The Jubilee Season

With the exception of Prince Alfred, the Queen's children had married

according to the German proverb, "The oldest must leave the house

first." The next in age was Prince Arthur, or the Duke of Connaught. He

married in 1879 Princess Louise of Prussia with the usual magnificent

display at St. George's Chapel. The real home welcome, however, was

awaiting them at Balmoral, where they arrived a few months later. When

the train came to a standstill, there stood the Queen and Princess

Beatrice, with the Royal Scots for a guard of honor. The Queen gave the

bride a bouquet of heather, and they set off for the castle. At the end

of the Balmoral bridge was an arch of moss and heather with a motto in

flowers, "Welcome to Balmoral." There stood the castle guests, and

there were all the tenants, the women in their Sunday clothes, the men

in kilts, and the pipers playing their best and loudest, while the

children tossed flowers into the carriages and shouted their welcome.

Of course a cairn had been begun in honor of the marriage, and two or

three days later the happy party went to visit it, the Queen on her

pony and the others walking. There was a speech of congratulation made,

and the health of the young people was drunk. "The health of the

Princess Beatrice ought to be drunk," Brown declared, and that was done

with so many cheers that even the dogs objected to the tumult and began

to bark. After the cheering, each one of the party walked up to the

cairn and laid a stone upon it. One of the stones in the foundation was

already marked with the names of the Duke and Duchess and the date of

their marriage.

Three years later St. George's Chapel was again ablaze with the

splendor of another royal wedding, that of Prince Leopold, the eighth

child of the Queen, to Princess Helene of Waldeck-Pyrmont. In the

evening a state banquet was given, and some of the guests were much

amazed when, just before the Queen was to rise from the table, her two

Scotch pipers in their full Highland costume appeared at the door and

marched twice around the room, playing merry Scottish airs.

The home of the newly married couple was to be at Claremont, the place

where the little Princess Victoria had so enjoyed herself. It had been

granted to King Leopold when he married Princess Charlotte, but on his

death it again became the property of the Crown. The Queen now bought

it for the King's namesake. She had given to her son the title of Duke

of Albany, and some of the superstitious among her subjects shook their

heads at that, for so many who had borne the title had met with

misfortune or even with early death.

The wedding celebrations were hardly over before the Queen's thoughts

were centered upon Egypt. The Khedive of Egypt was a great borrower,

and to fill his ever empty purse he had offered England some seven

years previously his shares in the Suez Canal for $20,000,000. England

had been very ready to buy them and also to guarantee that people who

had loaned money to this spendthrift should not lose their interest. In

1882 some of the Khedive's subjects rebelled against him and got

control of the government. To maintain taxation and so pay the promised

interest, England must support the Khedive and put down the rebels.

The Queen hated war as badly as her predecessor Elizabeth, but as soon

as she saw that it was necessary, she had no patience with delay or

poor preparation. She sent directions continually to the War Office,

now about arms, now about blankets or food or the comforts that would

be needed in the hospitals. She never had the slightest sympathy with

indecision or lack of promptness, and the moment that she thought of

something that ought to be done for her soldiers, she sent a message to

the Minister of War. During one day she sent him seventeen.

The troops sailed. Telegrams were frequent, and on a Monday morning in

September there came to Balmoral one marked "Very secret." It was

written in cipher and said, "Determined to attack the enemy with a

large force on Wednesday." There could be no report of the battle for

two days at least, but the Queen and her family tried hard to be brave

and cheerful. More than once the Queen slipped away from them to pray

that her son might return to her in safety, for the Duke of Connaught

was in Egypt in command of a brigade. Wednesday morning a telegram

came, "The army marched out last night." A second arrived a little

later, "The enemy has been routed at Tel-el-Kebir, but fighting is

going on." "Louischen," the wife of the Duke, was with the Queen. They

could think of nothing but the husband and son, far away beside the

Nile. Any moment might be the fatal one. They almost fancied they could

hear the boom of the cannon. Never was a morning so long, but at last

the word came, "A great victory; Duke safe and well; led his brigade to

the attack." The Queen hurried to find "Louischen," and threw her arms

about her neck. "How glad and proud and thankful we can be!" she

exclaimed with tears, not of sorrow but of joy.

That afternoon the Duke of Albany and his wife arrived, and then there

was a double rejoicing. After the drinking of healths of bride and

bridegroom, John Brown stepped forward and said, "Ladies and gentlemen,

let us join in a good Highland cheer for the Duke and Duchess of

Albany; may they live long and die happy!" and then there was such

cheering as made the woods and hills ring.

Twenty-six years before, when word had come of the fall of Sebastopol,

a bonfire had been lighted on the top of Craig Gowan, and now there was

another in honor of the Egyptian victory. It was very dark, but no one

cared for that. The two princesses and many of the people in the house

walked up to the top of the hill with the pipes playing jubilantly.

There the bonfire was lighted, and the Queen watched from the windows

and listened to the pipes and the cheering. When the princesses came

down, they all had a little supper together "in Louischen's room."

With all these family celebrations, indeed with almost every action of

the Queen's life, John Brown was closely associated. In private and in

public he was the attendant of his sovereign, ever on the watch to save

her, not only from danger, but from the least annoyance. On one

occasion, the Queen's carriage stopped in a village after dark, and

curious people thronged about. One man actually held up a lantern to

get a plainer view of her face, but all that met his eyes was the

rugged, determined features of John Brown, for the faithful man had

calmly put himself between the Queen and her inquisitive subject. On

another occasion, a woman pushed up to the carriage and stood leaning

upon the wheel and staring at the Queen. John Brown thought it a waste

of courtesy to be gentle with such a person, and he growled "Be off

with you!" like an angry policeman to a crowd of troublesome

ragamuffins. In 1883 this faithful servant died. There could hardly

have been a time when the Queen had more need of him, for by a fall on

the staircase at Windsor she had become unable to walk or even to


During the months of her lameness, she prepared for publication a

volume of extracts from her journal for 1862 to 1882. The dedication

read, "To My Loyal Highlanders, and especially to the memory of my

devoted personal attendant, John Brown." She was as modest about this

book as about the first one, and with the copy that she presented to

Tennyson she sent an almost shy little note saying, "Though a very

humble and unpretending author, I send you my new book, which perhaps

you may like to glance at. Its only merit is its simplicity and truth."

The Queen's lameness did not prevent her from making her usual spring

visit to Balmoral in 1884, but the most unusual precautions were taken

to insure her safety. Within two or three years the Emperor of Russia

had been assassinated, and in London several attempts had been made

recently to blow up public buildings with dynamite. Generally when the

Queen traveled, her time-table was known, and people were at every

station to give her welcome. An engine was always sent before the train

to make sure that the road was clear, but this time, however, the

time-tables were kept secret, and no spectators were allowed to gather

at the stations. Men were usually at work on the road, averaging one to

every half-mile. These men were now supplied with flags to wave as the

train came in sight. If the engineer saw a white flag, he knew the way

was clear for half a mile; but if the red one was waved, he knew there

was danger or some obstruction ahead, and that he must stop at once.

The Queen was still so much of an invalid that she could stand only a

few minutes when the day came that she had to be told of the sudden

death of her youngest son. He was the only one of the nine children who

had not been strong, but the Queen loved him all the better for his

sufferings. He was much like his father in mind, and she had hoped that

he would be able to act as her private secretary. Even when he was ill,

he was so merry and unselfish that all who saw him loved him. He never

seemed to realize that there was anything in him to call out their

affection and he once said very simply, "I can't think why people

should always be so kind to me."

The Queen felt that the joy had gone from her life, but she sent to her

people the message, "I will labor on as long as I can for the sake of

my children and for the good of the country I love so well."

The government of her country gave her little pleasure at that time,

for in spite of all that she could do, grave trouble was arising from

what she believed was the mistaken course of her Ministers. Egypt had

been pacified three years before, but there was revolt in the Soudan. A

man named Mohammed had gone about among the wild Arabs declaring, "I am

the prophet who was to follow the great Mohammed. For twelve hundred

years the world has been awaiting me. Come and fight under my banner."

Thousands rose to join him, and Mohammed, or the Mahdi, as he was

called, led them against the Khedive. That ruler was helpless to

repulse them. England was responsible for the good order of his

country, and the Ministers debated the question long and seriously,

what to do in Egypt.

"Let us send troops to the Soudan and suppress the rebellion," advised


"That is what the Queen wishes," said another, "but it may be that the

Soudan is not worth so many lives as would be wasted in conquering the


"It is not," declared another positively. "Let us attempt nothing but

to keep the Mahdi out of Egypt."

"But what of our English and Egyptian garrisons in the Soudan?" That

was a grave question, and a long discussion followed. The government

then in power was ready to do almost anything to avoid war. The Queen

looked upon the matter differently. She was now no girl of eighteen,

she was a woman with nearly fifty years' experience in dealing with

nations civilized and nations uncivilized. She believed that it was

best to hold on to the Soudan; but since her Ministers were determined

to abandon it to the revolters, she saw that the only thing to do was

to lose no time in confronting the Mahdi with an army so overwhelmingly

superior to his own forces that he would not dare to attack the


The Ministers did not agree with her. "General Gordon has already shown

that he knows how to manage the people of the Soudan," they said, "and

he will be able to persuade the Mahdi to let the garrisons go free."

"With an army to support him, yes," said the Queen; "but alone, no."

Nevertheless, General Gordon was sent to cross the desert almost alone.

In spite of all that the brave commander could do, the Mahdi could not

be persuaded to let the garrisons go, and soon the envoy himself was

shut up in Khartoum. "Help us," he pleaded with England. "Send us

troops." Still the government delayed, in spite of the Queen's

warnings. No help came, and General Gordon then sent a messenger to beg

private parties in the British colonies and the United States for money

to organize a relief expedition; but the messengers were captured and

put to death. The Queen urged and insisted that relief should be given,

and the people insisted with her. Troops were sent at last, and they

hastened on till they were only a mile and a half from Khartoum. But

they were forty-eight hours too late, for the city had fallen, and

General Gordon had been slain.

Queen Victoria was a constitutional monarch. She had stood firmly by

her Ministers ever since the Bedchamber Plot of the first year of her

reign; but she was also a woman, a loving, tender-hearted woman, and

she wrote to General Gordon's sister a letter in which sympathy for her

loss and indignation for the "stain left upon England" were mingled.

She said:


"How shall I write to you, or how shall I attempt to express what

I feel! To think of your dear, noble, heroic brother, who served

his country and his Queen so truly, so heroically, with a

self-sacrifice so edifying to the world, not having been rescued!

That the promises of support were not fulfilled--which I so

frequently and constantly pressed on those who asked him to go--is

to me grief inexpressible."

General Gordon's diary was found and sent to his sister. Its last entry

was, "I have done my best for the honor of our country. Good-by." His

Bible was presented by his sister to the Queen. It was placed on a

cushion of white satin in an exquisite casket of carved crystal with

silver mountings. "This is one of my greatest treasures," the Queen

often said, as she sadly pointed it out to her friends.

The Queen was aroused from her sorrow over what she ever looked upon as

a disgrace to her country by the approaching marriage of Princess

Beatrice to Prince Henry of Battenberg. Their wedding was quite

different from those of the other royal children, for it was celebrated

at the country church near Osborne. No one knew how to manage a royal

wedding in a little village church, and there were all sorts of

momentous questions to be settled before the arrangements were

complete. It all came out well in the end, however. There was not room

for quite so many royalties as usual, but the wedding day was a

delightful holiday for the people of the Isle of Wight, for there were

fireworks, bands, a dinner and a dance for all the tenants and servants

on the estate, and a most beautiful display of sailing vessels and

steamers. Tennyson's home was on the Isle of Wight, and the Queen sent

him a charmingly informal invitation to the wedding. "It would give me

the greatest pleasure," she wrote, "if you would come over for the

wedding in our village church, but I fear you won't do that? But pray

come and see me when all is quiet again." Tennyson did not attend the

wedding, but the Princess must have counted among her choicest gifts

his message, "To the royal bride the old poet sends his blessing." This

marriage alone of all those in the royal family was not to bring

separation, for it was agreed that the Princess and Prince Henry should

remain with the Queen.

This Queen and Empress had now been on the throne for nearly half a

century, and throughout her dominions there was a feeling that so rare

an event ought to be celebrated with fitting magnificence. The Jubilee

feeling was in the air. Every town and every little village wished to

mark the time by something that should remain as a lasting memorial.

Libraries, hospitals, and museums were founded, and parks were

purchased and thrown open to the public. Memorial clocks, statues,

schools, and towers sprang into being in every corner of the land, and

in all the colonies. "God Save the Queen" was sung in Hindustanee on

the shores of Asia and in Hebrew in the synagogues of London. Addresses

of congratulation and loyalty came in by the score; representatives of

all the colonies flocked to England, as sons and daughters hastened

homeward to a family gathering.

The part to be taken in the celebration by associations, cities, and

kingdoms had all been planned when it occurred to the editor of one of

the London newspapers that nobody had remembered the children. "Let us

give the boys and girls of London a feast and an entertainment in Hyde

Park," he suggested. "You can't do it," declared the grumblers. "It is

a foolish, wicked scheme. There will be a crush, accidents will happen,

and hundreds will be injured." Nevertheless, people subscribed so

generously that soon all the money needed had been provided. When the

children came to the Park, they were taken in groups to great tents;

and when they came out, each one had a paper bag which contained "a

meat pie, a piece of cake, a bun, and an orange." Their little hands

must have been full, for besides the eatables, each one received a

little medallion portrait of the Queen and a Jubilee mug. The mugs saw

hard service among the thirsty little folk, for all day milk, lemonade,

and ginger beer were free to every child who presented his empty mug.

The children were amused by all sorts of games and shows. Dukes and

princes and representatives of powerful kingdoms came to see the good

time; and at last the Queen herself came and gave a special greeting,

not to the grown folk, but every word of it to the children. Long

before bedtime had come, every one of the twenty-seven thousand small

people was safe in his own home, and the grumblers grumbled no more.

June 21, 1887, was "Jubilee Day." Fifty years had passed since the

young girl had been aroused from her sleep to hear that she was Queen

of a mighty nation; and now, in all the glory of her half century of

successful sovereignty, she was to go to Westminster Abbey to thank God

for his help and protection.

She now represented, not a kingdom, but an enormous empire, and every

corner of it wished to do her honor. The streets of London were spanned

by triumphal arches. They were made into a fairyland of flowers,

banners, drapings of silk and velvet and tapestry. Staging for seats

had been put up all along the route, and every seat was filled.

Fabulous prices were paid for a house, a window or even a few square

inches on a rough plank. Thousands of people had been out since sunrise

to secure a place to see the grand procession; and at last it came in

sight, moving slowly toward the multitude that waited all a-tremble

with excitement and with devotion to the noble woman who was the symbol

of home and country.

First came the carriages containing the dark-faced princes of India,

robed in cloth of gold, and shaded with turbans glittering with

priceless jewels. Many carriages followed, filled with kings, queens,

crown princes, and grand dukes. There were equerries, aides-de-camp, an

escort of Life Guards, and a guard of honor composed of princes riding

three abreast, the Queen's sons, grandsons, sons-in-law and

grandsons-in-law. Towering up among them was the superb figure of

Prince "Fritz," Crown Prince of a united Germany. His uniform was of

pure white, his helmet of burnished steel, and on it was the Prussian

eagle with outspread wings. At last the woman for whom all were waiting

came in sight. The splendid robes of her coronation were fifty years

behind her, but even in her plainer dress she looked every inch a

queen. The Princess Alexandra and the Crown Princess of Germany were

with her. For twenty-five years the sovereign had so rarely appeared in

public that to her subjects this was more than a mere royal procession,

it was the coming back to them of their Queen. A great wave of devotion

and loyalty swept over the hearts of the throng. "Not the Queen, but

my Queen," they said to themselves, and such a greeting was given her

as few monarchs have received.

The Abbey had been filled long before. Rich strains of music were

coming from the organ. There was a moment's silence, then the silver

trumpets of the heralds were blown, and the church resounded with

Handel's march from the "Occasional Oratorio." The Queen entered. She

was preceded by archbishops, bishops, and deans, all in the most

elaborate vestments of their offices. The guard of royal princes walked

slowly up the nave, three abreast, the Prince of Wales and his two

brothers coming last. Slowly the Queen to whom all the world was doing

honor, ascended the steps of the throne. The vast assemblage was

hushed, and stood for a moment with heads bowed in reverence.

A short, simple service followed of praise and thanksgiving. Then her

sons and daughters, who had been grouped around the Queen, came forward

one at a time to bow before her and kiss her hand. As they rose, she

gave each of them a kiss, not of state, but of warm, motherly affection

that in this crowning moment of her career could not be satisfied with

the restrictions of ceremony.

That evening there were fireworks and illuminations in all the

principal cities. England shone literally from shore to shore, for a

beacon fire was lighted on Malvern Hills, and in a moment, as its

distant gleam shone on other hills, other beacons blazed, till from

Land's End to the Shetland Islands it was rejoicingly written in

letters of fire that for fifty years the realm had been under the rule

of a pure and upright womanhood.

At last the day was fully ended. "I am very happy," said the Queen; and

well she might be, for this day had shown her that she was sovereign,

not only of the land and its treasures, but of the loving hearts of her


The Indian Mutiny The Last Day Of Victoria's Real Girlhood facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail