Monthly Archives: September 2015

Charlotte, Music and Books

When she was not riding or playing with her dogs or being taught subjects which did not interest her, Charlotte spent a great deal of time playing the piano and reading. ‘This is the only compagny I have…’ And a year later: ‘I apply to reading&musick more than ever, & am fonder of it. I play a great deal of Haydon’s musick and Mozart’s for piano and accompaniments.’ At Windsor she scraped together a small orchestra. ‘Col. Taylor comes generally every Sunday evening & brings his violincello [sic], so that together with the Griesbachs, we make up a tolerable concert.’

Her reading was varied and voracious. She found Madame de Staël’s ‘De la Littérature’ entertaining and instructive, while a Gothic novel, ‘The Sicilian Mysteries’, was ‘most interesting’. ‘It is in five vol.,’ she says, ‘full of mystery & remarkably well worked up.’ At the same time she was reading ‘Sense and Sensibility’ recommended by her uncle York. She shared her father’s appreciation of Jane Austen. ‘You feel quite one of the company,’ she says, and confesses that she identified herself with the emotional Maryanne. ‘I think Maryanne & me are very alike in disposition, that certainly I am not so good, the same imprudence, &c., however remain very like.’

Like most girls of her age, Charlotte admired Byron’s poetry, and went into ecstasies over each new work when it appeared. ‘I had the f i r s t that was issued,’ she said of ‘The Corsair’, ‘&  d e v o u r e d it twice in the course of the day.’ The poet himself was her pin-up.

‘Have you seen a new print of Lord Byron? I have got it and look at it very often. I admire it so very much & think it so very beautiful…’

But, studying the portrait, she shows some discernment.

‘I try to trace the man&his mind in it, but c a n n o t; it belies what he is, for it looks so l o v i n g and l o v e a b l e & something so very much above the common sort of beauty or what is regularly handsome.’

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

SenseAndSensibilityTitlePage

Picture: Title page of Sense and Sensibility’s first edition.

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Charlotte and Dogs

‘In Charlotte’s letters we hear of several dogs. One, a pug, was given to her by Lady Albemarle. “Pray,” wrote Charlotte before its arrival, “have the goodness to tell me how old the pug is. Pray give it a name, and tell me whether it is a female or not.” We do not know what name was given to the pug, but some years later Charlotte wrote to tell Lady de Clifford, “I have lost my Puff.” “We have advertised him,” she goes on, “at 2 guineas reward. I hope I shall find him.” But her grief over the loss was softened. “Papa has made me a present of a beautiful white Italian greyhound, with cropt ears, etc.” This creature was a prisoner of war, taken aboard a French ship, and had belonged to Napoleon’s Empress. Captain Lake,* who made the capture, brought the dog, said Charlotte, as an offering to the Prince. “But he said, I don’t care for dogs, I will send it to Charlotte who loves them.”

In December 1812, she announced proudly that Toby, who must have been female in spite of her name, “has at length presented me with 4 beautiful puppies, two black & two white and red: they are all alive and well…”‘

* Captain, afterwards Admiral Sir Willoughby Lake, R. N., Bart., at this time serving on the coast of Spain in command of the ‘Magnificent’.

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

greyhound_puppy2

Picture from http://furever.ca/greyhound-dog-gallery-cute-puppies-photos/

Charlotte and Horses

“I do not think her manner dignified, as a Princess’s ought to be, or, indeed, as I should wish a daughter of mine to behave.” Lady Albinia Cumberland, Lady of the Bedchamber to the younger princesses, watched Charlotte disapprovingly when she was at Windsor in the summer of 1811. Rather grudgingly she admits that Charlotte’s riding is “beautiful-no fear of course-gallops and leaps over every ditch like a schoolboy…” But she criticizes her swaggering manner (“not at all en princesse”) and her habit of “twanging hands” with all the men. Indeed, from her description it would seem that Charlotte at fifteen was altogether too big for her boots. “She…is in awe of no one and glories in her independent way of thinking…Her passion,” adds Lady Albinia, “is horses.” Horses and dogs were, indeed, important to the young princess. Riding was her chief happiness.

In October 1807, when she was eleven years old, the Prince had given her a pony. ‘You could not have given me anything I so much wished for,’ she wrote, and added, ‘I hope some time or other my dear papa will see me mount my charming little pony.’

She was given permission to ride in the grounds of Carlton House because the doctors said that riding would be beneficial to her health. Berkeley Paget recounts how the Prince boasted of his daughter’s prowess as an equestrienne-‘turning the corners in a gallop, stopping short on the horse’s tail, &c., on which I said “Her Royal Highness must have pretty good nerves, Sir.” “God damn you, isn’t she my daughter?” was the reply. I immediately assented to it, with the strongest assurance that the firmness of his Royal nerves was universally held up as an example.’

One of the few advantages of staying at Windsor, from Charlotte’s point of view, was that she could go for long rides in the Park and Forest. The stables were filled with splendid horses, eating their heads off, and now that the King could no longer enjoy his daily ride, the grooms must have welcomed the spirited young princess who rode so fearlessly and well-even if she did give one of them a cut across the back when he got in her way. ‘This was in good humour, though,’ said Lady Albinia Cumberland kindly.

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

horse and charlotte

The Drawers Are Showing

‘By this time, though they [Charlotte and George Keppel] were good friends, it will be seen that Lady de Clifford had very little control over Charlotte. Lady Glenbervie was shocked by the young Princess’s manners when dining at Kensington Palace. In the drawing-room, Charlotte sat with her legs stretched out in front of her-a boy’s attitude. “My dear Princess Charlotte, you show your drawers!” cried Lady de Clifford (long drawers, in 1812, were a new fashion). Charlotte, without moving, explained that she never showed them except when at her ease. “Yes, my dear, but when you get in or out of a carriage…” “I don’t care if I do.” “Your drawers,” insisted the Dowager, “are too long.” “I don’t think so. The Duchess of Bedford’s are much longer, and they are bordered with Brussels lace.”

Lady de Clifford had to admit defeat.

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

charlotte and lady de clifford