A royal ravishment

More from Sarah, Duchess of Marlborough, in a letter dated 23 September 1732. I love the descriptions – ‘a country clown’ and ‘a jolly crummy woman’. One wonders what the tabloid press would have made of it today…

I have now an account to give you that I believe will divert you… Two or three days ago, Her sacred Majesty [Queen Caroline] was in great danger of being ravished. She was walking from Kensington to London early in the morning and having a vast desire to appear more able in everything than other people, she walked so fast as to get before my Lord Chamberlain and the two princesses upon one of the causeways, quite out of sight. Whether this proceeded from their compliments to let her see how much stronger she was than they or from any other accident, I cannot say. But my Lord Grantham meeting a country clown asked him if he had met any person and how far they were off! To which he answered he had met a jolly crummy [plump] woman with whom he had been fighting some time to kiss her. I am surprised at the man’s fancy! And my Lord Grantham was so frightened that he screamed out and said it was the Queen. Upon which the country fellow was out of his wits, fell upon his knees, cried and earnestly begged of my Lord Grantham to speak for him for he was sure he would be hanged for what he had done. But did not explain further what it was. And her Majesty does not own more than that he struggled with her, but that she got the better of him. And if he should have presumed to have got a good kiss, I think it is much better to conceal it… Upon the whole I should be very glad that somebody would make a ballad of it. For when I was at Scarborough, I learned to sing and I fancy I could perform such a one very well without any graces.

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