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Queen Victoria, her girlhood and womanhood by Grace Greenwood

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Permit me, my dear friend, to inscribe to you this very imperfect Life of
your beloved Queen, in remembrance of that dear old time when the world
was brighter and more beautiful than it is now (or so it seemeth to me)
and things in general were pleasanter;--when better books were written,
especially biographies, and there were fewer of them;--when the "gentle
reader" and the "indulgent critic" were extant;--when Realism had not
shouldered his way into Art;--when there were great actors and actresses
of the fine old school, like Macready and the elder Booth--Helen Faucit
and Charlotte Cushman; and real orators, like Daniel O'Connell and Daniel
Webster;--when there was more poetry and more romance in life than now;--
when it took less silk to make a gown, but when a bonnet was a bonnet;--
when there was less east-wind and fog, more moonlight to the month, and
more sunlight to the acre;--when the scent of the blossoming hawthorn was
sweeter in the morning, and the song of the nightingale more melodious in
the twilight;--when, in short, you and I, and the glorious Victorian era,
were young.



I send this book out to the world with many misgivings, feeling that it
is not what I would like it to be--not what I could have made it with
more time. I have found it especially difficult to procure facts and
incidents of the early life of the Queen--just that period which I felt
was of most interest to my younger readers. So much was I delayed that
for the actual arrangement and culling of my material, and the writing of
the volume, I have had less than three months, and during that time many
interruptions in my work--the most discouraging caused by a serious
trouble of the eyes.

I am aware that the book is written in a free and easy style, partly
natural, and partly formed by many years of journalistic work--a style
new for the grave business of biographical writing, and which may be
startling in a royal biography,--to my English readers, at least. I aimed
to make a pleasant, simple fireside story of the life and reign of Queen
Victoria--and I hope I have not altogether failed. Unluckily, I had no
friend near the throne to furnish me with reliable, unpublished personal
anecdotes of Her Majesty.

I have made use of the labor of several English authors; first, of that
of the Queen herself, in the books entitled, "Leaves from the Journal of
Our Life in the Highlands," and "The Early Years of His Royal Highness
the Prince-Consort"; next, of that of Sir Theodore Martin, K.C.B., in his
"Life of the Prince-Consort." For this last appropriation I have Sir
Theodore Martin's gracious permission. I am much indebted to Hon. Justin
McCarthy, in his "History of Our Own Times." I have also been aided by
various compilations, and by Lord Ronald Gower's "Reminiscences."

I have long felt that the wonderful story of the life of the Queen of
England--of her example as a daughter, wife and mother, and as the
honored head of English society could but have, if told simply, yet
sympathetically, a happy and ennobling influence on the hearts and minds
of my young countrywomen. I have done my work, if lightly, with entire
respect, though always as an American and a republican. I could not do
otherwise; for, though it has made me in love with a few royal people, it
has not made me in love with royalty. I cannot but think that, so far
from its being a condition of itself ennobling to human character, those
born into it have often to fight to maintain a native nobility,--as Queen
Victoria has fought, as Prince Albert fought,--for I find the "blameless
Prince" saying: "To my mind the exaltation of royalty is only possible
through the personal character of the sovereign."

It suits England, however, "excellent well," in its restricted
constitutional form; she has all the venerable, splendid accessories--and
I hope "Albert the Good" may have founded a long race of good kings; but
it would not do for us;--a race cradled in revolution, and nurtured on
irreverence and unbelief, as regards the divine right of kings and the
law of primogeniture. To us it seems, though a primitive, an unnatural
institution. We find no analogies for it, even in the wildest venture of
the New World. It is true the buffalo herd has its kingly commander, who
goes plunging along ahead, like a flesh-and-blood locomotive; the drove
of wild horses has its chieftain, tossing his long mane, like a banner,
in advance of his fellows; even the migratory multitudes of wild-fowl,
darkening the autumn heavens, have their general and engineer,--but none
of these leaders was born, or hatched into his proud position. They are
undoubtedly chosen, elected, or elect themselves by superior will or
wisdom. Entomology does, indeed, furnish some analogies. The sagacious
bees, the valiant wasps, are monarchists,--but then, they have only

G. G.

LONDON, _October 20th_, 1883.











Sketch of the Princess Charlotte--Her Love for her Mother--Anecdotes--Her
Happy Girlhood--Her Marriage with Prince Leopold--Her Beautiful Life at
Claremont--Baron Stockmar, the Coburg Mentor--Death of the Princess

It seems to me that the life of Queen Victoria cannot well be told
without a prefacing sketch of her cousin, the Princess Charlotte, who,
had she lived, would have been her Queen, and who was in many respects
her prototype. It is certain, I think, that Charlotte Augusta of Wales,
that lovely miracle-flower of a loveless marriage, blooming into a noble
and gracious womanhood, amid the petty strifes and disgraceful intrigues
of a corrupt Court, by her virtues and graces, by her high spirit and
frank and fearless character, prepared the way in the loyal hearts of the
British people, for the fair young kinswoman, who, twenty-one years after
her own sad death, reigned in her stead.

Through all the bright life of the Princess Charlotte--from her beautiful
childhood to her no less beautiful maturity--the English people had
regarded her proudly and lovingly as their sovereign, who was to be; they
had patience with the melancholy madness of the poor old King, her
grandfather, and with the scandalous irregularities of the Prince Regent,
her father, in looking forward to happier and better things under a good
woman's reign; and after all those fair hopes had been coffined with her,
and buried in darkness and silence, their hearts naturally turned to the
royal little girl, who might possibly fill the place left so drearily
vacant. England had always been happy and prosperous under Queens, and a
Queen, please God, they would yet have.

The Princess Charlotte was the only child of the marriage of the Prince
Regent, afterwards George IV., with the Princess Caroline of Brunswick,
Her childhood was overshadowed by the hopeless estrangement of her
parents. She seems to have especially loved her mother, and by the
courage and independence she displayed in her championship of that good-
hearted but most eccentric and imprudent woman, endeared herself to the
English people, who equally admired her pluck and her filial piety--on
the maternal side. They took a fond delight in relating stories of
rebellion against her august papa, and even against her awful grandmamma,
Queen Charlotte. They told how once, when a mere slip of a girl, being
forbidden to pay her usual visit to her poor mother, she insisted on
going, and on the Queen undertaking to detain her by force, resisted,
struggling right valiantly, and after damaging and setting comically awry
the royal mob-cap, broke away, ran out of the palace, sprang into a
hackney-coach, and promising the driver a guinea, was soon at her
mother's house and in her mother's arms. There is another--a Court
version of this hackney-coach story--which states that it was not the
Queen, but the Prince Regent that the Princess ran away from--so that
there could have been no assault on a mob-cap. But the common people of
that day preferred the version I have given, as more piquant, especially
as old Queen Charlotte was known to be the most solemnly grand of
grandmammas, and a personage of such prodigious dignity that it was
popularly supposed that only Kings and Queens, with their crowns actually
on their heads, were permitted to sit in her presence.

As a young girl, the Princess Charlotte was by no means without faults of
temper and manner. She was at times self-willed, passionate, capricious,
and imperious, though ordinarily good-humored, kindly, and sympathetic. A
Court lady of the time, speaking of her, says: "She is very clever, but
at present has the manners of a hoyden school-girl. She talked all sorts
of nonsense to me, but can put on dignity when she chooses." This writer
also relates that the royal little lady loved to shock her attendants by
running to fetch for herself articles she required--her hat, a book, or a
chair--and that one summer, when she stayed at a country-house, she would
even run to open the gate to visitors, curtsying to them like a country
lassie. The Earl of Albemarle, who was her playmate in childhood, his
grandmother being her governess, relates that one time when they had the
Prince Regent to lunch, the chop came up spoiled, and it was found that
Her Royal Highness had descended into the kitchen, and, to the dismay of
the cook, insisted on broiling it. Albemarle adds that he, boy-like,
taunted her with her culinary failure, saying: "_You_ would make a
pretty Queen, wouldn't you?" At another time, some years later, she came
in her carriage to make a morning-call at his grandmother's, and seeing a
crowd gathered before the door, attracted by the royal liveries, she ran
out a back-way, came round, and mingled with the curious throng
unrecognized, and as eager to see the Princess as any of them.

Not being allowed the society of her mother, and that of her father not
being considered wholesome for her, the Princess was early advised and
urged to take a companion and counsellor in the shape of a husband. The
Prince of Orange, afterwards King of the Netherlands, was fixed upon as a
good _parti_ by her royal relatives, and he came courting to the English
Court. But the Princess did hot altogether fancy this aspirant, so, after
her independent fashion, she declined the alliance, and "the young man
went away sorrowing."

One of the ladies of the Princess used to tell how for a few minutes
after the Prince had called to make his sad _adieux_, she hoped that
Her Royal Highness had relented because she walked thoughtfully to the
window to see the last of him as he descended the palace steps and sprang
into his carriage, looking very grand in his red uniform, with a tuft of
green feathers in his hat. But when the Princess turned away with a gay
laugh, saying, "How like a radish he looks," she knew that all was over.
It is an odd little coincidence, that a later Prince of Orange,
afterwards King of the Netherlands, had the same bad luck as a suitor to
the Princess or Queen Victoria.

Charlotte's next lover, Leopold, of Saxe-Coburg, an amiable and able
Prince, was more fortunate. He won the light but constant heart of the
Princess, inspiring her not only with tender love, but with profound
respect. Her high spirit and imperious will were soon tamed to his firm
but gentle hand; she herself became more gentle and reasonable, content
to rule the kingdom of his heart at least, by her womanly charms, rather
than by the power of her regal name and lofty position. This royal love-
marriage took place in May, 1816, and soon after the Prince and Princess,
who had little taste for Court gaieties, went to live at Claremont, the
beautiful country residence now occupied by the young Duke of Albany, a
namesake of Prince Leopold. Here the young couple lived a life of much
domestic privacy and simplicity, practicing themselves in habits of
study, methodical application to business, and wise economy. They were
always together, spending happy hours in work and recreation, passing
from law and politics to music and sketching, from the study of the
British Constitution to horticulture. The Princess especially delighted
in gardening, in watering with her own hands her favorite plants.

This happy pair had an invaluable aid and ally in the learned Baron
Stockmar, early attached to Prince Leopold as private physician, a rare,
good man on whom they both leaned much, as afterwards did Victoria and
Albert and their children. Indeed the Baron seems to have been a
permanent pillar for princes to lean upon. From youth to old age he was
to two or three royal households the chief "guide, philosopher, and
friend"--a Coburg mentor, a Guelphic oracle.

So these royal lovers of Claremont lived tranquilly on, winning the love
and respect of all about them, and growing dearer and dearer to each
other till the end came, the sudden death of the young wife and mother,--
an event which, on a sad day in November, 1817, plunged the whole realm
into mourning. The grief of the people, even those farthest removed from
the Court, was real, intense, almost personal and passionate. It was a
double tragedy, for the child too was dead. The accounts of the last
moments of the Princess are exceedingly touching. When told that her baby
boy was not living, she said: "I am grieved, for myself, for the English
people, but O, above all, I feel it for my dear husband!" Taking an
opportunity when the Prince was away from her bedside, she asked if she
too must die. The physician did not directly reply, but said, "Pray be

"I know what _that_ means," she replied, then added, "Tell it to my
husband,--tell it with caution and tenderness, and be sure to say to him,
from me, that I am still the happiest wife in England."

It seems, according to the Queen, that it was Stockmar that took this
last message to the Prince, who lacked the fortitude to remain by the
bedside of his dying wife--that it was Stockmar who held her hand till it
grew pulseless and cold, till the light faded from her sweet blue eyes as
her great life and her great love passed forever from the earth. Yet it
seems that through a mystery of transmigration, that light and life and
love were destined soon to be reincarnated in a baby cousin, born in May,
1819, called at first "the little May-flower," and through her earliest
years watched and tended as a frail and delicate blossom of hope.


Birth of the Princess Victoria--Character of her Father--Question of the
Succession to the Throne--Death of the Duke of Kent--Baptism of Victoria
--Removal to Woolbrook Glen--Her first Escape from Sudden Death--Picture
of Domestic Life--Anecdotes.

After the loss of his wife, Prince Leopold left for a time his sad home
of Claremont, and returned to the Continent, but came back some time in
1819, to visit a beloved sister, married since his own bereavement, and
become the mother of a little English girl, and for the second time a
widow. Lovingly, though with a pang at his heart, the Prince bent over
the cradle of this eight-months-old baby, who in her unconscious
orphanage smiled into his kindly face, and though he thought sorrowfully
of the little one whose eyes had never smiled into his, had never even
opened upon life, he vowed then and there to the child of his bereaved
sister, the devoted love, the help, sympathy, and guidance which never
failed her while he lived.

This baby girl was the daughter of the Duke of Kent and of the Princess
Victoire Marie Louise of Saxe-Coburg Saalfield, widow of Prince Charles
of Leiningen. Edward, Duke of Kent, was the fourth and altogether the
best son of George III. Making all allowance for the exaggeration of
loyal biographers, I should say he was an amiable, able, and upright man,
generous and charitable to a remarkable degree, for a royal Prince of
that time--perhaps too much so, for he kept himself poor and died poor.
He was not a favorite with his royal parents, who seem to have denied him
reasonable assistance, while lavishing large sums on his spendthrift
brother, the Prince of Wales. George was like the prodigal son of
Scripture, except that he never repented--Edward like the virtuous son,
except that he never complained.

On the death of the Princess Charlotte the Duke of York had become heir-
presumptive to the throne. He had no children, and the Duke of Clarence,
third son of George III., was therefore next in succession. He married in
the same year as his brother of Kent, and to him also a little daughter
was born, who, had she lived, would have finally succeeded to the throne
instead of Victoria. But the poor little Princess stayed but a little
while to flatter or disappoint royal hopes. She looked timidly out upon
life, with all its regal possibilities, and went away untempted. Still
the Duchess of Clarence (afterwards Queen Adelaide) might yet be the
happy mother of a Prince, or Princess Royal, and there were so many
probabilities against the accession of the Duke of Kent's baby to the
throne that people smiled when, holding her in his arms, the proud father
would say, in a spirit of prophecy, "Look at her well!--she will yet be
Queen of England."

One rainy afternoon the Duke stayed out late, walking in the grounds, and
came in with wet feet. He was urged to change his boots and stockings,
but his pretty baby, laughing and crowing on her mother's knee, was too
much for him; he took her in his arms and played with her till the fatal
chill struck him. He soon took to his bed, which he never left. He had
inflammation of the lungs, and a country doctor, which last took from him
one hundred and twenty ounces of blood. Then, as he grew no better, a
great London physician was called in, but he said it was too late to save
the illustrious patient; that if he had had charge of the case at first,
he would have "bled more freely." Such was the medical system of sixty
years ago.

The Duke of Kent's death brought his unconscious baby's feet a step--just
his grave's width--nearer the throne; but it was not till many years
later--till after the death of her kindly uncle of York, and her "fine
gentleman" uncle, George IV., and the accession of her rough sailor-
uncle, the Duke of Clarence, William IV., an old man, and legally
considered childless--that the Princess Victoria was confidently regarded
as the coming sovereign, and that the momentous truth was revealed to
her. She was twelve years old before any clear intimation had been
allowed to reach her of the exceptional grandeur of her destiny. Till
then she did not know that she was especially an object of national love
and hope, or especially great or fortunate. She knew that she was a
"Royal Highness," but she knew also, the wise child!--that since the
Guelphs came over to rule the English, Royal Highnesses had been more
plentiful than popular; she knew that she was obliged to wear, most of
the time, very plain cotton gowns and straw hats, and to learn a lot of
tiresome things, and that she was kept on short allowance of pin-money
and ponies.

The wise Duchess of Kent certainly guarded her with the most jealous care
from all premature realization of the splendid part she might have to
play in the world's history, as a hope too intoxicating, or a
responsibility too heavy, for the heart and mind of a sensitive child.

I wonder if her Serene Highness kept fond motherly records of the
babyhood and childhood of the Queen? If so, what a rich mine it would be
for a poor bewildered biographer like me, required to make my foundation
bricks with only a few golden bits of straw. I have searched the
chronicles of the writers of that time; I have questioned loyal old
people, but have found or gained little that is novel, or peculiarly

Victoria was born in the sombre but picturesque old palace of Kensington,
on May 24, 1819, and on the 24th of the following June was baptized with
great pomp out of the splendid gold font, brought from the Tower, by the
Archbishop of Canterbury, assisted by the Bishop of London. Her sponsors
were the Prince Regent and the Emperor of Russia (the last represented by
the Duke of York), the Queen Dowager of Würtemburg (represented by the
Princess Augusta) and the Duchess Dowager of Coburg (represented by the
Duchess Dowager of Gloucester), and her names were _Alexandrina
Victoria_, the first in honor of the Emperor Alexander of Russia. She
came awfully near being Alexandrina Georgiana, but the Prince Regent, at
the last moment, declared that the name of Georgiana should be second to
no other; then added, "Give her her mother's name--after that of the
Emperor." The Queen afterwards decided that her mother's name should be
second to no other. Yet as a child she was often called "little Drina."

The baby's first move from her stately birthplace was to a lovely country
residence called Woolbrook Glen, near Sidmouth. Here Victoria had the
first of those remarkable narrow escapes from sudden and violent death
which have almost seemed to prove that she bears a "charmed life." A boy
was shooting sparrows in vicinity of the house, and a charge from his
carelessly-handled gun pierced the window by which the nurse was sitting,
with the little Princess in her arms. It is stated that the shot passed
frightfully near the head of the child. But she was as happily
unconscious of the deadly peril she had been in as, a few months later,
she was of the sad loss she sustained in the death of her father, who was
laid away with the other Guelphs in the Windsor Royal Vault, never again
to throne his little "Queen" in his loyal, loving arms.

The Princess Victoria seems to have been always ready for play, dearly
loving a romp. One of the earliest mentions I find of her is in the
correspondence of Bishop Wilberforce. After stating that he had been
summoned to the presence of the Duchess of Kent, he says: "She received
me with her fine, animated child on the floor by her side busy with its
playthings, of which I soon became one."

This little domestic picture gives a glimpse of the tender intimacy, the
constant companionship of this noble mother with her child. It is stated
that, unlike most mothers in high life, the Duchess nursed this
illustrious child at her own breast, and so mingled her life with its
life that nothing thenceforth could divide them. The wee Princess passed
happily through the perils of infantile ailments. She cut her teeth as
easily as most children, with the help of her gold-mounted coral--and
very nice teeth they were, though a little too prominent according to the
early pictures. If the infant Prince Albert reminded his grandmamma of a
"weasel," his "pretty cousin" might have suggested to her a squirrel by
"a little something about the mouth."

An old newspaper writer gave a rather rapturous and pompous account of
the Princess Victoria when she was about three years old. He says:
"Passing through Kensington Gardens a few days since, I observed at some
distance a party consisting of several ladies, a young child, and two
men-servants, having in charge a donkey, gayly caparisoned with blue
ribbons, and accoutred for the use of the infant." He soon ascertained
that the party was the Duchess of Kent and her daughter, the Princess
Feodore of Leiningen, and the Princess Alexandrina Victoria. On his
approaching them the little one replied to his "respectful recognition"
with a pleasant "good-morning," and he noted that she was equally polite
to all who politely greeted her--truly one "to the manner born." This
writer adds: "Her Royal Highness is remarkably beautiful, and her gay and
animated countenance bespeaks perfect health and good temper. Her
complexion is excessively fair, her eyes large and expressive, and her
cheeks blooming. She bears a striking resemblance to her royal father."

A glimpse which Leigh Hunt gives of his little liege lady, as she
appeared to him for the first time in Kensington Gardens, is interesting,
as revealing the child's affectionate disposition. "She was coming up a
cross-path from the Bayswater Gate, with a little girl of her own age by
her side, whose hand she was holding as though she loved her." And why
not, Mr. Poet? Princesses, especially Princesses of the bread-and-butter
age, are as susceptible to joys of sympathy and companionship as any of
us--untitled poets and title-contemning Republicans.

Lord Albemarle, in his autobiography, speaks of watching, in an idle
hour, from the windows of the old palace, "the movements of a bright,
pretty little girl, seven years of age, engaged in watering the plants
immediately under the window. It was amusing to see how impartially she
divided the contents of the watering-pot between the flowers and her own
little feet. Her simple but becoming dress--a large straw hat and a white
cotton gown--contrasted favorably with the gorgeous apparel now worn by
the little damsels of the rising generation. A colored fichu round the
neck was the only ornament she wore. The young lady I am describing was
the Princess Victoria, now our Gracious Sovereign."

Queen Victoria dressed her own children in the same simple style, voted
quaint and old-fashioned by a later generation. I heard long ago a story
of a fashionable lady from some provincial town taking a morning walk in
Windsor Park, in the wild hope of a glimpse of royalty, and meeting a
lady and gentleman, accompanied only by two or three children, and all so
plainly dressed that she merely glanced at them as they passed. Some
distance further she walked in her eager quest, when she met an old
Scotch gardener, of whom she asked if there was any chance of her
encountering the Queen anywhere on the domain. "Weel, ye maun, turn back
and rin a good bit, for you've passed her _Mawjesty_, the Prince, and the
Royal bairns."

Ah, wasn't she spited as she looked back and saw the joyous family party
in the dim distance, and realized what she had lost in not indulging
herself in a good long British stare, and what a sin she had committed in
not making a loyal British obeisance.


Victoria's early Education--Anecdote--Routine of Life at Kensington
Palace--Character and Circumstances of the Duchess of Kent--Anecdote--
Simple Mode of Life--Visits.

Queen Victoria tells little of her childhood, but speaks of it as rather
"dull." It seems, however, to have never been empty or idle. All her
moments were golden--for study, or for work, or healthful exercise and
play. She was taught, and perhaps was inclined, to waste no time, and to
be careful not to cause others to waste it. A dear English friend
contributes the following anecdote, slight, but very significant,
obtained long ago from a lady whose young daughters, then at school at
Hammersmith, had the same writing-master as the Princess Victoria: "Of
course," says my friend, "every incident connected with the little
Princess was interesting to the school-girls, and all that this master (I
think his name was Steward) had to tell went to prove her a kind-hearted
and considerate child.

"She always mentioned to him in advance the days on which she would not
require a lesson, saying: 'I thought, perhaps, you would like to know.'
Sometimes she would say, 'We are going to Windsor to see Uncle King,' or
she would name some other important engagement. By 'Uncle King' she meant
George IV. Mr. Steward, of course, availed himself of the liberty
suggested by the little Princess, then about eight years old, by whose
thoughtful kindness he was saved much time and trouble."

Lord Campbell, speaking of the Princess as a little girl, says: "She
seems in good health, and appears lively and good-humored." It may be
that the good-humor was, in great part, the result of the good health.

The Princess was brought up after the wisest, because most simple, system
of healthful living: perfect regularity in the hours of eating, sleeping,
and exercise; much life in the open air, and the least possible

She was taught to respect her own constitution as well as that of the
British Government, and to reverence the laws of health as the laws of

An account which I judge to be authoritative of the daily routine of the
family life in Kensington, runs thus: "Breakfast at 8 o'clock in summer,
the Princess Victoria having her bread and milk and fruit put on a little
table by her mother's side. After breakfast the Princess Feodore studied
with her governess, and the Princess Victoria went out for an hour's walk
or drive. From 10 to 12 her mother instructed her, after which she could
amuse herself by running through the suite of rooms which extended round
two sides of the palace, and in which were many of her toys. At 2 a plain
dinner, while her mother took her luncheon. Lessons again till 4; then
would come a visit or drive, and after that a walk or donkey ride in the
gardens. At the time of her mother's dinner the Princess had her supper,
still at the side of the Duchess; then, after playing with her nurse
(Mrs. Brock, whom she called 'dear, dear Boppy'), she would join the
party at dessert, and at 9 she would retire to her bed, which was placed
at the side of her mother's."

We see regular study, regular exercise, simple food, plenty of outdoor
air, plenty of play, plenty of sleep. It seems that when this admirable
mother laid her child away from her own breast, it was only to lay it on
that of Nature, and very close has Victoria, with all her state and
grandeur, kept to the heart of the great all-mother ever since.

The Duchess of Kent was left not only with very limited means for a lady
of her station, but also burdened by her husband's debts, which, being a
woman with a fine sense of honor, she felt herself obliged to discharge,
or at least to reduce as far and fast as possible. Had it not been for
help from her generous brother, Leopold, she could hardly have afforded
for her daughter the full and fitting education she received. So, had not
her taste and her sense of duty towards her child inclined her to a life
of quiet and retirement, the lack of fortune would have constrained her
to live simply and modestly. As it was, privacy was the rule in the life
of the accomplished Duchess, still young and beautiful, and in that of
her little shadow; very seldom did they appear at Court, or in any gay
Court circle; so, at the time of her accession to the throne, Victoria
might almost have been a fairy-princess, emerging from some enchanted
dell in Windsor forest, or a water-nymph evoked from the Serpentine in
Kensington Gardens by some modern Merlin, for all the world at large--the
world beyond her kingdom at least--knew of her young years, of her
character and disposition. Now few witnesses are left anywhere of her
fair happy childhood, or even of her girlhood, which was like a silvery
crescent, holding the dim promise of full-orbed womanhood and Queenhood.

As the Princess grew older, she found loving and helpful companionship in
her half-brother and sister, Prince Charles and the Princess Feodore of
Leiningen, the three children and their mother forming a close family
union, which years and separations and changes of fortune never
destroyed. They are all gone from her now; the Queen, as daughter and
sister, stands alone.

A kind friend and a well-known English writer, F. Aiken Kortright, for
many years a resident of Kensington, tells some pleasant little local
stories of the Princess Victoria. She says: "In her childhood the
Princess Victoria was frequently seen in a little carriage, drawn over
the gravel-walks of the then rural Kensington Gardens, accompanied by her
elder and half-sister, the Princess Feodore, and attended by a single
servant. Many elderly people still remember the extreme simplicity of the
child's attire, and the quiet and unpretentious appearance and manners of
her sister, who was one day seen to stop the tiny carriage to indulge the
fancy of an unknown little girl by allowing her to kiss her future

That "unknown little girl" was an elder sister of Miss Kortright. My
friend also says that the Duchess of Kent and her daughters frequently on
summer afternoons took tea on the lawn, "in sight of admiring
promenaders, with a degree of publicity which now sounds fabulous."

It was then safe and agreeable for that quiet, refined family, only
because the London "Rough"--that ugly, unwholesome, fungous growth on the
fine old oak of English character--had not made his unwelcome appearance
in all the public parks of the metropolis. Our friend also states that so
simple and little-girlish was the Princess in her ways that, later on,
she was known to go with her mother or sister to a Kensington milliner's
to buy a hat, stay to have it trimmed, and then carry it (or more likely
the old one) home in her hand. I should like to see a little Miss
Vanderbilt do a thing of that kind!

The Kents and Leiningens--if I may speak so familiarly of Royal and
Serene Highnesses--when away from the quiet home in Kensington, spent
much time at lovely Claremont as guests of the dear brother and Uncle
Leopold. They seem also to have travelled a good deal in England,
visiting watering-places and in houses of the nobility, but never to have
gone over to the Continent. The Duchess probably felt that the precious
life which she held in trust for the people of England might possibly be
endangered by too long journeys, or by changes of climate; but what it
cost to the true German woman to so long exile herself from her old home
and her kindred none ever knew--at least none among her husband's
unsympathetic family--for she was, as a Princess, too proud to complain;
as a mother, cheerful in her devotion and self-abnegation.


Queen-making not a Light Task--Admirable Discipline of the Duchess of
Kent--Foundation of the Character and Habits of the future Queen--Curious
Extract from a Letter by her Grandmamma--A Children's Ball given by
George IV. to the little Queen of Portugal--A Funny Mishap--Death of
George IV.--Character of his Successor--Victoria's first appearance at a
Drawing-room--Her absence from the Coronation of William IV.

Queen-making is not a light task. It is no fancywork for idle hours. It
is the first difficult draft of a chapter, perhaps a whole volume, of
national history.

No woman ever undertook a more important labor than did the widowed
Duchess of Kent, or carried it out with more faithfulness, if we may
judge by results.

The lack of fortune in the family was not an unmixed evil; perhaps it was
even one of those disagreeable "blessings in disguise," which nobody
welcomes, but which the wise profit by, as it caused the Duchess to
impress upon her children, especially the child Victoria, the necessity
of economy, and the safety and dignity which one always finds in living
within one's income. Frugality, exactitude in business, faithfulness to
all engagements, great or small, punctuality, that economy of time, are
usually set down among the minor moralities of life, more humdrum than
heroic; but under how many circumstances and conditions do they reveal
themselves as cardinal virtues, as things on which depend the comfort and
dignity of life! It seems that these things were so impressed on the mind
and heart of the young Victoria by her careful, methodical German mother,
that they became a part of her conscience, entered so deeply into the
rule of her life that no after-condition of wealth, or luxury, or
sovereign independence; no natural desire for ease or pleasure; no
passion of love or grief; no possible exigencies of imperial state have
been able to overcome or set them aside. The danger is that such rigid
principles, such systematic habits, adopted in youth, may in age become,
from being the ministers of one's will, the tyrants of one's life.

It seems to be somewhat so in the case of the Queen, for I hear it said
that the sun, the moon, and the tides are scarcely more punctual and
regular in their rounds and mighty offices, in their coming and going,
than she in the daily routine of her domestic and state duties and
frequent journeyings; and that the laws of the Medes and Persians are as
naught in inexorableness and inflexibility to the rules and regulations
of Windsor and Balmoral.

But the English people, even those directly inconvenienced at times by
those unbending habits and irrevocable rules, have no right to find
fault, for these be the right royal results of the admirable but somewhat
unyouthful qualities they adored in the young Queen. They have no right
to sneer because a place of honor is given in Her Majesty's household to
that meddlesome, old-fashioned German country cousin, Economy; for did
not they all rejoice in the early years of the reign to hear of this same
dame being introduced by those clever managers, Prince Albert and Baron
Stockmar, into the royal palaces, wherein she had not been seen for many
a year?

But to return to the little Princess. The Duchess, her mother, seems to
have given her all needful change of air and scene, though always
maintaining; habits of study, and an admirable system of mental and moral
training; for the child's constitution seems to have strengthened year by
year, and in spite of one or two serious attacks of illness, the
foundation was laid of the robust health which, accompanied by rare
courage and nerve, has since so marked and blessed her life. A writer of
the time speaks of a visit paid by her and her mother to Windsor in 1829,
when the child was about seven years old, and states that George IV., her
"Uncle King," was delighted with her "charming manners."

It was about this visit that her maternal grandmamma at Coburg wrote to
her mamma: "I see by the English papers that Her Royal Highness the
Duchess of Kent went on Virginia water with His Majesty. The little
monkey must have pleased and amused him, she is such a pretty, clever

To think of the great Victoria, Queen of Great Britain and Ireland, and
Empress of India, being called "a little monkey"! Grandmammas will take
such liberties. Three or four years later, according to that spicy and
irreverent chronicler, Charles Greville, the little Princess was not
pretty. But she was just entering on that ungracious period in which few
little girls are comely to look upon, or comfortable to themselves.
Greville saw her at a children's ball, given by the King in honor of his
little guest, the child-Queen of Portugal, Donna Maria II., da Gloria,
whom the King seated at his right hand, and was very attentive to.
Greville says she was fine-looking and very finely dressed, "with a
ribbon and order over her shoulder," and she must have seemed very grand
to the other children while she sat by the King, but when she came to
dance she "fell down and hurt her face, was frightened and bruised, and
went away." Then he adds: "Our little Princess is a short, plain child,
not so good-looking as the Portuguese. However, if Nature has not done so
much, Fortune is likely to do a great deal more for her."

Victoria did not know that, but like any other little girl she may,
perhaps, have comforted herself by thinking, "Well, if I'm not so
handsome and grand and smartly dressed as that Maria, I'm less awkward. I
was able to keep my head and not lose my feet."

As for her small Majesty of Portugal, she was at that time a Queen
without a crown and without a kingdom. She had come all the way from
Brazil to take her grandfather's throne, a little present from her
father, Dom Pedro I., the rightful heir, but only to find the place
filled by a wicked uncle, Don Miguel. She had a long fight with the
usurper, her father coming over to help her, and finally ousted Miguel
and got into that big, uneasy arm-chair, called a throne, where she
continued to sit, though much shaken and heaved up and about by political
convulsions, for some dozen years, when she found it best to step down
and out.

It is said she did not gain, but lost in beauty as she grew to womanhood;
so finally the English Princess had the advantage of her in the matter of
good looks even.

King George IV., though he was fond of his amusing little niece, did not
like to think of her as destined to rule in his place. He is said to have
been much offended when, as he was proposing to give that ball, his chief
favorite, a gay, Court lady, exclaimed: "Oh, do! it will be so nice to
see the _two little Queens_ dancing together." Yet he disliked the
Duchess of Kent for keeping the child as much as possible away from his
disreputable Court, and educating her after her own ideas, and often
threatened to use his power as King to deprive her of the little girl.
The country would not have stood this, yet the Duchess must have suffered
cruelly from fear of having her darling child taken from her by this
crowned ogre, and shut up in the gloomy keep of his Castle at Windsor.
But it was the Ogre-King who was taken, a little more than a year after
the children's ball--and not a day too soon for his country's good--and
his brother, the Duke of Clarence, reigned in his stead.

William IV. had some heart, some frankness and honesty, but he was a
bluff, rough sailor, and when excited, oaths of the hottest sort flew
from his lips, like sparks from an anvil. Because of his roughness and
profanity, and because, perhaps, of the fact of his surrounding himself
with a lot of natural children, the Duchess was determined to persevere
in her retirement from the Court circle, and in keeping her innocent
little daughter out of its unwholesome atmosphere, as much as possible.
She was, however, most friendly with Queen Adelaide, who, when her last
child died, had written to her: "My children are dead, but yours lives,
and she is mine too." The good woman meant this, and her fondness was
returned by Victoria, who manifested for her to the last, filial
affection and consideration.

The first Drawing-room which the Princess attended was one given in honor
of Her Majesty's birthday. She went with her mother and a suite of ladies
and gentlemen in State carriages, escorted by a party of Life Guards. The
Princess was on that occasion dressed entirely in materials of British
manufacture, her frock being of English blonde, very simple and becoming.
She stood at the left of her aunt, the Queen, and watched the splendid
ceremony with great interest, while everybody watched her with greater
interest. But if the presence of the "heir-presumptive to the throne"
created a sensation at the Queen's Drawing-room, her absence from the
King's coronation created more. Some said it was because a proper place
in the procession--one next to the King and Queen--had not been assigned
to her; others, that the Duchess had kept her away on account of her
delicate health, and nobody knew exactly the truth of the matter. Perhaps
the great state secret will be revealed some day with the identity of
"Junius" and the "Man in the Iron Mask."


King William jealous of Public Honors to Victoria--Anecdote--The unusual
Studies of the Princess--Her Visits to the Isle of Wight--Laughable
Incident at Wentworth House--Anecdote related by her Music-teacher--
Unwholesome adulation of the Princess--Reflections upon the curious
isolation of her Social Position--Extract from one of her later Letters.

The indifference of the Duchess of Kent to the heavy pomps and heavier
gayeties of his Court so offended his unmajestic Majesty, that he finally
became decidedly inimical to the Duchess. Though he insisted on seeing
the little Princess often, he did not like the English people to see too
much of her, or to pay her and her mother too much honor. He objected to
their little journeys, calling them "royal progresses," and by a special
order put a stop to the "poppings," in the way of salutes, to the vessel
which bore them to and from the Isle of Wight--a small piece of state-
business for a King and his Council to be engaged in. The King's
unpopular brother, the Duke of Cumberland, was also supposed to be
unfriendly to the widow of a brother whom he had not loved, and to the
child whom, according to that brother, he regarded from the first as an
"intruder," and who certainly at the last, stood between His Royal
Grossness and the throne--the throne which would have gone down under
him. Yet, in spite of enmity and opposition from high quarters, and
jealousy and harsh criticism from Court ministers and minions, the
Duchess of Kent, who seems to have been a woman of immense firmness and
resolution, kept on her way, rearing her daughter as she thought best,
coming and going as she felt inclined.

Victoria's governess was for many years the accomplished Baroness Lehzen,
who had also been the chief instructress of her sister, Feodore. Until
she was twelve years old, her masters were also German, and she is said
to have spoken English with a German accent. After that time her
teachers, in nearly all branches, were English. Miss Kortright tells me a
little anecdote of the Princess when about twelve years old, related by
one of these teachers. She had been reading in her classical history the
story of Cornelia, the mother of the Gracchi--how she proudly presented
her sons to the ostentatious and much-bediamonded Roman dame, with the
words, "These are _my_ jewels." "She should have said my _Cornelians_,"
said the quick-witted little girl.

Victoria was instructed in some things not in those days thought proper
for young ladies to learn, but deemed necessary for a poor girl who was
expected to do a man's work. She was well grounded in history, instructed
in Latin--though she did not fancy it, and later, in the British
Constitution, and in law and politics. Nor were light accomplishments
neglected: in modern languages, in painting and music, she finally became
singularly proficient. Gifted with a remarkably sweet voice and a correct
ear, she could not well help being a charming singer, under her great
master, Lablache. She danced well, rode well, and excelled in archery.

As I said, the brave Duchess, as conscientious as independent, kept up
the life of retirement from Court pomps and gayeties, and of alternate
hard study and social recreation, which she thought best for her child.

She quietly persevered in the "progresses" which annoyed the irascible
and unreasonable old King, even visiting the Isle of Wight, though the
royal big guns were forbidden to "pop" at sight of the royal standard,
which waved over her, and the young hope of England. Perhaps
recollections of those pleasant visits with her mother at Norris Castle
have helped to render so dear the Queen's own beautiful sea-side home,
Osborne House. I remember a pretty little story, told by a tourist, who
happened to be stopping at the village of Brading during one of those
visits to the lovely island. One afternoon he strolled into the old
church-yard to search out the grave of Elizabeth Wallbridge, the sweet
heroine of Leigh Richmond's beautiful religious story, "The Dairyman's
Daughter." He found seated beside the mound a lady and a young girl, the
latter reading aloud, in a full, melodious voice, the touching tale of
the Christian maiden. The tourist turned away, and soon after was told by
the sexton that those pilgrims to that humble grave were the Duchess of
Kent and the Princess Victoria.

I am told by a Yorkshire lady another story of the Princess, of not quite
so serious a character. She was visiting with her mother, of course, at
Wentworth House, the seat of Earl Fitzwilliam in Yorkshire, and while at
that pleasant place delighted in running about by herself in the gardens
and shrubberies. One wet morning, soon after her arrival, she was thus
disporting herself, flitting from point to point, light-hearted and
light-footed, when the old gardener, who did not then know her, seeing
her about to descend a treacherous bit of ground from the terrace, called
out, "Be careful, Miss; it's slape!"--a Yorkshire word for slippery. The
incautious, but ever-curious Princess, turning her head, asked, "What's
slape?" and the same instant her feet flew from under her, and she came
down. The old gardener ran to lift her, saying, as he did so,
"_That's_ slape, Miss."

There is nothing remarkable, much less incredible, in these stories of
the young Victoria, nor in the one related by her music-teacher, of how
she once rebelled against so much practice, and how, on his telling her
that there was no "royal road" in art, and that only by much practice
could she become "mistress of the piano," she closed and locked the
obnoxious instrument and put the key in her pocket, saying playfully,
"Now you see there _is_ a royal way of becoming `mistress of the
piano.'" But not so simple and natural and girlish are all the things
told of the Queen's young days. Loyal English people have said to me,
"You will find few stories of Her Majesty's childhood, but those few will
all be good."

Yes, too good. The chroniclers of forty and fifty years ago--the same in
whose loyal eyes the fifteen children of George III. were all "children
of light"--could find no words in which to paint their worship for this
rising star of sovereignty. According to them, she was not only the pearl
of Princesses for piety and propriety, for goodness and graciousness, but
a marvel of unchildlike wisdom, a prodigy of cleverness and learning; in
short, a purely perfect creature, loved of the angels to a degree
perilous to the succession. The simplest little events of her daily life
were twisted into something unnaturally significant, or unhealthily
virtuous. If she was taken through a cotton-mill at Manchester, and asked
a score or two of questions about the machinery and the strange processes
of spinning and weaving, it was not childish curiosity--it was a love of
knowledge, and a patriotic desire to encourage British manufactures.

If she gave a few pennies to a blind beggar at Margate, the amiable act
was heralded as one, of almost divine beneficence, and the beggar pitied,
as never before, for his blindness. The poor man had not beheld the face
of the "little angel" who dropped the coin into his greasy hat! If, full
of "high spirits," she took long rides on a donkey at Ramsgate, and ran
races with other children on the sands, it was a proof of the sweetest
human condescension--the donkey's opinion not being taken.

Of course all this is false, unwholesome sentiment, quite
incomprehensible to nineteenth century Americans, though our great-
grandfathers understood this sort of personal loyalty very well, and
gloried in it, till George the Third drove them to the wall; and our
great-grandmothers cherished it as a sacred religious principle till
their tea was taxed. I dare say that if the truth could be got at, we
should find that little Victoria was at times trying enough to mother,
masters, and attendants; that she was occasionally passionate, perverse,
and "pestering," like all children who have any great and positive
elements in them. I dare say she was disposed, like any other "only
child," to be self-willed and selfish, and that she required a fair
amount of wholesome discipline, and that she got it. Had she been the
prim and pious little precocity which some biographers have painted her,
she would have died young, like the "Dairyman's Daughter"; we might have
had an edifying tract, and England a revolution.

One of her biographers speaks with a sort of ecstatic surprise of the
fact that the Princess was "affable--even gay," and that she "laughed and
chatted like other little girls." And yet she must early have perceived
that she was not quite like other little girls, but set up and apart.
Though reared with all the simplicity practicable for a Princess Royal,
she must have been conscious of a magic circle drawn round her, of a
barrier impalpable, but most real, which other children could not
voluntarily overpass. She must have seen that they could not call out to
her to "come and play!" that however shy she might feel, she must propose
the game, or the romp, as later she had to propose marriage. She even was
obliged to quarrel, if quarrel she did, all alone by herself. Any
resistance on the part of her playmates would have been a small variety
of high treason. She must sometimes, with her admirable good sense, have
been wearied and disgusted by so much concession, conciliation, and
consideration, and may have envied less fortunate or unfortunate mortals
who can give and take hard knocks, for whom less is demanded, and of whom
less is expected.

She may have tired of her very name, with its grand prefixes and no
affix, and longed to be Victoria Kent, or _Something_--Jones, Brown,
or Robinson.

She seems to have been a child of simple, homely tastes, for in 1842,
when Queen, she writes to her Uncle Leopold from Claremont, where she is
visiting, with her husband and little daughter: "This place brings back
recollections of the happiest days of my otherwise dull childhood--days
when I experienced such kindness from you, dearest uncle; Victoria plays
with my old bricks, and I see her running and jumping in the flower-
garden, as old (though I feel still _little_) Victoria of former days
used to do."


The Princess opens the Victoria Park at Bath--Becoming used to Public
Curiosity--Secret of her Destiny revealed to her--Royal Ball on her
Thirteenth Birthday--At the Ascot Races--Picture by N. P. Willis--
Anecdotes--Painful Scene at the King's last Birthday Dinner.

When she was eleven years old, the Princess opened the Victoria Park at
Bath. She began the opening business thus early, and has kept it up
pretty diligently for fifty years--parks, expositions, colleges,
exchanges, law courts, bridges, docks, art schools, and hospitals. Her
sons and daughters are also kept busy at the same sort of work. Indeed
these are almost the only openings for young men of the royal family for
active service, now that crusades and invasions of France have gone out
of fashion. It seems to me that the English people get up all sorts of
opening and unveiling occasions in order to supply employment to their
Princes and Princesses, who, I must say, never shirk such monotonous
duties, however much they may be bothered and bored by them.

Occasionally the Duchess of Kent and her daughter visited Brighton, and
stopped in that grotesque palace of George IV., called the Pavilion. I
have seen a picture of the demure little Princess, walking on the
esplanade, with her mother, governesses, and gentlemen attendants, the
whole elegant party and the great crowd of Brightonians following and
staring at them, wearing the absurd costumes of half a century ago--the
ladies, big bonnets, big mutton-leg sleeves, big collars, heelless
slippers, laced over the instep; the gentlemen, short-waisted coats,
enormous collars, preposterous neckties, and indescribably clumsy hats.

By this time the Princess had learned to bear quietly and serenely, if
not unconsciously, the gaze of hundreds of eyes, admiring or criticising.
She knew that the time was probably coming when the hundreds would
increase to thousands, and even millions--when the world would for her
seem to be made up of eyes, like a peacock's tail. Small wonder that in
her later years, especially since she has missed from her side the
splendid figure which divided and justified the mighty multitudinous
stare, this eternal observation, this insatiable curiosity has become
infinitely wearisome to her.

Several accounts have been given of the manner in which the great secret
of her destiny was revealed to the Princess Victoria, and the manner in
which it was received, but only one has the Queen's indorsement. This was
contained in a letter, written long afterwards to Her Majesty by her dear
old governess, the Baroness Lehzen, who states that when the Regency Bill
(an act naming the Duchess of Kent as Regent, in case of the King dying
before his niece obtained her majority) was before Parliament, it was
thought that the time had come to make known to the Princess her true
position. So after consulting with the Duchess, the Baroness placed a
genealogical table in a historical book, which her pupil was reading.
When the Princess came upon this paper, she said: "Why, I never saw that
before." "It was not thought necessary you should see it," the Baroness
replied. Then the young girl, examining the paper, said thoughtfully: "I
see I am nearer the throne than I supposed." After some moments she
resumed, with a sort of quaint solemnity: "Now many a child would boast,
not knowing the difficulty. There is much splendor, but there is also
much responsibility." "The Princess," says the Baroness, "having lifted
up the forefinger of her right hand while she spoke, now gave me that
little hand, saying: 'I will be good. I understand now why you urged me
so much to learn, even Latin. My aunts, Augusta and Mary, never did, but
you told me Latin was the foundation of English grammar, and all the
elegant expressions, and I learned it, as you wished it; but I understand
all better now,' and the Princess again gave me her hand, repeating, 'I
will be good.'"

God heard the promise of the child of twelve years and held her to it,
and has given her strength "as her day" to redeem it, all through the
dazzling brightness and the depressing shadows, through the glory and the
sorrow of her life, as a Queen and a woman.

The Queen says that she "cried much" over the magnificent but difficult
problem of her destiny, but the tears must have been April showers, for
in those days she was accounted a bright, care-free little damsel, and
was ever welcome as a sunbeam in the noblest houses of England--such as
Eaton Hall, the seat of the Duke of Westminster; Wentworth House,
belonging to Earl Fitzwilliam; Alton Towers, the country house of the
Earl of Shrewsbury; and Chatsworth, the palace of the Duke of Devonshire,
where such royal loyal honors were paid to her that she had a foretaste
of the "splendor," without the "responsibility," of Queenhood.

The King and Queen gave a brilliant ball in honor of "the thirteenth
birthday of their beloved niece, the Princess Victoria," and somewhat
later, the little royal lady appeared at a Drawing-room, when she is said
to have charmed everybody by her sweet, childish dignity--a sort of
quaint queenliness of manner and expression. She was likewise most
satisfactory to the most religiously inclined of her subjects who were to
be, in her mien and behavior when in the Royal Chapel of St. James, on
the interesting occasion of her confirmation. She is said to have gone
through the ceremony with "profound thoughtfulness and devout solemnity."

The next glimpse I have of her is at a very different scene--the Ascot
races. A brilliant American author, N. P. Willis, who then saw her for
the first time, wrote: "In one of the intervals, I walked under the
King's stand, and saw Her Majesty the Queen, and the young Princess
Victoria, very distinctly. They were leaning over the railing listening
to a ballad-singer, and seeming as much interested and amused as any
simple country-folk could be. The Queen is undoubtedly the plainest woman
in her dominions, but the Princess is much better-looking than any
picture of her in the shops, and for the heir to such a crown as that of
England, quite unnecessarily, pretty and interesting. She will be sold,
poor thing! bartered away by those great-dealers in royal hearts, whose
grand calculations will not be much consolation to her if she happens to
have a taste of her own."

Little did the wise American poet guess that, away in a little fairy
principality of Deutschland, there was a beautiful young fairy prince,
being reared by benevolent fairy godmother-grandmothers, especially to
disprove all such doleful prophecies, and reverse the usual fate of
pretty young Princesses in the case of the "little English mayflower."

Greville relates a little incident which shows that the Princess, when
between sixteen and seventeen, and almost in sight of the throne, was
still amenable to discipline. He describes a reception of much pomp and
ceremony, given to the Duchess and the Princess by the Mayor and other
officers of the town of Burghley, followed by a great dinner, which "went
off well," except that an awkward waiter, in a spasm of loyal excitement,
emptied the contents of a pail of ice in the lap of the Duchess, which,
though she took it coolly, "made a great bustle." I am afraid the
Princess laughed. Then followed a magnificent ball, which was opened by
the Princess, with Lord Exeter for a partner. After that one dance she
"went to bed." Doubtless her good mother thought she had had fatigue and
excitement enough for one day; but it must have been hard for such a
dance-loving girl to take her quivering feet out of the ball-room so
early, and for such a grand personage as she already was, just referred
to in the Mayor's speech, as "destined to mount the throne of these
realms," to be sent away like a child, to mount a solemn, beplumed four-
poster, and to try to sleep, with that delicious dance-music still
ringing in her ears.

Greville also relates a sad Court story connected with the young
Princess, and describes a scene which would be too painful for me to
reproduce, except that it reveals, in a striking manner, Victoria's
tender love for and close sympathy with her mother. It seems that the
King's jealous hostility to the Duchess of Kent had grown with his decay,
and strengthened with his senility, till at last it culminated in a sort
of declaration of war at his own table. The account is given by Greville
_second-hand_, and so, very likely, over-colored, though doubtless true
in the main. The King invited the Duchess and Princess to Windsor to
join in the celebration of his birthday, which proved to be his last.
There was a dinner-party, called "private," but a hundred guests sat down
to the table. The Duchess of Kent was given a place of honor on one side
of the King, and opposite her sat the Princess Victoria. After dinner
Queen Adelaide proposed "His Majesty's health and long life to him," to
which that amiable monarch replied by a very remarkable speech. He began
by saying that he hoped in God he might live nine months longer, when the
Princess would be of age, and he could leave the royal authority in her
hands and not in those of a Regent, in the person of a lady sitting near
him, etc. Afterwards he said: "I have particularly to complain of the
manner in which that young lady (the Princess Victoria) has been kept
from my Court. She has been repeatedly kept from my Drawing-rooms, at
which she ought always to have been present, but I am resolved that this
shall not happen again. I would have _her_ know that I am _King_, and am
determined to make my authority respected, and for the future I shall
insist and command that the Princess do, upon all occasions, appear at my
Court, as it is her duty to do."

This pleasant and hospitable harangue, uttered in a loud voice and an
excited manner, "produced a decided sensation." The whole company "were
aghast." Queen Adelaide, who was amiable and well-bred, "looked in deep
distress"; the young Princess burst into tears at the insult offered to
her mother; but that mother sat calm and silent, very pale, but proud and
erect--Duchess of Duchesses!


Victoria's first meeting with Prince Albert--She comes of Age--Ball in
honor thereof--Illness of King William--His Death--His Habits and
Character--The Archbishop of Canterbury and the Lord Chancellor inform
Victoria that she is Queen--Her beautiful bearing under the ordeal.

In May, 1836, the Princess saw, for the first time, her cousins, Ernest
and Albert, of Saxe-Coburg. These brothers, one eighteen and the other
seventeen, are described as charming young fellows, well-bred and
carefully educated, with high aims, good, true hearts, and frank, natural

In personal appearance they were very prepossessing. Ernest was handsome,
and Albert more than handsome. They were much beloved by their Uncle
Leopold, then King of Belgium, and soon endeared themselves to their Aunt
Kent and their Cousin Victoria. They spent three weeks at Kensington in
daily intercourse with their relatives, and with their father, the Duke
of Coburg, were much _fêted_ by the royal family. They keenly enjoyed
English society and sights, and learned something of English life and
character, which to one of them, at least, proved afterwards useful.
Indeed this admirable young Prince, Albert, seemed always learning and
assimilating new facts and ideas. He had a soul athirst for knowledge.

On May 24, 1837, the Princess Victoria came of age. She was awakened
early by a matutinal serenade--a band of musicians piping and harping
merrily under her bedroom windows. She received many presents and
congratulatory visits, and had the pleasure of knowing that the day was
observed as a grand holiday in London and throughout England. Boys were
let out of school, and M.P.'s out of Parliament. At night the metropolis
was "brilliantly illuminated"--at least so thought those poor, benighted,
ante-electrical-light Londoners--and a grand state ball was given in St.
James' Palace. Here, for the first time, the Princess took precedence of
her mother, and we may believe she felt shy and awkward at such a
reversal of the laws of nature and the habits of years. But doubtless the
stately Duchess fell back without a sigh, except it were one of joy and
gratitude that she had brought her darling on so far safely.

This could hardly have been a very gay state ball, for their Majesties
were both absent. The King had that very day been attacked with hayfever,
and the Queen had dutifully stayed at home to nurse him. He rallied from
this attack somewhat, but never was well again, and in the small hours of
June 2d the sailor King died at Royal Windsor, royally enough, I believe,
though he had never been a very royal figure or spirit. Of course after
he was gone from his earthly kingdom, the most glowing eulogies were
pronounced upon him in Parliament, in the newspapers, and in hundreds of
pulpits. Even a year later, the Bishop of London, in his sermon at the
Queen's coronation, lauded the late King for his "unfeigned religion,"
and exhorted his "youthful successor" to "follow in his footsteps." Ah,
if she had done so, I should not now be writing Her Majesty's Life!

It must be that in a King a little religion goes a long way. The good
Bishop and other loyal prelates must have known all about the Fitz-
Clarences--those wild "olive branches about the table" of His Majesty;
and they were doubtless aware of that little unfortunate habit of
profanity, acquired on the high-seas, and scarcely becoming to the Head
of the Church; but they, perhaps, considered that His Majesty swore as
the sailor, not as the sovereign. He certainly made a good end, hearing
many prayers, and joining in them as long as he was able, and devoutly
receiving the communion; and what is better, manifesting some tender
anxiety lest his faithful wife and patient nurse should do too much and
grieve too much for him. When he saw her like to break down, he would
say: "Bear up; bear up, Adelaide!" just like any other good husband.
William was not a bad King, as Kings went in those days; he was,
doubtless, an orthodox churchman, and we may believe he was a good
Christian, from his charge to the new Bishop of Ely when he came to "kiss
hands" on his preferment: "My lord, I do not wish to interfere in any way
with your vote in Parliament, except on one subject--the Jews. I trust I
may depend on your always voting against them!"

When the solemn word went through the old Castle of Windsor, "The King is
dead!" his most loyal ministers, civil and religious, added under their
breath: "Long live the Queen!" and almost immediately the Archbishop of
Canterbury and the Lord Chamberlain left Windsor and travelled as fast as
post-horses could carry them, to Kensington Palace, which they reached in
the gray of the early dawn. Everybody was asleep, and they knocked and
rang a long time before they could rouse the porter at the gate, who at
last grumblingly admitted them. Then they had another siege in the court-
yard; but at length the palace door yielded, and they were let into one
of the lower rooms, "where," says Miss Wynn's account, "they seemed
forgotten by everybody." They rang the bell, called a sleepy servant, and
requested that the special attendant of the Princess Victoria should
inform her Royal Highness that they desired an audience on "very
important business." More delay, more ringing, more inquiries and
directions. At last the attendant of the Princess came, and coolly stated
that her Royal Mistress was "in such a sweet sleep she could not venture
to disturb her." Then solemnly spoke up the Archbishop: "We are come on
business of State, to _the Queen_, and even her sleep must give way." Lo
it was out! The startled maid flew on her errand, and so effectually
performed it, that Victoria, not daring to keep her visitors waiting
longer, hurried into the room with only a shawl thrown over her night-
gown, and her feet in slippers. She had flung off her night-cap (young
ladies wore night-caps in those queer old times), and her long, light-
brown hair was tumbling over her shoulders. So she came to receive
the first homage of the Church and the State, and to be hailed "Queen!"
and she was Queen of Great Britain and Ireland, of India and the mighty
Colonies! It seems to me that the young girl must have believed herself
at that moment only half awake, and still dreaming. The grand, new title,
"Your Majesty," must have had a new sound, as addressed to her,--
something strange and startling, though very likely she may have often
said it over to herself, silently, to get used to it. The first kiss of
absolute fealty on her little hand must have thrilled through her whole
frame. Some accounts say that as full realization was forced upon her,
she burst into tears; others dwell on her marvellous calm and self-
possession. I prefer to believe in the tears, not only because the
assumption of the "dangerous grandeur of sovereignty" was a solemn and
tremendous matter for one so young, but because something of awe and
sorrow on hearing of the eternal abdication of that sovereignty, by her
rough but not to her unloving old uncle, was natural and womanly, and
fitting. I believe that it has not been questioned that the first words
of the QUEEN were addressed to the Primate, and that they were simply, "I
beg your Grace to pray for me," which the Archbishop did, then and there.
Doubtless, also, as related, the first act of her queenly life was the
writing of a letter of condolence to Queen Adelaide, in which, after
expressing her tender sympathy, she begged her "dear aunt" to remain at
Windsor just as long as she might feel inclined. This letter she
addressed to "Her Majesty, the Queen." Some one at hand reminded her that
the King's widow was now only Queen Dowager. "I am quite aware of that,"
replied Victoria, "but I will not be the first person to remind her of
it." I cannot say how much I like that. Wonderful is the story told by
many witnesses of the calmness and gentle dignity of Her Majesty, when a
few hours later she met the high officers of the Church and State,
Princes and Peers, received their oaths of allegiance and read her first
speech from an improvised throne. The Royal Princes, the Dukes of
Cumberland and Sussex, Her Majesty's uncles, were the first to be sworn,
and Greville says: "As they knelt before her, swearing allegiance and
kissing her hand, I saw her blush up to the eyes, as if she felt the
contrast between their civil and their natural relations; and this was
the only sign of emotion which she evinced."

When she first entered the room she had kissed these old uncles
affectionately, walking toward the Duke of Sussex, who was very feeble.

Greville says that she seemed rather bewildered at the multitude of men
who came to kiss her hand and kneel to her, among them the conqueror of
Napoleon--soldier of soldiers--_the_ Duke!--but that she did not make any
difference in her manner, or show any especial respect, or condescension
in her countenance to any individual, not even to the Premier, Lord
Melbourne, for whom she was known to have a great liking, and who was
long her trusted friend and favorite Minister.

The Queen was also called upon to take an oath, which was for "the
security of the Church of Scotland." This she has most faithfully kept;
indeed, she has now and then been reproached by jealous champions of the
English Establishment for undue graciousness towards the Kirk and its

For this grand but solemn ceremony at Kensington--rendered the more
solemn by the fact that while it was going on the great bell of St.
Paul's was tolling for the dead King,--the young Queen was dressed very
simply, in mourning.

She seems to have thought of everything, for she sent for Lord Albemarle,
and after reminding him that according to law and precedent she must be
proclaimed the next morning at 10 o'clock, from a certain window of St.
James' Palace, requested him to provide for her a suitable conveyance and
escort. She then bowed gravely and graciously to the Princes, Archbishops
and Cabinet Ministers, and left the room, as she had entered it--alone.


The last day of Victoria's real girlhood--Proclaimed Queen from St.
James' Palace--She holds her first Privy Council--Comments upon her
deportment by eye-witnesses--Fruits of her mother's care and training.

It seems to me that the momentous day just described was the last of
Victoria's real girlhood; that premature womanhood was thrust upon her
with all the power, grandeur, and state of a Queen Regnant. I wonder if,
weary and nervously exhausted as she must have been, she slept much, when
at last she went to bed, probably no longer in her mother's room. I
wonder if she did not think, with a sort of fearsome thrill that when the
summer sun faded from her sight, it was only to travel all night,
lighting her vast dominions and her uncounted millions of subjects; and
that, like the splendor of that sun, had become her life--hers, the
little maiden's, but just emerging from the shadow of seclusion, and from
her mother's protecting care and wise authority, and stepping out into
the world by herself!

The next day she went in state to St. James Palace, accompanied by great
lords and ladies, and escorted by squadrons of the Life Guards and Blues,
and was formally proclaimed from the window of the Presence Chamber,
looking out on the court-yard. A Court chronicle states that Her Majesty
wore a black silk dress and a little black chip bonnet, and that she
looked paler than usual. Miss Martineau, speaking of the scene, says:
"There stood the young creature, in simplest mourning, her sleek bands of
brown hair as plain as her dress. The tears ran down her cheeks, as Lord
Melbourne, standing by her side, presented her to the people as their
Sovereign. ... In the upper part of the face she is really pretty, and
with an ingenuous, sincere air which seems full of promise."

After the ceremony of proclamation was over, the "little Queen" remained
for a few moments at the window, bowing and smiling through her tears at
that friendly and enthusiastic crowd of her subjects, and listening to
the National Anthem played for the first time for her, then retired, with
her mother, who had not been "prominent" during the scene, but who had
been observed "to watch her daughter with great anxiety."

At noon the Queen held a Privy Council, at which it was said, "She
presided with as much ease as though she had been doing nothing else all
her life." At 1 P.M. she returned to Kensington Palace, there to remain
in retirement till after the funeral of King William.

It is certain that the behavior of this girl-queen on these first two
days of her reign "confounded the doctors" of the Church and State.
Greville, who never praises except when praise is wrung out of him, can
hardly say enough of her grace and graciousness, calmness and self-
possession. He says, also, that her "agreeable expression, with her
youth, inspire an excessive interest in all who approach her, and which,"
he is condescending enough to add, "I can't help feeling myself." He
quotes Peel as saying he was "amazed at her manner and behavior; at her
apparent deep sense of her situation, her modesty, and at the same time
her firmness. She appeared to be awed, but not daunted."

The Duke of Wellington paid a similar tribute to her courage.

Now, if these great men did not greatly idealize her, under the double
glamour of gallantry and loyalty, Victoria was a most extraordinary young
woman. A few days before the death of the King, Greville wrote: "What
renders speculation so easy and events so uncertain is the absolute
ignorance of everybody of the character, disposition, and capacity of the
Princess. She has been kept in such jealous seclusion by her mother
(never having slept out of her bedroom, nor been alone with anybody but
herself and, the Baroness Lehzen), that not one of her acquaintance, none
of the attendants at Kensington, not even the Duchess of Northumberland,
her governess, can have any idea what she is, or what she promises to
be." The first day of Victoria's accession he writes: "She appears to act
with every sort of good taste and good feeling, as well as good sense,
and nothing can be more favorable than the impression she has made, and
nothing can promise better than her manner and conduct do... William IV.
coming to the throne at the mature age of sixty-five, was so excited by
the exaltation that he nearly went mad... The young Queen, who might well
be either dazzled or confounded with the grandeur and novelty of her
situation, seems neither the one nor the other, and behaves with a
propriety and decorum beyond her years."

Doubtless nature was kind to Victoria in the elements of character, but
she must have owed very much of this courage, calmness, modesty,
simplicity, candor, and sterling good sense to the peculiar, systematic
training, the precept and example of her mother, the much-criticised
Duchess of Kent, so unpopular at the Court of the late King, and whom Mr.
Greville had by no means delighted to honor. Ah, the good, brave Duchess
had her reward for all her years of patient exile, all her loving labor
and watchful care, and rich compensation for all criticisms,
misrepresentations, and fault-finding, that June afternoon, the day of
the Proclamation, when she rode from the Palace of St. James to
Kensington with her daughter, who had behaved so well--her daughter and
her _Queen!_




The sovereignty of England and Hanover severed forever--Funeral of King
William IV. at Windsor--The Queen and her household remove to Buckingham
Palace--She dissolves Parliament--Glowing account of the scene by a
contemporary Journal--Charles Sumner a spectator--His eulogy of the
Queen's reading.

Ever since the accession to the throne of Great Britain of the House of
Brunswick, the Kings of England had also been Kings of Hanover. To carry
on the two branches of the royal business simultaneously must have been a
little difficult, at least perplexing. It was like riding a "two-horse
act," with a wide space between the horses, and a wide difference in
their size. But the Salic law prevailed in that little kingdom over
there; so its Crown now gently devolved on the head of the male heir-
apparent, the Duke of Cumberland, and the quaint old principality parted
company with England forever. That is what Her Majesty, Victoria, got, or
rather lost, by being a woman. A day or two after her accession, King
Ernest called at Kensington Palace to take leave of the Queen, and she
dutifully kissed her uncle and brother-sovereign, and wished him God-
speed and the Hanoverians joy.

There is no King and no kingdom of Hanover now. When Kaiser William was
consolidating so many German principalities into his grand empire, gaily
singing the refrain of the song of the old sexton, "_I gather them in!
I gather them in!_" he took Hanover, and it has remained under the
wing of the great Prussian eagle ever since. It is said that the last
King made a gallant resistance, riding into battle at the head of his
troops, although he was blind--too blind, perhaps, to see his own
weakness. When his throne was taken out from under him, he still clung to
the royal title, but his son is known only as the Duke of Cumberland.
This Prince, like other small German Princes, made a great outcry against
the Kaiser's confiscations, but the inexorable old man still went on
piecing an imperial table-cover out of pocket-handkerchiefs.

The young Queen's new Household was considered a very magnificent and
unexceptionable one--principally for the rank and character and personal
attractions of the ladies in attendance, chief among whom, for beauty and
stateliness, was the famous Duchess of Sutherland--certainly one of the
most superb women in England, or anywhere else, even at an age when most
women are "falling off," and when she herself was a grandmother.

The funeral of King William took place at Windsor in due time, and with
all due pomp and ceremony. After lying in state in the splendid Waterloo
chamber, under a gorgeous purple pall, several crowns, and other royal
insignia, he was borne to St. George's Chapel, followed by Prelates,
Peers, and all the Ministers of State, and a solemn funeral service was
performed. But what spoke better for him than all these things was the
quiet weeping of a good woman up in the Royal Closet, half hidden by the
sombre curtains, who looked and listened to the last, and saw her husband
let down into the Royal Vault, where, in the darkness, his--their baby-
girl awaited him, that Princess with the short life and the long name--
poor little Elizabeth Georgina Adelando, whom the childless Queen once
hoped to hear hailed "Elizabeth Second of England."

In midsummer the Queen, the Duchess of Kent, and their grand Household
moved from Kensington to Buckingham Palace, then new, and an elegant and
luxurious royal residence internally, but externally neither beautiful
nor imposing. But with the exception of Windsor Castle, none of the
English Royal Palaces can be pointed to as models of architectural
beauty, or even sumptuous appointments. The palaces of some of our
Railway Kings more than rival them in some respects, while those of many
of the English nobility are richer in art-treasures and grander in
appearance. Kensington Palace was not beautiful, but it was picturesque
and historic, which was more than could be said of any of the Georgian
structures; there was about it an odor of old royalty, of poetry and
romance. The literature and the beauty of Queen Anne's reign were
especially associated with it. Queen Victoria was, when she left it, at
an age when memories count for little, and doubtless the flitting "_out
of the old house into the new_" was effected merrily enough; but long
afterwards her orphaned and widowed heart must often have gone back
tenderly and yearningly to the scene of many tranquilly happy years with
her mother, and of that first little season of companionship with her
cousin Albert.

Hardly had she got unpacked and settled in her new home when she had to
go through a great parade and ceremony. She went in state to dissolve
Parliament. The weather was fine and the whole route from Buckingham
Palace to the Parliament House was lined with people, shouting and
cheering as the magnificent procession and that brilliant young figure
passed slowly along. A London journal of the time gave the following
glowing account of her as she appeared in the House of Lords: "At 20
minutes to 3 precisely, Her Majesty, preceded by the heralds and attended
by the great officers of state, entered the House--all the Peers and
Peeresses, who had risen at the flourish of the trumpets, remaining
standing. Her Majesty was attired in a splendid white satin robe, with
the ribbon of the Garter crossing her shoulder and a magnificent tiara of
diamonds on her head, and wore a necklace and a stomacher of large and
costly brilliants. Having ascended the throne, the royal mantle of
crimson velvet was placed on Her Majesty's shoulders by the Lords in
waiting." And this was the same little girl who, six years before, had
bought her own straw hat and carried it home in her hand! I wonder if her
own mother did not at that moment have difficulty in believing that
radiant and royal creature was indeed her little Victoria!

The account continues: "Her Majesty, on taking her seat, appeared to be
deeply moved at the novel and important position in which she was placed,
the eyes of the assembled nobility, both male and female, being riveted
on her person." I would have wagered a good deal that it was the 'female'
eyes that she felt most piercingly. Then it goes on: "Her emotion was
plainly discernible in the heavings of her bosom, and the brilliancy of
her diamond stomacher, which sparkled out like the sun on the swell of
the ocean as the billows rise and fall." So disconcerted was she, it
seems, by all this silent, intense observation, that she forgot, nicely
seated as she was, that all those Peers and Peeresses were standing, till
she was reminded of it by Lord Melbourne, who stood close at her side.
Then she graciously inclined her head, and said in rather a low tone, 'My
Lords, be seated!' and they sat, and eke their wives and daughters.

"She had regained her self-possession when she came to read her speech,
and her voice also, for it was heard all over the great chamber." And it
is added: "Her demeanor was characterized by much grace and modest self-

Among the spectators of this rare royal pageant was an American, and a
stiff republican, a young man from Boston, called Charles Sumner. He was
a scholar, and scholar-like, undazzled by diamonds, admired most Her
Majesty's reading. In a letter to a friend he wrote: "I was astonished
and delighted. Her voice is sweet and finely modulated, and she
pronounced every word distinctly, and with a just regard to its meaning.
I think I never heard anything better read in my life than her speech,
and I could but respond to Lord Fitz-William's remark to me when the
ceremony was over, 'How beautifully she performs!'" How strange it now
seems to think of that slight girl of eighteen coming in upon that great
assembly of legislators, many of them gray and bald, and pompous and
portly, and gravely telling them that they might go home!


Comments upon the young Queen by a contemporaneous writer in
_Blackwood_--A new Throne erected for her in Buckingham Palace--A
touching Anecdote related by the Duke of Wellington--The Queen insists on
paying her Father's Debts--The romantic and passionate interest she
evoked--Her mad lover--Attempts upon her life--She takes possession of
Windsor Castle.

A writer in _Blackwood_, speaking of the Queen about this time,
said: "She is 'winning golden opinions from all sorts of people' by her
affability, the grace of her manners, and her prettiness. She is
excessively like the Brunswicks and not like the Coburgs. So much the
more in her favor. The memory of George III. is not yet passed away, and
the people are glad to see his calm, honest, and English physiognomy
renewed in his granddaughter."

Her Majesty's likeness to the obstinate but conscientious old king, whose
honest face is fast fading quite away from old English half-crowns and
golden guineas, has grown with her years.

The same writer, speaking of her personal appearance, says: "She is low
of stature, but well formed; her hair the darkest shade of flaxen, and
her eyes large and light-blue." A friend who saw her frequently at the
time of her accession, said to me the other day: "It is a great mistake
to suppose that the Queen owed all the charming portraits which were
drawn of her at this time, to the fortunate accident of her birth and
destiny. She was really a very lovely girl, with a fine, delicate, rose-
bloom complexion, large blue eyes, a fair, broad brow, and an expression
of peculiar candor and innocence."

A few days later there was a sensation in Buckingham Palace, at the
setting up in the Throne-room of a very magnificent new piece of
furniture--a throne of the latest English fashion, but gorgeous enough to
have served for the Queen of Sheba, Zenobia, Cleopatra, or Semiramis. It
was all crimson velvet and silk, with any amount of gold embroideries,
gold lace, gold fringe, ropes, and tassels. The gay young Queen tried it,
and said it would do; that she had never sat on a more comfortable throne
in all her life.

Two stories of the young Queen have touched me especially--one was
related by the Duke of Wellington. A court-martial death sentence was
presented by him to her, to be signed. She shrank from the dreadful task,
and with tears in her eyes, asked: "Have you nothing to say in behalf of
this man?"

"Nothing; he has deserted three times," replied the Iron Duke.

"O, your Grace, think again!"

"Well, your Majesty, he certainly is a bad soldier, but there was
somebody who spoke as to his good character. He may be a good fellow in
civil life."

"O, thank you!" exclaimed the Queen, as she dashed off the word,
"Pardoned," on the awful parchment, and wrote beneath it her beautiful

This was not her last act of the kind, and at length Parliament so
arranged matters that this fatal signing business could be done by royal
commission, ostensibly to "relieve Her Majesty of a painful duty," but
really because they could not trust her soft heart. She might have sudden
caprices of commiseration which would interfere with stern military
discipline, and the honest trade of Mr. Marwood.

The other incident was told by Lord Melbourne. Soon after her accession,
in all the dizzy whirl of the new life of splendor and excitement, the
young Queen, in an interview with her Prime Minister, said: "I want to
pay all that remain of my father's debts. I _must_ do it. I consider
it a sacred duty." This was, of course, done--the Queen also sending
valuable pieces of plate to the largest creditors, as a token of her
gratitude. Lord Melbourne said that the childlike directness and
earnestness of that good daughter's manner when she thus expressed her
royal will and pleasure, brought the tears to his eyes. It seems to me it
was almost mission enough for any young woman, to move the hearts of hard
old soldiers like Wellington, and _blasé_ statesmen like Melbourne--
mighty dealers in death and diplomacy, and to bring something like a
second youth of romance and chivalrous feeling into worn and worldly
hearts everywhere.

I suppose it is impossible for young people of this day, especially
Americans, to realize the intense, enthusiastic interest felt forty-six
years ago by all classes, and in nearly all countries, in the young
English Queen. The old wondered and shook their heads over the mighty
responsibility imposed upon her--the young dreamed of her. She almost
made real to young girls the wildest romances of fairy lore. She called
out such chivalrous feelings in young men that they longed to champion
her on some field of battle, or in some perilous knightly adventure. She
stirred the hearts and inspired the imaginations of orators and poets.--
The great O'Connell, when there was some wild talk of deposing "the all
but infant Queen," and putting the Duke of Cumberland in her place, said
in his trumpet-like tones, which gave dignity to brogue: "If necessary, I
can get 500,000 brave Irishmen to defend the life, the honor, and the
person of the beloved young lady by whom England's throne is now filled."
Ah, the difference between then and now. "Brave Irishmen" of this day,
men who know not O'Connell, are more disposed to blow up the English
Queen's palaces, throne and all.

Charles Dickens, who was then full of romance and fancy, was, it is said,
possessed by such unresting, wondering thoughts of the fair maiden
sovereign, and her magnificent destiny, that for a time his more prosaic
friends regarded his enthusiasm as a sort of monomania. Other imaginative
young men with heads less "level" (to use an American expression) than
that of the great novelist, actually went mad--"clean daft"--the noble
passion of loving loyalty ending in an infatuation as absurd as it was
unhappy. Before the Queen left Kensington Palace she was much annoyed by
the persistent attentions of a provincial admirer, a respectable
gentleman, who labored under the hallucination that it was his destiny
and his duty to espouse the Queen. He may have felt a preference for
private life and rural pleasures, but as a loyal patriot he was ready to
make the sacrifice. He drove in a stylish phaeton every morning to the
Palace to inquire after Her Majesty's health; and on several days he
bribed the men who had charge of the gardens to allow him to assist them
in weeding about the piece of water opposite her apartments, in the fond
hope of seeing her at the windows, and of her seeing him. Every evening,
however, he put on the gentleman of fortune and phaetons, and followed
the Queen and the Duchess in their airings. Drove they fast or drove they
slow, he was just behind them. On their last drive before removing from
Kensington, they alighted in the Harrow Road for a little walk, and were
dismayed at seeing this Mr. ---- spring from his phaeton, and come
eagerly forward. The Duchess sent a page to meet him and beg of him not
to annoy Her Majesty by accosting her; but the page was "no let" to him--
a whole volume of remonstrance would not have availed. He pressed on, and
the august ladies were obliged to re-enter their carriage, and return to
Kensington. When on the next morning they removed from the old home, Mr.
---- was at the gate in his phaeton, and drove before them to Buckingham
Palace, and was there to give them a gracious welcome. He haunted Pimlico
for a time, but his friends finally got possession of him and suppressed
him, and so ended his "love's young dream."

It is likely that the merry young Queen laughed at the absurd
demonstrations and amatory effusions of her demented admirers; but when,
after her marriage, and her appearing always in public with the
handsomest Prince in Christendom at her side, such monomaniacs grew
desperate and took to shooting, the matter became serious. Then no more
gentlemen in phaetons menaced her peace; her demented followers were poor
wretches--so poor that sometimes, after investing in pistols, they had
not a six-pence left for ammunition. One, a distraught Fenian, pointed at
her a broken, harmless weapon, charged with a scrap of red rag. Another,
a humpbacked lad, named Bean, loaded his with paper and a few bits of an
old clay pipe. Bean escaped for a time, and it is said that for several
days there were "hard lines" for all the poor humpbacks of London. Scores
of them were arrested. No unfortunate thus deformed, could appear in the
streets without danger of a policeman smiting him on the shoulders, right
in the tender spot, with a rough, "You are my prisoner." Life became a
double burden to the poor fellows till Bean was caught. But to return to
the young Queen, in her happy, untroubled days.

In August she took possession of Windsor Castle, amid great rejoicing.
The Duchess, her mother, came also; this time not to be reproached or
insulted. They soon had company--a lot of Kings and Queens, among them
"Uncle Leopold" and his second wife, a daughter of Louis Philippe of

The royal young house-keeper seems keenly to have enjoyed showing to her
visitors her new home, her little country place up the Thames. She
conducted them everywhere,

"Up-stairs, down-stairs, and in my lady's chamber,"

peeping into china and silver closets, spicy store-rooms, and huge linen
chests smelling of lavender.

Soon after came a triumphal progress to Brighton, during which the royal
carriage passed under an endless succession of triumphal arches, and
between ranks on ranks of schoolchildren, strewing roses and singing
pæans. At Brighton there was an immense sacrifice of the then fashionable
and costly flower, the dahlia, no fewer than twenty thousand being used
for decorative purposes. But a sadder because a vain sacrifice on this
occasion, was of flowers of rhetoric. An address, the result of much
classical research and throes of poetic labor, and marked by the most
effusive loyalty, was to have been presented to Her Majesty at the gates
of the Pavilion, but by some mistake she passed in without waiting for

About this time the Lunatic Asylums began to fill up. Within one week two
mad men were arrested, proved insane, and shut up for threatening the
life of the Queen and the Duchess of Kent. So Victoria's life was not all
arched over with dahlia-garlands, and strewn with roses, nor were her
subjects all Sunday-school scholars.


Banquet in Guildhall--Victoria's first Christmas at Windsor Castle as
Queen--Mrs. Newton Crosland's reminiscences--Coolness of Actors and
Quakers amid the general enthusiasm--Issue of the first gold Sovereigns
bearing Victoria's head.

On Lord Mayor's Day, the Queen went in state to dine with her brother-
monarch, the King of "Great London Town." It was a memorable, magnificent
occasion. The Queen was attended by all the great ladies and gentlemen of
her Court, and followed by an immense train of members of the royal
family, ambassadors, cabinet ministers and nobility generally--in all,
two hundred carriages of them. The day was a general holiday, and the
streets all along the line of the splendid procession were lined with
people half wild with loyal excitement, shouting and waving hats and
handkerchiefs. It may have been on this day that Lord Albemarle got off
his famous pun. On the Queen saying to him, "I wonder if my good people
of London are as glad to see me as I am to see them?" he replied by
pointing to the letters "V. R." "Your Majesty can see their loyal cockney
answer-'_Ve are_.'"

One account states that, "the young sovereign was quite overcome by the
enthusiastic outbursts of loyalty which greeted her all along the route,"
but a description of the scene sent me by a friend, Mrs. Newton Crosland,
the charming English novelist and poet, paints her as perfectly composed.
My friend says: "I well remember seeing the young Queen on her way to
dine with the Lord Mayor, on the 9th of November, 1837, the year of her
accession. The crowd was so great that there were constant stoppages,
and, luckily for me, one of them occurred just under the window of a
house in the Strand, where I was a spectator. I shall never forget the
appearance of the maiden-sovereign. Youthful as she was, she looked every
inch a Queen. Seated with their backs to the horses were a lady and
gentleman, in full Court-dress--(the Duchess of Sutherland, Mistress of
the Robes--and the Earl of Albemarle, Master of the Horse), and in the
centre of the opposite seat, a little raised, was the Queen. All I saw of
her dress was a mass of pink satin and swan's-down. I think she wore a
large cape or wrap of these materials. The swan's-down encircled her
throat, from which rose the fair young face--the blue eyes beaming with
goodness and intelligence--the rose-bloom of girlhood on her cheeks, and
her soft, light brown hair, on which gleamed a circlet of diamonds,
braided as it is seen in the early portraits. Her small, white-gloved
hands were reposing easily in her lap.

"On this occasion not only were the streets thronged, but every window in
the long line of the procession was literally filled, while men and boys
were seen in perilous positions on roofs and lamp-posts, trees and
railings. Loud and hearty cheers, so unanimous they were like one immense
multitudinous shout, heralded the royal carriage.

"A little before this date, a story was told of the lamentations of the
Queen's coachman. He declared that he had driven Her Majesty for six
weeks, without once being able to see her. Of course he could not turn
his head or his eyes from his horses."

At Temple Bar--poor, old Temple Bar, now a thing of the past!--the Queen
was met by the Lord Mayor, who handed her the city keys and sword, which
she returned to his keeping--a little further on, the scholars of
Christ's Hospital--the "Blue-Coat Boys," offered her an address of
congratulation, saying how glad they were to have a woman to rule over
them, which was a good deal for boys to say, and also sung the National
Anthem with a will.

The drawing-room of Guildhall was fitted up most gorgeously. Here the
address of the city magnates was read and replied to,--and here in the
midst of Princes and nobles, Her Majesty performed a brave and memorable
act. She knighted Sheriff Montefiore, the first man of his race to
receive such an honor from a British sovereign, and Sir Moses Montefiore,
now nearly a centenarian, has ever since, by a noble life and good works,
reflected only honor on his Queen. But ah, what would her uncle, the late
King, have said, had he seen her profaning a Christian sword by laying it
on the shoulders of a Jew! He would rather have used it on the
unbeliever's ears, after Peter's fashion.

After this ceremony, they all passed into the Great Hall, which had been
marvellously metamorphosed, by hangings and gildings, and all sorts of
magnificent decorations, by mirrors and lusters, and the display of vast
quantities of gold and silver plate--much of it lent for the occasion by
noblemen and private gentlemen, but rivalled in splendor and value by the
plate of the Corporation and the City Companies. From the roof hung two
immense chandeliers of stained glass and prisms, which with the flashing
of innumerable gas-jets, lighting up gorgeous Court-dresses, and the most
superb old diamonds of the realm, made up a scene of dazzling splendor,
of enchantment, which people who were there go wild over to this day.
Poets say it was like a vision of fairyland, among the highest circles of
that most poetic kingdom--and they know. I think a poet must have managed
the musical portion of the entertainment, for when Victoria appeared
sweet voices sang--

"At Oriana's presence all things smile!"

and presently--

"Oh happy fair!
Your eyes are lode-stars and your tongue's sweet air,
More tunable than lark to shepherd's ear,
When wheat is green, when hawthorn buds appear."

There was a raised platform at the east end of the hall, and on it the
throne, a beautiful state-chair, of dainty proportions, made expressly
for that fairy Princess, who took her seat thereon amid the most joyous
acclamations. On the platform before her, was placed the royal table,
decorated with exquisite flowers, and covered with a costly, gold-fringed
damask cloth, on which were served the most delicate viands and delicious
fruits, in season and out of season. Ah, as the young Queen, seated up
there, received the homage of the richly-robed Aldermen, and the
resplendent Sheriffs, and that effulgent Lord Mayor, she must have
fancied herself something more than a fairy Princess,--say, an Oriental
goddess being adored and sacrificed to by gorgeous Oriental Princes,
Sultans and Satraps, Pashas, Padishas, and the Grand-Panjandrum himself.

After the dinner, an imposing personage, called the Common Crier, strode
into the middle of the hall, and solemnly cried out: "The Right Honorable
the Lord Mayor gives the health of our Most Gracious Sovereign, Queen
Victoria!" This, of course, was drunk with all the honors, and extra
shouts that made the old hall ring. The Queen rose and bowed her thanks,
and then the Common Crier announced--Her Majesty's toast: "The Lord
Mayor, and prosperity to the City of London." The Queen, it is stated,
honored this toast in sherry one hundred and twenty years old--liquid
gold! Very gracious of her if she furnished the sherry. I hope, at all
events, she drank it with reverence. Why, when that old wine was bottled,
Her Majesty's grandfather lacked some twenty years of being born, and the
American Colonies were as loyal as London;--then the trunk of the royal
old Bourbon tree, whose last branch death lopped away but yesterday at
Frohsdorf, seemed solid enough, though rotten at the core; and, the great
French Revolution was undreamed of, except in the seething brain of some
wild political theorist, or in some poor peasant's nightmare of
starvation. When that old wine was bottled, Temple Bar, under the
garlanded arch of which Her Majesty had just passed so smilingly, was
often adorned with gory heads of traitors, and long after that old wine
was bottled, men and women could be seen of a Friday, dangling from the
front of Newgate prison, and swinging in the morning air, like so many
ghastly pendulums.

This year 1837, Victoria spent her first Christmas as a Queen at Windsor,
right royally I doubt not, and I think it probable she received a few
presents. A few days before, she had gone in state to Parliament, to give
her assent to the New Civil List Act-not a hard duty for her to perform,
it would seem, as that act settled on her for life an annual income of
£385,000. Let Americans who begrudge our President his $50,000, and wail
over our taxation, just put that sum into dollars. The English people did
not grumble at this grant, as they had grumbled over the large sums
demanded by Her Majesty's immediate predecessors. They knew it would not
be recklessly and wickedly squandered, and they liked to have their
bonnie young Queen make a handsome appearance among crowned heads. She
had not then revealed those strong and admirable traits of character
which later won their respect and affection,--but they were fond of her,
and took a sort of amused delight in her, as though they, were all
children, and she a wonderful new doll, with new-fashioned talking and
walking arrangements. The friend from whom I have quoted--Mrs. Crosland--
writes me: "I consider that it would be impossible to exaggerate the
enthusiasm of the English people on the accession of Queen Victoria to
the throne. To be able at all to understand it, we must recollect the
sovereigns she succeeded--the Sailor-King, a most commonplace old man,
with 'a head like a pine-apple'; George IV., a most unkingly king,
extremely unpopular, except with a small party, of High Tories; and poor
George III., who by the generation Victoria followed, could only be
remembered as a frail, afflicted, blind old man--for a long period shut
up at Kew, and never seen by his people. It was not only that Victoria
was a really lovely girl, but that she had the _prestige_ of having
been brought up as a Liberal, and then she kept the hated Duke of
Cumberland from the throne. Possibly he was not guilty of half the
atrocious sins attributed to him, but I do not remember any royal
personage so universally hated."

It was fear of this bogie of a Cumberland that made the English people
anxious for the early marriage of the Queen, and yet caused them to dread
it, for the fate of poor Princess Charlotte had not been forgotten. But I
do not think that political or dynastic questions had much to do with the
popularity of the young Queen. It was the resurrection of the dead
dignity of the Royal House of Brunswick, in her fair person--the
resuscitation of the half-dead principle of loyalty in the hearts of her
people. Of her Majesty's subjects of the better class, actors and quakers
alone seem to have taken her accession with all its splendid accessions,
coolly,--the former, perhaps, because much mock royalty had somehow
cheapened the real thing, and the latter because trained from infancy to
disregard the pomps and show of this world. Macready jots down among the
little matters in his "Diary," the fact of Her Majesty coming to his
theatre, and waiting awhile after the play to see him and congratulate
him. He speaks of her as "a pretty little girl," and does not seem
particularly "set up" by her compliments. Joseph Sturge, the eminent and
most lovable philanthropist of Birmingham,--a "Friend indeed" to all "in
need,"--waited on Her Majesty, soon after her accession, as one of a
delegation of the Society of Friends. Some years after, he related the
circumstance to me, and simply described her to me as "a nice, pleasant,
modest young woman,--graceful, though a little shy, and on the whole,

"Did you kiss her hand?" I asked. "O yes, and found that act of homage no
hardship, I assure thee. It was a fair, soft, delicate little hand."

I afterwards regretted that I had not asked him what he did with his
broad-brimmed hat when he was about to be presented, knowing that the
principles of Fox and Penn forbade his removing that article in homage to
any human creature; but I have just discovered in a volume of Court
Records, that "the deputation from the Society of Friends, commonly
called Quakers, were uncovered, according to custom, by the Yeoman of the
Guard." As they were all non-resistants, they doubtless bore the
indignity passively and placidly. Moreover, they all bowed, if they did
not kneel, before the throne on which their Queen was seated, and as I
said kissed her hand, in token of their friendly fealty.

In June, 1838, were issued the first gold sovereigns, bearing the head of
the Queen--the same spirited young head that we see now on all the modern
gold and silver pieces of the realm. That on the copper is a little
different, but all are pretty--so pretty that Her Majesty's loyal
subjects prefer them to all other likenesses, even poor men feeling that
they cannot have too many of them.


The Coronation.

The coronation was fixed for June 28, 1838 a little more than a year from
the accession.

The, Queen had been slightly troubled at the thought of some of the
antiquated forms of that grand and complicated ceremony--for instance,
the homage of the Peers, spiritual and temporal. As the rule stood, they
were all required after kneeling to her, and pledging their allegiance,
to rise and kiss her on the left cheek. She might be able to bear up
under the salutes of those holy old gentlemen, the archbishops and
bishops--but the anticipation of the kisses of all the temporal Peers,
old and young, was enough to appall her--there were six hundred of them.
So she issued a proclamation excusing the noble gentlemen from that
onerous duty, and at the coronation only the Royal Dukes, Sussex and
Cambridge, kissed the Queen's rosy cheek, by special kinship privilege.
The others had to be content with her hand. The other omitted ceremony
was one which formerly took place in Westminster Hall--consisting chiefly
of the appearance of a knight armed, mailed and mounted, who as Royal
Champion proceeded to challenge the enemies of the new Sovereign to
mortal combat. This, which had appeared ridiculous in the case of the
burly George IV., would have been something pretty and poetic in that of
the young maiden-Queen, but she doubtless felt that as every Englishman
was disposed to be her champion, the old form would be the idlest,
melodramatic bravado.

The crown which had fitted George and William was too big and heavy for
their niece--so it was taken to pieces, and the jewels re-set in a way to
greatly reduce the size and weight. A description now before me, of the
new crown is too dazzling for me to transcribe. I must keep my eyes for
plainer work; but I can give the value of the bauble--£112,760!--and this
was before the acquisition of the koh-i-noor.

Of the coronation I will try to give a clear, if not a full account.

It was a wonderful time in London when that day of days was ushered in,
by the roar of cannon from the grim old Tower, answered by a battery in
St. James' Park. Such a world of people everywhere! All Great Britain and
much of the Continent seemed to have emptied themselves into this
metropolis, which overflowed with a surging, murmuring tide of humanity.
Ah me, how much of that eager, noisy life is silent and forgotten now!

There may have before been coronations surpassing that of Victoria in
scenic splendor, if not in solid magnificence-that of the first Napoleon
and his Empress, perhaps-but there has been nothing so grand as a royal
pageant seen since, until the crowning of the present Russian Emperor at
Moscow, where the almost intolerable splendor was seen against a dark
background of tragic possibilities. This English coronation was less
brilliant, perhaps, but also less barbaric than that august, overpowering
ceremony over which it seemed there might hover "perturbed spirits" of
men slain in mad revolts against tyranny--of youths and women done to
death on the red scaffold, in dungeons, in midnight mines, and Siberian
snows; and about which there surely lurked the fiends of dynamite. But
this pure young girl, trusting implicitly in the loving loyalty of her
subjects--relying on Heaven for help and guidance, lifted to the throne
by the Constitution and the will of a free people, as conquerors have
been upborne on shields, what had she to fear? A very different and un-
nihilistic "cloud of witnesses" was hers, we may believe. If ever there
was a mortal state-occasion for the immortals to be abroad, it was this.

The great procession started from Buckingham Palace at about 10 o'clock.
The first two state carriages, each drawn by six horses, held the Duchess
of Kent and her attendants. The Queen's mother, regally attired, was
enthusiastically cheered all along the way. The Queen was, of course, in
the grand state coach, which is mostly gilding and glass--a prodigiously
imposing affair. It was drawn by eight cream-colored horses--great
stately creatures--with white flowing manes, and tails like mountain
cascades. Many battalions and military bands were stationed along the
line, presenting arms and playing the National Anthem, "And the People, O
the People!" Every window, balcony, and door-step was swarming, every
foot of standing room occupied--even on roofs and chimneys. Ladies and
children waved handkerchiefs and dropped flowers from balconies, and the
shouts from below and the shouts from above seemed to meet and break into
joyous storm-bursts in the air. Accounts state that Her Majesty "looked
exceedingly well, and that she seemed in excellent spirits, and highly
delighted with the imposing scene and the enthusiasm of her subjects."
One would think she might have been.

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