'I looked at no condition, gentlemen,' said their king, with dignity,' save that which called me here to assert my rights in person. That I have fulfilled at no common risk. Here I stand to keep my word, and I expect of you to be true to yours.'
'There was, or should have been, something more than that in our proposal, please your Majesty,' said Sir Richard. 'There was a condition annexed to it.'
'I saw it not,' said Charles, interrupting him. 'Out of tenderness towards the noble hearts of whom I think so highly, I would neither see nor read anything which could lessen them in my love and my esteem. Conditions can have no part betwixt prince and subject.'
'Sire,' said Redgauntlet, kneeling on one knee, 'I see from Sir Richard's countenance he deems it my fault that your Majesty seems ignorant of what your subjects desired that I should communicate to your Majesty. For Heaven's sake! for the sake of all my past services and sufferings, leave not such a stain upon my honour! The note, Number D, of which this is a copy, referred to the painful subject to which Sir Richard again directs your attention.'
'You press upon me, gentlemen,' said the prince, colouring highly,' recollections, which, as I hold them most alien to your character, I would willingly have banished from my memory. I did not suppose that my loyal subjects would think so poorly of me, as to use my depressed circumstances as a reason for forcing themselves into my domestic privacies, and stipulating arrangements with their king regarding matters in which the meanest minds claim the privilege of thinking for themselves. In affairs of state and public policy, I will ever be guided as becomes a prince, by the advice of my wisest counsellors; in those which regard my private affections and my domestic arrangements, I claim the same freedom of will which I allow to all my subjects, and without which a crown were less worth wearing than a beggar's bonnet.'
'May it please your Majesty,' said Sir Richard Glendale, 'I see it must be my lot to speak unwilling truths; but believe me, I do so with as much profound respect as deep regret. It is true, we have called you to head a mighty undertaking, and that your Majesty, preferring honour to safety, and the love of your country to your own ease, has condescended to become our leader. But we also pointed out as a necessary and indispensable preparatory step to the achievement of our purpose--and, I must say, as a positive condition of our engaging in it--that an individual, supposed,--I presume not to guess how truly,--to have your Majesty's more intimate confidence, and believed, I will not say on absolute proof but upon the most pregnant suspicion, to be capable of betraying that confidence to the Elector of Hanover, should be removed from your royal household and society.'
'This is too insolent, Sir Richard!' said Charles Edward. 'Have you inveigled me into your power to bait me in this unseemly manner? And you, Redgauntlet, why did you suffer matters to come to such a point as this, without making me more distinctly aware what insults were to be practised on me?'
'My gracious prince,' said Redgauntlet, 'I am so far to blame in this, that I did not think so slight an impediment as that of a woman's society could have really interrupted an undertaking of this magnitude. I am a plain man, sire, and speak but bluntly; I could not have dreamt but what, within the first five minutes of this interview, either Sir Richard and his friends would have ceased to insist upon a condition so ungrateful to your Majesty, or that your Majesty would have sacrificed this unhappy attachment to the sound advice, or even to the over-anxious suspicions, of so many faithful subjects. I saw no entanglement in such a difficulty which on either side might not have been broken through like a cobweb.'