned round, and the whole party along with him; which set us at liberty without impropriety to turn to the right about ourselves, and make our egress from the gardens.
This incident, to me at my age, was very naturally one of considerable interest. But the reflection, to which I
alluded above, as one which, even at those years, it forcibly impressed upon me, suggested itself often afterwards, and at the moment of recording it in a journal which I kept, or tried to keep, at that period. It was this: Was it possible that much truth of a general nature, bearing upon man and social interests, could ever reach the ear of a King, under the etiquette of a court, and under that one rule which seemed singly sufficient to foreclose all natural avenues to truth - - the rule, I mean, by which it is forbidden to address a question to the King. I was well aware, before I saw him, that in the royal presence, like the dead soldier in Lucan, whom the mighty enchantress tortures back into a momentary life, I must have no voice except for answers.
" vox illi linguaque tantum
I was to originate nothing myself; and at my age, before so exalted a personage, the mere instincts of reverential demeanor would at any rate have dictated that rule. But what becomes of that man's general condition of mind in relation to all the great objects moving on the field of human experience, where it is a law generally for almost all who approach him, that they shall confine themselves to replies, absolute responses, or at most to a prosecution or carrying forward of a proposition delivered by the protagonist, or supreme leader of the conversation? For it must be remembered that, generally speaking, the effect of putting no question, is to transfer into the other party's hands the entire originating movement of the dialogue; and thus, in a musical metaphor, the great man is the sole modulator and determiner of the key in which the conversation proceeds. It is true, that sometimes, by a little travelling beyond the question in your answer, you may
enlarge the basis, so as to bring up the new train of thought which you wish to introduce; and may suggest fresh matter as effectually, as if you had the liberty of more openly guiding the conversation either by way of question, or by direct origination of a topic; but this depends on skill to improve an opening, or vigilance to seize it at the instant, and, after all, much upon accident : to say nothing of the crime, a sort of petty treason perhaps, or, what is it? if you should be detected in your improvements' and enlargements of basis.' Freedom. of communication, unfettered movement of thought, there can be none under such a ritual, which tends violently to a Byzantine, or even to a Chinese result of freezing, as it were, all natural and healthy play of the faculties under the petrific mace of absolute ceremonial and fixed precedent. For it will hardly be objected that the privileged condition of a few official Councillors and Ministers of State, whose hurry and oppression of thought from public care will rarely allow them to speak on any other subject than business, can be a remedy large enough for so large an evil. True it is, that a peculiarly frank or jovial temperament in a sovereign may do much for a season to thaw this punctilious reserve and ungenial constraint; but that is an accident, and personal to an individual. And, on the other hand, to balance even this, and for the moment, I have remarked, that, in all noble and fashionable society, where there happens to be a pride in sustaining what is deemed a good tone in conversation, it is peculiarly aimed at (and even artificially managed), that no lingering or loitering upon one theme, no protracted discussion, shall be allowed. And, doubtless, as regards merely the treatment of convivial or purely social communication of ideas, (which also is a great art,) this practice is right. I admit willingly that an uncultured brute, who is detected