I cannot here refrain from mentioning a circumstance which occurred to me on
the 1st of January, 1822; and I sincerely trust there will not appear any
impropriety in my doing so, since it records a trait of gracious goodness and
consideration in His Majesty, which, although but one of hundreds, is but
little known, and richly deserves to be universally so.
On that evening, the King gave a splendid party at the Pavilion; and His
Majesty was graciously pleased to command my attendance to hear a concert
performed by his own fine band. His Majesty did me the honour to seat himself
beside me, and ask me how I liked the music which I had that day heard in the
chapel, amongst which, to my surprise, had been introduced the Chacoone of
Jomelli, performed in the "Castle Spectre," but which since has been called
the Sanctus of Jomelli, and is now used in all the cathedrals and churches in
England and the Continent, under that title. His Majesty was all kindness and
condescension in his manner towards me; but his kindness and condescension did
not stop there.
I had taken with me to Brighton that year a god-daughter of mine, Julia Walters,
whom I have adopted, and whose mother has been, for years, my housekeeper and
watchful attendant during my many severe illnesses. This little girl, at five
years old, performed the part of the Child in the opera of "L' Agnese," under
the name of Signora Julia. Ambrogetti was so struck with my little protegee,
that he begged I would let her play the character, which she did with grace and intel-
ligence far beyond her years. This child asked me to procure her a sight of the
King, and fixed upon the evening in question to press her request, when she
might behold him in the midst of his Court, surrounded by all that was brilliant
in the land, and in a palace whose splendour, when illuminated, rivalled the
magnificence described in the "Arabian Nights."
I told my worthy friend Cramer, the excellent master and leader of His Majesty's
private band, the earnest desire of little Julia, and prevailed upon him to
admit her behind the organ, with a strict injunction not to let herself be seen;
but female curiosity, even in one so young, prevailed; and after the first act
of the concert, when the performers retired to take some refreshment, Signora
Julia crept from her hiding-place behind the organ, and seated herself between
the kettle drums. The King was sitting on a sofa, between the Princess Esterhazy
and the Countess Lieven; and though the orchestra was at a distance, His
Majesty's quick eye in a moment caught a glimpse of the little intruder.
"Who is that beautiful little child?" said the King; "Who brought her here?"
and immediately walked to poor Julia, and asked her who she was. "I belong to K,"
said Julia. "And who the deuce is K?" said His Majesty. I was seated quite at
the farther end of the room, conversing with Sir William Keppell; and the
moment I saw what was going on, I requested Sir William to go to the King, and
say that the child belonged to me, which he with great good-nature did.
His Majesty kissed poor little Julia; and taking her into his arms, threw her
over his shoulder, and carried her across the room to me, and placed her in
a chair by my side, saying, with the greatest condescension, "Why did you leave
the child in the cold? Why not bring her into the room? If she be fond of music,
bring her here whenever you like."
This act of kindness, consideration, and goodness, was duly appreciated by all
who witnessed it, and by me will be ever remembered with the most respectful
gratitude. On the following evening, when I again had the honour of a command
to the palace, His Majesty was pleased to inquire after my pretty little girl.