Prince Augustus Frederick

His Royal Highness


Prince Augustus Frederick, Duke of Sussex

Earl of Inverness, Baron Arklow, K.G.K.T.G.C.H.


(27th, January, 1773 – 21st, April, 1843)

WE have much pleasure in presenting the public with an admirable Likeness of this popular Prince, engraved from an enamel by J. Lee, after a Portrait painted by Mr. Phillips, the highly-esteemed and excellent Academician.

His Royal Highness, the sixth son of His late Majesty George III. and his Queen Charlotte, was born on the 27th of January, 1773. Like the other sons of this illustrious race, his education was carefully attended to ; and, being destined to neither of the warlike professions, his mind was cultivated, in civil studies and polite literature, for a longer season than was allowed to several of his elder brethren. Richly stored with classical learning, and gifted with prepossessing talents, His Royal Highness sought the farther improvement of travel, at an early age. The unsettled state of the continent about this period rendered Italy the most eligible country to visit ; and, at Rome, immediately after he had completed his twentieth year, this Prince married the Lady Augusta Murray, daughter of John, the fourth Earl of Dunmore. This marriage took place on the 4th of April, 1793; and the ceremony was again performed at St. George's Church, Hanover Square, on the 5th of December following. These nuptials, however, being declared to be contrary to the provisions of the Royal Marriage Act, the 12th of George III., chap. 2, were legally dissolved in August, 1794, but without impeaching the virtuous character of the lady who was so deeply concerned in this decision (In 1806 her Ladyship assumed, by Royal permission, the title of Countess de Ameland, which she bore to the recent period of her death).The issue of this union were, a son, the present Colonel Sir Augustus Frederic D'Este, born the 13th of January, 1794 ; and a daughter, Miss D'Este, whose name is now frequently seen in the courtly records of the day, as an attendant and companion to our gracious Queen.

For a considerable time, the Prince took no share in public affairs ; but, being created a Peer of the realm, by the titles prefixed to this Memoir, on the 7th of November, 1801, he was called upon to take his seat in the House of Lords, and avow his principles as a politician. He espoused the side of the Whigs, and, indeed, of that portion of them which held the most liberal opinions ; and with this party he has acted warmly and consistently to the present hour. As a speaker in Parliament, His Royal Highness has not upon very many occasions addressed their Lordships ; but, whenever any important occurrences have induced him to stand forward, he has distinguished himself by the force and clearness of his reasoning, the ability with which he maintained great constitutional principles, and the comprehensiveness of his general views. His delivery is fluent and impressive; and, without dwelling at length upon his arguments, they have always produced a powerful effect both upon his hearers and the country.

But it is not in the senate that we have to seek either the most frequent or the most beneficial efforts of His Royal Highness. Though the duties of his high and responsible station, as a Prince and a Peer, have not been neglected, the vast proportion of his life has been zealously and assiduously spent in promoting the cause of charity, the interests of literature, and the advancement of useful institutions in every quarter where a claim could be preferred to his patronage, his aid, and his example. In these respects, the civilized world cannot shew forth a princely instance at all approaching in desert to His Royal Highness ; whose services to humanity at large, and to its local and national associations in particular, have justly gained for him the applause and honor of the benevolent and the good. The devotion of his time to meetings of every description where a charitable or patriotic object has been contemplated, has, indeed, entitled him to the
utmost approbation of every class of his contemporaries, who have had opportunities of witnessing the wide and active sphere of his exertion. Whether to provide for the orphans of poor publicans—for the solace of the sick and the afflicted, in the hospitals of Jew or 'Christian—for the relief of the unfortunate artist and literary labourer, their widows and helpless children—for the encouragement of industry—for the distinction of talent, and the reward of ingenuity—in short, for the alleviation of misery wheresoever it existed, and the crowning of merit wheresoever it appeared—the one in the darkest recesses of wretchedness, the other in the humblest walks of society—the unwearied exertions of the Duke of Sussex have justly attracted to his head the blessings of tens of thousands ; to -his heart, the affectionate sympathies of all. This is not the language of inflated panegyric. We are free to say, in this free land, that there have been passages in the public course of His Royal Highness, which our individual praise could not attend ; but we have witnessed so many of his able, earnest, and most efficient labours of love and charity, that we are sure neither political prejudices, however jaundiced, nor other motives, however parsimonious of commendation, could withhold from him the meed of gratitude and fame.

It is not the mere presidency at an anniversary dinner—the falling in with a custom almost peculiar to England, the taking the chair, as it is called, for this or that purpose—which in themselves command our applause ; it is the sight of a Prince of the blood-royal, encumbered with burdens upon every moment of his time, or allured to other and brighter scenes of enjoyment, by all that wealth, power, and luxury can bring—it is the sight of such an individual ministering continually to the useful and the beneficent, which has secured to His Royal Highness so large a share of well-earned popularity. And we ought to estimate these matters, not merely by the means employed, but rather by the good done, and the pattern set. Herein is the virtue and its product.

The exalted and the noble have, in this simple way, much within their competency ; nor is the sacrifice hard, by which they may accomplish the object. On the contrary, the path is not unpleasant, and, after a few hours passed in stimulating by eloquence, sympathy, or example, any assembly of sensible men to an act of benevolence, the proudest and most aristocratic spirit in the kingdom might happily reflect on the golden opinions won, even if the better feeling of nature did not predominate—a feeling that, by a gracious act, the bed of sickness would be soothed, the pangs of death itself alleviated, the wounds of mental anguish healed, the energies of genius revived.

Were it possible to trace mixed causes distinctly to mixed effects, or individual cases of distress to the origin of their alleviation, the Duke of Sussex might, a hundred times a year, lay his head upon his pillow, not merely with an indefinite consciousness of having done well, but with a pure conviction of having, that day among the rest, diminished the sufferings, and cheered the hearts, of hundreds of his fellow-creatures. We invoke the lofty, the great, and the opulent, to imitate this illustrious example ;—they will find that, in thus contributing to the good of others, they are pursuing the certain road to self-contentment in their own consciences, and to secure universal esteem and popularity.

In the chair at such meetings as those to which we have alluded, His Royal Highness is distinguished for the urbanity of his manner—the skill with which he seizes any circumstance of the passing moment, to promote the design in hand—the good-humour with which he enlivens the assembly—and the sterling sense of his addresses, whether directed to the passions or the reason of his auditors.

In private society, his condescension is equally to be admired ; and those who have enjoyed the honor of associating with him in more limited circles, while they are attached by his affability and kindness, are also delighted by the extent of his information, and his superior knowledge of books and of the world.
By the possession of such qualities, His Royal Highness continually augments the number of his friends, and diminishes the aggregate of those who may have been adverse to him. An instance of this kind occurred, in relation to the recent election of President of the Royal Society. Here party spirit ran very high, and the dissension could scarcely be more inveterate : yet so graciously and judiciously has His Royal Highness conducted himself since, that he has vanquished the objections of his warmest opponents ; and we have heard them acknowledge, within the brief space of a few weeks, that the affairs of the Society could not have been placed under a more able head, its members brought into contact with a more gentleman-like President, or its interests confided to a more liberal and enlightened patron. If, therefore, conciliation has achieved so much already, we think we may fairly anticipate many advantages to this learned body, when the declared intentions of His Royal Highness are carried into full effect, and frequent meetings at Kensington Palace shall unite the Fellows more closely with each other, as well as with foreigners of distinction in letters and science, who visit this country.

For many years previous to becoming President of the Royal Society, His Royal Highness has been President of the kindred Institution for the Encouragement of Arts and Manufactures. In this, his influence has been largely felt. The general concerns of the Association have flourished under his vigilant superintendence ; and on the annual distribution of premiums, the admirable way in which he has bestowed these awards, has added a lustre to the celebration, and deeply impressed the anxious or aspiring minds of the candidates. This is one of the most delightful sights which our mighty metropolis affords. The spacious King's Theatre is filled to the roof with spectators, most of them interested in the scene ; and, in delivering the various medals and pecuniary rewards, the appropriate remarks of His Royal Highness show how well he can appreciate the merits of the invention or performance, and how much he can enhance the compliment which has been earned, by the manner of presenting it. It is gratifying to observe the great land-owner, who has increased the wealth of England by extensive planting, or the reclamation of thousands of waste acres—the humble mechanic, who has discovered a new principle, or perfected some part belonging to one of known utility—the ingenious seaman, whose experience has devised an improvement beneficial to our glorious navy—the skilful manfacturer, who has found out yet another source of national prosperity—and the youthful devotee to the fine arts, of either sex, whose genius has now attracted its earliest notice ;—all in turn rendered tenfold more happy by the honours conferred upon them, in consequence of the discrimination with which they are treated, and the display of princely dignity and warm-heartedness in the umpire.

In enumerating the titles of the Duke of Sussex to the regard of his contemporaries, we must not omit to mention his Masonic supremacy. He is, and has long been, the Grand Master of England ; an office of very considerable difficulty and responsibility. But it is not for us to attempt to unveil its mysteries ; suffice it to say, that the address and diligence which the due discharge of its duties require, are amply exercised by the Grand Master ; that, under his auspices, divisions are healed, and harmony prevails ; and that, while in foreign lands the name of freemasonry is laden with often not unfounded suspicion, as a covert for intrigue and revolution, in our own more favoured soil it is a bond and union of social enjoyment and pervasive philanthropy.

We have spoken of His Royal Highness's love of learning, and of the countenance he has ever shown to literary men. These are the noblest traits of character, the surest foundation of present and lasting fame. We do not, therefore, wonder at or laud a person of elevated station, who adopts the obvious path to distinction and influence : we are rather surprised that any one of the class should a way so easy and so grateful. Not so the Duke of Sussex. His library, one of the most remarkable in the world for the stores of literature it contains, vouches for the profound nature of his researches ; and the multitude of authors whom be has aided and encouraged, are a phalanx to sustain his high pretence to the fame of an English Maecenas.

Beyond this trophy, we shall not extend our record.—That among his many public services, His Royal Highness has ardently exerted himself on behalf of the London University, the Mechanic's Institution, and other plans for the diffusion of education, the progress of knowledge,, and the encouragement of industry, is only to say that his whole life has been invariably consistent—and his toils (for such they are) unremitting. In politics there must of necessity be those who have differed, and  who differ, from him; but in the boundless scheme of benevolence and charity, we believe there is not a voice in the kingdom which would refuse to hail him—a Prince of the People !