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PRINTED FOR WILLIAM SAMS,
BOOKSELLER TO HIS ROYAL HIGHNESS THE DUKE OF YORK,
SOLD ALSO BY W. BLACKWOOD, EDINBURGH;
C. P. ARCHER, BOOKSELLER TO HIS MAJESTY, DUBLIN ;
TO ALL OUR LOVING SUBJECTS
HOWEVER EXALTED IN RANK OR HUMBLE IN STATION,
Sends alike his most affectionate greeting.
THE liberty of the press does not permit to your King, the possibility of remaining ignorant of passing events, or unaffected by the public agitation: at one and the same time it conveys to me sentiments of satisfaction or grounds of complaint; the promised support of the constitutional, and the threat of the disaffected. My own conduct, the measures of my executive, the state of my kingdom, and the condition of my subjects, are placed before me in as many various, confused, and contradictory positions, as the greater or lesser degree of information, the rivalship of party, the animosity of prejudice, or the insidiousness of faction alternately suggest. In this chaos of contrariety, to me the first great difficulty is, to discover the truth; the next, so to manage the discovery, as to produce from it some sound and dispassionate course of action.
This liberty of the press, in itself a great abstract good, capable alike of being converted into a bane or antidote; and, by discreet and conscientious management, capable also of promoting and effect,
ing immortal benefits to mankind, or inflicting upon them irremediable ills, keeps up at least a constant communication between us, depriving the courtier of the power of concealing from his Sovereign public opinion, and placing him within the effect of inquiry. With such a constant possibility of explanation, a Monarch may be misguided, but cannot be uninformed; he may adopt decisive rules of government, but cannot remain ignorant of their effects.
Although it is presumed that I become acquainted with political occurrences and opinions, solely through the channel of my official advisers, and can only constitutionally address my people through the regular organ of parliament, or of my council; yet, at this momentous crisis, pregnant with evil to our common country, and to me so interesting as a man and a husband, but above all, as the inheritor of my Royal Father's crown, the form and mode of this communication may stand shielded and excused, in the generally anomalous character of the circumstances to which I shall hereafter advert: nor, on so singular an occasion, do I think it derogatory to the dignity of my exalted station, to attempt the dispersion of a mist, in which too many of my subjects have wandered, led on by a generous delusion.
I will not accuse, I do not accuse, of disaffection either to my person or government, all who are advocates for the cause of the Queen; for in that cause, I perceive plainly a variety of motives in activity; in the combination of those motives, differing widely from each other, the immediate danger appears to consist: but it is also, from their dis
cordance, that future tranquillity may be expected. I am persuaded that, could my subjects upon reflection, be brought to consider the probability of my being an injured and calumniated Prince, they would abstain from further insult to the crown inherited from GEORGE THE THIRD. I am also persuaded that public opinion, although forced into extremes by the goadings of a portion of the daily press, alike unrestrained by truth, and as devoid of principle, as lost to the common civilities of society, would soon right itself; when a plain and simple narrative (such as any man of reasonable mind might comprehend) should supersede the distorted and tortured facts which have lately preoccupied too great a part of the nation.
So many years have elapsed since the period of my unhappy marriage, that it may not be inexpedient (indeed, it appears absolutely necessary, in order to develope certain springs of action) to recall the times and circumstances in which, and by which, this event was produced.
The French Revolution was at its height; the Royal Family of France had been murdered; Holland had imbibed the revolutionary mania, and the Stadtholder had fled to this protecting country; at home, a traitorous spirit was actively at work; trials for high treason had served only to increase the insolence of faction, and foster rebellion; Ireland was on the verge of open revolt: and every political appearance threatened an attempt upon the constitution of these realms; a dreadful war was raging: yet, amidst and in the face of all these evils, it was the wish of my Royal Father to strengthen the succession to the throne of these realms; and the more