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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

The Princess Opens The Victoria Park At Bath

Nis! Nis! Nis! Hurrah!

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



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The Queen's Sympathy During The Illness Of President Garfield

First Meeting With Prince Albert Death Of William Iv

Marriage And Delicacy Of The Prince's Position

Mr Gladstone And Lord Beaconsfield

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

Second Attempt On The Queen's Life

The Emperor And Empress Of France Visit Windsor

Failing Health Of Prince Albert

Distribution Of Victoria Crosses By The Queen

Marriage Of The Princess Royal






Childhood








In the months of March and May, 1819, the following announcements of royal
births appeared in succession in the newspapers of the day, no doubt to
the satisfaction alike of anxious statesmen and village politicians
beginning to grow anxious over the chances of the succession:--

"At Hanover, March 26, her Royal Highness the Duchess of Cambridge, of a
son; and on March 27, her Royal Highness the Duchess of Clarence, of a
daughter, the latter only surviving a few hours."

"24th May, at Kensington Palace, her Royal Highness the Duchess of Kent,
of a daughter."

"27th May, at her hotel in Berlin, her Royal Highness the Duchess of
Cumberland, of a son."

Thus her Gracious Majesty Queen Victoria first saw the light in Kensington
Palace on the 24th of May, 1819, one in a group of cousins, all, save
herself, born out of England.

The Duke of Sussex, the Duke of Wellington, and other officers of State
were in attendance on the occasion, though the probability of her
succession to the throne was then very doubtful. The Prince Regent had
already made overtures towards procuring a divorce from the Princess of
Wales. If he were to revive them, and prove successful, he might marry
again and have heirs. The Duchess of Clarence, who had just given birth to
an infant that had only survived a few hours, might yet be the joyful
mother of living children. The little Princess herself might be the
predecessor of a troop of princes of the Kent branch. Still, both at
Kensington and in the depths of rural Coburg, there was a little flutter,
not only of gladness, but of subdued expectation. The Duke of Kent, on
showing his baby to his friends, was wont to say, "Look at her well, for
she will be Queen of England." Her christening was therefore an event of
more than ordinary importance in the household. The ceremony took place a
month afterwards, on the 24th of June, and doubtless the good German
nurse, Madame Siebold, who was about to return to the Duchess of Kent's
old home to officiate on an equally interesting occasion in the family of
the Duchess's brother, the reigning Duke of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld, carried
with her flaming accounts of the splendour of the ceremonial, as well as
pretty tales of the "dear little love" destined to mate with the coming
baby, whose big blue eyes were soon looking about in the lovely little
hunting-seat of Rosenau. The gold font was brought down from the Tower,
where for some time it had been out of request. The Archbishop of
Canterbury and the Bishop of London officiated, as they had done the year
before at the re-marriage of the Duke and Duchess. The godfathers were the
Prince Regent, present in person, and Alexander, Emperor of Russia, then
at the height of his popularity in England, represented by the Duke of
York. The godmothers were the Queen-dowager of Wurtemberg (the Princess
Royal), represented by Princess Augusta, and the Duchess-dowager of Coburg
(mother of the Duchess of Kent, and grandmother of both the Queen and the
Prince Consort), represented by the Duchess of Gloucester (Princess Mary).

It is said there had been a proposal to name the little princess Georgiana
also, after her grandfather and uncle, George III. and George, Prince
Regent; but the idea was dropped because the latter would not permit his
name to stand second on the list.

Among the other privileged guests at the christening was Prince Leopold,
destined to be the child's second father, one of her kindest and wisest
friends. It is not difficult to comprehend what the scene must have been
to the young man whose cup had been so full two years before, who was how
a widower and childless. We have his own reference to his feelings in a
letter to one of the late Princess Charlotte's friends. It had been hard
for him to be present, but he had felt it to be his duty, and he had made
the effort. This was a man who was always facing what was hard, always
struggling and overcoming in the name of right. The consequence was that,
even in his youth, all connected with him turned to him as to a natural
stay. We have a still better idea of what the victory cost him when we
read, in the "Life of the Prince Consort," it was not till a great
misfortune happened to her that Prince Leopold "had the courage to look
into the blooming face of his infant niece." With what manly pity and
tenderness he overcame his reluctance, and how he was rewarded, we all
know.

In December, 1819, the Duke and Duchess of Kent went for sea-air to
Woolbrook Cottage, Sidmouth, Devonshire.

The first baby is always of consequence in a household, but of how much
consequence this baby was may be gleaned by the circumstance that a
startling little incident concerning the child made sufficient mark to
survive and be registered by a future chronicler. A boy shooting sparrows
fired unwittingly so near the house that the shot shattered one of the
windows of the nursery, and passed close to the head of the child in the
nurse's arms. Precious baby-head, that was one day to wear, with honour, a
venerable crown, to be thus lightly threatened at the very outset! One can
fancy the terror of the nurse, the distress of the Duchess, the fright and
ire of the Duke, the horror and humiliation of the unhappy offender, with
the gradual cooling down into magnanimous amnesty--or at most dignified
rebuke, mollified by penitent tears into reassuring kindness, and just a
little quiver of half-affronted, half-nervous laughter.

But there was no more room for laughter at false alarms at Woolbrook
Cottage. Within a month the Duke was seized with the illness which ended
his life in a few days. The particulars are simple and touching. He had
taken a long walk with his equerry and great friend, Captain Conroy, and
came in heated, tired, and with his feet so wet that his companion
suggested the propriety of immediately changing his boots. But the baby of
whom he was so fond and proud came in his way. She was eight months old,
able to stretch out her little arms and laugh back to him. He stayed to
play with her. In the evening it was evident he had caught a chill; he was
hoarse, and showed symptoms of fever. The complaint settled at once on his
lungs, and ran its course with great rapidity. We hardly need to be told
that the Duchess was his devoted nurse, concealing her anxiety and grief
to minister to him in everything.

There is a pathetic little reference to the last illness of the Duke of
Kent in one of the Princess Hohenlohe's letters to the Queen. This elder
sister (Princess Feodora of Leiningen) was then a little girl of nine or
ten years of age, residing with her mother and stepfather. "Indeed, I well
remember that dreadful time at Sidmouth. I recollect praying on my knees
that God would not let your dear father die. I loved him dearly; he always
was so kind to me."

On the afternoon of the 22nd his case was hopeless, and it became a
question whether he had sufficient consciousness to sign his will. His old
friend, General Wetherall, was brought up to the bed. At the sound of the
familiar voice which had always been welcome to him, the sick man,
drifting away from all familiar sounds, raised himself, collected his
thoughts for the last time, and mentioned several places and people
intelligently. The poor Duke had never been negligent in doing what he saw
to be his duty. He had been forward in helping others, even when they were
not of his flesh and blood. He heard the will read over, and with a great
effort wrote the word "Edward," looking at every letter after he wrote it,
and asking anxiously if the signature was legible.

In this will, which left the Duchess guardian to the child, and appointed
General Wetherall and Captain Conroy trustees of his estate for the
benefit of his widow and daughter, it is noticeable that the name in each
case is given in the French version, "Victoire." Indeed so rare was the
term in England at this date, that it is probable the English equivalent
had scarcely been used before the christening of the Queen.

The Duke died on the following day, the 23rd of January, 1820. Only six
days later, on the 29th, good old King George expired at Windsor. The son
was cut down by violent disease while yet a man in middle life, just after
he had become the head of a little household full of domestic promise, and
with what might still have been a great public career opening out before
him. The father sank in what was, in his case, the merciful decay of age,
after he had been unable for ten years to fulfil the duties and charities
of life, and after surviving his faithful Queen a year. The language of
the official announcement of the physicians was unusually appropriate: "It
has pleased the Almighty to release his Majesty from all further
suffering." To complete the disasters of the royal family this month, the
new King, George IV., who had been labouring under a cold when his father
died, was seized immediately after his proclamation with dangerous
inflammation of the lungs, the illness that had proved fatal to the Duke
of Kent, and could not be present at his brother's or father's funerals;
in fact, he was in a precarious state for some days.

The Duke of Kent was buried, according to the custom of the time, by
torchlight, on the night of the 12th of February, at Windsor. As an
example of the difference which distance made then, it took nearly a
week's dreary travelling to convey the Duke's body from Woolbrook Cottage,
where it lay in State for some days, to Cumberland Lodge, from which the
funeral train walked to Windsor. The procession of mourning-coaches,
hearse, and carriages set out from Sidmouth on Monday morning, halting on
successive nights at Bridport, Blandford, Salisbury, and Basingstoke, the
coffin being deposited in the principal church of each town, under a
military guard, till on Friday night Cumberland Lodge was reached. The
same night a detachment of the Royal Horse Guards, every third man bearing
a flambeau, escorted a carriage containing the urn with the heart to St.
George's Chapel, where in the presence of the Dean, the officers of the
chapel, and several gentlemen appointed for the duty, urn and heart were
deposited in the niche in which the coffin was afterwards to be placed.
The body lay in State on the following day, that it might be seen by the
inhabitants of Windsor, his old military friends, and the multitude who
came down from London for the two mournful ceremonies. At eight o'clock at
night the final procession was formed, consisting of Poor Knights, pages,
pursuivants, heralds, the coronet on a black velvet cushion, the body
under pall and canopy, the supporters of the pall and canopy field-marshals
and generals, the chief mourner the Duke of York, the Dukes of Clarence,
Sussex, Gloucester, and Prince Leopold in long black cloaks, their trains
borne by gentlemen in attendance.

These torchlight funeral processions formed a singular remnant of
mediaeval pageantry. How the natural solemnity of night in itself
increased the awe and sadness of the scene to all simple minds, we can
well understand. Children far away from Windsor remembered after they were
grown men and women the vague terror with which they had listened in the
dim lamplight of their nurseries to the dismal tolling of the bell out in
the invisible church tower, which proclaimed that a royal duke was being
carried to his last resting-place. We can easily believe that thousands
would flock to look and listen, and be thrilled by the imposing spectacle.
The show must have been weirdly picturesque when wild wintry weather, as
in this case, added to the effect, "viewed for the distance of three
miles, through the spacious Long Walk, amidst a double row of lofty trees,
whilst at intervals the glittering of the flambeaux and the sound of
martial music were distinctly seen and heard."

The Duke's funeral only anticipated by a few days the still more
magnificent ceremonial with which a king was laid in the tomb.

But the real mourning was down in Devonshire, in the Sidmouth cottage. It
would be difficult to conceive more trying circumstances for a woman in
her station than those in which the young Duchess--she was but little over
thirty--found herself left. She had lost a kind husband, her child would
miss a doting father. She was a foreigner in a strange country. She had
entered into a divided family, with which her connection was in a measure
broken by the death of the Duke, while the bond that remained, however
precious to all, was too likely to prove a bone of contention. The Duke
had died poor. The Duchess had previously relinquished her German
jointure, and the English settlement on her was inadequate, especially if
it were to be cumbered with the discharge of any of her husband's personal
debts. It was not realised then that the Duchess of Kent, in marrying the
Duke and becoming his widow and the guardian of their child, had given up
not only independence, but what was affluence in her own country, with its
modest ways of living--even where princes were concerned--for the
mortification and worry of narrow means, the strain of a heavy
responsibility, the pain of much unjustifiable and undeserved interference,
misconception, and censure, until she lived to vindicate the good sense,
good feeling, and good taste with which she had always acted.

But the Duchess was not altogether desolate. Prince Leopold hurried to her
and supported her then, and on many another hard day, by brotherly
kindness, sympathy, and generous help. It was in his company that she came
back with her child to Kensington.

One element of the Coburg character has been described as the sound
judgment and quiet reasonableness associated with the temperate blood of
the race. Accordingly, we find the Duchess not only submitting with gentle
resignation to misfortune, but rousing herself, as her brother might have
done in her circumstances--as doubtless he urged her to do--to the active
discharge of the duties of her position. On the 23rd of February, before
the first month of her widowhood was well by, she received Viscount
Morpeth and Viscount Clive, the deputation bearing to her the address of
condolence from the House of Commons. She met them with the infant
Princess in her arms. The child was not only the sign that she fully
appreciated and acknowledged the nature of the tie which united her to the
country, it was the intimation of the close inseparable union with her
daughter which continued through all the years of the Queen's childhood
and youth, till the office of sovereign forced its holder into a separate
existence; till she found another fitting protector, when the generous,
ungrudging mother gave way to the worthy husband, who became the dutiful,
affectionate son of the Duchess's declining years.

Five months after these events the Duchess, at her own request, had an
interview with William Wilberforce, then living in the house at Kensington
Gore which was occupied later by the Countess of Blessington and Count
D'Orsay. "She received me," the good man wrote to Hannah More, "with her
fine, animated child on the floor by her side, with its playthings, of
which I soon became one. She was very civil, but, as she did not sit down,
I did not think it right to stop above a quarter of an hour; and there
being but a female attendant and a footman present, I could not well get
up any topic so as to carry on a continual discourse. She apologised
for not speaking English well enough to talk it; intimated a hope that
she might talk it better and longer with me at some future time. She spoke
of her situation, and her manner was quite delightful."

The sentence in italics opens our eyes to one of the difficulties of the
Duchess to which we might not otherwise have given much consideration. We
are apt to take it for granted that, though there is no royal road to
mathematics, the power of speaking foreign languages comes to royal
personages, if not by nature, at least by inheritance and by force of
circumstances. There is some truth in this when there is a foreign father
or mother; when royal babies are brought up, like Queen Victoria, to speak
several languages from infancy, and when constant contact with foreigners
confirms and maintains the useful faculty. Even when a prince or a
princess is destined from his or her early youth to share a foreign
throne, and is brought up with that end, a provision may be made for an
adopted tongue to become second nature. But the Duchess of Kent was not
brought up with any such prospect, and during her eleven years of married
life in Germany she must have had comparatively little occasion to
practise what English she knew; while, at the date of her coming to
England, she was beyond the age when one learns a new language with
facility. Any one of us who has experienced the fettered, perturbed,
bewildered condition which results from being reduced to express ourselves
at an important crisis in our history through a medium of speech with
which we are but imperfectly acquainted, will know how to estimate this
unthought-of obstacle in the Duchess of Kent's path, at the beginning of
her widowhood.

This was the year (1820) of the greatest eclipse of the sun which had been
seen for more than a century, when Venus and Mars were both visible, with
the naked eye, for a few minutes in the middle of the day. Whatever the
portents in the sky might mean, the signs on the earth were not
reassuring. When the Bourbon monarchy had seemed fairly restored in
France, all the world was shocked by the assassination of the Duc de Berri
at the door of the Opera-house in Paris. Three kingdoms which had but
recently been delivered from the clutch of the usurper were in revolt
against the constituted authorities--Portugal, Spain, and Naples. Of
these, the two former were on the brink of wars of succession, when the
royal uncles, Don Miguel and Don Carlos, fought against their royal
nieces, Donna Maria and Donna Isabella. At home the summer had been a sad
one to the royal family and the country. The ferment of discontent was
kept up by the very measures--executions and imprisonments--taken to
repress anarchy, and by the continuance of crushed trade, want of work,
and high prices. The Duchess of York died, making the third member of the
royal family dead since the new year; yet she, poor lady, was but a unit
in the sum, a single foreign princess who, however, kind she might have
been to the few who came near her, was nothing to the mass of the people.

The name of another foreign princess was in every man's mind and on every
man's tongue. However, there were many reasons for the anomaly. Caroline
of Brunswick was the Queen until she should be proved unworthy to bear the
title. Her quarrel with the King had long made her notorious. Though the
story reflected little credit on her, it was so utterly discreditable to
him that it raised up friends for her where they might have been least
expected. His unpopularity rendered her popular. Her name became the
rallying-cry for a great political faction. The mob, with its usual
headlong, unreasoning appropriation of a cause and a person, elevated her
into a heroine, cheered frantically, and was ready to commit any outbreak
in her honour.

After six years' absence from England Queen Caroline had come back on the
death of George III. to demand her rights. She had landed at Dover and
been welcomed by applauding crowds. She had been escorted through Kent by
uproarious partisans, who removed the horses from her carriage and dragged
her in triumph through the towns. London, in its middle and lower classes,
had poured out to meet her and come back in her train, till she was safely
lodged in South Audley Street, in the house of her champion, Alderman Wood.

The King had instructed his ministers to lay before the House of Lords a
bill of Pains and Penalties against the Queen which, if sustained, would
deprive her of every claim to share his rank and would annul the marriage.
The Queen was prepared with her defence, and furnished with two of the
ablest advocates in the kingdom, Mr. Brougham and Mr. Denman. In the
earlier stages of the proceedings she was present almost every day in the
House of Lords. She entered in her puce or black sarcenet pelisse and
black velvet hat, a large, not uncomely woman, a little over fifty, and
took the chair of State provided for her, the House rising to receive the
Queen whom it was trying. The trial, in its miserable details of gross
folly well-nigh incredible, lasted from July to November--four months of
burning excitement--when it collapsed from the smallness of the majority
(nine) that voted for the second reading of the bill. The animus of the
prosecution and the unworthy means taken to accomplish its purpose,
defeated the end in view. It is said that had it been otherwise the
country would have broken out into widespread insurrection.

The Queen's supporters, of all classes, sects, and shades, indulged in a
perfect frenzy of rejoicing. Festivals, illuminations, every token of
triumph for her and condemnation for him accompanied what was equivalent
to her acquittal. She went in something like State, with her queer, motley
household--Bohemian, English and Italians--and her great ally, Alderman
Wood, to offer up thanksgiving in St. Paul's, where, at the same time, she
found her name omitted from the Church service. She wore white velvet and
ermine, and was surrounded by thousands of shouting followers, as if she
had been the most discreet of queens and best of women. The poor
passionate, wayward nature, which after all had been cruelly dealt with,
was touched as well as elated.

On the very day after Queen Caroline's arrival in London in June, she had
dispatched Alderman Wood to Kensington, to condole with the Duchess of
Kent on her recent widowhood, and inquire after the health of the infant
princess. The message was innocent in itself, but alarming by implication;
for Queen Caroline was not a woman to be kept at a distance, or to
hesitate in expressing her sentiments if she fancied her overtures
slighted by the embarrassed Duchess. In the month of August Queen Caroline
had established herself at Brandenburg House--the Margravine of Anspach's
house, by the river at Hammersmith--near enough to Kensington Palace, to
judge from human nature, to disconcert and provoke a smile against the
smiler's will--for Caroline's extravagances would have disturbed the
gravity of a judge--in the womanly Princess at the head of the little
household soberly settled there. Never were princesses and women more
unlike than Caroline of Brunswick and Victoria of Coburg; But poor Queen
Caroline was not destined to remain long an awkward enigma--a queen and
yet no queen, an aunt and yet no aunt, a scandal and a torment in
everybody's path.

In the summer of the following year, when the country was drawn away and
dazzled by the magnificent ceremonial of the coronation of George IV., she
exercised her last disturbing influence. She demanded to be crowned along
with her husband; but her demand was refused by the Privy Council. She
appeared at the door of Westminster Abbey, but the way was barred to her.
A fortnight afterwards, when King George had gone to Ireland to arouse the
nation's loyalty, his wife had passed where Privy Council ushers and
yeomen of the guard were powerless, where the enmity of man had no voice
in the judgment of God. She had been attacked by severe illness, and in
the course of five days she died, in the middle of a wild storm of
thunder, wind, and rain. The night before, a boatful of Methodists had
rowed up the Thames, within sound of the open windows of her sick-room,
and sung hymns to comfort her in her extremity. The heart of a large part
of the nation still clung to her because of her misfortunes and the
insults heaped upon her. The late Queen's body was conveyed back to
Brunswick. The funeral passed through Kensington, escorted by a mighty
mob, in addition to companies of soldiers. The last were instructed to
conduct the cortege by the outskirts of London to Harwich, where a
frigate and two sloops of war were waiting for the coffin. The mob were
resolute that their Queen's funeral should pass through the city. The
first struggle between the crowd and the military took place at the corner
of Church Street, Kensington. The strange, unseemly, contention was
renewed farther on more than once; but as bloodshed had been forbidden,
the people had their way, and the swaying mass surged in grim
determination straight towards the Strand and Temple Bar. The captain of
the frigate into whose keeping the coffin was committed in order to be
conveyed back to Brunswick had been, by a curious, sorrowful coincidence,
the midshipman who, "more than a quarter of a century before, handed the
rope to the royal bride whereby to help her on board the Jupiter,"
which was to bring her to England.

One can fancy that, when that sorry tragedy was ended, and its perpetual
noisy ebullitions had sunk into silence, a sense of relief stole over the
palace-home at Kensington.

Round the childhood and youth of sovereigns, especially popular
sovereigns, a growth of stories will gather like the myths which attend on
the infancy of a nation. Such stories or myths are chiefly valuable as
showing the later tendency of the individual or people, the character and
history of the monarch or of the subjects, in accordance with which, in
reversal of the adage that makes the child father to the man, the man is,
in a new sense, father to the child, by stamping on his infancy and nonage
traits borrowed from his mature years. Mingled with the species of
legendary lore attaching to every generation, there is a foundation more
or less of authentic annals. It is as affording an example of this human
patchwork of fancy and fact, and as illustrating the impression deeply
engraved on the popular mind, that the following incidents of the Queen's
childhood and youth are given.

First, the people have loved to dwell on the close union between mother
and child. The Duchess nursed her baby--would see it washed and dressed.
As soon as the little creature could sit alone, her small table was placed
by her mother's at meals, though the child was only allowed the food fit
for her years. The Princess slept in her mother's room all through her
childhood and girlhood. In the entries in the Queen's diary at the time of
the Duchess of Kent's death, her Majesty refers to an old repeater
striking every quarter of an hour in the sick-room on the last night of
the Duchess's life--"a large watch in a tortoiseshell case, which had
belonged to my poor father, the sound of which brought back to me all the
recollections of my childhood, for I had always used to hear it at night,
but had not heard it for now twenty-three years."

When the Princess was a little older, and lessons and play alternated with
each other, she was taught to attend to the thing in hand, and finish what
she had begun, both in her studies and games. One day she was amusing
herself making a little haycock when some other mimic occupation caught
her volatile fancy, and she flung down her small rake ready to rush off to
the fresh attraction. "No, no, Princess; you must always complete what you
have commenced," said her governess, and the small haymaker had to
conclude her haymaking before she was at liberty to follow another
pursuit.

From the Princess's fifth year Dr. Davys, afterwards Bishop of
Peterborough, was her tutor. When it became clear that the little girl
would, if she lived, be Queen of England, a prelate high in the Church was
proposed to the Duchess of Kent as the successor of Dr. Davys in his
office. But the Duchess, with the mild firmness and conscientious fidelity
which ruled her conduct, declared that as she was perfectly satisfied with
the tutor who had originally been appointed (when the appointment was less
calculated to offer temptations to personal ambition and political
intrigue), she did not see that any change was advisable. If a clergyman
of higher rank was necessary, there was room for the promotion of Dr.
Davys. Accordingly he was named Dean of Chester.

The Baroness Lehzen was another of the Queen's earliest guardians who
remained at her post throughout her Majesty's youth. Louise Lehzen,
daughter of a Hanoverian clergyman, came to England as governess to
Princess Feodora Leiningen and remained as governess to Princess Victoria,
entering on her duties in 1824. In 1827 she was raised to the rank of a
Hanoverian Baroness, by George IV., at the request of Princess Sophia.
From that time Baroness Lehzen acted also as lady in attendance. On her
death, so late as 1870, her old pupil recorded of her, in a passage in the
Queen's journal, which is given in the "Life of the Prince Consort," "My
dearest, kindest friend, old Lehzen, expired on the 9th quite gently and
peaceably.... She knew me from six months old, and from my fifth to my
eighteenth year devoted all her care and energies to me with the most
wonderful abnegation of self, never even taking one day's holiday. I
adored, though I was greatly in awe of her. She really seemed to have no
thought but for me.... She was in her eighty-seventh year." This constancy
and permanency in the family relations were in themselves inestimable
boons to the child, who thus grew up in an atmosphere of familiar
affection and unshaken trust, for the absence of which nothing in the
world could have compensated. Another lady of higher rank was of necessity
appointed governess to the Queen in 1831, when she became next heir to the
throne. This lady, the Dowager Duchess of Northumberland, appears also as
the Queen's friend in after life.

The late Bishop Wilberforce was told by Dr. Davys an interesting anecdote
of his former pupil. "The Queen always had from my first knowing her a
most striking regard to truth. I remember when I had been teaching her one
day, she was very impatient for the lesson to be over--once or twice
rather refractory. The Duchess of Kent came in, and asked how she had
behaved. Lehzen said, 'Oh, once she was rather troublesome.' The Princess
touched her and said, 'No, Lehzen, twice, don't you remember?' The Duchess
of Kent, too, was a woman of great truth."

It had been judged meet that the future Queen should not be made aware of
her coming greatness, which, for that matter, continued doubtful in her
earlier years. She was to grow up free from the impending care and
responsibility, happy and healthful in her unconscious girlhood--above
all, unassailed by the pernicious attempts to bespeak her favour, the
crafty flattery, the undermining insinuations which have proved the bane
of the youth of so many sovereigns. In order to preserve this reticence,
unslumbering care and many precautions were absolutely necessary. It is
said the Princess was constantly under the eye either of the Duchess of
Kent or the Baroness Lehzen. The guard proved sufficient; yet it was
difficult to evade the lively intelligence of an observant sensible child.

"Why do all the gentlemen take off their hats to me and not to my sister
Feodora?" the little girl is said to have asked wonderingly on her return
from a drive in the park, referring to her elder half-sister, who became
Princess of Hohenlohe, between whom and the questioner there always
existed the strong sweet affection of true sisters. Perhaps the little
lady felt indignant as well as mystified at the strange preference thus
given to her, in spite of her sister's superiority in age and wisdom. We
do not know what reply was made to this puzzling inquiry, though it would
have been easy enough to say that the little Princess was the daughter of
an English royal Duke, therefore an English Princess, and the big Princess
was German on both sides of the house, while these were English gentlemen
who had saluted their young countrywoman. We all know from the best
authority that Sir Walter Scott was wrong when he fancied some bird of the
air must have conveyed the important secret to the little fair-haired
maiden to whom he was presented in 1828. The mystery was not disclosed for
years to come.

The child, though brought up in retirement, was by no means secluded from
observation, or deprived of the change and variety so advantageous to
human growth and development. From her babyhood in the sad visit to
Sidmouth in 1820, and from 1821, when she was at that pretentious
combination of fantasticalness and gorgeousness, the Pavilion, Brighton,
she was carried every year, like any other well-cared-for child, either to
the seaside or to some other invigorating region, so that she became
betimes acquainted with different aspects of sea and shore in her island.
Ramsgate was a favourite resort of the Duchess's. The little Thanet
watering-place, with its white chalk cliffs, its inland basin of a
harbour, its upper and lower town, connected by "Jacob's Ladder," its pure
air and sparkling water, with only a tiny fringe of bathing-machines, was
in its blooming time of fresh rural peace and beauty when it was the
cradle by the sea of the little Princess.

When she was five she was at Claremont, making music and motion in the
quiet house with her gleeful laughter and pattering feet, so happy in
being with her uncle that she could look back on this visit as the
brightest of her early holidays. "This place," the Queen wrote to the King
of the Belgians long afterwards, "has a peculiar charm for us both, and to
me it brings back recollections of the happiest days of my otherwise dull
childhood,--when I experienced such kindness from you, dearest uncle,
kindness which has ever since continued.... Victoria plays with my old
bricks, and I see her running and jumping in the flower-garden, as
old, though I feel still little, Victoria of former days
used to do." In the autumn of 1825 the Queen's grandmother, the Dowager
Duchess of Coburg, visited England, and the whole family were together at
Claremont.

In 1826, "the warm summer," when the Princess was seven years of age, she
was invited to Windsor to see another uncle, George IV. That was a more
formidable ordeal, but her innocent frank brightness carried her through
it successfully. It is not easy for many men to contemplate with
satisfaction their heirs, when those heirs are no offspring of theirs. It
must have been doubly difficult for the King to welcome the little girl
who had replaced his daughter, the child of his wronged brother and of a
Princess whom King George persistently slighted and deprived of her due.
But we are told his Majesty was delighted with his little niece's
liveliness and intelligence.

In the following year, 1827, the Duke of York died, and the Princess, was
a step nearer to the throne, but she did not know it. So far from being
reared in an atmosphere of self-indulgence, the invaluable lesson was
early taught to her that if she were to be honourable and independent in
any rank, she must not buy what she could not pay for; if she were to be a
good woman she must learn to deny herself. An incident in illustration,
which made a small stir in its locality at the time, is often quoted. The
Duchess and her daughter were at Tunbridge Wells, dwelling in the
neighbourhood of Sir Philip Sidney's Penshurst, retracing the vanished
glories of the Pantiles, and conferring on the old pump-woman the
never-to-be-forgotten honour of being permitted to present a glass of
water from the marble basin to the Princess. The little girl made
purchases at the bazaar, buying presents, like any other young visitor,
for her absent friends, when she found her money all spent, and at the
same time saw a box which would suit an absent cousin. "The shop-people of
course placed the box with the other purchases, but the little lady's
governess admonished them by saying, 'No. You see the Princess has not got
the money; therefore, of course, she cannot buy the box.'" This being
perceived, the next offer was to lay by the box till it could be
purchased, and the answer was, "Oh, well, if you will be so good as to do
that." On quarter-day, before seven in the morning, the Princess appeared
on her donkey to claim her purchase.

In the reverence, peace, and love of her pure, refined, if saddened home,
everything went well with Princess Victoria, of whom we can only tell that
we know the old brick palace where she dwelt, the playground that was
hers, the walks she must have taken. We have sat in the later chapel where
she said her prayers, a little consecrated room with high pews shutting in
the worshippers, a royal gallery, open this time, and an elderly gentleman
speaking with a measured, melodious voice. We can guess with tolerable
certainty what was the Princess's child-world of books, though from the
circumstance that in the light of the future she was made to learn more
than was usual then for English girls of the highest rank, she had less
time than her companions for reading books which were not study, but the
most charming blending of instruction and amusement. That was still the
age of Mrs. Barbauld and Miss Edgeworth. "Evenings at Home," "Harry and
Lucy," and "Frank and Rosamond," were in every well-conducted school-room.
All little girls read with prickings of tender consciences about the lady
with the bent bonnet and the scar on her hand, and came under the
fascination of the "Purple Jar." A few years later, Harriet Martineau's
bristling independence did not prevent her from feeling gratified by the
persuasion that the young Princess was reading through her tales on
political economy, and that Princess Victoria's favourite character was
Ella of the far north.

In the Princess's Roman history one day she came to the passage where the
noble matron, Cornelia, in answer to a question as to her precious things,
pointed to her sons, and declared, "These are my jewels." "Why," cried the
ready-witted little pupil, with a twinkle in her blue eyes, "they must
have been cornelians."

When the Princess's lessons took the form of later English history, she
was on the very spot for the study. Did her teacher tell her, we wonder,
the pretty story of "Bucky," who interrupted grave, saturnine King William
at his statescraft in one of yonder rooms? How the small dauntless
applicant wiled his father's master, great Louis's rival, into playing at
horses in the corridor? Or that sadder story of another less fortunate
boy, poor heavy-headed William of Gloucester? Tutors crammed and doctors
shook him up, with the best intentions, in vain. In his happier moments he
drilled his regiment of little soldiers on that Palace Green before his
uncle, King William.

Was the childish passion for exploring old garrets and lumber-rooms
excited in this royal little woman by the narrative of the wonderful
discovery which Queen Caroline had made in a forgotten bureau in this very
palace? Did the little Princess roam about too, in her privileged moments,
with a grand vision of finding more and greater art-treasures, other
drawings by Holbein or Vandyke, fresh cartoons by Raphael?

All the more valuable paintings had been removed long ago to Windsor, but
many curious pictures still remained on the walls of presence chambers and
galleries, kings' and queens' great dining-rooms and drawing-rooms,
staircases and closets. Did the pictures serve as illustrations to the
history lessons? Was the inspection made the recreation of rainy days,
when the great suites of State-rooms in which Courts were no longer held
or banquets celebrated, but which still echoed with the remembered tread
of kings' and courtiers' feet, must have appeared doubly deserted and
forlorn?

What was known as the King's Great Drawing-room was not far from the
Duchess of Kent's rooms, and was, in fact, put at her disposal in its
dismantled, ghostly condition. Among its pictures--freely attributed to
many schools and masters--including several battle-pieces and many
portraits, there were three representations of English palaces: old
Greenwich, where Elizabeth was born; old Hampton, dear to William and
Mary; and Windsor, the Windsor of George III. and Queen Charlotte, the
Princess's grandfather and grandmother. In the next room, amidst classic
and scriptural subjects, and endless examples of "ladies with ruffs,"
"heads in turbans," &c., there were occasionally family portraits--the old
King and Queen more than once; William, Duke of Gloucester; the Queen of
Wurtemberg as the girl-Princess Royal, with a dog. (She died in Wurtemberg
about this time, 1828. She had quitted England on her marriage in 1797,
and in the thirty-one years of her married life only once came back, as an
aging and ailing woman. She proved a good wife and stepmother.) A youthful
family group of an earlier generation was sure to attract a child--George
III. and his brother, Edward, Duke of York, when young, shooting at a
target, the Duke of Gloucester in petticoats, Princess Augusta (Duchess of
Brunswick, and mother of Caroline, Princess of Wales) nursing the Duke of
Cumberland, and Princess Louisa sitting in a chaise drawn by a favourite
dog, the scene in Kew Gardens, painted in 1746. Queen Elizabeth was there
as a child aged seven, A.D. 1540--three-quarters, with a feather-fan in
her hand. Did the guide of the little unconscious Princess pause
inadvertently, with a little catch of the breath, by words arrested on the
tip of the tongue, before that picture? And was he or she inevitably
arrested again before another picture of Queen Elizabeth in her prime,
returning from her palace, wearing her crown and holding the sceptre and
the globe; Juno, Pallas, and Venus flying before her, Juno dropping her
sceptre, Venus her roses, and the little boy Cupid flinging away his bow
and arrows, and clinging in discomfiture to his mother because good Queen
Bess had conquered all the three in power, wisdom, and beauty? We know the
Princess must have loved to look at the pictures. More curious than
beautiful as they were, they may have been sufficient to foster in her
that love of art which has been the delight of the Queen's maturer years.

English princesses, even though they were not queens in perspective, were
not so plentiful in Queen Victoria's young days as to leave any doubt of
their hands and hearts proving in great request when the proper time came.
Therefore there was no necessity to hold before the little girl, as an
incentive to good penmanship, the example of her excellent grandmother,
Queen Charlotte, who wrote so fair a letter, expressed with such
correctness and judiciousness, at the early age of fifteen, that when the
said letter fell, by an extraordinary train of circumstances, into the
hands of young King George, he determined there and then to make that
painstaking and sensible Princess, and no other, a happy wife and great
Queen. There was no strict need for the story, and yet as a gentle
stimulant it may have been administered.

Queen Victoria was educated, as far as possible, in the simple habits and
familiarity with nature which belongs to the best and happiest training of
any child, whatever her rank. There is a pleasant picture in Knight's
"Passages of a Working Life": "I delighted to walk in Kensington Gardens
in the early summer, on my way to town.... In such a season, when the sun
was scarcely high enough to have dried up the dews of Kensington's green
alleys, as I passed along the broad central walk I saw a group on the lawn
before the palace, which, to my mind, was a vision of exquisite
loveliness. The Duchess of Kent and her daughter, whose years then
numbered nine, are breakfasting in the open air, a single page attending
on them at a respectful distance, the mother looking on with eyes of love,
while the fair, soft, English face is bright with smiles. The world of
fashion is not yet astir. Clerks and mechanics passing onwards to their
occupations are few, and they exhibit nothing of vulgar curiosity."

We have another charming description, by Leigh Hunt, of a glimpse which he
had of Princess Victoria in these gardens: "We remember well the peculiar
kind of personal pleasure which it gave us to see the future Queen, the
first time we ever did see her, coming up a cross-path from the Bayswater
Gate, with a girl of her own age by her side, whose hand she was holding
as if she loved her. It brought to our minds the warmth of our own
juvenile friendships, and made us fancy that she loved everything else
that we had loved in like measure--books, trees, verses, Arabian tales,
and the good mother who had helped to make her so affectionate. A
magnificent footman in scarlet came behind her, with the splendidest pair
of calves, in white stockings, that we ever beheld. He looked somehow like
a gigantic fairy, personating for his little lady's sake the grandest kind
of footman he could think of; and his calves he seemed to have made out of
a couple of the biggest chaise-lamps in the possession of the godmother of
Cinderella. With or without her big footman, the little Princess could
have rambled safely in the grounds which her predecessors had made for
her, could have fed the ducks which swam in the round pond before her
palace windows, could have drunk from the curious little mineral well,
where, in Miss Thackeray's 'Old Kensington,' Frank Raban met Dolly
Vanburgh, or peeped out of the little side gate where the same Dolly came
face to face with the culprits George and Rhoda. The future owner of all
could have easily strayed down the alleys among the Dutch elms which King
William brought, perhaps saplings, from the Boomjees, as far as the oak
that tradition says King Charles set in the form of an acorn taken from
his leafy refuge at Boscobel."

The Duke of Kent had brought an old soldier-servant, called Stillman, and
established him, with his wife and family, in a cottage in one of the
Kensington lanes. It is said the Duke had recommended this former retainer
to the care of the Duchess, and that she and her daughter were in the
habit of visiting and caring for the family, in which there were a sickly
little boy and girl.

An event happened in 1828 to the household in Kensington Palace which was
of importance to all. It was a joyful event, and the preparations for the
royal wedding, with the gala in which the preliminaries culminated, must
have formed an era in the quiet young life into which a startling
announcement and its fulfilment had broken, filling the hours of the short
winter days with wonder, admiration, and interest.

Yet all the pleasant stir and excitement; the new member of the family
prominent for a brief space; the gifts, the trousseau, the wedding-cake,
the wedding guests, were but the deceptive herald of change and loss to
the family, whose members were so few that each became deeply precious.
The closely united circle was to be broken, and a dear face permanently
withdrawn from the group. The Duchess of Kent's elder daughter, Princess
Victoria's only sister, was about to marry. It was the most natural and
the happiest course, above all when the Princess Feodora wedded
worthily--how worthily let the subsequent testimony of the Queen and the
Prince Consort prove. It was given at the time of the Prince of
Hohenlohe's death, thirty-two years afterwards, in 1860.

The Queen wrote to her own and her sister's uncle, the King of the
Belgians, in reference to the Prince of Hohenlohe: "A better, more
thoroughly straightforward, upright, and excellent man, with a more
unblemished character, or a more really devoted and faithful husband,
never existed."

The Prince Consort's opinion of his brother-in-law is to be found in a
letter to the Princess William of Prussia: "Poor Ernest Hohenlohe is a
great loss. Though he was not a man of great powers of mind, capable of
taking comprehensive views of the world, still he was a great character
--that is to say, a thoroughly good, noble, spotless, and honourable man,
which in these days forms a better title to be recognised as great than do
craftiness, Machiavellism, and grasping ambition."

At the time of his marriage the Prince of Hohenlohe was in the prime of
manhood, thirty-two years of age.

But the marriage meant the Princess Feodora's return to Germany and her
separation from the other members of her family, with the exception of her
brother, brought up in his own country. The bride, whom we hear of
afterwards as a true and tender woman, was then a sweet maiden of twenty,
whose absence must have made a great blank to her mother and sister.
Happily for the latter, she was too young to realise in the agreeable
excitement of the moment what a deprivation remained in store for her.
There were eleven years between the sisters. This was enough difference to
mingle a motherly, protecting element with the elder sister's pride and
fondness, and to lead the younger, whose fortunes were so much higher, but
who was unaware of the fact, to look up with affectionate faith and trust
to the grown-up companion, in one sense on a level with the child, in
another with so much more knowledge and independence.

It was a German marriage, both bride and bridegroom being German, though
the bride had been nine years--the difference between a child and a
woman--in England, and though the event occurred in an English household.
Whether the myrtle was worn for the orange-blossoms, or any of the other
pretty German wedding customs imported, we cannot tell. Anyhow, the
ordinary peaceful simplicity of the palace was replaced by much bustle and
grandeur on that February morning, the modest forerunner of another
February morning in another palace, when a young Queen plighted her troth.

The royal family in England, with two exceptions, were at Kensington Palace
to do honour to the marriage. The absent members were the King and Princess
Augusta--the latter of whom was at Brighton. The company arrived soon after
two o'clock, and consisted of the Duke and Duchess of Clarence, the Duke of
Sussex, the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester, the Princess Sophia, the
Princess Sophia Matilda of Gloucester, and Prince Leopold.

At three o'clock the party walked in procession to the great saloon
adjoining the vestibule, in which a temporary altar had been fitted up. The
bride was given away by the Duke of Clarence. The ceremony was performed in
the simple Lutheran fashion by a simple Lutheran pastor, Dr. Kuper, "the
chaplain of the Royal German Chapel."

Then came the parting, and the quiet palace-home was stiller and shadier
than ever, when the gracious maidenly presence had gone, when the opening
rose was plucked from the parent stem, and only the bud left.

In 1830 George IV. died, and William, Duke of Clarence, succeeded to the
throne as King William IV. That summer was the last of the Princess's
ignorance of her prospects; until then not even the shadow of a throne had
been projected across the sunshiny path of the happy girl of eleven. She
was with her mother in one of the fairest scenes in England--Malvern. The
little town with its old Priory among the Worcester hills, looks down on
the plain of Worcester, the field of a great English battle.

A dim recollection of the Duchess and the Princess is still preserved at
Malvern--how pleasant and kind they were to all, how good to the poor; how
the future Queen rode on a donkey like any other young girl at
Malvern--like poor Marie Antoinette in the forest glades of Compiegne and
Fontainebleau half a century earlier, when she was only four years older,
although already Dauphiness of France. The shadowy records do not tell us
much more; we are left to form our own conclusions whether the Queen
anticipated her later ascents of Scotch and Swiss mountains by juvenile
scrambles amongst the Worcester hills; whether she stood on the top of the
Worcester or Hereford Beacon; or whether these were considered too
dangerous and masculine exploits for a princess of tender years, growing up
to inherit a throne? She could hardly fail to enter the Wytche, the strange
natural gap between Worcestershire and Herefordshire, by which, at one
step, the wayfarer leaves wooded England behind, and stands face to face
with a pastoral corner of Wales; or to drive along the mile-long common of
Barnard's Green, with the geese, and the hay-stacks, and the little
cottages on either side, and always in front the steep ridge of hills with
the grey Priory where Piers Plowman saw his vision, nestling at their feet;
or to pull the heather and the wild strawberries in Cowleigh Park, from
which every vestige of its great house has departed. She might have been a
privileged visitor at Madresfield, where some say Charles II. slept the
night before the battle of Worcester, and where there is a relic that would
better become Kensington, in a quilt which Queen Anne and Duchess Sarah
embroidered together in silks in the days of their fast friendship.

As it was part of the Princess's good education to be enlightened, as far
as possible, with regard to the how and why of arts and manufactures, we
make no question she was carried to Worcester, not only to see the
cathedral, but to have the potteries exhibited to her. There was a great
deal for the ingenuous mind of a royal pupil to see, learn, and enjoy in
Worcester and Warwickshire--for she was also at Guy's Cliff and Kenilworth.

It had become clear to the world without that the succession rested with
the Duke of Kent's daughter. Long before, the Duchess of Clarence had
written to her sister-in-law in a tender, generous struggle with her
sorrow: "My children are dead, but yours lives, and she is mine too." As
the direct heir to the crown, the Princess Victoria became a person of
great importance, a source of serious consideration alike to the Government
and to her future subjects. The result, in 1830, was a well-deserved if
somewhat long-delayed testimony to the merits of the Duchess of Kent, which
must have given honest satisfaction not only at Kensington, but at
Claremont--to whose master the Belgian Revolution was opening up the
prospect of a kingdom more stable than that of Greece, for which Prince
Leopold had been mentioned. Away in the Duchess's native Coburg, too, the
congratulations were sincere and hearty.

The English Parliament had not only formally recognised the Princess as the
next heir and increased the Duchess's income to ten thousand a year, so
relieving her from some of her difficulties; it had, with express and
flattering reference to the admirable manner in which she had until then
discharged the trust that her husband had confided to her, appointed her
Regent in the event of King William's death while the Princess was still a
minor. In this appointment the Duchess was preferred to the Duke of
Cumberland. He had become the next royal Duke in the order of descent, but
had failed to inspire confidence in his countrymen. In fact he was in
England the most uniformly and universally unpopular of all George III.'s
sons. There was even a wild rumour that he was seeking, against right and
reason, to form a party which should attempt to revive the Salic law and
aim at setting aside the Princess and placing Prince George of Cumberland
on the throne of England as well as on that of Hanover.

The Princess had reached the age of twelve, and it was judged advisable,
after her position had been thus acknowledged, that she herself should be
made acquainted with it. The story--the authenticity of which is
established beyond question--is preserved in a letter from the Queen's
former governess, Baroness Lehzen, which her Majesty has, given to the
world.

"I ask your Majesty's leave to cite some remarkable words of your Majesty
when only twelve years old, while the Regency Bill was in progress. I then
said to the Duchess of Kent, that now, for the first time, your Majesty
ought to know your place in the succession. Her Royal Highness agreed with
me, and I put the genealogical table into the historical book. When Mr.
Davys (the Queen's instructor, afterwards Bishop of Peterborough) was gone,
the Princess Victoria opened the book again, as usual, and seeing the
additional paper, said, 'I never saw that before.' 'It was not thought
necessary you should, Princess,' I answered. 'I see I am nearer the throne
than I thought.' 'So it is, madam,' I said. After some moments the Princess
answered, 'Now, many a child would boast, but they don't know the
difficulty. There is much splendour, but there is more responsibility.' The
Princess having lifted up the forefinger of her right hand while she spoke,
gave me that little hand, saying, 'I will be good. I understand now why you
urged me so much to learn even Latin. My aunts Augusta and Mary never did;
but you told me Latin is the foundation of English grammar and of all the
elegant expressions, and I learned it as you wished it, but I understand
all better now;' and the Princess gave me her hand, repeating, 'I will be
good.' I then said, 'But your aunt Adelaide is still young, and may have
children, and of course they would ascend the throne after their father,
William IV., and not you, Princess.' The Princess answered, 'And if it was
so, I should never feel disappointed, for I know by the love aunt Adelaide
bears me how fond she is of children.'"

No words can illustrate better what is striking and touching in this
episode than those with which Mrs. Oliphant refers to it in her sketch of
the Queen. "It is seldom that an early scene like this stands out so
distinctly in the early story even of a life destined to greatness. The
hush of awe upon the child; the childish application of this great secret
to the abstruse study of Latin, which was not required from the others; the
immediate resolution, so simple, yet containing all the wisest sage could
have counselled, or the greatest hero vowed,' I will be good,' makes a
perfect little picture. It is the clearest appearance of the future Queen
in her own person that we get through the soft obscurity of those childish
years." The Duchess of Kent remained far from a rich woman for her station,
and the young Princess had been sooner told of her mother's straitened
income than of the great inheritance in store for herself. She continued to
be brought up in unassuming, inexpensive habits.

In February, 1831, when Princess Victoria was twelve, she made her first
appearance in state at "the most magnificent Drawing-room which, had been
seen since that which had taken place on the presentation of Princess
Charlotte of Wales upon the occasion of her marriage." The Drawing-room was
held by Queen Adelaide, and it was to do honour to the new Queen no less
than to commemorate the approaching completion of the Princess's twelfth
year that the heiress to the throne was present in a prominent position, an
object of the greatest interest to the splendid company. She came along
with the Duchess her mother, attended by an appropriate suite, including
the Duchess of Northumberland, Lady Charlotte St. Maur, Lady Catherine
Parkinson, the Hon. Mrs. Cust, the Baroness Lehzen, and the Princess's
father's old friends, General Wetherall and Captain (now Sir John) Conroy,
with his wife, Lady Conroy. The Princess's dress was made, as the Queen's
often was afterwards, entirely of articles manufactured in the United
Kingdom. She wore a frock of English blonde, "simple, modest, and
becoming." She stood on the left of her Majesty on the throne, and
"contemplated all that passed with much dignity, but with evident
interest." We are further told, what we can well believe, that she excited
general admiration as well as interest. We can without difficulty call up
before us the girlish figure in its pure, white dress, the soft, open face,
the fair hair, the candid blue eyes, the frank lips slightly apart, showing
the white pearly teeth. The intelligent observation, the remarkable absence
of self-consciousness and consequent power of self-control and of
thought for others, which struck all who approached her in the great crisis
of her history six years afterwards, were already conspicuous in the young
girl. No doubt it was for her advantage, in consideration of what lay
before her, that while brought up in wholesome privacy, she was at the same
time inured, so far, to appear in public, to bear the brunt of many
eyes--some critical, though for the most part kind--touched by her youth
and innocence, by the circumstance that she was fatherless, and by the
crown she must one day wear. She had to learn to conduct herself with the
mingled self-respect and ease which became her station. Impulsiveness,
shyness, nervousness, are more serious defects in kings and queens than in
ordinary mortals. To use a homely phrase, "to have all their wits about
them" is very necessary in their case. If in addition they can have all
their hearts--hearts warm and considerate, nobly mindful of their own
obligations and of the claims of others--so much the better for the
sovereigns and for all who come under their influence. A certain amount of
familiarity with being the observed of all observers, with treading alone a
conspicuous path demanding great circumspection, was wanted beforehand, in
order that the young head might remain steady in the time of sudden,
tremendous elevation.

Nevertheless, the Princess was not present at the coronation of King
William and Queen Adelaide, and her absence, as the heir-presumptive to the
throne, caused much remark and speculation, and gave rise to not a few
newspaper paragraphs. Various causes were assigned for the singular
omission. The Times openly accused the Duchess of Kent of proving
the obstacle. Other newspapers followed suit, asserting that the grounds
for the Duchess's refusal were to be found in the circumstance that in the
coronation procession, marshalled by Lord A. Fitzclarence, the place
appointed for the Princess Victoria, instead of being next to the King and
Queen, according to her right, was after the remaining members of the royal
family. Conflicting authorities declared that the Prime Minister, Earl
Grey, for some occult reason, opposed the Princess's receiving an
invitation to be present at a ceremony which had so much interest for her;
or that the Duchess of Northumberland, the governess of the Princess, took
the same extraordinary course from political motives. Finally, The
Globe gave, on authority, an explanation that had been offered all
along in the midst of more sensational rumours. The Princess's health was
rather delicate, and the Duchess of Kent had, on that account, got the
King's sanction to her daughter's not being exposed to unusual excitement
and fatigue. The statement on authority was unanswerable, but while it
stilled one cause of apprehension it awakened another. After the untimely
death of Princess Charlotte, the nation was particularly sensitive with
regard to the health of the heir to the crown. Whispers began to spread
abroad, happily without much foundation, of pale cheeks, and a constitution
unfit for the burden which was to be laid upon it.





Next: Youth

Previous: Sixty-three Years Since



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