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The First Christening The Season Of 1841

Youth

The Queen's First Visit To Scotland

The Queen's First Visit To Scotland

The Proroguing Of Parliament The Visit To Guildhall And The Coronation

Comments Upon The Young Queen By A Contemporaneous Writer In Blackwood

Reign Of Queen Victoria

Childhood

Childhood

The Princess Opens The Victoria Park At Bath



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The Queen's Sympathy During The Illness Of President Garfield

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

Marriage And Delicacy Of The Prince's Position

The Condemnation Of The English Duel

Failing Health Of Prince Albert

Marriage Of The Princess Royal

First Meeting With Prince Albert Death Of William Iv

Distribution Of Victoria Crosses By The Queen

Last Years Of The Prince Consort

Second Attempt On The Queen's Life






A Marriage A Death And A Birth In The Royal Family








The rest of the autumn and early winter passed in busy quiet and domestic
happiness. In November, the Queen honoured the Duke of Wellington by a
second visit to Walmer. She was no longer the girl-princess--a solitary
figure, but for her devoted mother, she was the Queen-wife, taking with
her not only her good and noble husband, but her two fine children, to
show her old servant, the great soldier of a former generation, who had
known her from her childhood, how rich she had become in all womanly
blessings. During her stay her Majesty went to Dover, and included the
guardian castle of England, on the chalk cliffs which overlook the coast
of France, among the venerable fortresses she had inspected this year.

In the meantime, the agitation for Free Trade was exciting the country in
one direction, and O'Connell was thundering for a repeal of the union
between England and Ireland in another. On the 20th of January, 1843, a
public crime was committed which shocked the whole nation and aroused the
utmost sympathy of the Queen and Prince Albert. A half-crazy man named
Macnaughten, who conceived he had received a political injury from Sir
Robert Peel, planned to waylay and shoot the Premier in Downing Street.
The man mistook his victim, and fatally wounded Sir Robert's private
secretary, Mr. Drummond, who perished in the room of his chief. The plea
of insanity accepted by the jury on the trial was so far set aside by the
judges.

The descendants of the numerous family of George III. and Queen Charlotte,
in the third generation, only numbered five princes and princesses. Apart
from her German kindred, the Queen had only four cousins--her nearest
English relations after her uncles and aunts. Of these the Crown Prince of
Hanover, German born but English bred as Prince George of Cumberland, and
long regarded as, in default of Princess Victoria, the heir to the crown,
married at Hanover, on the 18th of February, Princess Mary of
Saxe-Altenburg. The Crown Prince was then twenty-four years of age.
Though he had no longer any prospect of succeeding to the throne of
England, he was the heir to a considerable German kingdom. But the
terrible misfortune which had cost him his eyesight did not terminate his
hard struggle with fate. His father, whose ambition had been built upon
his son from his birth, appeared to have more difficulty in submitting to
the sore conditions of the Prince's loss than the Prince himself showed.
By a curious self-deception, the King of Hanover never acknowledged his
son's blindness, but persisted in treating him, and causing others to
treat him, as if he saw. The Queen of Hanover, once a bone of contention
at the English Court, and Queen Charlotte's bete noire, as the
divorced wife of one of her two husbands prior to her third marriage with
the Duke of Cumberland, had died two years before. It was desirable in
every light that she should find a successor--a princess--to preside over
the widowed Court, and be the mother to the future kings of Hanover,
supposing Hanover had remained on the roll of the nations. A fitting
choice was made, and the old King took care that the marriage should be
celebrated with a splendour worthy of the grandson of a King of England.
Twenty-four sovereigns and princes, among them the King of Prussia, graced
the ceremony. The bride wore cloth of silver and a profusion of jewels,
and whatever further troubles were in store for the blind bridegroom,
whose manly fortitude and uprightness of character--albeit these qualities
were not without their alloy of pride and obstinacy--won him the respect
of his contemporaries, Providence blessed him on that February day with a
good, bright, devoted wife.

On the 25th of March, the Thames Tunnel, which at the time was fondly
regarded as the very triumph of modern engineering, and a source of the
greatest convenience to London, was opened for foot-passengers by a
procession of dignitaries and eminent men, including in their ranks the
Lord Mayor, Sir Robert Inglis, Lord Lincoln, Joseph Hume, Messrs. Babbage
and Faraday, &c. &c. The party descended by one staircase, shaft, and
archway which carried them to Wapping, and, ascending again, returned by
the other archway to Rotherhithe. Some of the Thames watermen hoisted
black flags as a sign that they considered their craft doomed.

For the first time since her accession, the Queen had been unable, from
the state of her health, to open Parliament or to hold the usual spring
levees. Prince Albert relieved her of this, as of so many of her burdens,
and Baron Stockmar paid a visit to England, at the Prince's urgent
request, that the Baron's sagacity and experience might be brought to bear
on what remained of the arduous task of getting a Queen's household into
order and directing a royal nursery. The care of the Queen's Privy Purse
had been transferred to the Prince on the departure of Baroness Lehzen.
These various obligations, together with his rapidly increasing interest
in public affairs, and the number of persons who claimed his attention,
especially when he was in London, become a serious tax on his strength, a
tax which the Queen even at this early date feared and sought to guard
against. Baron Stockmar was greatly pleased with the aspect of the family.
He proudly proclaimed that the Prince was quickly showing what was in him,
among other things that he was rich in that very practical talent in which
the Baron had feared the young man might be deficient; at the same time
the old family friend remarked that the Prince, in the midst of his
industry and happiness, frequently looked "pale, worried, and weary."

An instance of Prince Albert's cordial interest in the welfare of the
humbler ranks is to be found in one of Bishop Wilberforce's letters, dated
March, 1843: "After breakfast with the Prince, for three-quarters of an
hour talked about Sunday. Told him that I thought 'Book of Sports' did
more than anything to shock the English mind. He urged want of amusements
for common people of an innocent class--no gardens. In Coburg, with ten
thousand inhabitants, thirty-two gardens, frequented by different sorts of
people, who meet and associate in them. 'I never heard a real shout
in England. All my servants marry because they say it is so dull here,
nothing to interest-good living, good wine, but there is nothing to do but
turn rogue or marry.'"

On the 20th of April, Prince Augustus of Saxe-Coburg was married to
Princess Clementine of France, the youngest daughter of Louis Philippe. On
the following day, the 21st, the Queen's uncle, the Duke of Sussex, who
had long been infirm, and for a little time seriously ailing, died at
Kensington Palace, at the age of seventy years. The body lay in state
there on the 3rd of May, all persons in decent mourning being admitted to
witness the sight. Twenty-five thousand persons availed themselves of the
permission. On the following morning, the funeral of the first of the
Royal Dukes, who was buried by daylight and not in the royal vault at
Windsor, took place. There was a great procession, a mile in length,
beginning and ending with detachments of Horse and Foot Guards, their
bands playing at intervals the "Dead March in Saul," in acknowledgement of
the military rank of the deceased. The hearse, drawn by eight black
horses, was preceded and followed by twenty-two mourning-coaches and
carriages, each with six horses, and upwards of fifty private carriages,
one of these containing Sir Augustus d'Este, the son of the dead Duke and
of Lady d'Ameland (Lady Augusta Murray). [Footnote: The Duke of Sussex
made a second morganatic marriage, after Lady d'Ameland's death, with Lady
Cecilia Buggin, daughter of the second Earl of Arran, and widow of Sir
George Buggin. She was created Duchess of Inverness. She survived the Duke
of Sussex thirty years.] The Duke of Cambridge acted as chief mourner. The
cortege passed along the High Street to Kensal Green Cemetery, where
Prince Albert, Prince George of Cambridge, and the Grand Duke of
Mecklenburg-Strelitz, whose son was about to become the husband of
Princess Augusta of Cambridge, awaited its arrival. The service was read
by the Bishop of Norwich in the cemetery chapel, and the coffin was
deposited in the vault prepared for it. It was observed of Prince Albert
that "he seemed to be more affected than any person at the funeral."

An old face, once very familiar, had passed away: a young life had dawned.
In the interval between the Duke of Sussex's death and funeral, five days
after the death, on the 24th of April, 1843, a second princess was born.
The Queen was soon able to write to King Leopold that the baby was to be
called "Alice," an old English name, "Maud," another old English name, and
"Mary," because she had been born on the birthday of the Duchess of
Gloucester. The godfathers were the Queen's uncle, the King of Hanover,
and Prince Albert's brother, by their father's retirement, already Duke of
Coburg. The King of Hanover came to England, though, unfortunately, too
late to be present at the christening, so that one likes to think of the
Princess, whose name is associated with all that is good and kind, as
having served from the first in the light of a messenger of peace to heal
old feuds. The godmothers were the Princess of Hohenlohe and Princess
Sophia Matilda of Gloucester.

In the illustration Princess Alice is given as she represented "Spring" in
the family mask in 1854.

On the 18th of May, 1843, the prolonged contest between the civil and
ecclesiastical courts in Scotland reached its climax--in many respects
striking and noble, though it may be also one-sided, high-handed, and
erring. The chief civil law-court in Scotland--the Court of Session--had
overruled the decisions of the chief spiritual court--the General Assembly
of the Church of Scotland--and installed, by the help of soldiers, in the
parishes, which patronage had presented to them, two ministers, disliked
by their respective congregations, and resolutely rejected by them, though
neither for moral delinquencies nor heretical opinions. The Government,
after a vain attempt to heal the breach and reconcile the contending
parties, not only declined to interfere, but asserted the authority of the
law of the land over a State church.

Once more the representatives of the Scotch clergy and laity, of all
shades of opinion, met, as their forefathers had done for centuries, in
the Assembly Hall, in Edinburgh, in the month of May. Then, after the
usual introductory ceremonies, the moderator, or chairman, delivered a
solemn protest against the State's interference with the spiritual rights
of the Church, declared that the sovereignty of its Divine Head was
invaded, and, in the name of himself and his brethren, rejected, a union
which compelled submission to the civil law on what a considerable
proportion of the population persisted in regarding as purely spiritual
questions. Four hundred and seventy ministers of one of the poorest
churches in Christendom had appended their names to the protest. Churches,
manses, livings were laid down, the mass following their leaders. Among
them, though many a good and gifted man remained with equal
conscientiousness behind, there were men of remarkable ability as well as
Christian worth; and there was one, Dr. Chalmers, with a world-wide
reputation for genius, eloquence, and splendid benevolence. The band
formed themselves into a procession of black-coated soldiers of a
King--not of this world--marched along the crowded streets of Edinburgh,
hailed and cheered by an enthusiastic multitude, and entering a building
temporarily engaged for the purpose, constituted themselves a separate
church, and flung themselves on the liberality of their portion of the
people, on whom they were thenceforth entirely dependent for maintenance.
And their people, who, with their compatriots, are regarded among the
nations as notably close-fisted and hard-headed, responded generously,
lavishly, to the impassioned appeal. All Scotland was rent and convulsed
then, and for years before and after, by the great split in what lay very
near its heart--its church principles and government. These things were
not done in a corner, and could not fail to arouse the interest of the
Queen and Prince, whatever verdict their judgment might pronounce on the
dispute, or however they might range themselves on the constitutional side
of the question, as it was interpreted by their political
advisers--indeed, by the first statesmen, Whig or Tory, of the day.

Six years later, Sir Edwin Landseer painted the picture called "The Free
Kirk," which became the property of her Majesty.

The Royal Commission on the Fine Arts, at the head of which was Prince
Albert, in view of the decoration of the new Houses of Parliament, had an
exhibition of prize cartoons in Westminster Hall during the summer of
1843. Great expectations were entertained of the effect of such patronage
on painting in its higher branches. Many careful investigations were
made into the best processes of fresco painting, of which the Prince had a
high opinion, and this mode of decoration was ultimately adopted,
unfortunately, as it proved, for in spite of every precaution, and the
greatest care on the part of the painters--some of whom, like Dyce, were
learned in this direction, while others went to Italy to acquire the
necessary knowledge--the result has been to show the perishable nature of
the means used, in this climate at least, since the pictures on the walls
of the Houses of Parliament have become but dim, fast-fading shadows of
the original representations. In the early days of the movement the
Prince, in order the better to test and encourage a new development of art
in this country, gave orders for a series of fresco paintings from
Milton's "Comus," in eight lunettes, to decorate a pavilion in the grounds
of Buckingham Palace. Among the painters employed were Landseer, Maclise,
Leslie, Uwins, Dyce, Stanfield, &c. &c. Two of them--Leslie and
Uwins--record the lively interest which the Queen and the Prince took in
the painting of the pavilion, how they would come unannounced and without
attendants twice a day, when the Court was at Buckingham Palace, and watch
the painters at work. Uwins wrote, that in many things the Queen and her
husband were an example to the age. "They have breakfasted, heard morning
prayers with the household in the private chapel, and are out some
distance from the Palace, talking to us in the summer-house, before
half-past nine o'clock--sometimes earlier. After the public duties of the
day, and before the dinner, they come out again, evidently delighted to
get away from the bustle of the world to enjoy each other's society in the
solitude of the garden.... Here, too, the royal children are brought out
by the nurses, and the whole arrangement seems like real domestic
pleasure."

The square of the Palace, with a park on either hand, and its main
entrance fronting the Mall, has green gardens of its own, velvet turf,
shady trees, shining water--now expanding into a great round pond, like
that in Kensington Gardens, only larger--now narrowing till it is crossed
by a rustic bridge. These cheat the eye and the fancy into the belief
that the dwellers in the Palace have got rid of the town, and furnish
pleasant paths and pretty effects of landscape gardening within a limited
space.

But the Palace has a public as well as a private side. The former looks
out on the parks and drives, which belong to all the world, and in the
season are crowded with company.

The great white marble staircase leads to many a stately corridor, with
kings and queens looking down from the walls, to many a magnificent room
with domed and richly fretted roofs, ball-room with a raised dais for
court company, and a spot where royal quadrilles are danced,
banqueting-room, music-room, white, crimson, blue, and green
drawing-rooms, crimson and gold throne-room. There are finely-wrought
white marble chimney-pieces with boldly-carved heads, angelic figures, and
dragons in full relief. There are polished pillars of purple-blue, and
red scagliola, hugs china vases--oriental, Dresden, unpolished Sevres--and
glittering timepieces of every shape and device.

King George and Queen Charlotte in shadowy form preside once and again, as
well they may, seeing this was her house when it was named the Queen's
House. Their family, too, still linger in their portraits. George IV. in
very full-blown kingly state, the Duke of York and his Duchess, the Duke
of Kent and his Duchess, the King of Hanover, King William and Queen
Adelaide, the Duke of Sussex. But not one of their lives is so linked with
the place as the life of Queen Victoria has been, especially the double
life of the Queen and the Prince Consort in their "blooming time."
Buckingham Palace was their London home, to which they came every season
as regularly as Park Lane and Piccadilly, with the squares and streets of
Belgravia, find their fitting occupants. From this Palace the girl-Queen
drove to Westminster, to be crowned, and returned to watch in the soft
dusk of the summer evening all London illuminated in her honour. Here she
announced her intended marriage to her Lords in Council; here she met her
princely bridegroom come across the seas to wed her. From that gateway she
drove in her bridal white and orange blossoms, and it was up these steps
she walked an hour-old wife, leaning on the arm of her husband. Most of
their children were born here. The Princess Royal was baptized here, and
she went from Buckingham Palace to St. James's, like her mother before
her, to be married. In the immediate neighbourhood occurred some of the
miserable attempts on the Queen's life, and it was round Buckingham Palace
that nobility and people thronged to convince themselves of her Majesty's
safety, and assure her of their hot indignation and deep sympathy. On that
balcony she has shown herself, to the thousands craving for the sight, on
the opening-day of the first Exhibition and on the morning when the Guards
left for the Crimea. Through these corridors and drawing-rooms streamed
the princely pageant of the Queen's Plantagenet Ball. Kingly and courtly
company, the renowned men and the fair women of her reign, have often held
festival here. Along these quiet garden walks the Queen was wont to stroll
with her husband-lover; from that rustic bridge he would summon his
feathered favourites around him; in yon sheet of water he swam for his
life among the broken ice, the day before the christening of the Princess
Royal. In the little chalet close to the house the Queen loved to carry on
her correspondence on summer-days, rather than to write within palace
walls, because she, whose life has been pure and candid as the day, has
always loved dearly the open air of heaven. In the pavilion where the
first English artists of the time strove to do their Prince's behest,
working sometimes from eight in the morning to six or seven in the
evening, her Majesty and the Prince delighted to watch Maclise put in
Sabrina releasing the Lady from the enchanted chair, and Leslie make Comus
offering the cup of witchery.

As in the case of King George and Queen Charlotte, it is well that
portraits and marble statues of the Queen and the Prince, in the flower of
their age, should remain here as unfailing links with the past which was
spent within these walls.

In later years the widowed Queen has dwelt little at Buckingham Palace,
coming rarely except for the Drawing-rooms, which inaugurate the season
and lend the proper stamp to the gilded youth of the kingdom. What tales
that Throne-room could tell of the beating hearts of debutantes and
the ambitious dreams of care-laden chaperons! The last tale is of the kind
consideration of the liege lady. From the room where the members of the
royal family assemble apart, she walks, not to take her seat on the
throne, but to stand in front of the steps which lead to it, that the
ladies who advance towards her in single file may not have to climb the
steps with stumbling feet, often caught in their trailing skirts, till the
wearers were in danger of being precipitated against the royal knees as
the ladies bent to kiss the Queen's hand. In the same manner, the slow and
painful process of walking backwards with long trains, of which such
stories were told in Queen Charlotte's day, is graciously dispensed with.
A step or two, and the trains are thrown over their owners' arms by the
pages in waiting, while the ladies are permitted to retire, like ordinary
mortals, in a natural, easy, and what is really a more seemly fashion. A
royal chapel has for a considerable time taken the place of a great
conservatory, so that the Queen and the Prince could worship with their
household, without the necessity of repairing to the neighbouring Chapel
Royal of St. James's.

There are other suites of rooms besides the private apartments, notably
the Belgian floor, full of memories of King Leopold and Queen Louise.

Among the portraits of foreign sovereigns, the correctly beautiful face of
the Emperor Alexander of Russia, and the likeness of his successor,
Nicholas, occur repeatedly. The portraits of the Emperor and Empress of
Germany, when as Prince and Princess of Prussia they won the cordial
friendship of the Queen, are here. There is a pleasant picture of Queen
Victoria's girl friend, Maria da Gloria, and a companion picture of her
husband, the Queen and the Prince's cousin. The burly figure of Louis
Philippe appears in the company of two of his sons. Another ruler of
France, the Emperor Napoleon III., looks sallow and solemn beside his
Empress at the height of her loveliness. Other royal portraits are those
of the King of Saxony, the present King and Queen of the Belgians, as Duke
and Duchess of Brabant; the late blind King of Hanover and his devoted
Queen; the Duke of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, now blind also, and his Duchess,
who was the handsome and winning Princess Augusta of Cambridge; her not
less charming sister, Princess Mary, Duchess of Teck; the familiar face of
their soldierlike brother, the Duke of Cambridge; the Maharajah Dhuleep
Singh, in his slender youth and eastern dress, &c. &c.

In the sister country of France, one has a feeling that there are blood
stains on all the palaces. Let us be thankful that, as a rule, it is not
so in England. But there are tragic faces and histories here too, mocking
the glories of rank and State. There is a fine picture of Matilda of
Denmark, to whom--but for the victim's fairer hair--her collateral
descendant, Queen Victoria, is said to bear a great resemblance. The
Queen's ancestress was herself a princess and a queen, yet she was fated
to fall under an infamous, unproven charge, and to pine to an early death
in a prison fortress.

Here, with a pathos all her own, in her pale dark girlish face and slight
figure, is the Queen's Indian god-daughter, Princess Gouromma, the child
of the Rajah of Coorg. She was educated in England, and married a Scotch
gentleman named Campbell. But the grey northern skies and the bleak
easterly winds were cruel to her, as they would have been to one of her
native palm-trees, and she found an early grave.

A graceful remembrance of a peculiarly graceful tribute to the faithful
service and devotion of a lifetime appears in a picture of the old Duke of
Wellington--after whom the Queen named her third son--presenting his
godfather's token of a costly casket to the infant Prince Arthur, seated
on the royal mother's knee. Another laughing child, in the arms of another
happy mother, is the Queen herself, held by the Duchess of Kent.

The long picture gallery contains valuable specimens of Dutch and Flemish
art, a remnant of George IV.'s collection, and a portion, of the Queen's
many fine examples of these schools. Here are Tenierses, full of riotous
life; exquisite Metzus, Terburgs, and Gerard Dows; cattle by Paul Potter;
ships by Van de Velde; skies by Cuyp; landscapes, with white horses, by
Wouvermanns; driving clouds and shadow-darkened plains by Ruysdael, who,
though he died in a workhouse, yet lives in his pictures in kings'
palaces.

Lady Bloomfield has given the world a delightful glimpse of what the life
at Windsor and Buckingham Palace was from 1842 to 1845; how much real
friendliness existed in it; what simplicity and naturalness lay behind its
pomp and magnificence. Dissipation and extravagance found no place there.
That palace home--whether in town or country, where all sacred obligations
and sweet domestic affections reigned supreme, where noble work had due
prominence and high-minded study paved the way for innocent pleasure--was,
indeed, a pattern to every home in the kingdom. The great household was
like a large family, with a queenly elder sister and a royal brother at
its head; for the Queen and the Prince were still in their first prime,
and very kindly, as well as very wise, were their relations with old and
young. It is good to read of the tenderly-united pair; of their
well-regulated engagements--punctually performed as clockwork, and rarely
jostling each other; of their generous consideration for others, their
faithful regard for old friends, so that to this day the ranks of the
Queen's household are replenished from the households of her youth. It has
been pointed out how rarely the Duchess of Kent allowed any change in the
little Princess's guardians and teachers. In like manner, as whoever will
examine Court calendars may learn for themselves, this middle-aged
Mistress of the Robes, or that elderly Lady in Waiting, was in former
times a young Maid of Honour, and the youngest page of to-day is very
likely the grandson of a veteran courtier, and has a hereditary interest
in his surroundings.

When her Majesty was still young, there was the frankest sympathy with the
young girls who were so proud to be in their Queen's service--a sympathy
showing itself in a thousand unmistakable ways; in concern for each noble
maiden's comfort and happiness; in interest in her friends pursuits, and
prospects; by the kindly informal manner in which each member of the
girlish suite was addressed by her familiar christian-name, sometimes with
its home abbreviation; by the kiss with which she was greeted on her
return from her six months' absence. We do not always connect such lovable
attributes with kings' and queens' courts, and it is an excellent thing
for us to know that the greatest, towards whom none may presume, can also
he the most ready to oblige, the least apt to exact, the most cordial and
trustful.

We hear from Lady Bloomfield that the sum total of a Maid of Honour's
obligations, when she is in residence, like a canon, is to give the Queen
her bouquet before dinner every other day. In reality, the young lady and
her companions, as well as the older and more experienced Ladies and Women
of the Bedchamber, are in waiting to drive, ride, or walk with the Queen
when she desires their society, to sit near her at dinner, to share her
occupations--such as reading, music, drawing, needlework--when she wishes
it, to help to make up any games, dances, &c. &c. These favoured damsels
enjoy a modest income of three hundred a year, and wear a badge--the
Queen's picture, surrounded with brilliants on a red bow--such as the
public may have seen in the portraits of several of the Maids of Honour
belonging to the Queen which were exhibited on the walls of the Academy
within recent years. The hours of "the Maids" never were so early as those
of their royal mistress, while their labours, like their responsibilities,
have been light as thistledown in comparison with hers.

The greatest restriction imposed on these youthful members of the
Household, when Lady Bloomfield as Miss Liddell figured among them, seems
to have been that they were expected to be at their posts, and they were
not at liberty to entertain all visitors in their private sitting-rooms,
but had to receive some of their friends in a drawing-room which belonged
to the ladies in common.

The routine of the Palace passes before us, unpretentious in its dignity
as the actual life was led: the waiting of the ladies in the corridor to
meet the Queen when she left her apartments and accompany her to dinner;
the talk at the dinner-table; the round game of cards--vingt-et-un,
or some other in the evening, for which the stakes were so low, that the
players were accustomed to provide themselves with a stock of new
shillings, sixpences, and fourpenny pieces, and the winnings were now
threepence, now eightpence; the workers and talkers in the background. In
spite of different times and different manners, there is a slight flavour
of Queen Charlotte's drawing-room, in Miss Burney's day, about the whole
scene.

The ordinary current was broken by varying eddies of royal visits and
visitors, with their accompanying whirl and bubble of excitement, and by
ceremonies, like the opening and proroguing of Parliament, State visits to
the City, royal baptisms. In addition there were the more tranquil and
homely diversions of the festivals of the seasons and family festivals.
There was Christmas, when everybody gave and received Christmas-boxes; and
this happy individual had a brooch, "of dark and light blue enamel, with
two rubies and a diamond in the shape of a bow;" and another had a
bracelet, with the Queen's portrait; while to all there were pins, rings,
studs, shawls, &c. &c. Or it was the Duchess of Kent's birthday, when the
Court went to dine and dance, and wish the kind Duchess many happy returns
of the day, at Frogmore. On one occasion the little ball ended in a
curious dance, called "Grand-pere," a sort of "Follow my Leader." "The
Prince and the Duchess of Kent led the way, and it was great fun, but
rather a romp." Solemn statesmen, hoary soldiers, reverent churchmen,
foreign diplomatists, were frequently consigned for companionship and
entertainment to the "ladies of the Household," and relaxed and grew
jocular in such company, under the spring sunshine of girlish smiles and
laughter.

More mature and distinguished figures stood out among the women, to match
the men--whose names will be household words so long as England keeps her
place among the nations. Sagacious Baroness Lehzen, the incomparable early
instructress and guide of the Queen, so good to all the young people who
came under her influence, before she retired to her quiet home at
Buckeburg; Lady Lyttelton, who had been with the Queen as one of the
ladies-in-waiting ever since her Majesty came to the throne, who, after
the most careful selection, was appointed governess to the Royal children,
and was well qualified to discharge an office of such consequence to the
Queen and the nation. It is impossible to read such portions of her
letters as have been published without being struck by their wise
womanliness and gentle motherliness. Beautiful Lady Canning, with her
artist soul, was another star in an exalted firmament.

Little feet pattered amongst the brilliant groups. The Princess Royal was
a remarkably bright, lively child; the Prince of Wales a beautiful
good-tempered baby, in such a nautilus-shell cradle as Mrs. Thorneycroft
copied in modelling the likeness of Princess Beatrice. We have the pretty
fancy before us: the exquisite curves of the shell, its fair round-limbed
occupant, one foot and one arm thrown out with the careless grace of
childhood, as if to balance and steer the fairy bark, the other soft hand
lightly resting on the breast, over which the head and face, full of
infant innocence and peace, are inclined.

Both children were fond of music, as the daughter and son of parents so
musical might well be. When the youthful pair were a little older they
would stand still and quiet in the music-room to hear the Prince-father
discourse sweet sounds on his organ, and the Queen-mother sing with one of
her ladies, "in perfect time and tune," with a fine feeling for her songs,
as Mendelssohn has described her. The small people furnished a
never-ending series of merry anecdotes and witticisms all their own, and
would have gone far to break down the highest dead wall of stiffness and
reserve, had such a barrier ever existed. Now it was the little Princess,
a quaint tiny figure "in dark-blue velvet and white shoes, and, yellow kid
gloves," keeping the nurseries alive with her sports, showing off the new
frocks she had got as a Christmas-box from her grandmamma, the Duchess of
Kent, and bidding Miss Liddell put on one. Now it was the Queen offending
the dignity of her little daughter by calling her "Missy," and being told
in indignant remonstrance, "I'm not Missy--I'm the Princess Royal." Or it
was Lady Lyttelton who was warned off with the dismissal in French, from
the morsel of royalty, not quite three, "N'approchez pas moi, moi ne
veut pas vous;" or it was the Duke of Wellington, with a dash of old
chivalry, kissing the baby-hand and bidding its owner remember, him. Or
the child was driving in Windsor Park with the Queen and three of her
ladies, when first the Princess imagined she saw a cat beneath the trees,
and announced, "Cat come to look at the Queen, I suppose." Then she longed
for the heather on the bank, and asked Lady Dunmore to get her some; when
Lady Dunmore said she could not do that, as they were driving so fast, the
little lady observed composedly, "No, you can't, but those
girls," meaning the two Maids of Honour, in the full dignity of their
nineteen or twenty summers and their office, "might get me some."

Windsor Castle in the height of summer, Windsor in the park among the old
oaks and ferns, Windsor on the grand terrace with its glorious English
view, might well leave bright lingering memories in a susceptible young
mind. So we hear of a delightful ride, when the kind Queen mounted her
Maid of Honour on a horse which had once belonged to Miss Liddell's
sister, and in default of Miss Liddell's habit, which was not forthcoming,
lent her one of the Queen's, with hat, cellar and cuffs to suit, and the
two cantered and walked over the greensward and down many a leafy glade
for two hours and a half. Once, we are told, the Queen, the Prince, and
the whole company went out after dinner in the warm summer weather, and
promenaded in the brilliant moonlight, a sight to see, with the lit-up
castle in the background, the men in the Windsor uniform, the women in
full dress, like poor Marie Antoinette's night promenades at Versailles,
or a page from Boccaccio.

Running through all the young Maid of Honour's diary is the love which
makes all service light; the loyal innocent sense of hardship at being in
waiting and not seeing the Queen "at least once a day;" the affectionate
regret to lose any of her Majesty's company; the pride and pleasure at
being selected by the Queen for special duties.





Next: The Condemnation Of The English Duel

Previous: The Queen's First Visit To Scotland



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