Monthly Archives: February 2015

Mrs Campbell

‘Apart from Dr Nott, there were two other sub – preceptors, who came in as he did to teach English literature, French, German and modern history; and there were masters for music, dancing, drawing and writing. The only resident members of Charlotte’s tutorial staff were two widows who acted as sub – governesses, Mrs Campbell, whose husband had been a Governor of Bermuda, and Mrs Udney, whose husband, according to the Prince of Wales, had been the ugliest man he ever saw.

Mrs Campbell was small, angular and argumentative. Unknown to the Prince of Wales, who affected support for the Whig opposition, she was also, like Dr Fisher, a high Tory. But she was intelligent and strong – willed. As a governess she was strict but fair, and Charlotte respected her for that. Before long the Princess was announcing poignantly that Mrs Campbell and Dr Nott were her adopted parents.

[an extract from ‘Charlotte&Leopold’ by James Chambers]

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Picture: A plaque in the memory of Mrs Campbell’s late husband on the right wall of St. Peter’s Church in Bermuda taken from the page http://www.bermuda-online.org/history1700-1799.htm

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Dr George Nott

‘Deep down, Charlotte may have been disturbed by the extent to which Dr Fisher and Lady de Clifford argued, but the person who bore the brunt of the conflict was the Rev. Dr George Nott, her chaplain and sub – preceptor. Kindly, liberal, patient Dr Nott was responsible for religious instructions, English, Latin and ancient history, and he received conflicting instructions from the governess and preceptor in almost every field. On top of that, since he saw himself as Charlotte’s moral tutor, he added to his burden by trying to teach her to be honsest. But he was no more successful in that than in spelling. Charlotte wanted to mend her ways. She liked Dr Nott and was eager to please him. She told him so several times. In one note to him she wrote, “Let me most humbly implore your forgiveness…Never shall another lie come out of me.” But, like many children in discordant households, she had discovered that a little falsehood here and there could go a long way towards establishing her innocence or reducing the burden of her studies; it was a tool too useful to abandon completely.'[an extract from ‘Charlotte&Leopold’ by James Chambers]’But [Prince of Wales] made no attempt to settle the Bishop. His only desire was that the learned churchman, with daughters of his own, would cure Charlotte of telling lies. The Prince was well aware of his own tendency to lie when driven into a corner: “You know,” he once said to Lady Spencer, “you know that I don’t speak the truth, and that my brothers don’t…the Queen having taught us to prevaricate.” He hoped that the Bishop would teach Charlotte to be
truthful. But it was Dr. Nott, the Bishop’s assistant, who undertook this task. From eight to nine every morning, after reading prayers with the Princess, he gave her religious instruction and did his utmost to instil into her a determination to be honest as the day. “Never shall another lie come out of me!” she assured him in her impetuous way, and for the moment she meant it. She truly desired to please Dr. Nott. She wrote him little notes, telling him her problems, asking questions on religious matters: she had always taken an interest in religion, and when quite small had announced that in her opinion Joseph should not have been afraid of returning to Judea, when God had told him through an angel that he might do so. “But I leave that”, she ended, “to be settled by the Bishop of London and Lady Elgin.”

Dr. Nott always answered her notes most helpfully and kindly. He also tried to teach her English, Latin, and “Ancient” History for an hour and a half each day. It must have been uphill work. Charlotte was woefully ignorant: her education under Lady Elgin had been sketchy. Scholarly Dr. Nott was grieved by her handwriting and appalled by her spelling: she made mistakes, he said, “which a common servant would have blushed to have committed”.

He upbraided her for her laziness and lack of interest: “When are we to have the satisfaction of seeing your mind animated with a becoming pride and a generous resolution to improve?” he wrote after three months of unrewarding labour.

He also tried to curb her violent bursts of rage, but without success. Although truly penitent and anxious to please him, Charlotte went on scamping her homework, refusing to learn, and making scenes. In the end Dr. Nott broke down: the strain was too great.

Charlotte, now ten years old, was stricken with remorse: his illness was her fault. He might die, and she would be to blame. She prayed fervently, for forgiveness – God’s and Dr Nott’s – and for his recovery.

Fortunately, he survived. “Now”, wrote Charlotte, “I shall labour to recover your health by my industry, and wish to please and make you happy.”

[an extract from ‘Prinny’s Daughter: A Biography of Princess Charlotte of Wales’ by Thea Home]

dr nottPicture: Armorial bookplate of George Frederick Nott from http://www.flickr.com/photos/58558794@N07/8524211701/

Dr John Fisher, Bishop of Exeter

‘[Lady de Clifford] was not in overall command of Princess Charlotte’s education. That was a responsability for a man, a preceptor; at the instigation of the King, the office had been given to the Rt Rev. Dr John Fisher, Bishop of Exeter. Fisher was a favourite at Windsor Castle. He had been tutor to the Duke of Kent, Chaplain to the King, Clerk of the Closet and Canon of Windsor. He was sincerely pious and a connoisseur of painting and drawing. But he was pompous, humourless, dogmatic, wilful and absurdly old – fashioned. In the manner of a generation that had mostly died out towards the end of the eighteenth century, he still wore a wig and spoke affectedly. When referring to himself, which he did often, he pronounced the word bishop “bishup”, emphasising the last syllable. Within weeks of meeting him, nine – year – old Charlotte had nicknamed him “the Great UP”.

Lady de Clifford and the Prince of Wales were convinced that the King had appointed the Bishop to act as a spy and report back on everything that was happening at Warwick House. Delegating the duties of his distant diocese to his archdeacon, he called there regularly, sometimes as often as twice a week, and when he did he was almost always critical.

He argued constantly with Lady de Clifford about what Charlotte should be learning and how it should be taught to her. Their debates were heated, acrimonious and noisy, even in the presence of the Princess. But when that happened, Charlotte used to mock the Bishop behind his back, burdening Lady de Clifford with the added strain of trying to keep a straight face.

According to George Keppel, Charlotte had inherited her father’s talents for acting and mimicry. While the Bishop pontificated, she stood behind him jutting out her lower lip, waving her arms and generally ridiculing his expressions and mannerisms in an exaggerated mime.’

[an extract from ‘Charlotte&Leopold’ by James Chambers]

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Picture: Portrait of John Fisher by William Daniell, 1793

Friendship With George Keppel (1)

‘At Carlton House, Charlotte’s only playmate had been Annie Barnard, the orphaned niece of her father’s coachman. Annie lived with her uncle and his wife above the stables and played with the Princess every day. She even dined with her, and for a few months they did their lessons together. But the move to Warwick House, beyond the safety of the stable-yard gates, was enough to separate them.As a replacement for Annie, Lady de Clifford introduced the Princess to one of her grandsons, the Hon. George Keppel, who was three years younger than she was. George was a pupil nearby at Westminster School. He was brought round regularly in a coach to play with Charlotte at Warwick House – and to supplement his meagre school diet in the kitchens – and sometimes, appropriately chaperoned, she went round to visit him at the school.Over forty years later, after he had succeeded his brother as Earl of Albemarle, George wrote a memoir which contains many of the most endearing anecdotes about the childhood of the Princess with “blue eyes”, “peculiarly blond hair” and “beautifully shaped” hands and feet. Among all the usual stories about fisticuffs, bolting horses and tears, he described an afternoon when Charlotte, who was visiting his parents’ house in Earl’s Court, crept out through a side gate and joined in at the back of a crowd that had assembled outside the main gate in the hope of catching a glimpse of the Princess.

He also recorded an afternoon when he and Charlotte helped out in the kitchen at Warwick House. As a result of their efforts, Lady de Clifford was served a mutton chop that was so heavily dressed and over – peppered that she summoned the servants in fury. But he did not record whether the incident was an intentional prank or merely the result of childish over – enthusiasm.’

[an extract from ‘Charlotte&Leopold’ by James Chambers]

George Keppel 6thEarlOfAlbemarle

Picture: George Keppel, 6th Earl of Albemarle (1799-1891) by an unknown author

 

Lady de Clifford

Charlotte’s governess, Lady Elgin, has been asked to resign just before the move. Her only known offence had been to take Charlotte to visit her grandfather, the interfering old King. But she had done so without first obtaining permission from her father, and that had been more than enough to infuriate him (…)

In place of Lady Elgin, Charlotte’s father appointed the Dowager Lady de Clifford, a dignified but barely graceful Irish woman, who was well past fifty years old. She had lived for some time at the Palace of Versailles before the French Revolution; and the Prince, who, despite his many faults, was justifiably renowned for his deportment, hoped in vain that she might be able to imbue his daughter with some of the qualities of that most elegant of courts.

Charlotte was a temperamental tomboy, and Lady de Clifford was too good natured to discipline her effectively. Every time she tried to be strict, the Princess was more than a match for her. Charlotte might not have wanted to behave like a princess, but she was all too well aware that she was one, and she used the fact whenever it suited her.

On one occasion, when she burst merrily into a room, Lady de Clifford attempted to scold. “My dear Princess”, she said, “that is not civil; you should always shut the door after you when you come into a room”.

“Not I indeed”, said Charlotte. “If you want the door shut, ring the bell.”

Neither took their battles at heart, however. The antagonists were soon fond of each other, and Lady de Clifford did everything she could to make Charlotte’s life less lonely.

[an extract from ‘Charlotte&Leopold’ by James Chambers]

492px-Sophia,_mrs_Edward_Southwell,later Lady Clifford_by_Joshua_Reynolds

Picture: Sophia, mrs Edward Southwell, later Lady de Clifford (1743-1828) by Joshua Reynolds, 1766, Sotheby’s