17 September, 2011

The Wicked Son

by John Wardroper

What an interesting book. I am unable, unfortunately, to judge just how speculative it is, as i have read nothing else on this Ernest (or Ernest Augustus, as he seems sometimes to have used both his given names). Whatever the truth, and i’ll look at that in a moment, Ernest seems to have been an appalling character, even by the extraordinarily low standards set by George III’s sons; i should think it must probably be universally acknowledged that the UK was quite fortunate that, for all her flaws, his older brother’s daughter Victoria was born and survived her uncle William to become monarch on his death. What would the Ernestian age have been like, with such a model as he, rather than Victoria for the Victorians? An age of open and complete depravity, perhaps; certainly a reactionary age, perhaps even the repeal of the Great Reform Act, and without any doubt no passage of further reform until substantially later in the century than it did occur, possibly even not until the next century.

So, on to the specifics of Ernest’s character and actions. Wardroper’s central contention is that the rumours which have swirled about Ernest for over two centuries are, in fact, more likely than not, true; in particular, the two rumours which state that he fathered his sister Sophie’s child, Thomas Garth, and that he was actively involved in the death of his valet Senlis, not subject to attack by him immediately prior to his committing suicide. I cannot possibly evaluate these claims, i haven’t the knowledge of either the facts or the current status of interpretation of those facts. All i can do is record that, in mine opinion, Wardroper seems to have done his research and not to be ashamed of it (a dozen pages of notes and bibliography) and, again simply my view or assumption, any future work about Ernest will have to take his research into view and answer the allegations.

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