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A History of the Four Georges and of William IV, V

Norris received a good education


to describe the career of a

man who died not long after the death of the Princess Olivia, and who belonged to that class which used to be described as wonderful characters. This was a man named James Norris, who came of a family of good position having property near Devizes. Norris received a good education, and at one time promised to make a name for himself as a student of natural history. He is described as "handsome in person and elegant in manners," and we are told that "he possessed a highly cultivated mind which seemed to promise in early life eminence in society, and that he would rise to be an ornament to the age in which he lived." At a comparatively early age he had outlived all his family, and thus became the owner of large landed property. He suddenly became a prey to strange, overmastering habits of indolence, apathy, and shyness, which gradually estranged him from all society. He neglected his property, allowed his rents to remain for years and years in the hands of his steward, without troubling himself about them, and allowed his dividends to grow up in the hands of his bankers without concerning himself as to their amount, or even opening any letters which might be addressed to him on the subject. He gave up shaving and allowed his hair and board to grow as they would; he never changed his clothing or his linen until they became worn to rags; he lay in bed for the greater part of the day, took his principal meal about midnight, then had a lonely ramble, and returned to bed as the
morning drew near. He was hardly ever seen by anybody but his servants, and declined any communication even with his nearest neighbors. When an occasion arose which actually compelled him to communicate with any one from the outer world, he would only consent to speak with a door, or at least a screen, between him and the other party to the conversation. All the time he does not seem to have been engaged in any manner of study or work, and he appears to have simply devoted himself to the full indulgence of his {289} passion for solitude. His figure, or some sketch suggested by it, has been made use of more than once by writers of fiction, but the man himself was a living figure in the reign of William the Fourth, and died not long before its close.

Under the date of March 31, 1837, Charles Greville writes: "Among the many old people who have been cut off by this severe weather, one of the most remarkable is Mrs. Fitzherbert, who died at Brighton at above eighty years of age. She was not a clever woman, but of a very noble spirit, disinterested, generous, honest, and affectionate, greatly beloved by her friends and relations, popular in the world, and treated with uniform distinction and respect by the Royal Family." The death of this celebrated woman recalls to memory one of the saddest and most shameful chapters in the whole sad and shameful story of the utterly worthless Prince who became George the Fourth.

[Sidenote: 1756-1837--Illness of William the Fourth]

Meanwhile the reign of William the Fourth was hastening to its close. The King had had several attacks of illness, and more than once, before the end was yet quite near, his physical condition went down so low that those


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