Her Most Gracious Majesty
Edited with an Introduction by
LORD RONALD GOWER, FSA.
IN TWO VOLUMES
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I. ROYAL PROGRESSES TO BURGHLEY, STOWE, AND STRATHFIELDSAYE
II. THE QUEEN'S POWDER BALL
III. THE QUEEN'S FIRST VISIT TO GERMANY
IV. RAILWAY SPECULATION—FAILURE OF THE POTATO CROP—SIR ROBERT PEEL'S RESOLUTIONS—BIRTH OF PRINCESS HELENA—VISIT OF IBRAHIM PASHA
V. AUTUMN YACHTING EXCURSIONS—THE SPANISH MARRIAGES—WINTER VISITS
VI. INSTALLATION OF PRINCE ALBERT AS CHANCELLOR OF CAMBRIDGE
VII. THE QUEEN'S VISIT TO THE WESTERN ISLANDS OF SCOTLAND AND STAY AT ARDVERIKIE
VIII. THE FRENCH FUGITIVES—THE PEOPLE'S CHARTER
IX. THE QUEEN'S FIRST STAY AT BALMORAL
X. PUBLIC AND DOMESTIC INTERESTS—FRESH ATTACK UPON THE QUEEN
XI. THE QUEEN'S FIRST VISIT TO IRELAND
XII. SCOTLAND AGAIN—GLASGOW AND DEE-SIDE
XIII. THE OPENING OF THE NEW COAL EXCHANGE—THE DEATH OF QUEEN ADELAIDE
XIV. PREPARATION FOR THE EXHIBITION—BIRTH OF THE DUKE OF CONNAUGHT
XV. THE DEATHS OF SIR ROBERT PEEL, THE DUKE OF CAMBRIDGE, AND LOUIS PHILIPPE
XVI. THE QUEEN'S FIRST STAY AT HOLYROOD—THE DEATH OF THE QUEEN OF THE BELGIANS
XVII. THE PAPAL BULL—THE GREAT EXHIBITION
XVII. THE QUEEN'S ACCOUNT OF THE OPENING OF THE EXHIBITION
XIX. THE QUEEN'S "RESTORATION BALL" AND THE "GUILDHALL BALL."
XX. ROYAL VISITS TO LIVERPOOL AND MANCHESTER—CLOSE OF THE EXHIBITION
XXI. DISASTERS—YACHTING TRIPS—THE DEATH OF THE DUKE OF WELLINGTON
XXII. THE IRON DUKE'S FUNERAL
XXIII. THE EMPEROR NAPOLEON III. AND THE EMPRESS EUGENIE—FIRE AT WINDSOR
XXIV. THE EASTERN QUESTION—APPROACHING WAR—GROSS INJUSTICE TO PRINCE ALBERT
XXV. THE BATTLE OF INKERMANN—FLORENCE NIGHTINGALE—THE DEATH OF THE EMPEROR NICHOLAS
XXVI. INSPECTION OF THE HOSPITAL AT CHATHAM—DISTRIBUTION OF WAR MEDALS
XXVII. DEATH OF LORD RAGLAN—VISIT OF THE QUEEN AND PRINCE ALBERT TO THE EMPEROR AND EMPRESS OF THE FRENCH—FALL OF SEBASTOPOL
XXVIII. BETROTHAL OF THE PRINCESS ROYAL—QUEEN'S SPEECH TO THE SOLDIERS RETURNED FROM THE CRIMEA—BALMORAL
XXIX. DEATH OF THE PRINCE OF LEININGEN—BIRTH OF PRINCESS BEATRICE— BESTOWAL OF THE VICTORIA CROSS—INDIAN MUTINY
XXX. THE MARRIAGE OF THE PRINCESS ROYAL
XXXI. DEATH OF THE DUCHESSE D'ORLEANS—THE PRINCE CONSORT'S VISIT TO GERMANY—THE QUEEN AND PRINCE CONSORT'S VISIT TO PRINCE AND PRINCESS FREDERICK WILLIAM AT BABELSBERG
XXXII. BIRTH OF PRINCE WILLIAM OF PRUSSIA—DEATH OP PRINCE HOHENLOHE
XXXIII. DEATH OF THE DUCHESS OF KENT
XXXIV. LAST VISIT TO IRELAND—MEETING OF THE PRINCE OF WALES AND THE PRINCESS ALEXANDRA OF DENMARK—DEATH OF THE KING OF PORTUGAL AND HIS BROTHERS.
XXXV. THE DEATH OF THE PRINCE CONSORT
XXXVI. THE WITHDRAWAL TO OSBORNE—THE PRINCE CONSORT'S FUNERAL
XXXVII. THE FIRST MONTHS OF WIDOWHOOD—MARRIAGE OF THE PRINCE OF WALES, ETC., ETC.
XXXVIII. DEATHS OF LORD PALMERSTON AND THE KING OF THE BELGIANS
XXXIX. STAY AT HOLYROOD—DEATHS OF PRINCESS HOHENLOHE AND OF PRINCE FREDERICK OF DARMSTADT—MARRIAGE OF THE DUKE OF EDINBURGH
XL. BIRTH OF THE FIRST GREAT-GRANDCHILD—MARRIAGE OF THE DUKE OF ALBANY—CONCLUSION
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LIST OF STEEL PLATES.
H.R.H. THE PRINCE OF WALES OSBORNE HOUSE THE PASTURE, OSBORNE THE AMAZON (PORTRAIT OF H.R.H. THE PRINCESS HELENA) THE ROYAL YACHT OFF MOUNT ST. MICHAEL THE PRINCESS LOUISE THE PRINCESS HELENA PRINCESSES HELENA AND LOUISE THE HUNTER (H.R.H. PRINCE ARTHUR) HYDE PARK IN 1851 THE FISHER (H.R.H. PRINCE LEOPOLD) H.R.H. THE DUKE OF CAMBRIDGE, K.G., ETC. THE CRADLE (H.R.H. PRINCESS BEATRICE) H.R.H. THE PRINCESS OF WALES (BUST) H.R.H. THE PRINCESS OF WALES THE ALBERT MEMORIAL MONUMENT TO THE PRINCESS ALICE OF HESSE
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ROYAL PROGRESSES TO BURGHLEY, STOWE, AND STRATHFIELDSAYE.
On the 29th of November the Queen went on one of her visits to her nobility. We are told, and we can easily believe, these visits were very popular and eagerly contested for. In her Majesty's choice of localities it would seem as if she loved sometimes to retrace her early footsteps by going again with her husband to the places where she had been, as the young Princess, with the Duchess of Kent. The Queen went at this time to Burghley, the seat of the Marquis of Exeter. The tenantry of the different noblemen whose lands she passed through lined the roads, the mayors of the various towns presented addresses, the school children sang the National Anthem.
At Burghley, too, Queen Elizabeth had been before Queen Victoria. She also had visited a Cecil. The Maiden Queen had travelled under difficulties. The country roads of her day had been so nearly impassable that her only means of transit had been to use a pillion behind her Lord Steward. Her seat in the chapel was pointed out to the Queen and Prince Albert when they went there for morning prayers. Whether or not both queens whiled away a rainy day by going over the whole manor-house, down to the kitchen, we cannot say; but it is not likely that her Majesty's predecessor underwent the ordeal to her gravity of passing through a gentleman's bedroom and finding his best wig and whiskers displayed upon a block on a chest of drawers. And we are not aware that Queen Elizabeth witnessed such an interesting family rite as that which her Majesty graced by her presence. The youngest daughter of the Marquis and Marchioness of Exeter was christened in the chapel, at six o'clock in the evening, before the Queen, and was named for her "Lady Victoria Cecil," while Prince Albert stood as godfather to the child. After the baptism the Queen kissed her little namesake, and Prince Albert presented her with a gold cup bearing the inscription, "To Lady Victoria Cecil, from her godfather Albert." At dinner the newly-named child was duly toasted by the Queen's command.
The next day the royal party visited "Stamford town," from which the Mayor afterwards sent Prince Albert the gift of a pair of Wellington boots, as a sample of the trade of the place. The drive extended to the ruins of another manor-house which, Lady Bloomfield heard, was built by the Cecils for a temporary resort when their house of Burghley was swept. The Queen and the Prince planted an oak and a lime, not far from Queen Elizabeth's lime. The festivities ended with a great dinner and ball, at which the Queen did not dance. Most of the company passed before her chair of State on the dais, as they do at a drawing-room.
On the 29th of December an aged English kinswoman of the Queen's died at the Ranger's House, Blackheath, where she held the somewhat anomalous office of Ranger of Greenwich Park. This was Princess Sophia Matilda, daughter of the Duke of Gloucester, George III.'s brother, and sister of the late Duke of Gloucester, the husband of his cousin, Princess Mary.
Her mother's history was a romance. She was the beautiful niece of Horace Walpole, the illegitimate daughter of his brother, the Earl of Oxford. She married first the Earl of Waldegrave, and became the mother of the three lovely sisters whom Sir Joshua Reynolds's brush immortalised. The widowed countess caught the fancy of the royal Duke, just as it was said, in contemporary letters, that another fair young widow turned the head of another brother of the King's. George III. refused at first to acknowledge the Duke of Gloucester's marriage, but finally withdrew his opposition. If, as was reported, the Duke of York married Lady Mary Coke, the marriage was never ratified. The risk of such marriages caused the passing of the Royal Marriage Act, which rendered the marriage of any member of the royal family without the consent of the reigning sovereign illegal. The children of the Duke of Gloucester and his Duchess were two—Prince William and Princess Sophia Matilda. They held the somewhat doubtful position, perhaps more marked in those days, of a family royal on one side of the house only. The brother, if not a very brilliant, an inoffensive and not an illiberal prince, though wicked wags called him "Silly Billy," improved the situation by his marriage with the amiable and popular Princess Mary, to whom a private gentleman, enamoured by hearsay with her virtues, left a considerable fortune. We get a passing glimpse of the sister, Princess Sophia Matilda, in Fanny Burney's diary. She was then a pretty, sprightly girl, having apparently inherited some of her beautiful mother's and half-sisters' attractions. She was admitted to terms of considerable familiarity and intimacy with her royal cousins; and yet she was not of the circle of Queen Charlotte, neither could she descend gracefully to a lower rank. No husband, royal or noble, was found for her. One cannot think of her without attaching a sense of loneliness to her princely estate. She survived her brother, the Duke of Gloucester, ten years, and died at the age of seventy-two at the Ranger's House, Blackheath, from which she had dispensed many kindly charities. At her funeral the royal standard was hoisted half- mast high on Greenwich Hospital, the Observatory, the churches of St. Mary and St. Alphege, and on Blackheath. She was laid, with nearly all her royal race for the last two generations, in the burial-place of kings, St. George's Chapel, Windsor. Prince Albert occupied his stall as a Knight of the Garter, with a mourning scarf across his field- marshal's uniform.
In the middle of January, 1845, the Queen and Prince Albert went on a visit to the Duke of Buckingham at Stowe, which was still unstripped of its splendid possessions and interesting antiquarian relics. The huge gathering of neighbours and tenants included waggons full of labourers, admitted into the park to see the Queen's arrival and the illumination of the great house at night.
The amusements of the next two days, the ordinary length of a royal visit, began with battues for the Prince, when the accumulation of game was so enormous that, in place of the fact being remarkable that "he hit almost everything he fired at," it would have been singular if a good shot could have avoided doing so. Fifty beaters, so near each other that their sticks almost touched, entered a thick cover and drove the game past the place where the sportsmen were stationed, into the open space of the park. Out the hares rushed from every quarter, "so many of them, that it was often impossible to stop more than one out of half-a-dozen. The ground immediately in front of the shooters became strewn with dead and dying.... It was curious to behold the evident reluctance with which the hares left their retreat, and then their perplexity at finding themselves so beset without. Many actually made for the canal, and swam like dogs across a piece of water nearly a hundred yards wide, shaking themselves upon landing, and making off without any apparent distress. The pheasants were still more averse 'to come and be killed.' For some time not one appeared above the trees. The cocks were heard crowing like domestic fowls, as the numerous tribe retreated before the sticks of the advancing army of beaters. Upon arriving, however, at the edge of the wood, quite a cloud ascended, and the slaughter was proportionately great."
"Slaughter," not sport, is the appropriate word. One cannot help thinking that so it must have struck the Prince; nor are we surprised that, on the next opportunity he had of exercising a sportsman's legitimate vocation, with the good qualities of patience, endurance, and skill, which it is calculated to call forth, emphatic mention is made of his keen enjoyment.
Besides shooting there was walking for both ladies and gentlemen, to the number of twenty guests, "in the mild, clear weather," in the beautiful park. There was the usual county gathering, in order to confer on the upper ten thousand, within a radius of many miles, the much-prized honour of "meeting" the Queen at a dinner or a ball. Lastly, her Majesty and the Prince planted the oak and the cedar which were to rank like heirlooms, and be handed down as trophies of a royal visit and princely favour, to future generations.
The Queen and Prince Albert returned to Windsor on the evening of Saturday, the 18th of January, and on the afternoon of Monday, the 20th, they started again to pay a long-projected visit to her old friend the Duke of Wellington at Strathfieldsaye. It was known that the Duke had set his heart on entertaining his sovereign in his own house, and she not only granted him the boon, but in consideration of his age, his laurels, and the long and intimate connection between them, she let the visit have more of a private and friendly character than the visits of sovereigns to subjects were wont to have. However, the country did not lose its gala. Arches of winter evergreens instead of summer flowers, festive banners, loyal inscriptions, yeoman corps, holiday faces, met her on all sides. At Swallowfield—a name which Mary Russell Mitford has made pleasant to English ears—"no less a person than the Speaker of the House of Commons," the representative of an old Huguenot refugee, the Right Honourable John Shaw Lefevre, commanded the troop of yeomanry.
The Iron Duke met his honoured guests in the hall and conducted them to the library. Every day the same formula was gone through. "The Duke takes the Queen in to dinner, sits by her Majesty, and after dinner gets up and says, 'With your Majesty's permission I give the health of her Majesty,' and then the same to the Prince. They then adjourn to the library, and the Duke sits on the sofa by the Queen (almost as a father would sit by a daughter) for the rest of the evening until eleven o'clock, the Prince and the gentlemen being scattered about in the library or the billiard-room, which opens into it. In a large conservatory beyond, the band of the Duke's grenadier regiment plays through the evening."
There was much that was unique and kindly in the relations between the Queen and the greatest soldier of his day. He had stood by her baptismal font; she had been his guest, when she was the girl- Princess, at Walmer. He had sat in her first Council; he had witnessed her marriage; she was to give his name to one of her sons; in fact, he had taken part in every event of her life. The present arrangements were a graceful, well-nigh filial, tribute of affectionate regard for the old man who had served his country both on the battle-field and in the senate, who had watched his Queen's career with the keenest interest, and rejoiced in her success as something with which he had to do.
The old soldier also gave the Prince shooting, but it was the "fine wild sport" which might have been expected from the host, and which seemed more to the taste of the guest. And in the party of gentlemen who walked for miles over the ploughed land and through the brushwood, none kept up the pace better than the veteran.
The weather was broken and partly wet during the Queen's stay at Strathfieldsaye, and in lieu of out-of-door exercise, the tennis-court came into request. Lord Charles Wellesley, the Duke's younger son, played against professional players, and Prince Albert engaged Lord Charles and one of the professional players, the Queen looking on.
When the visit was over, the Duke punctiliously performed his part of riding on horseback by her Majesty's carriage for the first stage of her journey.
Comical illustrations are given of the old nobleman and soldier's dry rebuffs, administered to the members of the press and the public generally, who haunted Strathfieldsaye on this occasion.
The first was in reply to a request for admission to the house on the plea that the writer was one of the staff of a popular journal commissioned to give the details of the visit. "Field-Marshal the Duke of Wellington presents his compliments to Mr. —-, and begs to say he does not see what his house at Strathfieldsaye has to do with the public press." The other was in the form of a still more ironical notice put up in the grounds, "desiring that people who wish to see the house may drive up to the hall-door and ring the bell, but that they are to abstain from walking on the flagstones and looking in at the windows."
In February the Queen opened Parliament in person for what was destined to be a stormy session, particularly in relation to Sir Robert Peel's measure proposing an increased annual grant of money to the Irish Roman Catholic priests' college of Maynooth. In the Premier's speech, in introducing the Budget, he was able to pay a well-merited compliment on the wise and judicious economy shown in the management of her Majesty's income, so that it was equal to meet the heavy calls made upon it by the visits of foreign sovereigns, who were entertained in a manner becoming the dignity of the sovereign, "without adding one tittle to the burdens of the country. And I am not required, on the part of her Majesty," went on Sir Robert Peel, "to press for the extra expenditure of one single shilling on account of these unforeseen causes of increased expenditure. I think, to state this is only due to the personal credit of her Majesty, who insists upon it that there shall be every magnificence required by her station, but without incurring a single debt." In order to show how the additional cost of such royal hospitality taxed the resources even of the Queen of England, it may be well to give an idea of the ordinary scale of housekeeping at Windsor Castle. Lady Bloomfield likens the kitchen-fire to Nebuchadnezzar's burning fiery furnace. Even when there was no company, from fifteen to twenty joints hung roasting there. In one year the number of people fed at dinner in the Castle amounted to a hundred and thirteen thousand!
Shall we be accused of small moralities and petty lessons in thrift if we say that this passage in Sir Robert Peel's speech recalls the stories of the child-Princess's training, in a wholesome horror of debt, and the exercise of such little acts of self-denial as can alone come in a child's way; that it brings to mind the Tunbridge anecdote of the tiny purchaser on her donkey, bidden to look at her empty purse when a little box in the bazaar caught her eye, and prohibited from going further in obtaining the treasure, till the next quarter's allowance was due? Well might the nation that had read the report of Sir Robert Peel's speech listen complacently when it heard in the following month, of the Queen's acquisition of a private property which should be all her own and her husband's, to do with, as they chose. Another country bestowed, upon quite different grounds, on one of its sovereigns the honourable title of King Honest Man. Here was Queen Honest Woman, who would not buy what she could not afford, or ask her people to pay for fancies in which she indulged, regardless of her means. A different example had been presented by poor Louis XVI. and Marie Antoinette, who, after a course of what their most faithful servants admitted to be grievous misrule and misappropriation of public dignities and funds—to satisfy the ambition and greed of favourites or their friends—in the face of national bankruptcy, private ruin, and widespread disaffection, in the very death-throes of the Revolution, chose that time of all others to buy—under whatever specious pretext of exchange and indemnification—for him who had already so many hunting-seats, the fresh one of Rambouillet; for her, who had Little Trianon in its perfection, the new suburban country house of St. Cloud.
Osborne abounded in the advantages which the royal couple sought. It was in the Isle of Wight, which her Majesty had loved in her girlhood, with the girdle of sea that gave such assurance of the much-courted, much-needed seclusion, as could hardly be procured elsewhere— certainly not within a reasonable distance of London. It was a lovely place by nature, with no end of capabilities for the practice of the Prince's pleasant faculty of landscape-gardening, with which he had already done wonders in the circumscribed grounds of Buckingham Palace and the larger field of Windsor. There were not only woods and valleys and charming points of view—among them a fine look at Spithead; the woods went down to the sea, and the beach belonged to the estate. Such a quiet country home for a country and home-loving Queen and Prince, and for the little children, to whom tranquillity, freedom, the woods, the fields, and the sea-sands were of such vital and lasting consequence, was inestimable.
In addition to other outlets for an active, beneficent nature, Osborne, with its works of building, planting, and improving going on for years to come, had also its farms, like the Home Farm at Windsor. And the Prince was fond of farming no less than of landscape-gardening —proud of his practical success in making it pay, deeply interested in all questions of agriculture and their treatment, so as to secure permanent employment and ample provision for the labourers. Prince Albert's love of animals, too, found scope in these farming operations. When the Queen and the Prince visited the Home Farm the tame pigeons would settle on his hat and her shoulders. The accompanying engraving represents the pasture and part of the Home Farm at Osborne. "The cow in the group was presented to her Majesty by the Corporation of Guernsey, when the Queen visited the Channel Islands; the animal is a beautiful specimen of the Alderney breed, and is a great favourite ... on the forehead of the cow is a V distinctly marked; a peculiarity, it may be presumed, which led to the presentation; the other animals are her calves."
In the course of this session of Parliament, the Queen sought more than once to mark her acknowledgment of the services of Sir Robert Peel, round whose political career troubles were gathering. She acted as sponsor to his grandchild—the heir of the Jersey family—and she offered Sir Robert, through Lord Aberdeen, the Order of the Garter, an offer which the Prime Minister respectfully declined in words that deserve to be remembered. He sprang from the people, he said, and was essentially of the people, and such an honour, in his case, would be misapplied. His heart was not set upon titles of honour or social distinction. His reward lay in her Majesty's confidence, of which, by many indications, she had given him the fullest assurance; and when he left her service the only distinction he courted was that she should say to him, "You have been a faithful servant, and have done your duty to your country and to myself."
THE QUEEN'S POWDER BALL.
On the evening of the 6th of June, 1845, her Majesty, who was at Buckingham Palace for the season, gave another great costume ball, still remembered as her Powder Ball—a name bestowed on it because of the universally-worn powder on hair and periwigs. It was not such a novelty as the Plantagenet Ball had been, neither was it so splendidly fantastic nor apparently so costly a performance; not that the materials used in the dresses were less valuable, but several of them —notably the old lace which was so marked a feature in the spectacle that it might as well have been called "The Lace Ball"—existed in many of the great houses in store, like the family diamonds, and had only to be brought out with the other heirlooms, and properly disposed of, to constitute the wearer en grande tenue. No doubt trade was still to be encouraged, and Spitalfields, in its chronic adversity, to be brought a little nearer to prosperity by the manufacture of sumptuous stuffs, in imitation of gorgeous old brocades, for a portion of the twelve hundred guests. But these motives were neither so urgent nor so ostensible, and perhaps the ball originated as much in a wish to keep up a good custom once begun, and to show some cherished guests a choice example of princely hospitality, as in an elaborate calculation of forced gain to an exotic trade.
The period chosen for the representation was much nearer the present. It was only a hundred years back, from 1740 to 1750. It may be that this comparative nearness fettered rather than emancipated the players in the game, and that, though civil wars and clan feuds had long died out, and the memory of the Scotch rebellion was no more than a picturesque tragic romance, a trifle of awkwardness survived in the encounter, face to face once more, in the very guise of the past, of the descendants of the men and women who had won at Prestonpans and lost at Culloden. It was said that a grave and stately formality distinguished this ball—a tone attributed to dignified, troublesome fashions—stranger then, but which since these days have become more familiar to us.
No two more attractive figures presented themselves that night than the sisters-in-law, the Duchess of Kent and the Duchess of Gloucester, the one in her sixtieth the other in her seventieth year. The third royal duchess in the worthy trio, who represented long and well the royal matronhood of England, the Duchess of Cambridge, was, along with her Duke, prevented from being present at the Queen's ball in consequence of a recent death in her family. The Duchess of Kent wore a striped and "flowered" brocade, with quantities of black lace relieving the white satin of her train. The Duchess of Gloucester, sweet pretty Princess Mary of more than fifty years before, came in the character of a much less happy woman, Marie Leczinska, the queen of Louis XV. She must have looked charming in her rich black brocade, and some of the hoards of superb lace—which she is said to have inherited from her mother, Queen Charlotte—edged with strings of diamonds and agraffes of diamonds, while over her powdered hair was tied a fichu capuchin of Chantilly.
Among the multitude of guests assembled at Buckingham Palace, the privileged few who danced in the Queen's minuets, as well as the members of the royal family, arrived by the Garden Gate and were received in the Yellow Drawing-room. Included in this select company was a German princess who had lately married an English subject— Princess Marie of Baden, wife of the Marquis of Douglas, not the first princess who had wedded into the noble Scotch house of Hamilton, though it was many a long century since Earl Walter received—
all Arran's isle To dower his royal bride
The Queen had special guests with her on this occasion—her brother the Prince of Leiningen, the much-loved uncle of the royal children; and the favourite cousin of the circle, the young Duchesse de Nemours, with her husband. The Queen and Prince Albert, accompanied by their visitors, the various members of the English royal family present at the ball, and the different suites, passed into the ball-room at half- past ten. The first dance, the graceful march of the German polonaise, was danced by all, young and old, the bands striking up simultaneously, and the dance extending through the whole of the State apartments, the Queen leading the way, preceded by the Vice- Chamberlain, the Comptroller and Treasurer of the Household, and two gentlemen ushers to clear a space for her. After the polonaise the company passed slowly before the Queen. A comical incident occurred in this part of the programme through the innocent mistake of an old infantry officer, who in his progress lifted his peaked hat and gave the Queen a military salute, as he walked by.
Then her Majesty left the ball-room and repaired to the throne-room, where the first minuet was formed. It is only necessary to recall that most courtly of slow and graceful dances to judge how well suited it was for this ball. The Queen danced with her cousin, Prince George of Cambridge. Her Majesty wore a wonderful dress of cloth of gold and cloth of silver, with daisies and poppies worked in silks, and shaded the natural colours; trimmings and ruffles of exquisite old lace, stomacher covered with old lace and jewels, the sacque set off with scarlet ribands, the fair hair powdered under a tiara and crown of diamonds, dainty white satin shoes with scarlet rosettes—a diamond in each rosette, the Order of the Garter on the arm, the Star and Riband of the Order.
Prince George was less fortunate in the regimentals of a cavalry officer a century back; for, as it happened, while the costume of 1740-50 was favourable to women and to civilians, it was trying to military men.
Prince Albert danced with the Duchesse de Nemours. These two had been early playmates who never, even in later and sadder days, got together without growing merry over the stories and jokes of their childhood in Coburg. The Prince must have been one of the most graceful figures there, in a crimson velvet coat edged with gold and lined with white satin, on the left breast the splendid Star of the Order of the Garter, shoulder-strap and sword inlaid with diamonds, white satin waistcoat brocaded with gold, breeches of crimson velvet with gold buttons, shoes of black kid with red heels and diamond buckles, three- cornered hat trimmed with gold lace, edged with white ostrich feathers, a magnificent loop of diamonds, and the black cockade of the Georges, not the white cockade of the Jameses.
His golden-haired partner was in a tastefully gay and fantastic as well as splendid costume of rose-coloured Chinese damask, with gold blonde and pearls, over a petticoat of point d'Alencon, with a deep border of silver and silver rosettes. The stomacher of brilliants and pearls, on the left shoulder a nosegay with diamond wheat-ears interspersed, shoes of purple satin with fleurs-de-lys embroidered in gold and diamonds, as became a daughter of France, and gloves embroidered with similar fleurs-de-lys.
There were many gay and gallant figures and fair faces in that minuet of minuets. Prince Edward of Saxe-Weimar was meant to dance with the young Marchioness of Douro, but she by some strange chance came too late for the honour, and her place was supplied by another young matron and beauty, Lady Jocelyn, formerly Lady Fanny Cowper. Prince Leiningen, who wore a white suit faced with blue and a buff waistcoat edged with silver lace, danced with Lady Mount-Edgcumbe. The Duke of Beaufort once more disputed with the Earl of Wilton the distinction of being the finest gentleman present.
The Queen danced in four minuets, standing up in the second with Prince Albert. This minuet also included several of the most beautiful women of the time and of the Court; notably Lady Seymour, one of the Sheridan sisters, the Queen of Beauty at the Eglinton tournament; and Lady Canning.
After the second minuet the Queen and all the company returned to the ball-room, where two other minuets, those of Lady Jersey and Lady Chesterfield, were danced, and between them was given Lady Breadalbane's strathspey. There was such crowding to see these dances that the Lord Chamberlain had difficulty in making room for them. While Musard furnished special music for the minuets and quadrilles, adapting it in one case from airs of the '45, the Queen's piper, Mackay, gave forth, for the benefit of the strathspey and reel- dancers, the stirring strains of "Miss Drummond of Perth," "Tullochgorum," and "The Marquis of Huntly's Highland Fling," which must have rung with wild glee through the halls of kings.
Lady Chesterfield's minuet was the last dance before supper, served with royal splendour in the dining-room, to which the Queen passed at twelve o'clock. After supper the Queen danced in a quadrille and in the two next minuets. Her first partner was the Duc de Nemours, who wore an old French infantry general's uniform—a coat of white cloth, the front covered with gold embroidery, sleeves turned up with crimson velvet, waistcoat and breeches of crimson velvet, stockings of crimson silk, and red-heeled shoes with diamond buckles. In the second minuet her Majesty had her brother, the Prince of Leiningen, for her partner. The ball was ended, according to a good old English fashion, by the quaint changing measure of "Sir Roger de Coverley," known in Scotland as "The Haymakers," in which the Queen had her husband for her partner. This country-dance was danced in the picture gallery.
Let who would be the beauty at the Queen's ball, there was at least one poetess there in piquant black and cerise, with cerise roses and priceless point a l'aiguille, Lady John Scott, who had been the witty heiress, Miss Spottiswoode of Spottiswoode. She wrote to an old refrain one of the most pathetic of modern Scotch ballads—
Douglas, Douglas, tender and true
The beauty of the ball was the Marchioness of Douro, who not so long ago had been the beauty of the season as Lady Elizabeth Hay, daughter of the Marquis of Tweeddale, when she caught the fancy of the elder, son and heir of the Duke of Wellington. In this case beauty was not unadorned, for the lovely Marchioness, [Footnote: Her likeness is familiar to many people in an engraving from a well-known picture of the Duke of Wellington showing his daughter-in-law the field of Waterloo] the Greek mould of whose head attracted the admiration of all judges, was said to wear jewels to the value of sixty thousand pounds, while the superb point-lace flounce to her white brocade must have been a source of pious horror to good Roman Catholics, since it was believed to have belonged to the sacred vestments of a pope.
We have said that lace and jewels gave the distinguishing stamp to the ball—such lace!—point d'Alencon, point de Bayeux, point de Venise, point a l'aiguille, Mechlin, Guipure, Valenciennes, Chantilly, enough to have turned green with envy the soul of a cultured petit- maitre, an aesthetic fop of the present day.
Some of the jewels, no less than the lace, were historical. The Marchioness of Westminster, besides displaying sabots of point- lace, which had belonged to Caroline, queen of George II., wore the Nassuk and Arcot diamonds.
Miss Burdett-Coutts wore a lustrous diadem and necklace that had once graced the brow and throat of poor Marie Antoinette, and had found their way at last into jewel-cases no longer royal, owing their glittering contents to the wealth of a great city banker.
A word about the antiquated finery of the Iron Duke, with which the old soldier sought to please his young mistress. It provoked a smile or two from the more frivolous as the grey, gaunt, spindle-shanked old man stalked by, yet it was not without its pathetic side. The Duke wore a scarlet coat, a tight fit, laced with gold, with splendid gold buttons and frogs, the brilliant star of the Order of the Garter, and the Order of the Golden Fleece, a waistcoat of scarlet cashmere covered with gold lace, breeches of scarlet kerseymere trimmed with gold lace; gold buckles, white silk stockings, cocked hat laced with gold, sword studded with rose diamonds and emeralds.
It is nearly forty years since these resplendent masquers trod the floors of Buckingham Palace, and if the changes which time has brought about had been foreseen, if the veil which shrouds the future had been lifted, what emotions would have been called forth!
Who could have borne to hear that the bright Queen and giver of the fete would pass the years of her prime in the mournful shade of disconsolate widowhood? That the pale crown of a premature death was hovering over the head of him who was the life of her life, the active promoter and sustainer of all that was good and joyous in that great household, all that was great and happy in the kingdom over which she ruled?
Who would have ventured to prophesy that of the royal kindred and cherished guests, the Prince of Leiningen was to die a landless man, the Duc de Nemours to spend long years in exile, the Duchesse to be cut down in the flower of her womanhood? Who would have guessed that this great nobleman, the head of an ancient house, was to perish by a miserable accident in a foreign hotel; that his sister, the wife of an unfortunate statesman, was to be dragged through the mire of a divorce court; that the treasures of a princely home were to pass away from the race that had accumulated them, under the strokes of an auctioneer's hammer? Who could have dreamt that this fine intellect and loving heart would follow the lord of their destiny to Hades, and wander there for evermore distracted, in the land of shadows, where there is no light of the sun to show the way, no firm ground to stay the tottering feet and groping hands? As for these two fair sisters in Watteau style of blue and pink, and green and pink taffetas, lace, and pearls, and roses—surely the daintiest, most aristocratic shepherdesses ever beheld—one of them would have lost her graceful equanimity, reddened with affront, and tingled to the finger-tips with angry unbelief if she had been warned beforehand that she would be amongst the last of the high-born, high-bred brides who would forfeit her birthright and her presence at a Queen's Court by agreeing to be married at the hands of a blacksmith instead of a bishop, before the rude hymeneal altar at Gretna.
But to-night there was no alarming interlude, like a herald of evil, to shake the nerves of the company—nothing more unpropitious than the contretemps to an unlucky lady of being overcome by the heat and seized with a fainting-fit, which caused her over-zealous supporters to remove her luxuriant powdered wig in order to give her greater air and coolness, so that she was fain, the moment she recovered, to hide her diminished head by a rapid discomfited retreat from what remained of the revelry.
On the 21st of June the Queen and the Prince, with the Lords of the Admiralty, inspected the fleet off Spithead. The royal yacht was attended by a crowd of yachts belonging to the various squadrons, a throng of steamboats and countless small boats. The Queen visited and went over the flagship—which was the St. Vincent—the Trafalgar, and the Albion. On her return to the yacht she held a levee of all the captains of the fleet. A few days afterwards she reviewed her fleet in brilliant, breezy weather. The royal yacht took up its position at Spithead, and successive signals were given to the squadron to "Lower sail," "Make sail," "Shorten sail and reef," and "Furl topgallant sails," all the manoeuvres—including the getting under way and sailing in line to St. Helen's—being performed with the very perfection of nautical accuracy. The review ended with the order, "Furl sails, put the life-lines on, and man yards," which was done as only English sailors can accomplish the feat, while the royal yacht on its return passed through the squadron amidst ringing cheers.
During the earlier part of the summer Sir John Franklin sailed with his ships, the Erebus and Terror, in search of that North Pole which, since the days of Sir Hugh Montgomery, "a captain tall," has been at once the goal and snare of many a gallant English sailor. The good ships disappeared under the horizon, never to reach their haven. By slow degrees oblivion, more or less profound, closed over the fate of officers and men, while, for lack of knowledge of their life or death, the light of many a hearth was darkened, and faithful hearts sickened with hope deferred and broke under the strain. As one instance, out of many, of the desolation which the silent loss of the gallant expedition occasioned, sorrow descended heavily on one of the happy Highland homes among which the Queen had dwelt the previous summer. Captain, afterwards Lord James, Murray, brother of Lord Glenlyon, was married to Miss Fairholme, sister of one of the picked men of whom the explorers were composed. When no tidings of him came, year after year, from the land of mist and darkness, pining melancholy seized upon her and made her its prey.
In the month of July the King of the Netherlands, who, as Prince of Orange, had served on the Duke of Wellington's staff at the close of the Peninsular War, came to England and took up his quarters at Mivart's Hotel, the Queen being in the Isle of Wight, where he joined her. Prince Albert met the King at Gosport and escorted him to Osborne. On his return to London the King, who was already a general in the English army, received his appointment as field-marshal, and reviewed the Household troops in Hyde Park. He paid a second visit to the Queen at Osborne before he left Woolwich for Holland.
A curious accident happened when the Queen prorogued Parliament on the 9th of August. The Duke of Argyle, an elderly man, was carrying the crown on a velvet cushion, when, in walking backwards before the Queen, he appeared to forget the two steps, leading from the platform on which the throne stands to the floor, and stumbled, the crown slipping from the cushion and falling to the ground, with the loss of some diamonds. The Queen expressed her concern for the Duke instead of for the crown; but on her departure the keeper of the House of Lords appeared in front of the throne, and prevented too near an approach to it, with the chance of further damage to the dropped jewels. The misadventure was naturally the subject of a good deal of private conversation in the House.
THE QUEEN'S FIRST VISIT TO GERMANY.
On the evening of the day that she prorogued Parliament, the Queen and the Prince with the Earl of Aberdeen as the minister in attendance, started from Buckingham Palace that she might pay her first visit to Germany. Surely none of all the new places she had visited within the last few years could have been of such surpassing interest to the traveller. It was her mother's country as well as her husband's, the home of her brother and sister, the place of which she must have heard, with which she must have had the kindliest associations from her earliest years.
The first stage of the journey—in stormy weather, unfortunately—was to Antwerp, where the party did not land till the following day, when they proceeded to Malines, where they were met by King Leopold and Queen Louise, who parted from their royal niece at Verviers. On the Prussian frontier Lord Westmoreland, the English ambassador, and Baron Bunsen met her Majesty. "To hear the people speak German," she wrote in her Journal, "to see the German soldiers, seemed to me so singular. I overheard people saying that I looked very English."
At Aix-la-Chapelle the King and Prince of Prussia received the visitors and accompanied them to Cologne. The ancient dirty town of the Three Kings gave the strangers an enthusiastic reception. The burghers even did their best to get rid of the unsavoury odours which distinguish the town of sweet essences, by pouring eau-de-Cologne on the roadways.
At Bruhl the Queen and the Prince were taken to the palace, where they found the Queen of Prussia, whose hostility to English and devotion to Russian interests when Lord Bloomfield represented the English Government at Berlin, are recorded by Lady Bloomfield. With the Queen was her sister-in-law, the Princess of Prussia, and the Court. The party went into one of the salons to hear the famous tatoo played by four hundred musicians, in the middle of an illumination by means of torches and coloured lamps. The Queen was reminded that she was in a land of music by hearing at a concert, in which sixty regimental bands assisted, "God save the Queen" better played than she had ever heard it before. "We felt so strange to be in Germany at last," repeats her Majesty, dwelling on the pleasant sensation, "at Bruhl, which Albert said he used to go and visit from Bonn."
The next day the visitors went to Bonn, accompanied by the King and Queen of Prussia. At the house of Prince Furstenberg many professors who had known Prince Albert were presented to the Queen, "which interested me very much," the happy wife says simply. "They were greatly delighted to see Albert and pleased to see me.... I felt as if I knew them all from Albert having told me so much about them." The experience is known to many a bride whose husband takes her proudly to his old alma mater.
The day was made yet more memorable by the unveiling of a statue to Beethoven. But, by an unlucky contretemps, the royal party on the balcony found the back of the statue presented to their gaze. The Freischutzen fired a feu-de-joie. A chorale was sung. The people cheered and the band played a Dusch—such a flourish of trumpets as is given in Germany when a health is drunk.
The travellers then went to the Prince's "former little house." The Queen writes, "It was such a pleasure for me to be able to see this house. We went all over it, and it is just as it was, in no way altered.... We went into the little bower in the garden, from which you have a beautiful view of the Kreuzberg—a convent situated on the top of a hill. The Siebengebirge (seven mountains) you also see, but the view of them is a good deal built up."
This visiting together the ground once so familiar to the Prince formed an era in two lives. It was the fulfilment of a beautiful, brilliant expectation which had been half dim and vague when the ardent lad was a quiet, diligent student, living simply, almost frugally, like the other students at the university on the Rhine, and his little cousin across the German Ocean, from whom he had parted in the homely red-brick palace of Kensington, had been proclaimed Queen of a great country. The prospect of their union was still very uncertain in those days, and yet it must sometimes have crossed his mind as he built air-castles in the middle of his reading; or strolled with a comrade along those old-fashioned streets, among their population of "wild-looking students," with long fair hair, pipes between their lips, and the scars of many a sword-duel on forehead and cheek; or penetrated into the country, where the brown peasant women, "with curious caps and handkerchiefs," came bearing their burden of sticks from the forest, like figures in old fairy tales. He must have told himself that the time might come when something like the transformation of a fairy-tale would be effected on his account; the plain living and high-thinking and college discipline of Bonn be exchanged for the dignity and influence of an English sovereign's consort. Then, perhaps, he would bring his bride to the dear old "fatherland," and show her where he had dreamt about her among his books.
At the banquet in the afternoon the accomplished King gave the Queen's health in a speech fit for a poet. He referred to a word sweet alike to British and German hearts. Thirty years before it had echoed on the heights of Waterloo from British and German tongues, after days of hot and desperate fighting, to mark the glorious triumph of their brotherhood in arms. "Now it resounds on the banks of our fair Rhine, amidst the blessings of that peace which was the hallowed fruit of the great conflict. That word is 'Victoria.' Gentlemen, drink to the health of her Majesty the Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, and to that of her august consort."
"The Queen," remarked Bunsen, "bowed at the first word, but much lower at the second. Her eyes brightened through tears, and as the King was taking his seat again, she rose and bent towards him and kissed his cheek, then took her seat again with a beaming countenance."
After the four-o'clock dinner, the royal party returned to Cologne, and from a steamer on the Rhine saw, through a drizzle of rain which did not greatly mar the spectacle, a splendid display of fireworks and illumination of the town, in which the great cathedral "seemed to glow with fire."
We quote a picturesque description of the striking scene. "The Rhine was made one vast feu-de-joie. As darkness closed in, the dim city began to put forth buds of light. Lines of twinkling brightness darted like liquid gold or silver from pile to pile, then by the bridge of boats across the river, up the masts of the shipping, and along the road on the opposite bank. Rockets now shot from all parts of the horizon. The royal party embarked in a steamer at St. Tremond and glided down by the river. As they passed the banks blazed with fireworks and musketry. At their approach the bridge glowed with redoubled light, and, opening, let the vessel pass to Cologne, whose cathedral burst forth a building of light, every detail of the architecture being made out in delicately-coloured lamps—pinkish, with an underglow of orange. Traversing in carriages the illuminated and vociferous city, the King and his companions returned by the railroad to Bruhl."
Next morning there was a great concert at Bonn—part of the Beethoven festival, in which much fine music was given, but, oddly enough, not much of Beethoven's, to her Majesty's regret. The Queen drove to the University—in the classrooms of which the Prince had sat as a student—and saw more of the professors who had taught him, and of students similar to those who had been his class-fellows. Then she went once more to Cologne, and visited its glory, the cathedral, at that time unfinished, returning to Bruhl to hail with delight the arrival of the King and Queen of the Belgians. "It seems like a dream to them and to me to see each other in Germany," the Queen wrote once more. The passages from her Majesty's Journal read as if she were pleased to congratulate herself on being at last with Prince Albert in his native country.
The last day at Cologne ended in another great concert, conducted by Meyerbeer, for which he had composed a cantata in honour of the Queen. Jenny Lind sang in the concert. It was her Majesty's first opportunity of hearing the great singer, who, of all her sister singers, has most identified herself with England, and from her noble, womanly character and domestic virtues, endeared herself to English hearts.
The tutelary genius of the river which is the Germans' watchword was not able to procure the Queen her weather for her sail on its green waters. Rain fell or threatened for both of the days. Not even the presence of three queens—of England, Prussia, and Belgium—two kings, a prince consort, an archduke, and a future emperor and empress, could propitiate the adverse barometer, or change the sulky face of the sky. Between showers the Queen had a glimpse of the romantic scenery, and perhaps Ehrenbreitstein was most in character when the smoke from the firing of twenty thousand troops "brought home to the imagination the din and lurid splendours of a battle."
The halt was made at Schlossenfels, which included among its distinguished guests Humboldt and Prince Metternich. Next day the King and Queen of Prussia took leave of their visitors, still under heavy rain. The weather cleared afterwards for a time, however, and beautiful Bingen, with the rest of the Rhenish country, was seen in sunshine. The only inconvenience remaining was the thunder of cannons and rattle of muskets which every loyal village kept up.
At Mayence the Queen was received by the Governor, Prince William of Prussia, and the Austrian commander, while the Prussian and Austrian troops, with their bands, gave a torchlight serenade before the hotel windows. On the rest-day which Sunday secured, the Queen saw the good nurse who had brought the royal pair into the world. Her Majesty had also her first introduction to one of her future sons-in-law—an unforeseen kinsman then—Prince Louis of Hesse, whom she noticed as "a very fine boy of eight, nice, and full of intelligence."
There were still long leagues to drive, posting, before Coburg could be reached, and the party started from Mayence in two travelling carriages as early as seven o'clock next morning. They went by Frankfort to Aschaffenburg, where they were met by Bavarian troops and a representative of the King on their entrance into Bavaria. Through woodland scenery, and fields full of the stir of harvest, where a queenly woman did not relish the spectacle of her sister-women treated as beasts of burden, the travellers journeyed to Wurzburg. There Prince Luitpold of Bavaria met and welcomed them to a magnificent palace, where the luggage, which ought to have preceded the wearied travellers, was not forthcoming. Another long day's driving, beginning at a little after six in the morning, would bring the party to Coburg. By one o'clock they were at the old prince- bishop's stately town of Bamberg. In the course of the afternoon the Queen had changed horses for the last time in Franconia. "I began," she wrote, "to feel greatly moved, agitated indeed, in coming near the Coburg frontier. At length we saw flags and people drawn up in lines, and in a few minutes more were welcomed by Ernest (the Duke of Coburg) in full uniform.... We got into an open carriage of Ernest's with six horses, Ernest sitting opposite to us."
The rest of the scene was very German, quaintly picturesque and warm- hearted. "The good people were all dressed in their best, the women in pointed caps, with many petticoats, and the men in leather breeches. Many girls were there with wreaths of flowers." A triumphal arch, a Vice-Land-Director, to whose words of greeting the Queen replied, his fellow-officials on either side, the people welcoming their prince and his queen in "a really hearty and friendly way."
The couple drove to what had been the pretty little country house of their common grandmother, the late Dowager-Duchess of Coburg, and found King Leopold and Queen Louise awaiting them there. He also was an honoured son of Coburg, pleased to be present on such a proud day for the little State. He and his queen took their places beside Queen Victoria and Prince Albert—Ernest Duke of Coburg mounting on horseback and riding beside the carriage as its chief escort. In this order the procession, "which looked extremely pretty," was formed. At the entrance to the town there was another triumphal arch, beneath which the Burgomaster addressed the royal couple. "On the other side stood a number of young girls dressed in white, with green wreaths and scarfs, who presented us with bouquets and verses."
Oh! what anxious, exciting, girlish rehearsals must have been gone through beforehand.
"I cannot say how much I felt moved on entering this dear old place, and with difficulty I restrained my emotion. The beautifully- ornamented town, all bright with wreaths and flowers, the numbers of good affectionate people, the many recollections connected with the place—all was so affecting. In the Platz, where the Rathhaus and Rigierungshaus are, which are fine and curious old houses, the clergy were assembled, and Ober-Superintendent Genzler addressed us very kindly—a very young-looking man for his age, for he married mamma to my father, and christened and confirmed Albert and Ernest." Neither was the motherly presence of her whose marriage vow the Ober- Superintendent had blessed, who had done so much to contribute to the triumph of this day, wanting to its complete realization of all that such a day should have been. The Duchess of Kent was already on a visit to her nephew, standing on the old threshold—once so well known to her—ready to help to welcome her daughter, prepared to show her the home and cherished haunts of her mother's youth. As the carriage drew up, young girls threw wreaths into it. Beside the Duchess of Kent were the Duchess and Dowager-Duchess of Coburg, Prince Albert's sister-in-law and stepmother. The staircase was full of cousins. "It was an affecting but exquisite moment, which I shall never forget," declared the Queen.
But in the middle of the gratification of the son of the house who thus brought his true wife under its roof-tree, and of his satisfaction of being with her there, the faithful hearts did not forget the late sovereign and house-father who had hoped so eagerly to welcome them to the ancestral home. They were there, but his place was filled by another. At Coburg and at Rosenau, which had been one of the old Duke's favourite resorts, his memory haunted his children. "Every sound, every view, every step we take makes us think of him and feel an indescribable hopeless longing for him."
By an affectionate, thoughtful provision for their perfect freedom and enjoyment, Rosenau, Prince Albert's birthplace, was set apart for the Queen and the Prince's occupation on this very happy occasion when they visited Coburg, and still it is the widowed Queen's residence when she is dwelling in the neighbourhood. Beautiful in itself among its woods and hills, it was doubly beautiful to both from its associations. The room in which the Queen slept was that in which the Prince had been born. "How happy, how joyful we were," the Queen wrote, "on awaking to find ourselves here, at the dear Rosenau, my Albert's birthplace, the place he most loves.... He was so happy to be here with me. It is like a beautiful dream."
Fine chorales were sung below the window by some of the singers in the Coburg theatre. Before breakfast the Prince carried off the Queen to see the upper part of the house, which he and his brother had occupied when children. "It is quite in the roof, with a tiny little bedroom on each side, in one of which they both used to sleep with Florschutz, their tutor. [Footnote: The Prince was then such a mere child that the tutor used to carry him in his arms up and down stairs. One is reminded of the old custom of appointing noble governors for royal children of the tenderest years, and of the gracious pathetic relations which sometimes existed between bearded knights and infant kings. Such was the case where Sir David Lindsay of the Mount and little King James V. were concerned, when the pupil would entreat the master for a song on the lute with childish peremptoriness, "P'ay, Davie Lindsay, p'ay!"] The view is beautiful, and the paper is still full of holes from their fencing; and the very same table is there on which they were dressed when little."
The days were too short for all that was to be seen and done. The first day there was a visit to the fortress overhanging the town, which looks as far away as the sea of trees, the Thuringerwald. It has Luther's room, with his chair and part of his bed.
In the evening the Queen went to the perfect little German theatre, where Meyerbeer's Huguenots was given, and the audience sang "God save the Queen" to German words.
The next day the visitors drove to Kalenberg, another of the Duke's seats. In the evening they held a reception at the palace, when not only those persons who had the magic prefix von to their names were admitted, but deputations of citizens, merchants, and artisans were presented, the Queen praising their good manners afterwards.
The following day was the Feast of St. Gregorius, the children's festival, in which thirteen hundred children walked in procession through Coburg, some in fancy dresses, most of the girls in white and green. Three girls came up to the palace balcony and sang a song in honour of the Queen. Then great and small repaired to the meadow— fortunately the fine weather had set in—where there were tents decorated with flowers, in which the royal party dined, while the band played and the children danced "so nicely and merrily, waltzes, polkas, and it was the prettiest thing I ever saw," declared the Queen. "Her Majesty talked to the children, to their great astonishment, in their own language. Tired of dancing and processions, and freed from all awe by the ease of the illustrious visitors, the children took to romps, 'thread my needle,' and other pastimes, and finally were well pelted by the royal circle with bon-bons, flowers and cakes" is the report of another observer.
The day ended with a great ball at the palace.
The next day was spent more quietly in going over old favourite haunts, among them the cabinet or collection of curiosities, stuffed birds, fossils, autographs, &c., which had been formed partly by the Princes when boys. Prince Albert continued to take the greatest interest in it, and had made the Queen a contributor to its treasures. At dinner the Queen tasted bratuerste (roasted sausages), the national dish of Coburg, and pronounced it excellent, with its accompaniment of native beer. A royal neighbour, Queen Adelaide's brother, the Duke of Saxe-Meiningen, joined the party at dinner, and the company witnessed the performance of Schiller's Bride of Messina at the theatre.
On Sunday the August weather was so hot that the Queen and the Prince breakfasted for the second time out of doors. In the course of the morning they drove over with Duke Ernest and the Duchess to St. Moritz Kirche—equivalent to the cathedral of the town. The clergy received the party at the door of the church, and the Ober-Superintendent Genzler made a brief oration "expressive of his joy at receiving the great Christian Queen who was descended from their Saxon dukes, who were the first Reformers, and at the doors of the church where the Reformation was first preached." The Queen describes the service as like the Scotch Presbyterian form, only with more ceremony and more singing. The last impressed her deeply. The pastor preached a fine sermon. The afternoon's drive led through scenery which, especially in its pine woods, resembled the Scotch Highlands, and ended in the Thiergarten, where the Duke reared his wild boars.
"I cannot think," the Queen wrote longingly, "of going away from here. I count the hours, for I have a feeling here which I cannot describe— a feeling as if my childhood also had been spent here." No wonder; Coburg was home to her, like her native air or her mother tongue; she must have learnt to know it at her mother's knee. Her husband's experience was added to the earlier recollection of every salient point, every Haus-Mahrchen; and never were husband and wife more in sympathy than the two who now snatched a short season of delight from a sojourn in the cradle of their race.
Another brilliant sunshiny day—which the brother Princes spent together reviving old associations in the town, while the Queen sketched at Rosenau—closed with the last visit to the theatre, when the people again sang "God save the Queen," adding to it some pretty farewell verses.
The last day which the Queen passed in Coburg was, by a happy circumstance, the Prince's birthday—the first he had spent at Rosenau since he was a lad of fifteen, and, in spite of all changes, the day dawned full of quiet gladness. "To celebrate this dear day in my beloved husband's country and birthplace is more than I ever hoped for," wrote her Majesty, "and I am so thankful for it; I wished him joy so warmly when the singers sang as they did the other morning." The numberless gifts had been arranged by no other hands than those of the Queen and the Prince's brother and sister-in-law on a table "dressed with flowers."' Peasants came in gala dress, [Footnote: The Queen admired greatly many of the peasant costumes, often as serviceable and durable as they were becoming, which she saw in Germany. She expressed the regret so often uttered by English travellers that English labourers and workers at handicrafts, in place of retaining a dress of their own, have long ago adopted a tawdry version of the fashions of the upper classes. Unfortunately the practice is fast becoming universal.] with flowers, music, and dancing to offer their good wishes. In the afternoon all was quiet again, and the Queen and the Prince took their last walk together, for many a day, at Rosenau, down into the hayfields where the friendly people exchanged greetings with them, drank the crystal clear water from the stream, and looked at the fortifications which two princely boys had dug and built, as partly lessons, partly play.
The next day at half-past eight the travellers left "with heavy hearts," measuring the fateful years which were likely to elapse before Coburg was seen again. The pain of parting was lessened by the presence of the Duke and Duchess of Coburg, who accompanied their guests to the Duke's other domain of Gotha. The way led through Queen Adelaide's country of Meiningen, and at every halting-place clergymen with addresses more or less discursive, and "white and green young ladies," literally bombarded the travellers with speeches, flowers, and poems. At last the Duke of Coburg's territory was again entered after it was dark; and the party reached the lovely castellated country-seat of Reinhardtsbrunn, amidst forest and mountain scenery, with its lake in front of the house, set down in the centre of a mining population that came up in quaint costumes, with flaming torches, to walk in procession past the windows. The Queen was charmed with Reinhardtsbrunn, and would fain have lingered there, but time pressed, and she was expected in the course of the next afternoon at Gotha, on a visit to the Prince's aged grandmother who had helped to bring him up, and was so fondly attached to her former charge.
The old lady at seventy-four years of age anticipated the visit. She travelled the distance of eight miles before breakfast, in order to take her grandchildren by surprise. "I hastened to her," is the Queen's account, "and found Albert and Ernest with her. She is a charming old lady, and though very small, remarkably nice-looking, erect and active, but unfortunately very deaf.... She was so happy to see us, and kissed me over and over again. Albert, who is the dearest being to her in the world, she was enraptured to see again, and kissed so kindly. It did one's heart good to see her joy."
In the afternoon the travellers proceeded to Gotha, which was in a state of festival and crowded with people. The Queen and the Prince resided at the old Duchess's house of Friedrichsthal, where the greatest preparations, including the hanging of all her pictures in their rooms, had been made for them. The first visit they paid in Gotha was a solemn one, to the chapel which formed the temporary resting-place of the body of the late Duke, till it could be removed to its vault in Coburg. Then the rooms in which the father had died were visited. These were almost equally melancholy, left as they had been, unchanged, with the wreaths that had decorated the room for his last birthday still there; "and there is that sad clock which stopped just before he died." Who that has seen in Germany these faded wreaths, with their crushed, soiled streamers of white riband, can forget the desolate aspect which they lend to any room in which they are preserved!
There was a cabinet or museum here, too, to inspect, and the curious old spectacle of the popinjay to be witnessed, in company with the Grand Duke of Weimar and his son. This kind of shooting was harmless enough, for the object aimed at was a wooden bird on a pole. The riflemen, led by the rifle-king (schutzen-konig), the public officials, and deputations of peasants marched past the platform where the Queen stood, like a pageant of the Middle Ages. All the princes, including King Leopold, fired, but none brought down the bird; that feat was left for some humbler hero.
On the Queen's return from the popinjay she had the happiness to meet Baroness Lehzen, her old governess, who had come from Buckeburg to see her Majesty. During the next few days the old friends were often together, and the Queen speaks with pleasure of the Baroness's "unchanged devotion," only she was quieter than formerly. It must have appeared like another dream to both, that "the little Princess" of Kensington, travelling with her husband, should greet her old governess, and tell her, under the shadow of the great Thuringerwald, of the four children left behind in England.
The next day the forest itself was entered, when "the bright blue sky, the heavenly air, the exquisite tints," gave a crowning charm to its beauties. The road lay through green glades which occasionally commanded views so remote as those of the Hartz Mountains, to Jagersruh, a hunting-lodge on a height "among stately firs that look like cedars." Here the late Duke had excited all his skill and taste to make a hunter's paradise, which awoke again the regretful thought, "How it would have pleased him to have shown all this himself to those he loved so dearly!"
But Jagersruh was not the goal of the excursion; it was a "deer-drive" or battue, which in Germany at least can be classed as "a relic of mediaeval barbarism." A considerable space in the forest was cleared and enclosed with canvas. In the centre of this enclosure was a pavilion open at the sides, made of branches of fir-trees, and decorated with berries, heather, and forest flowers; in short, a sylvan bower provided for the principal company, outside a table furnished with powder and shot supplied a station for less privileged persons, including the chasseurs or huntsmen of the Duke, in green and gold uniforms.
Easy-chairs were placed in the pavilion for the Queen, the Queen of the Belgians, and the Duchess Alexandrina, while Prince Albert, King Leopold, the Prince of Leiningen, and Duke Ferdinand of Saxe-Coburg, the Prince's uncle, stood by the ladies. Stags to the number of upwards of thirty, and other game, were driven into the enclosure, and between the performances of a band which played at intervals, the gentlemen loaded their rifles, and fired at the helpless prey in the presence of the ladies.
Her Majesty records in her Journal, "As for the sport itself, none of the gentlemen like this butchery." She turns quickly from the piteous slaughter to the beautiful, peaceful scenery.
A quiet Sunday was spent at Gotha. Monday was the Lieder fest, or festival of song, to which, on this occasion, not only the townspeople and villagers from all the neighbouring towns and villages came with their banners and bands, but every small royalty from far and near flocked to meet the Queen of England. These innumerable cousins repaired with the Queen to the park opposite the Schloss, and shared in the festival. The orchestra, composed of many hundreds of singers, was opposite the pavilion erected for the distinguished visitors. Among the fine songs, rendered as only Germans could render them, songs composed by Prince Albert and his brother, and songs written for the day, were sung. Afterwards there was a State dinner and a ball.
The last day had come, with its inevitable sadness. "I can't—won't think of it," wrote the Queen, referring to her approaching departure. She drove and walked, and, with her brother-in-law and his Duchess, was ferried over to the "Island of Graves," the burial-place of the old Dukes of Gotha when the duchy was distinct from that of Coburg. An ancient gardener pointed out to the visitors that only one more flower-covered grave was wanted to make the number complete. When the Duchess of Gotha should be laid to rest with her late husband and his fathers, then the House of Gotha, in its separate existence, would have passed away.
One more drive through the hayfields and the noble fir-trees to the vast Thuringerwald, and, "with many a longing, lingering look at the pine-clad mountains," the Queen and the Prince turned back to attend a ball given in their honour by the townspeople in the theatre.
On the following day the homeward journey was begun. After partings, rendered still more sorrowful by the fact that the age of the cherished grandmother of the delightful "dear" family party rendered it not very probable that she, for one, would see all her children round her again, the Duke and Duchess of Coburg went one stage with the travellers, and then there was another reluctant if less painful parting.
The Queen and the Prince stopped at the quaint little town of Eisenach, which Helen of Orleans was yet to make her home. They were received by the Grand Duke and Hereditary Duchess of Saxe-Weimar, with whom the strangers drove through the autumn woods to the famous old fortress of the Wartburg, which, in its time, dealt a deadly blow to Roman Catholicism by sheltering, in the hour of need, the Protestant champion, Luther. Like the good Protestants her Majesty and the Prince were, they went to see the great reformer's room, and looked at the ink-splash on the wall—the mark of his conflict with the devil—the stove at which he warmed himself, the rude table at which he wrote and ate, and above all, the glorious view over the myriads of tree-tops with which he must have refreshed his steadfast soul. But if Luther is the hero of the Wartburg, there is also a heroine—the central figure of that "Saint's Tragedy" which Charles Kingsley was to give to the world in the course of the next two or three years—St. Elizabeth of Thuringia, the tenderest, bravest, most tortured soul that ever received the doubtful gain of canonization. There is the well by which she is said to have ministered to her sick poor, half-way up the ascent to the Wartburg, and down in the little town nestling below, may be seen the remains of an hospital bearing her name.
From Fulda, where the royal party slept, they journeyed to Goethe's town of Frankfort, where Ludwig I., who turned Munich into a great picture and sculpture gallery, and built the costly Valhalla to commemorate the illustrious German dead, dined with her Majesty.
At Biberich the Rhine was again hailed, and a steamer, waiting for the travellers, carried them to Bingen, where their own little vessel, The Fairy, met and brought them on to Deutz, on the farther side from Cologne. The Queen says naively that the Rhine had lost its charm for them all—the excitement of novelty was gone, and the Thuringerwald had spoilt them. Stolzenfels, Ehrenbreitstein, and the Sieben-Gebirge had their words of praise, but sight-seeing had become for the present a weariness, and after Bonn, with its memories, had been left behind, it was a rest to the royal travellers—as to most other travellers at times—to turn away their jaded eyes, relinquish the duty of alert observation, forget what was passing around them, and lose themselves in a book, as if they were in England. Perhaps the home letters had awakened a little home-sickness in the couple who had been absent for a month. At least, we are given to understand that it was of home and children the Queen and the Prince were chiefly thinking when they reached Antwerp, to which the King and Queen of the Belgians had preceded them, and re-embarked in the royal yacht Victoria and Albert, though it was not at once to sail for English waters. In gracious compliance with an urgent entreaty of Louis Philippe's, the yacht was to call, as it were in passing, at Treport.
On the morning of the 8th of September the Queen's yacht again lay at anchor off the French seaport. The King's barge, with the King, his son, and son-in-law, Prince Joinville, and Prince Augustus of Saxe- Coburg, and M. Guizot, once more came alongside. After the friendliest greetings, the Queen and Prince Albert landed with their host, though not without difficulty. The tide would not admit of the ordinary manner of landing, and Louis Philippe in the dilemma fell back on a bathing-machine, which dragged the party successfully if somewhat unceremoniously over the sands.
The Queen of the French was there as before, accompanied among others by her brother, the Prince of Salerno and his Princess, sister to the Emperor of Austria. The crowd cheered as loudly as ever; there seemed no cloud on the horizon that bright, hot day; even the plague of too much publicity and formality had been got rid of at Chateau d'Eu. The Queen was delighted to renew her intercourse with the large, bright family circle—two of them her relations and fast friends. "It put me so much in mind of two years ago," she declared, "that it was really as if we had never been away;" and the King had to show her his Galerie Victoria, a room fitted up in her honour, hung with the pictures illustrating her former visit and the King's return visit to Windsor.
Although she had impressed on him that she wished as much as possible to dispense with state and show on this occasion, the indefatigable old man had been at the trouble and expense of erecting a theatre, and bringing down from Paris the whole of the Opera Comique to play before her, and thus increase the gaiety of the single evening of her stay.
Only another day was granted to Chateau d'Eu. By the next sunset the King was conducting his guests on board the royal yacht and seizing the last opportunity, when Prince Albert was taking Prince Joinville over the Fairy, glibly to assure the Queen and Lord Aberdeen that he, Louis Philippe, would never consent to Montpensier's marriage to the Infanta of Spain till her sister the Queen was married and had children.
At parting the King embraced her Majesty again and again. The yacht lay still, and there was the most beautiful moonlight reflected on the water. The Queen and the Prince walked up and down the deck, while not they alone, but the astute statesman Aberdeen, congratulated themselves on how well this little visit had prospered, in addition to the complete success of the German tour. With the sea like a lake, and sky and sea of the deepest blue, in the early morning the yacht weighed anchor for England. Under the hot haze of an autumn noonday sun the royal travellers disembarked on the familiar beach at Osborne. The dearest of welcomes greeted them as they "drove up straight to the house, for there, looking like roses, so well and so fat, stood the four children."
The Queen referred afterwards to that visit to Germany as to one of the happiest times in her life. She said when she thought of it, it made her inclined to cry, so pure and tender had been the pleasure.
RAILWAY SPECULATION—FAILURE OF THE POTATO CROP—SIR ROBERT PEEL'S RESOLUTIONS—BIRTH OF PRINCESS HELENA—VISIT OF IBRAHIM PASHA.
One thousand eight hundred and forty-five had begun with what appeared a fresh impetus to national prosperity—a new start full of life and vigour, by which the whole resources of the country should be at once stirred up and rendered ten times more available than they had ever been before. This was known afterwards as "the Railway Mania," which, like other manias, if they are not mere fever-fits of speculation, but are founded on real and tangible gains, had its eager hopeful rise, its inflated disproportioned exaggeration, its disastrous collapse, its gradual recovery, and eventually its solid reasonable success. In 1845 the movement was hurrying on to the second stage of its history.
The great man of 1845 was Hudson the railway speculator, "the Railway King." Fabulous wealth was attributed to him; immense power for the hour was his. A seat in Parliament, entrance into aristocratic circles, were trifles in comparison. We can remember hearing of a great London dinner at which the lions were the gifted Prince, the husband of the Queen, and the distorted shadow of George Stephenson, the bourgeois creator of a network of railway lines, a Bourse of railway shares; the winner, as it was then supposed, of a huge fortune. It was said that Prince Albert himself had felt some curiosity to see this man and hear him speak, and that their encounter on this occasion was prearranged and not accidental.
The autumn of 1845 revealed another side to the country's history. The rainy weather in the summer brought to sudden hideous maturity the lurking potato disease. Any one who recalls the time and the aspect of the fields must retain a vivid recollection of the sudden blight that fell upon acres on acres of what had formerly been luxuriant vegetation, under the sunshine which came late only to complete the work of destruction; the withering and blackening of the leaves of the plant, the sickening foetid odour of the decaying bulbs, which tainted the heavy air for miles; the dismay that filled the minds of the people, who, in the days of dear corn, had learnt more and more to depend upon the cultivation of potatoes, to whom their failure meant ruin and starvation.
This was especially the case in Ireland and the Highlands of Scotland, where the year closed in gloom and apprehension; famine stalked abroad, and doles of Indian corn administered by Government in addition to the alms of the charitable, alone kept body and soul together in fever-stricken multitudes.
About this time also, like another feature of the spirit of adventure which sent Franklin to the North Pole, and operated to a certain extent in the flush of railway enterprise, England was talking half chivalrously, half commercially, and alas! more than half sceptically, of Brook and Borneo, and the new attempt to establish civilization and herald Christianity under English influence in the far seas. All these conflicting elements of new history were felt in the palace as in other dwellings, and made part of Queen Victoria's life in those days.
A great statesman closed his eyes on this changing world. Earl Grey, who had been in the front in advocating change in his time, died.
A brave soldier fell in the last of his battles. Sir Robert Sale, who had been the guest of his Queen a year before, having returned to India and rejoined the army of the Sutlej on fresh disturbances breaking out in the Punjab, was killed at the battle of Moodkee.
Something of the wit and humour of the country was quenched or undergoing a transformation and passing into other hands. Two famous English humorists, Sydney Smith and Tom Hood the elder, went over to the great majority.
By the close of 1845 it had become clear that a change in the Corn Laws was impending. In the circumstances Sir Robert Peel, who, though he had been for some time approaching the conclusion, was not prepared to take immediate steps—who was, indeed, the representative of the Conservative party—resigned office. Lord John Russell, the great Whig leader, was called upon by the Queen to summon a new Ministry; but in consequence of difficulties with those who were to have been his colleagues, Lord John was compelled to announce himself unable to form a Cabinet, and Sir Robert Peel, at the Queen's request, resumed office, conscious that he had to face one of the hardest tasks ever offered to a statesman. He had to encounter "the coolness of former friends, the grudging support of unwilling adherents, the rancour of disappointed political antagonists."
In February, 1846, the royal family spent a week at Osborne, glad to escape from the strife of tongues and the violent political contention which they could do nothing to quell. The Prince was happy, "out all day," directing the building which was going on, and laying out the grounds of his new house; and the Queen was happy in her husband and Children's happiness. During this short absence Sir Robert Peel's resolutions were carried, and his Corn Bill, which was virtually the repeal of the Corn Laws, passed. He had only to await the consequences.
In the middle of the political excitement a single human tragedy, which Sir Robert Peel did something to prevent, reached its climax. Benjamin Haydon, the painter, the ardent advocate, both by principle and practice, of high art, took his life, driven to despair by his failure in worldly success—especially by the ill-success of his cartoons at the exhibition in Westminster Hall.
On the 25th of May a third princess was born, and on the 20th of June Sir Robert Peel's old allies, the Tories, who had but bided their time for revenge, while his new Whig associates looked coldly on him, conspired to defeat him in a Government measure to check assassination in Ireland, so that he had no choice save to resign. He had sacrificed himself as well as his party for what he conceived to be the good of the nation. His reign of power was at an end; but for the moment, at least, he was thankful.
To Lord John Russell, who was more successful than on an earlier occasion, the task of forming a new Ministry was intrusted. The parting from her late ministers, on the 6th of July, was a trial to the Queen, as the same experience had been previously. "Yesterday," her Majesty wrote to King Leopold, "was a very hard day for me. I had to part from Sir Robert Peel and Lord Aberdeen, who are irreparable losses to us and to the country. They were both so much overcome that it quite upset me. We have in them two devoted friends. We felt so safe with them. Never during the five years that they were with me did they ever recommend a person or a thing that was not for my or the country's best, and never for the party's advantage only.... I cannot tell you how sad I am to lose Aberdeen; you cannot think what a delightful companion he was. The breaking up of all this intercourse during our journeys is deplorable."
In the separation the Queen turned naturally to a nearer and dearer friend, whom only death could remove from her. "Albert's use to me, and I may say to the country, by his firmness and sagacity in these moments of trial, is beyond all belief." And beyond all gainsaying must have been the deep satisfaction with which the uncle, who was like a father, heard the repeated assurance of how successful had been his work—what a blessing had rested upon it.
Here is a note of exultation on the political changes from the opposite side of the House. Lord Campbell wrote: "The transfer of the ministerial offices took place at Buckingham Palace on the 6th of July. I ought to have been satisfied, for I received two seals, one for the Duchy of Lancaster and one for the County Palatine of Lancaster. My ignorance of the double honour which awaited me caused an awkward accident, for, when the Queen put two velvet bags into my hand, I grasped one only, and the other with its heavy weight fell down on the floor, and might have bruised the royal toes, but Prince Albert good-naturedly picked it up and restored it to me."
In July the Court again paid a short visit to Osborne, that the Queen's health might be recruited before the baptism of the little Princess. Her Majesty earnestly desired that the Queen of the Belgians might be present, as the baby was to be the godchild of the young widow of Queen Louise's much-loved brother, the late Duc d'Orleans. Unfortunately the wish could not be fulfilled. The child was christened at Buckingham Palace. She received the names of "Helena Augusta Victoria." Her sponsors were the Duchesse d'Orleans, represented by the Duchess of Kent; the Duchess of Cambridge; and the Hereditary Grand Duke of Mecklenburg-Strelitz. The illustration represents the charming little Princess at rather a more advanced age.
At the end of July Prince Albert was away from home for a few days. He visited Liverpool, which he had greatly wished to see, in order to lay the foundation-stone of a Sailors' Home and open the Albert Dock. In the middle of the bustle and enthusiasm of his reception he wrote to the Queen: "I write hoping these lines, which go by the evening post, may reach you by breakfast time to-morrow. As I write you will be making your evening toilette, and not be ready in time for dinner. [Footnote: The Queen dressed quickly, but sometimes she relied too much on her powers in this respect, and failed in her wonted punctuality.] I must set about the same task and not, let me hope, with the same result. I cannot get it into my head that there are two hundred and fifty miles between us.... I must conclude and enclose, by way of close, two touching objects—a flower and a programme of the procession."
The same day the Queen wrote to Baron Stockmar: "I feel very lonely without my dear master; and though I know other people are often separated for a few days, I feel habit could not make me get accustomed to it. This I am sure you cannot blame. Without him everything loses its interest.... It will always be a terrible pang for me to separate from him even for two days." Then she added with a ring of foreboding, "And I pray God never to let me survive him." She concluded with the true woman's proud assertion, "I glory in his being seen and heard."
AUTUMN YACHTING EXCURSIONS—THE SPANISH MARRIAGES—WINTER VISITS.
In the beginning of August the Queen and the Prince, accompanied by the King and Queen of the Belgians, went again to Osborne. This autumn the Queen, the Prince and their two elder children, made pleasant yachting excursions, of about a week's duration each, to old admired scenes and new places. In one of these Baron Stockmar was with them, since he had come to England for a year's visit. He expressed himself as much gratified by the Prince's interest and judgment in politics, and his opinion of the Queen was more favourable than ever. "The Queen improves greatly," he noted down as the fruits of his keen observation, "and she makes daily advances in discernment and experience. The candour, the tone of truth, the fairness, the considerateness with which she judges men and things, are truly delightful; and the ingenuous self-knowledge with which she speaks of herself is simply charming." The yachting excursions included Babbicombe, with the red rocks and wooded hills, which gave the Queen an idea of Italy, where she had never been, "or rather of a ballet or play where nymphs are to appear;" and Torbay, where William of Orange landed. It was perhaps in reference to that event that her Majesty made her little daughter "read in her English history." It seems to have been the Queen's habit, in these yachting excursions, to take upon herself a part, at least, of the Princess Royal's education. "Beautiful Dartmouth" recalled—it might be all the more, because of the rain that fell there—the Rhine with its ruined castles and its Lurlei. Plymouth Harbour and the shore where the pines grew down to the sea, led again to Mount Edgcumbe, always lovely. But first the Queen and the Prince steamed up the St. Germans and the Tamar rivers, passing Trematon Castle, which belonged to the little Duke of Cornwall, and penetrated by many windings of the stream into lake-like regions surrounded by woods and abounding in mines, which made the Prince think of some parts of the Danube. The visitors landed at Cothele, and drove up to a fine old house unchanged since Henry VII.'s time. When they returned in the Fairy to the yacht proper, they found it in the centre of a shoal of boats, as it had been the last time it sailed in these waters.
Prince Albert made an excursion to Dartmoor, and could have believed he was in Scotland, while her Majesty contented herself with another visit to Mount Edgcumbe, the master of which, a great invalid, yet contrived to meet her near the landing-place at which his wife and sons, with other members of the family, had received the royal visitor. The drowsy heat and the golden haze were in keeping with the romantically luxuriant glories of the drive, which the Queen took with her children and her hostess. The little people went in to luncheon while the Queen sketched.
After Prince Albert's return in the afternoon, the visit was repeated. "The finest and tallest chestnut-trees in existence," and the particularly tall and straight birch-trees, were inspected, and Sir Joshua Reynolds's portraits examined. Well might they flourish at Mount Edgcumbe, since Plymouth was Sir Joshua's native town, and some of the Edgcumbe family were among his first patrons, when English art stood greatly in need of such patronage.
The next excursion was an impromptu run in lovely weather to Guernsey, which had not been visited by an English sovereign since the days of King John. The rocky bays, the neighbouring islands, the half-foreign town of St. Pierre, with "very high, bright-coloured houses," illuminated at night, pleased her Majesty greatly. On the visitors landing they were met by ladies dressed in white singing "God save the Queen," and strewing the path with flowers. General Napier, a white- haired soldier, received the Queen and presented her with the keys of the fort. The narrow streets through which she drove were "decorated with flowers and flags, and lined with the Guernsey militia." The country beyond, of which she had a glimpse, was crowned with fine vegetation.
Whether or not it was to prevent Jersey, with St. Helier's, from feeling jealous, ten days later the Queen and the Prince, the Prince of Wales, and the Princess Royal, the usual suite, Lord Spencer, and Lord Palmerston, set out on a companion trip to the sister island. The weather was colder and the sea not so calm. Indeed, the rolling of the vessel in Alderney Race was more than the voyagers had bargained for. After it became smoother the little Prince of Wales put on a sailor's dress made by a tailor on board, and great was the jubilation of the Jack Tars of every degree.
The whole picturesque coast of Jersey was circumnavigated in order to reach St. Helier's, which was gained when the red rocks were gilded with the setting sun. A little later the yacht was hauled up under the glow of bonfires and an illumination. On a splendid September day, which lent to the very colouring a resemblance to Naples, the Queen passed between the twin towers of Noirmont Point and St. Aubin, and approached Elizabeth Castle, with the town of St. Helier's behind it. The Queen landed amidst the firing of guns, the playing of military bands, and the roar of cheers, the ladies of the place, as before, strewing her path with flowers, and marshalling her to a canopy, under which her Majesty received the address of the States and the militia. The demonstrations were on a larger and more finished scale than in Guernsey, greater time having been given for preparation.
The French tongue around her arrested the Queen's attention. So did a seat in one of the streets filled with French women from Granville, "curiously dressed, with white handkerchiefs on their heads." The Queen drove through the green island, admiring its orchards without end, though the season of russet and rosy apples was past for Jersey. The old tower of La Hogue Bie was seen, and the castle of Mont Orgueil was still more closely inspected, the Queen walking up to it and visiting one of its batteries, with a view across the bay to the neighbouring coast of France. Mont Orgueil is said to have been occupied by Robert of Normandy, the unfortunate son of William the Conqueror. Her Majesty heard that it had not yet been taken, but found this was an error, though it was true the island of Guernsey had never been conquered.