Birth Of The Duke Of Albany





At Balmoral the following autumn, the Queen heard of the death of her

most illustrious subject--the Duke of Wellington, and green are those

"Leaves" in the journal of her "life in the Highlands," devoted to his

memory. She wrote of him as a sovereign seldom writes of a subject,--

glowingly, gratefully, tenderly. "One cannot think of this country,

without 'the Duke,' our immortal hero"--she said.



There was a glorious state and popular funeral for the grand old man, who

was laid away with many honors and many tears in the crypt of St. Paul's

Cathedral, where his brother hero, Nelson, was waiting to receive him.



When early in 1853, the news came to Windsor Castle that the French

Emperor had selected a bride, not for her wealth, or high birth, or royal

connections, but for her beauty, and grace, and because he loved her,

Victoria and Albert, as truly lovers as when they entered the old castle

gates, as bride and bridegroom, felt more than ever friendly to him, and

desirous that he should have a fair field, if no favor, to show what he

could do for France. I am afraid they half forgot the coup d'état,

and the widows, orphans and exiles it had made.



In April, the Queen's fourth son, who was destined to "carry weight" in

the shape of names,--Leopold George Duncan Albert--now Duke of Albany,

was born in Buckingham Palace.



During this year "the red planet Mars" was in the ascendant. The ugly

Eastern Trouble, which finally culminated in the Crimean War, began to

loom in the horizon, and England to stir herself ominously with military

preparations. Drilling and mustering and mock combats were the order of

the day, and the sound of the big drum was heard in the land. They had a

grand battle-rehearsal at Chobham, and the Queen and Prince went there on

horseback; she wearing a military riding-habit, and accompanied by the

Duke of Coburg and her cousin George, King of Hanover.



The weather was genuine "Queen's weather," bright and warm; but Prince

Albert, who returned a few days later, to rough it, in a season of

regular camp-life, was almost drowned out of his tent by storms. In fact,

the warrior bold went home with a bad cold, which ended in an attack of

measles. There was enough of this disease to go through the family, Queen

and all. Even the guests took it, the Crown Prince of Hanover and the

Duke and Duchess of Coburg, who on going home gave it to the Duke of

Brabant and the Count of Flanders. I suppose there never was known such a

royal run of measles.



This year the Queen and Prince went again to Ireland, to attend the

Dublin Industrial Exhibition, and were received with undiminished

enthusiasm. It is remarkable that in Ireland the Queen was not once shot

at, or struck in the face, or insulted in any way, as in her own capital.

All the most chivalric feeling of that mercurial, but generous people,

was called out by the sight of her frank and smiling face. She trusted

them, and they proved worthy of the trust.



After their return to Balmoral, the Prince wrote: "We should be happy

here were it not for that horrible Eastern complication. A European war

would be a terrible calamity. It will not do to give up all hope; still,

what we have is small."



It daily grew smaller, as the war-clouds thickened and darkened in the

political sky. During those troublous times, when some men's hearts were

failing them for fear, and some men's were madly panting for the fray,

asking nothing better than to see the Lion of England pitted against the

Bear of Russia, the Prince was in some quarters most violently and

viciously assailed, as a designing, dangerous "influence behind the

throne"--treacherous to England, and so to England's Queen. So

industriously was this monstrous slander spread abroad, that the story

went, and by some simple souls was believed, that "the blameless Prince"

had been arrested for high treason, and lodged in the Tower! Some had it

that he had gone in through the old Traitors' Grate, and that they were

furbishing up the old axe and block for his handsome head! Then the rumor

ran that the Queen had also been arrested, and was to be consigned to the

grim old fortress, or that she insisted on going with her husband and

sharing his dungeon. Thousands of English. people actually assembled

about the Tower to see them brought in,--and yet this was not on All-

Fools' Day.



Poor Baron Stockmar was also suspected of dark political intrigues and

practices detrimental to the peace and honor of England. He was, in fact,

accused of being a spy and a conspirator--which was absurdity itself. He

was, it seems to me, a high-minded, kindly old man, a political

philosopher and moralist--rather opinionated always, and at times a

little patronizing towards his royal pupils; but if they did not object

to this, it was no concern of other people. He certainly had a shrewd, as

well as a philosophic mind--was a sagacious "clerk of the weather" in

European politics,--and I suppose a better friend man or woman never had

than the Prince and the Queen found in this much distrusted old German

Baron.



Though Prince Albert wrote at this time about having "a world of

torment," he really took matters very patiently and philosophically. In

the devotion of his wife, in the affection of his children, in his

beloved organ, "the only instrument," he said, "for expressing one's

feelings," he found consolation and peace. He wrote,--"Victoria has taken

the whole affair greatly to heart, and is excessively indignant at the

attacks." But a triumphant refutation, in both Houses of Parliament, of

all these slanders, consoled her much; and on the anniversary of her

marriage she was able to write--"This blessed day is full of joyful and

tender emotions. Fourteen happy years have passed, and I confidently

trust many more will pass, and find us in old age, as we are now, happily

and devotedly united! Trials we must have; but what are they if we are

together?"



In March, 1854, the Queen and Prince went to Osborne to visit the

magnificent fleet of vessels which had been assembled at Spithead. Her

Majesty wrote to Lord Aberdeen--"We are just starting to see the fleet,

which is to sail at once for its important destination. It will be a

solemn moment! Many a heart will be very heavy, and many a prayer,

including our own, will be offered up for its safety and glory!"



Ah! when those beautiful ships went sailing away, with their white sails

spread, and the royal colors flying, death sat "up aloft," instead of the

"sweet little cherub" popularly supposed to be perched there, and winds

from the long burial-trenches of the battle-field played among the

shrouds.



King Frederick William of Prussia seemed to think that he could put an

end to this little unpleasantness, and wrote a long letter to the Queen

of England, paternally advising her to make some concessions to the

Emperor of Russia, which concessions she thought would be weak and

unworthy. Her reply reveals her characteristic high courage. One

quotation, which she makes from Shakspeare, is admirable:



"Beware

Of entrance to a quarrel; but being in,

Bear't, that the opposed may beware,

of thee."



Still, as we look back, it does seem as though with the wit of the Queen,

the wisdom of Prince Albert, the philosophy of Baron Stockmar,--the

philanthropy of Exeter Hall, and the piety of the Bench of Bishops, some

sort of peaceful arrangement might have been effected, and the Crimean

war left out of history. But then we should not have had the touching

picture of the lion and the unicorn charging on the enemy together, not

for England or France, but all for poor Turkey; and Mr. Tennyson could

not have written his "Charge of the Light Brigade," which would have been

a great loss to elocutionists. There were in Parliament a few poor-

spirited economists and soft-hearted humanitarians who would fain have

prevented that mighty drain of treasure and of the best blood of England-

holding, with John Bright, that this war was "neither just nor

necessary"; but they were "whistling against the wind." There was one

rich English quaker, with a heart like a tender woman's and a face like a

cherub's, who actually went over to Russia to labor with "friend

Nicholas" against this war. All in vain! the Czar was deeply moved, of

course, but would not give in, or give up.



On the 3d of March the Queen went to Parliament to receive the address of

both Houses in answer to her message which announced the opening of the

war. On this important occasion the young Prince of Wales took a place

for the first time with his mother and father on the throne. He looked

taller and graver than usual. His heart glowed with martial fire. His

voice, too, if he had been allowed to speak, would have been all for war.

A few days before this, the Queen, after seeing off the first division of

troops for the Baltic, had so felt the soldier-blood of her father

tingling in her veins, that she wrote: "I am very enthusiastic about my

dear army and navy, and I wish I had two sons in both now." But in later

years the widowed Queen is said to have been not eager to have any of her

sons, his sons, peril their lives in battle.



Though the Prince of Wales now had assigned to him a more honorable place

on the British throne than the British Constitution permitted his father,

to occupy, he was still perfectly amenable to that father's authority.



An English gentleman lately told me of an instance of the wise exercise

of that authority. The Prince-Consort and his son were riding across a

London toll-bridge, the keeper of which, on receiving his toll,

respectfully saluted them. Prince Albert courteously inclined his head,

touching his hat, but Prince Albert Edward dashed carelessly on, yet only

to return a minute after, laughing and blushing, to obey his father's

command--"My son, go back and return that man's salute."



The Queen was so enthusiastic that she with pleasure saw launched--

indeed, christened herself--a war-vessel bearing the name and likeness of

her "dearest Albert"--that humane, amiable, peace-loving man! There was

something incongruous in it, as there is in all associations between war

and good peace-lovers and Christ-lovers.



Amid these wars and rumors of wars, it is comforting to read in that

admirable and most comprehensive work, "The Life of His Royal Highness,

the Prince-Consort, by Sir Theodore Martin, K.C.B.," of pleasant little

domestic events, like a children's May-day ball at Buckingham Palace,

given on Prince Arthur's birthday, when two hundred children were made

happy and made others happier. Then there were great times at Osborne for

the Royal children on their mother's birthday, when a charming house--the

Swiss cottage--and its grounds, were made over to them, to have and to

hold, as their very own. It was not wholly for a play-house and play-

ground, but partly as a means of instruction in many things. In the

perfectly-appointed kitchen of the cottage the little Princesses learned

to perform many domestic tasks, and to cook different kinds of plain

dishes as well as cakes and tarts--in short, to perform the ordinary

duties of housekeepers; while in the grounds and gardens the young

Princes used to work two or three hours a day under the direction of a

gardener, getting regular certificates of labor performed, which they

presented to their father, who always paid them as he would have paid any

laborer for the same amount and quality of work--never more, never less.

Each boy had his own hoe and spade, which not a Princeling among them all

considered it infra-dig. to use. The two eldest boys, Albert

Edward and Alfred, also constructed under their father's directions a

small fortress perfect in all its details. All the work on this military

structure, even to the making of the bricks, was done by the Princes. The

little Princesses also worked in the gardens, each having her own plot,

marked with her own name, from Victoria to Beatrice. There was a museum

of natural history attached to the cottage, and we can easily imagine the

wonderful specimens of entomology and ornithology there to be found. Ah!

have any of the grown-up Royal Highnesses ever known the comfort and fun

in their grand palaces that they had in the merry old Swiss cottage days?



In the autumn of 1854 Prince Albert went over to Boulogne for a little

friendly visit to England's chief ally, taking with him little Arthur. He

seems to have found the French Emperor a little stiff and cold at first,

as he wrote to the Queen, "The Emperor thaws more and more." In the

sunshine of that genial presence he had to thaw. The Prince adds: "He

told me one of the deepest impressions ever made upon him was when he

arrived in London shortly after King William's death and saw you at the

age of eighteen going to open Parliament for the first time."



The Prince made a deep impression on the Emperor. Two men could not be

more unlike. The character of the one was crystal clear, and deeper than

it appeared--the character of the other was murky and mysterious, and

shallower than it seemed.



This must have been a season of great anxiety and sadness for the Queen.

The guns of Alma and Sebastopol echoed solemnly among her beloved

mountains. In her journal there is this year only one Balmoral entry--not

the account of any Highland expedition or festivity, but the mention of

an eloquent sermon by the Rev. Norman McLeod, and of his prayer, which

she says was "very touching," and added, "His allusions to us were so

simple, saying after his mention of us, 'Bless their children.' It gave

me a lump in my throat, as also when he prayed for the dying, the

wounded, the widow, and the orphan."



There came a few months later a ghastly ally of the Russians into the

fight--cholera--which, joined to the two terrible winter months,

"Generals January and February," as the Czar called them, made sad havoc

in the English and French forces, but did not redeem the fortunes of the

Russians. Much mal-administration in regard to army supplies brought

terrible hardships upon the English troops, and accomplished the

impossible in revealing in them new qualities of bravery and heroic

endurance.



It was an awful war, and it lasted as long as, and a little longer than,

the Czar, who died in March, 1855. "of pulmonary apoplexy," it was

announced, though the rumor ran, that, resolved not to survive

Sebastopol, he had taken his own unhappy life. With his death the war was

virtually ended, and his son Alexander made peace as soon as he decently

could with the triumphant enemies of his father.



Through all this distressful time the Queen and the Prince-Consort

manifested the deepest sympathy for, as well as pride in, the English

soldiers. They had an intense pity for the poor men in the trenches,

badly clad and half starved, grand, patient, ill-used, uncomplaining

fellows!



"My heart bleeds to think of it," wrote the Prince, of the army

administration. He corresponded with Florence Nightingale, and encouraged

her in her brave and saintly mission. When the sick and wounded began to

arrive, in England both he and the Queen were faithful in visiting them

in the hospitals, and Her Majesty had a peculiar sad joy in rewarding the

bravest of the brave with the gift of the Crimean medal. In a private

letter she gives a description of the touching scene. She says:



"From the highest Prince of the blood to the lowest private, all received

the same distinction for the bravest conduct in the severest actions....

Noble fellows! I own I feel for them as though they were my own

children.... They were so touched, so pleased! Many, I hear, cried, and

they won't hear of giving up their medals to have their names engraved

upon them for fear that they may not receive the identical ones put into

their hands by me. Several came by in a sadly mutilated state."



One of these heroes, young Sir Thomas Trowbridge, who had had one leg and

the foot of the other carried away by a round shot at Inkermann, was

dragged in a Bath-chair to the Queen, who, when she gave him his medal,

offered to make him one of her Aides-de-Camp, to which the gallant

and loyal soldier replied, "I am amply repaid for everything." Poor

fellow! I wonder if he continued to say that all his mutilated life?



Whenever during this war there was a hitch, or halt, in the victorious

march of English arms, any disaster or disgrace in the Crimea, the

attacks upon the Prince-Consort were renewed,--there were even threats of

impeachment;--but when the "cruel war was over," the calumnies were over

also. They were always as absurd as unfounded. Aside from his manly sense

of honor the Prince had by that time, at least, ten good reasons for

being loyal to England--an English wife and nine English children.





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