Close Of The Great Exhibition-anecdote

The great Exhibition was closed about the middle of October, on a dark

and rainy day. The last ceremonies were very solemn and impressive. It

had not remained long enough for people to be wearied of it. The Queen,

the Prince and their children seemed never to tire of visiting it, and

the prospect of a sight of them was one of the greatest attractions of

the place to other visitors, especially to simple country-folk--though
/> these were sometimes disappointed at not beholding the whole party

wearing crowns and trailing royal robes.

I remember a little anecdote of one of Her Majesty's visits to the

Crystal Palace. Among the American manufactures were some fine soaps, and

among these a small head, done in white Castile, and so exactly like

marble that the Queen doubted the soap story, and in her impulsive,

investigating way was about to test it with a scratch of her shawl-pin,

when the Yankee exhibitor stayed her hand, and drew forth a courteous

apology by the loyal remonstrance--"Pardon, your Majesty,--it is the

head of Washington!"

Soon after the Princes and Kings went home, there arrived in London a man

whose heroism and eloquence had thrilled the hearts and filled the

thoughts of the world as those of no monarch living had ever done. He was

not received with royal honors, though with some generous enthusiasm, by

the people. He was looked upon, in high places as that most forlorn

being, an unsuccessful adventurer;--so he turned his face, his sad eyes

wistful with one last hope, towards the setting sun. Alas, his own

political sun had already set!

This man was Louis Kossuth. About the same time another man, without

heroism, without eloquence, but with almost superhuman audacity, struck a

famous political blow, in Paris, called a coup d'état. He exploded

a secret mine, which shattered the republic and heaved him up on to an

imperial throne. Of course this successful adventurer was Louis Napoleon.

I cannot find that, as the Prince-President of that poor, poetic,

impracticable thing, the French Republic, much notice had been taken of

him by the English Government;--but "Emperor" was a more respectable

title, even worn in this way, snatched in the twinkling of an eye by a

political prestidigitateur, and it was of greater worth--it had

cost blood. So Napoleon III. was recognized by England, and at last by

all great powers--royal and republican. Still, for a while, they showed a

wary coldness towards the new Emperor; and he was unhappy because all the

great European sovereigns hesitated to concede his equality to the extent

of addressing him as "mon frère" (my brother). He seemed to take

this so to heart that, after this solemn declaration that his empire

meant peace and not war, the Queen of England put out her friendly little

hand and said frankly, "mon frère"; and the King of Prussia and the

Emperor of Austria followed her example; but the Czar of Russia, put his

iron-gloved hand behind his back and frowned. Louis Napoleon did not

forget that ever--but remembered it "excellent well" a few years later,

when he was sending off his noble army to the Crimea.

I find two charming domestic bits, in letters of the Queen and Prince,

written in May, 1852, from Osborne. After saying that her birthday had

passed very happily and peacefully, Her Majesty adds: "I only feel that I

never can be half grateful enough for so much love, devotion and

happiness. My beloved Albert was, if possible, more than usually kind and

good in showering gifts on me. Mama was most kind, too; and the children

did everything they could to please me."

It is pleasant to see that the dear mother and grandmother never forgot

those family anniversaries, and never was forgotten.

Prince Albert writes, in a letter to the Dowager Duchess of Saxe-Coburg:

"The children are well. They grow apace and develop new virtues daily,

and also new naughtinesses. The virtues we try to retain, and the

naughtinesses we throw away."

This year was a memorable one for the writer of this little book, for it

was that of her first visit to England,--of her first sight of London and

Charles Dickens, of Westminster Abbey and the Duke of Wellington, Windsor

Castle and Queen Victoria.

I had brought a letter, from one of his most esteemed American friends,

to the Earl of Carlisle, and from that accomplished and amiable nobleman

I received many courtesies,--chief among them a ticket, which he obtained

from Her Majesty direct, to one of her reserved seats in the Peeresses'

Gallery of the House of Lords, to witness the prorogation of Parliament.

I trust I may be pardoned if I quote a portion of my description of that

wonderful sight,--written, ah me! so long ago:

... "I found that my seat was one most desirable both for seeing the

brilliant assembly and the august ceremony; it was near the throne, yet

commanded a view of every part of the splendid chamber.

"The gallery was soon filled with ladies, all in full-dress, jewels,

flowers and plumes. Many of the seats of the Peers were also filled by

their noble wives and fair daughters, most superbly and sweetly

arrayed... Among those conspicuous for elegance and loveliness were the

young Duchess of Northumberland and Lady Clementina Villiers, the famous

Court beauty.

"Toward one o'clock the Peers began to come in, clad in their robes of

State. Taken as a whole they are a noble and refined-looking set of men.

But few eyes dwelt on any of these, when there slowly entered, at the

left of the throne, a white-haired old man, pale and spare, bowed with

years and honors, the hero of many battles in many lands, the conqueror

of conquerors,--the Duke! Leaning on the arm of the fair Marchioness of

Douro, he stood, or rather tottered, before us, the grandest ruin in

England. He presently retired to don his ducal robes and join the royal

party at the entrance by the Victoria tower. ... The pious bishops, in

their sacerdotal robes, made a goodly show before an ungodly world. The

judges came in their black gowns and in all the venerable absurdity of

their enormous wigs. Mr. Justice Talfourd the poet, a small, modest-

looking man, was quite extinguished by his. The foreign Ministers

assembled, nation after nation, making, when standing or seated together,

a most peculiar and picturesque group. They shone in all colors and

dazzled with stars, orders and jewel-bitted swords. ...

"Next to me sat the eleven-year-old Princess Gouromma, daughter of the

Rajah of Coorg. The day before she had received Christian baptism, the

Queen standing as godmother. She is a pretty, bright-looking child, and

was literally loaded with jewels. Opposite her sat an Indian Prince--her

father, I was told. He was magnificently attired--girded about with a

superb India shawl, and above his dusky brow gleamed star-like diamonds,

for the least of which many a hard-run Christian would sell his soul. ...

"At last, the guns announced the royal procession, and in a few moments

the entire house rose silently to receive Her Majesty. The Queen was

conducted by Prince Albert, and accompanied by all the great officers of

State. The long train, borne by ladies, gentlemen and pages, gave a

certain stateliness to the short, plump little person of the fair

sovereign, and she bore herself with much dignity and grace. Prince

Albert, it is evident, has been eminently handsome, but he is growing a

little stout and slightly bald. Yet he is a man of right noble presence.

Her Majesty is in fine preservation, and really a pretty and lovable-

looking woman. I think I never saw anything sweeter than her smile of

recognition, given to some of her friends in the gallery--to the little

Indian Princess in especial. There is much in her face of pure

womanliness and simple goodness; yet it is by no means wanting in

animated intelligence. In short, after seeing her, I can well understand

the loving loyalty of her people, and can heartily join in their prayer

of 'God Save the Queen!'

"Her Majesty wore a splendid tiara of brilliants, matched by bracelets,

necklace and stomacher. Her soft brown hair was dressed very plainly. Her

under-dress was of white satin, striped with gold; her robe was, of

course, of purple velvet, trimmed with gold and ermine."

"The Queen desired the lords to be seated, and commanded that her

'faithful Commons' should be summoned. When the members of. the lower

House had come in, the speaker read a speech, to which, I have recorded,

Her Majesty listened, in a cold, quiet manner, sitting perfectly

motionless, even to her fingers and eyelids. The Iron Duke standing at

her left, bent, and trembled slightly--supporting with evident difficulty

the ponderous sword of State. Prince Albert, sitting tall and soldier-

like, in his handsome Field-Marshal's uniform, looked nonchalant and

serene, but with a certain far-away expression in his eyes. The Earl of

Derby held the crown on its gorgeous-cushion gracefully, like an

accomplished waiter presenting a tray of ices. On a like occasion, some

time ago, I hear the Duke of Argyle had the ill-luck to drop this crown

from the cushion, when some of the costly jewels, jarred from their

setting, flew about like so many bits of broken glass. But there was no

need to cry, 'Pick up the pieces!'

"After the reading of this speech, certain bills were read to Her

Majesty, for her assent, which she gave each time with a gracious

inclination of the head, shaking sparkles from her diamond tiara in dew-

drops of light. At every token of acquiescence a personage whom I took

for a herald, bowed low towards the Queen, then performed a similar

obeisance towards the Commons--crying 'La Reine le veut!'"

"Why he should say it in French--why he did not say "The Queen wills it,"

in her own English, I don't yet know."

I went on: "This ceremony gone through with, the Lord Chancellor,

kneeling at the foot of the throne, presented a copy of the Royal speech

to the Queen (I had supposed she would bring it in her pocket), which she

proceeded to read, in a manner perfectly simple, yet impressive, and in a

voice singularly melodious and distinct. Finer reading I never heard

anywhere; every syllable was clearly enunciated, and the emphasis fell

with unerring precision, though gently, on the right word.

"The Lord Chancellor having formally announced that Parliament stood

prorogued until the 20th of August, Her Majesty rose as majestically as

could be expected from one more remarkable for rosy plumptitude than

regal altitude; Prince Albert took his place at her side; the crown and

sword bearers took theirs in front, the train-bearers theirs in the rear,

and the royal procession swept slowly forth, the brilliant house broke up

and followed, and so the splendid pageant passed away--faded like a piece

of fairy enchantment." That's the way they do it,--except that nowadays

the Queen does not read her own speech.