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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

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The Queen's Sympathy During The Illness Of President Garfield








On the 7th of March, 1863, all London and nearly all England went mad
over the coming of the Princess Alexandra, from Denmark, to wed the
Prince of Wales. Lord Ronald Gower, a son of the beautiful Duchess of
Sutherland, gives in his "Reminiscences" a fine description of her
arrival in London, and of the wedding at Windsor three days after. He
says: "Probably since the day in Paris when Marie Antoinette was
acclaimed in the gardens of the Tuileries, no Princess ever had so
enthusiastic a reception, or so quickly won the hearts of thousands by
the mere charm of her presence." This writer gives a very vivid
description of the crowd which waited patiently for hours, of a cold,
wretched day, for the sight of that sweet face whose sweetness has never
yet cloyed upon them. At last, there came a small company of Life Guards,
escorting an open carriage-and-four, containing the young Danish Princess
and His Royal Highness Albert Edward, looking very happy and very
conscious. The smiling, blushing, appealing face of the Princess warmed
as well as won all hearts. There were few flowers at that season to
scatter on her way, except flowers of poetry, of which there was no jack.
Tennyson's pretty ode has not been forgotten, but all as noble and sweet
was the greeting of her from whom I have before quoted; Mrs. Crosland.
The most touching, though not the strongest verse in that poem, is this:

"She comes another child to be
To that Crowned Widow of the land,
Whose sceptre weighs more heavily
Since One has ceased to hold her hand."

The Queen did not feel herself equal to taking any part in the marriage
ceremony, but looked down upon the scene of grandeur and gayety from the
Royal Gallery of St George's Chapel. The Duchess of Sutherland attended
her then for the last time. She had been with her at her coronation and
marriage; to-day they were both widows, and must have been at the moment
living intensely and sorrowfully in the past. With the exception of the
Crown Princess of Germany and the Duke of Edinburgh, all the Queen's
children, down to little Beatrice, were present. The bride, it is stated,
"looked lovely; she did not raise her eyes once in going into, and but
little in going out of, the Chapel on her husband's arm."

This first daughter-in-law soon made a place for herself in the Queen's
heart, by her grace and amiability. I have heard a pretty little story of
an attempt of hers to lighten somewhat Her Majesty's heavy cloud of
mourning. Millinery being one of her accomplishments, she prevailed upon
the Queen to let her remodel her bonnet, which she did, principally by
removing a small basketful of sombre weeds. The Queen saw through her
little ruse and shook her head mournfully,--but wore the bonnet.

The next year London went still more mad over Garibaldi. His enthusiastic
admirers almost mobbed Stafford House, at which he was entertained by the
young Duke of Sutherland Lord Ronald Gower describes that memorable visit
and the popular excitement very vividly.

The Italian hero entered that beautiful palace, where a grand company of
the nobility were waiting to receive him, attired in a rough gray
overcoat and trousers, a large pork-pie hat, a loose black neck-tie, and
a red flannel shirt. This he never changed--I mean his style of dress,
not the shirt--but Garibaldi would have been quite un-Garibaldi-ed in an
English evening suit. Lord Ronald Gower writes that his noble, liberty-
loving mother was very devoted to their guest, but does not add that by
so doing she shocked the sensibilities of footmen and housemaids. One of
the latter once told to another guest, a moving story of the strange
habits of "Italian brigand": "Why, marm," she said, "he was such a
common-looking person, and he would get up so awful early and go hobbling
about in the garden. One morning at six o'clock, I looked out of my
window, and there he was walking up and down, and the Duchess with him--
my Duchess, walking and talking with the likes of him!"

The first public appearance of the widowed Queen was at the opening of
Parliament, in 1866. I do not know whether the splendid chair of State
she had provided for Prince Albert, in the happy old time, had been left
in its place, to smite her eyes with its gilding and her heart with its
emptiness; I do not know whether its presence or its absence would have
grieved her most; but every sorrowing widow knows what it is to look on
her husband's vacant chair. It does not matter whether it is made of
rude, unpainted wood and woven rushes, or is a golden and velvet-
cushioned chair of State,--it was his seat, and he is gone! Queen
Victoria must have felt that day, in her lonely grandeur, like crying out
with Constance,

"Here I and Sorrow sit. "

Lady Bloomfield gives a very touching account of her first visit to the
widowed mistress, whom, nearly twenty years before, she had so gladly and
proudly served--for true service is in the spirit, though the act may be
limited to taking a part in a duet, or handing the daily bouquet. She
wrote: "The Queen is dreadfully changed--most sad, but with the gentlest,
most benevolent smile. Even when the tears rolled down her cheeks, she
tried to smile." I think it was about this time that the Queen presented
to our George Peabody her portrait, expressly painted for him, in
recognition of his more than princely munificence in the gift of model
lodging-houses to the London poor. It was a small portrait--enameled, I
believe. I do not think it was an idealized picture, though the pencil
was evidently guided by a delicate and reverential loyalty, "doing its
spiriting gently," in marking the tracings of time and sorrow. In a
description which I wrote at the tune of its exhibition in Philadelphia,
I said: "With the exception of a touching expression of habitual sadness,
this face is very like the one I looked down upon from the gallery of the
House of Lords fifteen years ago. There is the same roundness of outline,
only 'a little more so'--almost the same freshness of tints in the fair
complexion. The soft brown hair is unchanged in color, if somewhat
thinner; and the clear blue eyes have the same steady outlook. The whole
figure is marked by a sort of regal rigidity. The face, if not positively
unhappy in expression, is quite empty of happiness. There is about it an
atmosphere of lonely state and absolute widowhood. The Mary Stuart cap is
very becoming to Her Majesty, but the black dress mars the picturesque
effect of the portrait. The neck and arms have all the roundness of
youth, and are exquisitely painted. I remember hearing the late Mr.
Gibson, who made several statues of the Queen, say that loyalty itself
need not to flatter her arms or bust; in sculpture or painting, as they
were really remarkably beautiful."

In 1868 the Queen had the misfortune to lose her "dearest Duchess"--that
grandest daughter of the grand house of Howard, the Duchess of
Sutherland. She floated all unconsciously out on the waves that wash
against the restful palm-crowned shore, her last words being, "I think I
shall sleep now--I am so tired."

The Princess Louise was married with really royal pomp and a brave
attempt at the old gayety, in St. George's Chapel, Windsor, in March,
1871, to the Marquis of Lome.

The bride, who, according to Lord Ronald Gower, was. "very pale, but
handsome as she always is," was accompanied by the Prince of Wales; her
uncle, the Grand Duke of Coburg; and, to the great joy of all the
assembly, by her mother, the Queen. The wedded pair went to Claremont for
their honeymoon. As they drove away, "rice and white satin slippers were
sent after them, and John Brown threw a new broom, Highland fashion."

The people were much comforted at this appearance of the Queen once more
in the great gay world. They had begun to think that her social seclusion
would never end. When she went down into the "valley of the shadow of
death" with her beloved, though she struggled bravely up alone, she
brought the shadow with her; it enveloped her and wrapped her away from
her subjects--even the most loving and sympathetic. Now they took heart,
believing that royalty was finally coming out from under its eclipse of
mourning, that the Court would be re-established in Buckingham Palace,
and things generally, go on as in the good old days. They never did,
however, and never will, under her reign. It is too much to ask of her,
it seems.

Whether it is true, as I hear, that the air of London is hurtful to her,
giving her severe headaches, or that the scenes of her childhood and
early queenhood, and of her marriage, are too much for her, and heart-
ache is the matter, I know not; but it is undeniable that the Queen
prefers any one of her other homes to Buckingham Palace. She only comes
to it when absolute compelled by the duties of State. It is hard for
London tradesmen and pleasure-seekers, who think Her Majesty's mourning
immoderate, and doubt whether their wives would fret so long for them;
but when, in the first year of her, reign, the pretty, wilful Victoria
said to Lord Melbourne: "What is the use of being a Queen if one cannot
do as one likes!" her people laughed and applauded. Surely, with years
and trouble, and much faithful care and labor, and has not lost the right
to have a mind of her own, or the will to maintain it.

Of late years I have seen Her Majesty some half dozen times; once on her
way to prorogue Parliament, seated in the grand State coach, drawn by the
superb, cream-colored State horses, in all imaginable splendor of
trappings--escorted by the dashing Life Guards, and all the royal
carriages, each with its resplendent coachman and footmen, most gorgeous
of human creatures, and inside, very nice and respectable-looking people,
with no particular air of pride or elation. The Queen wore a cloak of
ermine, a tiara of diamonds, and a long, cloud-like veil of tulle,
floating back from her face, which that day had a very pleasant, genial
expression. She is changed,--of course she is; but she has even more of
the old calm dignity, and when she smiles, the effect is magical; her
youth flashes over her face, and quite the old look--the look he
knew her by, comes back for a little while.

At other times I have had glimpses of her as her carriage dashed through
the gateway to Marlborough House, on a garden-party day, or through the
Park, as she was fleeing with all speed from the city, after a Drawing-
room. Sometimes, she has bowed right and left, and smiled, as though
pleased by the cheers of the people; but at other times she has scarcely
inclined her head, and worn a look of unsmiling, utter weariness--proving
that a woman may have much worldly goods, many jewels, and brave velvet
gowns, and heaps of India shawls, and half a dozen grand mansions, with a
throne in every one, and yet at times feel that this brief life of ours
is "all vanity and vexation of spirit."

The Queen, though she had not kept up her intimate relations with the
Emperor and Empress, was shocked at the utter ruin to them and their son,
which resulted from the French and Prussian war, and she was not wanting
in tender sympathy, when the poor frightened refugee, Eugenie, hid a
tearful face against her sisterly breast, and sobbed out, "I have been
too favorable to war." To the Emperor she granted an asylum and a grave.

I know not whether France will ever demand his dust, to give it sepulture
under the dome of the Invalides; but he has already on the banks of the
Seine the grandest of monuments--Paris. His memory stands fair and
firm in stately buildings and massive bridges, and is renewed every year
in the plane tree of noble Boulevards, those green longas vias,
grander than the military highways of the Caesars.

In 1867 the Prince of Wales fell grievously ill, with the same fearful
malady that had deprived him of his father. Intense was the anxiety not
only of the Royal Family, but of all the English people the world over.
Soon the sympathy of other nations was aroused, and prayers began to
ascend to Heaven for the preservation of that precious life, not only
from all Christian peoples, but from Hebrews, Mohammedans and Buddhists;
in heathen lands the missionaries prayed, and in heathen portions of
Christian cities the mission-children prayed, while on the high seas the
sailors responded fervently when the captain. read in the Service the
"Prayer for the Sick," meaning their Prince, "sick unto death." The fine
old boast of England's power, that "her morning drum beats round the
world," how poor it seems beside the thought, of this zone of prayer!
There had been nothing like this in English history, and there was
nothing like it in ours, till that heart-breaking time of the mortal
illness of President Garfield. O, worthy should be, the life and manifold
the good works of that man for whom so many peoples and tongues have
given surety to Heaven by fervent intercessions and supplications.

This long sad time of anxiety and peril drew the Queen out of her sorrow
as nothing had done before. She watched tenderly by the bedside of her
son, and when he was recovered, and went to St. Paul's to return thanks,
she sat by his side, and wore a white flower in her bonnet, and her
grateful smile showed that there was a rift in the cloud of her mourning,
and that God's sunlight was striking through.

Lord Ronald Gower quotes a letter from his sister, the Duchess of
Westminster, describing the Prince and Princess of Wales as she saw them
about this time. She said: "He is much thinner and his head shaved, but
little changed in his face, and looking so grateful. She looks thin and
worn, but so affectionate--tears in her eyes when talking of him, and his
manner to her so gentle."

Surely convalescence is a "state of grace." Would that it might always
last a lifetime with us!

During this year, Irish disaffection broke out very seriously in the
great Fenian movement. An upheaval this, from the lowest stratum of
society, with no gentlemen, or eloquent orators, for leaders, but all the
more appalling for that. These rough, desperate men meant, as they said,
"business." This movement was suppressed, driven under the surface, but
only to break out more appallingly than ever some ten or twelve years
later, in brutal assassinations, which have curdled the blood of the
world. Ah, must it always be so? Will this tiresome old Celtic Enceladus
never lie quiet, and be dead, though the mountain sit upon him ever so
solidly, and smoke ever so placidly above him?

Where now, we sadly ask, is the Ireland of Tom Moore, Father Prout, Lover
and Lever? Not enough left of it to furnish a new drama for Mr.
Boucicault. Donnybrook Fair has given place to midnight conspirations.
Fox-hunts to the stalking of landlords--all the jolly old customs
extinct, except the "wake." Peasant-life, over there, sometimes seems, at
the best, one protracted "wake."

I suppose it is too late now, yet I can but think that if the Queen had
built years ago, a palace in Ireland, at Killarney, or in lovely Wicklow,
or in Dublin itself, and resided there a part of every year, things might
have been better. She was so popular in that "distressful country" when,
by frequent visits, she testified an interest in it, and her gentle,
motherly presence might have had a more placating influence than any
"Coercion bill." The money she would have spent there,--the very crumbs
that would have fallen from her table, would have been a benefaction to
that poor people.

The Fenian drama had its ghastly closing tableau in the hanging of
the ringleaders, and the explosion at Clerkenwell. The hanging of those
Fenians must have been about the last of that sort of a public
entertainment, as a law was soon passed making all future executions
strictly private. Among a certain class of Her Majesty's subjects this
was a most unpopular measure. Pot-house politicians and gin-palace
courtiers, both ladies and gentlemen, discussed it hotly and denounced it
sternly, as an infringement on the sacred immemorial rights of British
freemen and a blow to the British Constitution.

In 1874 Mr. Disraeli had become Prime Minister. He died in 1880--Lord
Beaconsfield, sincerely lamented by the Queen, who was much attached to
him as a friend, and greatly admired him as a man of genius. He was a
brilliant novelist and a famous statesman; but the best things I know of
him are the tender love and manly gratitude he always testified towards
his devoted wife, and his pathetic mourning for her loss. He might have
adopted for her tombstone the quaint, terse epitaph of an American
husband--"Think what a wife should be, and she was that."

Through his means, the title of "Empress of India" was conferred on the
Queen by act of Parliament. Some English people opposed it as
superfluous, a sort of anti-climax of dignity, as "gilding the refined
gold" of English Sovereignty with baser metal, as "painting the lily" of
the noblest of English royal titles with India-ink; but it did no harm.
It did not hurt the Radicals and it pleased the Rajahs.

Then came the Zulu war, with its awful disasters in the inglorious
slaughter of some thousands of gallant young soldiers, among which,
because of the power of romantic, historic associations, the death of the
young Prince Imperial stands out in woful relief. This was a severe
personal shock to the Queen. With all her tender sympathy she tried to
console the inconsolable Empress, and with her sons paid funeral honors
to the memory of the Prince, who had been almost as one of her family.
The only time I ever saw him he was in their company, driving away from a
royal garden-party.

The Prince of Wales visited India, traveled and hunted extensively, was
fĂȘted after the most gorgeous Oriental style, and brought home rich
presents enough to set up a grand Eastern bazaar in Marlborough House,
and animals enough to start a respectable menagerie. Everywhere he went
he inclined the hearts of the people to peace and loyalty, by his frank
and genial ways. Does His Royal Highness ever propose such a tour in
Ireland? He would not probably receive as tribute so much jewelry and
gorgeous merchandise--so many tigers, pythons and other little things;
but there is a fine chance for giving over there, and we read: "It is
more blessed to give, than to receive."

I come now to that period of our national history with which the Queen of
England so kindly, so "gently and humanly" associated herself--I mean the
illness and death of President Garfield. To this day, that association is
a drop of sweetness in the bitter cup of our sorrow and humiliation. From
the 2d of July, 1881, the date of her first telegram of anxious inquiry
addressed to our Minister, to the 27th of the following September, when
she telegraphed her tender solicitude as to the condition of "the late
President's mother," not a week went by that she did not send to Mr.
Lowell sympathetic messages, asking for the latest news--congratulating
or condoling, as the state of "the world's patient" fluctuated between
life and death--and when all was over, she at once telegraphed directly
to Mrs. Garfield in these words of tenderest commiseration, so worthy of
her great heart:

"Words cannot express the deep sympathy I feel with you at this terrible
moment. May God support and comfort you as He alone can."

She afterwards sent an autograph letter to Mrs. Garfield, and also asked
for a photograph of the President.

No American who was in London at that time, especially on the day of or
President's funeral, so universally observed throughout Great Britain,
can ever forget the generous, whole-souled sympathy of the English
people, in part at least, inspired by the words 'and acts of the English
Queen. The intense interest with which she had watched that melancholy
struggle between "the Two Angels," over that distant death-bed, and the
grief with which she beheld the issue were known and responded to, and so
the noble contagion spread. It was not needed, perhaps, that signs of
mourning should be shown in her Palace windows, to have them appear as
they did, all over the vast city, but it was something strange and
affecting to see those blinds of a proud royal abode lowered out of
respect for the memory of a republican ruler, and sympathy for an
untitled "sister-widow."

We respected all those signs of mourning about us then--were grateful for
them all, from the flag at half-mast and the tolling bell, to the closing
of the shop of the small tradesman, and the bit of crape on the whip of
the cabman.





Next: My Reasons For Honoring The Queen

Previous: The Twilight Life After



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