A Week-end Visit To Windsor
THE following long letter bears testimony to the King's conscientious
discharge of duty, to his anxiety with regard to public affairs, to the
Queen's devout religious spirit, and to her non-interference in
'April 13, 1831.
'How very odd it was that I should find your letter on the table
requesting to hear a little about Royalty on my return home from a
three days' visi
to Windsor Castle, the beauty, splendour, and comfort
of which is not to be described! We were twenty-nine in the Castle, and
dined from thirty-four to thirty-six each day, and Sunday forty. The
King asked all the clergy who received him in the room before we went
into the Royal pews. I am sorry to say that service wants reform. We
were two hours and a half, the service very ill read, the quantity of
chanting not well done, and, to close all, we could not hear the
sermon. Mr. Digby, I think, was the preacher, and the text was
recommending mercy, but beyond that I never caught a sentence. The
Queen says when she is in church she likes to be serious, and to keep
her mind on religious thoughts. She cannot hear, her mind will wander,
so she reads a sermon, which she holds low out of sight. They generally
have the Dean, and he is dreadfully mumbling.
'On a Sunday they only have a carriage or two for those who cannot
walk. She never has her riding party, and often goes to the evening
service; but she dedicated the time to us to show us her walks,
flower-garden, a cottage that is building for her, her beautiful dairy,
with a little neat country body like our Betty at the farm, and her
labourers' cottages, whence out came the children running to her. One
had a kind word, another a pat on the head.
'Then we saw the farmyard, pigs, cows, etc. Then she took us all over
Frogmore Garden, which is extensive and very pretty, and then back by
dairy and slopes. We were absolutely three hours, walking a good
pace. We numbered about fourteen, but, with the usual thought, two
carriages were at Frogmore to convey home the tired ones. Only two gave
in. The day was very lovely, and her animation and spirits quite
delightful. And this is our Queen--not an atom of pride or finery, yet
dignified in the highest degree when necessary to be Majesty. God grant
her peace and comfort may not be broke in upon!
'The King is ten years older since he wore the crown. Princess
Augusta[*] assured us the Queen and themselves never name politics.
They say he is so harassed with business they try to draw his mind to
trifles--to the farm, the improvements, anything but State affairs. She
added: "The Queen is like my good mother--never interferes or even
gives any opinion. We may think, we must think, we do think, but
we need not speak."
[*] H.R.H. was second daughter of H.M. George III.; born 1768, died
'Their Majesties are not seen till three o'clock. They breakfast and
lunch in their private apartments. Then she comes out and arranges the
morning excursions--all sorts of carriages and saddle-horses. She is a
beautiful horse-woman, and rides about three hours, a good, merry pace.
She sets forth with Maids of Honour and Ladies attendant, and generally
returns surrounded by the gentlemen only, for it is understood she
dispenses with their attendance the moment they get fatigued, and so
they sneak off one by one. There are plenty of grooms to attend.
'Mrs. Clitherow got a quiet ride with my brother and the Duke of
Dorset, whom the Queen always asks to meet us, as she always met him
here in former times. Jane returned for the gentlemen to attend the
Queen, and Jane and I went a long drive about the park with the
Princess Augusta, who was most chatty and good-humoured.
'On Sunday between church and luncheon we were summoned to the Queen's
own apartment to present to her a picture of Bushey House. We have a
young friend who has made a very pretty picture of old Boston House,
and the happy thought of getting Bushey struck my brother. The Queen is
so fond of Bushey! She looked some time at it, then turned to Jane and
said, "I shall value it. You know how I love dear Bushey; but I value
more the kind thought of having it painted for me." Jane told her when
she became Queen her happiest days were past, and she often reminds her
of it. She perpetually asks her questions, and says, "You are so
honest; you tell me true." She draws extremely well. She took a
likeness one evening of one of her beauties, Miss Bagot, and when she
was showing her portfolio everyone exclaimed it was so very like.
'Poor Mrs. Kennedy Erskine[*] was there. She lived in her own
apartments. Mrs. Fox,[**] her sister, and Miss Wilson took it by turns
to dine with her. She was only married four years, was doatingly fond
of her husband, and is left with three children.[***] The King went
every evening when he came from the dinner-room and sat half an hour
with her. On his return to the drawing-room the Queen had taken her
work and Jane Clitherow into the music-room, while I remained at her
table with the Princess Augusta. The King came up. "Ah, my two
Princesses Augusta, this is very comfortable; now to business.' She had
the official boxes, pen and ink all ready. He unlocked a box and set to
work signing, the Princess rubbing them on the blotting-book and
returning them into their cases. He signed seventy. Three times he was
obliged to stop and put his hand in hot water, he had the cramp so
severe in his fingers. When he signed the last he exclaimed, "Thank
God, 'tis done!" He looked at me and said: "My dear madame, when I
began signing I had 48,000 signatures my poor brother should have
signed. I did them all, but I made a determination never to lay my head
on my pillow till I had signed everything I ought on the day, cost me
what it might. It is cruel suffering, but, thank God! 'tis only cramp;
my health never was better." The Queen was all attention, came and
stood by him, but neither she nor the Princess said anything. When he
is in pain he likes perfect quiet and to be left alone.
[*] The King's fourth daughter, Augusta, born 1803, married, first,
1827, Hon. John Kennedy Erskine--he died 1831; secondly, 1836, Lord
[**] The King's second daughter, Mary; born 1798, married, 1824,
Colonel C. R. Fox, A.D.C. to the Queen.
[***] As her four children are subsequently mentioned, it may be noted
that a posthumous child was born two or three months after this letter
'On Monday morning all left the Castle, and the great square full of
carriages being packed was most amusing. The Queen stood at the Window
with us. There were three fours of the King's, and nineteen pair of
post-horses, besides the out-riders, guard of honour, etc., etc.
'My paper makes me end, or I could go on till to-morrow. Adieu, my good
friend! If I have amused you for a few minutes I am well repaid.
'My best remembrances to your trio.
'Yours truly, 'M. C.'