Allies From Afar And Death And Absence

Lady Bloomfield describes a set of visitors at Windsor this year such as

have not infrequently come a long way to pay their homage to the Queen,

and to see for themselves the wonders of civilisation. The party consisted

of five Indian chiefs, two squaws, a little girl, and a half-breed,

accompanied by Mr. Catlin as interpreter. The Queen received the strangers

in the Waterloo Gallery. The elder chief made a speech with all the

dignity and self-confidence of his race. It was to the effect that he was

much pleased the Great Spirit had permitted him to cross the large lake

(the Atlantic) in safety. They had wished to see their great mother, the

Queen. England was the light of the world; its rays illuminated all

nations, and reached even to their country. They found it much larger than

they expected, and the buildings were finer than theirs, and the wigwam

(Windsor Castle) was very grand, and they were pleased to see it.

Nevertheless, they should return to their own country and be quite happy

and contented. They thanked the Great Spirit they had enough to eat and

drink. They thought the people in England must be very rich, and they

looked pleased and happy. They (the Chippewas) had served under the

English sovereigns and had fought their battles. He--the chief--had served

under ----, the greatest chief that had ever existed or had ever been

known. He had been on the field of battle when his general was killed and

had helped to bury him. He had received kindness from the English nation,

for which he thanked them; their wigwams at home had been made comfortable

with English goods. He had nothing more to say. He had finished.

These Indians had their faces tattooed and were clad in skins, with large

bunches of feathers on their heads. The men were armed with tomahawks,

clubs, wooden swords, bows, and spears. The women were in the height of

squaw-fashion, with long black hair, dresses reaching to their feet, and

quantities of coloured beads. Two war-dances were danced before the Queen,

one of the chiefs playing a sort of drum, the music being assisted by

shrieks and cries and the shaking of a rattle. The dance began by the

dancers quivering in every joint, then passed into a slow movement, which

ended in violent action.

Such an interlude was welcome in the necessary monotony of Court life to

those who do not penetrate into its inmost circle. Lady Bloomfield writes,

"Everything else changes; the life at Court never does; it is exactly the

same from day to day and year to year." And she records, as an agreeable

diversion from the set routine, the mistake of one of the pages, by which

an equerry-in-waiting, in the absence of another official, received a

wrong order about dinner. When the Queen dines in private there is a

purely Household dinner in the room appointed for the purpose. In those

days the Queen rarely dined two days consecutively in private, so that her

suite were surprised by the announcement that there were to be two

Household dinners--the one after the other. The ladies and gentlemen sat

down together in the Oak Room at eight o'clock, and had finished their

soup and fish, when a message came from the Queen to know who had given

the order that they were to dine without her. The company stared blankly

at each other, finished their dinner with what appetite they might, and

adjourned to the drawing-room, when they were told that her Majesty was

coming. One can fancy the consternation of the courtiers, who were "only

in plain evening coats," instead of Windsor uniform. Happily it occurred

to the defaulters that it would be but right to anticipate her Majesty, so

that all rushed off to the corridor to meet the Queen and the Prince, who

were much amused by the blunder.

There is a pleasant little picture of the young family at Windsor in one

of the Prince's letters this winter: "The children, in whose welfare you

take so kindly an interest, are making most favourable progress. The

eldest, "Pussy" (the Princess Royal at three years of age), is now quite a

little personage. She speaks English and French with great fluency and

choice of phrase.... The little gentleman (the Prince of Wales) is grown

much stronger than he was.... The youngest (Princess Alice) is the beauty

of the family, and is an extraordinarily good and merry child."

January, 1844, brought a severe trial to Prince Albert, and through him to

the Queen, in the sudden though not quite unexpected death of his father

at Gotha, at the comparatively early age of sixty years. Father and son

were much attached to each other, they had been parted for nearly four

years since the Prince's marriage, and the early meeting to which they had

been looking forward was denied to them.

The Queen wrote to Baron Stockmar, in the beginning of February, "Oh, if

you could be here now with us: My darling stands so alone, and his grief

is so great and touching.... He says (forgive my bad writing, but my tears

blind me) I am now all to him. Oh, if I can be, I shall be

only too happy; but I am so disturbed and affected myself, I fear I can be

but of little use."

"I have been with the Queen a good deal, altogether,"--Lady Lyttelton

refers to this time; "she is very affecting in her grief, which is in

truth all on the Prince's account; and every time she looks at him her

eyes fill afresh. He has suffered dreadfully, being very fond of his

father, and his separation from him and the suddenness of the event, and

his having expected to see him soon, all contribute to make him worse."

The Prince himself wrote to his trusty friend, "God will give us all

strength to bear the blow becomingly. That we were separated gives it a

peculiar poignancy; not to see him, not to be present to close his eyes,

not to help to comfort those he leaves behind, and to be comforted by them

is very hard. Here we sit together, poor Mama (the Duchess of Kent, the

late Duke of Coburg's sister), Victoria and myself, and weep, with a great

cold public around us, insensible as stone."

The Prince had one source of consolation, that of a good son who had never

caused his father pain. He had another strong solace in the reality and

worth of the new ties which were replacing the old, both in his own case

and in that of his brother. "The good Alexandrine," Prince Albert

remarked, referring to his sister-in-law, "seems to me in the whole

picture like the consoling angel." Then he goes on, "Just so is Victoria

to me, who feels and shares my grief and is the treasure on which my whole

existence rests. The relation in which we stand to each other leaves

nothing to desire. It is a union of heart and soul, and is therefore

noble; and in it the poor children shall find their cradle, so as to be

able one day to ensure a like happiness for themselves."

Lady Lyttelton describes a sermon which Archdeacon Wilberforce preached at

Windsor at this season, February, 1844. "Just before church time the Queen

told me that Archdeacon Wilberforce was going to preach, so I had my treat

most unexpectedly, mercifully I could call it, for the sermon, expressed

in his usual golden sweetness of language, was peculiarly practical and

useful to myself--I mean, ought to be. 'Hold thee still in the Lord and

abide patiently upon him,' was the text, and the peace, trust and rest

which breathed in every sentence, ought to do something to assuage any and

every worret, temporal and spiritual. There were some beautiful

passages on looking forward into 'the misty future,' and its misery to a

worldly view, and the contrary. The whole was rather the more striking

from its seeming to come down so gently upon the emblems of earthly sorrow

(referring to the mourning for Prince Albert's father), we are in such 'a

boundless contiguity of shade.' There was a beautiful passage--I wish you

could have heard it, because you could write it out--about growth in grace

being greatest when mind and heart are at rest, and in stillness like the

first shoot of spring which is not forwarded by the storm or hurricane,

but by the silent dews of early dawn; another upon the melancholy of human

life, 'most beautiful because most true.'"

It was judged desirable that the Prince should go to Germany for a

fortnight at Easter. It was his first separation from the Queen since

their marriage, and both felt it keenly. Lady Lyttelton wrote of her

Majesty on the occasion: "The Queen has been behaving like a pattern wife

as she is, about the Prince's tour; so feeling and so wretched and yet so

unselfish; encouraging him to go, and putting the best face on it to the

last moment.... We all feel sadly wicked and unnatural in his absence, and

I am actually counting the days on my part as her Majesty is on hers,"

adds the kindly, sympathetic woman. The Queen of the Belgians,--and later,

King Leopold, came over to console their niece by their company during

part of her solitude. But her best refreshment must have been the letters

with which couriers were constantly riding to and fro, full of a lover's

tenderness and a brother's care, from the first to the last; these

dispatches came unfailingly. They breathed "the tender green of hope,"

like the spring which was on the land at the time.

From Dover the husband wrote: "My own darling.... I have been here about

an hour and regret the lost time which I might have spent with you. Poor

child, you will, while I write, be getting ready for luncheon, and you

will find a place vacant where I sat yesterday; in your heart, however, I

hope my place will not be vacant. I, at least, have you on board with me

in spirit. I reiterate my entreaty, 'Bear up,' and do not give way to low

spirits, but try to occupy yourself as much as possible; you are even now

half a day nearer to seeing me again; by the time you get this letter you

will be a whole one--thirteen more and I am again within your arms."

From Ostend he wrote, "I occupy your old room." From Cologne, "Your

picture has been hung up everywhere, and been very prettily wreathed with

laurel, so that you will look down from the walls on my tete-a-tete

with Bouverie" (the Prince's equerry).... "Every step takes me farther

from you--not a cheerful thought." From Gotha, in the centre of his

kinsfolk, he told her what delight her gifts had given, and added, "Could

you have witnessed the happiness my return gave my family, you would have

been amply repaid for the sacrifice of our separation. We spoke much of

you." From Reinhardtsbrunn and Rosenau he sent the flowers he had gathered

for her. He wrote of the toys he had got for the children, the presents he

was bringing for her. At Kalenberg--one of his late father's country

seats--he broke out warmly, "Oh, how lovely and friendly is this dear old

country; how glad I should be to have my little wife beside me, that I

might share my pleasure with her."

Coburg had grown marvellously in beauty. In company with his stepmother,

brother, and sister-in-law, he went to the town church and was deeply

moved by the devotional singing, and "an admirable sermon" from the

pastor, who had confirmed the two brothers. Afterwards they rode together

to their father's last resting-place. The Prince's biographer closes the

account of this tour with a few significant words from Prince Albert's

diary, in which he noted down in the briefest form the events of each day:

"Crossed on the 11th. I arrived at six o'clock in the evening at

Windsor. Great joy."

As a surprise for the Queen's birthday this year, the Prince had privately

ordered a little picture of angels from Sir C. Eastlake, who had received

a similar commission from the Queen for a picture with which she intended

to greet the Prince.

A still more welcome surprise to Her Majesty was a miniature of Prince

Albert in armour, according to a fancy of the Queen's, by Thorburn, a

likeness which proved the best of all the portraits taken of the Prince,

the most successful in catching the outward look when it expressed most

characteristically the man within. This picture, together with that of the

angels holding a medallion bearing the inscription "Heil und segen"

(Health and Blessing), and all the other presents were placed in a room

"turned into a bower by dint of enormous garlands."

The Queen and the Prince's relations with artists were naturally, from the

royal couple's artistic tastes, intimate and happy. Accordingly, many

pictures not only of great personages in State ceremonies, but of family

groups in the simplicity of domestic life, survive as a proof of the

connection. Vandyck did not paint Charles I. and Henrietta Maria more

frequently than Landseer and some of his contemporaries painted her

Majesty, with her husband and children, in the bright and unclouded summer

of her life; and Vandyck, never painted his royal patrons in such easy

unaffected guise and everyday circumstances. There is such a picture of

Landseer's, well known from engravings, in which the Prince is represented

in a Highland dress returned late from shooting, seated, surrounded by the

trophies of his sport in deer, blackcock, &c. &c., and by a whole colony

of delighted dogs,--beautiful Eos conspicuous by her sobriety and reserve,

while an enraptured terrier presses forward to lick his master's hand. The

Queen, dressed for dinner and still girlish-looking in her white satin,

stands talking to the Prince. The Princess Royal, a chubby child of two or

three, is prowling childlike among the dead game, curiously making her


Of many stories told of royal visits to studios, there are two which refer

to an enfant terrible, the baby son of one of the painters. This

small man having undertaken to be cicerone to his father's work, sought

specially to point out to her Majesty that two elves were likenesses of

himself and a little brother, "only, you know, we don't go about without

clothes at home," he volunteered the confidential explanation.

The same child horrified an attentive audience by declining to receive a

gracious advance made to him by the Queen, asserting with the utmost

candour, "I don't like you."

"But why don't you like me, my boy?" inquired the loving mother of other

little children, in some bewilderment.

"Because you are the Queen of England and you killed Queen Mary," the

ardent champion of the slain Queen answered boldly.

The story goes on, that after a little laughter at the anachronism, Her

Majesty took some trouble to explain to the malcontent that he was wrong,

she did not kill Queen Mary, she had been very sorry for her fate. So far

from killing her, she, Queen Victoria, was one of Queen Mary's

descendants, and it was because she came of the old Stewart line that she

reigned over both England and Scotland.

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