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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'├ętat,
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-
Fools' Day.

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
Baron.

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
together?"

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
shrouds.

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:

"Beware
Of entrance to a quarrel; but being in,
Bear't, that the opposed may beware,
of thee."

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
endurance.

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
fellows!

"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.





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