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The Queen's First Visit To Scotland

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Comments Upon The Young Queen By A Contemporaneous Writer In Blackwood

Reign Of Queen Victoria

The Princess Opens The Victoria Park At Bath

Birth Of The Prince Of Wales Visit Of The King Of Prussia

Nis! Nis! Nis! Hurrah!



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The Queen's Sympathy During The Illness Of President Garfield

First Meeting With Prince Albert Death Of William Iv

Second Attempt On The Queen's Life

Marriage And Delicacy Of The Prince's Position

The Emperor And Empress Of France Visit Windsor

Failing Health Of Prince Albert

Fresh Attempts Against The Queen's Life And The Death Of The Duc D'orleans

Sketch Of The Princess Charlotte

Distribution Of Victoria Crosses By The Queen

Marriage Of The Princess Royal






A Home Of Our Own








It is very delightful to live in palaces and entertain kings and
emperors; but Queen Victoria's palaces belonged to the English nation
and not to herself, and, as has been said, their royal tenants had to
suffer many inconveniences because they were not at liberty to manage
their own housekeeping as they chose. "If we only had a home of our
own!" said the Queen and Prince Albert to each other, and at last they
decided to buy one. They talked the matter over with Sir Robert Peel,
whom they had come to look upon as a faithful friend, and he told them
of a beautiful estate which was for sale.

This property was situated on the Isle of Wight. It was far enough from
London to assure them of privacy, and it was so near that there need be
no delay in matters of government. In this charming place there were
trees and valleys and hills, a wide stretch of sea-beach, with the
woods growing almost to the water's edge; and, best of all, the royal
family could walk and drive and wander about without feeling that they
were on continual exhibition. There was a palace at Brighton which the
Queen had sometimes occupied for the sake of being near the sea; but
Brighton had become so much of a city, and the houses had clustered so
closely about the palace, that there was no longer any view of the
ocean from the lower windows, and no member of the royal family could
go outside of the grounds without being followed by inquisitive crowds.
At Osborne, as the new purchase was named, there was perfect freedom.
Perhaps the "grown ups" of the household appreciated the liberty
indoors quite as much as that out of doors, for here there were no
"departments" to consult, and if a pane of glass was broken, there was
no need of sending over the kingdom for the signatures of five men
before it could be mended.

The house was pretty, but it was too small, and a new one had to be
built. Prince Albert made all the plans for it, and he was as eager as
the Queen to get into a home of their own. Nevertheless even in his
eagerness he did not forget the good of others. The longer the work of
building and beautifying the grounds lasted, the better it was for the
workmen; and so when harvest time came, he discharged large numbers of
his men, saying: "Work in the fields now; then, when the harvest is in,
come to me, and you shall have work here again."

The cost of the house came from the Queen's own purse, from the regular
grant made her by Parliament, though most sovereigns have called upon
the nation to build whatever dwellings they thought desirable. The
people of the kingdom were pleased to hear the English Court called the
most magnificent in Europe, and many statesmen expected that when a new
palace was to be built or a royal guest to be entertained, the
sovereign would ask Parliament for a special grant of money to pay the
expense. Frequently far more was expected of members of the royal
family than their purses could provide, and then came debts. King
Leopold had not been able to live within his grant, and the Duke of
Kent had left indebtedness at his death. The little Princess, who had
not been allowed to buy a box until she had the money to pay for it,
meant, now that she was on the throne, to carry out the principle on
which she had been brought up. The first thing that she did was to pay
her father's debts, and while living in as much splendor as her people
desired, she managed her income so well that she could afford to build
a palace if she chose. Prince Albert heartily approved of this wise
economy, and he carried out the same plan in managing the farm of the
new estate; he spent lavishly in improving the land, but unlike most
"fancy farmers," he made his costly improvements so skillfully that
they were paid for in the generous increase in crops.

When the new house was done, there was a joyful homecoming. As the
Queen passed through the door, one of the maids of honor threw an old
shoe after her, "to bring good luck," she said. To the Prince, entering
into the new home brought memories of his childhood in Coburg, and
after the first dinner he said, "We have a hymn in Germany for such
occasions. It begins:

"Bless, O God, our going forth,
Bless Thou, too, our coming in."

So it was that the new house was opened. Not only the grown folk, but
the merry little company of princes and princesses, were very happy in
it whenever a few days could be spared for its pleasures. As they grew
older, a Swiss cottage was built for them, and this was their house.
There was a charming little kitchen, with a cooking stove, so that the
girls could try all sorts of experiments in the cooking line; and happy
they were when they could persuade their father and mother to partake
of a "banquet" of their own preparing. The boys had a forge and a
carpenter's bench, where they built small boats and chairs and tables
and wheelbarrows. Every child had a garden, and there he raised not
only flowers, but fruit and vegetables. In this little paradise the
children did what they liked, but they were shown the best way of doing
it. A gardener taught them how to manage their gardens, and whenever
their vegetables were a success, they either gave them away or sold
them at market price to the royal kitchen. Prince Albert himself taught
the boys how to use tools, and helped them to begin a museum of
insects, minerals, and all sorts of curiosities like the one that he
and his brother Ernest had had in Coburg when they were boys.

Not only at Osborne, but wherever the royal children were, they were
brought up as simply as the Queen herself had been. Whatever material
was bought for their clothes had to be shown to the Queen, and if it
was rich or expensive, she would refuse to allow it to be used. As soon
as the princes and princesses were old enough, they were taught to take
as much care of their clothes as if they had been a poor man's
children. One of their nurses wrote that they had "quite poor
living--only a bit of roast beef and perhaps a plain pudding;" and she
added, "The Queen is as fit to have been a poor man's wife as a queen."
Baron Stockmar was consulted on all nursery questions, and he said that
it was more difficult to manage a nursery than a kingdom.

The Queen tried to make her children understand that they were no
better than other children just because they were princes or
princesses, and they were obliged to behave with perfect courtesy to
the servants of the palace as well as to kings and emperors. It is said
that once upon a time two of the children thought it very amusing to
take possession of the brushes and blacken the face of a woman who was
cleaning a stove; but when the Queen mother discovered their prank, she
took the small culprits by the hand and led them to the woman's room
and made them apologize most humbly. The little Princess Royal "Vicky"
was so independent a young lady that she would sometimes break through
her mother's teachings. The story is told that one day a sailor lifted
her on board the royal yacht, saying as he sat her down, "There you
are, my little lady." "I'm a princess I'm not a little lady," the child
retorted; but the watchful mother was listening, and she said, "That is
true. Tell the kind sailor that you are not a little lady yet, but that
you hope to be some day." Occasionally this willful little Princess
preferred to bear a punishment rather than give up her own way. The
Queen and the Prince addressed Dr. Brown as "Brown," and the small
child followed their example. "You will be sent to bed if you do that
again," said the Queen, but the next morning when Dr. Brown appeared,
the little girl said with special distinctness: "Good morning, Brown,
and good night, Brown, for I'm going to bed, Brown," and, with her
saucy little head high in the air, she marched off to bed.

Happy as the Queen and the Prince were in their home life, one subject
in connection with her husband always troubled the loving wife, and
that was the annoying question of precedence. She wrote of him in her
journal: "He is above me in everything really, and therefore I wish
that he should be equal in rank to me." In England she could "put the
Prince where she wished him to be," but Parliament had given him no
rank, and therefore out of England some sovereigns, like King Ernest,
positively refused to grant him any honors that were not due to the
younger son of the Duke of Coburg; and when precedence was accorded
him, the Queen had to express gratitude as for a personal favor to
herself. Unknown to the Prince, she had a long talk on the subject with
Baron Stockmar.

"I wish him to have the title of King Consort," she said earnestly.

"A king consort without the authority of a king would be a novelty,"
replied the Baron, "and the English people do not like anything for
which there is no precedent. Queen Anne's husband was never called
king."

"But Queen Anne's husband was stupid and insignificant," declared the
Queen. "There has never been a case like ours before. Albert and I
reign together. He is sovereign as much as I. We discuss all matters
and decide together."

"True," admitted the Baron, "but the constitution does not provide for
such a condition of affairs. I will talk with Peel about it."

Peel felt as Stockmar did, that it was not wise to propose such a
title. The subject arose again some years later, and the shrewd Baron
wrote to the Prince in his usual straightforward fashion: "Never
abandon your firm, powerful position to run after butterflies. You have
the substance; stick by it." The title was never given him, but it was
true that he had "the substance." The Queen no longer met her Ministers
alone; the Prince was always with her to help and suggest. Whenever
either she or the Prince spoke to the Council the word "I" was not
used; it was always "We think so-and-so should be done."

Not only the Council but the whole country were gaining in knowledge of
the Prince's wisdom and devotion to the good of the kingdom, and in
1847 a valued mark of appreciation was given him in his election as
Chancellor of the University of Cambridge, one of the greatest honors
that could have been bestowed upon him. The Queen was delighted,
because she knew that the position was not given out of compliment to
her, but was something that he himself had earned. Soon after the
election, came the installation. The magistrates and Yeomanry went to
the station to meet the Queen, and then marched before her into the
town. She was escorted into the Great Hall of Trinity College and led
to an armchair which stood on a platform under a canopy. Soon after she
had seated herself, the new Chancellor entered at the farther end of
the hall, followed by the long line of university dignitaries. He wore
a robe of black and gold, so long that it had to be held up by two
gentlemen. When he stood in front of the armchair that represented the
throne, he made a low bow and delivered his address. "The situation was
almost absurd for us," said the Queen afterwards, but the Prince read
his address with perfect command of his countenance and the Queen was
quite serious until she caught his eye for a moment at the end of the
speech. She half smiled, but in an instant she was again the dignified
sovereign, and she declared with a little emphasis that brought forth
shouts of applause, "The choice which the university has made of a
Chancellor has my most entire approbation."

Not long afterwards the new Chancellor and his royal wife paid another
visit to Cambridge. It was a little muddy, and the Queen hesitated a
moment before getting out of the carriage. Instantly one of the
students threw his gown upon the ground for her to step on, and others
followed his example.

When Victoria thought of her husband and her children, she was
supremely happy, but when she thought of the different kingdoms of
Europe, and even of her own realm, there was much in 1847 and 1848 to
make her unhappy. All Europe was restless and uneasy. Revolt had broken
out in Italy, France, Germany, and other countries. The reigning
sovereigns in most of these kingdoms were related to her either by
blood or by marriage, and she could but feel grief for their trials,
and, in some instances, fear for their safety. Indeed, the King and
Queen of France had to flee to England and they spent the remainder of
their lives at Claremont. In Victoria's own realm, there was trouble.
Ireland was suffering from a terrible famine. Thousands of Irish were
dying of either starvation or fever. In England there was no
starvation, but everyone felt the hard times more or less. Those who
had money did not dare to invest it, because business was so unsettled
that they were afraid of loss. As capital was not invested, there was
little work to be had, and the poor suffered severely. The rich as well
as the poor felt the general stagnation. Greville said that his income

was only half the usual amount, and even in royal palaces strict
economy was practiced.

There was a special reason for great uneasiness in London. According to
the laws at that time, no one could become a member of the House of
Commons who did not own land enough to receive from it an annual income
of $1500. This law had been made in the belief that a man who owned
land would be more interested in the welfare of his country than a man
who had none. Thousands of workingmen were not allowed even to vote.
When work was plenty, and they were comfortable and busy, they did not
think so much about their rights; but when work failed, they began to
say to one another: "This is all the fault of the laws. If everyone
could vote, and if poor men as well as rich men could become members of
Parliament, laws would be made for the good of the whole nation and not
merely for the landowners."

These men held meetings to discuss such matters, and they concluded to
send in a petition to Parliament, setting forth their wrongs and
demanding that changes should be made. The plan was explained in what
was called the People's Charter, and therefore its supporters were
spoken of as Chartists.

No one would have objected to having as many petitions sent to
Parliament as the house would hold, but among the people were many
hot-headed persons who had much to say about "oppression" and
"revolution." The crowds sometimes became noisy and turbulent, and one
evening some of them rushed wildly toward Buckingham Palace. The only
harm that they did was to break some street lamps; and when their
leader was arrested by the police, he made no resistance, but began to
cry. Nevertheless, people felt very uneasy, and when it was reported
that on the 10th of April the petition would be presented by 1,000,000
men, there was much alarm in the city. Shops were barricaded, weapons
were put where they could be caught up in a moment, and old muskets
that had not been used for half a century were brought down from the
garrets and put in order for the riots that were feared. The Duke of
Wellington, as commander-in-chief of the army, made very wise
preparations. There was no display of soldiers or cannon, but
Buckingham Palace and the public buildings were quietly filled with
armed men, and gunboats were brought up the river. The Queen had shown
again and again that she was no coward, and she would have stayed in
London, but her Ministers persuaded her to take her three-weeks'-old
baby to Osborne House. All London trembled when the 10th of April
arrived; but when night came, those who had feared most laughed
heartiest. The whole affair had ended in a few thousand men starting
for Parliament with the petition. "You cannot cross the bridge in
mass," said the police, and the Chartists went home meekly, sending
their petition in cabs.

The Queen had long wished to go to Ireland, and in 1849 she and the
Prince and the four older children went to that country in the yacht
Victoria and Albert. Now, however indignant the Irish might be
at England's rule of their country they would not give the Queen any
but the most cordial greeting; and when the yacht sailed into the mouth
of the River Lee, the people of the place called Cove of Cork asked
that she would step ashore, if only for a moment. "We wish to change
the name of our town," they said, "so that it may mark the place where
the Queen first set her foot on Irish soil." The flag was run up on
which was written the word "Cove," but as soon as the Queen had gone
back to the yacht, the flag was dropped, and another was run up marked
"Queenstown."

The Victoria and Albert went on to Cork, and the party also visited
several other places in Ireland. Wherever they went, the crowds pressed
to the water's edge with cheering and shouts of welcome. Cannon were
fired and bells were set to ringing. Every little cottage had its flag,
or at least a wreath of flowers and evergreens. All were interested in
the royal children, and at Kingstown an old lady cried out: "Oh! Queen
dear, make one of them Prince Patrick, and all Ireland will die for
you."

When the Irish visit had come to its end, and the Queen was about to
leave for England, the crowds on the shore cheered her more wildly than
ever, and both the Queen and the Prince climbed the paddlebox and waved
their handkerchiefs again and again. "Go slowly," ordered the Queen,
and the boat moved very slowly along, keeping close to the pier. The
crowds cheered with more enthusiasm than before, and three times a
return was given to their salute by lowering the royal standard. One of
the Queen's party said: "There is not an individual in the town who
does not take the Queen's going on the paddlebox and lowering the royal
standard as a personal compliment to himself."

The year following the visit to Ireland the Queen's seventh child was
born, a boy.

"Now we are just as many as the days of the week," cried the brothers
and sisters joyfully.

"But which of us shall be Sunday?" asked one.

"The new baby," answered Princess "Vicky" decidedly, "because he's just
come, and we must be polite to him and give him the best."

The little boy was named Patrick, as the old woman in Ireland had
suggested, but his first name was Arthur, for the Duke of Wellington,
on whose eighty-first birthday he was born.

The days of the Queen were full of joys and sorrows that came almost
hand in hand. Her home life was perfectly happy, but her duties as a
sovereign took much time that she would have gladly given to her
family. "It is hard," she said, "that I cannot always hear my children
say their prayers." She had the warmest, most devoted friends, but in
the six years preceding 1850, she had lost several who could never be
replaced. Sir Robert Peel and Lord Melbourne had died, the opposing
Ministers who had both won her confidence and gratitude; and the "good
Queen Adelaide," who had loved the little Princess Victoria as if she
had been her own child, was also gone. The sorrow which Prince Albert
felt at the loss of his father had been to his wife a grief almost as
deep; and both she and the Prince were saddened by the loss of the
Coburg grandmother, who loved him so that she was almost heartbroken on
his leaving her to make his home in England, and called piteously after
his carriage, "Oh, Albert, Albert!" The three who had been nearest to
the Queen in her childhood were living, her mother, Dr. Davys, and
Baroness Lehzen. The kind, scholarly clergyman she had made Bishop of
Peterborough, and she saw him from time to time. After the marriage of
the Queen the Baroness Lehzen returned to her friends in Germany, but
the busy sovereign found time to send her long and frequent letters.

The losses of the Queen were many, but with Prince Albert by her side,
she felt that she could bear whatever came; and it was a great
happiness to her that the better he was known in the country, the more
highly the nation thought of him. They could hardly help esteeming him,
for he seemed never to have a thought of himself; all was for the Queen
and for her people. For several years he had had a plan in his mind for
a great industrial exhibition. When he first laid the scheme before the
public, the people were wildly enthusiastic. Then, as the difficulties
arose, there was much criticism. The building would cost $1,000,000,
and subscriptions were slow. Punch brought out a cartoon inscribed,
"Please to remember the Exposition." It represented a boy holding out
his cap for pennies Under the picture was written:

"Pity the sorrows of a poor young Prince ----
Whose costly scheme has borne him to your door;
Who's in a fix--the matter not to mince--
Oh, help him out, and commerce swell your store."

Prince Albert laughed heartily at the cartoon, added it to his
collection, and worked all the harder for the exposition.

There was much opposition to admitting foreign exhibits, for many
English manufacturers had a wild fancy that the sight of them would
prevent the English from patronizing home products. "All the villains
of the Continent will be here," declared the grumblers. "They will
murder the Queen and begin a revolution." In Parliament, one of the
members invoked the lightning to fall from heaven and destroy the
half-finished building. Nevertheless, enormous masses of goods were
constantly arriving, and the mighty structure continued to rise. It was
made of iron and glass, and was like an enormous greenhouse. Thackeray
wrote of it:

"And see, 'tis done!
As though 'twere by a wizard's rod,
A blazing arch of lucid glass
Leaps like a fountain from the grass
To meet the sun."

The Crystal Palace, the people called it, and no better name could have
been given. It stretched out one thousand feet in length, and part of
it was one hundred feet high, so high that two elm trees which had been
growing on its site grew on in freedom under its glass roof. The
ironwork was painted a clear, bright blue. There were scarlet hangings,
fountains, statues, banners, tapestries, flowers, palms, everything
that could make it bright and beautiful.

May 1, 1851, had been named as the day of opening. In the royal family
the day began with birthday gifts for the little Arthur--toys from the
parents, a clock from the Duchess of Kent, and, strange presents for a
baby, a bronze statuette and a beautiful paper-knife from the Prince
and Princess of Prussia. Long before noon, the Queen, the Prince, and
the two older children drove to the Crystal Palace. As they entered,
there was a flourish of trumpets, followed by tremendous cheering. The
Queen was radiant with happiness as she walked down the broad aisle
with her husband. She wore a pink silk dress of Irish poplin, and on
her head was a diamond tiara. She led by the hand the Prince of Wales,
a bright, handsome little fellow. The Princess Royal wore a white
dress, and on her head was a wreath of roses. She held her father's
hand. The cheers grew louder and louder, then the deep tones of the
organ broke in upon them. The music of two hundred instruments and six
hundred voices followed, leading the thousands present in the National
Hymn. After this the Prince left the side of the Queen, and, returning
at the head of the commissioners, he read her the formal report. She
made a short reply. The Archbishop of Canterbury offered up prayer, and
the wonderful "Hallelujah Chorus" resounded through the lofty arches.
While this was being sung, a Chinese mandarin, who had been walking
about most perfectly at his ease and quite indifferent to the gazing
crowds, now took his stand before the Queen and made a very profound
obeisance. He proved to be of considerable use a little later, for when
the long procession of distinguished Englishmen and foreigners was
formed, it occurred to someone that China was not represented, and the
dignified mandarin was taken possession of as an addition to the train.
He made no objections, but marched along with his former tranquillity,
thinking apparently that all foreigners were treated in such manner by
those remarkable people, the Englishmen.

The Duke of Wellington was in the procession and the walk around the
building was to him a triumphal progress, for the women waved their
handkerchiefs and kissed their hands, while the men cheered and
shouted, "The Duke! The Duke!" In the midst of all his glory, he did
not forget his little year-old namesake and godson and later in the
day, his eighty-second birthday, he called at Buckingham Palace with a
golden cup and some toys of his own selection for the little boy.

So ended what Victoria called "the proudest and happiest day of my
life, a thousand times superior to the coronation." In her journal she
wrote: "Albert's name is immortalized, God bless my dearest Albert, God
bless my dearest country!"





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Previous: Housekeeping In A Palace



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