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The First Christening The Season Of 1841

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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

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Marriage Of The Princess Royal

Failing Health Of Prince Albert

Last Years Of The Prince Consort

The Emperor And Empress Of France Visit Windsor

Distribution Of Victoria Crosses By The Queen

Queen Victoria Absence From The Coronation Of William Iv






Victoria's First Christmas At Windsor Castle As Queen








On Lord Mayor's Day, the Queen went in state to dine with her brother-
monarch, the King of "Great London Town." It was a memorable, magnificent
occasion. The Queen was attended by all the great ladies and gentlemen of
her Court, and followed by an immense train of members of the royal
family, ambassadors, cabinet ministers and nobility generally--in all,
two hundred carriages of them. The day was a general holiday, and the
streets all along the line of the splendid procession were lined with
people half wild with loyal excitement, shouting and waving hats and
handkerchiefs. It may have been on this day that Lord Albemarle got off
his famous pun. On the Queen saying to him, "I wonder if my good people
of London are as glad to see me as I am to see them?" he replied by
pointing to the letters "V. R." "Your Majesty can see their loyal cockney
answer-'Ve are.'"

One account states that, "the young sovereign was quite overcome by the
enthusiastic outbursts of loyalty which greeted her all along the route,"
but a description of the scene sent me by a friend, Mrs. Newton Crosland,
the charming English novelist and poet, paints her as perfectly composed.
My friend says: "I well remember seeing the young Queen on her way to
dine with the Lord Mayor, on the 9th of November, 1837, the year of her
accession. The crowd was so great that there were constant stoppages,
and, luckily for me, one of them occurred just under the window of a
house in the Strand, where I was a spectator. I shall never forget the
appearance of the maiden-sovereign. Youthful as she was, she looked every
inch a Queen. Seated with their backs to the horses were a lady and
gentleman, in full Court-dress--(the Duchess of Sutherland, Mistress of
the Robes--and the Earl of Albemarle, Master of the Horse), and in the
centre of the opposite seat, a little raised, was the Queen. All I saw of
her dress was a mass of pink satin and swan's-down. I think she wore a
large cape or wrap of these materials. The swan's-down encircled her
throat, from which rose the fair young face--the blue eyes beaming with
goodness and intelligence--the rose-bloom of girlhood on her cheeks, and
her soft, light brown hair, on which gleamed a circlet of diamonds,
braided as it is seen in the early portraits. Her small, white-gloved
hands were reposing easily in her lap.

"On this occasion not only were the streets thronged, but every window in
the long line of the procession was literally filled, while men and boys
were seen in perilous positions on roofs and lamp-posts, trees and
railings. Loud and hearty cheers, so unanimous they were like one immense
multitudinous shout, heralded the royal carriage.

"A little before this date, a story was told of the lamentations of the
Queen's coachman. He declared that he had driven Her Majesty for six
weeks, without once being able to see her. Of course he could not turn
his head or his eyes from his horses."

At Temple Bar--poor, old Temple Bar, now a thing of the past!--the Queen
was met by the Lord Mayor, who handed her the city keys and sword, which
she returned to his keeping--a little further on, the scholars of
Christ's Hospital--the "Blue-Coat Boys," offered her an address of
congratulation, saying how glad they were to have a woman to rule over
them, which was a good deal for boys to say, and also sung the National
Anthem with a will.

The drawing-room of Guildhall was fitted up most gorgeously. Here the
address of the city magnates was read and replied to,--and here in the
midst of Princes and nobles, Her Majesty performed a brave and memorable
act. She knighted Sheriff Montefiore, the first man of his race to
receive such an honor from a British sovereign, and Sir Moses Montefiore,
now nearly a centenarian, has ever since, by a noble life and good works,
reflected only honor on his Queen. But ah, what would her uncle, the late
King, have said, had he seen her profaning a Christian sword by laying it
on the shoulders of a Jew! He would rather have used it on the
unbeliever's ears, after Peter's fashion.

After this ceremony, they all passed into the Great Hall, which had been
marvellously metamorphosed, by hangings and gildings, and all sorts of
magnificent decorations, by mirrors and lusters, and the display of vast
quantities of gold and silver plate--much of it lent for the occasion by
noblemen and private gentlemen, but rivalled in splendor and value by the
plate of the Corporation and the City Companies. From the roof hung two
immense chandeliers of stained glass and prisms, which with the flashing
of innumerable gas-jets, lighting up gorgeous Court-dresses, and the most
superb old diamonds of the realm, made up a scene of dazzling splendor,
of enchantment, which people who were there go wild over to this day.
Poets say it was like a vision of fairyland, among the highest circles of
that most poetic kingdom--and they know. I think a poet must have managed
the musical portion of the entertainment, for when Victoria appeared
sweet voices sang--

"At Oriana's presence all things smile!"

and presently--

"Oh happy fair!
Your eyes are lode-stars and your tongue's sweet air,
More tunable than lark to shepherd's ear,
When wheat is green, when hawthorn buds appear."

There was a raised platform at the east end of the hall, and on it the
throne, a beautiful state-chair, of dainty proportions, made expressly
for that fairy Princess, who took her seat thereon amid the most joyous
acclamations. On the platform before her, was placed the royal table,
decorated with exquisite flowers, and covered with a costly, gold-fringed
damask cloth, on which were served the most delicate viands and delicious
fruits, in season and out of season. Ah, as the young Queen, seated up
there, received the homage of the richly-robed Aldermen, and the
resplendent Sheriffs, and that effulgent Lord Mayor, she must have
fancied herself something more than a fairy Princess,--say, an Oriental
goddess being adored and sacrificed to by gorgeous Oriental Princes,
Sultans and Satraps, Pashas, Padishas, and the Grand-Panjandrum himself.

After the dinner, an imposing personage, called the Common Crier, strode
into the middle of the hall, and solemnly cried out: "The Right Honorable
the Lord Mayor gives the health of our Most Gracious Sovereign, Queen
Victoria!" This, of course, was drunk with all the honors, and extra
shouts that made the old hall ring. The Queen rose and bowed her thanks,
and then the Common Crier announced--Her Majesty's toast: "The Lord
Mayor, and prosperity to the City of London." The Queen, it is stated,
honored this toast in sherry one hundred and twenty years old--liquid
gold! Very gracious of her if she furnished the sherry. I hope, at all
events, she drank it with reverence. Why, when that old wine was bottled,
Her Majesty's grandfather lacked some twenty years of being born, and the
American Colonies were as loyal as London;--then the trunk of the royal
old Bourbon tree, whose last branch death lopped away but yesterday at
Frohsdorf, seemed solid enough, though rotten at the core; and, the great
French Revolution was undreamed of, except in the seething brain of some
wild political theorist, or in some poor peasant's nightmare of
starvation. When that old wine was bottled, Temple Bar, under the
garlanded arch of which Her Majesty had just passed so smilingly, was
often adorned with gory heads of traitors, and long after that old wine
was bottled, men and women could be seen of a Friday, dangling from the
front of Newgate prison, and swinging in the morning air, like so many
ghastly pendulums.

This year 1837, Victoria spent her first Christmas as a Queen at Windsor,
right royally I doubt not, and I think it probable she received a few
presents. A few days before, she had gone in state to Parliament, to give
her assent to the New Civil List Act-not a hard duty for her to perform,
it would seem, as that act settled on her for life an annual income of
£385,000. Let Americans who begrudge our President his $50,000, and wail
over our taxation, just put that sum into dollars. The English people did
not grumble at this grant, as they had grumbled over the large sums
demanded by Her Majesty's immediate predecessors. They knew it would not
be recklessly and wickedly squandered, and they liked to have their
bonnie young Queen make a handsome appearance among crowned heads. She
had not then revealed those strong and admirable traits of character
which later won their respect and affection,--but they were fond of her,
and took a sort of amused delight in her, as though they, were all
children, and she a wonderful new doll, with new-fashioned talking and
walking arrangements. The friend from whom I have quoted--Mrs. Crosland--
writes me: "I consider that it would be impossible to exaggerate the
enthusiasm of the English people on the accession of Queen Victoria to
the throne. To be able at all to understand it, we must recollect the
sovereigns she succeeded--the Sailor-King, a most commonplace old man,
with 'a head like a pine-apple'; George IV., a most unkingly king,
extremely unpopular, except with a small party, of High Tories; and poor
George III., who by the generation Victoria followed, could only be
remembered as a frail, afflicted, blind old man--for a long period shut
up at Kew, and never seen by his people. It was not only that Victoria
was a really lovely girl, but that she had the prestige of having
been brought up as a Liberal, and then she kept the hated Duke of
Cumberland from the throne. Possibly he was not guilty of half the
atrocious sins attributed to him, but I do not remember any royal
personage so universally hated."

It was fear of this bogie of a Cumberland that made the English people
anxious for the early marriage of the Queen, and yet caused them to dread
it, for the fate of poor Princess Charlotte had not been forgotten. But I
do not think that political or dynastic questions had much to do with the
popularity of the young Queen. It was the resurrection of the dead
dignity of the Royal House of Brunswick, in her fair person--the
resuscitation of the half-dead principle of loyalty in the hearts of her
people. Of her Majesty's subjects of the better class, actors and quakers
alone seem to have taken her accession with all its splendid accessions,
coolly,--the former, perhaps, because much mock royalty had somehow
cheapened the real thing, and the latter because trained from infancy to
disregard the pomps and show of this world. Macready jots down among the
little matters in his "Diary," the fact of Her Majesty coming to his
theatre, and waiting awhile after the play to see him and congratulate
him. He speaks of her as "a pretty little girl," and does not seem
particularly "set up" by her compliments. Joseph Sturge, the eminent and
most lovable philanthropist of Birmingham,--a "Friend indeed" to all "in
need,"--waited on Her Majesty, soon after her accession, as one of a
delegation of the Society of Friends. Some years after, he related the
circumstance to me, and simply described her to me as "a nice, pleasant,
modest young woman,--graceful, though a little shy, and on the whole,
comely."

"Did you kiss her hand?" I asked. "O yes, and found that act of homage no
hardship, I assure thee. It was a fair, soft, delicate little hand."

I afterwards regretted that I had not asked him what he did with his
broad-brimmed hat when he was about to be presented, knowing that the
principles of Fox and Penn forbade his removing that article in homage to
any human creature; but I have just discovered in a volume of Court
Records, that "the deputation from the Society of Friends, commonly
called Quakers, were uncovered, according to custom, by the Yeoman of the
Guard." As they were all non-resistants, they doubtless bore the
indignity passively and placidly. Moreover, they all bowed, if they did
not kneel, before the throne on which their Queen was seated, and as I
said kissed her hand, in token of their friendly fealty.

In June, 1838, were issued the first gold sovereigns, bearing the head of
the Queen--the same spirited young head that we see now on all the modern
gold and silver pieces of the realm. That on the copper is a little
different, but all are pretty--so pretty that Her Majesty's loyal
subjects prefer them to all other likenesses, even poor men feeling that
they cannot have too many of them.





Next: The Coronation

Previous: Comments Upon The Young Queen By A Contemporaneous Writer In Blackwood



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