Mother And Empress

While the German wars were going on the Queen was thinking for her

country as a sovereign and feeling for her children as a mother. In the

midst of all the claims upon her, she had one aim that she never

forgot, and that was to make her country understand and appreciate the

talents and character of Prince Albert. She concluded to have a book

prepared that should tell the story of his life, for she felt that no

one who really knew him could fail to honor him. When the first volume

was published, even her children were surprised that she should tell

matters of her own private life so fully; but she loved and trusted her

people, and she was as frank with them as she would have been with an

intimate friend.

The year after this book was brought out, the Queen herself became the

author of a book, "Our Life in the Highlands." It is made up of

extracts from the journal which she always kept. "Simple records," she

calls them, but they often give charming pictures of the merry times at

Balmoral. Sir Arthur Helps aided her in preparing the book for the

press. "He often scolds me," she said, "because I am careless in

writing; but how could he expect me to take pains when I wrote late at

night, suffering from headache and exhaustion, and in dreadful haste?"

She arranged to have Sir Theodore Martin complete the life of the

Prince, and she spent much time in arranging her husband's papers and

letters for him to use. She generally chose the selections to be

inserted, and she read every chapter as it was written.

About her own authorship the Queen was very modest, and when she sent a

copy of her book to Dickens, she wrote in it, "From the humblest of

writers to one of the greatest." At Sir Walter Scott's home, she was

asked to write her name in his journal; and, although she granted the

request, she wrote in her own journal, "I felt it a presumption in me."

When Carlyle met her, he said, "It is impossible to imagine a politer

little woman; nothing the least imperious, all gentle, all sincere;

makes you feel too (if you have any sense in you) that she is Queen."

Her being Queen gave her a peculiar power over the marriages of her

children, for they were not legal unless she gave her formal consent.

Early in 1871 she was called upon again to exercise her right, for far

up in the hills about Balmoral there was a momentous little interview

between the Princess Louise and the Marquis of Lorne. "Princess Louise

is so bright and jolly to talk with," one of the Scotch boys had said

of her when she was a very young girl, and this Scotch Marquis was of

exactly the same opinion.

The Queen had guessed before how matters stood with her daughter and

the gentleman whom she had once called "such a merry, independent

child." The young man had proved his independence by asking for the

hand of the Princess, inasmuch as it was three hundred years since a

member of the royal family had married a subject, but the Queen paid no

attention to tradition. She felt sure that the Marquis would make her

daughter happy, and that was enough. Most of her subjects agreed with

her; and one of the newspapers said jubilantly, "The old dragon

Tradition was routed by a young sorcerer called Love."

The wedding was celebrated at Windsor. It was a brilliant scene, of

course, and if all the gentlemen were arrayed as vividly as the Duke of

Argyll, the father of the bridegroom, the ladies did not monopolize

gorgeousness of attire. The Duke was a Scottish chieftain, and he

appeared in Highland dress. His kilt and the plaid thrown over his

shoulders were of the gay Campbell tartan. His claymore, a broad

two-handed sword, was at his side, and in front there hung from his

belt a sporran, or deep pouch made of skin with the hair or fur on the

outside. His dirk sparkled with jewels. Altogether he might have

stepped out of some resplendent assemblage of the middle ages. After

the wedding breakfast, the bride laid aside her white satin and Honiton

lace and arrayed herself in a traveling dress of Campbell plaid. The

carriage door was closed, and the young couple drove away for Claremont

in a little shower of white slippers, accompanied, according to

Highland tradition, by a new broom, which was sure to bring happiness

to the new household.

The Queen's daughters were now in homes of their own except the

Princess Beatrice, a merry little girl of fourteen, who had been

radiantly happy in her new pink satin at her sister's wedding. The

Queen was devoted to her children, but it would have been easier for

her to pass through the next few years if she had been all sovereign

and not woman. War broke out between France and Germany, and both

Prince "Fritz" and Prince Louis were in the field. Anxious as she was

for them, she was even more troubled for the Princess Alice, who was

really in quite as much danger as if she had been in the army. For

several years she had been deeply interested in lessening the

sufferings of the poor in times of illness; and in providing trained

nurses for wounded soldiers. While this war was in progress, she not

only went to the hospitals daily, but she brought the wounded men to

her own house and cared for them herself. She was exposed over and over

again to typhus fever and other diseases, but she seemed to be entirely

without fear. One of her friends describes seeing her help to lift a

soldier who was very ill of smallpox.

Princess Alice little thought of what value her skill in nursing would

be to her own family, but near the end of 1871, the Prince of Wales was

taken ill with typhoid fever, and her help was of the utmost value. It

was just ten years before that Prince Albert had died of the same

disease, and to the anxious Queen every day was an anniversary. She

hastened to the home of the Prince at Sandringham, and when she saw how

ill he was, she sent at once for the other members of the family. The

days passed slowly. One day he seemed a little better, and there was

rejoicing, as the telegraph flashed the news not only over England, but

to Canada, India, to every part of the world. Then came a day of

hopelessness. The Queen mother watched every symptom. "Can you not save

him?" she pleaded; and all the physicians could answer was, "You must

be prepared for the worst. We fear that the end is near."

Bulletins were sent out to the public every hour or two. All London

seemed to tremble with fear and anxiety. Stores were open, but there

was little of either buying or selling. Day and night the citizens

crowded the streets in front of the newspaper offices. They talked of

no one but the Prince.

"He's a good boy to his mother," said one, "and she'll miss him


"He's living yet, God bless him, and perhaps after all he'll mend,"

declared another of more hopeful spirit.

"Did you ever hear that when he was a little chap and his tutor was

going to leave him, the young man couldn't go into his room without

finding a little present on his pillow or perhaps a note from the

little boy saying how much he should miss him?"

"It'll kill the Queen," said one man. "The poor woman's had all she can

bear, and she'll never go through this."

"And the Prince's boy's but eight years old," declared another.

"There'll be a regent for ten years, and no one can say what harm will

come to the country in that time."

So the days passed. The fourteenth of December came, the anniversary of

the day on which the Prince Consort had died. The Prince breathed and

that was all. The people about the offices were hushed. Everyone

dreaded to hear the next message, but when it came, it said "Better."

London hardly dared to rejoice, but the Prince continued to gain, and

at last the Queen joyfully granted the wish of her people and appointed

a Thanksgiving Day. The special service was held at St. Paul's Church,

and there were many tears of joy when the Queen walked up the nave

between the Prince and the Princess of Wales.

After the religious ceremony was over, the guns roared out the delight

of the people, and a wild excitement of happiness began. At night St.

Paul's was illuminated, and everyone was jubilant. The Queen was deeply

touched and pleased with the warm sympathy shown by her subjects, and a

day or two later she sent a little letter to be published in the papers

to tell them how happy they had made her.

Only two days after this letter was written, there was a great alarm,

for when the Queen went out to drive a young fellow sprang towards the

carriage and aimed a pistol at her. He was seized in a moment and

proved to be a half-crazed boy of seventeen whose pistol had neither

powder nor bullet. Most of the Queen's personal attendants were

Highlanders, and one of them, John Brown, had thrown himself between

her and what he supposed was the bullet of an assassin. Both the Queen

and Prince Albert were always most appreciative of faithful service,

and looked upon it as something which money could not buy. She had been

thinking of having special medals made to give to her servants who

deserved a special reward, and she now gave the first one to John

Brown. With the medal went an annuity of $125.

John Brown seemed to have no thought but for the Queen. To serve her

and care for her was his one interest. He cared nothing about court

manners, and was perhaps the only person in the land who dared to find

fault with its sovereign to her face. Statesmen would bow meekly before

her, but the Scotchman always spoke his mind. He even ventured to

criticise her clothes. The Queen never did care very much for fine

raiment, and in her journal where she narrates so minutely as to

mention the fact that a glass of water was brought her, she describes

her dress merely as "quite thin things." John Brown thought nothing was

good enough for his royal mistress. "What's that thing ye've got on?"

he would demand with most evident disapproval, if a cloak or gown was

not up to his notion of what she ought to wear; and this Queen, who

knew so well what was due to her position, knew also that honest

affection is better than courtly manners, and kept Brown in close

attendance. She built several little picnic cottages far up in the

hills, where she and some of her children would often go for a few days

when they were at Balmoral. There is a story that when she was staying

at one of these cottages, she wished to go out to sketch. A table was

brought her, but it was too high. The next was too low, and the third

was not solid enough to stand firmly. So far John Brown had not

interfered, but now he brought back one of the tables and said bluntly,

"They canna make one for you up here." The Queen laughed and found that

it would answer very well.

One cannot help wondering what Queen Victoria's guests thought of her

attendant's blunt ways, but they must have often envied her his honest

devotion. In 1872 and 1873 she had several very interesting visitors.

One of them was David Livingstone, the African explorer.

"What do the people in the wilderness ask you?" queried the Queen.

"They ask many questions," he replied, "but perhaps the one I hear

oftenest is, 'Is your Queen very rich?' and when I say 'Yes,' they ask,

'How rich is she? how many cows does she own?'"

Other visitors were a group of envoys from the King of Burmah, a

monarch with such strict regard for what he looked upon as royal

etiquette that he would not allow the British representative to come

into his presence unless the indignant Englishman took off his shoes

before attempting to enter the audience room. His letter to the Queen

began with the flourishes that would be expected from so punctilious a

potentate: "From His Great, Glorious, and Most Excellent Majesty, King

of the Rising Sun, who reigns over Burmah, to Her Most Glorious and

Excellent Majesty Victoria, Queen of Great Britain and Ireland." He

sent among other gifts a gold bracelet which must have been of more

value than use, for it weighed seven pounds.

The guest who made the greatest sensation was the Shah of Persia. For

more than two months he was on his way to England, and the nearer he

came, the more wild were the fancies that people had about him. The

newspapers were full of stories about his dagger, whose diamonds were

so dazzling, they said, that one might as well gaze at the midday sun.

They told amazing tales about the pocket money which he had brought

with him, some putting the amount as $2,500,000, others as $25,000,000.

"When he walks about, jewels fall upon the ground," one newspaper

declared. "He wears a black velvet tunic all sprinkled with diamonds,

and he has epaulets of emeralds as big as walnuts," romanced another.

The curiosity seekers were disappointed when he appeared, though it

would seem as if he had enough jewelry to make himself worth at least a

glance, for up and down his coat were rows of rubies and diamonds. He

wore a scimitar, and that, together with his belt and cap, was

sparkling with precious stones, while his fingers were loaded with


The Queen came from Balmoral to welcome him. Whether she gave him the

formal kiss that was expected between sovereigns, the accounts do not

state, but all sorts of entertainments were arranged for him, a great

ball, a review of artillery, an Italian opera, and many other

amusements. He was much interested in the review, and the troops must

have been interested in him, for he rode an Arab horse whose tail had

been dyed a bright pink. At this review one of the newspaper stories

proved very nearly true, for a member of the Persian suite fell from

his horse and really did scatter diamonds about him on the grass. After

a visit of a little more than two weeks, the Shah bade farewell to

England. Before his departure there was an exchange of courtesies

between himself and the Queen. She made him a knight of the Garter, and

he made her a member of a Persian order which he had just instituted

for ladies. The Queen gave him a badge and collar of the Garter, set in

diamonds; and he returned the gift by presenting her with his

photograph in a circle of diamonds.

In the midst of this entertainment and display, the tender heart of the

Queen was more than once deeply grieved by the death of dear friends.

The cherished Feodore, the Princess Hohenlohe, died; then the Queen

lost Dr. McLeod, the Scotch clergyman who had so helped and comforted

her in her troubles. Hardly two months had passed after his death

before heart-broken letters came from Darmstadt. Princess Alice had

been away for a short time, counting the hours before she could be with

her children again. At last she was at home with them and happy. The

two little boys were brought to her chamber one morning, and as she

stepped for a moment into the adjoining room, one of them, "Frittie,"

fell from the window to the stone terrace, and died in a few hours. The

heart-broken mother longed to go to her own mother for comfort in her

trouble, but she could not leave her home, neither could the Queen come

to her.

Warm, tender words of sympathy came from England, from a Queen mother

who well knew what sorrow meant. "Can you bear to play on the piano

yet?" she asked some three months after the accident; for it was long

after the death of Prince Albert before she herself could endure the

sound of music. Princess Alice replied, "It seems as if I never could

play again on that piano, where little hands were nearly always thrust

when I wanted to play. Ernie asked, 'Why can't we all die together? I

don't like to die alone, like Frittie.'"

While the heart of the Queen was aching with sympathy for her daughter,

she had also to attend to arrangements for the marriage of her sailor

son "Affie," now Duke of Edinburgh, with the daughter of the Emperor of

Russia. She herself could not go to the wedding at St. Petersburg, but

she asked Dean Stanley to go and perform the English ceremony; for as

the bride was a member of the Greek Church, there was a double rite. To

Dean Stanley's wife she sent a mysterious little parcel containing two

sprigs of myrtle, and with it a letter which asked her to put them into

warm water, and when the wedding day came, to place them in a bouquet

of white flowers for the bride. The myrtle had grown from the slip in

the bridal bouquet of the Princess Royal, and in the five marriages of

royal children that had preceded this one, each bride had carried a bit

of the bush.

When the bride reached Balmoral, a company of volunteers in kilts were

waiting to receive her. Just beyond were the tenants on the Queen's

estate, all in their best clothes. The pipers were present, of course,

and the best clothes of the Queen's pipers were well worth seeing. The

kilt was of Stuart plaid, and the tunic of black velvet. Over the

shoulder was a silver chain from which hung a silver powder horn. The

bag for the pipe was of blue velvet. Ornaments were worn wherever there

was a place for them, but the only jewels were cairngorms, and they

were always set in silver. The shoes had heavy silver buckles. The

bride and all her royal friends drove to the castle, where their health

was drunk by a merry company. The end of the Queen's account of this

reception of royalty sounds delightfully simple and homelike. "We took

Marie and Alfred to their rooms downstairs," she says, "and sat with

them while they had their tea."

In so large a family as that of the Queen there was always a birth or a

marriage, a coming or a going. Not long after the marriage of his

brother Alfred, the Prince of Wales left England to spend some months

in India. This journey was not a pleasure trip, it had a state purpose,

and that was to pay honor to the native princes who had aided the

English in their efforts to govern India. The Prince was well

accustomed to being received with cheering and the firing of guns, but

his Indian reception was something entirely new. At one place

twenty-four elephants painted in different colors trumpeted a greeting.

In another, which was ruled by a lady, the sovereign met him, but she

could hardly be said to have made her appearance, for her face was

thickly veiled. At still another he was carried up a hill in a superb

chair made of silver and gold. There was a boar hunt, an antelope hunt,

and an elephant fight; there was a marvelously beautiful illumination

of surf; there were addresses presented by people of all shades of

complexion and all varieties of costume, often so magnificent that some

one called the wearers "animated nuggets."

This visit of the Prince of Wales was followed by the Queen's

assumption of the title of Empress of India. There was a vast amount of

talk about the new title, for many English thought that it was foolish

and childish to make any change. On the other hand, "Empress" was the

proper title for a woman who ruled over many kings, even kings of

India. There were stories afloat that one reason why the Queen wished

to become an Empress was because the Russian Princess, who was the

daughter of an Emperor, had claimed precedence over the English

Princesses, who were only the daughters of a Queen. However that may

be, the title was formally assumed in 1876. It was proclaimed in India

with all magnificence. Sixty-three princes were present to hear the

proclamation. There were thousands of troops and long lines of

elephants. A throne that was a vision of splendor was built high up

above the plain; and on this sat the viceroy of the Queen, who received

the honors intended for her.

Queen Victoria was much pleased with the new title, and soon began to

sign her name "Victoria, R.I.," for "Regina et Imperatrix," to all

documents, though it had been expected that she would affix it to her

signature only when signing papers relating to India. Another title

which she enjoyed was that of "Daughter of the Regiment." The Duke of

Kent had been in command of the "Royal Scots" at the time of her birth

and therefore they looked upon her as having been "born in the

regiment." In the autumn of this same year she presented them with new

colors, and there was a little ceremony which delighted her because it

was evidently so sincere. There was first a salute, then marching and

countermarching, while the band played old marches that were her

favorites, among them one from the "Fille du Regiment," to hint that

she belonged especially to them. Then there was perfect silence. Two

officers knelt before her, and she presented them with the new colors,

first making a little speech. The Royal Scots were greatly pleased,

because in her speech she said, "I have been associated with your

regiment from my earliest infancy, and I was always taught to consider

myself a soldier's child." In spite of her many years' experience in

making short speeches and of her perfect calmness in public in her

earlier years, the Queen was never quite at ease in speaking to an

audience after Prince Albert died, and she said of this occasion, "I

was terribly nervous." She never ceased to miss the supporting presence

of the Prince, and she wrote pitifully of her first public appearance

after his death, "There was no one to direct me and to say, as

formerly, what was to be done."

The Queen was soon to feel even more lonely, for late in the autumn of

1878 there came a time of intense anxiety, then of the deepest sorrow.

Princess Alice's husband and children were attacked by diphtheria.

"Little Sunshine," as her youngest daughter was called in the home,

died after three days' illness. The mother hid her grief as best she

could that the other children should not know of their loss. Three

weeks later, she too was taken with the same disease, and died on the

seventeenth anniversary of her father's death. Little children and poor

peasant women of Hesse were among those who laid flowers on her bier

and shared in the grief of the sorrowing monarch across the Channel.

The Queen had built a cairn at Balmoral in memory of the Prince

Consort. Others had been built from time to time, one rising merrily

with laughing and dancing to commemorate the purchase of the estate;

others erected to mark the date of the marriage of the sons and

daughters of the house. To these a granite cross was now added to the

memory of the beloved daughter, "By her sorrowing mother, Queen

Victoria," said the inscription.

So it was that the happy circle of sons and daughters was first broken;

so it was that the years of the Queen passed on, full of the joys and

sorrows that seemed to come to her almost hand in hand.

Ministering Women Mr Gladstone And Lord Beaconsfield facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail