The Condemnation Of The English Duel





On the 1st of July, 1843, duelling received its death-blow in England by a

fatal duel--so unnatural and so painful in its consequences that it

served the purpose of calling public attention to the offence--long

tolerated, even advocated in some quarters, and to the theory of military

honour on which this particular duel took place. Two officers, Colonel

Fawcett and Lieutenant Munro, who were also brothers-in-law, had a

quarrel. Colonel Fawcett was elderly, had been in India, was out of health

and exceedingly irritable in temper. It came out afterwards that he had

given his relation the greatest provocation. Still Lieutenant Munro hung

back from what up to that time had been regarded as the sole resource of a

gentleman, especially a military man, in the circumstances. He showed

great reluctance to challenge Colonel Fawcett, and it was only after the

impression--mistaken or otherwise--was given to the insulted man that his

regiment expected him to take the old course, and if he did not do so he

must be disgraced throughout the service, that he called out his

brother-in-law.



The challenge was accepted, the meeting took place, Colonel Fawcett was

shot dead, and the horrible anomaly presented itself of two sisters--the

one rendered a widow by the hand of her brother-in-law, and a family of

children clad in mourning for their uncle, whom their father had slain.

Apart from the bloodshed, Lieutenant Munro was ruined by the miserable

step on which he had been thrust. Public feeling was roused to protest

against the barbarous practice by which a bully had it in his power to

risk the life of a man immeasurably his superior, against whom he happened

to have conceived a dislike. Prince Albert interested himself deeply in

the question, especially as it concerned the army. Various expedients were

suggested; eventually an amendment was inserted into the Articles of War

which was founded on the more reasonable, humane, and Christian

conclusion, that to offer an apology, or even to make reparation where

wrong had been committed, was more becoming the character of an officer

and a gentleman, than to furnish the alternative of standing up to kill or

to be killed for a hasty word or a rash act.



On the 28th of July, Princess Augusta of Cambridge was married in the

chapel at Buckingham Palace to the hereditary Grand Duke of

Mecklenburg-Strelitz. Princess Augusta was the elder of the two daughters

of the Duke of Cambridge, was three years younger than the Queen, and at

the time of her marriage was twenty-one years of age. In the cousins'

childhood and early youth, during the reign of King William, the Duke of

Cambridge had acted as the King's representative in Hanover, so that his

family were much in Germany. At the date of the Queen's accession,

Princess Augusta, a girl of fifteen, was considered old enough to appear

with the rest of the royal family at the banquet at Guildhall, and in the

other festivities which commemorated the beginning of the new reign. She

figures in the various pictures of the Coronation, the Queen's marriage,

&c. &c., and won the enthusiastic admiration of Leslie when he went to

Cambridge House to take the portraits of the different members of the

family for one of his pictures. Only a year before she had, in the

character of Princess Claude of France, been one of the most graceful

masquers at the Queen's Plantagenet Ball, and among the bridesmaids on the

present occasion were two of the beauties at the ball, Lady Alexandrina

Vane and Lady Clementina Villiers. Princess Augusta was marrying a young

German prince, three years her senior, a kinsman of her father's through

his mother, Queen Charlotte. She was going to the small northern duchy

which had sent so brave a little queen to England.



Queen Victoria, Prince Albert, and all the royal family in the country,

including the King of Hanover, who had remained to grace the ceremony,

were present at the wedding, which, in old fashion, took place in the

evening. Among the foreign guests were the King and Queen of the Belgians,

the Prince and Princess of Oldenburg, the Crown Prince of Wurtemburg, &c.

&c. The ambassadors, Cabinet Ministers, and officers of State were in

attendance. The Archbishops of Canterbury and York, and the Bishops of

London and Norwich, officiated. The marriage was registered and attested

in the great dining room at Buckingham Palace. Then there passed away from

the scene the Princess who had been for some years the solitary

representative of the royal young ladyhood of England, as her sister,

Princess Mary, was eleven years Princess Augusta's junior, and still only

a little girl of ten. Princess Augusta had an annuity of three thousand a

year voted to her by Parliament on her marriage.



A month later, on the 28th of August, the Queen went by railway to

Southampton, in order to go on board the royal yacht for a trip to the

Isle of Wight and the Devonshire coast. At Southampton Pier, the rain was

falling heavily. Her Majesty had been received by the Mayor and

Corporation, the Duke of Wellington, and other official personages, when

it was discovered that there was not sufficient covering for the stage or

gangway, which was to be run out between the pier and the yacht. Then the

members of the Southampton Corporation were moved to follow the example of

Sir Walter Raleigh in the service which introduced him to the notice of

Queen Elizabeth. They pulled off their red gowns, spread them on the

gangway, and so procured a dry footing for her Majesty.



Lady Bloomfield, as Miss Liddell, in the capacity of Maid of Honour in

waiting, was with the Queen, and has furnished a few particulars of the

pleasant voyage. The Queen landed frequently, returning to the yacht at

night and sleeping on board. At the Isle of Wight she visited Norris

Castle, where she had stayed in her youth, asking to see some of the

rooms, and walking on the terrace. She told her companions that she would

willingly have bought the place but could not afford it. At one point all

the party except Lady Canning were overcome by sea sickness, which is no

respecter of persons. At Dartmouth the Queen entered her barge and was

rowed round the harbour, for the better inspection of the place, and the

gratification of the multitude on the quays and in every description of

sailing craft. At Plymouth the visitors landed and proceeded to Mount

Edgcumbe, the beautiful seat of the Edgcumbe family. Wherever her Majesty

went she made collections of flowers, which she had dried and kept as

mementoes of the scenes in which they had been gathered. In driving

through Plymouth, the crowd was so great, and pressed so much on the

escort, that the infantry bayonets crossed in the carriages.



At Falmouth, the Queen was again rowed in her barge round the harbour, but

the concourse of small boats became dangerous, as their occupants deserted

the helms and rushed to one side to see the Queen, and the royal barge

could only be extricated by the rowers exerting their utmost strength and

skill, and forcing a passage through the swarming flotilla. The Mayor of

Falmouth was a Quaker, and asked permission to keep on his hat while

reading his address to the Queen. The Mayor of Truro, who with the Mayor

of Penryn had accompanied their official brother when he put off in a

small boat to intercept her Majesty in her circuit round the harbour, was

doomed to play a more undignified part. He unluckily overleaped himself

and fell into the water, so that he and his address, being too wet for

presentation, were obliged to be put on shore again.



On board the Queen used to amuse herself with a favourite occupation of

the ladies of the day, plaiting paper so as to resemble straw plait for

bonnets. She was sufficiently skilled in the art to instruct her Maid of

Honour in it.



On one occasion the Queen chanced to have her camp-stool set where it shut

up the door of the place that held the sailors' grog-tubs. After much

hanging about and consulting with the authorities, she was made acquainted

with the fact, when she rose on condition that a glass of grog should be

brought to her. She tasted it and said, "I am afraid I can only make the

same remark I did once before, that I think it would be very good if it

were stronger," an observation that called forth the unqualified delight

of the men. Sometimes in the evening the sailors, at her Majesty's

request, danced hornpipes on deck.



But the Queen's cruises this year were not to end on English or even

Scotch ground. She was to make the first visit to France which had been

paid by an English sovereign since Henry VIII. met Francis I. on the field

of the Cloth of Gold. Earlier in the year two of Louis Philippe's sons,

the sailor Prince Joinville, "tall, dark, and good looking, with a large

beard, but, unfortunately for him, terribly deaf," and his brother, the

man of intellect and culture if not of genius, the Duc d'Aumale, "much

shorter and very fair," had been together at Windsor; and had doubtless

arranged the preliminaries of the informal visit which the Queen was to

pay to Louis Philippe. The King of France and his large family were in the

habit of spending some time in summer or autumn at Chateau d'Eu, near the

seaport of Treport, in Normandy; and to this point the Queen could easily

run across in her yacht and exchange friendly greetings, without the

elaborate preparations and manifold trouble which must be the

accompaniment of a State visit to the Tuileries.



Accordingly the Queen and Prince Albert, on the 1st of September, sailed

past the Eddystone Lighthouse, where they were joined by a little fleet of

war-ships, and struck off for the coast of France. Besides her suite, the

Queen was accompanied by two of her ministers, Lords Aberdeen and

Liverpool. With the first, a shrewd worthy Scot, distinguished as a

statesman by his experience, calm sagacity, and unblemished integrity, her

Majesty and Prince Albert were destined to have cordial relations in the

years to come.



In the meantime, French country people were pouring into Treport, where

the King's barge lay ready. It was provided with a crimson silk awning,

having white muslin curtains over a horseshoe-shaped seat covered with

crimson velvet, capable of containing eleven or twelve persons. The rowers

were clad in white, with red sashes and, red ribands round their hats.



The Queen was to land by crossing the deck of a vessel moored along the

quay and mounting a ladder, the steps of which were covered with crimson

velvet. At five o'clock in the afternoon the King and his whole family, a

great cortege, arrived on horseback and in open chars-a-bancs. Prince

Joinville had met the yacht at Cherbourg and gone on board. As soon as it

lay-to the King came alongside in his barge. The citizen King was stout,

florid, and bluff-looking, with thick grizzled hair brushed up into a

point. As the exiled Duke of Orleans, in the days of the great Revolution,

he had been a friend of the Queen's father, the Duke of Kent. The King did

not fail to remind his guest of this, after he had kissed her on each

check, kissed her hand, and told her again and again how delighted he was

to see her. When the two sovereigns entered the barge the standards of

England and France were hoisted together, and amidst royal salutes from

the vessels in the roads and from the batteries on shore, to the music of

regimental bands, in the sunset of a fine autumn evening the party landed.



At the end of the jetty the ladies of the royal family of France with

their suites stood in a curved line. Queen Amelie, with her snowy curls

and benevolent face, was two paces in advance of the others. Behind her

were her daughter and daughter-in-law, the Queen of the Belgians and the

widowed Duchesse d'Orleans, who appeared in public for the first time

since her husband's death a year before. A little farther back stood

Madame Adelaide, the King's sister, and the other princesses, the younger

daughter and the daughters-in-law of the house. Louis Philippe presented

Queen Victoria to his Queen, who "took her by both hands and saluted her

several times on both cheeks with evident warmth of manner." Queen Louise,

and at least one of the other ladies, were well known to the visitor, whom

they greeted gladly, while the air was filled with shouts of "Vive la

Reine Victoria!" "Vive la Reine d'Angleterre!"



The Queen, who was dressed simply, as usual, in a purple satin gown, a

black mantilla trimmed with lace, and a straw bonnet with straw-coloured

ribands and one ostrich feather, immediately entered the King's

char-a-bancs, which had a canopy and curtains that were left open. Lady

Bloomfield describes it as drawn by twelve large clumsy horses. There was

a coachman on the box, with three footmen behind, and there was "a motley

crowd of outriders on wretched horses and dressed in different liveries."

The other chars-a-bancs with six horses followed, and the whole took

their, way to the Chateau, a quaint and pleasant dwelling, some of it as

old as the time of the Great Mademoiselle.



A stately banquet was held in the evening in the banqueting-room, hung

round with royal portraits and historical pictures, the table heavy with

gold and silver plate, including the gold plateau and the great gold vases

filled with flowers. The King, in uniform, sat at the centre of the table.

He had on his right hand Queen Victoria, wearing a gown of crimson velvet,

the order of the garter and a parure of diamonds and emeralds, but

having her hair simply braided. On her other side sat Prince Joinville. On

the King's left hand was Queen Louise. The Duchesse d'Orleans, in

accordance with French etiquette for widows in their weeds, did not come

to the dinner-table. Opposite the King sat his Queen, with Prince Albert

on her right hand and the Duc d'Aumale on her left. The royal host and

hostess carved like any other old-fashioned couple.



The Queen received the same lively impressions from her first visit to

France that she had experienced on her first visit to Scotland. Apart from

the scenery there was yet more to strike her. The decidedly foreign

dresses of the people, the strange tongue, the mill going on Sunday, the

different sound of the church bells--nothing escaped her. There was also,

in the large family of her brother king and ally--connected with her by so

many ties, every member familiar to her by hearsay, if not known to her

personally--much to interest her. The Queen had been, to all intents and

purposes, brought up like an only child, and her genial disposition had

craved for entire sympathy and equal companionship. She seems to have

regarded wistfully, as an only child often regards, what she had never

known, the full, varied, yet united life of a large, happy, warmly

attached family circle. When she saw her children possessed of the

blessing which had been denied to her in her early days, she was tempted

to look back on the widowed restricted household in Kensington Palace as

on a somewhat chill and grey environment. She has more than once referred

to her childhood as dull and sad by comparison with what she lived to know

of the young life of other children.



But the great royal household of France at this date, in addition to its

wealth of interests and occupations, and its kindness to the stranger who

was so quick to respond to kindness, was singularly endowed with elements

of attractiveness for Queen Victoria. It appeared, indeed, as if all life

at its different stages, in its different aspects, even in its different

nationalities, met and mingled with a wonderful charm under the one

roof-tree. Besides the old parent couple and the maiden aunt, who had seen

such changes of fortune, there were three young couples, each with their

several careers before them. There was the bride of yesterday, the

youngest daughter of the house, Princess Clementine, with her young German

husband, the Queen and Prince Albert's kinsman; there was Nemours, wedded

to another German cousin, the sweet-tempered golden-haired Princess

Victoire; there was Joinville, with his dark-haired Brazilian Princess.

[Footnote: A kinswoman of Maria da Gloria's] It had been said that he had

gone farther, as became a sailor, in search of a wife than any other

prince in Europe. She was very pretty in a tropical fashion, very

piquante, and, perhaps, just a little sauvage. She had never seen

snow, and the rules and ceremonies of a great European court were almost

as strange to her. Lady Bloomfield mentions her as if she were something

of a spoilt child who could hardly keep from showing that the rigid laws

of her new position fretted and bored her. She wore glowing pomegranate

blossoms in her hair, and looked pensive, as if she were pining for the

gorgeous little hummingbirds and great white magnolias--the mixture of

natural splendour and ease, passion and languor, of a typical South

American home.



D'Aumale and Montpensier were still gay young bachelors, and well would it

have been for the welfare of the Orleans family and the credit of Louis

Philippe if one of them had remained so. There was a widow as well as a

bride in the house. There were the cherished memories of a dearly-prized

lost son and daughter to touch with tender sorrow its blithest moments and

lightest words. The Queen had to make the acquaintance of Helene, Duchesse

d'Orleans; [Footnote: Princess Helena of Mecklenburg-Schwerin.] tall, thin

and pale, not handsome, but better than handsome, full of character and

feeling, shrinking from observation in her black dress, with the shadow of

a life-long grief over her heart and life. And the visitor had to hear

again of the gifted Princess Marie, the friend of Ary Scheffer, whose

statue of Jeanne d'Arc is the best monument of a life cut down in its

brilliant promise. Princess Marie's devoted sister Louise, Queen of the

Belgians, in her place as the eldest surviving daughter of France, had

long been Queen Victoria's great friend. Finally, there was the third

generation, headed by the fatherless boy, "little Paris," with regard to

whom few then doubted that he would one day sit on the throne of France.



It was not principally because the Chateau d'Eu was in France that the

Queen wrote, the first morning she awoke there, the fulfilment of her

favourite air-castle of so many years was like a dream, or that she

grieved when her visit was over. She sought to find, and believed she had

found, a whole host of new friends and kindred--another father and mother,

more brothers and sisters, nephews and nieces, to make her life still

richer and more full of kindly ties.



The speciality in the form of entertainment at Chateau d'Eu was drives in

the sociable chars-a-bancs in the neighbouring forest, ending in

dejeuners and fetes-champetres, which the Queen enjoyed

heartily, both because they were novel to her and because they were

spontaneous and untrammelled. "So pretty, so merry, so rural," she

declared. "Like the fetes in Germany," Prince Albert said. The long,

frequently rough drives under the yellowing trees in the golden September

light, the camp-chairs, the wine in plain bottles, the improvised kitchen

hidden among the bushes, the many young people of high rank all so gay,

the king full of liveliness and brusqueness, his queen full of

motherliness and consideration for all--everything was delightful.



One pathetic little incident occurred when the guests were being shown

over the parish church of Notre Dame. As they came to the crypt, with its

ancient monuments of the Comtes d'Eu, the Duchesse d'Orleans was overcome

with emotion, and the Queen of the Belgians drew her aside. When the rest

of the party passed again through the church, on their way back, they came

upon the two mourning women prostrate before one of the altars, the

Duchesse weeping bitterly.



The King presented Queen Victoria with fine specimens of Gobelin tapestry

and of Sevres china. He went farther in professions and compliments. He

was not content to leave the discussion of politics to M. Guizot and Lord

Aberdeen. Louis Philippe volunteered to the Queen's minister the statement

that he would not give his son to Spain (referring to a proposed marriage

between the Duc de Montpensier and the Infanta Luisa, the sister of the

young Queen Isabella, who had been lately declared of age), even if he

were asked. To which the stout Scot replied, without beating about the

bush, "that except one of the sons of France, any aspirant whom Spain

might choose would be acceptable to England."



Louis Philippe, Queen Amelie, and the whole family escorted the Queen and

the Prince on board the yacht, parting with them affectionately. Prince

Joinville accompanied the couple to the Pavilion, Brighton. In the course

of the sail there was a race between his ship and the Black Eagle,

in which the English vessel won, to the French sailors' disgust.



Louis Philippe felt great satisfaction at a visit which proved his cordial

relations with England, and served to remove the reproach which he seemed

to think clung to him and prevented the other European royal families from

fraternising with him and his children as they would otherwise have

done--namely, that he was not the representative of the elder, and what

many were pleased to consider the legitimate, branch of the Bourbons. He

was but a king set up by the people, whom the people might pull down

again. There was not much apparent prospect of this overthrow then, though

the forces were at work which brought it about. In token of his

gratification, and as a memorial of what had given him so much pleasure,

the King caused a series of pictures to be taken of Queen Victoria's

landing, and of the various events of her stay. These pictures remain,

among several series, transferred to the upper rooms of one of the French

palaces, and furnish glimpses of other things that have vanished besides

the fashion of the day. There the various groups reappear. Queen Amelie

with her piled-up curls, the citizen King and their numerous young people

doing honour to the young Queen of England and her husband, both looking

juvenile in their turn--all the more so for a certain antiquated cut in

their garments at this date, a formality in his hat and neckerchief, a

demureness in her close bonnet, and a pretty show of youthful matronliness

in the little lace cap which, if we mistake not, she wears on one

occasion.





The Coming Of The Prince The Coronation facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Feedback