Aolib.comFragment of Photochrom print of the front of Neuschwanstein Castle, Bavaria, Germany (ca. 1897)

A History of the Four Georges, Volume I »

By Justin McCarthy

feeble and colorless George of Denmark, a great many children–eighteen

or nineteen it is said–but most of them died in their very infancy,

and none lived to maturity. No succession therefore could take place,

but only an accession, and at such a crisis in the history of England

any deviation from the direct line must bring peril with it. At the

time when Queen Anne lay dying, it might have meant a new revolution

and another civil war.

While Anne lies on that which is soon to be her death—bed, let us take

a glance at the rival claimants of her crown, and the leading English

statesmen who were partisans on this side or on that, or who were still

hesitating about the side it would be, on the whole, most prudent and

profitable to choose.

The English Parliament had taken steps, immediately after the

Revolution of 1688, to prevent a restoration of the Stuart dynasty.

The Bill of Rights, passed in the first year of the reign of William

and Mary, declared that the crown of England should pass in the first

instance to the heirs of Mary, then to the Princess Anne, her sister,

and to the heirs of the Princess Anne, and after that to the heirs, if

any, of William, by any subsequent marriage. Mary, however, died

childless; William was sinking into years and in miserable health,

apparently only waiting and anxious for death, and it was clear that he

would not marry again. The only one of Anne’s many children who

approached maturity, the Duke of Gloucester, died just after his

eleventh birthday. The little duke was a pupil of Bishop Burnet, and

was a child of great promise. ‹4› Readers of fiction will remember

that Henry Esmond, in Thackeray’s novel, is described as having

obtained some distinction in his academical course, “his Latin poem on

the ’Death of the Duke of Gloucester,’ Princess Anne of Denmark’s son,

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