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The Creevey Papers
Thomas Creevey, Notes of a Conversation with the Duke of Kent, 11 December 1817

Vol. I. Contents
Ch. I: 1793-1804
Ch. II: 1805
Ch. III: 1805
Ch. IV: 1806-08
Ch. V: 1809
Ch. VI: 1810
Ch. VII: 1811
Ch. VIII: 1812
Ch. IX: 1813-14
Ch X: 1814-15
Ch XI: 1815-16
Ch XII: 1817-18
Ch XIII: 1819-20
Vol. II. Contents
Ch I: 1821
Ch. II: 1822
Ch. III: 1823-24
Ch. IV: 1825-26
Ch. V: 1827
Ch. VI: 1827-28
Ch. VII: 1828
Ch. VIII: 1829
Ch. IX: 1830-31
Ch. X: 1832-33
Ch. XI: 1833
Ch. XII: 1834
Ch XIII: 1835-36
Ch XIV: 1837-38
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“. . . The Duke begun, to my great surprise, a conversation upon the death of the Princess Charlotte, and upon an observation from me upon the derangement of the succession to the throne by this event, and

* See vol. i. p. 284.

of the necessity of the unmarried Princes becoming married, if the crown was to be kept in their family; and having in addition asked him, I believe, what he thought the Regent would do on the subject of a divorce, and whether he thought the
Duke of Clarence would marry, the Duke of Kent, to the best of my recollection, and I would almost say word for word, spoke to me as follows.

“‘My opinion is the Regent will not attempt a divorce. I know persons in the Cabinet who will never consent to such a measure. Then, was he to attempt it, his conduct would be exposed to such recrimination as to make him unpopular, beyond all measure, throughout the country. No: he never will attempt it. Besides, the crime of adultery on her part must be proved in an English court of justice, and if found guilty she must be executed for high treason. No: the Regent will never try for a divorce.

“‘As for the Duke of York, at his time of life and that of the Duchess, all issue, of course, is out of the question. The Duke of Clarence, I have no doubt, will marry if he can; but the terms he asks from the Ministers are such as they can never comply with. Besides a settlement such as is proper for a Prince who marries expressly for a succession to the Throne, the Duke of Clarence demands the payment of all his debts, which are very great, and a handsome provision for each of his ten natural children. These are terms that no Ministers can accede to. Should the Duke of Clarence not marry, the next prince in succession is myself; and altho I trust I shall be at all times ready to obey any call my country may make upon me, God only knows the sacrifice it will be to make, whenever I shall think it my duty to become a married man. It is now seven-and-twenty years that Madame St. Laurent and I have lived together: we are of the same age, and have been in all climates, and in all difficulties together; and you may well imagine, Mr. Creevey, the pang it will occasion me to part with her. I put it to your own feeling—in the event of any separation between you and Mrs. Creevey. . . . As for Madame St. Laurent herself, I protest I don’t know what is to become of her if a
marriage is to be forced upon me; her feelings are already so agitated upon the subject. You saw, no doubt, that unfortunate paragraph in the
Morning Chronicle, which appeared within a day or two after the Princess Charlotte’s death; and in which my marrying was alluded to. Upon receiving the paper containing that article at the same time with my private letters, I did as is my constant practice, I threw the newspaper across the table to Madame Saint Laurent, and began to open and read my letters. I had not done so but a very short time, when my attention was called to an extraordinary noise and a strong convulsive movement in Madame St. Laurent’s throat. For a short time I entertained serious apprehensions for her safety; and when, upon her recovery, I enquired into the occasion of this attack, she pointed to the article in the Morning Chronicle relating to my marriage.

“‘From that day to this I am compelled to be in the practice of daily dissimulation with Madame St. Laurent, to keep this subject from her thoughts. I am fortunately acquainted with the gentlemen in Bruxelles who conduct the Liberal and Oracle newspapers; they have promised me to keep all articles upon the subject of my marriage out of their papers, and I hope my friends in England will be equally prudent. My brother the Duke of Clarence is the elder brother, and has certainly the right to marry if he chooses, and I would not interfere with him on any account. If he wishes to be King—to be married and have children, poor man—God help him! let him do so. For myself—I am a man of no ambition, and wish only to remain as I am. . . . Easter, you know, falls very early this year—the 22nd of March. If the Duke of Clarence does not take any step before that time, I must find some pretext to reconcile Madame St. Laurent to my going to England for a short time. St. George’s day is the day now fixed for keeping the birthday, and my paying my respects to the Regent on that day will be a sufficient excuse for my appearing in England. When once there, it will be easy for me to consult with my friends as to the proper steps to be taken. Should the Duke of Clarence do nothing before that time as to marrying, it will become my
duty, no doubt, to take some measures upon the subject myself.

“‘You have heard the names of the Princess of Baden and the Princess of Saxe-Cobourg mentioned. The latter connection would perhaps be the better of the two, from the circumstance of Prince Leopold being so popular with the nation; but before anything is proceeded with in this matter, I shall hope and expect to see justice done by the Nation and the Ministers to Madame St. Laurent. She is of very good family and has never been an actress, and I am the first and only person who ever lived with her. Her disinterestedness, too, has been equal to her fidelity. When she first came to me it was upon £100 a year. That sum was afterwards raised to £400, and finally to £1000; but when my debts made it necessary for me to sacrifice a great part of my income, Madame St. Laurent insisted upon again returning to her income of £400 a year. If Mad. St. L. is to return to live amongst her friends, it must be in such a state of independence as to command their respect. I shall not require very much, but a certain number of servants and a carriage are essentials. Whatever the Ministers agree to give for such purposes must be put out of all doubt as to its continuance. I shall name Mr. Brougham, yourself and two other people on behalf of Madame St. Laurent for this object.

“‘As to my own settlement, as I shall marry (if I marry at all) for the succession, I shall expect the Duke of York’s marriage to be considered the precedent. That was a marriage for the succession, and £25,000 for income was settled, in addition to all his other income, purely on that account. I shall be contented with the same arrangement, without making any demands grounded upon the difference of the value of money in 1792 and at present. As for the payment of my debts, I don’t call them great. The nation, on the contrary, is greatly my debtor.’

“Here a clock striking in the room where we were seemed to remind the Duke he was exceeding his time, and he came to a conclusion almost instantly, and I retired.”