Part 3 out of 4
repellant. The look his large, keen eyes, which had very pale lashes, and
every now and then showed the white all round the iris, is said to have
been quite awful. He was a soldier above all things, and told the Queen
he felt very awkward in evening-dress, as though in leaving off his
uniform he had "taken off his skin." He must have been rather a
discommoding guest, from a little whim he had of sleeping only on straw.
He always had with him a leathern case, which at every place he stopped,
was filled with fresh straw from the stables.
He was an excessively polite man--this towering Czar; but for all that, a
very cruel man--a colossal embodiment of the autocratic principle--
selfish and cold and hard--though he did win upon the Queen's heart by
praise of her husband. He said: "Nowhere will you find a handsomer young
man; he has such an air of nobility and goodness." It was a mystery how
he could so well appreciate that pure and lovable character, for the
Prince Consort must always have been a mystery to men like the Czar
Old homes and new--A visit from the King of France--The Queen and Prince
Albert make their first visit to Germany--Incidents of the trip--A new
seaside home on the Isle of Wight--Repeal of the Corn Laws--Prince Albert
elected Chancellor of Cambridge University--Benjamin Disraeli.
This year--1844--there was a death in the household at Windsor, and a
birth. The death was that of Eos, the favorite greyhound of Prince
Albert. "Dear Eos," as the Queen called her, was found dead one morning.
The Prince wrote the next day to his grandmother, "You will share my
sorrow at this loss. She was a singularly clever creature and had been
for eleven years faithfully devoted to me. How many recollections are
linked with her."
This beautiful and graceful animal, almost human in her love, and in
something very like intellect and soul, appears in several of Landseer's
pictures. I will not apologize for keeping a Royal Prince waiting while I
give this space to her. This Prince, born at Windsor, in August, was the
present Duke of Edinburgh. He was christened Alfred Ernest Albert. The
Queen in her journal wrote: "The scene in the chapel was very solemn. ...
To see those two children there too" (the Princess Royal and the Prince
of Wales), "seemed such a dream to me. May God bless them all, poor
little things!" Her Majesty adds that all through the service she
fervently prayed that this boy might be "as good as his beloved father."
How is it, your Royal Highness?
This year they went again to the Highlands for a few weeks. The Queen's
journal says: "Mama came to take leave of us. Alice and the baby were
brought in, poor little things! to bid us good-bye. Then good Bertie came
down to see us, and Vicky appeared as _voyageuse_, and was all
impatience to go."
"Bertie" is the family name for the Prince of Wales. I believe that at
heart he is still "good Bertie." "Vicky" was the Princess Royal. The
Queen further on remarks: "I said to Albert I could hardly believe that
our child was traveling with us; it put me so in mind of myself when I
was the little Princess.'"
This year Louis Philippe came over to return the visit of the Queen and
the Prince, and there were great festivities and investings at Windsor
with all possible kindness and courtesy, and I hope the wily old King
went home with gratitude in his heart, as well as the garter on his leg.
This year too the Queen and Prince made their first visit to Germany
together. The picture the Queen paints of the morning of leaving and the
parting from the children is very domestic, sweet, and motherly: "Both
Vicky and darling Alice were with me while I dressed. Poor dear Puss
wished much to go with us and often said, 'Why am I not going to
Germany?' Most willingly would I have taken her. I wished much to take
one of dearest Albert's children with us to Coburg; but the journey is a
serious undertaking and she is very young still." ... "It was a painful
moment to drive away with the three poor little things standing at the
door. God bless them and protect them--which He will."
The English Queen and the Prince-Consort were received with all possible
royal honors and popular respect at Aix-la-Chapelle and Cologne, and at
the Royal Palace at Brühl. It was past midnight when they reached that
welcome resting-place, and yet, as an account before me states, they were
regaled by a military serenade "in which seven hundred performers were
engaged!" A German friend of ours from that region supplements this story
by stating that five hundred of those military performers were drummers;
that they were accompanied by torch-bearers; that they came under the
Queen's windows, wakened her out of her first sleep, and almost drove her
wild with fright. With those tremendous trumpetings and drum-beatings,
"making night hideous" with their storm of menacing, barbaric sound, and
with the fierce glare of the torchlight, it might have seemed to her that
Doomsday had burst on the world, and that the savage old Huns of Attila
were up first, ready for war.
The next day they all went up the Rhine to the King's Palace of
Stolzenfels. Never perhaps was even a Rhine steamer so heavily freighted
with royalty--a cargo of Kings and Queens, Princes and Archdukes. It was
all very fine, as were the royal feasts and festivals, but the Queen and
Prince were happiest when they had left all this grandeur and parade
behind them and were at Coburg amid their own kin--for there, impatiently
awaiting them, were the mother of Victoria and the brother of Albert, and
"a staircase full of cousins," as the Queen says. They stopped at lovely
Rosenau, and the Queen, with one of her beautiful poetic impulses, chose
for their chamber the room in which her husband was born. She wrote in
her journal, "How happy, how joyful we were, on awaking, to find
ourselves here, at the dear Rosenau, my Albert's birth-place, the place
he most loves. ... He was so happy to be here with me. It was like a
The account of the rejoicings of the simple Coburg people, and especially
of the children, over their beloved Prince, and over the visit of his
august wife, is really very touching. Their offerings and tributes were
mostly flowers, poems and music--wonderfully sweet chorales and gay
_réveils_ and inspiriting marches. There was a great _fête_ of
the peasants on Prince Albert's birthday, with much waltzing, and
shouting, and beer-quaffing, and toast-giving. The whole visit was an
Arcadian episode, simple and charming, in the grand royal progress of
Victoria's life. But the royal progress had to be resumed--the State
called back its bond-servants; and so, after a visit to the dear old
grandmother at Gotha--the parting with whom seemed especially hard to
Prince Albert, as though he had a presentiment it was to be the last--
they set out for home. They took their yacht at Antwerp, and after a
flying visit to the King and Queen of France at Eu, were soon at Osborne,
where their family were awaiting them. The Queen wrote: "The dearest of
welcomes greeted us as we drove up straight to the house, for there,
looking like roses, so well and so fat, stood the four children, much
pleased to see us!"
Ah, often the best part of going away is coming home.
During this year the Royal Family were very happy in taking possession of
their new seaside palace on the Isle of Wight, and I believe paid no more
visits to Brighton, which was so much crowded in the season as to make
anything like the privacy they desired impossible. During her last stay
at the Pavilion the Queen was so much displeased at the rudeness of the
people who pressed about her and Prince Albert, when they were trying to
have a quiet little walk on the breezy pier, that I read she appealed to
the magistrates for protection. There was such a large and ever-growing
crowd of excited, hurrying, murmuring, staring Brightonians and strangers
about them that it seemed a rallying cry had gone through the town, from
lip to lip: "The Queen and Prince are out! To the pier! To the pier!"
The Pavilion was never a desirable Marine Palace, as it commanded no good
views of the sea; so Her Majesty's new home in the Isle of Wight had for
her, the Prince and the children every advantage over the one in Brighton
except in bracing sea-air. Osborne has a broad sea view, a charming
beach, to which the woods run down--the lovely woods in which are found
the first violets of the spring and to which the nightingales first come.
The grounds were fine and extensive, to the great delight of the Prince
Consort, who had not only a peculiar passion, but a peculiar talent for
gardening. Indeed, when this many-sided German was born a Prince, a
masterly landscape-gardener was lost to the world--that is, the world
outside the grounds of Windsor, Osborne and Balmoral, which indeed "keep
his memory green." The Queen writing from Osborne says: "Albert is so
happy here--out all day planting, directing, etc., and it is so good for
him. It is a relief to get away from the bitterness which people create
for themselves in London."--But I am not writing the Life of Prince
Albert;--I often forget that.
The year of 1846 was gloriously marked by the repeal of the Corn Laws; a
measure of justice and mercy, the withholding of which from the people
had for several years produced much distress and commotion. Some
destructive work had been done by mobs on the houses of the supporters of
the old laws; they had even stoned the town residence of the Duke of
Wellington, Apsley House. The stern old fighter would have been glad at
the moment to have swept the streets clear with cannon, but he contented
himself with putting shutters over his broken windows, to hide the shame.
I believe they were never opened again while he lived. The great leaders
in this Corn Laws agitation were Mr. Cobden and Mr. Bright. These great-
hearted men could not rest for the cries which came up to them from the
suffering people. There were sore privations and "short commons" in
England, and in Ireland, starvation, real, honest, earnest starvation.
The poverty of the land had struck down into the great Irish stand-by,
the potato, a deadly blight. A year or two later the evil took gigantic
proportions; the news came to us in America, and an alarm was sounded
which roused the land. We sent a divine Armada against the grim enemy
which was wasting the Green Isle; ships, which poured into him broadsides
of big bread-balls, and grape-shot of corn, beans and potatoes. It is
recorded that "in one Irish seaport town the bells were kept ringing all
day in honor of the arrival of one of these grain-laden vessels." I am
afraid these bells had a sweeter sound to the poor people than even those
rung on royal birthdays.
Strangely enough, after the passage of measures which immortalized his
ministerial term, Sir Robert Peel was ejected from power. The Queen
parted from him with great regret, but quietly accepted his successor,
Lord John Russell.
Six years had now gone by since the marriage of Victoria and Albert, and
the family had grown to be six, and soon it was seven, for in May the
Princess Helena Augusta Victoria was born. Her godmother was Hélène, the
widowed Duchess of Orleans, the mother of the gallant young men, the
Count de Paris and the Duke de Chartres, who during our great war came
over to America to see service under General McClellan.
About this time the Prince-Consort was called to Liverpool to open a
magnificent dock named after him, which duty he performed in the most
graceful manner. The next day he laid the foundation-stone for a Sailors'
Home. The Queen, who was not able to be with him on these occasions,
wrote to the Baron: "I feel very lonely without my dear master, and
though I know other people are often separated, I feel that I could never
get accustomed to it. ... Without him everything loses its interest. It
will always cause a terrible pang for me to be separated from him even
for two days, and I pray God not to let me survive him. I glory in his
being seen and loved."
In September they went into the new Marine Palace at Osborne. On the
first evening, amid the gaieties of the splendid house-warming festival,
the Prince very solemnly repeated a hymn of Luther's, sung in Germany on
these occasions. Translated it is:
"God bless our going out, nor less
Our coming in, and make them sure;
God bless our daily bread, and bless
Whate'er we do--whate'er endure;
In death unto His peace awake us,
And heirs of His salvation make us."
They were very happy amid all the political trouble and perplexity--
almost too happy, considering how life was going on, or going off in poor
Ireland. Doubtless the cries of starving children and the moans of fever-
stricken mothers must often have pierced the tender hearts of the Queen
and Prince; but the calamity was so vast, so apparently irremediable,
that they turned their thoughts away from it as much as possible, as we
turn ours from the awful tragic work of volcanoes in the far East and
tornadoes in the West. It was a sort of charmed life they lived, with its
pastoral peace and simple pleasures. Lady Bloomfield wrote: "It always
entertains me to see the little things which amuse Her Majesty and the
Prince, instead of their looking bored, as people so often do in English
society." One thing, however, did "bore" him, and that, unfortunately,
was riding--"for its own sake." So it was not surprising that after a
time the Queen indulged less in her favourite pastime. She still loved a
romping dance now and then, but she was hardly as gay as when Guizot
first saw and described her. Writing from Windsor to his son he gives a
picture of a royal dinner party: "On my left sat the young Queen whom
they tried to assassinate the other day, in gay spirits, talking a great
deal, laughing very often and longing to laugh still more; and filling
with her gaiety, which contrasted with the already tragical elements of
her history, this ancient castle which has witnessed the career of all
The political affairs which tried and troubled the Queen and the Prince
were not merely English. They were much disturbed and shocked by the
unworthy intrigues and the unkingly bad faith shown by Louis Philippe in
the affair of the "Spanish Marriages"--a complicated and rather delicate
matter, which I have neither space nor desire to dwell upon here. It had
a disastrous effect on the Orleans family, and perhaps on the history of
France. It has been mostly interesting to me now for the manner in which
the subject was, handled by the Queen, whose letters revealed a royal
high spirit and a keen sense of royal honor. She regretted the heartless
State marriage of the young Queen of Spain, not only from a political but
a domestic point of view. She saw poor Isabella forced or tricked into a
distasteful union, from which unhappiness must, and something far worse
than unhappiness might, come. Many and great misfortunes did come of it
and to the actors in it.
In the spring of 1847 the Prince-Consort was elected Chancellor of the
University of Cambridge--a great honor for so young a man. The Queen was
present at the installation, and there was a splendid time. Wordsworth
wrote an ode on the occasion. It was not quite equal to his "Ode on the
Intimations of Immortality." In truth, Mr. Wordsworth did not shine as
Poet Laureate. Mr. Tennyson better earns his butt of Malmsey.
Seated on the throne in the great Hall of Trinity, the Queen received the
new Chancellor, who was beautifully dressed in robes of black and gold,
with a long train borne by two of his officers. He read to her a speech,
to which she read a reply, saying that on the whole she approved of the
choice of the University. "I cannot say," writes the Queen, "how it
agitated and embarrassed me to have, to receive this address, and hear it
read by my beloved Albert, who walked in at the head of the University,
and who looked dear and beautiful in his robes."
Happy woman! When ordinary husbands make long, grave speeches to their
wives, they do not often look "dear and beautiful!"
This year a new prima-donna took London by storm and gave the Queen and
Prince "exquisite enjoyment." Her Majesty wrote: "Her acting alone is
worth going to see, and the _piano_ way she has of singing, Lablache
says, is unlike anything he ever heard. He is quite enchanted. There is a
purity in her singing and acting which is quite indescribable."
That singer was Jenny Lind.
About this time lovers of impassioned oratory felt the joy which the
astronomer knows "_when a new comet swims into his ken_" in the
appearance of a brilliant political orator, of masterly talent and more
masterly will. This still young man of Hebraic origin, rather dashing and
flashing in manner and dress, had not been thought to have any very
serious purpose in life, and does not seem to have much impressed the
Queen or Prince Albert at first; but the time came when he, as a Minister
and friend, occupied a place in Her Majesty's respect and regard scarcely
second to the one once occupied by Lord Melbourne. This orator was
A Troublous Time--Louis Philippe an Exile--The Purchase of Balmoral--A
Letter of Prince Albert's--Another attempt on the Queen's Life--The
Queen's instructions to the Governess of her Daughters--A visit to
Ireland--Death of Dowager Queen Adelaide.
At last came 1848--a year packed with political convulsions and
overthrows. The spirit of revolution was rampant, bowling away at all the
thrones of Europe. England heard the storm thundering nearly all round
the horizon, for in the sister isle the intermittent rebellion broke out,
chiefly among the "Young Ireland" party, led by Mitchel, Meagher and
O'Brien. This plucky little uprising was soon put down. The leaders were
brave, eloquent, ardent young men, but their followers were not disposed
to fight long and well--perhaps their stomachs were too empty. The
Chartists stirred again, and renewed their not unreasonable or
treasonable demands; but all in vain. There is really something awful
about the strength and solidity and impassivity of England. When the
French monarchy went down in the earthquake shock of that wild winter,
and a republic came up in its place, it surely would have been no wonder
if a vast tidal-wave of revolution caused by so much subsidence and
upheaving had broken disastrously on the English shores. But it did not.
The old sea-wall of loyalty and constitutional liberty was too strong.
There were only floated up a few waifs, and among them a "_forlorn and
shipwrecked brother_," calling himself "John Smith," and a poor, gray-
haired, heart-broken woman, "Mrs. Smith," for the nonce. When these came
to land they were recognized as Louis Philippe and Marie Amélie of
France. Afterwards most of their family, who had been scattered by the
tempest, came also, and joined them in a long exile. The English asylum
of the King and Queen was Claremont, that sanctuary of love and sorrow,
which the Queen, though loving it well, had at once given over to her
unfortunate old friends, whom she received with the most sympathetic
kindness, trying to forget all causes of ill-feeling given her a year or
two before by the scheming King and his ambitious sons.
In the midst of the excitement and anxiety of that time, a gentle,
loving, world-wearied soul passed out of our little mortal day at Gotha,
and a fresh, bright young soul came into it in London. The dear old
grandmother of the Prince died, in her palace of Friedrichsthal, and his
daughter, Louise Caroline Alberta, now Marchioness of Lorne, was born in
Among those ruined by the convulsions in Germany were the Queen's
brother, Prince Leiningen, and her brother-in-law, Prince Hohenlohe. So
the thunderbolt had struck near. At one time it threatened to strike
still nearer, for that spring the Chartists made their great
demonstration, or rather announced one. It was expected that they would
assemble at a given point and march, several hundred thousand strong, on
Parliament, bearing a monster petition. What such a mighty body of men
might do, what excesses they might commit in the capital, nobody could
tell. The Queen was packed off to Osborne with baby Louise, to be out of
harm's way, and 170,000 men enrolled themselves as special constables.
Among these was Louis Napoleon, longing for a fight of some sort in
alliance with England. He did net get it till some years after. There was
no collision, in fact no large compact procession; the Chartists, mostly
very good citizens, quietly dispersed and went home after presenting
their petition. The great scare was over, but the special constables were
as proud as Wellington's army after Waterloo.
When the Chartist leaders had been tried for sedition and sentenced to
terms of imprisonment, and the Irish leaders had been transported, things
looked so flat in England that the young French Prince turned again to
France to try his fortune. It was his third trial. The first two efforts
under Louis Philippe to stir up a revolt and topple the citizen king from
the throne had ended in imprisonment and ridicule; but now he would not
seem to play a Napoleonic game. He would fall in with republican ideas
and run for the Presidency, which he did, and won. But as the countryman
at the circus, after creating much merriment by his awkward riding in his
rural costume, sometimes throws it off and appears as a spangled hero and
the very prince of equestrians; so this "nephew of his uncle," suddenly
emerging from the disguise of a republican President, blazed forth a
full-panoplied warrior-Emperor. But this was not yet.
In September of this year the Queen and Prince first visited a new
property they had purchased in the heart of the Highlands. The Prince
wrote of it: "We have withdrawn for a short time into a complete mountain
solitude, where one rarely sees a human face, where the snow already
covers the mountain-tops and the wild deer come creeping stealthily round
the house. I, naughty man, have also been creeping stealthily after the
harmless stags, and today I shot two red deer." ... "The castle is of
granite, with numerous small turrets, and is situated on a rising-ground,
surrounded by birchwood, and close to the river Dee. The air is glorious
and dear, but icy cold."
What a relief it must have been to them to feel themselves out of the
reach of runaway royalties, and "surprise parties" of Emperors and Grand
In March, 1849, the Prince laid the foundation-stone for the Great
Grimsby Docks, and made a noble speech on the occasion. From that I will
not quote, but I am tempted to give entire a charming note which he wrote
from Brocklesby, Lord Yarborough's place, to the Queen.
It runs thus:
"Your faithful husband, agreeably to your wishes, reports: 1. That he is
still alive. 2. That he has discovered the North Pole from Lincoln
Cathedral, but without finding either Captain Ross or Sir John Franklin.
3. That he arrived at Brocklesby and received the address. 4. That he
subsequently rode out and got home quite covered with snow and with
icicles on his nose. 5. That the messenger is waiting to carry off this
letter, which you will have in Windsor by the morning. 6. Last, but not
least, that he loves his wife and remains her devoted husband."
We may believe the good, fun-loving wife was delighted with this little
letter, and read it to a few of her choicest friends.
A few months later, while the Queen was driving with her children in an
open carriage over that assassin-haunted Constitution Hill, she was fired
at by a mad Irishman--William Hamilton. She did not lose for a moment her
wonderful self-possession, but ordered the carriage to move on, and
quieted with a few calm words the terror of the children.
We have seen that at the time of Oxford's attempt she "laughed at the
thing"; but now there had been so many shootings that "the thing" was
getting tiresome and monotonous, and she did not interfere with the
carrying out of the sentence of seven years' transportation. This was not
the last. In 1872 a Fenian tried his hand against his widowed sovereign,
and we all know of the shocking attempt of two years ago at Windsor. In
truth, Her Majesty has been the greatest royal target in Europe.
_Messieurs les assassins_ are not very gallant.
All this time the Prince-Consort was up to his elbows in work of many
kinds. That which he loved best, planning and planting the grounds of
Osborne and Balmoral and superintending building, he cheerfully
sacrificed for works of public utility. He inaugurated and urged forward
many benevolent and scientific enterprises, and schools of art and music.
This extraordinary man seemed to have a prophetic sense of the value and
ultimate success of inchoate public improvements, and when he once
adopted a scheme allowed nothing to discourage him. He engineered the
Holborn Viaduct enterprise, and I notice that at a late meeting of the
brave Channel Tunnel Company, Sir E. W. Watkin claimed that "the cause
had once the advocacy of the great Prince-Consort, the most sagacious man
of the century."
With all these things he found time to carefully overlook the education
of his children. The Prince of Wales was now thought old enough to be
placed under a tutor, and one was selected--a Mr. Birch (let us hope the
name was not significant), "a young, good-looking, amiable man," who had
himself taken "the highest honors at Cambridge";--doubtless a great point
those highest Cambridge honors, for the instructor of an eight-years-old
boy. For all the ability and learning of his tutor, it is said that the
Prince of Wales never took to the classics with desperate avidity. He was
never inclined to waste his strength or dim his pleasant blue eyes over
the midnight oil.
Prince Albert never gave the training of his boys up wholly to the most
accomplished instructors. His was still, while he lived, the guiding,
guarding spirit. The Queen was equally faithful in the discharge of her
duties to her children--especially to her daughters. In her memoranda I
find many admirable passages which reveal her peculiarly simple,
domestic, affectionate system of home government. The religious training
of her little ones she kept as much as possible in her own hands, still
the cares of State and the duties of royal hospitality would interfere,
and, writing of the Princess Royal, in 1844, she says: "It is a hard case
for me that my occupations prevent me from being with her when she says
Some instructions which she gave to this child's governess should be
printed in letters of gold:
"I am quite clear that she should be taught to have great reverence for
God and for religion, but that she should have the feeling of devotion
and love which our heavenly Father encourages His earthly children to
have for Him, and not one of fear and trembling; and that thoughts of
death and an after life should not be represented in an alarming and
forbidding view; and that she should be made to know as yet no difference
of creeds, and not think that she can only pray on her knees, or that
those who do not kneel are less fervent or devout in their prayers."
In August of this year the Queen and Prince sailed in their favorite
yacht, the _Victoria and Albert_, for Ireland, taking with them
their three eldest children, the better to show the Irish people that
their sovereign had not lost confidence in them for their recent bit of a
rebellion, which she believed was one-half Popery and the other half
potato-rot. The Irish people justified that faith. At the Cove of Cork,
where the Royal party first landed, and which has been Queenstown ever
since, their reception was most enthusiastic, as it was also in Dublin,
so lately disaffected. The common people were especially delighted with
the children, and one "stout old woman" shouted out, "Oh, Queen, dear,
make one o' thim darlints Patrick, and all Ireland will die for ye!" They
afterwards got their "Patrick" in the little Duke of Connaught, but I
fear were none the more disposed to die for the English Queen. Perhaps he
came a little too late.
The Queen on this trip expressed the intention of creating the Prince of
Wales Earl of Dublin, by way of compliment and conciliation, and perhaps
she did, but still Fenianism grew and flourished In Ireland.
The passage from Belfast to Loch Ryan was very rough--a regular rebellion
against, "the Queen of the Seas," as the Emperor of France afterwards
called Victoria. She records that, "Poor little Affie was knocked down
and sent rolling over the deck, and was completely drenched." The poor
little fellow, Prince Alfred, Duke of Edinburgh, the bold mariner of the
family, probably cried out then that he would "never, never be a sailor."
In a letter from Balmoral, written on his thirtieth birthday, the Prince-
Consort says: "Victoria is happy and cheerful--the children are well and
grow apace; the Highlands are glorious."
I do not know that the fact has anything to do with Her Majesty's
peculiar love for Scotland, but she came very near being born in that
part of her dominions--the Duke of Kent having proposed a little while
before her birth to take a place in Lanarkshire, belonging to a friend.
Had he done so his little daughter would have been a Highland lassie. I
don't think the Queen would have objected. She said to Sir Archibald
Alison, "I am more proud of my Scotch descent than of any other. When I
first came into Scotland I felt as if I were coming home."
With the occupation of Balmoral this home feeling increased: The Queen
was ever impatient to seek that mountain retreat and regretful to leave
it. She loved above all the outdoor life there--the rough mountaineering,
the deer hunts, the climbing, the following up and fording streams, the
picnics on breezy hill-sides; she loved to get out from under the dark
purple shadow of royalty and nestle down among the brighter purple of the
heather; she loved to go off on wild incognito expeditions and be
addressed by the simple peasants without her awesome titles; even loved
to be at times like the peasants in simplicity and naturalness, to feel
with her "guid mon," like a younger Mistress Anderson with her "jo John."
She seemed to enjoy all weathers at Balmoral. I am told that she used to
delight in walking in the rain and wind and going out protected only by a
thick water-proof, the hood drawn over her head; and that she liked
nothing better than driving in a heavy snow-storm. After the return from
Scotland, the Queen was to have opened the new Coal Exchange in London,
but was prevented by an odd and much-belated ailment, an attack of
chicken-pox. Prince Albert went in her place and took the Princess Royal
and the Prince of Wales, who, Lady Lyttelton writes: "behaved very
civilly and nicely." There was an immense crowd, all shouting and
cheering, and smiling kindly on the children. Some official of immense
size, with a big cloak and wig, and a big voice, is described as making a
pompous speech to little Albert Edward, looking down on him and
addressing him as "Your Royal Highness, the pledge, and promise of a long
race of Kings." Lady Lyttelton adds: "Poor Princey did not seem to guess
at all what he meant."
Soon after this grand affair, a very _grand personage_ came not
unwillingly to the end of all earthly affairs. Adelaide, Dowager Queen of
England, died after a long and painful illness. She had lived a good
life; she was a sweet, charitable, patient, lovable woman. The Queen and
Prince-Consort were deeply grieved. The Queen wrote: "She was truly
motherly in her kindness to us and our children. ... Poor mama is very
much cut up by this sad event. To her the Queen is a great and serious
Queen Adelaide left directions that her funeral should be as private as
possible, and that her coffin should be carried by sailors--a tribute to
the memory of the Sailor-King.
From an English gentleman, who has exceptional opportunities of knowing
much of the private history of Royalty, I have received an anecdote of
this good woman and wife, when Duchess of Clarence--something which our
friend thinks does her more honor than afterwards did her title of Queen.
When she was married she knew, for everybody knew, of the left-hand
marriage of the Duke with the beautiful actress, Mrs. Jordan, from whom
he was then separated. The Duke took his bride to Bushey Park, his
residence, for the honeymoon, and himself politely conducted her to her
chamber. She looked about the elegant room well pleased, but was soon
struck by the picture of a very lovely woman, over the mantel. "Who is
that?" she asked. The poor Duke was aghast, but he had at least the
kingly quality of truth-telling, and stammered out: "That, my dear
Adelaide, is a portrait of Mrs. Jordan. I humbly beg your pardon for its
being here. I gave orders to have it removed, but those stupid servants
have neglected to do it. I will have it done at once--only forgive me."
The Duchess took her husband's hand and said: "No, my dear William, you
must not do it! I know what Mrs. Jordan has been to you in the past--that
you have loved her--that she is the mother of your children, and I wish
her portrait to remain where it is." And it did remain. This was very
noble and generous, certainly; but I cannot help thinking that the
Duchess was not very much in love.
The Great Exhibition--Birth of the Duke of Connaught--Death of Sir Robert
Peel and Louis Philippe--Prince Albert's speech before the Society for
the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts.
Early in this year of 1850, Prince Albert, though not in his usual
health, began in deadly earnest on his colossal labors in behalf of the
great "World's Exhibition." England owed that magnificent manifestation
of her resources and her enterprise far more to him than to any other
man. He met with much opposition from that conservative class who, from
the start, denounce all new ideas and innovations, shrinking like owls
from the advancing day; and that timid class who, while admitting the
grandeur of the idea, feared it was premature. "The time has not come,"
they said; "wait a century or two." Some opposed it on the ground that it
would bring to London a host of foreigners, with foreign ideas and
perilous to English morals and religion.
In the garden of a certain grand English country-place there is a certain
summer-house with a closed door, which, if a curious visitor opens, lets
off some water-works, which give him a spray-douche. So the Prince
received, at door after door, a dash of cold water for his "foreign
enterprise." But he persevered, letting nothing dishearten him--toiling
terribly, and inspiring others to toil, till at last the site he desired
for the building was granted him, and the first Crystal Palace--the first
palace for the people in England--went slowly up, amid the sun-dropped
shades of Hyde Park. Temporary as was that marvelous structure, destined
so soon to pass away, like "the baseless fabric of a vision," I can but
think it the grandest of the monuments to the memory of the Prince-
Consort, though little did he so regard it. To his poetic yet practical
mind it was the universal temple of industry and art, the valhalla of the
heroes of commerce, the fane of the gods of science--the caravansery of
the world. That Exhibition brought together the ends of the earth,--long-
estranged human brethren sat down together in pleasant communion. It was
a modern Babel, finished and furnished, and where there was almost a
fusion, instead of, a confusion, of tongues. The "barbarous Turk" was
there, the warlike Russ, the mercenary Swiss, the passionate Italian, the
voluptuous Spaniard, the gallant Frenchman,--and yet foreboding English
citizens did not find themselves compelled to go armed, or to lock up
their plate, or their wives and daughters. In fact, this beautiful
realized dream, this accomplished fact, quickened the pulses of commerce,
the genius of invention, the soul and the arm of industry, the popular
zeal for knowledge, as nothing had ever done before.
To go back a little to family events:--On May 1st, 1850, Prince Albert,
in writing to his step-mother at Coburg, told a bit of news very
charmingly: "This morning, after rather a restless night (being Walpurgis
night, that was very appropriate), and while the witches were careering
on the Blocksberg, under Ernst Augustus' mild sceptre, a little boy
glided into the light of day and has been received by the sisters with
_jubilates_. 'Now we are just as many as the days of the week!' was
the cry, and a bit of a struggle arose as to who was to be Sunday. of
well-bred courtesy the honor was conceded to the new-comer. Victoria is
well, and so is the child."
This Prince was called Arthur William Patrick Albert. The first name was
in honor of the Duke of Wellington, on whose eighty-first birthday the
boy was born; William was for the Prince of Prussia, now Emperor of
Germany; Patrick was for Ireland in general, and the "stout old woman" of
Dublin in particular.
This year both the Queen and the country lost a great and valued friend
in Sir Robert Peel, who was killed by being thrown from his horse. There
was much mourning in England among all sorts of people for this rarely
noble, unennobled man. The title of Baronet he had. inherited; it is said
he declined a grander title, and he certainly recorded in his will a wish
that no one of his sons should accept a title on account of _his_
services to the country--which was a great thing for a man to do in
England; and after his death, his wife was so proud of bearing his name
that she declined a peerage offered to her--which was a greater thing for
a woman to do in England.
Not long after, occurred the death of the ex-King of France, at
Claremont. McCarthy sums up his character very tersely, thus: "The
clever, unwise, grand, mean old man." Louis Philippe's meanness was in
his mercenary and plotting spirit, when a rich man and a king--his grand
qualities were his courage and cheerfulness, when in poverty and exile.
The Royal Family again visited Edinburgh, and stopped for a while at
Holyrood--that quaint old Palace of poor Mary Stuart, whose sad, sweet
memory so pervades it, like a personal atmosphere, that it seems she has
only gone but for a little walk, or ride, with her four Maries, and will
soon come in, laughing and talking French, and looking passing beautiful.
Queen Victoria had then a romantic interest in the hapless Queen of
Scots. She said to Sir Archibald Alison, "I am glad I am descended from
Mary; I have nothing to do with Elizabeth."
From Edinburgh to dear Balmoral, from whence the Prince writes: "We try
to strengthen our hearts amid the stillness and solemnity of the
The Queen's heart especially needed strengthening, for she was dreading a
blow which soon fell upon her in the death of her dearest friend, her
aunt, the Queen of the Belgians. She mourned deeply and long for this
lovely and gifted woman, this "angelic soul," as Baron Stockmar called
On April 29, 1851, the Queen paid a private visit to the Exhibition, and
wrote: "We remained two hours and a half, and I came back quite beaten,
and my head bewildered from the myriads of beautiful and wonderful things
which now quite dazzle one's eyes. Such efforts have been made, and our
people have shown such taste in their manufactures. All owing to this
great Exhibition, and to Albert--all to _him_!"
May 1st, which was the first anniversary of little Arthur's birth, was
the great opening-day, when Princes and people took possession of that
mighty crystal temple, and the "Festival of Peace" began.
The Queen's description in her diary is an eloquent outpouring of pride
and joy, and gratitude. One paragraph ends with these words: "God bless
my dearest Albert. God bless my dearest country, which has shown itself
so great to-day! One felt so grateful to the great God, who seemed to
pervade and bless all."
Her Majesty wrote that the scene in the Park as they drove through--the
countless carriages, the vast crowd, the soldiers, the music, the
tumultuous, yet happy excitement everywhere, reminded her of her
coronation day; but when she entered that great glass house, over which
floated in the sunny air the flags of all nations, within which were the
representatives of all nations, and when she walked up to her place in
the centre, conducted by the wizard who had conjured up for the world
that magic structure, and when the two stood there, with a child on
either hand, before the motley multitude, cheering in all languages--
then, Victoria _felt her name_, and knew she had come to her real
coronation, as sovereign, wife, and mother.
Shortly after this great day, Prince Albert distinguished himself by a
remarkably fine speech at an immense meeting of the "Society for the
Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts." Such shoals of foreigners
being then in London, the Society felt that they must be casting in their
nets. Lord John Russell wrote to congratulate the Queen, who, next to the
heathen, was most interested in the success of this speech. Her reply was
very characteristic. After saying that she had been quite "sure that the
Prince would say the right thing, from her entire confidence in his tact
and judgment," she added, "The Queen at the risk of not appearing
sufficiently modest (and yet why should a Woman ever be modest about her
husband's merits?) must say that she thinks Lord John will admit now that
the Prince is possessed of very extraordinary powers of mind and heart.
She feels so proud of being his wife, that she cannot refrain from paying
herself a tribute to his noble character."
Ah, English husbands should be loyal beyond measure to the illustrious
lady, who has set such a matchless example of wifely faith, pride and
devotion. But it will be a pity if in preaching up to their wives her
example, they forget the no less admirable example of the Prince-Consort.
Close of the Great Exhibition-Anecdote--Louis Kossuth--Napoleon III.--The
writer's first visit to England--Description of a Prorogation of
The great Exhibition was closed about the middle of October, on a dark
and rainy day. The last ceremonies were very solemn and impressive. It
had not remained long enough for people to be wearied of it. The Queen,
the Prince and their children seemed never to tire of visiting it, and
the prospect of a sight of them was one of the greatest attractions of
the place to other visitors, especially to simple country-folk--though
these were sometimes disappointed at not beholding the whole party
wearing crowns and trailing royal robes.
I remember a little anecdote of one of Her Majesty's visits to the
Crystal Palace. Among the American manufactures were some fine soaps, and
among these a small head, done in white Castile, and so exactly like
marble that the Queen doubted the soap story, and in her impulsive,
investigating way was about to test it with a scratch of her shawl-pin,
when the Yankee exhibitor stayed her hand, and drew forth a courteous
apology by the loyal remonstrance--"Pardon, your Majesty,--_it is the
head of Washington_!"
Soon after the Princes and Kings went home, there arrived in London a man
whose heroism and eloquence had thrilled the hearts and filled the
thoughts of the world as those of no monarch living had ever done. He was
not received with royal honors, though with some generous enthusiasm, by
the people. He was looked upon, in high places as that most forlorn
being, an unsuccessful adventurer;--so he turned his face, his sad eyes
wistful with one last hope, towards the setting sun. Alas, his own
political sun had already set!
This man was Louis Kossuth. About the same time another man, without
heroism, without eloquence, but with almost superhuman audacity, struck a
famous political blow, in Paris, called a _coup d'état_. He exploded
a secret mine, which shattered the republic and heaved him up on to an
imperial throne. Of course this successful adventurer was Louis Napoleon.
I cannot find that, as the Prince-President of that poor, poetic,
impracticable thing, the French Republic, much notice had been taken of
him by the English Government;--but "Emperor" was a more respectable
title, even worn in this way, snatched in the twinkling of an eye by a
political _prestidigitateur_, and it was of greater worth--it had
cost blood. So Napoleon III. was recognized by England, and at last by
all great powers--royal and republican. Still, for a while, they showed a
wary coldness towards the new Emperor; and he was unhappy because all the
great European sovereigns hesitated to concede his equality to the extent
of addressing him as "_mon frère_" (my brother). He seemed to take
this so to heart that, after this solemn declaration that his empire
meant peace and not war, the Queen of England put out her friendly little
hand and said frankly, "mon frère"; and the King of Prussia and the
Emperor of Austria followed her example; but the Czar of Russia, put his
iron-gloved hand behind his back and frowned. Louis Napoleon did not
forget that ever--but remembered it "excellent well" a few years later,
when he was sending off his noble army to the Crimea.
I find two charming domestic bits, in letters of the Queen and Prince,
written in May, 1852, from Osborne. After saying that her birthday had
passed very happily and peacefully, Her Majesty adds: "I only feel that I
never can be half grateful enough for so much love, devotion and
happiness. My beloved Albert was, if possible, more than usually kind and
good in showering gifts on me. Mama was most kind, too; and the children
did everything they could to please me."
It is pleasant to see that the dear mother and grandmother never forgot
those family anniversaries, and never was forgotten.
Prince Albert writes, in a letter to the Dowager Duchess of Saxe-Coburg:
"The children are well. They grow apace and develop new virtues daily,
and also new naughtinesses. The virtues we try to retain, and the
naughtinesses we throw away."
This year was a memorable one for the writer of this little book, for it
was that of her first visit to England,--of her first sight of London and
Charles Dickens, of Westminster Abbey and the Duke of Wellington, Windsor
Castle and Queen Victoria.
I had brought a letter, from one of his most esteemed American friends,
to the Earl of Carlisle, and from that accomplished and amiable nobleman
I received many courtesies,--chief among them a ticket, which he obtained
from Her Majesty direct, to one of her reserved seats in the Peeresses'
Gallery of the House of Lords, to witness the prorogation of Parliament.
I trust I may be pardoned if I quote a portion of my description of that
wonderful sight,--written, ah me! so long ago:
... "I found that my seat was one most desirable both for seeing the
brilliant assembly and the august ceremony; it was near the throne, yet
commanded a view of every part of the splendid chamber.
"The gallery was soon filled with ladies, all in full-dress, jewels,
flowers and plumes. Many of the seats of the Peers were also filled by
their noble wives and fair daughters, most superbly and sweetly
arrayed... Among those conspicuous for elegance and loveliness were the
young Duchess of Northumberland and Lady Clementina Villiers, the famous
"Toward one o'clock the Peers began to come in, clad in their robes of
State. Taken as a whole they are a noble and refined-looking set of men.
But few eyes dwelt on any of these, when there slowly entered, at the
left of the throne, a white-haired old man, pale and spare, bowed with
years and honors, the hero of many battles in many lands, the conqueror
of conquerors,--the Duke! Leaning on the arm of the fair Marchioness of
Douro, he stood, or rather tottered, before us, the grandest ruin in
England. He presently retired to don his ducal robes and join the royal
party at the entrance by the Victoria tower. ... The pious bishops, in
their sacerdotal robes, made a goodly show before an ungodly world. The
judges came in their black gowns and in all the venerable absurdity of
their enormous wigs. Mr. Justice Talfourd the poet, a small, modest-
looking man, was quite extinguished by his. The foreign Ministers
assembled, nation after nation, making, when standing or seated together,
a most peculiar and picturesque group. They shone in all colors and
dazzled with stars, orders and jewel-bitted swords. ...
"Next to me sat the eleven-year-old Princess Gouromma, daughter of the
Rajah of Coorg. The day before she had received Christian baptism, the
Queen standing as godmother. She is a pretty, bright-looking child, and
was literally loaded with jewels. Opposite her sat an Indian Prince--her
father, I was told. He was magnificently attired--girded about with a
superb India shawl, and above his dusky brow gleamed star-like diamonds,
for the least of which many a hard-run Christian would sell his soul. ...
"At last, the guns announced the royal procession, and in a few moments
the entire house rose silently to receive Her Majesty. The Queen was
conducted by Prince Albert, and accompanied by all the great officers of
State. The long train, borne by ladies, gentlemen and pages, gave a
certain stateliness to the short, plump little person of the fair
sovereign, and she bore herself with much dignity and grace. Prince
Albert, it is evident, has been eminently handsome, but he is growing a
little stout and slightly bald. Yet he is a man of right noble presence.
Her Majesty is in fine preservation, and really a pretty and lovable-
looking woman. I think I never saw anything sweeter than her smile of
recognition, given to some of her friends in the gallery--to the little
Indian Princess in especial. There is much in her face of pure
womanliness and simple goodness; yet it is by no means wanting in
animated intelligence. In short, after seeing her, I can well understand
the loving loyalty of her people, and can heartily join in their prayer
of 'God Save the Queen!'
"Her Majesty wore a splendid tiara of brilliants, matched by bracelets,
necklace and stomacher. Her soft brown hair was dressed very plainly. Her
under-dress was of white satin, striped with gold; her robe was, of
course, of purple velvet, trimmed with gold and ermine."
"The Queen desired the lords to be seated, and commanded that her
'faithful Commons' should be summoned. When the members of. the lower
House had come in, the speaker read a speech, to which, I have recorded,
Her Majesty listened, in a cold, quiet manner, sitting perfectly
motionless, even to her fingers and eyelids. The Iron Duke standing at
her left, bent, and trembled slightly--supporting with evident difficulty
the ponderous sword of State. Prince Albert, sitting tall and soldier-
like, in his handsome Field-Marshal's uniform, looked nonchalant and
serene, but with a certain far-away expression in his eyes. The Earl of
Derby held the crown on its gorgeous-cushion gracefully, like an
accomplished waiter presenting a tray of ices. On a like occasion, some
time ago, I hear the Duke of Argyle had the ill-luck to drop this crown
from the cushion, when some of the costly jewels, jarred from their
setting, flew about like so many bits of broken glass. But there was no
need to cry, 'Pick up the pieces!'
"After the reading of this speech, certain bills were read to Her
Majesty, for her assent, which she gave each time with a gracious
inclination of the head, shaking sparkles from her diamond tiara in dew-
drops of light. At every token of acquiescence a personage whom I took
for a herald, bowed low towards the Queen, then performed a similar
obeisance towards the Commons--crying '_La Reine le veut!_'"
"Why he should say it in French--why he did not say "The Queen wills it,"
in her own English, I don't yet know."
I went on: "This ceremony gone through with, the Lord Chancellor,
kneeling at the foot of the throne, presented a copy of the Royal speech
to the Queen (I had supposed she would bring it in her pocket), which she
proceeded to read, in a manner perfectly simple, yet impressive, and in a
voice singularly melodious and distinct. Finer reading I never heard
anywhere; every syllable was clearly enunciated, and the emphasis fell
with unerring precision, though gently, on the right word.
"The Lord Chancellor having formally announced that Parliament stood
prorogued until the 20th of August, Her Majesty rose as majestically as
could be expected from one more remarkable for rosy plumptitude than
regal altitude; Prince Albert took his place at her side; the crown and
sword bearers took theirs in front, the train-bearers theirs in the rear,
and the royal procession swept slowly forth, the brilliant house broke up
and followed, and so the splendid pageant passed away--faded like a piece
of fairy enchantment." That's the way they do it,--except that nowadays
the Queen does not read her own speech.
Death of the Duke of Wellington--Birth of the Duke of Albany--The Crimean
War--Slanders upon Prince Albert--The Prince of Wales takes a place for
the first time upon the Throne--Incidents of Domestic Life--Prince Albert
visits the Emperor of France--Incidents of the War.
At Balmoral the following autumn, the Queen heard of the death of her
most illustrious subject--the Duke of Wellington, and green are those
"Leaves" in the journal of her "life in the Highlands," devoted to his
memory. She wrote of him as a sovereign seldom writes of a subject,--
glowingly, gratefully, tenderly. "One cannot think of this country,
without 'the Duke,' our immortal hero"--she said.
There was a glorious state and popular funeral for the grand old man, who
was laid away with many honors and many tears in the crypt of St. Paul's
Cathedral, where his brother hero, Nelson, was waiting to receive him.
When early in 1853, the news came to Windsor Castle that the French
Emperor had selected a bride, not for her wealth, or high birth, or royal
connections, but for her beauty, and grace, and because he loved her,
Victoria and Albert, as truly lovers as when they entered the old castle
gates, as bride and bridegroom, felt more than ever friendly to him, and
desirous that he should have a fair field, if no favor, to show what he
could do for France. I am afraid they half forgot the _coup d'état_,
and the widows, orphans and exiles it had made.
In April, the Queen's fourth son, who was destined to "carry weight" in
the shape of names,--Leopold George Duncan Albert--now Duke of Albany,
was born in Buckingham Palace.
During this year "the red planet Mars" was in the ascendant. The ugly
Eastern Trouble, which finally culminated in the Crimean War, began to
loom in the horizon, and England to stir herself ominously with military
preparations. Drilling and mustering and mock combats were the order of
the day, and the sound of the big drum was heard in the land. They had a
grand battle-rehearsal at Chobham, and the Queen and Prince went there on
horseback; she wearing a military riding-habit, and accompanied by the
Duke of Coburg and her cousin George, King of Hanover.
The weather was genuine "Queen's weather," bright and warm; but Prince
Albert, who returned a few days later, to rough it, in a season of
regular camp-life, was almost drowned out of his tent by storms. In fact,
the warrior bold went home with a bad cold, which ended in an attack of
measles. There was enough of this disease to go through the family, Queen
and all. Even the guests took it, the Crown Prince of Hanover and the
Duke and Duchess of Coburg, who on going home gave it to the Duke of
Brabant and the Count of Flanders. I suppose there never was known such a
royal run of measles.
This year the Queen and Prince went again to Ireland, to attend the
Dublin Industrial Exhibition, and were received with undiminished
enthusiasm. It is remarkable that in Ireland the Queen was not once shot
at, or struck in the face, or insulted in any way, as in her own capital.
All the most chivalric feeling of that mercurial, but generous people,
was called out by the sight of her frank and smiling face. She trusted
them, and they proved worthy of the trust.
After their return to Balmoral, the Prince wrote: "We should be happy
here were it not for that horrible Eastern complication. A European war
would be a terrible calamity. It will not do to give up all hope; still,
what we have is small."
It daily grew smaller, as the war-clouds thickened and darkened in the
political sky. During those troublous times, when some men's hearts were
failing them for fear, and some men's were madly panting for the fray,
asking nothing better than to see the Lion of England pitted against the
Bear of Russia, the Prince was in some quarters most violently and
viciously assailed, as a designing, dangerous "influence behind the
throne"--treacherous to England, and so to England's Queen. So
industriously was this monstrous slander spread abroad, that the story
went, and by some simple souls was believed, that "the blameless Prince"
had been arrested for high treason, and lodged in the Tower! Some had it
that he had gone in through the old Traitors' Grate, and that they were
furbishing up the old axe and block for his handsome head! Then the rumor
ran that the Queen had also been arrested, and was to be consigned to the
grim old fortress, or that she insisted on going with her husband and
sharing his dungeon. Thousands of English. people actually assembled
about the Tower to see them brought in,--and yet this was not on All-
Poor Baron Stockmar was also suspected of dark political intrigues and
practices detrimental to the peace and honor of England. He was, in fact,
accused of being a spy and a conspirator--which was absurdity itself. He
was, it seems to me, a high-minded, kindly old man, a political
philosopher and moralist--rather opinionated always, and at times a
little patronizing towards his royal pupils; but if they did not object
to this, it was no concern of other people. He certainly had a shrewd, as
well as a philosophic mind--was a sagacious "clerk of the weather" in
European politics,--and I suppose a better friend man or woman never had
than the Prince and the Queen found in this much distrusted old German
Though Prince Albert wrote at this time about having "a world of
torment," he really took matters very patiently and philosophically. In
the devotion of his wife, in the affection of his children, in his
beloved organ, "the only instrument," he said, "for expressing one's
feelings," he found consolation and peace. He wrote,--"Victoria has taken
the whole affair greatly to heart, and is excessively indignant at the
attacks." But a triumphant refutation, in both Houses of Parliament, of
all these slanders, consoled her much; and on the anniversary of her
marriage she was able to write--"This blessed day is full of joyful and
tender emotions. Fourteen happy years have passed, and I confidently
trust many more will pass, and find us in old age, as we are now, happily
and devotedly united! Trials we must have; but what are they if we are
In March, 1854, the Queen and Prince went to Osborne to visit the
magnificent fleet of vessels which had been assembled at Spithead. Her
Majesty wrote to Lord Aberdeen--"We are just starting to see the fleet,
which is to sail at once for its important destination. It will be a
solemn moment! Many a heart will be very heavy, and many a prayer,
including our own, will be offered up for its safety and glory!"
Ah! when those beautiful ships went sailing away, with their white sails
spread, and the royal colors flying, death sat "up aloft," instead of the
"sweet little cherub" popularly supposed to be perched there, and winds
from the long burial-trenches of the battle-field played among the
King Frederick William of Prussia seemed to think that he could put an
end to this little unpleasantness, and wrote a long letter to the Queen
of England, paternally advising her to make some concessions to the
Emperor of Russia, which concessions she thought would be weak and
unworthy. Her reply reveals her characteristic high courage. One
quotation, which she makes from Shakspeare, is admirable:
Of entrance to a quarrel; but being in,
Bear't, that the opposed may beware,
Still, as we look back, it does seem as though with the wit of the Queen,
the wisdom of Prince Albert, the philosophy of Baron Stockmar,--the
philanthropy of Exeter Hall, and the piety of the Bench of Bishops, some
sort of peaceful arrangement might have been effected, and the Crimean
war left out of history. But then we should not have had the touching
picture of the lion and the unicorn charging on the enemy together, not
for England or France, but all for poor Turkey; and Mr. Tennyson could
not have written his "Charge of the Light Brigade," which would have been
a great loss to elocutionists. There were in Parliament a few poor-
spirited economists and soft-hearted humanitarians who would fain have
prevented that mighty drain of treasure and of the best blood of England-
holding, with John Bright, that this war was "neither just nor
necessary"; but they were "whistling against the wind." There was one
rich English quaker, with a heart like a tender woman's and a face like a
cherub's, who actually went over to Russia to labor with "friend
Nicholas" against this war. All in vain! the Czar was deeply moved, of
course, but would not give in, or give up.
On the 3d of March the Queen went to Parliament to receive the address of
both Houses in answer to her message which announced the opening of the
war. On this important occasion the young Prince of Wales took a place
for the first time with his mother and father on the throne. He looked
taller and graver than usual. His heart glowed with martial fire. His
voice, too, if he had been allowed to speak, would have been all for war.
A few days before this, the Queen, after seeing off the first division of
troops for the Baltic, had so felt the soldier-blood of her father
tingling in her veins, that she wrote: "I am very enthusiastic about my
dear army and navy, and I wish I had two sons in both now." But in later
years the widowed Queen is said to have been not eager to have any of her
sons, _his_ sons, peril their lives in battle.
Though the Prince of Wales now had assigned to him a more honorable place
on the British throne than the British Constitution permitted his father,
to occupy, he was still perfectly amenable to that father's authority.
An English gentleman lately told me of an instance of the wise exercise
of that authority. The Prince-Consort and his son were riding across a
London toll-bridge, the keeper of which, on receiving his toll,
respectfully saluted them. Prince Albert courteously inclined his head,
touching his hat, but Prince Albert Edward dashed carelessly on, yet only
to return a minute after, laughing and blushing, to obey his father's
command--"My son, go back and return that man's salute."
The Queen was so enthusiastic that she with pleasure saw launched--
indeed, christened herself--a war-vessel bearing the name and likeness of
her "dearest Albert"--that humane, amiable, peace-loving man! There was
something incongruous in it, as there is in all associations between war
and good peace-lovers and Christ-lovers.
Amid these wars and rumors of wars, it is comforting to read in that
admirable and most comprehensive work, "The Life of His Royal Highness,
the Prince-Consort, by Sir Theodore Martin, K.C.B.," of pleasant little
domestic events, like a children's May-day ball at Buckingham Palace,
given on Prince Arthur's birthday, when two hundred children were made
happy and made others happier. Then there were great times at Osborne for
the Royal children on their mother's birthday, when a charming house--the
Swiss cottage--and its grounds, were made over to them, to have and to
hold, as their very own. It was not wholly for a play-house and play-
ground, but partly as a means of instruction in many things. In the
perfectly-appointed kitchen of the cottage the little Princesses learned
to perform many domestic tasks, and to cook different kinds of plain
dishes as well as cakes and tarts--in short, to perform the ordinary
duties of housekeepers; while in the grounds and gardens the young
Princes used to work two or three hours a day under the direction of a
gardener, getting regular certificates of labor performed, which they
presented to their father, who always paid them as he would have paid any
laborer for the same amount and quality of work--never more, never less.
Each boy had his own hoe and spade, which not a Princeling among them all
considered it _infra-dig._ to use. The two eldest boys, Albert
Edward and Alfred, also constructed under their father's directions a
small fortress perfect in all its details. All the work on this military
structure, even to the making of the bricks, was done by the Princes. The
little Princesses also worked in the gardens, each having her own plot,
marked with her own name, from Victoria to Beatrice. There was a museum
of natural history attached to the cottage, and we can easily imagine the
wonderful specimens of entomology and ornithology there to be found. Ah!
have any of the grown-up Royal Highnesses ever known the comfort and fun
in their grand palaces that they had in the merry old Swiss cottage days?
In the autumn of 1854 Prince Albert went over to Boulogne for a little
friendly visit to England's chief ally, taking with him little Arthur. He
seems to have found the French Emperor a little stiff and cold at first,
as he wrote to the Queen, "The Emperor thaws more and more." In the
sunshine of that genial presence he had to thaw. The Prince adds: "He
told me one of the deepest impressions ever made upon him was when he
arrived in London shortly after King William's death and saw you at the
age of eighteen going to open Parliament for the first time."
The Prince made a deep impression on the Emperor. Two men could not be
more unlike. The character of the one was crystal clear, and deeper than
it appeared--the character of the other was murky and mysterious, and
shallower than it seemed.
This must have been a season of great anxiety and sadness for the Queen.
The guns of Alma and Sebastopol echoed solemnly among her beloved
mountains. In her journal there is this year only one Balmoral entry--not
the account of any Highland expedition or festivity, but the mention of
an eloquent sermon by the Rev. Norman McLeod, and of his prayer, which
she says was "very touching," and added, "His allusions to us were so
simple, saying after his mention of us, 'Bless their children.' It gave
me a lump in my throat, as also when he prayed for the dying, the
wounded, the widow, and the orphan."
There came a few months later a ghastly ally of the Russians into the
fight--cholera--which, joined to the two terrible winter months,
"Generals January and February," as the Czar called them, made sad havoc
in the English and French forces, but did not redeem the fortunes of the
Russians. Much mal-administration in regard to army supplies brought
terrible hardships upon the English troops, and accomplished the
impossible in revealing in them new qualities of bravery and heroic
It was an awful war, and it lasted as long as, and a little longer than,
the Czar, who died in March, 1855. "of pulmonary apoplexy," it was
announced, though the rumor ran, that, resolved not to survive
Sebastopol, he had taken his own unhappy life. With his death the war was
virtually ended, and his son Alexander made peace as soon as he decently
could with the triumphant enemies of his father.
Through all this distressful time the Queen and the Prince-Consort
manifested the deepest sympathy for, as well as pride in, the English
soldiers. They had an intense pity for the poor men in the trenches,
badly clad and half starved, grand, patient, ill-used, uncomplaining
"My heart bleeds to think of it," wrote the Prince, of the army
administration. He corresponded with Florence Nightingale, and encouraged
her in her brave and saintly mission. When the sick and wounded began to
arrive, in England both he and the Queen were faithful in visiting them
in the hospitals, and Her Majesty had a peculiar sad joy in rewarding the
bravest of the brave with the gift of the Crimean medal. In a private
letter she gives a description of the touching scene. She says:
"From the highest Prince of the blood to the lowest private, all received
the same distinction for the bravest conduct in the severest actions....
Noble fellows! I own I feel for them as though they were my own
children.... They were so touched, so pleased! Many, I hear, cried, and
they won't hear of giving up their medals to have their names engraved
upon them for fear that they may not receive the identical ones put into
their hands by me. Several came by in a sadly mutilated state."
One of these heroes, young Sir Thomas Trowbridge, who had had one leg and
the foot of the other carried away by a round shot at Inkermann, was
dragged in a Bath-chair to the Queen, who, when she gave him his medal,
offered to make him one of her _Aides-de-Camp_, to which the gallant
and loyal soldier replied, "I am amply repaid for everything." Poor
fellow! I wonder if he continued to say that all his mutilated life?
Whenever during this war there was a hitch, or halt, in the victorious
march of English arms, any disaster or disgrace in the Crimea, the
attacks upon the Prince-Consort were renewed,--there were even threats of
impeachment;--but when the "cruel war was over," the calumnies were over
also. They were always as absurd as unfounded. Aside from his manly sense
of honor the Prince had by that time, at least, ten good reasons for
being loyal to England--an English wife and nine English children.
The Emperor and Empress of France visit Windsor--They are entertained by
the City of London--Scene at the Opera--The Queen returns the Emperor's
call--Splendor of the Imperial Hospitality.
The Queen's kind heart was really pained by the sudden death of the Czar,
her sometime friend and "brother"--whose visit to Windsor was brought by
the startling event vividly to her mind--yet she turned from his august
shade to welcome one of his living conquerors, the Emperor Napoleon, who,
with his beautiful wife, came this spring to visit her and the Prince.
She had had prepared for the visitors the most splendid suite of
apartments--among them the very bedroom once occupied by the Emperor
Nicholas. It was the best "spare room" of the Castle, and the one
generally allotted to first-class monarchs--Louis Philippe had occupied
it. What stuff for ghosts for the bedside of Louis Napoleon did he and
the Czar supply! A few days before the Emperor and Empress arrived, the
Queen had a visit from the poor ex-Queen, Marie Amélie. There is a
touching entry in Her Majesty's diary, regarding this visit. By the way,
I would state that whenever I quote from Her Majesty's diary, it is
through the medium of Sir Theodore Martin's book, and by his kind
The Queen wrote: "It made us both so sad to see her drive away in a plain
coach, with miserable post-horses, and to think that this was the Queen
of the French, and that six years ago her husband was surrounded by the
same pomp and grandeur which three days hence would surround his
There is something exquisitely tender and pitiful in this. Most people,
royal or republican, would "consider it not so deeply." The world has
grown so familiar with the see-saw of French royalty, that a fall or a
flight, exile or abdication moves it but little. In the old
_guillotine_ times, there _were_ sensations.
England's great ally, and his lovely wife, Eugénie,--every inch an
Empress,--were received with tremendous enthusiasm. Their passage through
London was one long ovation. The Times of that date gives allowing
account of the crowds and the excitement. It states also, that as they
were passing King Street, the Emperor "was observed to draw the attention
of the Empress to the house which he had occupied in former days,"--
respectable lodgings, doubtless, but how different from the Tuileries!
The Queen gives an interesting account of what seemed a long, and was an
impatient waiting for her guests, whom the Prince-Consort had gone to
meet. At length, they saw "the advanced guard of the escort--then the
cheers of the crowd broke forth. The outriders appeared--the doors
opened, I stepped out, the children close behind me; the band struck up
'_Partant pour la Syrie_,' the trumpets sounded, and the open carriage,
with the Emperor and Empress, Albert sitting opposite them, drove up and
they got out... I advanced and embraced the Emperor, who received two
salutes on either cheek from me--having first kissed my hand." The
English Queen did not do things by halves, any more than the English
people. She then embraced the Empress, whom she describes as "very gentle
and graceful, but evidently very nervous." The children were then
presented, "Vicky, with alarmed eyes, making very low curtsies," and
Bertie having the honor of an embrace from the Emperor. Then they all
went up-stairs, Prince. Albert conducting the Empress, who at first
modestly declined to precede the Queen. Her Majesty followed on the arm
of the Emperor, who proudly informed her that he had once been in her
service as special constable against those unstable enemies, the
The Queen and Prince soon came to greatly like the Emperor and admire the
Empress. The Queen wrote of the former: "He is very quiet and amiable,
and easy to get on with... Nothing can be more civil and well-bred than
the Emperor's manner--so full of tact."
Of Eugenie she wrote: "She is full of courage and spirit, and yet so
gentle, with such innocence; ... with all her great liveliness, she has
the prettiest and most modest manner." Later, Her Majesty, with a rare
generosity, showing that there was not room in her large heart even, for
any petty feeling, wrote in her private diary, of that beautiful and
brilliant woman: "I am delighted to see how much Albert likes and admires
There was a State-ball at Windsor, at which Eugénie shone resplendent.
The Queen danced with the Emperor--and with her imaginative mind, found
cause for wondering reflection in the little circumstance, for she says:
"How strange to think that I, the granddaughter of George III., should
dance with the Emperor Napoleon III.--nephew of England's greatest enemy,
now my dearest and most intimate ally--in the _Waterloo Room_, and
this ally only six years ago, living in this country an exile, poor and
The Queen, of course, invested the Emperor with the Order of the Garter.
It has been in its time bestowed on monarchs less worthy the honor. It is
true, he did not come very heroically by his imperial crown--but when
crowns are lying about loose, who can blame a man for helping himself?
The city gave the Emperor and Empress a great reception and banquet at
Guildhall, and in the evening there was a memorable visit to the opera.
The imperial and royal party drove from Buckingham Palace through a dense
crowd and illuminated streets. Arrived at the royal box, the Queen took
the Emperor by the hand, and smiling her sweetest--which is saying a good
deal--presented him to the audience. Immense enthusiasm! Then Prince
Albert led forward the lovely Empress, and the enthusiasm was unbounded.
It must be that this still beautiful, though sorrowful woman, on whose
head a fierce tempest of misfortune has beaten--the most piteous,
discrowned, blanched head since Marie Antoinette--sometimes remembers
those happy and glorious days, and that the two august widows talk over
At last came the hour of farewells, and the Emperor departed with his
pretty, tearful wife--the band playing his mother's air, _Partant pour
la Syrie_, and his heart full of pride and gratitude. In a letter
which he addressed to the Queen, soon after reaching home, is revealed
one cause of his gratitude. After saying many pleasant things about the
kind and gracious reception which had been accorded him, and the
impression which the sight of the happy home-life of Windsor had made
upon him, he says: "Your Majesty has also touched me to the heart by the
delicacy of the consideration shown to the Empress; for nothing pleases
more than to see the person one loves become the object of such
That summer there appeared among the royal children at Osborne a sudden
illness, which soon put on royal livery, and was recognized as scarlet
fever. There was, of course, great alarm--but nothing very serious came
of it. The two elder children escaped the infection, and were allowed to
go to Paris with their parents, who in July returned the visit of the
Emperor and Empress. They went in their yacht to Boulogne, where the
Emperor met them and escorted them to the railway on horseback. He looked
best, almost handsome, on horseback. Arrived at Paris, they found the
whole city decorated, as only the French know how to decorate, and gay,
enthusiastic crowds cheering, as only the French know how to cheer. They
drove through splendid boulevards, through the Bois de Boulogne, over the
bridge, to the Palace of St. Cloud--and everywhere there were the
imperial troops, artillery, cavalry and zouaves, their bands playing "God
Save the Queen." Those only who knew Paris under the Empire, can realize
what that reception was, and how magnificent were the _fêtes_ and how
grand the reviews of the next ten days. Of the arrival at St. Cloud
the Queen writes: "In all the blaze of light from lamps and torches,
amidst the roar of cannon and bands and drums and cheers, we reached the
palace. The Empress, with the Princess Mathilde and the ladies, received
us at the door, and took us up a beautiful staircase, lined with the
splendid _Cent-Guardes,_ who are magnificent men, very like our Life
Guards... We went through the rooms at once to our own, which are
charming... I felt quite bewildered, but enchanted, everything is so
This palace we know was burned during the siege. The last time I visited
the ruins, I stood for some minutes gazing through a rusty grating into
the noble vestibule, through which so many royal visitors had passed. Its
blackened walls and broken and prostrate marbles are overspread by a wild
natural growth--a green shroud wrapping the ghastly ruin;--or rather, it
was like an incursion of a mob of rough vegetation, for there were
neither delicate ferns, nor poetic ivy, but democratic grass and
republican groundsel and communistic thistles and nettles. In place of
the splendid _Cent-Guardes_ stood tall, impudent weeds; in place of
courtiers, the supple and bending briar; while up the steps, which the
Queen and Empress and their ladies ascended that night, pert little
_grisettes_ of _marguerites_ were climbing.
So perfect was the hospitality of the Emperor that they had things as
English as possible at the Palace-even providing an English chaplain for
Sunday morning. In the afternoon, however, he backslid into French
irreligion and natural depravity, and they all went to enjoy the fresh
air, the sight of the trees, the flowers and the children in the Bois de
Boulogne. The next day they went into the city to the _Exposition des
Beaux Arts,_ and to the _Elysée_ for lunch and a reception--then they all
drove to the lovely _Sainte Chapelle_ and the _Palais de Justice_. There
the Emperor pointed out the old _Conciergerie_, and said--"There is where
I was imprisoned." Doubtless he thought that was a more interesting
historical fact than the imprisonment of poor Marie Antoinette, in the
same grim building. There was also a visit to the Italian opera, where a
very pretty surprise awaited the guests. At the close of the ballet, the
scene suddenly changed to a view of Windsor--including the arrival of the
Emperor and Empress. "_God Save the Queen_" was sung superbly, and
rapturously applauded. One day the Queen, Prince, and Princess Royal,
dressed very plainly, took a hired carriage and had a long _incognito_
drive through Paris. They enjoyed this "lark" immensely. Then there was a
grand ball at the _Hotel de Ville_, and a grand review on the _Champ de
Mars_, and a visit by torchlight to the tomb of _the_ Napoleon, under the
dome of the _Invalides_, with the accompaniment of solemn organ-
playing within the church, and a grand midsummer storm outside, with
thunder and lightning. The French do so well understand how to manage
The grandest thing of all was a State ball in Versailles;--that
magnificent but mournful, almost monumental pile, being gaily decorated
and illuminated--almost transformed out of its tragic traditions. What a
charming picture of her hostess the Queen gives us:
"The Empress met us at the top of the staircase, looking like a fairy
queen, or nymph, in a white dress, trimmed with grass and diamonds,--a
beautiful _tour de corsage_ of diamonds round the top of her dress;--the
same round her waist, and a corresponding _coiffure_, with her Spanish
and Portuguese orders."
She must have been a lovely vision. The Emperor thought so, for
(according to the Queen) forgetting that it is not "good form" for a man
to admire or compliment his own wife, he exclaimed, as she appeared:
"_Comme tu es belle! _" ("How beautiful you are!")
I am afraid he was not always so polite. During her first season at the
Tuileries, which she called "a beautiful prison," and which is now as
much a thing of the past as the Bastile, she often in her gay, impulsive
way offended against the stern laws of Court etiquette, and was reproved
for a lack of dignity. Once at a reception she suddenly perceived a
little way down the line an old school-friend, and, hurrying forward,
kissed her affectionately. It was nice for the young lady, but the
Emperor frowned and said, in that cold marital tone which cuts like an
east wind: "Madame, you forget that you are the Empress!"
In a letter from the Prince to his uncle Leopold I find this suggestive
sentence in reference to the ball at Versailles: "Victoria made her
toilette in Marie Antoinette's boudoir." It would almost seem the English
Queen might have feared to see in her dressing-glass a vision of the
French Queen's proud young head wearing a diadem as brilliant as her own,
or perhaps that cruel crown of silver--her terror-whitened hair.
The parting was sad. The Empress "could not bring herself to face it"; so
the Queen went to her room with the Emperor, who said: "Eugénie, here is
the Queen." "Then," adds Her Majesty, "she came and gave me a beautiful
fan and a rose and heliotrope from the garden, and Vicky a bracelet set
with rubies and diamonds containing her hair, with which Vicky was
The Emperor went with them all the way to Boulogne and saw them on board
their yacht; then came embracings and _adieux_, and all was over.
The next morning early they reached Osborne and were received at the
beach by Prince Alfred and his little brothers, to whom Albert Edward,
big with the wonders of Paris, was like a hero out of a fairy book. Near
the house waited the sisters, Helena and Louise, and in the house the
invalid--"poor, dear Alice!"--for whom the joy of that return was almost
Betrothal of the Princess Royal--Birth of the Prince Imperial of France--
More visitors and visitings--The Emperor And Empress of Mexico--Marriage
of the Princess Royal--The attendant festivities.
At Balmoral, where they took possession of the new Castle, the Queen and
Prince received the news of the approaching fall of Sebastopol, for it
was not down yet. It finally fell amid a scene of awful conflagration and
explosions--the work of the desperate Russians themselves.
The peace-rejoicings did not come till later, but in the new house at
Balmoral there was a new joy, though one not quite unmixed with sadness,
in the love and happy betrothal of the Princess Victoria. In her journal
the Queen tells the old, old story very quietly: "Our dear Victoria was
this day engaged to Prince Frederick William of Prussia. He had already
spoken to us of his wishes, but were uncertain, on account of her extreme
youth, whether he should speak to her or wait till he should come back
again. However, we felt it was better he should do so, and, during our
ride up Craig-na-Ban this afternoon; he picked a piece of white heather
(the emblem of good luck), which he gave to her." This it seems broke the
ice, and so the poetic Prince (all German Princes, except perhaps
Bismarck, are poetic and romantic) told his love and offered his hand,
which was not rejected. Then came a few weeks of courtship, doubtless as
bright and sweet to the royal pair of lovers as was a similar season to
Robert Burns and "Highland Mary"--for love levels up and levels down--
and then young Fritz returned to Germany, leaving behind him a fond heart
and a tearful little face round and fair.
From this time till the marriage of the Princess Royal, which was not
till after her seventeenth birthday in 1858, the Prince-Consort devoted
himself more and more to the education of this beloved daughter--in
history, art, literature, and religion. He conversed much and most
seriously with her in preparation for her confirmation. He found that
this work of mental and moral development was "its own exceeding great
The character of the Princess Royal seems to have been in some respects
like that of the Princess Charlotte of Wales. She was as high-spirited,
strong-willed, gay, free, and fearless; but with infinitely better and
purer domestic and social influences, she grew up into a nobler and more
gracious young womanhood. Intellectually and morally, she was her
father's creation; intellectually and morally, poor Princess Charlotte
was worse than fatherless.
But I must hurry on with the hurrying years. The Prince, writing to Baron
Stockmar in March, 1856, says: "The telegraph has just brought the news
of the Empress having been safely delivered of a son. Great will be the
rejoicing in the Tuileries."
This baby born in the purple was the Prince Imperial, whose fate beggars
tragedy; who went to gather laurels on an African desert and fell a
victim to a savage ambuscade--his beautiful body stuck almost as full of
cruel darts as that of the martyred young St. Sebastian.
On March 21st the long-delayed treaty of peace was signed. After all the
waste, the agony, the bloodshed, the Prince wrote: "It is not such as we
could have wished." But he had learned to bear these little
Prince Alfred began his studies for the navy. Fritz of Prussia came over
on a visit to his betrothed, and his father and mother soon followed--
coming to get better acquainted with their daughter-in-law to be. Then
into the royal circle there came another royal guest, all unbidden--the
king whose name is Death. The Prince of Leiningen--the Queen's half-
brother in blood, but whole brother in heart--died, to her great grief;
and soon after there passed away her beloved aunt, the Duchess of
Gloucester, a good and amiable woman, and the last of the fifteen
children of George the Third and Queen Charlotte. But here life balanced
death, for on April 14th another daughter was born in Buckingham Palace.
The Prince in a letter to his step-mother speaks of the baby as "thriving
famously, and prettier than babies usually are." He adds, "Mama--Aunt,
Vicky and her bridegroom are to be the little one's sponsors, and she is
to receive the historical, romantic, euphonious, and melodious names of
Beatrice Mary Victoria Feodora."
That summer there came two very interesting royal visitors to Windsor--
the young Princess Charlotte of Belgium and her betrothed husband, the
Archduke Maximilian of Austria. Prince Albert wrote of the young girl:
"Charlotte's whole being seems to me to have been warmed and unfolded by
the love which is kindled in her heart." To his uncle Leopold he wrote:"
I wish you joy at having got such a husband for dear Charlotte, as I am
sure he is quite worthy of her and will make her happy."
Just ten years from that time the Emperor Maximilian, standing before a
file of Mexican soldiers at Queretaro, took out his watch, which he would
never more need, and, pressing a spring, revealed in its case a miniature
of the lovely Empress Charlotte, which he kissed tenderly. Then, handing
the watch to the priest at his side, he said: "Carry this souvenir to my
dear wife in Europe, and if she ever be able to understand you, say that
my eyes closed with the impression of her image, which I shall carry with
She never did understand. She lives in a phantom Court, believing herself
still Empress of Mexico, and that the Emperor will soon come home from
the wars to her and the throne.
There was this summer a memorable show in Hyde Park, when Queen Victoria
on horseback, in her becoming military dress, pinned with her own hands
on to the coats of a large number of heroes of the great war the coveted
Victoria Cross. Ah! they were proud and she was prouder. She is a true
soldier's daughter; her heart always thrills at deeds of valor and warms
at sight of a hero, however humble.
The Prince went over to his cousin Charlotte's wedding, and the Queen,
compelled to stay behind, wrote to King Leopold that her letting her
husband, go without her was a great proof of her love for her uncle. "You
cannot think," she said, "how completely forlorn I feel when he is away,
or how I count the hours till he returns. All the children are as nothing
when he is away. It seems as if the whole life of the house and home were
Again, how like a loving Scotch peasant wife:
"There's na luck about the house,
There's na luck at a'--
There's little pleasure in the house,
When my guid mon's awa'."
In August the Emperor and Empress made a flying visit in their yacht to
Osborne and talked over the latest political events, the new phases of
affairs, and, doubtless, the new babies; and, a little later, the Queen
and Prince ran over to Cherbourg in their yacht, taking six of the
children. There was a perfect nursery of the little ones, "rocked in the
cradle of the deep." This was such a complete "surprise party," that the
Emperor and Empress away in Paris, knew nothing about it. They all took a
pleasant little excursion into the lovely country of Normandy in
_chars-à-bancs_, with bells on the post-horses, doubtless, and everything
gay and delightful and novel to the children,--especially French
This year the Balmoral stay was greatly saddened by the news of the Sepoy
rebellion, of the tragedies of Cawnpore, and the unspeakable atrocities
of Nana Sahib. Young people nowadays know little about that ghastly war,
except as connected with the pretty poetical story of the relief of
Lucknow, and Jessie Brown; but, at the time, it was an awfully real
thing, and not in the least poetical or romantic.
The marriage of the Princess Royal was fixed for January 25, 1858. Her
father wrote from Balmoral hi the autumn; "Vicky suffers under the
feeling that every spot she visits she has to greet for the last time as
home... The departure from here will, be a great trial to us all,
especially to Vicky, who leaves it for good and all; and the good, simple
Highlanders, who are very fond of us, are constantly saying to her, and
often with tears, 'I suppose we shall never see you again?' which
naturally makes her feel more keenly."
At last the wedding day approached and the royal guests began to arrive
at Buckingham Palace, and they poured in till on fair days a King or
Queen, a Prince or Princess looked out of nearly every window; and when
there was a fog, collisions of crowned heads occurred in the corridors.
On the day the Court left Windsor the Queen wrote: "Went to look at the
rooms prepared for Vicky's honeymoon; very pretty... We took a short walk
with Vicky, who was dreadfully upset at this real break in her life; the
real separation from her childhood."
These be little things perhaps, but beautiful little human things,
showing the warm love and tender sympathy which united this family,
supposed to be lifted high and dry above ordinary humanity, among the
arid and icy grandeurs of royalty.
There was a gay little ball one evening with Highnesses and Serenities
dancing and whirling and chasséing, and a "_grande chaine_" of half
of the sovereigns of Europe--all looking very much like other people. The
Queen wrote: "Ernest (Duke of Coburg) said it seemed like a dream to see
Vicky dance as a bride, just as I did eighteen years ago, and I still (so
he said) looking very young. In 1840, poor dear papa (late Duke of
Coburg) danced with me as Ernest danced with Vicky."
Afterwards there was a grand ball, attended by over a thousand of the
elect, and for the multitude there were dramatic and musical
entertainments. At Her Majesty's Theatre one night the famous tragedian,
Mr. Phelps, and the great actress, Miss Helen Faucit, in the tragedy of
_Macbeth_, froze the blue blood of a whole tier of royal personages
and made them realize what crowns were worth, and how little they had
earned theirs, by showing what men and women will go through with to
secure one. The Emperor and Empress of France were not among the guests.
They had been a little upset by an event more tragic than are most
marriages--the attempt of Orsini to blow up their carriage, by the
explosion of hand-grenades near the entrance of the Italian Opera. They
had been only slightly hurt, but some eighty innocent people in the crowd
had been either killed or wounded. The white dress of the Empress was
sprinkled with blood, yet she went to her box and sat out the
performance. What nerve these imperial people have!
The Queen's account of this glad, sad time of the marriage is very
natural, moving and maternal. First, there was the domestic and Court
sensation of the arrival of the bridegroom, Prince "Fritz," whom the
Prince-Consort had gone to meet, and all the Court awaited. "I met him,"
says the Queen, "at the bottom of the staircase, very warmly; he was pale
and nervous. At the top of the staircase Vicky received him, with Alice."
That afternoon all the royal people witnessed a grand dramatic
performance of "Taming the Horse," with Mr. Rarey as "leading man." In
the evening they went to the opera. The next day, Sunday, the presents
were shown--a marvelous collection of jewels, plate, lace and India
shawls, and they had service and listened to a sermon. It is wonderful
what these great people can get through with! Coming in from a walk they
found a lot of new presents added to the great pile. The Queen writes:
"Dear Vicky gave me a brooch, a very pretty one, containing her hair, and
clasping me in her arms, said,' I hope to be worthy to be your child.'"
From all I hear I should say that fond hope has been realized in a noble
and beneficent life. The Crown Princess of Germany is a woman greatly
loved and honored.
On the wedding day the Queen wrote: "The second most eventful day of my
life, as regards feelings; I felt as if I were being married over again
myself... While dressing, dearest Vicky came in to see me, looking well
The Princess Royal, like her mother, was married in the Chapel of St.
James' Palace, and things went on very much as on that memorable wedding
day--always spoken of by the Queen as "blessed." She now could describe
more as a spectator the shouting, the bell-ringing, the cheering and
trumpetings, and the brave sight of the procession. Prince Albert and
King Leopold and "the two eldest boys went first. Then the three girls
(Alice, Helena and Louise), in pink satin, lace and flowers." There were
eight bridesmaids in "white tulle, with wreaths and bouquets of roses and
white heather." That was a pretty idea, using the simple betrothal flower
of the Prince and Princess-for "luck."
The Queen speaks of "Mama looking so handsome in violet velvet; trimmed
with ermine." Ah, the young Victoria was the only daughter of _her_
Victoria, who as a bride was to receive on her brow that grandmother's
kiss--dearer and holier than any priestly benediction. I like to read
that immediately after the ceremony the bride "kissed her grandmama."
After the wedding breakfast at the Palace the bridal pair, Victoria and
Frederick William, drove away just as eighteen years before Victoria and
Albert had driven away--the same state, the same popular excitement, in
kind if not in degree, and, let us trust, a like amount of love and joy.
But this happy pair did not drive all the way to Windsor. The waiting
train, the iron horse snorting with impatience, showed how the world had
moved on since that other wedding; but the perennial Eton boys were on
hand for these lovers also, wearing the same tall hats and short jackets,
cheering in the same mad way, so that the Queen herself would hardly have
suspected them to be the other boys' sons, or younger brothers. They
"scored one" above their honored predecessors by dragging the carriage
from the Windsor station to the Castle.
The Court soon followed to Windsor with thirty-five of the royal guests,
and there were banquets and more investings, till it would seem that the
Queen's stock of jeweled garters must be running low. Then back to town
for more presents and operas and plays, and addresses of congratulation,
and at last came the dismal morning of separation. The day before, the
Queen had written: "The last day of our dear child being with us, which
is incredible, and makes me feel at times quite sick at heart." She
records that that poor child exclaimed, "I think it will kill me to take
leave of dear papa!"
The next morning, she writes," Vicky came with a very sad face to my
room. Here we embraced each other tenderly, and our tears flowed fast."
Then there were leave-takings from the loving grandmama and the younger
brothers and sisters ("Bertie" and Alfred going with their father to
Gravesend, to see the bridal party embarked), and hardest of all, the
parting of the child from the mother.
To quote again: "A dreadful moment and a dreadful day! Such sickness came
over me--real heart-ache,--when I thought of our dearest child being
gone, and for so long... It began to snow before Vicky went, and
continued to do so without intermission all day."
In spite of the dreary weather, I am told that thousands of London people
were assembled in the streets to catch a last glimpse of the popular
Princess Royal. They could hardly recognize her pleasant, rosy, child-
like face--it was so sad, so swollen with weeping. They did not then look
with much favor on the handsome Prussian Prince at her side--and one
loyal Briton shouted out, "If he doesn't treat you well, come back to
us!" That made her laugh. I believe he did treat her well, and that she
has been always happy as a wife, though for a time she is said to have
fretted against the restraints of German Court etiquette, which bristled
all round her. She found that the straight and narrow ways of that
princely paradise were not hedged with roses, as at home, but with
briars. Some she respected, and some she bravely broke through.
The little bride was most warmly received in her new home, and about the
anniversary of her own marriage-day, the Queen had the happiness of
receiving from her new son this laconic telegram: "The whole royal family
is enchanted with my wife. F. W."
Afterwards, in writing to her uncle, of her daughter's success at the
Prussian Court, and of her happiness, the Queen says: "But her heart
often yearns for home and those she loves dearly--above all, her dear
papa, for whom she has _un culte_ (a worship) which is touching and
delightful to see."
Her father returned this "worship" by tenderness and devotion unfailing
and unwearying. His letters to the Crown Princess are perhaps the
sweetest and noblest, most thoughtful and finished of his writings. They
show that he respected as well as loved his correspondent, of whom,
indeed, he had spoken to her husband as one having "a man's head and a
child's heart." His letters to his uncle and the Baron are full of his
joy, intellectual and affectional, in this his first-born daughter; but
the last-born was not forgotten. In one letter he writes: "Little
Beatrice is an extremely attractive, pretty, intelligent child; indeed,
the most amusing baby we have had." Again--"Beatrice on her first
birthday looks charming, with a new light-blue cap. Her table of birthday
gifts has given her the greatest pleasure; especially a lamb."
I know these are little, common domestic bits--that is just why I cull
them out of grave letters, full of great affairs of State.
Visiting and counter-visiting--Charming domestic gossip--The Queen's
first grandchild--The Prince of Wales' trip to America--Another love-
affair--Death of the Duchess of Kent.
In May, Prince Albert ran over to Germany to visit his old home, and his
new son, and his darling daughter, whom he found well and happy. In one
of his letters to the Queen from Gotha, he says: "I enclose a forget-me-
not from grandmama's grave."
There is in that simple sentence an exquisite indication of his
affectionate and constant nature. This was a hurried visit, with many
interests and excitements, and yet the grave of that infirm, deaf, old
Dowager Duchess, who had, as practical people say, "outlived her
usefulness," was not found "out of the way." There was little need of the
dear grandmama calling softly through that tender blue flower--
"_Vergiss mein nicht, mein Engel Albert!_" He never forgot.
In July, the Queen and Prince took to their yacht again, for a visit to
the Emperor and Empress, at Cherbourg, and had a grand reception, and
there was a great _fête_, and fireworks and bombs and rockets; but the
account is not half so interesting to me as the one given by Her Majesty,
of their return to Osborne; an exquisite picture that, which I feel I
must reproduce almost entire: ... "At twenty minutes to five, we landed
at our peaceful Osborne. ... The evening was very warm and calm. Dear
Affie was on the pier, and we found all the other children, including
Baby, standing at the door. Deckel (a favorite dog), and our new charming
kennel-bred Dachs 'Boy,' also received us with joy." I like that bringing
in of the dogs to complete the-picture.
The Queen continues: "We went to see Affie's (Alfred's) table of birthday
presents--entirely nautical. ... We went with the children, Alice and I
driving, to the Swiss Cottage, which was all decked out with flags in
honor of Affie's birthday. ... I sat (at dinner) between Albert and
Affie. The two little boys (Princes Arthur and Leopold) appeared. A band
played, and after dinner we danced, with the three boys and three girls,
a merry country dance on the terrace."
A little later, the Queen and Prince made a visit to their daughter in
Germany. Her Majesty's description of the happy meeting is very sweet.
"There on the platform stood our darling child, with a nosegay in her
hand. She stepped in, and long and warm, was the embrace. ... So much to
say and to tell and ask, yet so unaltered--looking well--quite the old
From beautiful Babelsberg, she wrote: "Vicky came and sat with me. I felt
as if she were my own again."
This was not a long, but a very happy visit; the Queen and Prince had
received many courteous attentions from the Prussian Court, and had found
their beloved daughter proud and content. From Osborne, in a letter to
his daughter, the Prince-Consort writes: "Alfred looks very nice and
handsome in his new naval cadet's uniform--the round-jacket and the long-
tailed coat, with the broad knife by his side." The next month the Prince
went to Spithead, to see this son off on a two-years' cruise--and felt
that his family had indeed begun to break up. The next exciting public
matter was the news of Louis Napoleon's alliance with King Victor
Emmanuel in the war against Austria. And this was the Emperor who, had
given out that his empire was "peace"--that the only clang of arms
henceforth to be heard therein would be a mighty beating of swords and
spears into plow-shares and pruning-hooks. The next domestic excitement
was caused by a telegram from Berlin, announcing the birth of a son to
the Crown Prince and Princess, and that mother and child were doing well.
Queen Victoria was a grandmother, and prouder, I doubt not, than when
afterwards she was made Empress of India.
For her mother's birthday, in May, 1859, the Crown Princess came over and
made a delightful little visit. The Queen wrote of her: "Dear Vicky is a
charming companion." Of the Princess Alice she had before written: "She
is very good, sensible and amiable, and a real comfort to me." Mothers
know how much there is in those words--"a real comfort to me." The Crown
Princess found most change in baby--Beatrice--and after her return home,
her father often wrote to her of this little sister: "The little aunt,"
he says, "makes daily progress, and is really too comical. When she
tumbles, she calls out, in bewilderment, 'She don't like it! She don't
like it!'--and she-came into breakfast a short time ago, with her eyes
full of tears, moaning, 'Baby has been so naughty,--poor baby so
naughty!' as one might complain of being ill, or of having slept badly."
Later in the year the Prince writes: "Alice comes out admirably, and is a
great support to her mother. Lenchen (the Princess Helena) is very
distinguished, and little Arthur amiable and full of promise as ever."
In November, Prince Frederick William and his Princess came over on a
visit--and the fond father wrote: "Vicky has developed greatly of late--
and yet remains quite a child; of such, indeed, 'is the kingdom of
heaven.'" Of the Prince he said: "He has quite delighted us." So all was
right then. About this time he said of his daughter, Alice, that she had
become "a handsome young woman, of graceful form and presence, and is a
help and stay to us all in the house." What a rich inheritance such
In the Queen's diary there was, on July 24, 1860, an interesting entry:
"Soon after we sat down to breakfast came a telegram from Fritz--Vicky
had got a daughter, at 8:10, and both doing well! What joy! Children
jumping about, every one delighted--so thankful and relieved."
The Prince wrote to his daughter as only _he_ could write--wisely and
thoughtfully, yet tenderly and brightly. There was in this letter a
charming passage about his playfellow, Beatrice. After saying of his new
grandchild, "The little girl must be a darling," he adds, "Little girls
are much prettier than boys. I advise her to model herself after her Aunt
Beatrice. That excellent lady has now not a moment to spare. 'I have no
time,' she says, when she is asked for anything, 'I must write letters to
Shortly after his first little niece was born, the Prince of Wales made
his first acquaintance with the New World. He went over to America to
visit the vast domain which was to be his, some day, and the vaster
domain which might have been his, but for the blind folly of his great-
grandfather, George III. and his Ministers, who, like the rash voyagers
of the "Arabian Nights' Entertainment," kindled a fire on the back of a
whale, thinking it "solid land," till the leviathan "put itself in
motion," and flung them and their "merchandise" off into the sea. He was
a fine young fellow, the Prince, and was received with loyal enthusiasm,
and heartily liked in the Canadas. I believe we of the States treated him
very well, also--and that he had what Americans call "a good time,"
dancing with pretty girls in the Eastern cities, and shooting prairie-
chickens on the Western plains. I think we did not overdo the matter in
fêting and following the son of the beloved Queen of England. We had
other business on hand just then--a momentous Presidential election--the
election of Abraham Lincoln.
In our capital he was treated to a ball, a visit to the Patent-Office and
the tomb of Washington, and such like gaieties. President Buchanan
entertained him as handsomely as our national palace, the White House,
would allow; and afterwards wrote a courtly letter to Queen Victoria,
congratulating her on the charming behavior of her son and heir--"_the
expectancy and rose of the fair State_." The Queen replied very
graciously and even gratefully, addressing Mr. Buchanan as "my good
friend." That was the most she could do, according to royal rules. The
elected temporary ruler of our great American empire, even should it
become greater by the annexation of Cuba and Mexico, can never expect to
be addressed as "_mon frère_" by regularly born, bred, crowned and
anointed sovereigns--or even by a reigning Prince or Grand Duke; can
never hope to be embraced and kissed on both cheeks by even the Prince of
Monaco, the King of the Sandwich Islands, or the Queen of Madagascar. We
must make up our minds to that.
In the early autumn of 1860, the Queen, Prince, and Princess Alice went
over to Germany for another sight of their dear ones. It was the last
visit that the Queen was to pay with the Prince to his beloved
fatherland. They were delighted with their grandson, and I hope with
their granddaughter also. Of baby Wilhelm the Queen writes: "Such a
little love. ... He is a fine, fat child, with a beautiful, soft white
skin, very fine shoulders and limbs, and a very dear face. ... He has
Fritz's eyes and Vicky's mouth, and very fair, curling hair." Afterwards
she wrote: "Dear little William came to me, as he does every morning. He
is such a darling, so intelligent."
I believe this darling grandchild was the "little love" who gave to the
Queen her first great-grandchild.
At Coburg the Prince-Consort came frightfully near being killed by the
running away of his carriage-horses. The accident was a great shock to
the Queen, and the escape an unspeakable joy. At Mayence Her Majesty
confided a family secret to her discreet diary. During a visit from the
Prince and Princess Charles of Hesse-Darmstadt it was settled that the
young Prince Louis should come to England to get better acquainted with
the Princess Alice, whom he already greatly admired. So everything was
arranged and the way smoothed for these lovers, and in this case the
union proved as happy as though brought about in the usual hap-hazard way
of marriages in common life.
The next November the Prince wrote from Windsor: "The Prince Louis of
Hesse is here on a visit. The young people seem to like each other. He is
very simple, natural, frank and thoroughly manly."
The next day the Queen jotted down in her diary the simple story of the
betrothal in a way to reveal how fresh in her own heart was the romance
of her youth:
"After dinner, while talking to the gentlemen, I perceived Alice and
Louis talking before the fireplace more earnestly than usual, and when I
passed to go to the other room both came up to me, and Alice in much
agitation said he had proposed to her, and he begged for my blessing. I
could only squeeze his hand and say 'Certainly,' and that we would see
him in my room later. Got through the evening, working as well as we
could. Alice came to our room. ... Albert sent for Louis to his room,
then called Alice and me in. ... Louis has a warm, noble heart. We
embraced our dear Alice and praised her much to him. He pressed and
kissed my hand and I embraced him." The Queen was right, as she generally
was in her estimate of character. This son-in-law, of whom she has always
been especially fond, is a Prince of amiable and noble disposition, good
ability and remarkable cultivation; not exactly a second Prince Albert--
_he_ was a century plant.
At this Christmas time the Queen's two eldest sons were at home and full
of strange stories of strange lands. Soon after, the Prince of Wales went
to Cambridge and Prince Alfred joined his ship. Before that cruise was
over a deeper, darker sea rolled between the sailor lad and his father.
On February 9, 1861, Prince Albert wrote Baron Stockmar: "To-morrow our
marriage will be twenty-one years old. How many storms have swept over
it, and still it continues green and fresh." The anniversary occurring on
Sunday was very quietly observed, chiefly by the performance in the
evening of some fine sacred music, the appropriateness of which was
scarcely realized at the time. In a very sweet letter to the Duchess of
Kent, such a letter as few married men write to their mothers-in-law, the
Prince says: ... "To-day our marriage comes of age, according to law. We
have faithfully kept our pledge for better and for worse,' and have only
to thank God that He has vouchsafed so much happiness to us. May He have
us in His keeping for the days to come! You have, I trust, found good and
loving children in us, and we have experienced nothing but love and
kindness from you."
This dear "Mama-aunt" had been in delicate health for some time, and once
or twice seriously ill, but she seemed better, her physicians were
encouraging and all were hopeful till the 12th of March, when the Queen
and Prince were suddenly summoned from London to Frogmore by the news of
a very alarming relapse. They went at once with all speed, yet the Queen
says "the way seemed so long." When they readied the house, the Queen
writes: "Albert went up first, and when he returned with tears in his
eyes, I saw what awaited me. ... With a trembling heart I went up the
staircase and entered the bedroom, and here on a sofa, supported by
cushions, sat leaning back my beloved Mama, breathing rather heavily, but
in her silk dressing-gown, with her cap on, looking quite herself. ... I
knelt before her, kissed her dear hand and placed it next my cheek; but
though she opened her eyes she did not, I think, know me. She brushed my
hand off, and the dreadful reality was before me that for the first time,
she did not know the child she had ever received with such tender
The further description given by the Queen of this first great sorrow of
her life, is exceedingly pathetic and vivid. It is the very poetry of
grief. I cannot reproduce it entire, nor give that later story of
incalculable loss as related by her in that diary, through which her very
heart beats. It is all too unutterably sad. There are passages in this
account most exquisitely natural and touching. When all was over, the
poor daughter tried to comfort herself with thoughts of the blessed rest
of the good mother, of the gentle spirit released from the pain-racked
body, but the heart would cry out: "But I--I, wretched child, who had
lost the mother I so tenderly loved, from whom for these forty-one years
I had never been parted, except for a few weeks, what was my case? My
childhood, everything seemed to crowd upon me at once... What I had
dreaded and fought--off the idea of, for years, had come, and must be
borne... Oh, if I could nave been with her these last weeks! How I grudge
every hour I did not spend with her! ... What a blessing we went on
Tuesday. The remembrance of her parting blessing, of her dear, sweet
smile, will ever remain engraven on my memory."
During all this time, the Queen received the most tender sympathy and
care from her children, and Prince Albert, was--_Prince Albert_;--
weeping with her, yet striving to comfort her, full of loving kindness
The Queen's grief was perhaps excessive, as her love had been beyond
measure, but he was not impatient with it, though he writes from Osborne,
some weeks after the funeral of the Duchess: "She (the Queen) is greatly
upset, and feels her childhood rush back upon her memory with the most
vivid force. Her grief is extreme... For the last two years her constant
care and occupation have been to keep watch over her mother's comfort,
and the influence of this upon her own character has been most salutary.
In body she is well, though terribly nervous, and the children are a
great disturbance to her. She remains almost entirely alone."