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The First Christening The Season Of 1841

Youth

Comments Upon The Young Queen By A Contemporaneous Writer In Blackwood

The Queen's First Visit To Scotland

The Queen's First Visit To Scotland

Childhood

Childhood

Balmoral

The Proroguing Of Parliament The Visit To Guildhall And The Coronation

Reign Of Queen Victoria



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The Condemnation Of The English Duel

Distribution Of Victoria Crosses By The Queen

The Emperor And Empress Of France Visit Windsor

The Queen's Sympathy During The Illness Of President Garfield

Marriage Of The Princess Royal

Prince Albert

Failing Health Of Prince Albert

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

Marriage And Delicacy Of The Prince's Position

Allies From Afar And Death And Absence






The Condemnation Of The English Duel








On the 1st of July, 1843, duelling received its death-blow in England by a
fatal duel--so unnatural and so painful in its consequences that it
served the purpose of calling public attention to the offence--long
tolerated, even advocated in some quarters, and to the theory of military
honour on which this particular duel took place. Two officers, Colonel
Fawcett and Lieutenant Munro, who were also brothers-in-law, had a
quarrel. Colonel Fawcett was elderly, had been in India, was out of health
and exceedingly irritable in temper. It came out afterwards that he had
given his relation the greatest provocation. Still Lieutenant Munro hung
back from what up to that time had been regarded as the sole resource of a
gentleman, especially a military man, in the circumstances. He showed
great reluctance to challenge Colonel Fawcett, and it was only after the
impression--mistaken or otherwise--was given to the insulted man that his
regiment expected him to take the old course, and if he did not do so he
must be disgraced throughout the service, that he called out his
brother-in-law.

The challenge was accepted, the meeting took place, Colonel Fawcett was
shot dead, and the horrible anomaly presented itself of two sisters--the
one rendered a widow by the hand of her brother-in-law, and a family of
children clad in mourning for their uncle, whom their father had slain.
Apart from the bloodshed, Lieutenant Munro was ruined by the miserable
step on which he had been thrust. Public feeling was roused to protest
against the barbarous practice by which a bully had it in his power to
risk the life of a man immeasurably his superior, against whom he happened
to have conceived a dislike. Prince Albert interested himself deeply in
the question, especially as it concerned the army. Various expedients were
suggested; eventually an amendment was inserted into the Articles of War
which was founded on the more reasonable, humane, and Christian
conclusion, that to offer an apology, or even to make reparation where
wrong had been committed, was more becoming the character of an officer
and a gentleman, than to furnish the alternative of standing up to kill or
to be killed for a hasty word or a rash act.

On the 28th of July, Princess Augusta of Cambridge was married in the
chapel at Buckingham Palace to the hereditary Grand Duke of
Mecklenburg-Strelitz. Princess Augusta was the elder of the two daughters
of the Duke of Cambridge, was three years younger than the Queen, and at
the time of her marriage was twenty-one years of age. In the cousins'
childhood and early youth, during the reign of King William, the Duke of
Cambridge had acted as the King's representative in Hanover, so that his
family were much in Germany. At the date of the Queen's accession,
Princess Augusta, a girl of fifteen, was considered old enough to appear
with the rest of the royal family at the banquet at Guildhall, and in the
other festivities which commemorated the beginning of the new reign. She
figures in the various pictures of the Coronation, the Queen's marriage,
&c. &c., and won the enthusiastic admiration of Leslie when he went to
Cambridge House to take the portraits of the different members of the
family for one of his pictures. Only a year before she had, in the
character of Princess Claude of France, been one of the most graceful
masquers at the Queen's Plantagenet Ball, and among the bridesmaids on the
present occasion were two of the beauties at the ball, Lady Alexandrina
Vane and Lady Clementina Villiers. Princess Augusta was marrying a young
German prince, three years her senior, a kinsman of her father's through
his mother, Queen Charlotte. She was going to the small northern duchy
which had sent so brave a little queen to England.

Queen Victoria, Prince Albert, and all the royal family in the country,
including the King of Hanover, who had remained to grace the ceremony,
were present at the wedding, which, in old fashion, took place in the
evening. Among the foreign guests were the King and Queen of the Belgians,
the Prince and Princess of Oldenburg, the Crown Prince of Wurtemburg, &c.
&c. The ambassadors, Cabinet Ministers, and officers of State were in
attendance. The Archbishops of Canterbury and York, and the Bishops of
London and Norwich, officiated. The marriage was registered and attested
in the great dining room at Buckingham Palace. Then there passed away from
the scene the Princess who had been for some years the solitary
representative of the royal young ladyhood of England, as her sister,
Princess Mary, was eleven years Princess Augusta's junior, and still only
a little girl of ten. Princess Augusta had an annuity of three thousand a
year voted to her by Parliament on her marriage.

A month later, on the 28th of August, the Queen went by railway to
Southampton, in order to go on board the royal yacht for a trip to the
Isle of Wight and the Devonshire coast. At Southampton Pier, the rain was
falling heavily. Her Majesty had been received by the Mayor and
Corporation, the Duke of Wellington, and other official personages, when
it was discovered that there was not sufficient covering for the stage or
gangway, which was to be run out between the pier and the yacht. Then the
members of the Southampton Corporation were moved to follow the example of
Sir Walter Raleigh in the service which introduced him to the notice of
Queen Elizabeth. They pulled off their red gowns, spread them on the
gangway, and so procured a dry footing for her Majesty.

Lady Bloomfield, as Miss Liddell, in the capacity of Maid of Honour in
waiting, was with the Queen, and has furnished a few particulars of the
pleasant voyage. The Queen landed frequently, returning to the yacht at
night and sleeping on board. At the Isle of Wight she visited Norris
Castle, where she had stayed in her youth, asking to see some of the
rooms, and walking on the terrace. She told her companions that she would
willingly have bought the place but could not afford it. At one point all
the party except Lady Canning were overcome by sea sickness, which is no
respecter of persons. At Dartmouth the Queen entered her barge and was
rowed round the harbour, for the better inspection of the place, and the
gratification of the multitude on the quays and in every description of
sailing craft. At Plymouth the visitors landed and proceeded to Mount
Edgcumbe, the beautiful seat of the Edgcumbe family. Wherever her Majesty
went she made collections of flowers, which she had dried and kept as
mementoes of the scenes in which they had been gathered. In driving
through Plymouth, the crowd was so great, and pressed so much on the
escort, that the infantry bayonets crossed in the carriages.

At Falmouth, the Queen was again rowed in her barge round the harbour, but
the concourse of small boats became dangerous, as their occupants deserted
the helms and rushed to one side to see the Queen, and the royal barge
could only be extricated by the rowers exerting their utmost strength and
skill, and forcing a passage through the swarming flotilla. The Mayor of
Falmouth was a Quaker, and asked permission to keep on his hat while
reading his address to the Queen. The Mayor of Truro, who with the Mayor
of Penryn had accompanied their official brother when he put off in a
small boat to intercept her Majesty in her circuit round the harbour, was
doomed to play a more undignified part. He unluckily overleaped himself
and fell into the water, so that he and his address, being too wet for
presentation, were obliged to be put on shore again.

On board the Queen used to amuse herself with a favourite occupation of
the ladies of the day, plaiting paper so as to resemble straw plait for
bonnets. She was sufficiently skilled in the art to instruct her Maid of
Honour in it.

On one occasion the Queen chanced to have her camp-stool set where it shut
up the door of the place that held the sailors' grog-tubs. After much
hanging about and consulting with the authorities, she was made acquainted
with the fact, when she rose on condition that a glass of grog should be
brought to her. She tasted it and said, "I am afraid I can only make the
same remark I did once before, that I think it would be very good if it
were stronger," an observation that called forth the unqualified delight
of the men. Sometimes in the evening the sailors, at her Majesty's
request, danced hornpipes on deck.

But the Queen's cruises this year were not to end on English or even
Scotch ground. She was to make the first visit to France which had been
paid by an English sovereign since Henry VIII. met Francis I. on the field
of the Cloth of Gold. Earlier in the year two of Louis Philippe's sons,
the sailor Prince Joinville, "tall, dark, and good looking, with a large
beard, but, unfortunately for him, terribly deaf," and his brother, the
man of intellect and culture if not of genius, the Duc d'Aumale, "much
shorter and very fair," had been together at Windsor; and had doubtless
arranged the preliminaries of the informal visit which the Queen was to
pay to Louis Philippe. The King of France and his large family were in the
habit of spending some time in summer or autumn at Chateau d'Eu, near the
seaport of Treport, in Normandy; and to this point the Queen could easily
run across in her yacht and exchange friendly greetings, without the
elaborate preparations and manifold trouble which must be the
accompaniment of a State visit to the Tuileries.

Accordingly the Queen and Prince Albert, on the 1st of September, sailed
past the Eddystone Lighthouse, where they were joined by a little fleet of
war-ships, and struck off for the coast of France. Besides her suite, the
Queen was accompanied by two of her ministers, Lords Aberdeen and
Liverpool. With the first, a shrewd worthy Scot, distinguished as a
statesman by his experience, calm sagacity, and unblemished integrity, her
Majesty and Prince Albert were destined to have cordial relations in the
years to come.

In the meantime, French country people were pouring into Treport, where
the King's barge lay ready. It was provided with a crimson silk awning,
having white muslin curtains over a horseshoe-shaped seat covered with
crimson velvet, capable of containing eleven or twelve persons. The rowers
were clad in white, with red sashes and, red ribands round their hats.

The Queen was to land by crossing the deck of a vessel moored along the
quay and mounting a ladder, the steps of which were covered with crimson
velvet. At five o'clock in the afternoon the King and his whole family, a
great cortege, arrived on horseback and in open chars-a-bancs. Prince
Joinville had met the yacht at Cherbourg and gone on board. As soon as it
lay-to the King came alongside in his barge. The citizen King was stout,
florid, and bluff-looking, with thick grizzled hair brushed up into a
point. As the exiled Duke of Orleans, in the days of the great Revolution,
he had been a friend of the Queen's father, the Duke of Kent. The King did
not fail to remind his guest of this, after he had kissed her on each
check, kissed her hand, and told her again and again how delighted he was
to see her. When the two sovereigns entered the barge the standards of
England and France were hoisted together, and amidst royal salutes from
the vessels in the roads and from the batteries on shore, to the music of
regimental bands, in the sunset of a fine autumn evening the party landed.

At the end of the jetty the ladies of the royal family of France with
their suites stood in a curved line. Queen Amelie, with her snowy curls
and benevolent face, was two paces in advance of the others. Behind her
were her daughter and daughter-in-law, the Queen of the Belgians and the
widowed Duchesse d'Orleans, who appeared in public for the first time
since her husband's death a year before. A little farther back stood
Madame Adelaide, the King's sister, and the other princesses, the younger
daughter and the daughters-in-law of the house. Louis Philippe presented
Queen Victoria to his Queen, who "took her by both hands and saluted her
several times on both cheeks with evident warmth of manner." Queen Louise,
and at least one of the other ladies, were well known to the visitor, whom
they greeted gladly, while the air was filled with shouts of "Vive la
Reine Victoria!" "Vive la Reine d'Angleterre!"

The Queen, who was dressed simply, as usual, in a purple satin gown, a
black mantilla trimmed with lace, and a straw bonnet with straw-coloured
ribands and one ostrich feather, immediately entered the King's
char-a-bancs, which had a canopy and curtains that were left open. Lady
Bloomfield describes it as drawn by twelve large clumsy horses. There was
a coachman on the box, with three footmen behind, and there was "a motley
crowd of outriders on wretched horses and dressed in different liveries."
The other chars-a-bancs with six horses followed, and the whole took
their, way to the Chateau, a quaint and pleasant dwelling, some of it as
old as the time of the Great Mademoiselle.

A stately banquet was held in the evening in the banqueting-room, hung
round with royal portraits and historical pictures, the table heavy with
gold and silver plate, including the gold plateau and the great gold vases
filled with flowers. The King, in uniform, sat at the centre of the table.
He had on his right hand Queen Victoria, wearing a gown of crimson velvet,
the order of the garter and a parure of diamonds and emeralds, but
having her hair simply braided. On her other side sat Prince Joinville. On
the King's left hand was Queen Louise. The Duchesse d'Orleans, in
accordance with French etiquette for widows in their weeds, did not come
to the dinner-table. Opposite the King sat his Queen, with Prince Albert
on her right hand and the Duc d'Aumale on her left. The royal host and
hostess carved like any other old-fashioned couple.

The Queen received the same lively impressions from her first visit to
France that she had experienced on her first visit to Scotland. Apart from
the scenery there was yet more to strike her. The decidedly foreign
dresses of the people, the strange tongue, the mill going on Sunday, the
different sound of the church bells--nothing escaped her. There was also,
in the large family of her brother king and ally--connected with her by so
many ties, every member familiar to her by hearsay, if not known to her
personally--much to interest her. The Queen had been, to all intents and
purposes, brought up like an only child, and her genial disposition had
craved for entire sympathy and equal companionship. She seems to have
regarded wistfully, as an only child often regards, what she had never
known, the full, varied, yet united life of a large, happy, warmly
attached family circle. When she saw her children possessed of the
blessing which had been denied to her in her early days, she was tempted
to look back on the widowed restricted household in Kensington Palace as
on a somewhat chill and grey environment. She has more than once referred
to her childhood as dull and sad by comparison with what she lived to know
of the young life of other children.

But the great royal household of France at this date, in addition to its
wealth of interests and occupations, and its kindness to the stranger who
was so quick to respond to kindness, was singularly endowed with elements
of attractiveness for Queen Victoria. It appeared, indeed, as if all life
at its different stages, in its different aspects, even in its different
nationalities, met and mingled with a wonderful charm under the one
roof-tree. Besides the old parent couple and the maiden aunt, who had seen
such changes of fortune, there were three young couples, each with their
several careers before them. There was the bride of yesterday, the
youngest daughter of the house, Princess Clementine, with her young German
husband, the Queen and Prince Albert's kinsman; there was Nemours, wedded
to another German cousin, the sweet-tempered golden-haired Princess
Victoire; there was Joinville, with his dark-haired Brazilian Princess.
[Footnote: A kinswoman of Maria da Gloria's] It had been said that he had
gone farther, as became a sailor, in search of a wife than any other
prince in Europe. She was very pretty in a tropical fashion, very
piquante, and, perhaps, just a little sauvage. She had never seen
snow, and the rules and ceremonies of a great European court were almost
as strange to her. Lady Bloomfield mentions her as if she were something
of a spoilt child who could hardly keep from showing that the rigid laws
of her new position fretted and bored her. She wore glowing pomegranate
blossoms in her hair, and looked pensive, as if she were pining for the
gorgeous little hummingbirds and great white magnolias--the mixture of
natural splendour and ease, passion and languor, of a typical South
American home.

D'Aumale and Montpensier were still gay young bachelors, and well would it
have been for the welfare of the Orleans family and the credit of Louis
Philippe if one of them had remained so. There was a widow as well as a
bride in the house. There were the cherished memories of a dearly-prized
lost son and daughter to touch with tender sorrow its blithest moments and
lightest words. The Queen had to make the acquaintance of Helene, Duchesse
d'Orleans; [Footnote: Princess Helena of Mecklenburg-Schwerin.] tall, thin
and pale, not handsome, but better than handsome, full of character and
feeling, shrinking from observation in her black dress, with the shadow of
a life-long grief over her heart and life. And the visitor had to hear
again of the gifted Princess Marie, the friend of Ary Scheffer, whose
statue of Jeanne d'Arc is the best monument of a life cut down in its
brilliant promise. Princess Marie's devoted sister Louise, Queen of the
Belgians, in her place as the eldest surviving daughter of France, had
long been Queen Victoria's great friend. Finally, there was the third
generation, headed by the fatherless boy, "little Paris," with regard to
whom few then doubted that he would one day sit on the throne of France.

It was not principally because the Chateau d'Eu was in France that the
Queen wrote, the first morning she awoke there, the fulfilment of her
favourite air-castle of so many years was like a dream, or that she
grieved when her visit was over. She sought to find, and believed she had
found, a whole host of new friends and kindred--another father and mother,
more brothers and sisters, nephews and nieces, to make her life still
richer and more full of kindly ties.

The speciality in the form of entertainment at Chateau d'Eu was drives in
the sociable chars-a-bancs in the neighbouring forest, ending in
dejeuners and fetes-champetres, which the Queen enjoyed
heartily, both because they were novel to her and because they were
spontaneous and untrammelled. "So pretty, so merry, so rural," she
declared. "Like the fetes in Germany," Prince Albert said. The long,
frequently rough drives under the yellowing trees in the golden September
light, the camp-chairs, the wine in plain bottles, the improvised kitchen
hidden among the bushes, the many young people of high rank all so gay,
the king full of liveliness and brusqueness, his queen full of
motherliness and consideration for all--everything was delightful.

One pathetic little incident occurred when the guests were being shown
over the parish church of Notre Dame. As they came to the crypt, with its
ancient monuments of the Comtes d'Eu, the Duchesse d'Orleans was overcome
with emotion, and the Queen of the Belgians drew her aside. When the rest
of the party passed again through the church, on their way back, they came
upon the two mourning women prostrate before one of the altars, the
Duchesse weeping bitterly.

The King presented Queen Victoria with fine specimens of Gobelin tapestry
and of Sevres china. He went farther in professions and compliments. He
was not content to leave the discussion of politics to M. Guizot and Lord
Aberdeen. Louis Philippe volunteered to the Queen's minister the statement
that he would not give his son to Spain (referring to a proposed marriage
between the Duc de Montpensier and the Infanta Luisa, the sister of the
young Queen Isabella, who had been lately declared of age), even if he
were asked. To which the stout Scot replied, without beating about the
bush, "that except one of the sons of France, any aspirant whom Spain
might choose would be acceptable to England."

Louis Philippe, Queen Amelie, and the whole family escorted the Queen and
the Prince on board the yacht, parting with them affectionately. Prince
Joinville accompanied the couple to the Pavilion, Brighton. In the course
of the sail there was a race between his ship and the Black Eagle,
in which the English vessel won, to the French sailors' disgust.

Louis Philippe felt great satisfaction at a visit which proved his cordial
relations with England, and served to remove the reproach which he seemed
to think clung to him and prevented the other European royal families from
fraternising with him and his children as they would otherwise have
done--namely, that he was not the representative of the elder, and what
many were pleased to consider the legitimate, branch of the Bourbons. He
was but a king set up by the people, whom the people might pull down
again. There was not much apparent prospect of this overthrow then, though
the forces were at work which brought it about. In token of his
gratification, and as a memorial of what had given him so much pleasure,
the King caused a series of pictures to be taken of Queen Victoria's
landing, and of the various events of her stay. These pictures remain,
among several series, transferred to the upper rooms of one of the French
palaces, and furnish glimpses of other things that have vanished besides
the fashion of the day. There the various groups reappear. Queen Amelie
with her piled-up curls, the citizen King and their numerous young people
doing honour to the young Queen of England and her husband, both looking
juvenile in their turn--all the more so for a certain antiquated cut in
their garments at this date, a formality in his hat and neckerchief, a
demureness in her close bonnet, and a pretty show of youthful matronliness
in the little lace cap which, if we mistake not, she wears on one
occasion.





Next: The Queen's Trip To Ostend Drayton Chatsworth And Belvoir

Previous: A Marriage A Death And A Birth In The Royal Family



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