Home  -  Tutor Videos / Shows   -  Queen Victoria   -  Queen Elizabeth   -  Queen Mary   -  Queen Adelaide   -  Catherine of Aragon   -  King Henry the VIII   -  Windsor Castle

Most Viewed

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

The Princess Opens The Victoria Park At Bath

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

Childhood



Least Viewed

The Queen's Sympathy During The Illness Of President Garfield

Marriage And Delicacy Of The Prince's Position

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

Last Years Of The Prince Consort

Second Attempt On The Queen's Life

The Condemnation Of The English Duel

Failing Health Of Prince Albert

Distribution Of Victoria Crosses By The Queen

Marriage Of The Princess Royal

Victoria's First Christmas At Windsor Castle As Queen






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








On the 9th of November, 1841, the happiness of the Queen and Prince was
increased by the birth of the Prince of Wales. The event took place on the
morning of the Lord Mayor's Day, as the citizens of London rejoiced to
learn by the booming of the Tower guns. In addition to the usual calls of
the nobility and gentry, the Lord Mayor and his train went in great state
to offer their congratulations and make their inquiries for the
Queen-mother and child.

The sole shadow on the rejoicing was the dangerous illness of the
Queen-dowager. She had an affection of the chest which rendered her a
confirmed invalid for years. At this time the complaint took an aggravated
form, and her weakness became so great that it was feared death was
approaching. But she rallied--a recovery due in a great measure, it was
believed, to her serene nature and patient resignation. She regained her
strength in a degree and survived for years.

The public took a keen interest in all that concerned the heir to the
crown, though times were less free and easy than they had been--all the
world no longer trooped to the Queen's House as they had done to taste the
caudle compounded when royal Charlotte's babies were born. There was at
least the cradle with the nodding Prince of Wales feathers to gossip
about. The patent creating the Duke of Cornwall Prince of Wales and Earl
of Chester was issued on the 8th of December, when the child was a month
old. It was a quaint enough document, inasmuch as the Queen declared in it
that she ennobled and invested her son with the Principality and earldom
by girting him with a sword, by putting a coronet on his head and a gold
ring on his finger, and also by delivering a gold rod into his hand, that
he might preside there, and direct and defend these parts. The Royal
Nursery had now two small occupants, and their wise management, still more
than that of the household, engaged the serious consideration of the Queen
and the Prince's old friend, Baron Stockmar, and engrossed much of the
attention of the youthful parents. They took great delight in the bright
little girl, whom her mother named "Pussy," and the charming baby who was
so near her in age.

"To think," wrote the Queen in her Journal this Christmas, "that we have
two children now, and one who enjoys the sight already" (referring to the
Christmas-tree); "it is like a dream."

"This is the dear Christmas Eve on which I have so often listened with
impatience to your step which was to usher us into the gift-room," the
Prince reminded his father. "To-day I have two children of my own to make
gifts to, who, they know not why, are full of happy wonder at the German
Christmas-tree and its radiant candles."

On this occasion the New Year was danced into "in good old English
fashion. In the middle of the dance, as the clock finished striking
twelve, a flourish of trumpets was blown, in accordance with a German
custom." The past year had been good also, and fertile in blessings on
that roof-tree, though in the world without there were the chafings and
mutterings of more than one impending crisis. The corn-laws, with the
embargo they laid on free trade, weighed heavily on the minds both of
statesmen and people. In Scotland Church and State were struggling keenly
once more, though, bloodlessly this time, as they had struggled to the
death in past centuries, for mastery where what each considered its rights
were in question.

Among the blows dealt by death in 1841, there had been heavy losses to art
in the passing away of Chantrey and Wilkie.

In January, 1842, events happened in Afghanistan which brought bitter
grief to many an English home, and threw their shadow over the palace
itself in the next few months. The fatal policy of English interference
with the fiery tribes of Northern India in support of an unpopular ruler
had ended in the murder of Sir Alexander Burns and Sir William Macnaghten,
and the evacuation of Cabul by the English. This was not all. The march
through the terrible mountain defiles in the depth of winter, under the
continual assaults of an unscrupulous and cruel enemy, meant simply
destruction. The ladies of the party, with Lady Sale, a heroic woman, at
their head, the husbands of the ladies who were with the camp, and finally
General Elphinstone, who had been the first in command at Cabul, but who
was an old and infirm man, had to be surrendered as hostages. They were
committed to the tender mercies of Akbar Khan, the son of the exiled Dost
Mahomed, the moving spirit of the insurrection against the native puppet
maintained by English authority, and the murderer, with his own hand, of
Sir William Macnaghten, whose widow was among the prisoners. The surrender
of hostages was partly a matter of necessity, in order to secure for the
most helpless of the party the dubious protection of Akbar Khan, partly a
desperate measure to prevent what would otherwise have been
inevitable--the perishing of the women and children in the dreadful
hardships of the retreat. The captives were carried first to Peshawur and
afterwards to a succession of hill-forts in the direction of the Caucasus,
while their countrymen at home, long before they had become familiar with
the tragedy of the Indian Rebellion, burned with indignation and thrilled
with horror at the possible fate of those victims of a treacherous,
vindictive Afghan chief. In the meantime the awful march went on, amidst
the rigours of winter, in wild snowy passes, by savage precipices, while
the most unsparing guerilla warfare was kept up by the furious natives at
every point of vantage. Alas! for the miserable end which we all know,
some of us recalling it, through the mists of years, still fresh with the
wonder, wrath, and sorrow which the news aroused here. Out of a company of
sixteen thousand that left Cabul, hundreds were slain or died of
exhaustion every day, three thousand fell in an ambush, and after a
night's exposure to such frost as was never experienced in England. At
last, on the 13th of January, 1842, one haggard man, Dr. Brydon, rode up,
reeling in his saddle, to the gates of Jellalabad. The fortress was still
in the keeping of Sir Robert Sale, who had steadfastly refused to retire.
It is said his wife wrote to him from her prison, urging him to hold out,
because she preferred her own and her daughter's death to his dishonour.

But the Afghan disasters were not fully known in England for months to
come. In the interval, the christening of the Prince of Wales was
celebrated with much splendour in St. George's Chapel, Windsor, on the
25th of January. The King of Prussia came over to England to officiate in
person as one of the Prince's godfathers. The others were the child's two
grand-uncles, the Duke of Cambridge and Prince Ferdinand of Saxe-Coburg,
uncle of the Queen and of Prince Albert, and father of the King Consort of
Portugal and the Duchesse de Nemours. The godmothers were the Duchess of
Kent, proxy for the Duchess of Saxe-Coburg, Prince Albert's stepmother;
the Duchess of Cambridge, proxy for the child's great-grandmother, the
Duchess of Saxe-Gotha; and the Princess Augusta of Cambridge, proxy for
the Princess Sophia of England.

The ambassadors and foreign ministers, the Cabinet ministers with their
wives in full dress, the Knights of the Garter in their mantles and
collars, the Archbishops of Canterbury and York, the Bishops of London,
Winchester, Oxford, and Norwich assembled in the Waterloo Gallery; the
officers and the ladies of the Household awaited the Queen in the
corridor. At noon, certain officers of the Household attended the King of
Prussia, who was joined by the other sponsors at the head of the grand
staircase, to the chapel.

The Queen's procession included the Duke of Wellington, bearing the Sword
of State between the Lord Chamberlain, the Earl De la Warr, and the Lord
Steward, the Earl of Liverpool, the three walking before her Majesty and
Prince Albert, who were supported by their lords-in-waiting, and followed
by the Duke of Sussex, Prince George of Cambridge, Prince Edward of
Saxe-Weimar, Prince Augustus and Prince Leopold of Saxe-Coburg, sons of
Prince Ferdinand and cousins of the Queen and Prince Albert.

When the sponsors had taken their places, and the other company were
seated near the altar, the Lord Chamberlain, accompanied by the Groom of
the Stall to Prince Albert, proceeded to the Chapter-house, and conducted
in the infant Prince of Wales, attended by the lord and groom in waiting.
The Duchess of Buccleugh, the Mistress of the Robes, took the infant from
the nurse, and put him in the Archbishop's arms. The child was named
"Albert" for his father, and "Edward" for his maternal grandfather, the
Duke of Kent. The baby, on the authority of The Times, "behaved
with princely decorum." After the ceremony, he was reconducted to the
Chapter-house by the Lord Chamberlain. By Prince Albert's desire "The
Hallelujah Chorus," which has never been given in England without the
audience rising simultaneously, was played at the close of the service.

The Queen afterwards held a Chapter of the Order of the Garter, at which
the King of Prussia, "as a lineal descendant of George I.," was elected a
Knight Companion, the Queen buckling the garter round his knee. There was
luncheon in the White Breakfast-room, and in the evening there was a
banquet in St. George's Hall. The table reached from one end of the hall
to the other, and was covered with gold plate. Lady Bloomfield, who was
present, describes an immense gold vessel--more like a bath than anything
else, capable of containing thirty dozens of wine. It was filled with
mulled claret, to the amazement of the Prussians. Four toasts were
drunk--that to his Royal Highness the Prince of Wales taking precedence;
toasts to his Majesty the King of Prussia, the Queen and Prince Albert
followed. A grand musical performance in the Waterloo Gallery wound up the
festivities of the day.

The presence of the King of Prussia added additional dignity to the
proceedings. He was a great ally whose visit on the occasion was a
becoming compliment. Besides, his personal character was then regarded as
full of promise, and excited much interest. His attainments and
accomplishments, which were really remarkable, won lively admiration. His
warm regard for a man like Baron Bunsen seemed to afford the best augury
for the liberality of his sentiments. As yet the danger of
impracticability, discouragement, confusion, and paralysis of all that had
been hoped for, was but faintly indicated in the dreaminess and
fancifulness of his nature.

Lady Bloomfield describes the King as of middle size, rather fat, with an
excellent countenance and little hair. The Queen met him on the grand
staircase, kissed him twice, and made him two low curtseys. Her Majesty
says in her Journal: "He was in common morning costume, and complained
much of appearing so before me.... He is entertaining, agreeable, and
witty, tells a thing so pleasantly, and is full of amusing anecdotes."

Madame Bunsen, who was privileged to see a good deal of the gay doings
during the King of Prussia's visit, has handed down her experience. "28th
January, 1842, came by railway to Windsor, and found that in the York
Tower a comfortable set of rooms were awaiting us. The upper housemaid
gave us tea, and bread and butter--very refreshing; when dressed we went
together to the corridor, soon met Lord De la Warr, the Duchess of
Buccleugh, and Lord and Lady Westmoreland--the former showed us where to
go--that is, to walk through the corridor (a fairy scene--lights,
pictures, moving figures of courtiers unknown), the apartments which we
passed through one after another till we reached the magnificent ball-room
where the guests were assembled to await the Queen's appearance. Among
these guests stood our King himself, punctual to quarter-past seven
o'clock; soon came Prince Albert, to whom Lord De la Warr named me, when
he spoke to me of Rome. We had not been there long before two gentlemen
walking in by the same door by which we had entered, and then turning and
making profound bows towards the open door, showed that the Queen was
coming. She approached me directly and said, with a gracious smile, 'I am
very much pleased to see you,' then passed on, and after speaking a few
moments to the King took his arm and moved on, 'God save the Queen' having
begun to sound from the Waterloo Gallery, where the Queen has always dined
since the King has been with her. Lord Haddington led me to dinner, and
one of the King's suite sat on the other side. The scene was one of fairy
tales, of undescribed magnificence, the proportions of the hall, the mass
of light in suspension, the gold plate, and the table glittering with a
thousand lights in branches of a proper height not to meet the eye. The
King's health was drunk, then the Queen's, and then the Queen went out,
followed by all her ladies. During the half-hour or less that elapsed
before Prince Albert and the King followed the Queen, she did not sit, but
went round to speak to the different ladies. She asked after my children,
and gave me an opportunity of thanking her for the gracious permission to
behold her Majesty so soon after my arrival. The Duchess of Kent also
spoke to me, and I was very glad of the notice of Lady Lyttelton, who is
very charming. As soon as the King came the Queen went into the ball-room
and made the King dance a quadrille with her, which he did with all
suitable grace and dignity, though he has long ceased to dance. At
half-past eleven, after the Queen had retired, I set out on my travels to
my bed-chamber. I might have looked and wandered about some miles before I
had found my door of exit, but was helped by an old gentleman, I believe
Lord Albemarle."

The same thoughtful observer was present when the King of Prussia saw the
Queen open Parliament. "February, 1842, Thursday. The opening of the
Parliament was the thing from which I expected most, and I was not
disappointed; the throngs in the streets, in the windows, in every place
people could stand upon, all looking so pleased; the splendid Horse
Guards, the Grenadiers of the Guard--of whom might be said as the King
said on another occasion--'An appearance so fine, you know not how to
believe it true;' the Yeomen of the Body Guard; then in the House of
Lords, the Peers in their robes, the beautifully-dressed ladies with very
many beautiful faces; lastly, the procession of the Queen's entry and
herself, looking worthy and fit to be the converging-point of so many rays
of grandeur. It is self-evident that she is not tall, but were she ever so
tall, she could not have more grace and dignity, a head better set, a
throat better arching; and one advantage there is in her looks when she
casts a glance, being of necessity cast up and not down, that the effect
of the eyes is not lost, and they have an effect both bright and pleasing.
The composure with which she filled the throne while awaiting the Commons,
I much admired--it was a test, no fidget, no apathy. Then her voice and
enunciation cannot be more perfect. In short it could not be said that she
did well, but that she was the Queen--she was, and felt
herself to be, the descendant of her ancestors. Stuffed in by her
Majesty's mace-bearers, and peeping over their shoulders, I was enabled to
struggle down the emotions I felt, at thinking what mighty pages in the
world's history were condensed in the words so impressively uttered by
that soft and feminine voice. Peace and war--the fate of
millions--relations and exertions of power felt to the extremities of the
globe! Alterations of corn-laws, birth of a future sovereign, with what
should it close, but the heartfelt aspiration, God bless her and guide her
for her sake, and the sake of all."

Lady Bloomfield, who was also present, mentions that when the Queen had
finished speaking and descended from the throne, she turned to the King of
Prussia and made him a low curtsey. The same eye-witness refers to one of
the "beautiful faces" which Madame Bunsen remarked; it was that of one of
the loveliest and most accomplished women of her time: "Miss Stewart
(afterwards Marchioness of Waterford) was there, looking strikingly
handsome. She wore a turquoise, blue velvet which was very becoming, and
she was like one of the Madonnas she is so fond of painting."

The Queen and the Prince's hearts were gladdened this spring by the news
of the approaching marriage of his brother, Prince Ernest, to Princess
Alexandrine of Baden. In a family so united such intelligence awoke the
liveliest sympathy. The Queen wrote eagerly on the subject to her uncle,
and the uncle of the bridegroom, King Leopold. "My heart is full, very
full of this marriage; it brings back so many recollections of our dear
betrothal--as Ernest was with us all the time and longed for similar
happiness... I have entreated Ernest to pass his honeymoon with us, and I
beg you to urge him to do it, for he witnessed our happiness and
we must therefore witness his."

There were warm wishes for Prince Albert's presence at the ceremony at
Carlsruhe on the 3rd of May; but though his inclination coincided with
these wishes, he believed there were grave reasons for his remaining in
England, and, as was usual with him, inclination yielded to duty. The
times were full of change and excitement. The people were suffering.
Rioting had occurred in the mining districts, both in England and
Scotland. Lord Shaftesbury, then Lord Ashley, a champion of hard-pressed
humanity, was able to obtain an Act of Parliament which redeemed women
from the degradation and slavery of their work as beasts of burden in the
mines, and he was pushing forward his "Factories Bill," to release little
children from the unchildlike length of small labour, which was required
from them in mills. The Anti-corn Law League was stirring up the country
through its length and breadth. The twin names of Cobden and Bright, men
of the people, were becoming associated everywhere with eloquent
persistent appeals for "Free Trade"--cheap bread to starving multitudes.
Fears were entertained of the attitude of the Chartists. The true state of
matters in Afghanistan began to break on the public. America was sore on
what she considered the tampering with her flag in the interests of the
abolition of the slave trade. Sir Robert Peel's income-tax, in order to
replenish an ill-filled exchequer, was pending. Notwithstanding, the
season was a gay one, though the gaiety might be a little forced in some
quarters. Certainly an underlying motive was an anxious effort to promote
trade by a succession of "dinners, concerts, and balls."

One famous ball is almost historical. It is still remembered as "the
Queen's Plantagenet Ball." It was a very artistic and wonderfully perfect
revival, for one night at Buckingham Palace, of the age of Chaucer and the
Court of Edward III. and Queen Philippa.

Nothing could exceed the enthusiasm with which the idea was taken up in
the great world. All aristocratic London set themselves to study the pages
of Chaucer and Froissart. At the same time, though the Court was to be
that of Edward III and his Queen, no limit was put to the periods and
nationalities to be selected by the guests. The ball was to be a masque,
and perhaps it would have lost a little of its motley charm had it been
confined entirely to one age in history, and to one country of the world.
A comical petition had to be presented, that the masquers might remain
covered before the Queen, lest the doffing of hats should cause the
displacement of wigs.

The great attraction lay in the fact that not only did her Majesty
represent one of her predecessors, an ancestress however remote, but that
many of the guests were enabled to follow her example. They appeared--some
in the very armour of their forefathers, others in costumes copied from
family pictures, or in the dress of hereditary offices still held by the
representatives of the ancient houses. For it was the sons and daughters
of the great nobles of England that held high revelry in Buckingham Palace
that night. There was an additional picturesqueness, as well as a curious
vividness, lent to the pageant by the circumstance that in many cases the
blood of the men and the women represented ran in the veins of the
performers in the play.

The wildest rumours of the extent and cost of the ball circulated
beforehand. It was said that eighteen thousand persons were engaged in it.
The Earl of Pembroke was to wear thirty-thousand pounds' worth of
diamonds--the few diamonds in his hat alone would be of the value of
eighteen thousand pounds. He was to borrow ten thousand pounds' worth of
diamonds from Storr and Mortimer at one per cent, for the night. These
great jewellers' stores were reported to be exhausted. Every other
jeweller and diamond merchant was in the same condition. It almost seemed
as if the Prince of Esterhazy must be outdone, even though the report of
his losses from falling stones on the Coronation-day had risen to two
thousand pounds. One lady boasted that she would not give less than a
thousand pounds for her dress alone. Lord Chesterfield's costume was to
cost eight hundred pounds. Plain dresses could not be got under two
hundred; the very commonest could not be bought under fifty pounds. A new
material had been invented for the occasion--gold and silver blonde to
replace the heavy stuffs of gold and silver, since the nineteenth century
did not always furnish strength or endurance to bear such a burden in a
crowded ball-room on a May night. Truly one description of trade must have
received a lively impetus.

Both The Times and the Morning Post give full accounts of
the ball. "The leading feature.... was the assemblage and meeting of the
Courts of Anne of Brittany (the Duchess of Cambridge) and Edward III. and
Philippa (her Majesty and Prince Albert). A separate entrance to the
Palace was set apart for the Court of Brittany, the Duchess of Cambridge
assembling her Court in one of the lower rooms of the Palace, while the
Queen and Prince Albert, surrounded by a numerous and brilliant circle,
prepared to receive her Royal Highness in the Throne-room, which was
altered so as to be made as much as possible to harmonize with the period.
The throne was removed and another erected, copied from an authentic
source of the time of Edward III. It was lined (as well as the whole
alcove on which the throne was placed) with purple velvet, having worked
upon it in gold the crown of England, the cross of St. George, and
emblazoned shields with the arms of England and France. The State chairs
were what might be called of Gothic design, and the throne was surmounted
with Gothic tracery. At the back of the throne were emblazoned the royal
arms of England in silver. Seated on this throne, her Majesty and Prince
Albert awaited the arrival of the Court of Anne of Brittany."

Her Majesty's dress was entirely composed of the manufactures of
Spitalfields. Over a skirt with a demi-train of ponceau velvet
edged with fur there was a surcoat of brocade in blue and gold lined with
miniver (only her Majesty wore this royal fur). From the stomacher a band
of jewels on gold tissue descended. A mantle of gold and silver brocade
lined with miniver was so fastened that the jewelled fastening traversed
the jewelled band of the stomacher, and looked like a great jewelled cross
on the breast. Her Majesty's hair, folded a la Clovis, was
surmounted by a light crown of gold; she had but one diamond in her crown,
so large that it shone like a star. It was valued at ten thousand pounds.

Prince Albert, as Edward III., wore a cloak of scarlet velvet, lined with
ermine and trimmed with gold lace--showing oak-leaves and acorns, edged
with two rows of large pearls. The band connecting the cloak was studded
with jewels; so was the collar of the full robe, or under-cloak, of blue
and gold brocade slashed with blue velvet. The hose were of scarlet silk,
and the shoes were richly jewelled. The Prince had on a gold coronet set
with precious stones.

The suite were in the costume of the time. The Hon. Mrs. Anson and Mrs.
Brand, Women of the Bedchamber, had dresses bearing the quarterings of the
old arms of England, with lions and fleurs-de-lys. The Maids of
Honour had dresses and surcoats trimmed with gold and silver. The Duke of
Buccleugh figured as one of the original Knights of the Garter. The
Countess of Rosslyn appeared as the beautiful Countess of Salisbury.

About half-past ten, the heralds marshalled the procession from the lower
suite of rooms up the grand white marble staircase, and by the Green
Drawing-room to the Throne-room, all the State-rooms having been thrown
open and brilliantly illuminated. The Duchess of Cambridge entered
magnificently dressed as Anne of Brittany, led by the Duke of Beaufort,
richly clad as Louis XII., and followed by her court. It included the Earl
of Pembroke as the Comte d'Angouleme, with Princess Augusta of Cambridge
as Princess Claude; Prince George of Cambridge as Gaston de Foix, with the
Marchioness of Ailesbury as the Duchesse de Ferrare; Lord Cardigan as
Bayard, with Lady Exeter as Jeanne de Conflans; Lord Claud Hamilton as the
Comte de Chateaubriand, with Lady Lincoln as Ann de Villeroi.... The
Duchess of Gloucester and the Duchess of Saxe-Weimar represented two
French Chatelaines of the period. Each gentleman, leading a lady, passed
before the Queen and Prince Albert, and did obeisance.

Among the most famous quadrilles which followed that of France were the
German quadrille, led by the Duchess of Sutherland, and the Spanish
quadrille, led by the Duchess of Buccleugh. There were also Italian,
Scotch, Greek and Russian quadrilles, a Crusaders' quadrille led by the
Marchioness of Londonderry, and a Waverley quadrille led by the Countess
De la Warr.

One of the two finest effects of the evening was the passing of the
quadrilles before the Queen, a ceremony which lasted for an hour. On
leaving the Throne-room, the quadrille company went by the Picture Gallery
to join the general company in the ballroom. The Queen and the Prince
then headed their procession, and walked to the ballroom, taking their
places on the haut pas under a canopy of amber satin, when each
quadrille set was called in order, and danced in turn before the Queen,
the Scotch set dancing reels. The court returned to the Throne-room for
the Russian mazurkas. The Russian or Cossack Masquers were led by Baroness
Brunnow in a dress of the time of Catherine II., a scarlet velvet tunic,
full white silk drawers, and white satin boots embroidered with gold, a
Cossack cap of scarlet velvet with heron's feathers. The appearance of the
Throne-room with its royal company and brilliant picturesque groups, when
the mazurkas were danced, is said to have been striking and beautiful.

The diamonds of the Queen, the Duchess of Cambridge, and the Marchioness
of Londonderry outshone all others. Lady Londonderry's very gloves and
shoes were resplendent with brilliants. The Duke and Duchess of
Beaufort--the one as Louis XII. of France, the other as Isabelle of
Valois, Queen of Spain, in the French and Spanish quadrilles, were
magnificent figures.

Among the beauties of the evening, and of Queen Victoria's earlier reign,
were Lady Clementina Villiers as Vittoria Colonna; Lady Wilhelmina
Stanhope as her ancestress, Anne Stanhope, Duchess of Somerset; Lady
Frances and Lady Alexandrina Vane as Rowena and Queen Berengaria; and the
Ladies Paget in the Greek quadrille led by the Duchess of Leinster.
Another group of lovely sisters who took part in three different
quadrilles, were the Countess of Chesterfield, Donna Florinda in the
Spanish quadrille; the Honourable Mrs. Anson, Duchess of Lauenburg in the
German quadrille; and Miss Forrester, Blanche de St. Pol in the French
quadrille.

Of the ladies and gentlemen who came in the guise of ancient members of
their families, or in the costumes of old hereditary offices, Lady De la
Warr appeared as Isabella Lady De la Warr, daughter of the Lord High
Treasurer of Charles I.; Lady Colville as the wife of Sir Robert Colville,
Master of the Horse to James IV. of Scotland; Viscountess Pollington,
daughter of the Earl of Orford, as Margaret Rolle, Baroness Clinton, in
her own right, and Countess of Orford; and the Countess of Westmorland as
Joan Beaufort, daughter of John of Gaunt and wife of Ralph Neville, first
Earl of Westmoreland. Earl De la Warr wore the armour used by his ancestor
in the battle of Cressy, and the Marquis of Exeter the armour of Sir John
Cecil at the siege of Calais. The Earl of Warwick went as Thomas
Beauchamp, Earl of Warwick, Marshal-General of the army at the battle of
Poietiers; the Duke of Norfolk as Thomas Howard, Earl-Marshal in the reign
of Elizabeth; the Earl of Rosslyn as the Master of the Buckhounds; the
Duke of St. Albans as Grand Falconer-hereditary offices.

Mr. Monckton Milnes, the poet, presented himself as Chaucer. The
historical novelist of the day, Sir Edward Lytton Bulwer, contented
himself with a comparatively humble anonymous dress, a doublet of dark
velvet slashed with white satin. The Duke of Roxburgh as David Bruce, the
captive King of Scotland, encountered no rival royal prisoner, though a
ridiculous report had sprung up that a gentleman representing John of
France was to form a prominent feature of the pageant, to walk in chains
past the Queen. This stupid story not only wounded the sensitive vanity of
the French, to whom the news travelled, it gave rise to a witty
canard in the Morning Chronicle professing to give a debate
on the affront, in the Chamber of Deputies.

The tent of Tippoo Saib was erected in the upper or Corinthian portico
communicating with the Green Drawing-room, and used as a refreshment-room.
At one o'clock, the Earl of Liverpool, the Lord High Steward, as an
ancient seneschal, conducted the Queen to supper, which was served in the
dining-room. The long double table was covered with shields, vases, and
tankards of massive gold plate. Opposite the Queen, where she sat at the
centre of the horseshoe or cross table, a superb buffet reached almost to
the roof, covered with plate, interspersed with blossoming flowers. After
supper her Majesty danced in a quadrille with Prince George of Cambridge,
opposite the Duke of Beaufort and the Duchess of Buccleugh. The Queen left
the ball-room at about a quarter to three o'clock, and dancing was
continued for an hour afterwards. Thus ended the most unique and splendid
fete of the reign. About a fortnight afterwards, the Queen and the Prince
went in state to a ball given at Covent Garden Theatre, for the relief of
the Spitalfields weavers. Society followed the Queen's example. There was
another fancy ball at Stafford House, and a magnificent rout at Apsley
House. Fanny Kemble was present at both, and retained a vivid remembrance
of "the memorable appearance" of two of the belles of the evening at the
last fete, "Lady Douro and Mdlle. D'Este, [Footnote: Daughter of the Duke
of Sussex, by his morganatic marriage with Lady Augusta Murray. Mdlle.
D'Este became the wife of Lord Chancellor Truro.] who, coming into the
room together, produced a most striking effect by their great beauty and
their exquisite dress. They both wore magnificent dresses of white lace
over white satin, ornamented with large cactus flowers, those of the
blonde Marchioness being of the sea-shell rose colour, and the dark
Mademoiselle D'Este's of deep scarlet, and in the bottom of each of those
large veined blossoms lay, like a great drop of dew, a single splendid
diamond. The women were noble samples of fair and dark beauty, and their
whole appearance, coming in together attired with such elegance and
becoming magnificent simplicity, produced an effect of surprise and
admiration on the whole brilliant assembly." Of this year's Drawing-rooms
we happen to have two characteristic reports. Baroness Bunsen attended one
on April 8th, and wrote: "I was extremely struck with the splendour of the
scene at the Drawing-room, and had an excellent place near enough to see
everybody come up to the Queen [Footnote: "At a Levee or Drawing-room it
is his (the Lord Chamberlain's) duty to stand next to the Queen and read
out the names of each one approaching the royal presence.... Any peeress
on presentation, as also daughters of dukes, marquises, and earls, have
the privilege of being kissed by her Majesty; all other ladies make the
lowest Court curtsey they can, and lifting the Queen's hand, which she
offers, on the palm of their hand, it is gently kissed.... It seems
unnecessary to say that of course the right-hand glove is removed before
reaching the Presence Chamber."--"Old Court Customs and Modern Court
Rule," by the Hon. Mrs. Armytage.] and pass off again. I was very much
entertained, and admired a number of beautiful persons. But nobody did I
admire more than Mrs. Norton, whom I had never seen before, and Lady
Canning's face always grows upon me." Fanny Kemble also attended a
Drawing-room and described it after her fashion. "You ask about my going
to the Drawing-room, which happened thus. The Duke of Rutland dined some
little time ago at the Palace, and speaking of the late party at Belvoir,
mentioned me, when the Queen asked why I didn't have myself presented? The
Duke called next day, at my house, but we did not see him, and he being
obliged to go out of town, left a message for me with Lady Londonderry to
the effect that her Majesty's interest about me (curiosity would have been
the more exact word I suspect) rendered it imperative that I should go to
the Drawing-room; and indeed Lady Londonderry's authoritative 'Of course
you'll go,' given in her most gracious manner, left me no doubt whatever
as to my duty in that respect...."

"You ask me how I managed about diamonds to go to Court in?" she wrote
afterwards in reply to a friend's question. "I used a set of the value of
seven hundred pounds, which I also wore at the fete at Apsley House; they
were only a necklace and earrings, which I wore ... stitched on scarlet
velvet and as drops in the middle of scarlet velvet bows in my hair, and
my dress being white satin and point lace, trimmed with white Roman
pearls, it all looked nice enough.

"I suffered agonies of nervousness, and I rather think did all sorts of
awkward things; but so I dare say do other people in the same predicament,
and I did not trouble my head much about my various mis-performances. One
thing, however, I can tell you, if her Majesty has seen me, I have not
seen her, and should be quite excusable in cutting her wherever I met her.
'A cat may look at a king,' it is said; but how about looking at the
Queen? In great uncertainty of mind on this point I did not look at my
sovereign lady. I kissed a soft white hand which I believe was hers; I saw
a pair of very handsome legs in very fine silk stockings, which I am
convinced were not hers, but am inclined to attribute to Prince Albert;
and this is all I perceived of the whole Royal family of England, for I
made a sweeping curtsey to the 'good remainders of the Court' and came
away, with no impression but that of a crowded mass of full-dressed
confusion, and neither know how I got in or out of it."

We might furnish a third sketch of a Drawing-room from one of the letters
of Bishop, then Archdeacon, Wilberforce, who was often at Court about this
time. In the early part of 1842 he paid a visit to Windsor, of which he
has left a graphic account. "All went on most pleasantly at the Castle. My
reception and treatment throughout was exceedingly kind. The Queen and the
Prince were both at church, as was also Lord Melbourne, who paid his first
visit at the same time. The Queen's meeting with him was very interesting.
The exceeding pleasure which lighted up her countenance was quite
touching. His behaviour to her was perfect--the fullest attentive
deference of the subject with a subdued air of 'your father's friend' that
was quite fascinating. It was curious to see (for I contemplated myself at
the moment objectively--and free from the consciousness of subjectivity),
sitting round the Queen's table, (1) the Queen, (2) the Prince, (3) Lord
Melbourne, (4) Archdeacon, (5) Lady F. Howard, (6) Baron Stockmar, (7)
Duchess of Kent, (8) Lady Sandwich, in the evening, discussing Coleridge,
German literature, &c., with 2 and 3, and a little with 4 and 6, who is a
very superior man evidently. The remarks of 3 were highly characteristic,
his complaints of 'hard words,' &c., and 2 showed a great deal of interest
and taste in German and English literature, and a good deal of
acquaintance with both. I had orders to sit by the Duchess of Kent at
dinner, just opposite to 1 and 2, 3 sitting at l's right, and the
conversation, especially after dinner, was much more general across the
table on etymology," &c. &c.





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

Previous: The First Christening The Season Of 1841



Add to del.icio.us Add to Reddit Add to Digg Add to Del.icio.us Add to Google Add to Twitter Add to Stumble Upon
Add to Informational Site Network
Report
Privacy
SHAREADD TO EBOOK


Viewed 1357