Pictures And Descriptions Of The Queen And Her Love Of Pets-

In the Hall of the St. George's Society of Philadelphia there is a very

interesting picture by the late Mr. Sully of Queen Victoria in her

coronation robes. It is life-size, and represents her as mounting the

steps of the throne, her head slightly turned, and looking back over the

left shoulder. It seems to me that Her Majesty should own this picture,

for it is an exquisite specimen of Mr. Sully's peculiar coloring, and a

very lovely portrait. Here is no rigidity, no constraint, no irksome

state. There is a springy, exultant vitality in the bearing of the

graceful figure, and the light poise of the head, while in the complexion

there is a tender softness and a freshness of tints belonging only to the

dewy morning of life. The princeliness of youth, the glow of joy and hope

overtop and outshine the crown which she wears as lightly as though it

were a May-queen's Coronal of roses; and the dignity of simple girlish

purity envelops her more royally than velvet and ermine. The eyes have

the softness of morning skies and spring violets, and the smile hovering

about the red lips, a little parted, is that of an unworn heart and an

eager, confident spirit. This was the first portrait of the young Queen I

ever saw, and still seems to me the loveliest.

Another American artist, Mr. Leslie, painted a large picture of the

coronation, which Her Majesty purchased. As he was to paint the scene, he

was provided with a very good seat near the throne--so near that he said

he could plainly see, when she came to sign her coronation oath, that she

wrote a large, bold hand, doing credit to her old writing master, Mr.


In his recollections he says: "I don't know why, but the first sight of

her in her robes of state brought tears into my eyes, and it had this

effect upon many people; she looked almost like a child." Campbell, the

poet, is related to have said to a friend: "I was at Her Majesty's

coronation in Westminster Abbey, and she conducted herself so well during

the long and fatiguing ceremony that I shed tears many times."

Carlyle said at the time, with a shake of his craggy, shaggy head: "Poor

little Queen! she is at an age at which a girl can hardly be trusted to

choose a bonnet for herself, yet a task is laid upon her from which an

archangel might shrink.":

And yet, according to Earl Russell, this "poor little Queen," over whom

the painters and poets wept, and the great critic "roared gently" his

lofty commiseration, informed her anxious mother that she "ascended the

throne without alarm." Victoria, if reminded of this in later years,

might have said, "They who know nothing, fear nothing"; and yet the very

vagueness, as well as vastness, of the untried life would have appalled

many spirits.

The Queen was certainly a very valiant little woman, but there would have

been something unnatural, almost uncanny, about her had the regal calm

and religious seriousness which marked her mien during those imposing

rites, continued indefinitely, and it is right pleasant to read in the

reminiscences of Leslie, how the child in her broke out when all the

magnificent but tiresome parade, all the grand stage-business with those

heavy actors, was over. The painter says: "She is very fond of dogs, and

has one favorite little spaniel, who is always on the lookout for her

return when she is from home. She had, of course, been separated from him

on that day longer than usual, and when the state-coach drove up to the

Palace steps she heard him barking joyously in the hall, and exclaimed,

'There's Dash,' and was in a hurry to doff her crown and royal robe, and

lay down the sceptre and the orb, which she carried in her hands, and go

and give Dash his bath."

I hope this story is literally true, for I have a strong impression that

it was this peculiar love of pets, this sense of companionship with

intelligent, affectionate animals, especially dogs and horses, that with

an ever-fresh delight in riding and dancing, healthful sports and merry

games, was the salvation of the young Queen. Without such vents, the

mighty responsibility of her dizzy position, the grandeur, the dignity,

the decorum, the awful etiquette would have killed her--or at least,

puffed her up with pride, or petrified her with formality. Sir John

Campbell wrote of her at this time: "She is as merry and playful as a

kitten."--I hope she loved kittens! Again he says: "The Queen was in

great spirits, and danced with more than usual gaiety, a romping,

country-dance, called the Tempest."

In addition to this girlish gaiety, Victoria seems always to have had a

vein of un-Guelph-like humor, a keen sense of the ludicrous, a delicious

enjoyment of fun, which are among Heaven's choicest blessings to poor

mortals, royal or republican. Prince Albert's sympathy with her love of

innocent amusement, and her delight in the absurdities and drolleries of

animal as well as of human life and character, was one and perhaps not

the weakest of the ties which bound her to him.

With the young Queen equestrian exercise was more than a pastime, it was

almost a passion. She rode remarkably well, and in her gratitude for this

beautiful accomplishment,--rarer even in England than people think--she

wished as soon as she came to the throne, to give her riding-master,

Fozard, a suitable position near her person, something higher than that

of a groom. She was told that there was no situation vacant that he could

fill. "Then I will create one," she said, and dubbed him "Her Majesty's

Stirrup holder." I would have done more for him--made him Master of the

Horse, in place of Lord Albemarle, who always rolled along in the royal

carriage, or created for him the office of Lord High Equerry of the


N. P. Willis, in his delightful "Pencilings By the Way," gives a bright

glimpse of the Queen on horseback. It was in Hyde Park, and he saye the

party from the Palace came on so fast that the scarlet-coated outriders

had difficulty in clearing the track of the other equestrians. Her

Majesty has always liked to go fast by horse or steam-power, as though

determined not to let Time get ahead of her, for all his wings.

The poet then adds: "Her Majesty rides quite fearlessly and securely. I

met her party full gallop near the centre of Rotten Row. On came the

Queen, on a dun-colored, highly-groomed horse, with her Prime Minister on

one side of her, and Lord Byron on the other; her cortège of Maids

of Honor, and Lords and Ladies of the Court checking their spirited

horses, and preserving always a slight distance between themselves and

Her Majesty. ... Victoria's round, plump figure looks exceedingly well in

her dark green riding-dress. ... She rode with her mouth open, and seemed

exhilarated with pleasure."

This was in 1839. Some years later, a young American writer, who shall be

nameless, but who was as passionate a lover of horses as the Queen

herself, wrote a sort of pæan to horseback-riding. She began by telling

her friends, all whom it might concern, that when she was observed to be

low in her mind--when she seemed "weary of life," and to "shrink from its

strife"--when, in short, things didn't go well with her generally, they

were not to come to her with the soft tones or the tears of sympathy;

then she went on thus, rather pluckily, I think:

"No counsel I ask, and no pity I need,

But bring me, O bring me, my gallant young steed,

With his high-arched neck and his nostril spread wide;

His eye full of fire, and his step full of pride.

As I spring to his back, as I seize the strong rein,

The strength to my spirit returneth again,

The bonds are all broken that fettered my mind,

And my cares borne away on the wings of the wind,--

My pride lifts its head, for a season, bowed down,

And the queen in my nature now puts on her crown."

Now if the simple American girl prepared for a lonely gallop through the

woods, could so have thrilled with the fulness, joy, and strength of

young life; could have felt so royal, mounted on a half-broken, roughly-

groomed western colt (for that's what the "steed" really was), with few

fine points and no pedigree to speak of--what must the glorious exercise

have been to that great little Queen, re-enthroned on thoroughbred,

"highly-groomed," magnificent English horse-flesh?

Her Majesty has always been constant in her equine loves. Six of her

saddle-horses, splendidly caparisoned, walked proudly, as so many

Archbishops, in the coronation procession; and in the royal stables of

London and Windsor, her old favorites have been most tenderly cared for.

When she could no longer use them, she still petted them, and never

reproached them for having "outlived their usefulness."

Another writer from America, James Gordon Bennett, sent home, this

coronation year, some very pleasant descriptions of the Queen. At the

opera he had his first sight of her. "About ten o'clock, when the opera

was half through, the royal party entered. 'There! there! there!'

exclaimed a young girl behind me--'there's the Queen!' looking eagerly up

to the royal box. I looked too, and saw a fair, light-haired little girl,

dressed with great simplicity, in white muslin, with hair plain, a blue

ribbon at the back, enter the box and take her seat, half hid in the red

drapery at the corner remote from the stage. The Queen is certainly very

simple in her appearance; but I am not sure that this very simplicity

does not set off to advantage her fair, pretty, pleasant, little round

Dutch face. Her bust is extremely well-proportioned, and her complexion

very fair. There is a slight parting of the rosy lips, between which you

can see little nicks of something like very white teeth. The expression

of her face is amiable and good-tempered. I could see nothing like that

awful majesty, that mysterious something which doth hedge a Queen. ...

During the performance, the Queen would now and then draw aside the

curtain and gaze back at the audience, with that earnestness and

curiosity which any young girl might show."

Mr. Bennett gave other descriptions of the Queen as he saw her driving in

the Park. He wrote: "I had been taking a walk over the interior of the

Park, gazing listlessly at the crowd of carriages as they rolled by. Just

as I was entering the arched gateway to depart, a sensation spread

through the crowd which filled that part of the promenade. 'The Queen!

the Queen!' flew from lip to lip. In an instant two outriders shot

through the gate; near Apsley House, followed by a barouche and four,

carrying the Queen and three of her suite. She sat on the right hand of

the back seat, leaning a good deal back. She was, as usual, dressed very

simply, in white, with a plain straw, or Leghorn bonnet, and her veil was

thrown aside. She carried a green parasol."

Ah, why green, O Queen? Later that afternoon he saw her again, going at

a slower rate, holding up that green parasol, bowing right and left and

smiling, as the crowd saluted and cheered. The Queen does not bow and

smile so much nowadays, but then she no longer carries a green parasol.

N. P. Willis also saw the young sovereign at the opera, and dashes off a

poet's vivid sketch of her:

"In her box to the left of me sat the Queen, keeping time with her fan to

the singing of Pauline Garcia, her favorite Minister, Lord Melbourne,

standing behind her chair, and her maids of honor grouped around her--

herself the youthful, smiling, admired sovereign of the most powerful

nation on earth. The Queen's face has thinned and grown more oval since I

saw her four years ago as the Princess Victoria. She has been compelled

to think since then, and such exigencies in all stations in life work out

the expression of the face. She has now what I should pronounce a

decidedly intellectual countenance, a little petulant withal when she

turns to speak, but on the whole quite beautiful enough for a virgin

Queen. She was dressed less gaily than many others around her."

I have given much space to these personal descriptions of Queen Victoria

as she appeared in those first two years of her Queenhood, because they

are still to the world--the world of young people, at least--the most

interesting years of all her glorious reign. There was great poetry about

that time, and, it must be confessed, some peril.

Mrs. Oliphant, in her excellent little life of the Queen, says: "The

immediate circle of friends around the young sovereign fed her with no


It is difficult to believe such a statement of any mortal Court-circle.

But if gross adulation was not offered--a sort of moral pabulum, which

the Queen's admirable good sense would have rejected, there was profound

homage in the very attitude of courtiers and in the etiquette of Court

life. The incense of praise and admiration, "unuttered or exprest," was

perpetually and inevitably rising up about her young footsteps wherever

they strayed; it formed the very air she breathed--about as healthful an

atmosphere to live and sleep in as would be that of a conservatory

abounding in tuberoses, white lilies, and jessamine.

Still, that she did not grow either arrogant or artificial, seems proved

by the pleasant accounts given of her simple and gracious ways by the

painters of whom I have spoken--Thomas Sully and Charles Leslie. I

remember particularly, hearing from a friend of Mr. Sully, of the

generous interest she took in his portrait of her, which, I think, was

painted at Windsor. She gave him all the sittings, or rather standings,

her busy life would allow; giving him free use of all the splendid

paraphernalia necessary for his work. Between whiles the painter's young

daughter stood for the picture, being, of course, obliged to don the

royal robes and even the tiara. One day, while thus engaged and arrayed,

the Queen came suddenly into the room. Miss Sully much confused was about

to descend from the steps of the throne, when the Queen exclaimed,

laughing: "Pray stay as you are; I like to see how I look!"

Leslie, whose picture of the Coronation was painted at Windsor, gave a

pleasant account of the Queen's kindly and easy ways. "She is now," he

says, "so far satisfied with the likeness that she does not wish me to

touch it again. She sat five times--not only for the face, but for as

much as is seen of the figure, and for the hands, with the coronation-

ring on the finger. Her hands, by the by, are very pretty--the backs

dimpled and the fingers delicately shaped. She was particular to have her

hair dressed exactly as she wore it at the ceremony every time she sat."

The Queen in her writings says very little of this portion of her

"strange, eventful history,"--a time so filled with incident, so gilded

with romance, so bathed in poetry, so altogether splendid in the eyes of

all the world; for to her, life--or all which was most "happy and

glorious" in life--began and ended with Prince Albert. She even speaks

with regret of that period of single queenliness, and says: "A worse

school for a young girl--one more detrimental to all natural feelings and

affections--cannot well be imagined than the position of a Queen at

eighteen without experience and without a husband to guide and support

her. This the Queen can state from painful experience, and she thanks God

that none of her own dear daughters are exposed to such danger."

Human nature is rash and young-woman-nature ambitious and ill-disposed to

profit by the costly experience of eld, and I doubt not the clever

Princess Royal or the proud and fair Princess Louise would have mounted

any throne in Christendom "without alarm." Most of Her Majesty's loyal

subjects deny that any harm came to her from her unsupported position as

Queen Regnant, or that she was capable of being thus harmed--but the

Queen knows best.

The Princess Victoria was a proud, high-spirited girl, and it were no

treason to suppose that at the first she had a sense of relief when the

leading-strings, in which she had been so long held, were cut, though by

the scissors of Atropos, and she was free to stand and go alone. Her good

mother, becoming at once an object of political jealousy, removed herself

from the old close companionship, though retaining in her heart the old

tender solicitude--perhaps feeling herself more than ever necessary to

her daughter. Mothers are so conceited. It is small wonder if after her

life of studious and modest seclusion and filial subordination, the

gaiety, the splendor, and the supremacy of the new existence intoxicated

the young sovereign somewhat. The pleasures of her capital and the homage

of the world captivated her imagination, while the consciousness of power

and wealth and personal loveliness inclined her to be self-indulgent and

self-willed. In spite of the good counsel of the family Mentor, Baron

Stockmar, and of her sagacious uncle, Leopold, she must have committed

some errors of judgment--fallen into some follies; she was so young and

impulsive--so very human. Her first independent political act seems to

have been a mistake, founded on a misunderstanding. It was at all events

an act more Georgian than Victorian. The Whig party, to which she was

attached, had by a series of blunders and by weak vacillation lost

strength and popularity, and Lord Melbourne's Ministry found itself so

hard-pressed that it struck colors and resigned. Then the Queen was

advised by the Duke of Wellington to invite the Conservative leader, Sir

Robert Peel, to form a new Ministry. She did so, but frankly told that

gentleman that she was very sorry to lose Lord Melbourne and his

colleagues, whom she liked and approved--which must have been pleasant

talk to Sir Robert. However, he went to work, but soon found that

objections were made by his colleagues to certain Whig ladies in personal

attendance on the Queen, and likely to influence her. So it was proposed

to Her Majesty to make an important change in her household. I believe

that the Duchess of Sutherland and Lady Normandy--the first the sister

and the second the wife of a prominent Liberal--were especially meant;

but the Queen took it that she was called on to dismiss all her ladies,

and flatly refused, saying that to do so would be "repugnant to her

feelings"--forgetting that feeling was no constitutional argument. She

had got used to those Ladies of the Bed-Chamber, and they to her. They

knew just where everything was, what colors became her, and what gossip

and games amused her. Doubtless she loved them, and doubtless also she

loved her own way. Surely the right of her constitutional advisers to

dictate to her must have a limit somewhere, and she drew the line at her

bed-chamber door. Then, as Sir Robert would not yield the point, she

recalled Melbourne and went on as before. The affair created immense

excitement. Non-political people were amused at the little Queen's spirit

of independence. Liberals applauded her patriotism and pluck in defeating

the "wicked Bed-Chamber Plot," and for her loyalty to her friends; but

the defeated Tories were very naturally incensed, and, manlike, paid Her

Majesty back, when measures which she had much at heart came before

Parliament a year or so later--as we shall see.

Many years later the Queen appears to have thought that she was beginning

to drift on to rocks of serious political mistakes and misfortunes as

well as into rapids of frivolity, when the good, wise Pilot came to take

the helm of her life-craft.

This pilot was, of course, the "Prince Charming," selected and reared for

her away in Saxe-Coburg--that handsome Cousin Albert, once in a letter to

the good uncle Leopold tacitly accepted by her in girlish

thoughtlessness, as she would have accepted a partner in a joyous

country-dance, and afterwards nearly as thoughtlessly thrown over and

himself sent adrift.

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