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The First Christening The Season Of 1841

Youth

The Queen's First Visit To Scotland

The Queen's First Visit To Scotland

The Proroguing Of Parliament The Visit To Guildhall And The Coronation

Comments Upon The Young Queen By A Contemporaneous Writer In Blackwood

Reign Of Queen Victoria

Childhood

Childhood

The Princess Opens The Victoria Park At Bath



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The Queen's Sympathy During The Illness Of President Garfield

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

The Condemnation Of The English Duel

Marriage And Delicacy Of The Prince's Position

Marriage Of The Princess Royal

Last Years Of The Prince Consort

Failing Health Of Prince Albert

The Emperor And Empress Of France Visit Windsor

Distribution Of Victoria Crosses By The Queen

First Meeting With Prince Albert Death Of William Iv






Queen Victoria Absence From The Coronation Of William Iv








Queen-making is not a light task. It is no fancywork for idle hours. It
is the first difficult draft of a chapter, perhaps a whole volume, of
national history.

No woman ever undertook a more important labor than did the widowed
Duchess of Kent, or carried it out with more faithfulness, if we may
judge by results.

The lack of fortune in the family was not an unmixed evil; perhaps it was
even one of those disagreeable "blessings in disguise," which nobody
welcomes, but which the wise profit by, as it caused the Duchess to
impress upon her children, especially the child Victoria, the necessity
of economy, and the safety and dignity which one always finds in living
within one's income. Frugality, exactitude in business, faithfulness to
all engagements, great or small, punctuality, that economy of time, are
usually set down among the minor moralities of life, more humdrum than
heroic; but under how many circumstances and conditions do they reveal
themselves as cardinal virtues, as things on which depend the comfort and
dignity of life! It seems that these things were so impressed on the mind
and heart of the young Victoria by her careful, methodical German mother,
that they became a part of her conscience, entered so deeply into the
rule of her life that no after-condition of wealth, or luxury, or
sovereign independence; no natural desire for ease or pleasure; no
passion of love or grief; no possible exigencies of imperial state have
been able to overcome or set them aside. The danger is that such rigid
principles, such systematic habits, adopted in youth, may in age become,
from being the ministers of one's will, the tyrants of one's life.

It seems to be somewhat so in the case of the Queen, for I hear it said
that the sun, the moon, and the tides are scarcely more punctual and
regular in their rounds and mighty offices, in their coming and going,
than she in the daily routine of her domestic and state duties and
frequent journeyings; and that the laws of the Medes and Persians are as
naught in inexorableness and inflexibility to the rules and regulations
of Windsor and Balmoral.

But the English people, even those directly inconvenienced at times by
those unbending habits and irrevocable rules, have no right to find
fault, for these be the right royal results of the admirable but somewhat
unyouthful qualities they adored in the young Queen. They have no right
to sneer because a place of honor is given in Her Majesty's household to
that meddlesome, old-fashioned German country cousin, Economy; for did
not they all rejoice in the early years of the reign to hear of this same
dame being introduced by those clever managers, Prince Albert and Baron
Stockmar, into the royal palaces, wherein she had not been seen for many
a year?

But to return to the little Princess. The Duchess, her mother, seems to
have given her all needful change of air and scene, though always
maintaining; habits of study, and an admirable system of mental and moral
training; for the child's constitution seems to have strengthened year by
year, and in spite of one or two serious attacks of illness, the
foundation was laid of the robust health which, accompanied by rare
courage and nerve, has since so marked and blessed her life. A writer of
the time speaks of a visit paid by her and her mother to Windsor in 1829,
when the child was about seven years old, and states that George IV., her
"Uncle King," was delighted with her "charming manners."

It was about this visit that her maternal grandmamma at Coburg wrote to
her mamma: "I see by the English papers that Her Royal Highness the
Duchess of Kent went on Virginia water with His Majesty. The little
monkey must have pleased and amused him, she is such a pretty, clever
child."

To think of the great Victoria, Queen of Great Britain and Ireland, and
Empress of India, being called "a little monkey"! Grandmammas will take
such liberties. Three or four years later, according to that spicy and
irreverent chronicler, Charles Greville, the little Princess was not
pretty. But she was just entering on that ungracious period in which few
little girls are comely to look upon, or comfortable to themselves.
Greville saw her at a children's ball, given by the King in honor of his
little guest, the child-Queen of Portugal, Donna Maria II., da Gloria,
whom the King seated at his right hand, and was very attentive to.
Greville says she was fine-looking and very finely dressed, "with a
ribbon and order over her shoulder," and she must have seemed very grand
to the other children while she sat by the King, but when she came to
dance she "fell down and hurt her face, was frightened and bruised, and
went away." Then he adds: "Our little Princess is a short, plain child,
not so good-looking as the Portuguese. However, if Nature has not done so
much, Fortune is likely to do a great deal more for her."

Victoria did not know that, but like any other little girl she may,
perhaps, have comforted herself by thinking, "Well, if I'm not so
handsome and grand and smartly dressed as that Maria, I'm less awkward. I
was able to keep my head and not lose my feet."

As for her small Majesty of Portugal, she was at that time a Queen
without a crown and without a kingdom. She had come all the way from
Brazil to take her grandfather's throne, a little present from her
father, Dom Pedro I., the rightful heir, but only to find the place
filled by a wicked uncle, Don Miguel. She had a long fight with the
usurper, her father coming over to help her, and finally ousted Miguel
and got into that big, uneasy arm-chair, called a throne, where she
continued to sit, though much shaken and heaved up and about by political
convulsions, for some dozen years, when she found it best to step down
and out.

It is said she did not gain, but lost in beauty as she grew to womanhood;
so finally the English Princess had the advantage of her in the matter of
good looks even.

King George IV., though he was fond of his amusing little niece, did not
like to think of her as destined to rule in his place. He is said to have
been much offended when, as he was proposing to give that ball, his chief
favorite, a gay, Court lady, exclaimed: "Oh, do! it will be so nice to
see the two little Queens dancing together." Yet he disliked the
Duchess of Kent for keeping the child as much as possible away from his
disreputable Court, and educating her after her own ideas, and often
threatened to use his power as King to deprive her of the little girl.
The country would not have stood this, yet the Duchess must have suffered
cruelly from fear of having her darling child taken from her by this
crowned ogre, and shut up in the gloomy keep of his Castle at Windsor.
But it was the Ogre-King who was taken, a little more than a year after
the children's ball--and not a day too soon for his country's good--and
his brother, the Duke of Clarence, reigned in his stead.

William IV. had some heart, some frankness and honesty, but he was a
bluff, rough sailor, and when excited, oaths of the hottest sort flew
from his lips, like sparks from an anvil. Because of his roughness and
profanity, and because, perhaps, of the fact of his surrounding himself
with a lot of natural children, the Duchess was determined to persevere
in her retirement from the Court circle, and in keeping her innocent
little daughter out of its unwholesome atmosphere, as much as possible.
She was, however, most friendly with Queen Adelaide, who, when her last
child died, had written to her: "My children are dead, but yours lives,
and she is mine too." The good woman meant this, and her fondness was
returned by Victoria, who manifested for her to the last, filial
affection and consideration.

The first Drawing-room which the Princess attended was one given in honor
of Her Majesty's birthday. She went with her mother and a suite of ladies
and gentlemen in State carriages, escorted by a party of Life Guards. The
Princess was on that occasion dressed entirely in materials of British
manufacture, her frock being of English blonde, very simple and becoming.
She stood at the left of her aunt, the Queen, and watched the splendid
ceremony with great interest, while everybody watched her with greater
interest. But if the presence of the "heir-presumptive to the throne"
created a sensation at the Queen's Drawing-room, her absence from the
King's coronation created more. Some said it was because a proper place
in the procession--one next to the King and Queen--had not been assigned
to her; others, that the Duchess had kept her away on account of her
delicate health, and nobody knew exactly the truth of the matter. Perhaps
the great state secret will be revealed some day with the identity of
"Junius" and the "Man in the Iron Mask."





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Previous: Victoria's Early Education



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