Queen Victoria, her girlhood and womanhood
Part 4 out of 4
How true to nature! When the first love of a life is suddenly uprooted,
all the later growths, however strong, seem to have been torn up with it.
When the mother goes, only the child seems to remain. Victoria, tender
mother as she herself was, and adoring wife, was now the little girl of
Kensington and Claremont, whose little bed was at the side of her
mother's, and who had waked to find that mother's bed empty, and forever
empty! And yet she said in her first sense of the loss: "I seemed to have
lived through a life; to have become old."
We may say that with the coming of that first sorrow went out the youth
of the Queen; for it seems that while her mother lives, a woman is always
young, that there is something of girlhood, of childhood even, lingering
in her life while she can lay her tired head on her mother's knee, or
hide her tearful face against her mother's breast, that most sweet and
restful refuge from the trials and weariness of life.
Her Majesty's sister, Feodore, strove to comfort her; the dear daughter
Victoria came to her almost immediately; her people's tears and prayers
were for her, and amid the quiet and seclusion of Osborne she slowly
regained her cheerfulness; but the old gladness and content never came
back. The children, too, with all the natural gayety of their years,
found that something of sweetness and comfort had dropped out of life--
something of the charm and dearness of home was gone with "grandmama,"
from the Palace, the Castle, the seaside mansion, as well as from
pleasant Frogmore, where they were always so welcome. Not till then,
perhaps, had they known all she was to them--what a blessed element in
their lives was her love, so tender and indulgent. Age is necessary to
the family completeness. We do not even in our humbler condition, always
realize, this--do not see how the quiet waning life in the old arm-chair
gives dignity and serenity to the home, till the end comes--till the
silver-haired presence is withdrawn.
Failing health of Prince Albert--His last visit to Balmoral--His
influence upon the policy of England in the _Trent_ difficulty with
the United States--Strange revolution in English sentiment in respect to
American slavery--The setting of the sun.
All this time while the Queen was absorbed by anxious care, or passionate
grief for her mother, the health of the Prince-Consort was slowly but
surely failing. The keen blade of his active mind was wearing out its
sheath. His vital forces must have begun to give out long before actual
illness, or he would not so easily have resigned himself to the thought
of the long rest,--still young as he was, with so much to enjoy in life,
and so much to do. It is said that he had premonitions of early death,
and tried to prepare the Queen for his going first--but the realization
of a loss so immense could not find lodgment in her mind. Yet though
often feeling weak and languid, he did not relax his labors--spurring up
his flagging powers. He never lost his interest in public affairs, or in
his children's affairs of the heart. He was happy in contemplating the
happiness of his daughter Alice, and followed with his heart the journey
of his son, Albert Edward, in his visit to the country of the fierce old
Vikings, to woo the daughter of a King of another sort--a Princess so
fair and fresh that she could
--"_with lilies boast,
And with the half-blown rose_."
That summer his daughter Victoria, with her husband (now Crown Prince)
and their children, came again, for a long visit, and there were many
other guests, and much was done to cheer the Queen; but her first
birthday in orphanage was hopelessly sad, and when that of the Prince
came round, his last--though she wrote to her uncle, "This is the dearest
of days, and one which fills my heart with love and gratitude," she
murmured, because her "beloved mama" was not there to wish him joy. Ah,
what an acting, unreasoning thing is the human heart!
Yet the Queen seems to have had a brief return of happiness--to have been
upborne on a sudden tide of youthful joyance, during their autumn stay at
Balmoral. She wrote: "Being out a good deal here and seeing new and fine
scenery does me good." Of their last great Highland excursion, she said:
"Have enjoyed nothing so much, or felt so much cheered by anything since
my great sorrow."
Because of this intense love of nature--not the holiday, dressed-up
nature, of English parks, streams and lakes--but as she appears in all
her wildness, ruggedness, raggedness and simple grandeur, in the glorious
land of Scott and Burns, the Queen's journal, though a little clouded at
the last, by that "great sorrow," is very pleasant, breezy reading. It
gives one a breath of heather, and pine and peat-smoke.
After coming from Balmoral, and its bracing outdoor avocations and
amusements, the Prince-Consort's health seemed to decline again. He
suffered from rheumatic pains and sleeplessness, and he began to feel the
chill shadows of the valley he was nearing, creeping around him. The last
work of his beneficent life was one of peculiar interest to Americans. It
was the amicable arrangement, in conjunction with the Queen, of the ugly
affair of the _Trent_. That was a trying time for Americans in England,
unless they were of the South, southerly. We of the North, in the
beginning of our war for the Union, found to our sad surprise that
the sympathies of perhaps the majority of the English were on the side of
our opponents. These very people had been ever before, so decidedly and
ardently anti-slavery in their sentiments--had counseled such stern and
valiant measures for the removal of our "national disgrace," that their
new attitude amazed us. We could not understand what sort of a moral
whirlwind it was that had caught them up, turned them round, borne them
off and set them down on the other side of Mason and Dixon's Line. It was
strange, but with the exception of a few such clear-headed, steadfast
"friends of humanity" as Cobden and Bright, and such heroes as those
glorious operatives of Lancashire, all seemed changed. Even the
sentiments of prominent. Exeter Hall, anti-slavery philanthropists had
suffered a secession change, "into something new and strange," especially
after the battle of Bull Run--that fortunate calamity for us, as it
proved. Most people here were captivated by the splendid qualities of
the Confederates--their gallantry, their enthusiasm, their bravery.
Before these practical revolutionists, those "moral suasion" agitators,
the Northern Abolitionists, made no great show. Garrison with his logic,
Burritt with his languages, Douglas with his magnificent eloquence, were
as naught to Jefferson Davis and Robert E. Lee, and that soldier of the
fine old Cromwellian type--Stonewall Jackson. The "institution" was
pronounced in Parliament "not so bad a thing, after all," and the
pathetic "Am-I-not-a-Man-and-a-Brother" of Clarkson, became the Sambo of
Christie and the "Quashee" of Carlyle. In the midst of this ill-feeling
on one side, and sore-feeling on the other, the rash act of a U. S. Naval
Officer, in boarding the British steamer _Trent_ and seizing the
Confederate Envoys, Mason and Slidell, gave England cause, had our
Government endorsed that act, for open hostility. So ready, so eager did
the English Government seem for a war with America, that it did not wait
for an apology, before making extensive military preparations. With that
brave but cool-headed Captain on our Ship of State, Abraham Lincoln, and
that prudent helmsman, William H. Seward, we could not easily have been
driven into a war with England at this time; but we might have been
humiliated even more than we were, by the peremptory demands of Lord
Palmerston--might have been obliged to eat a piece of "humble pie," so
big, hot, and heavy, that it would have remained undigested to this day--
had it not been for the prudence, the courtesy, good sense, and admirable
tact of the Queen and Prince-Consort in modifying and softening the tone
of that important State paper, the demand for an official apology, and
the liberation of the Confederate Envoys. It is for this that Americans
of the North, and I believe of the South, love Queen Victoria, and not
alone for her sake, bless the memory of "Albert the Good."
I know of nothing in literature so exquisite in its pathos and childlike
simplicity, as the Queen's own account, in the diary kept faithfully at
the time, of the last illness of the Prince-Consort. In it we see the
very beatings of her heart, in its hope and fear, love and agony--can
mark all the stages of the sacred passion of her sorrow. It is a
wonderful psychological study.
That illness in its serious phases, lasted about two weeks. It was a low,
slow fever, which at first was not recognized as fever at all, but only a
heavy cold. I have been told that the Prince himself had from the first,
an impression that he should not recover, and that he talked of his
probable death very calmly with his noble daughter Alice, saying: "Your
mother cannot bear to hear me speak of it yet." The Queen, though very
restless and distressed, and at times shaken with wild alarms, could not
face the coming calamity; could not admit the possibility that the sands
of that precious life--golden sands, were running out. The alternations
of hope and fear, must have been terrible. One morning the Queen records
that on going to the Prince she found him looking very wretched: "He did
not smile, or take much notice of me. His manner all along was so unlike
himself, and he had sometimes, such a strange, wild look." In the evening
she writes: "I found my Albert most dear and affectionate and quite
himself, when I went in with little Beatrice, whom he kissed. He laughed
at some of her new French verses which I made her repeat, then he. held
her little hand in his for some time, and she stood looking, at him."
For several days he wished to be read to, and the Queen and faithful
Alice read his favorite authors; he also asked for music, and Alice
played for him some fine German airs. He even wished often to look at a
favorite picture, one of Raphael's Madonnas, saying, "It helps me through
At length the fever took on a typhoid form, congestion of the lungs set
in, and there was no longer reason for hope,--though they did hope, till
almost the last hour. Now, it seems that from the first, even when he did
not apparently suffer, except from mortal weariness, there were little
fatal indications. One morning he told the Queen that as he lay awake he
heard the little birds outside, and "thought of those he used to hear at
the Rosenau, in his childhood"; and on the last morning the Queen writes
that he "began arranging his hair just as he used to do when well and he
It seemed to the poor Queen as though he were "preparing for another and
a greater journey" than they had ever taken together. His tenderness
towards her through all this sad fortnight, was very touching. It was not
calculated to loosen the detaining, clinging clasp of her arms; but it
must be very sweet for her to remember. After the weariness of watching,
the prostration of fever, he welcomed always the good-morning caress of
his "dear little wife." Through the gathering mists of unconsciousness,
through the phantom-shades of delirium, his love for her struggled forth,
in a tender word, a wistful look, a languid smile, a feeble stroking of
the cheek. It was "wondrous pitiful," but it was very beautiful. Even at
the last, when he knew no one else, he knew her; and when she bent over
him and whispered, "Tis your own little wife," he bowed his head and
After she knew that all hope must be given up, the Queen still was able
to sit calmly by his bedside, and not trouble with the sound of weeping
the peace of that loving, passing soul. Occasionally she felt that she
must leave the room and weep, or her suppressed grief would kill her. But
she counted the moments and stayed her soul with prayer, to go back to
It was on the night of December 14, 1861, that the beloved Prince-Consort
passed away,--quietly and apparently painlessly, from the station he had
ennobled, from the home he had blessed. Unconsciously he drifted out on
the unknown, mysterious sea, nor knew that loving feet followed him to
the strand, and that after him were stretched yearning arms.
That death-bed scene passed in a solemn hush, more mournful than any
outcry of passionate grief could be. On one side, knelt the Queen,
holding her husband's hand, trying to warm it with kisses and tears; on
the other, knelt the Princess Alice. At the foot of the bed, the Prince
of Wales and the Princess Helena were kneeling together. It is probable
that all the younger children were sleeping in quiet unconsciousness of
the presence of the dread angel in the Castle. The Dean of Windsor,
Prince Ernest Leiningen,--secretaries, physicians and attached attendants
were grouped around. All was silent, save that low, labored breathing,
growing softer and softer, and more infrequent, and then--it ceased
I have been told by a lady who had had good opportunities of knowing
about the sad circumstances of that death, that the Queen retained
perfect possession of herself to the last, and that after the lids had
been pressed down over the dear eyes whose light had passed on, she rose
calmly, and courteously thanked the physicians in attendance, saying that
she knew that everything which human skill and devotion could accomplish,
had been done for her husband, whom God had taken. Then she walked out of
the death-chamber, erect,--still the Queen, wearing "sorrow's crown of
sorrow," and went to her chamber, and shut herself in--her soul alone
with God, her heart alone for evermore.
Ah, we may not doubt that this royal being, in whose veins beats the
blood of a long, long race of Kings, was brought low enough then,--to her
knees, to her face,
"_For grief is proud and makes his owner stoop_."
So absorbing and unwavering had been the love of the Queen for her
husband, who to her, was "nobler than the noblest"; such a proud homage
of the soul had there been--such a dear habit of the heart, in one with
whom habit counted for much, that her people were filled with the most
intense anxiety on her behalf. They feared that this cruel stroke which
lopped off the best part of her life, would kill her, or plunge her into
a depth of melancholy, sadder than death. For some time she was not able
to sleep. The thought of that chamber, so lately the scene of all the
anxious activity of the sickroom, wherein softly moved troubled
physicians and nurses, tearful attendants and awe-struck children, but
where now there were shadowed lights, and solemn silence, and where lay
that beautiful, marble-like shape, so familiar, yet so strange--that
_something_ which was not _he_, yet was inexpressibly dear, kept her
awake, face to face with her sorrow,--and when at last, the bulletin from
Windsor announced, "The Queen has had some hours' sleep," her people all
in mourning as they were, felt like ringing joy-bells.
The friend from whom I have before quoted, Mrs. Crosland, a most loyal
lady, wrote on this text a very sweet poem, from which I am tempted to
give a few verses:
"Sleep, far the night is round thee spread,
Thou daughter of a line of kings;
Sleep, widowed Queen, white angels' wings
Make canopy above thy head!
"Sleep, while a million prayers rise up
To Him who knew all earthly sorrow,
That day by day, each soft to-morrow
May melt the bitter from thy cup.
. . . . . . . .
"Long life ask for thee, dear Queen,
And moonlight peace, since joy is set.
And Time's soft touch on dark regret.
And memories calm of what has been!
"Long life for thee--for our best sake.
To be our stay 'mid hopes and fears.
Through many far-off future years,
Till thou by Albert's side shall wake!"
It seems Her Majesty could not bear the thought of her beloved Albert,
whose nature was so bright and joyous, and beauty-loving, resting amid
the darkness and heavy silence and "cold obstruction" of the royal vault;
so, as early as the 18th of December, she drove with the Princess Alice
to Frogmore, where they were-received by the Prince of Wales, Prince
Louis of Hesse, and several officers of the Royal Household. Then,
leaning on the arm of her noble daughter, the Queen walked about the
pleasant gardens, till she fixed upon the spot, where now stands the
magnificent mausoleum, which, splendid and beautiful as art can make it,
is like a costly casket, for the dust, infinitely more precious to her
than all the jewels of her crown. It was sweet for her to feel that thus
under the shadow of her mother's dear home, the two most sacred loves and
sorrows of her life would be forever associated.
There was great and sincere mourning in England among all classes, not
alone for the Queen's sake, but for their own, for the Prince-Consort had
finally endeared himself to this too long jealous and distrustful people.
They had named him "alien," at first; they called him "angel," at last.
He was not _that_, but a most rare man, of a nature so sweet and
wholesome, of a character so well-balanced and symmetrical, of a life so
pure and blameless, that the English cannot reasonably hope to "look upon
his like again," not even among his own sons.
Some of his contemporaries, while admitting his grace and elegance, were
blind to his strength of character, forgetting that a shining column of
the Parthenon may be as strong as one of the dark rough-hewn columns of
Pæstum. Morally, I believe, the Prince-Consort stands alone in English
royal history. What other youth of twenty-one, graceful, beautiful and
accomplished, has ever forborne what he forbore?--Ever fought such a good
fight against temptations manifold? He was the Sir Galahad of Princes.
Being human, he must have been tempted,--if not to a life of sybaritic
pleasure, to one of ease, through his delicate organization,--and,
through his refined tastes, to one of purely artistic and esthetic
culture, which for him, where he was, would have been but splendid
Though my estimate of the Prince-Consort is based on his own good words
and works, to which I have paid tribute of sincerest praise, it is
strengthened and justified by a knowledge of the loving reverence in
which his name is held to this day, by the English people of the better
class, who honor the Queen for her love stronger than death, and love her
the better for it; for I hold,
----"the soul must cast
All weakness from it, all vain strife,
And tread God's ways through this sad life,
To be thus grandly mourned at last."
The Twilight Life after--Marriage of the Princess Alice--Incidents of the
Queen's life at Balmoral--John Brown--A letter from the Queen to the
Duchess of Sutherland.
"There is no one near me to call me 'Victoria' now!" is said to have been
the desolate cry of the Queen, when, on waking from that first sleep, the
cruel morning light, smote upon her with a full consciousness of her
bereavement, and a new sense of her royal isolation. She was on a height
where the storm beat fiercest and there was the least shelter. Her sacred
grief was the business of the world;--she could not long shut herself up
with it, and fold her hands in "blameless idleness"; but as the widowed
mother and housekeeper in humble life struggles up from the great stroke,
and staggers on, resolutely driving back the tears which "hinder needle
and thread," and choking down her sobs, to go wearily about her household
tasks,--so Victoria, after a little time, rose trembling to her feet, and
went through with such imperative State duties as could be delegated to
no one. To a near friend, who expressed joy to find her more calm than at
the time of her mother's death, she said simply, "I have had God's
teaching, and learned to bear all He lays upon me."
There is a record by Lord Beaconsfield of her faithful discharge of such
duties a few years later; but what was true of her then, was almost as
true an account of the routine of her official life, during a large part
of the first years of her widowhood. In a public speech, Beaconsfield
said: "There is not a dispatch received from abroad, or sent from this
country abroad, which is not submitted to the Queen. The whole of the
internal administration of this country greatly depends upon the sign-
manual of our Sovereign, and it may be said that her signature has never
been placed to any public document of which she did not know the purpose
and of which she did not approve. Those cabinet councils of which you all
hear, and which are necessarily the scene of anxious and important
deliberation, are reported, on their termination, by the Minister to the
Sovereign, and they often call from her critical remarks requiring
considerable attention; and I will venture to say that no person likely
to administer the affairs of this country would be likely to treat the
suggestions of Her Majesty with indifference, for at this moment there is
probably no person living who has such complete control over the
political condition of England as the Sovereign herself."
I have come upon few incidents of that first sad year. The Princess Alice
was married very quietly at Osborne, and went away to her German home,
where she lived for seventeen happy years, a noble and beneficent life.
In character she was very like her father--to whose soul hers was so
knit, that, when in her last illness, the anniversary of his death came
round, she seemed to hear his call, and went to him at once in child-
like obedience. She took that fatal illness--the diphtheria--from a dear
child in a kiss, "the kiss of death," as Lord Beaconsfield called it.
The Rev. Norman McLeod has left a record of the widowed Queen's first
visit to Balmoral. It seems he thought she was too unreconciled to her
loss, and felt it his duty to preach what he believed to be "truth in
God's sight, and that which I believe she needed," he said, "though I
felt it would be very trying for her to receive it." She did receive it
very sweetly, and wrote him "a kind, tender letter of thanks for it," She
afterwards summoned him to the castle, and to her own room. He writes:
"She was alone. She met me with an unutterably sad expression, which
filled my eyes with tears, and at once began to speak about the Prince.
... She spoke of his excellencies--his love, his cheerfulness; how he was
everything to her. She said she never shut her eyes to trials, but liked
to look them in the face; how she would never shrink from duty, but that
all was at present done mechanically; that her highest ideas of purity
and love were obtained from him, and that God could not be displeased
with her love."
No, we cannot love enough to displease the God of love, who is not,
whatever men may preach, a "jealous God," in that small way; but perhaps
we may grieve too much to please the Master of Life, of which, in His
eyes, what we call death, is the immortal blossom and crowning.
It seems to me that in her loving tribute to the Prince, the Queen was a
little unjust to her mother, to whose precepts and example she owed very
high "ideas of purity" and that strong sense of duty, and that fortitude,
essentially a womanly, not a manly, virtue, which preserved her through
the temptations of a glad and splendid youth--through the trials and
sorrows of maturer years, and which, when that time of bitterest trial
came, braced up her shattered forces, and held together her broken heart.
Balmoral--the dear mountain-home, so entirely her husband's creation--now
became more than ever dear to the Queen, and has never lost its charm for
her. Her life there has been, from the first, almost pastoral in its
The Highlanders about them, a primitive, but very proud people, regarded
their Sovereign and her husband with no servile awe. With them, even
respect begins, like charity, at home; what there is left, they give
loyally to their superiors in rank. To the Queen and her family they have
given more,--love and free-hearted devotion. Her Majesty has always gone
about among the poorer tenants of the estate, like any laird's wife, in
an unpretending, neighborly way; and they, thanks to their good Scotch
sense and Highland pride, never take advantage of the uncondescending
condescension, to offend her by too great familiarity, or shock her by
servility. Taking up her "Journal," I have chanced upon an account given
by Her Majesty of a round of visits to the cottages of certain "poor old
women," and here is an entry or two:
"Before we went into any, we met a woman who was very poor, and eighty-
eight years old. I gave her a warm petticoat, and the tears rolled down
her old cheeks, and she shook my hands and prayed God to bless me: it was
"I went into a small cabin of old Kitty Kear's, who is eighty-six years
old, quite-erect, and who welcomed us with a great air of dignity. She
sat down and spun. I gave her, also, a warm petticoat. She said, 'May the
Lord ever attend ye and yours, here and hereafter; and may the Lord be a
guide to ye, and keep ye fra all harm.'"
Now, some readers, whose ideas of royal charities are derived from the
kings and queens of melodrama, who fling about golden largess, or "chuck"
plethoric purses at their poor subjects, may be amused at these entries
in a great Queen's journal, but "let them laugh who win"--the flannel
During a later visit to the widowed Queen at Balmoral, Dr. McLeod writes:
"After dinner, the Queen invited me to her room, where I found the
Princess Helena and the Marchioness of Ely. The Queen sat down to spin on
a fine Scotch wheel, while I read Burns to her--'_Tam O'Shanter_,' and
'_A Man's a Man for a' That_'--her favorites."
In the Queen's book I find frequent pleasant mention of the young
Highlander, John Brown--a favorite personal attendant, first of Prince
Albert, and afterwards of Her Majesty.
She had the misfortune to lose this "good and faithful servant," in the
early part of this year. In a foot-note in her "Journal," she paid a
grateful tribute to his "attention, care and faithfulness"--to his rare
devotion to her, especially during a period of physical weakness and
nervous prostration, when such service as his was invaluable. She also
says of him, "He has all the independence and elevation of feeling
peculiar to the Highland race, and is singularly straightforward, simple-
minded, kind-hearted and disinterested."
If there is something touching in the nearly life-long service and
devotion of the Highlander, almost always seen so close behind his Liege
Lady, when she appeared in public, that he was named "the Queen's
shadow"--there is something admirable in her grateful appreciation of
that service, in her frank acknowledgment of all she has owed of comfort,
in a constant sense of security, to this man's steadfast faithfulness;
and now that the "shadow" has gone before, I hold it is only fitting and
loyal in her to acknowledge for him, as she does, "friendship," and even
"affection"--not only to lay flowers on his grave, but to pay more
enduring tribute to his honest memory. He was a Highland gillie, of
simple Highland ways and words but "_A man's a man for a' that._" If
Byron could nurse his dying dog, _Boatswain_, and erect a monument to his
memory, and not lose, but gain, our respect by so doing, we surely might
let pass, unquestioned, the Queen's grief for a faithful human creature--
for thirty-four years devoted to her--ever at her call--looking up to
her, yet watching over her; a friend, whose humble good sense and canny
bits of counsel must often, in the simpler, yet not simple, affairs of
her complex life, be sorely missed.
That is how it strikes an American, of democratic tendencies.
About a year after the death of Prince Albert, the Duchess of Sutherland
presented to the Queen a richly-bound Bible, the offering of loyal
In her letter of acknowledgment, Her Majesty gives very strong and clear
expression to her faith, not only in the happy continued existence of her
beloved husband, but in his "unseen presence" with her--a faith which she
has often expressed. The letter runs thus:
"MY DEAREST DUCHESS:--I am deeply touched by the gift of a Bible 'from
many widows,' and by the very kind and affectionate address which
accompanied it. ... Pray express to all these kind sister-widows the deep
and heartfelt gratitude of their widowed Queen, who can never feel
grateful enough for the universal sympathy she has received, and
continues to receive, from her loyal and devoted subjects. But what she
values far more is their appreciation of her adored and perfect husband.
To her, the only sort of consolation she experiences is in the constant
sense of his unseen presence and the blessed thought of the Eternal Union
hereafter, which will make the bitter anguish of the present appear as
naught. That our Heavenly Father may impart to 'many widows' those
sources of consolation and support, is their broken-hearted Queen's
earnest prayer ... Believe me ever yours most affectionately, VICTORIA."
Dean Stanley is reported as telling of a touching little circumstance
which he received from the Princess Hohenlohe (Feodore), from which it
seems that Her Majesty was for a long time in the habit of going every
morning to look at the cows on Prince Albert's model farm, because
"_he_ had been used to do so," feeling, perhaps, that the gentle
creatures might miss him--that somewhere in their big dull brains, they
might wonder where their friend could be, and why he did not come. The
Princess also said that her poor sister found her only comfort in the
belief that her husband's spirit was close beside her--for he had
promised her that it should be so.
Arrival in England of the Princess Alexandra to wed the Prince of Wales--
Garibaldi's visit to London--The Queen's first public appearance after
her widowhood--Marriage of the Princess Louise--Illness of the Prince of
Wales--Disaffection in Ireland--The Queen's sympathy during the illness
of President Garfield.
On the 7th of March, 1863, all London and nearly all England went mad
over the coming of the Princess Alexandra, from Denmark, to wed the
Prince of Wales. Lord Ronald Gower, a son of the beautiful Duchess of
Sutherland, gives in his "Reminiscences" a fine description of her
arrival in London, and of the wedding at Windsor three days after. He
says: "Probably since the day in Paris when Marie Antoinette was
acclaimed in the gardens of the Tuileries, no Princess ever had so
enthusiastic a reception, or so quickly won the hearts of thousands by
the mere charm of her presence." This writer gives a very vivid
description of the crowd which waited patiently for hours, of a cold,
wretched day, for the sight of that sweet face whose sweetness has never
yet cloyed upon them. At last, there came a small company of Life Guards,
escorting an open carriage-and-four, containing the young Danish Princess
and His Royal Highness Albert Edward, looking very happy and very
conscious. The smiling, blushing, appealing face of the Princess warmed
as well as won all hearts. There were few flowers at that season to
scatter on her way, except flowers of poetry, of which there was no jack.
Tennyson's pretty ode has not been forgotten, but all as noble and sweet
was the greeting of her from whom I have before quoted; Mrs. Crosland.
The most touching, though not the strongest verse in that poem, is this:
"She comes another child to be
To that Crowned Widow of the land,
Whose sceptre weighs more heavily
Since One has ceased to hold her hand."
The Queen did not feel herself equal to taking any part in the marriage
ceremony, but looked down upon the scene of grandeur and gayety from the
Royal Gallery of St George's Chapel. The Duchess of Sutherland attended
her then for the last time. She had been with her at her coronation and
marriage; to-day they were both widows, and must have been at the moment
living intensely and sorrowfully in the past. With the exception of the
Crown Princess of Germany and the Duke of Edinburgh, all the Queen's
children, down to little Beatrice, were present. The bride, it is stated,
"looked lovely; she did not raise her eyes once in going into, and but
little in going out of, the Chapel on her husband's arm."
This first daughter-in-law soon made a place for herself in the Queen's
heart, by her grace and amiability. I have heard a pretty little story of
an attempt of hers to lighten somewhat Her Majesty's heavy cloud of
mourning. Millinery being one of her accomplishments, she prevailed upon
the Queen to let her remodel her bonnet, which she did, principally by
removing a small basketful of sombre weeds. The Queen saw through her
little _ruse_ and shook her head mournfully,--but wore the bonnet.
The next year London went still more mad over Garibaldi. His enthusiastic
admirers almost mobbed Stafford House, at which he was entertained by the
young Duke of Sutherland Lord Ronald Gower describes that memorable visit
and the popular excitement very vividly.
The Italian hero entered that beautiful palace, where a grand company of
the nobility were waiting to receive him, attired in a rough gray
overcoat and trousers, a large pork-pie hat, a loose black neck-tie, and
a red flannel shirt. This he never changed--I mean his style of dress,
not the shirt--but Garibaldi would have been quite un-Garibaldi-ed in an
English evening suit. Lord Ronald Gower writes that his noble, liberty-
loving mother was very devoted to their guest, but does not add that by
so doing she shocked the sensibilities of footmen and housemaids. One of
the latter once told to another guest, a moving story of the strange
habits of "Italian brigand": "Why, marm," she said, "he was such a
common-looking person, and he would get up so awful early and go hobbling
about in the garden. One morning at six o'clock, I looked out of my
window, and there he was walking up and down, and the Duchess with him--
_my_ Duchess, walking and talking with the likes of him!"
The first public appearance of the widowed Queen was at the opening of
Parliament, in 1866. I do not know whether the splendid chair of State
she had provided for Prince Albert, in the happy old time, had been left
in its place, to smite her eyes with its gilding and her heart with its
emptiness; I do not know whether its presence or its absence would have
grieved her most; but every sorrowing widow knows what it is to look on
her husband's vacant chair. It does not matter whether it is made of
rude, unpainted wood and woven rushes, or is a golden and velvet-
cushioned chair of State,--it was _his_ seat, and he is gone! Queen
Victoria must have felt that day, in her lonely grandeur, like crying out
"_Here I and Sorrow sit. _"
Lady Bloomfield gives a very touching account of her first visit to the
widowed mistress, whom, nearly twenty years before, she had so gladly and
proudly served--for true service is in the spirit, though the act may be
limited to taking a part in a duet, or handing the daily bouquet. She
wrote: "The Queen is dreadfully changed--most sad, but with the gentlest,
most benevolent smile. Even when the tears rolled down her cheeks, she
tried to smile." I think it was about this time that the Queen presented
to our George Peabody her portrait, expressly painted for him, in
recognition of his more than princely munificence in the gift of model
lodging-houses to the London poor. It was a small portrait--enameled, I
believe. I do not think it was an idealized picture, though the pencil
was evidently guided by a delicate and reverential loyalty, "doing its
spiriting gently," in marking the tracings of time and sorrow. In a
description which I wrote at the tune of its exhibition in Philadelphia,
I said: "With the exception of a touching expression of habitual sadness,
this face is very like the one I looked down upon from the gallery of the
House of Lords fifteen years ago. There is the same roundness of outline,
only 'a little more so'--almost the same freshness of tints in the fair
complexion. The soft brown hair is unchanged in color, if somewhat
thinner; and the clear blue eyes have the same steady outlook. The whole
figure is marked by a sort of regal rigidity. The face, if not positively
unhappy in expression, is quite empty of happiness. There is about it an
atmosphere of lonely state and absolute widowhood. The Mary Stuart cap is
very becoming to Her Majesty, but the black dress mars the picturesque
effect of the portrait. The neck and arms have all the roundness of
youth, and are exquisitely painted. I remember hearing the late Mr.
Gibson, who made several statues of the Queen, say that loyalty itself
need not to flatter her arms or bust; in sculpture or painting, as they
were really remarkably beautiful."
In 1868 the Queen had the misfortune to lose her "dearest Duchess"--that
grandest daughter of the grand house of Howard, _the_ Duchess of
Sutherland. She floated all unconsciously out on the waves that wash
against the restful palm-crowned shore, her last words being, "I think I
shall sleep now--I am so tired."
The Princess Louise was married with really royal pomp and a brave
attempt at the old gayety, in St. George's Chapel, Windsor, in March,
1871, to the Marquis of Lome.
The bride, who, according to Lord Ronald Gower, was. "very pale, but
handsome as she always is," was accompanied by the Prince of Wales; her
uncle, the Grand Duke of Coburg; and, to the great joy of all the
assembly, by her mother, the Queen. The wedded pair went to Claremont for
their honeymoon. As they drove away, "rice and white satin slippers were
sent after them, and John Brown threw a new broom, Highland fashion."
The people were much comforted at this appearance of the Queen once more
in the great gay world. They had begun to think that her social seclusion
would never end. When she went down into the "valley of the shadow of
death" with her beloved, though she struggled bravely up alone, she
brought the shadow with her; it enveloped her and wrapped her away from
her subjects--even the most loving and sympathetic. Now they took heart,
believing that royalty was finally coming out from under its eclipse of
mourning, that the Court would be re-established in Buckingham Palace,
and things generally, go on as in the good old days. They never did,
however, and never will, under her reign. It is too much to ask of her,
Whether it is true, as I hear, that the air of London is hurtful to her,
giving her severe headaches, or that the scenes of her childhood and
early queenhood, and of her marriage, are too much for her, and heart-
ache is the matter, I know not; but it is undeniable that the Queen
prefers any one of her other homes to Buckingham Palace. She only comes
to it when absolute compelled by the duties of State. It is hard for
London tradesmen and pleasure-seekers, who think Her Majesty's mourning
immoderate, and doubt whether their wives would fret so long for them;
but when, in the first year of her, reign, the pretty, wilful Victoria
said to Lord Melbourne: "What is the use of being a Queen if one cannot
do as one likes!" her people laughed and applauded. Surely, with years
and trouble, and much faithful care and labor, and has not lost the right
to have a mind of her own, or the will to maintain it.
Of late years I have seen Her Majesty some half dozen times; once on her
way to prorogue Parliament, seated in the grand State coach, drawn by the
superb, cream-colored State horses, in all imaginable splendor of
trappings--escorted by the dashing Life Guards, and all the royal
carriages, each with its resplendent coachman and footmen, most gorgeous
of human creatures, and inside, very nice and respectable-looking people,
with no particular air of pride or elation. The Queen wore a cloak of
ermine, a tiara of diamonds, and a long, cloud-like veil of tulle,
floating back from her face, which that day had a very pleasant, genial
expression. She is changed,--of course she is; but she has even more of
the old calm dignity, and when she smiles, the effect is magical; her
youth flashes over her face, and quite the old look--the look _he_
knew her by, comes back for a little while.
At other times I have had glimpses of her as her carriage dashed through
the gateway to Marlborough House, on a garden-party day, or through the
Park, as she was fleeing with all speed from the city, after a Drawing-
room. Sometimes, she has bowed right and left, and smiled, as though
pleased by the cheers of the people; but at other times she has scarcely
inclined her head, and worn a look of unsmiling, utter weariness--proving
that a woman may have much worldly goods, many jewels, and brave velvet
gowns, and heaps of India shawls, and half a dozen grand mansions, with a
throne in every one, and yet at times feel that this brief life of ours
is "all vanity and vexation of spirit."
The Queen, though she had not kept up her intimate relations with the
Emperor and Empress, was shocked at the utter ruin to them and their son,
which resulted from the French and Prussian war, and she was not wanting
in tender sympathy, when the poor frightened refugee, Eugenie, hid a
tearful face against her sisterly breast, and sobbed out, "I have been
too favorable to war." To the Emperor she granted an asylum and a grave.
I know not whether France will ever demand his dust, to give it sepulture
under the dome of the Invalides; but he has already on the banks of the
Seine the grandest of monuments--_Paris_. His memory stands fair and
firm in stately buildings and massive bridges, and is renewed every year
in the plane tree of noble Boulevards, those green _longas vias_,
grander than the military highways of the Caesars.
In 1867 the Prince of Wales fell grievously ill, with the same fearful
malady that had deprived him of his father. Intense was the anxiety not
only of the Royal Family, but of all the English people the world over.
Soon the sympathy of other nations was aroused, and prayers began to
ascend to Heaven for the preservation of that precious life, not only
from all Christian peoples, but from Hebrews, Mohammedans and Buddhists;
in heathen lands the missionaries prayed, and in heathen portions of
Christian cities the mission-children prayed, while on the high seas the
sailors responded fervently when the captain. read in the Service the
"Prayer for the Sick," meaning their Prince, "sick unto death." The fine
old boast of England's power, that "her morning drum beats round the
world," how poor it seems beside the thought, of this zone of prayer!
There had been nothing like this in English history, and there was
nothing like it in ours, till that heart-breaking time of the mortal
illness of President Garfield. O, worthy should be, the life and manifold
the good works of that man for whom so many peoples and tongues have
given surety to Heaven by fervent intercessions and supplications.
This long sad time of anxiety and peril drew the Queen out of her sorrow
as nothing had done before. She watched tenderly by the bedside of her
son, and when he was recovered, and went to St. Paul's to return thanks,
she sat by his side, and wore a white flower in her bonnet, and her
grateful smile showed that there was a rift in the cloud of her mourning,
and that God's sunlight was striking through.
Lord Ronald Gower quotes a letter from his sister, the Duchess of
Westminster, describing the Prince and Princess of Wales as she saw them
about this time. She said: "He is much thinner and his head shaved, but
little changed in his face, and looking so grateful. She looks thin and
worn, but so affectionate--tears in her eyes when talking of him, and his
manner to her so gentle."
Surely convalescence is a "state of grace." Would that it might always
last a lifetime with us!
During this year, Irish disaffection broke out very seriously in the
great Fenian movement. An upheaval this, from the lowest stratum of
society, with no gentlemen, or eloquent orators, for leaders, but all the
more appalling for that. These rough, desperate men meant, as they said,
"business." This movement
only to break out more appallingly than ever some ten or twelve years
later, in brutal assassinations, which have curdled the blood of the
world. Ah, must it always be so? Will this tiresome old Celtic Enceladus
never lie quiet, and be dead, though the mountain sit upon him ever so
solidly, and smoke ever so placidly above him?
Where now, we sadly ask, is the Ireland of Tom Moore, Father Prout, Lover
and Lever? Not enough left of it to furnish a new drama for Mr.
Boucicault. Donnybrook Fair has given place to midnight conspirations.
Fox-hunts to the stalking of landlords--all the jolly old customs
extinct, except the "wake." Peasant-life, over there, sometimes seems, at
the best, one protracted "wake."
I suppose it is too late now, yet I can but think that if the Queen had
built years ago, a palace in Ireland, at Killarney, or in lovely Wicklow,
or in Dublin itself, and resided there a part of every year, things might
have been better. She was so popular in that "distressful country" when,
by frequent visits, she testified an interest in it, and her gentle,
motherly presence might have had a more placating influence than any
"Coercion bill." The money she would have spent there,--the very crumbs
that would have fallen from her table, would have been a benefaction to
that poor people.
The Fenian drama had its ghastly closing _tableau_ in the hanging of
the ringleaders, and the explosion at Clerkenwell. The hanging of those
Fenians must have been about the last of that sort of a public
entertainment, as a law was soon passed making all future executions
strictly private. Among a certain class of Her Majesty's subjects this
was a most unpopular measure. Pot-house politicians and gin-palace
courtiers, both ladies and gentlemen, discussed it hotly and denounced it
sternly, as an infringement on the sacred immemorial rights of British
freemen and a blow to the British Constitution.
In 1874 Mr. Disraeli had become Prime Minister. He died in 1880--Lord
Beaconsfield, sincerely lamented by the Queen, who was much attached to
him as a friend, and greatly admired him as a man of genius. He was a
brilliant novelist and a famous statesman; but the best things I know of
him are the tender love and manly gratitude he always testified towards
his devoted wife, and his pathetic mourning for her loss. He might have
adopted for her tombstone the quaint, terse epitaph of an American
husband--"Think what a wife should be, and she was that."
Through his means, the title of "Empress of India" was conferred on the
Queen by act of Parliament. Some English people opposed it as
superfluous, a sort of anti-climax of dignity, as "gilding the refined
gold" of English Sovereignty with baser metal, as "painting the lily" of
the noblest of English royal titles with India-ink; but it did no harm.
It did not hurt the Radicals and it pleased the Rajahs.
Then came the Zulu war, with its awful disasters in the inglorious
slaughter of some thousands of gallant young soldiers, among which,
because of the power of romantic, historic associations, the death of the
young Prince Imperial stands out in woful relief. This was a severe
personal shock to the Queen. With all her tender sympathy she tried to
console the inconsolable Empress, and with her sons paid funeral honors
to the memory of the Prince, who had been almost as one of her family.
The only time I ever saw him he was in their company, driving away from a
The Prince of Wales visited India, traveled and hunted extensively, was
fêted after the most gorgeous Oriental style, and brought home rich
presents enough to set up a grand Eastern bazaar in Marlborough House,
and animals enough to start a respectable menagerie. Everywhere he went
he inclined the hearts of the people to peace and loyalty, by his frank
and genial ways. Does His Royal Highness ever propose such a tour in
Ireland? He would not probably receive as tribute so much jewelry and
gorgeous merchandise--so many tigers, pythons and other little things;
but there is a fine chance for giving over there, and we read: "It is
more blessed to give, than to receive."
I come now to that period of our national history with which the Queen of
England so kindly, so "gently and humanly" associated herself--I mean the
illness and death of President Garfield. To this day, that association is
a drop of sweetness in the bitter cup of our sorrow and humiliation. From
the 2d of July, 1881, the date of her first telegram of anxious inquiry
addressed to our Minister, to the 27th of the following September, when
she telegraphed her tender solicitude as to the condition of "the late
President's mother," not a week went by that she did not send to Mr.
Lowell sympathetic messages, asking for the latest news--congratulating
or condoling, as the state of "the world's patient" fluctuated between
life and death--and when all was over, she at once telegraphed directly
to Mrs. Garfield in these words of tenderest commiseration, so worthy of
her great heart:
"Words cannot express the deep sympathy I feel with you at this terrible
moment. May God support and comfort you as He alone can."
She afterwards sent an autograph letter to Mrs. Garfield, and also asked
for a photograph of the President.
No American who was in London at that time, especially on the day of or
President's funeral, so universally observed throughout Great Britain,
can ever forget the generous, whole-souled sympathy of the English
people, in part at least, inspired by the words 'and acts of the English
Queen. The intense interest with which she had watched that melancholy
struggle between "the Two Angels," over that distant death-bed, and the
grief with which she beheld the issue were known and responded to, and so
the noble contagion spread. It was not needed, perhaps, that signs of
mourning should be shown in her Palace windows, to have them appear as
they did, all over the vast city, but it was something strange and
affecting to see those blinds of a proud royal abode lowered out of
respect for the memory of a republican ruler, and sympathy for an
We respected all those signs of mourning about us then--were grateful for
them all, from the flag at half-mast and the tolling bell, to the closing
of the shop of the small tradesman, and the bit of crape on the whip of
My reasons for Honoring the Queen--Anecdotes--Some democratic reflections
upon the Queen's position and her Subjects' loyalty--The Royal Children--
My reasons for admiring and honoring Queen Victoria are, perhaps, amply
revealed in this little book, but I will briefly recapitulate them:
First, is her great power of loving, and tenacity in holding on to love.
Next is her loyalty--that quality which makes her stand steadfastly by
those she loves, through good and evil report, arid not afraid to do
honor to a dead friend, be he prince or peasant--that quality which in
her lofty position, makes her friendship for the unfortunate exile "as
the shadow of a great rock in a weary land."
Next I place her sincerity, her downright honesty, which makes falsehood
and duplicity in those she has to do with, something to be wondered over
as well as scorned. Next, is her courage, so abundantly shown in the many
instances in which her life has been menaced. I do not believe that a
braver woman lives than Queen Victoria.
I admire her also for the respect and delicate consideration which she
has always had for the royalty of intellect, for the pride and
sensitiveness of genius. This peculiarity dates far back to when, as the
young Princess Victoria, she timidly asked that such men as the poets
Moore and Rogers, and the actors Charles Kemble and Macready might be
presented to her. Thomas Campbell used to relate an incident showing what
charming compliments she knew how to pay to poets. Wishing to witness the
coronation, he wrote to the Earl Marshal, saying: "There is a place in
the Abbey called 'The Poets' Corner,' which suggests the possibility of
there being room in it for living poets also." This brought him a ticket
of admission. His admiration of the young Queen's behavior was unbounded,
and he says: "On returning home, I resolved out of pure esteem and
veneration, to send her a copy of all say works. Accordingly I had them,
bound up and went personally with them to Sir Henry Wheatley, who, when
he understood my errand, told me that Her Majesty made it a rule to
decline presents of this kind, as it placed her under obligations which
were not pleasant to her. 'Say to Her Majesty, Sir Henry,' I replied,
'that there is nothing which the Queen can touch with her sceptre in any
of her dominions which I covet; and I therefore entreat you to present
them with my devotion as a subject.' But the next day they were returned.
I hesitated to open the parcel, but on doing so I found to my
inexpressible joy a note enclosed, desiring my autograph on them. Having
complied with this wish, I again transmitted the books to Her Majesty,
and in the course of a day or two, received in return this elegant
portrait engraving, with Her Majesty's autograph, as you see, below."
The Queen was the friend of Charles Kingsley, and of Charles Dickens, in
his later days. In presenting the latter with her. book, "_Leaves from
a Journal of Our Life in the Highlands_" she spoke of herself as "the
humblest of writers," and as almost ashamed to offer it, even with her
priceless autograph, to "one of the greatest." Mr. Tennyson she delights
to honor with her friendship. I have read a little story of her calling
on him at his place, on the Isle of Wight. It seems he had not received
due notice, or that, absorbed in writing, he had forgotten the hour. At
all events, he was taken by surprise, and was obliged to run out to
receive Her Majesty in his dressing-gown and slippers, and with his hair
disheveled, as it had become in the fine frenzy of composition. Just
think of Mr. Tennyson with his hair more than usually disheveled! Of
course it was all right, as far as the Queen was concerned,--but then the
In her youth, the Queen was very fond of the drama, and did honor to its
representations, as we have seen. Rachel used to show, with especial
pride, a costly bracelet, within which was the inscription, "_Victoria
à Rachel._" When the beautiful English actress, Mrs. Warner, was
slowly dying of cancer, the Queen, I am told, used to send daily one of
her carriages to take her out for a drive--as the actress could not
afford herself such a luxury.
Of Americans distinguished for talent, Her Majesty has never failed to
show, when in her power, a generous appreciation. As long ago as 1839,
she invited to Buckingham Palace, Daniel Webster and Mrs. Webster. To our
great statesman--who Miss Mitford, at the time, said was "the grandest-
looking man" she had ever beheld, and whom Sydney Smith called, more
tersely than elegantly, "a steam-engine in breeches"--the Queen was
especially attentive, talking much with him; and he pronounced her "very
intelligent." To Longfellow, purest of poets and sweetest of spirits, she
showed a respect which was almost homage; and I am told that in Mr.
Lowell, she respects the poet and the scholar, even more than the
Minister. Ah, he is one whose poetic genius, whose scholarship, keen wit,
and, above all, exquisite humor, the Prince-Consort would have
appreciated and delighted in.
Artists and men of letters have never been behindhand in tributes to the
Queen. Every sculptor and painter to whom she has sat, has had the same
story as Gibson and Leslie to tell of her kindness, taste and
intelligence. Miss Fox, writing of Landseer, says, "He deeply admires the
Queen's intellect, which he thinks superior to any woman's in Europe. Her
memory is so remarkable that he has known her recall exact words of
speeches, made years ago, which the speakers themselves had forgotten."
That was saying too much, I think, when Mrs. Somerville, Miss Martineau,
and Elizabeth Barrett were living, and working, in England. In the things
pertaining to her station and vocation, Victoria doubtless was, and is,
superior to any woman in Europe. The Duke of Wellington, who thought at
fink that he could not get on with her, because he had "no small talk,"
finally enjoyed conversing with her on the most serious matters of State.
Sir Archibald Alison, in describing an evening with her and Prince
Albert, says: "The Queen took her full share in the conversation, and I
could easily see, from her quickness of apprehension. And the questions
she put to those around her, that she possessed uncommon talent, a great
desire for information, and, in particular, great rapidity of thought--a
faculty often possessed by persons of her rank, and arising not merely
from natural ability, but from the habit of conversing with the first men
of the age."
Ah, I wonder if Her Majesty has ever realized her blessed privilege in
being able to converse freely with "the first men of the age"; to avow
her interest in politics, which is history flowing by; in statesmanship,
that cunning tapestry-work of empire, without fearing to be set down as
"a strong-minded female out of her sphere."
Much has been told me of the Queen's shrewdness and perspicacity. An
English gentleman, who has opportunities of knowing much of her, lately
said to me: "Her Majesty has an eagle-eye; she sees everything--sees
everybody--sees through everybody." And this reminded me of a little
anecdote, told me many years before, by an English fellow-traveler,--the
story of a little informal interview, which amusingly revealed not only
the Queen's quickness of perception, but directness of character.
My informant was a young gentleman of very artistic tastes--a passionate
picture-lover. He had seen all the great paintings in the public
galleries of London, and had a strong desire to see those of Buckingham
Palace, which, that not being a show-house, are inaccessible to an
ordinary connoisseur. Fortune favored him at
a London carpet merchant, who had an order to put down new carpets in the
State apartments of the palace; and so it chanced that the temptation
came to my friend to put on a workman's blouse and thus enter the royal
precincts, while the flag, indicating the presence of the august family,
floated defiantly over the roof. So he effected an entrance, and, when
once within the royal halls, dropped his assumed character and devoted
himself to the pictures. It happened that he remained in one of the
apartments after the workmen had left, and, while quite alone, the Queen
came tripping in, wearing a plain white morning-dress, and followed by
two or three of her younger children, dressed with like simplicity. She
approached the supposed workman and, said: "Pray can you tell me when the
new carpet will be put down in the Privy Council Chamber?" and he,
thinking he had no right to appear to recognize the Queen under the
circumstances, replied: "Really, madam--I cannot tell--but I will
enquire." "Stay," she said abruptly, but not unkindly; "who are you? I
perceive that you are not one of the workmen." Mr. W----, blushing and
stammering somewhat, yet made a clean breast of it, and told the simple
truth. The Queen seemed much amused with his _ruse_, and, for the sake of
his love for art, forgave it; then added, smiling, "I knew, for all your
dress, that you were a gentleman, because you did not address me as 'your
Majesty.' Pray look at the pictures as long as you will. Good-morning!
Come, chicks, we must go."
I hear that a distinguished American friend has expressed a fear that I
shall "idealize Queen Victoria." I do not think I have done so. I leave
that to her English biographers and eulogists. In my researches, I have
come upon curious things, in the way of pompous panegyric, which would
have made Minerva the Wise, feel foolish, and which Juno the Superb,
would have pronounced "a little too strong, really." I have not, it is
true, pointed out faults--I have not been near enough to "the Queen's
Most Excellent Majesty" to become acquainted with them. I presume she has
them--I hope she has. I think all writers who deny her human weaknesses,
or betray surprise at any exhibition of ordinary human feeling, pay the
Queen a very poor compliment. There is in England a good deal of
exaggerated expression of loyalty. Such words as "gracious" and
"condescending" are habits and forms of speech. Of the real sentiment of
loyalty, I do not think there is an excess--at least not toward the
Queen. When Her Majesty gives way to natural emotion over the death of a
friend, or over a great public calamity, I do not believe she likes to
have the fact made a circumstance of. For instance, when that dreadful
tragedy occurred in the Victoria Hall, at Sunderland, when hundreds of
children perished, by being trampled underfoot and suffocated, the Court
intelligence, which seemed to deepen the sadness in many minds, was that
"Her Majesty was observed to weep on reading the account." This item went
the rounds, and called forth such expressions of sympathy that one would
have supposed that it was the august _mater patriæ_ at Windsor, who
had been bereaved, and not those poor distracted mothers at Sunderland.
Why should the Queen not weep over such a "massacre of the innocents,"
like any other good, sympathetic, motherly woman? She has not wept away
all her tears for herself.
I remember at the time of the death of Lady Augusta Stanley, who had
formerly been one of Her Majesty's Maids of Honor, much was said of the
Queen's sympathy with the Dean. She attended the funeral, and afterwards,
it is said, "led the widowed mourner into his desolate home." This act,
so simple and sweet in a friend, was, I know, looked upon' by some as
"condescension," in a sovereign; but how could one sorrowing human soul
condescend to another--and that other Arthur Stanley? Sorrow is as great
a leveler as death. Tears wash away all poor human distinctions.
We also took the Queen's sympathy with us, in our great national-
bereavement, too much as though it were something quite super-royal, if
not superhuman. It was the exquisite wording of those telegrams which
touched, melted our hearts; but we should have been neither surprised,
nor overcome. It was beautiful, but it was natural. _She_ could not have
said less, or said it differently. It was very sweet of her to send that
floral offering, known and dear to us all as "the Queen's Wreath," but
she sacrificed no dignity in so doing, as her flowers were to lie on the
coffin of the ruler of a great empire--a ruler who had been as much
greater than an ordinary monarch as election is greater than accident.
Of course, as the Queen is the most interesting personage in all England,
the least little things connected with her have an interest which
Americans can hardly understand. In a handsome semi-official work called
"A Diary of Royal Events," I find gravely related the story of an Osborne
postman, who once lent the Queen and Prince Albert his umbrella, and was
told to call for it at the great house, when he received it back, and
with it a five-pound note. I see nothing very note-worthy in this, except
the fact, honorable to humanity, of a borrowed umbrella being promptly
returned, the owner calling for it. The five-pound note, though, was an
"event" to the postman.
A few concluding words about the Queen's children, who with many
grandchildren "rise up to call her blessed."
Victoria, the Crown Princess of Germany, is a fine-looking woman, with
the same peculiarly German face, "round as an apple," which she had as a
child. She is very clever, especially in art, and her character, formed
under her father's hand, very noble. The Prince of Wales is a hard-
working man in his way, which means in many ways, for the public benefit-
-industrial, artistic, scientific and social. The people seem bent on
making him true to his old Saxon motto--"_Ich dien_" (I serve). He
is exceedingly popular, being very genial and affable--not jealous, it is
said, of his dignity as a Prince, but very jealous of his dignity as a
gentleman--and that is right; for kings may come, and kings may go, but
the fine type of the English gentleman goes on forever. No revolution can
depose it; no commune can destroy it--it is proof against dynamite.
A handsome man is the Duke of Edinburgh (Prince Alfred), who no longer
follows the sea, but is settled down in England, with his wife, a
daughter of the late Czar, who testified by this alliance his wish to let
Crimean "by-gones be by-gones"--till the next time, at least.
The Duke resembles his father in his love for and cultivation of music.
There does not seem to be any opening for him to play a part like that of
Alfred the Great, but he can probably play the violin better than that
monarch ever did. They drew another sort of a bow in those old days.
The Princess Christian of Schleswig-Holstein (Princess Helena) is in
appearance most like her mother, and perhaps in character and tastes, as
she lives a life of quiet retirement, is a devoted wife and-mother, yet
often giving her time and energies to a good work, or an artistic
enterprise. She also is exceedingly fond of music and is an accomplished
pianist. A passion for music belongs to this family by a double
inheritance. Even poor, old, blind George the Third consoled himself at
his organ, for the loss of an empire and the darkening of as world.
The Duke of Connaught, whom we so pleasantly remember in America as
Prince Arthur, is the soldier of the family--a real one, since he won his
spars in Egypt. He has something of the grave, gentle look of his father,
and is much liked and respected.
The Princess Louise (Marchioness of Lome) is a beautiful woman, but with
a somewhat cold and proud expression, a veritable _grande dame_. She
is remarkably clever and accomplished, especially in art--modeling
admirably well--for a Princess.
Prince Leopold (Duke of Albany) is the scholar of the family--
intellectually and morally more like Prince Albert, it is said, than any
of his brothers. I was once told by the eminent Dr. James Martineau, who
had met and conversed with him, that he was a young man of a very
thoughtful mind, high aims, and quite remarkable acquirements. As Dr.
Martineau is not of _the_ church, being a Unitarian divine, he
cannot be suspected, in pronouncing such eulogies on the Queen's darling
son, of having an eye to preferment-of working for a "living." On the
whole, Her Majesty's sons are a decided improvement on her six royal
uncles, on the paternal side.
We come now to the youngest, the darling and delight of her father, the
little one who "stood and looked at him," when he lay ill, marveling at
the mysterious change in his dear face;--the Princess Beatrice--as
closely associated, as constantly with her mother as was the Princess
Victoria with the Duchess of Kent. She also is accomplished and clever,
nor appears in any way to "unbeseem the promise of her spring." She also
has the love of music which marks her race. She was little more than a
baby when her father went away, and her innocent wonder and questioning
must often have pierced her mother's wounded heart anew; and yet those
little loving hands must have helped to draw that mother from the depths
of gloom and despair in which she was so nearly engulfed. Though the
youngest of all, her father seems to have delegated to her much of his
dearest earthly care, and she the good daughter, is, it may be, led by
unseen hands, and inspired by unspoken words of counsel and acceptance.
So, though the life of the Princess Beatrice is not abounding in the
Court gayeties and excitements which usually fall to the lot of a
Princess, "young, and so fair," none, can question its happiness, for it
is a life of duty and devotion.
* * * * *
And now my little biography is finished--"would it were worthier!"--and I
must take leave of my illustrious subject, "kissing hands" in
imagination, with profound respect. If I back out of the presence, it is
not in unrepublican abasement, but because I am loath to turn my eyes
away, from the kindly and now familiar face of the good woman, and the
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