Second Attempt On The Queen's Life

At last came 1848--a year packed with political convulsions and

overthrows. The spirit of revolution was rampant, bowling away at all the

thrones of Europe. England heard the storm thundering nearly all round

the horizon, for in the sister isle the intermittent rebellion broke out,

chiefly among the "Young Ireland" party, led by Mitchel, Meagher and

O'Brien. This plucky little uprising was soon put down. The leaders were

> brave, eloquent, ardent young men, but their followers were not disposed

to fight long and well--perhaps their stomachs were too empty. The

Chartists stirred again, and renewed their not unreasonable or

treasonable demands; but all in vain. There is really something awful

about the strength and solidity and impassivity of England. When the

French monarchy went down in the earthquake shock of that wild winter,

and a republic came up in its place, it surely would have been no wonder

if a vast tidal-wave of revolution caused by so much subsidence and

upheaving had broken disastrously on the English shores. But it did not.

The old sea-wall of loyalty and constitutional liberty was too strong.

There were only floated up a few waifs, and among them a "forlorn and

shipwrecked brother," calling himself "John Smith," and a poor, gray-

haired, heart-broken woman, "Mrs. Smith," for the nonce. When these came

to land they were recognized as Louis Philippe and Marie Amélie of

France. Afterwards most of their family, who had been scattered by the

tempest, came also, and joined them in a long exile. The English asylum

of the King and Queen was Claremont, that sanctuary of love and sorrow,

which the Queen, though loving it well, had at once given over to her

unfortunate old friends, whom she received with the most sympathetic

kindness, trying to forget all causes of ill-feeling given her a year or

two before by the scheming King and his ambitious sons.

In the midst of the excitement and anxiety of that time, a gentle,

loving, world-wearied soul passed out of our little mortal day at Gotha,

and a fresh, bright young soul came into it in London. The dear old

grandmother of the Prince died, in her palace of Friedrichsthal, and his

daughter, Louise Caroline Alberta, now Marchioness of Lorne, was born in

Buckingham Palace.

Among those ruined by the convulsions in Germany were the Queen's

brother, Prince Leiningen, and her brother-in-law, Prince Hohenlohe. So

the thunderbolt had struck near. At one time it threatened to strike

still nearer, for that spring the Chartists made their great

demonstration, or rather announced one. It was expected that they would

assemble at a given point and march, several hundred thousand strong, on

Parliament, bearing a monster petition. What such a mighty body of men

might do, what excesses they might commit in the capital, nobody could

tell. The Queen was packed off to Osborne with baby Louise, to be out of

harm's way, and 170,000 men enrolled themselves as special constables.

Among these was Louis Napoleon, longing for a fight of some sort in

alliance with England. He did net get it till some years after. There was

no collision, in fact no large compact procession; the Chartists, mostly

very good citizens, quietly dispersed and went home after presenting

their petition. The great scare was over, but the special constables were

as proud as Wellington's army after Waterloo.

When the Chartist leaders had been tried for sedition and sentenced to

terms of imprisonment, and the Irish leaders had been transported, things

looked so flat in England that the young French Prince turned again to

France to try his fortune. It was his third trial. The first two efforts

under Louis Philippe to stir up a revolt and topple the citizen king from

the throne had ended in imprisonment and ridicule; but now he would not

seem to play a Napoleonic game. He would fall in with republican ideas

and run for the Presidency, which he did, and won. But as the countryman

at the circus, after creating much merriment by his awkward riding in his

rural costume, sometimes throws it off and appears as a spangled hero and

the very prince of equestrians; so this "nephew of his uncle," suddenly

emerging from the disguise of a republican President, blazed forth a

full-panoplied warrior-Emperor. But this was not yet.

In September of this year the Queen and Prince first visited a new

property they had purchased in the heart of the Highlands. The Prince

wrote of it: "We have withdrawn for a short time into a complete mountain

solitude, where one rarely sees a human face, where the snow already

covers the mountain-tops and the wild deer come creeping stealthily round

the house. I, naughty man, have also been creeping stealthily after the

harmless stags, and today I shot two red deer." ... "The castle is of

granite, with numerous small turrets, and is situated on a rising-ground,

surrounded by birchwood, and close to the river Dee. The air is glorious

and dear, but icy cold."

What a relief it must have been to them to feel themselves out of the

reach of runaway royalties, and "surprise parties" of Emperors and Grand


In March, 1849, the Prince laid the foundation-stone for the Great

Grimsby Docks, and made a noble speech on the occasion. From that I will

not quote, but I am tempted to give entire a charming note which he wrote

from Brocklesby, Lord Yarborough's place, to the Queen.

It runs thus:

"Your faithful husband, agreeably to your wishes, reports: 1. That he is

still alive. 2. That he has discovered the North Pole from Lincoln

Cathedral, but without finding either Captain Ross or Sir John Franklin.

3. That he arrived at Brocklesby and received the address. 4. That he

subsequently rode out and got home quite covered with snow and with

icicles on his nose. 5. That the messenger is waiting to carry off this

letter, which you will have in Windsor by the morning. 6. Last, but not

least, that he loves his wife and remains her devoted husband."

We may believe the good, fun-loving wife was delighted with this little

letter, and read it to a few of her choicest friends.

A few months later, while the Queen was driving with her children in an

open carriage over that assassin-haunted Constitution Hill, she was fired

at by a mad Irishman--William Hamilton. She did not lose for a moment her

wonderful self-possession, but ordered the carriage to move on, and

quieted with a few calm words the terror of the children.

We have seen that at the time of Oxford's attempt she "laughed at the

thing"; but now there had been so many shootings that "the thing" was

getting tiresome and monotonous, and she did not interfere with the

carrying out of the sentence of seven years' transportation. This was not

the last. In 1872 a Fenian tried his hand against his widowed sovereign,

and we all know of the shocking attempt of two years ago at Windsor. In

truth, Her Majesty has been the greatest royal target in Europe.

Messieurs les assassins are not very gallant.

All this time the Prince-Consort was up to his elbows in work of many

kinds. That which he loved best, planning and planting the grounds of

Osborne and Balmoral and superintending building, he cheerfully

sacrificed for works of public utility. He inaugurated and urged forward

many benevolent and scientific enterprises, and schools of art and music.

This extraordinary man seemed to have a prophetic sense of the value and

ultimate success of inchoate public improvements, and when he once

adopted a scheme allowed nothing to discourage him. He engineered the

Holborn Viaduct enterprise, and I notice that at a late meeting of the

brave Channel Tunnel Company, Sir E. W. Watkin claimed that "the cause

had once the advocacy of the great Prince-Consort, the most sagacious man

of the century."

With all these things he found time to carefully overlook the education

of his children. The Prince of Wales was now thought old enough to be

placed under a tutor, and one was selected--a Mr. Birch (let us hope the

name was not significant), "a young, good-looking, amiable man," who had

himself taken "the highest honors at Cambridge";--doubtless a great point

those highest Cambridge honors, for the instructor of an eight-years-old

boy. For all the ability and learning of his tutor, it is said that the

Prince of Wales never took to the classics with desperate avidity. He was

never inclined to waste his strength or dim his pleasant blue eyes over

the midnight oil.

Prince Albert never gave the training of his boys up wholly to the most

accomplished instructors. His was still, while he lived, the guiding,

guarding spirit. The Queen was equally faithful in the discharge of her

duties to her children--especially to her daughters. In her memoranda I

find many admirable passages which reveal her peculiarly simple,

domestic, affectionate system of home government. The religious training

of her little ones she kept as much as possible in her own hands, still

the cares of State and the duties of royal hospitality would interfere,

and, writing of the Princess Royal, in 1844, she says: "It is a hard case

for me that my occupations prevent me from being with her when she says

her prayers."

Some instructions which she gave to this child's governess should be

printed in letters of gold:

"I am quite clear that she should be taught to have great reverence for

God and for religion, but that she should have the feeling of devotion

and love which our heavenly Father encourages His earthly children to

have for Him, and not one of fear and trembling; and that thoughts of

death and an after life should not be represented in an alarming and

forbidding view; and that she should be made to know as yet no difference

of creeds, and not think that she can only pray on her knees, or that

those who do not kneel are less fervent or devout in their prayers."

In August of this year the Queen and Prince sailed in their favorite

yacht, the Victoria and Albert, for Ireland, taking with them

their three eldest children, the better to show the Irish people that

their sovereign had not lost confidence in them for their recent bit of a

rebellion, which she believed was one-half Popery and the other half

potato-rot. The Irish people justified that faith. At the Cove of Cork,

where the Royal party first landed, and which has been Queenstown ever

since, their reception was most enthusiastic, as it was also in Dublin,

so lately disaffected. The common people were especially delighted with

the children, and one "stout old woman" shouted out, "Oh, Queen, dear,

make one o' thim darlints Patrick, and all Ireland will die for ye!" They

afterwards got their "Patrick" in the little Duke of Connaught, but I

fear were none the more disposed to die for the English Queen. Perhaps he

came a little too late.

The Queen on this trip expressed the intention of creating the Prince of

Wales Earl of Dublin, by way of compliment and conciliation, and perhaps

she did, but still Fenianism grew and flourished In Ireland.

The passage from Belfast to Loch Ryan was very rough--a regular rebellion

against, "the Queen of the Seas," as the Emperor of France afterwards

called Victoria. She records that, "Poor little Affie was knocked down

and sent rolling over the deck, and was completely drenched." The poor

little fellow, Prince Alfred, Duke of Edinburgh, the bold mariner of the

family, probably cried out then that he would "never, never be a sailor."

In a letter from Balmoral, written on his thirtieth birthday, the Prince-

Consort says: "Victoria is happy and cheerful--the children are well and

grow apace; the Highlands are glorious."

I do not know that the fact has anything to do with Her Majesty's

peculiar love for Scotland, but she came very near being born in that

part of her dominions--the Duke of Kent having proposed a little while

before her birth to take a place in Lanarkshire, belonging to a friend.

Had he done so his little daughter would have been a Highland lassie. I

don't think the Queen would have objected. She said to Sir Archibald

Alison, "I am more proud of my Scotch descent than of any other. When I

first came into Scotland I felt as if I were coming home."

With the occupation of Balmoral this home feeling increased: The Queen

was ever impatient to seek that mountain retreat and regretful to leave

it. She loved above all the outdoor life there--the rough mountaineering,

the deer hunts, the climbing, the following up and fording streams, the

picnics on breezy hill-sides; she loved to get out from under the dark

purple shadow of royalty and nestle down among the brighter purple of the

heather; she loved to go off on wild incognito expeditions and be

addressed by the simple peasants without her awesome titles; even loved

to be at times like the peasants in simplicity and naturalness, to feel

with her "guid mon," like a younger Mistress Anderson with her "jo John."

She seemed to enjoy all weathers at Balmoral. I am told that she used to

delight in walking in the rain and wind and going out protected only by a

thick water-proof, the hood drawn over her head; and that she liked

nothing better than driving in a heavy snow-storm. After the return from

Scotland, the Queen was to have opened the new Coal Exchange in London,

but was prevented by an odd and much-belated ailment, an attack of

chicken-pox. Prince Albert went in her place and took the Princess Royal

and the Prince of Wales, who, Lady Lyttelton writes: "behaved very

civilly and nicely." There was an immense crowd, all shouting and

cheering, and smiling kindly on the children. Some official of immense

size, with a big cloak and wig, and a big voice, is described as making a

pompous speech to little Albert Edward, looking down on him and

addressing him as "Your Royal Highness, the pledge, and promise of a long

race of Kings." Lady Lyttelton adds: "Poor Princey did not seem to guess

at all what he meant."

Soon after this grand affair, a very grand personage came not

unwillingly to the end of all earthly affairs. Adelaide, Dowager Queen of

England, died after a long and painful illness. She had lived a good

life; she was a sweet, charitable, patient, lovable woman. The Queen and

Prince-Consort were deeply grieved. The Queen wrote: "She was truly

motherly in her kindness to us and our children. ... Poor mama is very

much cut up by this sad event. To her the Queen is a great and serious


Queen Adelaide left directions that her funeral should be as private as

possible, and that her coffin should be carried by sailors--a tribute to

the memory of the Sailor-King.

From an English gentleman, who has exceptional opportunities of knowing

much of the private history of Royalty, I have received an anecdote of

this good woman and wife, when Duchess of Clarence--something which our

friend thinks does her more honor than afterwards did her title of Queen.

When she was married she knew, for everybody knew, of the left-hand

marriage of the Duke with the beautiful actress, Mrs. Jordan, from whom

he was then separated. The Duke took his bride to Bushey Park, his

residence, for the honeymoon, and himself politely conducted her to her

chamber. She looked about the elegant room well pleased, but was soon

struck by the picture of a very lovely woman, over the mantel. "Who is

that?" she asked. The poor Duke was aghast, but he had at least the

kingly quality of truth-telling, and stammered out: "That, my dear

Adelaide, is a portrait of Mrs. Jordan. I humbly beg your pardon for its

being here. I gave orders to have it removed, but those stupid servants

have neglected to do it. I will have it done at once--only forgive me."

The Duchess took her husband's hand and said: "No, my dear William, you

must not do it! I know what Mrs. Jordan has been to you in the past--that

you have loved her--that she is the mother of your children, and I wish

her portrait to remain where it is." And it did remain. This was very

noble and generous, certainly; but I cannot help thinking that the

Duchess was not very much in love.