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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

Marriage And Delicacy Of The Prince's Position

The Condemnation Of The English Duel

Marriage Of The Princess Royal

Failing Health Of Prince Albert

First Meeting With Prince Albert Death Of William Iv

Second Attempt On The Queen's Life

Distribution Of Victoria Crosses By The Queen

Last Years Of The Prince Consort






The Jubilee Season








With the exception of Prince Alfred, the Queen's children had married
according to the German proverb, "The oldest must leave the house
first." The next in age was Prince Arthur, or the Duke of Connaught. He
married in 1879 Princess Louise of Prussia with the usual magnificent
display at St. George's Chapel. The real home welcome, however, was
awaiting them at Balmoral, where they arrived a few months later. When
the train came to a standstill, there stood the Queen and Princess
Beatrice, with the Royal Scots for a guard of honor. The Queen gave the
bride a bouquet of heather, and they set off for the castle. At the end
of the Balmoral bridge was an arch of moss and heather with a motto in
flowers, "Welcome to Balmoral." There stood the castle guests, and
there were all the tenants, the women in their Sunday clothes, the men
in kilts, and the pipers playing their best and loudest, while the
children tossed flowers into the carriages and shouted their welcome.

Of course a cairn had been begun in honor of the marriage, and two or
three days later the happy party went to visit it, the Queen on her
pony and the others walking. There was a speech of congratulation made,
and the health of the young people was drunk. "The health of the
Princess Beatrice ought to be drunk," Brown declared, and that was done
with so many cheers that even the dogs objected to the tumult and began
to bark. After the cheering, each one of the party walked up to the
cairn and laid a stone upon it. One of the stones in the foundation was
already marked with the names of the Duke and Duchess and the date of
their marriage.

Three years later St. George's Chapel was again ablaze with the
splendor of another royal wedding, that of Prince Leopold, the eighth
child of the Queen, to Princess Helene of Waldeck-Pyrmont. In the
evening a state banquet was given, and some of the guests were much
amazed when, just before the Queen was to rise from the table, her two
Scotch pipers in their full Highland costume appeared at the door and
marched twice around the room, playing merry Scottish airs.

The home of the newly married couple was to be at Claremont, the place
where the little Princess Victoria had so enjoyed herself. It had been
granted to King Leopold when he married Princess Charlotte, but on his
death it again became the property of the Crown. The Queen now bought
it for the King's namesake. She had given to her son the title of Duke
of Albany, and some of the superstitious among her subjects shook their
heads at that, for so many who had borne the title had met with
misfortune or even with early death.

The wedding celebrations were hardly over before the Queen's thoughts
were centered upon Egypt. The Khedive of Egypt was a great borrower,
and to fill his ever empty purse he had offered England some seven
years previously his shares in the Suez Canal for $20,000,000. England
had been very ready to buy them and also to guarantee that people who
had loaned money to this spendthrift should not lose their interest. In
1882 some of the Khedive's subjects rebelled against him and got
control of the government. To maintain taxation and so pay the promised
interest, England must support the Khedive and put down the rebels.

The Queen hated war as badly as her predecessor Elizabeth, but as soon
as she saw that it was necessary, she had no patience with delay or
poor preparation. She sent directions continually to the War Office,
now about arms, now about blankets or food or the comforts that would
be needed in the hospitals. She never had the slightest sympathy with
indecision or lack of promptness, and the moment that she thought of
something that ought to be done for her soldiers, she sent a message to
the Minister of War. During one day she sent him seventeen.



The troops sailed. Telegrams were frequent, and on a Monday morning in
September there came to Balmoral one marked "Very secret." It was
written in cipher and said, "Determined to attack the enemy with a
large force on Wednesday." There could be no report of the battle for
two days at least, but the Queen and her family tried hard to be brave
and cheerful. More than once the Queen slipped away from them to pray
that her son might return to her in safety, for the Duke of Connaught
was in Egypt in command of a brigade. Wednesday morning a telegram
came, "The army marched out last night." A second arrived a little
later, "The enemy has been routed at Tel-el-Kebir, but fighting is
going on." "Louischen," the wife of the Duke, was with the Queen. They
could think of nothing but the husband and son, far away beside the
Nile. Any moment might be the fatal one. They almost fancied they could
hear the boom of the cannon. Never was a morning so long, but at last
the word came, "A great victory; Duke safe and well; led his brigade to
the attack." The Queen hurried to find "Louischen," and threw her arms
about her neck. "How glad and proud and thankful we can be!" she
exclaimed with tears, not of sorrow but of joy.

That afternoon the Duke of Albany and his wife arrived, and then there
was a double rejoicing. After the drinking of healths of bride and
bridegroom, John Brown stepped forward and said, "Ladies and gentlemen,
let us join in a good Highland cheer for the Duke and Duchess of
Albany; may they live long and die happy!" and then there was such
cheering as made the woods and hills ring.

Twenty-six years before, when word had come of the fall of Sebastopol,
a bonfire had been lighted on the top of Craig Gowan, and now there was
another in honor of the Egyptian victory. It was very dark, but no one
cared for that. The two princesses and many of the people in the house
walked up to the top of the hill with the pipes playing jubilantly.
There the bonfire was lighted, and the Queen watched from the windows
and listened to the pipes and the cheering. When the princesses came
down, they all had a little supper together "in Louischen's room."

With all these family celebrations, indeed with almost every action of
the Queen's life, John Brown was closely associated. In private and in
public he was the attendant of his sovereign, ever on the watch to save
her, not only from danger, but from the least annoyance. On one
occasion, the Queen's carriage stopped in a village after dark, and
curious people thronged about. One man actually held up a lantern to
get a plainer view of her face, but all that met his eyes was the
rugged, determined features of John Brown, for the faithful man had
calmly put himself between the Queen and her inquisitive subject. On
another occasion, a woman pushed up to the carriage and stood leaning
upon the wheel and staring at the Queen. John Brown thought it a waste
of courtesy to be gentle with such a person, and he growled "Be off
with you!" like an angry policeman to a crowd of troublesome
ragamuffins. In 1883 this faithful servant died. There could hardly
have been a time when the Queen had more need of him, for by a fall on
the staircase at Windsor she had become unable to walk or even to
stand.

During the months of her lameness, she prepared for publication a
volume of extracts from her journal for 1862 to 1882. The dedication
read, "To My Loyal Highlanders, and especially to the memory of my
devoted personal attendant, John Brown." She was as modest about this
book as about the first one, and with the copy that she presented to
Tennyson she sent an almost shy little note saying, "Though a very
humble and unpretending author, I send you my new book, which perhaps
you may like to glance at. Its only merit is its simplicity and truth."

The Queen's lameness did not prevent her from making her usual spring
visit to Balmoral in 1884, but the most unusual precautions were taken
to insure her safety. Within two or three years the Emperor of Russia
had been assassinated, and in London several attempts had been made
recently to blow up public buildings with dynamite. Generally when the
Queen traveled, her time-table was known, and people were at every
station to give her welcome. An engine was always sent before the train
to make sure that the road was clear, but this time, however, the
time-tables were kept secret, and no spectators were allowed to gather
at the stations. Men were usually at work on the road, averaging one to
every half-mile. These men were now supplied with flags to wave as the
train came in sight. If the engineer saw a white flag, he knew the way
was clear for half a mile; but if the red one was waved, he knew there
was danger or some obstruction ahead, and that he must stop at once.

The Queen was still so much of an invalid that she could stand only a
few minutes when the day came that she had to be told of the sudden
death of her youngest son. He was the only one of the nine children who
had not been strong, but the Queen loved him all the better for his
sufferings. He was much like his father in mind, and she had hoped that
he would be able to act as her private secretary. Even when he was ill,
he was so merry and unselfish that all who saw him loved him. He never
seemed to realize that there was anything in him to call out their
affection and he once said very simply, "I can't think why people
should always be so kind to me."

The Queen felt that the joy had gone from her life, but she sent to her
people the message, "I will labor on as long as I can for the sake of
my children and for the good of the country I love so well."

The government of her country gave her little pleasure at that time,
for in spite of all that she could do, grave trouble was arising from
what she believed was the mistaken course of her Ministers. Egypt had
been pacified three years before, but there was revolt in the Soudan. A
man named Mohammed had gone about among the wild Arabs declaring, "I am
the prophet who was to follow the great Mohammed. For twelve hundred
years the world has been awaiting me. Come and fight under my banner."
Thousands rose to join him, and Mohammed, or the Mahdi, as he was
called, led them against the Khedive. That ruler was helpless to
repulse them. England was responsible for the good order of his
country, and the Ministers debated the question long and seriously,
what to do in Egypt.

"Let us send troops to the Soudan and suppress the rebellion," advised
one.

"That is what the Queen wishes," said another, "but it may be that the
Soudan is not worth so many lives as would be wasted in conquering the
rebels."

"It is not," declared another positively. "Let us attempt nothing but
to keep the Mahdi out of Egypt."

"But what of our English and Egyptian garrisons in the Soudan?" That
was a grave question, and a long discussion followed. The government
then in power was ready to do almost anything to avoid war. The Queen
looked upon the matter differently. She was now no girl of eighteen,
she was a woman with nearly fifty years' experience in dealing with
nations civilized and nations uncivilized. She believed that it was
best to hold on to the Soudan; but since her Ministers were determined
to abandon it to the revolters, she saw that the only thing to do was
to lose no time in confronting the Mahdi with an army so overwhelmingly
superior to his own forces that he would not dare to attack the
garrisons.

The Ministers did not agree with her. "General Gordon has already shown
that he knows how to manage the people of the Soudan," they said, "and
he will be able to persuade the Mahdi to let the garrisons go free."

"With an army to support him, yes," said the Queen; "but alone, no."

Nevertheless, General Gordon was sent to cross the desert almost alone.
In spite of all that the brave commander could do, the Mahdi could not
be persuaded to let the garrisons go, and soon the envoy himself was
shut up in Khartoum. "Help us," he pleaded with England. "Send us
troops." Still the government delayed, in spite of the Queen's
warnings. No help came, and General Gordon then sent a messenger to beg
private parties in the British colonies and the United States for money
to organize a relief expedition; but the messengers were captured and
put to death. The Queen urged and insisted that relief should be given,
and the people insisted with her. Troops were sent at last, and they
hastened on till they were only a mile and a half from Khartoum. But
they were forty-eight hours too late, for the city had fallen, and
General Gordon had been slain.

Queen Victoria was a constitutional monarch. She had stood firmly by
her Ministers ever since the Bedchamber Plot of the first year of her
reign; but she was also a woman, a loving, tender-hearted woman, and
she wrote to General Gordon's sister a letter in which sympathy for her
loss and indignation for the "stain left upon England" were mingled.
She said:

"DEAR MISS GORDON,

"How shall I write to you, or how shall I attempt to express what
I feel! To think of your dear, noble, heroic brother, who served
his country and his Queen so truly, so heroically, with a
self-sacrifice so edifying to the world, not having been rescued!
That the promises of support were not fulfilled--which I so
frequently and constantly pressed on those who asked him to go--is
to me grief inexpressible."

General Gordon's diary was found and sent to his sister. Its last entry
was, "I have done my best for the honor of our country. Good-by." His
Bible was presented by his sister to the Queen. It was placed on a
cushion of white satin in an exquisite casket of carved crystal with
silver mountings. "This is one of my greatest treasures," the Queen
often said, as she sadly pointed it out to her friends.

The Queen was aroused from her sorrow over what she ever looked upon as
a disgrace to her country by the approaching marriage of Princess
Beatrice to Prince Henry of Battenberg. Their wedding was quite
different from those of the other royal children, for it was celebrated
at the country church near Osborne. No one knew how to manage a royal
wedding in a little village church, and there were all sorts of
momentous questions to be settled before the arrangements were
complete. It all came out well in the end, however. There was not room
for quite so many royalties as usual, but the wedding day was a
delightful holiday for the people of the Isle of Wight, for there were
fireworks, bands, a dinner and a dance for all the tenants and servants
on the estate, and a most beautiful display of sailing vessels and
steamers. Tennyson's home was on the Isle of Wight, and the Queen sent
him a charmingly informal invitation to the wedding. "It would give me
the greatest pleasure," she wrote, "if you would come over for the
wedding in our village church, but I fear you won't do that? But pray
come and see me when all is quiet again." Tennyson did not attend the
wedding, but the Princess must have counted among her choicest gifts
his message, "To the royal bride the old poet sends his blessing." This
marriage alone of all those in the royal family was not to bring
separation, for it was agreed that the Princess and Prince Henry should
remain with the Queen.

This Queen and Empress had now been on the throne for nearly half a
century, and throughout her dominions there was a feeling that so rare
an event ought to be celebrated with fitting magnificence. The Jubilee
feeling was in the air. Every town and every little village wished to
mark the time by something that should remain as a lasting memorial.
Libraries, hospitals, and museums were founded, and parks were
purchased and thrown open to the public. Memorial clocks, statues,
schools, and towers sprang into being in every corner of the land, and
in all the colonies. "God Save the Queen" was sung in Hindustanee on
the shores of Asia and in Hebrew in the synagogues of London. Addresses
of congratulation and loyalty came in by the score; representatives of
all the colonies flocked to England, as sons and daughters hastened
homeward to a family gathering.

The part to be taken in the celebration by associations, cities, and
kingdoms had all been planned when it occurred to the editor of one of
the London newspapers that nobody had remembered the children. "Let us
give the boys and girls of London a feast and an entertainment in Hyde
Park," he suggested. "You can't do it," declared the grumblers. "It is
a foolish, wicked scheme. There will be a crush, accidents will happen,
and hundreds will be injured." Nevertheless, people subscribed so
generously that soon all the money needed had been provided. When the
children came to the Park, they were taken in groups to great tents;
and when they came out, each one had a paper bag which contained "a
meat pie, a piece of cake, a bun, and an orange." Their little hands
must have been full, for besides the eatables, each one received a
little medallion portrait of the Queen and a Jubilee mug. The mugs saw
hard service among the thirsty little folk, for all day milk, lemonade,
and ginger beer were free to every child who presented his empty mug.
The children were amused by all sorts of games and shows. Dukes and
princes and representatives of powerful kingdoms came to see the good
time; and at last the Queen herself came and gave a special greeting,
not to the grown folk, but every word of it to the children. Long
before bedtime had come, every one of the twenty-seven thousand small
people was safe in his own home, and the grumblers grumbled no more.

June 21, 1887, was "Jubilee Day." Fifty years had passed since the
young girl had been aroused from her sleep to hear that she was Queen
of a mighty nation; and now, in all the glory of her half century of
successful sovereignty, she was to go to Westminster Abbey to thank God
for his help and protection.

She now represented, not a kingdom, but an enormous empire, and every
corner of it wished to do her honor. The streets of London were spanned
by triumphal arches. They were made into a fairyland of flowers,
banners, drapings of silk and velvet and tapestry. Staging for seats
had been put up all along the route, and every seat was filled.
Fabulous prices were paid for a house, a window or even a few square
inches on a rough plank. Thousands of people had been out since sunrise
to secure a place to see the grand procession; and at last it came in
sight, moving slowly toward the multitude that waited all a-tremble
with excitement and with devotion to the noble woman who was the symbol
of home and country.

First came the carriages containing the dark-faced princes of India,
robed in cloth of gold, and shaded with turbans glittering with
priceless jewels. Many carriages followed, filled with kings, queens,
crown princes, and grand dukes. There were equerries, aides-de-camp, an
escort of Life Guards, and a guard of honor composed of princes riding
three abreast, the Queen's sons, grandsons, sons-in-law and
grandsons-in-law. Towering up among them was the superb figure of
Prince "Fritz," Crown Prince of a united Germany. His uniform was of
pure white, his helmet of burnished steel, and on it was the Prussian
eagle with outspread wings. At last the woman for whom all were waiting
came in sight. The splendid robes of her coronation were fifty years
behind her, but even in her plainer dress she looked every inch a
queen. The Princess Alexandra and the Crown Princess of Germany were
with her. For twenty-five years the sovereign had so rarely appeared in
public that to her subjects this was more than a mere royal procession,
it was the coming back to them of their Queen. A great wave of devotion
and loyalty swept over the hearts of the throng. "Not the Queen, but
my Queen," they said to themselves, and such a greeting was given her
as few monarchs have received.

The Abbey had been filled long before. Rich strains of music were
coming from the organ. There was a moment's silence, then the silver
trumpets of the heralds were blown, and the church resounded with
Handel's march from the "Occasional Oratorio." The Queen entered. She
was preceded by archbishops, bishops, and deans, all in the most
elaborate vestments of their offices. The guard of royal princes walked
slowly up the nave, three abreast, the Prince of Wales and his two
brothers coming last. Slowly the Queen to whom all the world was doing
honor, ascended the steps of the throne. The vast assemblage was
hushed, and stood for a moment with heads bowed in reverence.

A short, simple service followed of praise and thanksgiving. Then her
sons and daughters, who had been grouped around the Queen, came forward
one at a time to bow before her and kiss her hand. As they rose, she
gave each of them a kiss, not of state, but of warm, motherly affection
that in this crowning moment of her career could not be satisfied with
the restrictions of ceremony.

That evening there were fireworks and illuminations in all the
principal cities. England shone literally from shore to shore, for a
beacon fire was lighted on Malvern Hills, and in a moment, as its
distant gleam shone on other hills, other beacons blazed, till from
Land's End to the Shetland Islands it was rejoicingly written in
letters of fire that for fifty years the realm had been under the rule
of a pure and upright womanhood.

At last the day was fully ended. "I am very happy," said the Queen; and
well she might be, for this day had shown her that she was sovereign,
not only of the land and its treasures, but of the loving hearts of her
subjects.





Next: The Queen And The Children

Previous: Mother And Empress



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