Queen Victoria
by E. Gordon Browne
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[Frontispiece: QUEEN VICTORIA]





Turnbull & Spears, Printers, Edinburgh, Great Britain





CHAPTER I: A Look Back

In the old legend of Rip Van Winkle with which the American writer Washington Irving has made us so familiar, the ne'er-do-weel Rip wanders off into the Kaatskill Mountains with his dog and gun in order to escape from his wife's scolding tongue. Here he meets the spectre crew of Captain Hudson, and, after partaking of their hospitality, falls into a deep sleep which lasts for twenty years. The latter part of the story describes the changes which he finds on his return to his native village: nearly all the old, familiar faces are gone; manners, dress, and speech are all changed. He feels like a stranger in a strange land.

Now, it is a good thing sometimes to take a look back, to try to count over the changes for good or for evil which have taken place in this country of ours; to try to understand clearly why the reign of a great Queen should have left its mark upon our history in such a way that men speak of the Victorian Age as one of the greatest ages that have ever been.

If an Elizabethan had been asked whether he considered the Queen of England a great woman or not, he would undoubtedly have answered "Yes," and given very good reasons for his answer. It was not for nothing that the English almost worshipped their Queen in "those spacious times of great Elizabeth." Edmund Spenser, one of the world's great poets, hymned her as "fayre Elisa" and "the flowre of Virgins":

Helpe me to blaze Her worthy praise; Which, in her sexe doth all excell!

Throughout her long reign, courtiers, statesmen, soldiers, and people all united in serving her gladly and to the best of their powers.

Yet she could at times prove herself to be hard, cruel, and vindictive; she was mean, even miserly, when money was wanted for men or ships; she was excessively vain, loved dress and finery, and was often proud almost beyond bearing.

Notwithstanding all her faults, she was the best beloved of all English monarchs because of her never-failing courage and strength of mind, and she made the Crown respected, feared, and loved as no other ruler had done before her, and none other, save Queen Victoria, has reigned as she did in her people's hearts.

She lived for her country, and her country's love and admiration were her reward. During her reign the seas were swept clear of foreign foes, and her country took its place in the front rank of Great Powers. Hers was the Golden Age of Literature, of Adventure and Learning, an age of great men and women, a New England.

If an Elizabethan Rip Van Winkle had fallen asleep and awakened again at the opening of Victoria's reign, more than 200 years later, what would he have found? England still a mighty Power, it is true, scarcely yet recovered from the long war against Napoleon, with Nelson and Wellington enthroned as the national heroes. But the times were bad in many ways, for it was "a time of ugliness: ugly religion, ugly law, ugly relations between rich and poor, ugly clothes, ugly furniture."

The England of that day, it must be remembered, was the England described so faithfully in Charles Dickens' early works. It was far from being the England we know now. In 1836 appeared the first number of Mr Pickwick's travels. The Pickwick Papers is not a great work of humour merely, for in its pages we see England and the early Victorians—a strange country to us—in which they lived.

It is an England of old inns and stagecoaches, where "manners and roads were very rough"; where men were still cast into prison for debt and lived and died there; where the execution of a criminal still took place in public; where little children of tender years were condemned to work in the depths of coal-pits, and amid the clang and roar of machinery. It was a hard, cruel age. No longer did the people look up to and reverence their monarch as their leader. England had yet to pass through a long and bitter period of 'strife and stress,' of war between rich and poor, of many and bewildering changes. The introduction of coal, steam, and mechanism was rapidly changing the character of the whole country. The revenue had grown from about 19,000,000 pounds in 1792 to 105,000,000 pounds in 1815, and there seemed to be no limit to the national wealth and resources.

But these very changes which enriched some few were the cause of misery and poverty to struggling thousands. Machinery had ruined the spinning-wheel industry and reduced the price of cloth; the price of corn had risen, and, after the close of the great war, other nations were free once again to compete against our country in the markets where we so long had possessed the monopoly of trade.

The period which followed the year 1815 was one of incessant struggle for reform, and chiefly the reform of a Parliament which no longer represented the people's wishes. Considerably more than half the members were not elected at all, but were recommended by patrons.

The average price of a seat in Parliament was 5000 pounds for a so-called 'rotten borough.' Scotland returned forty-five members and Cornwall forty-four members to Parliament! The reformers also demanded the abolition of the 'taxes on knowledge,' by which was meant the stamp duty of fourpence on every copy of a newspaper, a duty of threepence on every pound of paper, and a heavy tax upon advertisements. The new Poor Laws aroused bitter discontent. Instead of receiving payment of money for relief of poverty, as had formerly been the case, the poor and needy were now sent to the 'Union' workhouse.

A series of bad harvests was the cause of great migrations to the factory towns, and the already large ranks of the unemployed grew greater day by day. The poverty and wretchedness of the working class is painted vividly for us by Carlyle when he speaks of "half a million handloom weavers, working 15 hours a day, in perpetual inability to procure thereby enough of the coarsest food; Scotch farm-labourers, who 'in districts the half of whose husbandry is that of cows, taste no milk, can procure no milk' . . . the working-classes can no longer go on without government, without being actually guided and governed."

Such was Victoria's England when she ascended the throne, a young girl, nineteen years of age.

CHAPTER II: _Childhood Days

On the western side of Kensington Gardens stands the old Palace, built originally in the solid Dutch style for King William and Mary. The great architect, Sir Christopher Wren, made notable additions to it, and it was still further extended in 1721 for George the First.

Within its walls passed away both William and his Queen, Queen Anne and her husband, and George the Second. After this time it ceased to be a royal residence.

The charm of Kensington Gardens, with its beautiful walks and secluded sylvan nooks—the happy hunting-ground of London children and the home of 'Peter Pan'—has inspired many writers to sing its praises:

In this lone, open glade I lie, Screen'd by deep boughs on either hand; And at its end, to stay the eye, Those black-crown'd, red-boled pine trees stand!

Birds here make song, each bird has his, Across the girding city's hum. How green under the boughs it is! How thick the tremulous sheep cries come!

Here at my feet what wonders pass, What endless, active life is here! What blowing daisies, fragrant grass! An air-stirred forest, fresh and clear. MATTHEW ARNOLD

Beaconsfield spoke of its "sublime sylvan solitude superior to the cedars of Lebanon, and inferior only in extent to the chestnut forests of Anatolia."

Kensington Palace was the birthplace of Queen Victoria, and in the garden walks she used to play, little knowing that she would one day be Queen of England. Her doll's house and toys are still preserved in the rooms which she inhabited as a little girl.

Four years had passed since the battle of Waterloo when the Princess Victoria was born, and England was settling down to a time of peace after long years of warfare.

In 1830 George the Fourth died, and was succeeded by his brother, the Duke of Clarence, as William the Fourth, the 'sailor king.' Though not in any respect a great monarch, he proved himself to be a good king and one who was always wishful to do the best that lay in his power for the country's good.

He was exceedingly hospitable, and gave dinners to thousands of his friends and acquaintances during the year, particularly inviting all his old messmates of the Navy. He had two daughters by his marriage, and as these both died young it was evident that the Princess Victoria might some day succeed to the throne.

Her father, the Duke of Kent, married the Dowager Princess of Leiningen, who was the sister of Prince Leopold, afterward King of the Belgians. As a young man the Duke had seen much service, for when he was only seventeen years of age he entered the Hanoverian army, where the discipline was severe and rigid. He afterward served in the West Indies and Canada, and on his return to England he was made a peer with the title of Duke of Kent. He was afterward General and Commander-in-Chief in Canada and Governor of Gibraltar.

At the latter place his love of order and discipline naturally made him unpopular, and, owing to strong feeling on the part of the troops, it was considered wise to recall the Duke in 1803.

In 1816 he settled in Brussels, and soon afterward met his future wife in Germany. Princess Victoire Marie Louise was the youngest daughter of the Duke of Saxe-Coburg and widow of Prince Charles of Leiningen, who on his death had left her as the regent of his principality.

They were married at Coburg in May 1818. Some months afterward they came over to England, and on May 24, 1819, their daughter Alexandrina Victoria was born.

The Duke still kept up his simple, soldierly habits, for throughout his life he had always believed in regularly ordering one's day. He rose betimes and took a cup of coffee at six o'clock. Each servant of the household was allotted his or her regular duties, and was obliged at least once a day to appear before the Duke. There was a separate bell for each servant, and punctuality in attendance was insisted upon.

The christening was attended by members of the Royal Family, and a dinner was held to celebrate the happy event. The Duke and Duchess removed soon afterward to Devonshire, and they were both much pleased with the beautiful surroundings of their new home. The Duke wrote at this time of his daughter: "My little girl thrives under the influence of a Devonshire climate, and is, I am delighted to say, strong and healthy; too healthy, I fear, in the opinion of some members of my family, by whom she is regarded as an intruder. How largely she contributes to my happiness at this moment it is needless for me to say to you."

The Duke had been determined from the first that his child should be born in England, for he wished her to be English both in upbringing and in feeling. His wife, who is described by those who knew her as being a singularly attractive woman, full of deep feeling and sympathy, fully shared his views on this point.

In January 1820, when only fifty-three years of age, the Duke died quite suddenly from inflammation of the lungs, following upon a neglected cold. He was a man of deep religious feeling, and once in talking to a friend about his little daughter's future career he said earnestly: "Don't pray simply that hers may be a brilliant career, and exempt from those trials and struggles which have pursued her father, but pray that God's blessing may rest on her, that it may overshadow her, and that in all her coming years she may be guided and guarded by God."

The widowed mother now returned to London, where the Duchess of Clarence, afterward Queen Adelaide, interested herself greatly in little Victoria. The Duchess now devoted herself entirely to the care of her child, and never did any little girl have a more loving and devoted mother.

As much time as possible was spent in the open air, and Victoria went for rides about Kensington on a donkey, which was led by an old soldier, a great friend and favourite. She always had her breakfast and supper with her mother, and at nine o'clock retired to her bed, which was placed close to her mother's. Until the time of her accession she led as simple and regular a life as thousands of other little girls.

Many stories are told of her early years to illustrate the thoroughness of her home training. Even as a small child she was absolutely truthful, and her chief fault—that of wilfulness—was due to some extent to her high spirits and abundant energy. She was especially fond of dolls, and possessed a very large number, most of which were dressed as historical personages. She had practically no playmates of her own age, and in later life she often spoke of these early years as being rather dull.

A description of her at this period runs: "She was a beautiful child, with the cherubic form of features, clustered round by glossy, fair ringlets. Her complexion was remarkably transparent, with a soft and often heightening tinge of the sweet blush rose upon her cheeks that imparted a peculiar brilliancy to her clear blue eyes. Whenever she met any strangers in her usual paths she always seemed by the quickness of her glance to inquire who and what they were."

There was, as was natural, much correspondence between England and Saxe-Coburg, the home of the Duchess, for the second son of the Duke of Coburg, Charles Albert Augustus Emmanuel, was already spoken of as being destined to be Victoria's husband in the future.

Prince Albert had been born at Rosenau on August 19, 1819, and was thus slightly younger than his cousin. He is spoken of as being a very handsome boy, "like a little angel with his fair curls," and was for a time much spoilt until his father interfered and superintended the children's education himself.

Ernest, the elder son, gives us a charming picture of his father:

"We children beheld in him, and justly, our ideal of courtesy, and although he never said a harsh word to us, we bore towards him, through all our love and confidence, a reverence bordering on fear. He never lectured, seldom blamed; praised unwillingly; and yet the effect of his individuality was so powerful that we accomplished more than if we had been praised or blamed. When he was once asked by a relative whether we were industrious and well behaved, he answered: 'My children cannot be naughty, and as they know well that they must learn in order to be worthy men, so I do not trouble myself about it.'"

The Duke liked both his sons to listen to the conversation of their elders and to take an interest in art and literature. Outdoor exercise, riding, fishing, hunting, and driving formed part of their education; they were taught from the first to endure cold and discomfort without complaint or murmur. The religious teaching they received had a deep and lasting influence upon the two boys, both at that time and in later years. But they had a thoroughly happy boyhood and did not suffer from a lack of companions. After their confirmation their father took them on a visit to several Courts in Germany, and also to Vienna—a journey which was intended to open their minds to the great world of which they had learnt so much and seen so little; and it was about this time that King Leopold, the brother of the Duke of Coburg, thought it wise to make a careful inquiry into the life and character of the young Prince.

CHAPTER III: Early Years

God save thee, weeping Queen! Thou shalt be well beloved! The tyrant's sceptre cannot move, As those pure tears have moved! E.B. BROWNING

When she was five years old the Princess Victoria began to have lessons, chiefly with a governess, Miss von Lehzen—"my dearly beloved angelic Lehzen," as she called her. These two remained devotedly attached to one another until the latter's death in 1870. The young Princess was especially fond of music and drawing, and it was clear that if she had been able to devote more time to study she would in later years have excelled in both subjects.

Her education was such as to fit her for her future position of Queen of England. The Princess did not, however, know that she was likely at any future time to be Queen. She read much, chiefly books dealing with history, and these were often chosen for her by her uncle, the King of the Belgians.

The family life was regular and simple. Lessons, a walk or drive, very few and simple pleasures made up her day. Breakfast was at half-past eight, luncheon at half-past one, and dinner at seven. Tea was allowed only in later years as a great treat.

The Queen herself said: "I was brought up very simply—never had a room to myself till I was nearly grown up—always slept in my mother's room till I came to the throne."

Sir Walter Scott wrote of her at this period of her life: "This little lady is educated with much care, and watched so closely that no busy maid has a moment to whisper, 'You are heir of England.' I suspect if we could dissect the little heart, we should find some pigeon or other bird of the air had carried the matter."

In 1830 her uncle, George the Fourth, died, and his brother, William the Fourth, came to the throne. The young Princess was now the next in succession. Her governess thought that her pupil should be told of this fact, and as the Duchess of Kent agreed, the table of genealogy was placed inside Victoria's history book, where by and by she found it.

The story goes that she then said, "I see, I am nearer the throne than I thought," and giving her hand to her governess added: "I will be good. I understand now, why you urged me so much to learn, even Latin. My cousins Augusta and Mary never did, but you told me that Latin was the foundation of English grammar, and of all the elegant expressions, and I learned it as you wished. But I understand it all better now." In later years the Queen recollected crying very much when she heard of it, but could not recall exactly what had happened.

It is interesting to note what those who knew little Victoria at this time say about her. She was, we are told, exceedingly affectionate, very full of high spirits, fond of life in the open air, and already possessed a strong sense of duty and religion.

She had been taught by her devoted uncle Leopold, with whom she corresponded regularly, how necessary it was for her to understand thoroughly the duties which fall to the share of a ruler. During the years which followed she went more into society and paid visits to the most interesting places in the kingdom. Everywhere she went she was received with the greatest enthusiasm.

In 1830 the Duke of Coburg, with his two sons, Ernest and Albert, arrived at Kensington Palace on a visit, and thus the Princess met for the first time her future husband. Her uncle Leopold had long desired to carry out the cherished wish of his mother, the Dowager Duchess of Coburg, that the two cousins should be united in marriage. During William the Fourth's lifetime all mention of such a marriage had to be kept secret, as the King much disliked the Coburg family, and had more than once been very rude to the Duchess of Kent.

Victoria wrote to her uncle saying how much she liked Albert in every way, and that he possessed every quality that could be desired to render her perfectly happy. She was very anxious that her uncle should take her cousin under his special protection.

On May 24, 1837, Victoria attained her majority. She received numbers of magnificent presents, congratulations from public bodies, and in the evening a State Ball was given at St James's Palace.

On Tuesday, June 20 of that year, at twelve minutes past two, King William the Fourth died. The Archbishop of Canterbury and the Lord Chamberlain set out at once for Kensington to convey the sad news. They arrived at five in the morning, and were told that the Princess was asleep. They replied that they were on important business of State to the Queen, and even her sleep must give way to that. Our illustration depicts the scene which then ensued.

Even during the first days of her reign, the Queen's dignity, calm, and knowledge of State affairs astonished her ministers, and were complete proof of the careful training she had received during her girlhood days. Greville, Clerk to the Council, wrote: "She presided with as much ease as if she had been doing nothing else all her life. . . . The gracefulness of her manner and the good expression of her countenance give her on the whole a very agreeable appearance, and with her youth inspire an excessive interest in all who approach her, and which I can't help feeling myself."

In July the Queen and her mother left their home to take up their residence in Buckingham Palace, formerly known as the Queen's House. The present palace occupies the site of Buckingham House, which was erected by John Sheffield, Duke of Buckingham, in 1703. It was bought by George the Third for his wife in 1761, remodelled by George the Fourth, and completed by William the Fourth, who, however, had never lived there.

Four days later the Queen went in State to dissolve Parliament, and soon afterward removed to Windsor Castle, where she was joined for a time by her uncle and his wife.

Prince Albert wrote her a warm letter of congratulation. "You are now," he said, "Queen of the mightiest land in Europe. In your hands lie the happiness of millions. May Heaven assist and strengthen you with its strength in that high but difficult task! I hope that your reign may be long, happy, and glorious, and that your efforts may be rewarded by the thankfulness and love of your subjects."

On Thursday, June 28, 1838, the coronation ceremony took place in Westminster Abbey. Afterward the Queen made a royal progress and was greeted by immense crowds of her people with the utmost loyalty and enthusiasm. In her journal she described it as the proudest day of her life. Mrs Jamieson, an onlooker, wrote of her as follows:

"When she returned, looking pale and tremulous, crowned and holding her sceptre in a manner and attitude which said, 'I have it, and none shall wrest it from me,' even Carlyle, who was standing near me, uttered with emotion, 'A blessing on her head!'"

As a small instance of the Queen's consideration for others, one of her first thoughts after the ceremony was for the school-children. She wrote to her minister, Lord Melbourne, asking if it was not usual to give a week's additional holiday to the schools on such an occasion as this.

Lord Melbourne was from the moment of her accession the Queen's chief adviser, and from the many letters which passed between them it is extremely interesting to see with what affection the young and inexperienced girl regarded him. "He is not only a clever statesman and an honest man," she wrote to her uncle, Leopold, "but a good and a kind-hearted man, whose aim is to do his duty for his country and not for a party."

Lord Melbourne was almost a second father to her, and there is no doubt that it was largely due to his excellent and homely advice that the Queen was able during the early years of her reign to develop in such an astonishing manner and yet at the same time to retain such a sweet and womanly character. Of her regularity of life and careful attention to detail we learn from Greville's diary. She rose soon after eight o'clock, and after breakfast was occupied with business the whole morning. During this time Lord Melbourne visited her regularly. At two o'clock she rode out, attended by her suite, and amused herself afterward for the rest of the afternoon with music, singing, or romps with children. Dinner was served at eight o'clock to the whole household, and the Queen usually retired soon after eleven. "She orders and regulates every detail herself; she knows where everybody is lodged in the Castle, settles about the riding or driving, and enters into every particular with minute attention." She never signed a single document of any importance until she had thoroughly mastered its contents.

In October, 1839, her cousins Ernest and Albert paid her a visit, bringing with them a letter from their uncle Leopold, in which he recommended them to her care. They were at once upon intimate terms, and the Queen confided to her uncle that "Albert was very fascinating." Four days after their arrival she informed Lord Melbourne that she had made up her mind as to the question of marriage. He received the news in a very kindly manner and said: "I think it will be very well received, for I hear that there is an anxiety now that it should be, and I am very glad of it. You will be much more comfortable, for a woman cannot stand alone for any time, in whatever position she may be."

The Queen described her betrothal as follows: "At half-past twelve I sent for Albert. He came to the closet, where I was alone, and after a few minutes I said to him that I thought he would be aware why I wished him to come, and that it would make me happy if he would consent to what I wished, namely, to marry me. There was no hesitation on his part, but the offer was received with the greatest demonstrations of kindness and affection. . . . I told him I was quite unworthy of him. . . . He said he would be very happy to spend his life with me."

She wrote to her uncle: "I love him more than I can say, and I shall do everything in my power to render the sacrifice he has made (for a sacrifice in my opinion it is) as small as I can."

In the following November the news was made public, but it was not received with any great enthusiasm, as a German alliance was unpopular. There were other suitors for the Queen's hand, and the majority would have preferred one of her English cousins to have been chosen.

On February 10, 1840, the marriage was solemnized at the Chapel Royal, St James's. The Queen was described by those who saw her as looking extremely happy, and to her uncle she wrote of her delight at seeing the huge crowds which lined the streets to see the procession pass. "God grant that I may be the happy person, the most happy person, to make this dearest, blessed being happy and contented! What is in my power to make him happy, I will do."

CHAPTER IV: Husband and Wife

After four short days the Queen and her husband returned to London, and from this time onward the Prince acted as his wife's secretary, attending to every little detail of the mass of correspondence and State documents which grew larger with every succeeding year.

All the letters received by the Queen during the course of a long and busy life-time were carefully preserved, and at her death they amounted to no fewer than five or six hundred large bound volumes. They include letters from crowned heads of Europe, from her ministers of State, from her children, and from her friends and relations.

All these the Queen read and answered. She was thus at all times fully aware of everything that was happening both at home and abroad, and in her great Empire, an Empire which was destined to grow greater and greater in power and extent during her reign. Day by day, year in, year out, without a single break, this immense correspondence arrived. Ministers resigned and ministers were appointed, but there was neither halt nor rest. Truly 'the burden of Empire' is heavy for those who bear it.

The young Prince determined from the first to master both national and European politics, for it must always be remembered that as he was a foreigner everything in this country was for some time strange to him. In addition to being his wife's right hand he took a leading part in all movements which might help to improve the education and conditions of life of the people. His fine training and sympathetic nature enabled him, little by little, to be the means of helping on important reforms. In addition to this, both he and his wife found time to work at drawing and music, which they studied together under the best masters. Throughout the Queen's correspondence one reads of his devotion to her both as husband and helpmate.

The times were hard; discontent with poverty and bad trade kept the nation ill at ease, and, as is always the case, there were many who did their best to stir up riot. As a consequence, possibly, of this unrest, attempts were made on the Queen's life, once in 1840 and twice in 1841.

The relief and joy felt by the whole nation at their young Queen's lucky escapes from death by an assassin's hand are expressed in the following lines by an anonymous author:—

God saved the Queen—all thoughts apart This crowning joy fills every mind! She sits within the nation's heart, An angel shrined.

The assassin's hand the steel enclosed, He poised his ruthless hand on high— But God in mercy interposed His shadow for her panoply.

Then let ten thousand lyres be swept, Let paeans ring o'er sea and land— The Almighty hath our Sovereign kept Within the hollow of His hand!

In July 1840, it was considered necessary to appoint a Regent in case of the Queen's death. A Bill for this purpose was brought in and passed, naming the Prince as Regent. This pleased the Queen, for it was a clear proof of the golden opinions the Prince had won everywhere since his marriage, and it was passed, as she herself said, entirely on account of his noble character. At an earlier period it is certain, as Lord Melbourne assured her, that Parliament would not have passed such a Bill.

The Queen was soon to lose her chief adviser and friend, for in June 1841 Parliament dissolved and the Whigs were not returned to power. Lord Melbourne could, however, resign with an easy mind, for he himself recognized how valuable a counsellor the Queen now possessed in her husband. After handing his resignation to the Queen, he wrote to her: "Lord Melbourne has formed the highest opinion of His Royal Highness's judgment, temper, and discretion, and he cannot but feel a great consolation and security in the reflection that he leaves Your Majesty in a situation in which Your Majesty has the inestimable advantage of such advice and assistance." The Queen was exceedingly proud of these words of praise, coming as they did unasked from a minister of such long experience.

It was in the same year that the Prince was appointed Head of the Royal Commission which had been formed to encourage the study of the Fine Arts throughout the kingdom. This was work of a kind which he especially loved, and he was now in a position to influence the movement which led to the Great Exhibition of 1851.

But all was not plain sailing for the Prince, who was still regarded, if not with dislike, at any rate with some mistrust, as being a foreigner. For a long time yet he felt himself a stranger, the Queen's husband and nothing more. Still, "all cometh to him who knoweth how to wait," and he set himself bravely to his uphill task. To use his own words, "I endeavour to be as much use to Victoria as I can,"—this was the keynote of his whole life.

The Prince took sides with neither of the political parties, and first of all by careful economy he lessened the enormous household expenses and proved that it was possible for royalty to live without always being in debt. He established model farms at Osborne and Windsor, introduced different and better breeds of cattle, and even made a profit on the undertaking. He persuaded his wife to give up the late hours which were still usual, and gradually, by kindness and sympathy, won the household staff over to his way of thinking.

The Prince's life was an extremely full one. Soon after six o'clock was his time for rising. Until nine he read and answered letters. He then looked through all the principal newspapers and gave the Queen a summary of the most important news. He found time also to work and play with his children during his short intervals of leisure. Consultations with ministers, reading and writing dispatches followed, and then a short time was devoted to open-air exercise. After lunch he often accompanied the Queen on a drive. More reading and writing took up his time until dinner, after which there was either a social evening or a visit to a theatre. He was "complete master in his house, and the active centre of an Empire whose power extends to every quarter of the globe. . . . No British Cabinet minister has ever worked so hard during the session of Parliament, and that is saying a good deal, as the Prince Consort did for 21 years. . . . The Prince had no holidays at all, he was always in harness."[1]

[Footnote 1: Miss C.M. Yonge, Life of H.R.H. the Prince Consort.]

Louis Philippe, the first French king who had ever visited this country, except King John, wrote of him: "Oh, he will do wonders; he is so wise; he is not in a hurry; he gains so much by being known. He will always give you good advice. Do not think I say so in flattery. No! No! It is from my heart. He will be like his uncle, equally wise and good. . . . He will be of the greatest use to you, and will keep well at your side if a time of vicissitude should come, such as I hope may never be—but, after all, no one can tell."

CHAPTER V: _Family Life

"Upon the good education of princes, and especially of those who are destined to govern, the welfare of the world in these days very greatly depends."

The love of children was always a strong connecting link between the Queen and her people. No trouble was ever spared by her to obtain the best possible advice on the training of her own family. The nursery was as well governed as her kingdom.

Acting upon the advice of Baron Stockmar, the Queen determined to have some one at the head on whom she could thoroughly rely, as her many occupations prevented her from devoting so much time to these duties as she could have wished. Lady Lyttelton, who had been a lady-in-waiting, was appointed governess to the Royal Family in 1842, and for eight years she held this post, winning the affection and respect of her young pupils and the gratitude of the Queen and her husband.

From time to time the Queen wrote her views upon the subject. "The greatest maxim of all is," she declared, "that the children should be brought up as simply, and in as domestic a way as possible; that (not interfering with their lessons) they should be as much as possible with their parents, and learn to place their greatest confidence in them in all things."

Training in religion, to be of real and lasting value, must be given by the mother herself, and in 1844 the Queen noted with regret that it was not always possible for her to be with the Princess Royal when the child was saying her prayers.

"I am quite clear," she said, "that she ought to be taught to have great reverence for God and for religion, but that she should have the feeling of devotion and love which our Heavenly Father encourages His earthly children to have for Him, and not one of fear and trembling; and that the thoughts of death and an after-life should not be represented in an alarming and forbidding view, and that she should be made to know as yet no difference of creeds, and not think that she can only pray on her knees, or that those who do not kneel are less fervent and devout in their prayers."

On November 21, 1840, the Queen's first child, Victoria Adelaide Mary Louisa, the Princess Royal, was born. The Prince's care of his wife "was like that of a mother, nor could there be a kinder, wiser, or more judicious nurse." Only for a moment was he disappointed that his first child was a daughter and not a son.

The children were all brought up strictly and were never allowed to appear at Court until a comparatively late age. They were all taught to use their hands as well as their heads, and at Osborne, in the Swiss cottage, the boys worked at carpentering and gardening, while the girls were employed in learning cooking and housekeeping. Christmas was always celebrated in splendid fashion by the family, and the royal children were always encouraged to give as presents something which they had made with their own hands. Lessons in riding, driving, and swimming also formed part of their training, for the Queen was wise enough to realize that open-air exercise was very necessary for the health of her children.

In 1846 the question arose as to who should educate the Prince of Wales (born 1841). A pamphlet on the subject had been published and created general interest. Baron Stockmar was again consulted, and gave it as his opinion that the Prince's education should be one "which will prepare him for approaching events"—that is, he was to be so educated that he would be in touch with the movements of the age and able to respond sympathetically to the wishes of the nation. The rapid growth of democracy throughout Europe made it absolutely necessary that his education should be of a different kind. The task of governing well was becoming more and more difficult, and reigning monarchs were criticized in an open fashion, such as had not hitherto been possible. After much thought the post was given to Mr Henry Birch (formerly a master at Eton College, and at that time rector of Prestwich, near Manchester), who had made a very favourable impression upon the Queen and her husband.

Plain people as well as princes must be educated, and this fact was never lost sight of by the Queen and her husband. In 1857 the Prince called attention to the fact that there were at that time no fewer than 600,000 children between the ages of three and fifteen absent from school but known to be employed in some way; he pointed out also—and this seems in these days difficult to believe—that no less than two million children were not attending school, and were, so far as could be ascertained, not employed in any way at all.

The most interesting visitors whom the Queen entertained during her early married life were the Emperor Nicholas of Russia and Louis Napoleon of France. The Emperor Nicholas came to England, as he told the Queen, to see things with his own eyes, and to win, if he could, the confidence of English statesmen. "I esteem England highly; but as to what the French say of me, I care not."

He was, however, undoubtedly jealous of this country's growing friendship with her old enemy, France, but any attempt to weaken this met with no encouragement.

The Queen, in writing to her uncle Leopold, said, "He gives Albert and myself the impression of a man who is not happy, and on whom the burden of his immense power and position weighs heavily and painfully. He seldom smiles, and when he does, the expression is not a happy one. He is very easy to get on with." In a further letter she continued, "By living in the same house together quietly and unrestrainedly (and this Albert, and with great truth, says is the great advantage of these visits, that I not only see these great people, but know them), I got to know the Emperor and he to know me. . . . He is sincere, I am certain, sincere even in his most despotic acts—from a sense that that is the only way to govern. . . . He feels kindness deeply—and his love for his wife and children, and for all children, is very great. He has a strong feeling for domestic life, saying to me, when our children were in the room: 'These are the sweet moments of our life.' One can see by the way he takes them up and plays with them that he is very fond of children." And again she wrote: "He also spoke of princes being nowadays obliged to strive to make themselves worthy of their position, so as to reconcile people to the fact of their being princes."

The effect of this visit was to make France somewhat suspicious, and the Queen expressed her wish that it might not prevent the visit which had been promised by King Louis Philippe.

There was at one time actually danger of war over trouble in the East, but King Leopold, whose kingdom was in the happy position of having its independence guaranteed by the Powers,[2] was able to bring his influence to bear, and the critical period passed over, to the great relief of the Queen.

[Footnote 2: This, however, did not protect Belgium in 1914, when Germany did not hesitate to attack her.]

In 1844 King Louis Philippe paid his promised visit, of which the Queen said, "He is the first King of France who comes on a visit to the Sovereign of this country. A very eventful epoch, indeed, and one which will surely bring good fruits."

The King was immensely pleased with everything he saw, and with the friendly reception he received. He assured the Queen that France did not wish to go to war with England, and he told her how pleased he was that all their difficulties were now smoothed over.

During his stay he was invested with the Order of the Garter—an Order, it is interesting to recollect, which had been created by Edward the Third after the Battle of Cressy, and whose earliest knights were the Black Prince and his companions.

The Corporation of London went to Windsor in civic state to present the King with an address of congratulation. He declared in his answer that "France has nothing to ask of England, and England has nothing to ask of France, but cordial union."

But in 1848 the Orleans dynasty was overthrown, France proclaimed a republic, and King Louis Philippe, his wife and family were forced to flee to England. Here in 1850, broken in health, the King died.

In 1852 Louis Napoleon, who had been elected President for life, created himself Emperor, and in 1855, after the conclusion of the Crimean War and the death of the Emperor Nicholas, he visited England.

A State Ball was held of which the Queen wrote: "How strange to think that I, the granddaughter of George III, should dance with the Emperor Napoleon, nephew of England's great enemy, now my nearest and most intimate ally, in the Waterloo room, and this ally only six years ago living in this country an exile, poor and unthought of! . . . I am glad to have known this extraordinary man, whom it is certainly impossible not to like when you live with him, and not even to a considerable extent to admire. I believe him to be capable of kindness, affection, friendship, and gratitude. I feel confidence in him as regards the future; I think he is frank, means well towards us, and, as Stockmar says, 'that we have insured his sincerity and good faith towards us for the rest of his life.'"

The Queen and her husband paid frequent visits, and made many tours during their early married life. It was a great source of pleasure to both of them to feel that everywhere they went they were received with the greatest delight and enthusiasm.

In 1847 they visited Cambridge University, of which Prince Albert was now Chancellor. "Every station and bridge, and resting-place, and spot of shade was peopled with eager faces watching for the Queen, and decorated with flowers; but the largest, and the brightest, and the gayest, and the most excited assemblage was at Cambridge station itself. . . . I think I never saw so many children before in one morning, and I felt so much moved at the spectacle of such a mass of life collected together and animated by one feeling, and that a joyous one, that I was at a loss to conceive how any woman's sides can bear the beating of so strong a throb as must attend the consciousness of being the object of all that excitement, the centre of attraction to all those eyes. But the Queen has royal strength of nerve."[3]

[Footnote 3: The Duke of Argyll, Queen Victoria.]

In 1849 they paid their first visit to Ireland, and received a royal welcome on landing in Cork. The Queen noticed particularly that "the beauty of the women is very remarkable, and struck us much; such beautiful dark eyes and hair, and such fine teeth; almost every third woman was pretty, and some remarkably so."

The royal children were the objects of great admiration. "Oh! Queen, dear!" screamed a stout old lady, "make one of them Prince Patrick, and all Ireland will die for you."

In Dublin, the capital of a country which had very recently been in revolt, the loyal welcome was, if possible, even more striking.

The Queen writes: "It was a wonderful and striking spectacle, such masses of human beings, so enthusiastic, so excited, yet such perfect order maintained; then the numbers of troops, the different bands stationed at certain distances, the waving of hats and handkerchiefs, the bursts of welcome which rent the air—all made a never-to-be-forgotten scene."

Lord Clarendon, writing of the results of the Irish tour, said, "The people are not only enchanted with the Queen and the gracious kindness of her manner and the confidence she has shown in them, but they are pleased with themselves for their own good feelings and behaviour, which they consider have removed the barrier that hitherto existed between the Sovereign and themselves, and that they now occupy a higher position in the eyes of the world."

In 1850 they visited for the first time the Palace of Holyrood. This was a memorable occasion, for since Mary, Queen of Scots, had been imprisoned there, no queen had ever stayed within its walls.

The Queen took the liveliest interest in the many objects of historical interest which were shown to her. "We saw the rooms where Queen Mary lived, her bed, the dressing-room into which the murderers entered who killed Rizzio, and the spot where he fell, where, as the old housekeeper said to me, 'If the lady would stand on that side,' I would see that the boards were discoloured by the blood. Every step is full of historical recollections, and our living here is quite an epoch in the annals of this old pile, which has seen so many deeds, more bad, I fear, than good."

Both the Queen and her husband had an especial love for animals, and the Queen's suite, when she travelled, always included a number of dogs. Her favourites were Skye terriers and the so-called 'turnspits' which were introduced into this country by Prince Albert. One of the Queen's great delights at Windsor was to walk round the farms and inspect the cattle, which are still, owing largely to the careful methods of feeding and tending instituted by the Prince, among the finest in the world. Kindness to animals was a lesson she taught to all her children, and pictures and statuettes of all her old favourites were to be found in her homes.


QUEEN VICTORIA m. PRINCE ALBERT of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha 1840 Victoria, Princess Princess Alice Princess Beatrice Royal (Empress (Grand Duchess (Princess Henry of Frederick of of Hesse) Battenberg) Germany) born 1840 born 1843 born 1857 - - Prince Leopold - (Duke of Albany) Prince Alfred, Duke born 1853 of Edinburgh (Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Princess Helena Gotha) born 1844 (Princess Christian of Schleswig- Holstein) born 1846 Prince Arthur (Duke of Connaught) born 1850 Princess Louise (Duchess of Argyll) born 1848 Albert Edward, Prince of Wales, m. Princess Alexandra of Denmark born 1841 1863 (King Edward VII) Albert Victor George Frederick, Prince Alexander (Duke of Clarence) Prince of Wales, born 1870 born 1864 born 1865 (King George V), m., 1893, Princess Victoria Mary of Teck Princess Louise Princess Victoria Princess Maud (Duchess of Fife) born 1868 (Queen of Norway) born 1867 born 1869


"Two men I honour, and no third. First, the toilworn Craftsman that with earth-made Implement laboriously conquers the Earth, and makes her man's. . . . A second man I honour, and still more highly: Him who is seen toiling for the spiritually indispensable; not daily bread, but the Bread of Life. . . . Unspeakably touching is it, however, when I find both dignities united; and he that must toil outwardly for the lowest of man's wants, is also toiling inwardly for the highest."[4]

[Footnote 4: Carlyle, Sartor Resartus.]

To understand the many and bewildering changes which followed one another in rapid succession during the early years of Victoria's reign it is necessary to read the literature, more especially the works of those writers who took a deep and lasting interest in the lives and work of the people.

Democracy, the people, or the toiling class, was engaged in a fierce battle with those forces which it held to be its natural enemies. It was a battle of the Rich against the Poor, of the masters against the men, of Right against Might. England was a sick nation, at war with itself, and Chartism and the Chartists were some of the signs of the disease. The early Victorian age is the age of Thomas Carlyle, the stern, grim prophet, who, undaunted by poverty and ill-health, painted England in dark colours as a country hastening to its ruin.

His message was old and yet new—for men had forgotten it, as they always have from age to age. This was an age of competition, of 'supply and demand'; brotherly love had been forgotten and 'cash payment' had taken its place. Carlyle denounced this system as "the shabbiest gospel that had been taught among men." He urged upon Government the fact that it was their duty to educate and to uplift the masses, and upon the masters that they should look upon their workers as something more than money-making machines. The old system of Guilds, in which the apprentice was under the master's direct care, had gone and nothing had been put in its place.

The value of Carlyle's teaching lies in the fact that he insisted upon the sanctity of work. "All true work is religion," he said, and the essence of every true religion is to be found in the words, "Know thy work and do it."

The best test of the worth of every nation is to be found in their standard of life and work and their rejection of a life of idleness. "To make some nook of God's Creation a little fruitfuller, better, more worthy of God; to make some human hearts, a little wiser, manfuler, happier—more blessed, less accursed! It is work for a God. . . . Unstained by wasteful deformities, by wasted tears or heart's-blood of men, or any defacement of the Pit, noble, fruitful Labour, growing ever nobler, will come forth—the grand sole Miracle of Man, whereby Man has risen from the low places of this Earth, very literally, into divine Heavens. Ploughers, Spinners, Builders, Prophets, Poets, Kings: . . . all martyrs, and noble men, and gods are of one grand Host; immeasurable; marching ever forward since the beginnings of the World."[5]

[Footnote 5: Carlyle, Past and Present.]

Carlyle was, above all things, sincere; he looked into the heart of things, and hated half-beliefs. Men, he said, were accustoming themselves to say what they did not believe in their heart of hearts. The standard of English work had become lower; it was 'cheap and nasty,' and this in itself was a moral evil. Good must in time prevail over Evil; the Christian religion was the strongest thing in the world, and for this reason had conquered. He believed in wise compassion—that is to say, he kept his sympathy for those who truly deserved it, for the mass of struggling workers with few or none to voice their bitter wrongs.

His teachings are a moral tonic for the age, and though for a long time they were unpopular and distasteful to the majority, yet he lived to see much accomplished for which he had so earnestly striven.

Literature was beginning to take a new form. The novel of 'polite' society was giving place to the novel which pictured life in cruder and harsher colours. The life of the toiling North, of the cotton spinners and weavers was as yet unknown to most people.

In 1848 appeared Mary Barton, a book dealing with the problems of working life in Manchester. Mrs Gaskell, its author, who is best known to most readers by her masterpiece Cranford, achieved an instant success and became acquainted with many literary celebrities, including Ruskin, Dickens, and Charlotte Bronte, whose Life she wrote.

Mary Barton was written from the point of view of labour, and North and South, which followed some years later, from that of capital. Her books are exact pictures of what she saw around her during her life in Manchester, and many incidents from her own life appear in their pages.

North and South shows us the struggle not only between master and men, as representing capital and labour, but also between ancient and modern civilizations. The South is agricultural, easy-going, idyllic; the North is stern, rude, and full of a consuming energy and passion for work. These are the two Englands of Mrs Gaskell's time.

The ways of the manufacturing districts, which seem unpleasing to those who do not really know them, are described with a faithful yet kindly pen, and we see that each life has its trials and its temptations.

In the South all is not sunshine, and the life of the labourer can be very hard—"a young person can stand it; but an old man gets racked with rheumatism, and bent and withered before his time; yet he must work on the same, or else go to the workhouse."

In the North men are often at enmity with their masters, and fight them by means of the strike. "State o' trade! That's just a piece of masters' humbug. It's rate o' wages I was talking of. Th' masters keep th' state o' trade in their own hands, and just walk it forward like a black bug-a-boo, to frighten naughty children with into being good. I'll tell yo' it's their part—their cue, as some folks call it—to beat us down, to swell their fortunes; and it's ours to stand up and fight hard—not for ourselves alone, but for them round about us—for justice and fair play. We help to make their profits, and we ought to help spend 'em. It's not that we want their brass so much this time, as we've done many a time afore. We'n getten money laid by; and we're resolved to stand and fall together; not a man on us will go in for less wage than th' Union says is our due. So I say, 'Hooray for the strike.'"

The story appeared in Household Words, a new magazine of which Charles Dickens was the editor. He expressed especial admiration for the fairness with which Mrs Gaskell had spoken of both sides. Nicholas Higgins, whose words are quoted above, is a type of the best Lancashire workman, who holds out for the good of the cause, even though it might mean ruin and poverty to himself—"That's what folk call fine and honourable in a soldier, and why not in a poor weaver-chap?"

Dickens himself wrote Hard Times, dealing with the same subject. This appeared about the same time, and the two books should be read and compared, for, although Hard Times is not equal in any way to North and South, it is interesting. As Ruskin said of Dickens' stories, "Allowing for the manner of telling them, the things he tells us are always true. . . . He is entirely right in his main drift and purpose in every book he has written; and all of them, but especially Hard Times, should be studied with close and earnest care by persons interested in social questions."

During all these years the 'Chartists' had been vainly struggling to force Parliament to proceed with reform of their grievances. In 1848 a monster Petition was to be presented to both Houses by their leaders, but London was garrisoned by troops under the Duke of Wellington on the fateful day, and the Chartist army broke up, never to be reunited. Quarrels among themselves proved, in the end, fatal to their cause.

A new party, the Christian Socialists, took their place; force gave way to union and co-operation. A new champion, Charles Kingsley, or 'Parson Lot,' stood forth as the Chartist leader.

The hard winter and general distress of the year 1848 nearly provoked another rising, and in his novel entitled Yeast Kingsley pictures the 'condition of England' question as it appeared to one who knew it from the seamy side. Especially did he blame the Church, which, he said, offered a religion for "Jacob, the smooth man," and was not suited for "poor Esau." This was indeed most true as regards the agricultural classes, where the want was felt of a real religion which should gain a hold upon a population which year by year was fast drifting loose from all ties of morality and Christianity.

The peasantry, once the mainstay of England and now trodden down and neglected, cannot rise alone and without help from those above them. "What right have we to keep them down? . . . What right have we to say that they shall know no higher recreation than the hogs, because, forsooth, if we raised them they might refuse to work—for us? Are we to fix how far their minds may be developed? Has not God fixed it for us, when He gave them the same passions, talents, tastes, as our own?"

The farm labourer, unlike his brothers in the North, had no spirit left to strike. His sole enjoyment—such as it was—consisted in recalling "'the glorious times before the war . . . when there was more food than there were mouths, and more work than were hands.'

"'I say, vather,' drawled out some one, 'they say there's a sight more money in England now than there was afore the war-time.'

"'Ees, booy,' said the old man, 'but it's got into too few hands.'"

The system of 'sweating' among the London tailors had grown to such an extent that Kingsley was determined, if possible, to put an end to it, and with this purpose in view he wrote Cheap Clothes and Nasty.

The Government itself, he declares, does nothing to prevent sweating; the workmen declare that "Government contract work is the worst of all, and the starved-out and sweated-out tailor's last resource . . . there are more clergymen among the customers than any other class; and often we have to work at home upon the Sunday at their clothes in order to get a living."

He followed this up with Alton Locke, dealing especially with the life and conditions of work of the journeymen tailors, and the Chartist riots. Both sides receive some hard knocks, for Kingsley was a born fighter, and his courage and fearlessness won him many friends, even among the most violent of the Chartists.

The character of Alton Locke was probably drawn from life, and was intended to be William Lovett, at one time a leader in the Chartist ranks. After a long fight with poverty, when he frequently went without a meal in order to save the money necessary for his education, he rose to a position of some influence. He was one of the first to propose that museums and public galleries should be opened on Sundays, for he declared that most of the intemperance and vice was owing to the want of wholesome and rational recreation. He insisted that it was necessary to create a moral, sober, and thinking working-class in order to enable them to carry through the reforms for which they were struggling. Disgust with the violent methods of many of his associates caused him at last to withdraw from their ranks.

Kingsley looked up to Carlyle as his master, to whom he owed more than to any other man. "Of the general effect," he said, "which his works had upon me, I shall say nothing: it was the same as they have had, thank God, on thousands of my class and every other."

When, finally, violent methods proved of no avail and the Chartist party dissolved, the democratic movement took a fresh lease of life. As Carlyle had already pointed out, the question of the people was a 'knife and fork' question—that is to say, so long as taxes were levied upon the necessities of life, the poorer classes, who could least of all afford to pay, would become poorer.

Sir Robert Peel was the first to remove this injustice, by substituting a tax upon income for the hundred and one taxes which had pressed so heavily upon the poor. Manufacturers were now able to buy their raw materials at a lower price, and need no longer pay such low wages to keep up their profits.

In 1845 Peel went a step farther, and in order to relieve the famine in Ireland, he removed the duty on corn. Thus, since corn could now be imported free, bread became cheaper.

The Corn Law Repealers had fought for years to bring this about. Their leader and poet, Ebenezer Elliott, declared that "what they wanted was bread in exchange for their cottons, woollens, and hardware, and no other thing can supply the want of that one thing, any more than water could supply the want of air in the Black Hole of Calcutta." Bad government

Is the deadly will that takes What Labour ought to keep, It is the deadly power that makes Bread dear and Labour cheap.

It was not until there had been many riots and much bloodshed that the Irish Famine forced Peel at last to give way.

A third party of reformers were working for the same end. This was the 'Young England' party, whose leader was Disraeli, a rising young politician. By birth a Jew, he had joined the English Church and the ranks of the Tory party. His early works are chiefly sketches of social and political life and are not concerned with the 'question of the People.' He took as his motto the words Shakespeare puts into Ancient Pistol's mouth,

Why, then the world's mine oyster, Which I with sword will open,

thus showing at an early age that he had a firm belief in his own powers. From the beginning of his career he never hesitated in championing the cause of the People, and declared that "he was not afraid or ashamed to say that he wished more sympathy had been shown on both sides towards the Chartists."

The people had begun to look upon the upper classes as their oppressors, who were living in comfort upon the profits wrung from their poorer brethren.

Thomas Cooper in his Autobiography describes the reckless and irreligious spirit which continued poverty was creating among the half-starved weavers:

"'Let us be patient a little longer, lads, surely God Almighty will help us.' 'Talk no more about thy Goddle Mighty,' was the sneering reply; 'there isn't one. If there was one, He wouldn't let us suffer as we do.'"

The Chartists were opposed to the Anti-Corn Law party, for they thought that the cry of 'cheap bread' meant simply 'low wages,' and was a trap set to catch them unawares.

The Young England party believed in themselves as the leaders of a movement which should save England through its youth. They were, however, known in Parliament in their early days as "young gentlemen who wore white waistcoats and wrote spoony poetry."

'Young England' wished for a return of the feudal relations between the nobility and their vassals; the nobles and the Church, as in olden days, were to stretch out a helping hand to the poor, to feed the hungry, and succour the distressed. National customs were to be revived, commerce and art were to be fostered by wealthy patrons. The Crown was once more to be in touch with the people. "If Royalty did but condescend to lower itself to a familiarity with the people, it is curious that they will raise, exalt, and adore it, sometimes even invest it with divine and mysterious attributes. If, on the contrary, it shuts itself up in an august seclusion, it will be mocked and caricatured . . . if the great only knew what stress the poor lay by the few forms that remain, to join them they would make many sacrifices for their maintenance and preservation."[6]

[Footnote 6: George Smythe, Viscount Strangford, Historic Fancies.]

It was to lay the views of his party and himself before the public that Disraeli published the three novels, Coningsby, Sybil, and Tancred. Coningsby deals with the political parties of that time, and is full of thinly-disguised portraits of people then living; Sybil, from which a quotation is given elsewhere, is a study of life among the working-classes; Tancred discusses what part the Church should take in the government of the people.

Though the life of the 'Young England' party was short, it succeeded by means of agitation in and out of Parliament in calling public attention to the harshness of the New Poor Law and the need for social reform.

Carlyle was again the writer who influenced the young Disraeli, for the latter saw that to accomplish anything of real value he must form his own party and break loose from the worn-out beliefs and prejudices of both political parties. Though in later days he will be remembered as a statesman rather than as a novelist, it is necessary to study those three books in order to understand what England and the English were in Victoria's early years.

Each of these Reform parties had rendered signal service in their own fashion: Church, Government, and People were no longer disunited, distinctions of class had been broken down, and with their disappearance Chartism came to an end. The failure of the "physical force" Chartists in 1848 had served to enforce the lesson taught by Carlyle and Kingsley, that the way to gain reform was not through deeds of violence and bloodshed. Each man must learn to fit himself for his part in the great movement toward Reform. Intelligence, not force, must be their weapon.

After years of bitter strife between the Two Nations, England a last enjoyed peace within her own borders—that peace which a patriot poet, Ernest Jones, during a time of bitter trial had so earnestly prayed for:

God of battles, give us peace! Rich with honour's proud increase; Peace that frees the fettered brave; Peace that scorns to make a slave; Peace that spurns a tyrant's hand; Peace that lifts each fallen land; Peace of peoples, not of kings; Peace that conquering freedom brings; Peace that bids oppression cease; God of battles, give us peace!

Appendix to Chapter VI

1838. The Chartist Movement. The Chartists demanded (1) Annual Parliaments; (2) Manhood Suffrage; (3) Vote by ballot; (4) Equal electoral districts; (5) Abolition of the property qualification for members of Parliament; (6) Payment for members of Parliament. The Reform Act of 1832 had brought the middle classes into power, and the working classes were now striving to better their own condition.

The Anti-Corn Law League, formed in this year, was largely a middle-class agitation supported by merchants and manufacturers. The great northern towns had been enfranchised by the Reform Bill, and sent as leaders of the movement Richard Cobden and John Bright. Both parties in Parliament were opposed to a total abolition of the Corn Laws.

1842. A motion for Free Trade defeated in Parliament by a large majority.

1843. Agitation in Ireland for the Repeal of the Union. Daniel O'Connell, the leader, arrested. He was found guilty of conspiracy, but his sentence was afterward revoked by the House of Lords.

1845. Failure of the potato crop in Ireland.

1846. Repeal of the Corn Laws, in order to open the ports free to food stuffs. Free Trade established and the prices of food begin to fall.

1848. The year of Revolution. France proclaims a Republic with Prince Louis Napoleon, nephew of Napoleon I, as its President. Risings in Austria and Italy.

Renewal of the Chartist agitation. The meeting in London to present a Petition to Parliament proves a failure.

1853-56. Years of prosperity owing to Free Trade and growth of intelligence among the working classes prove the chief causes of the death of Chartism. The workers now begin to aim at reforms through their Trades Unions. The Co-operative Movement set on foot in Rochdale in 1844 leads to the formation of many other branches.

Between the years 1851 and 1865 national imports nearly treble, and exports more than double, themselves.

THOMAS CARLYLE (1795-1881). His writings more than those of any other man give us a key to the meaning of the early Victorian Age. 1839. Chartism. 1841. Heroes and Hero Worship. 1843. Past and Present. 1850. Latter-Day Pamphlets.

CHARLES DICKENS (1812-70). 1836. Pickwick Papers. 1838. Oliver Twist (the evils of the Workhouse). 1850. David Copperfield (contains sketches of Dickens' early life). 1853. Hard Times. 1857. Little Dorrit (the Marshalsea prison for debtors).

DISRAELI, LORD BEACONSFIELD (1804-81). 1844. Coningsby (political life and the 'Young England' policy). 1845. Sybil (the claims of the people). 1847. Tancred (the Church and the State).

EBENEZER ELLIOTT (1781-1849). 1828. Corn Law Rhymes (the poet of the workers and of sorrow).

ELIZABETH CLEGHORN GASKELL (1810-65). 1848. Mary Barton (Industrial Lancashire during the crisis of 1842). 1855. North and South (the struggle between Master and Man).

CHARLES KINGSLEY[7] (1819-75). 1848. Yeast (the hard lives of the agricultural labourers). 1850. Alton Locke (life and labour of the city poor).

[Footnote 7: The Prince Consort was a great admirer of the works of Charles Kingsley, which, he said, in speaking of Two Years Ago, showed "profound knowledge of human nature, and insight into the relations between man, his actions, his destiny, and God." The Queen was also one of his admirers, and in 1859 she appointed him one of her chaplains. Later on he delivered a series of lectures on history to the Prince of Wales.]

CHARLES READE (1814-84). 1856. It is Never too Late to Mend (life in an English prison). 1863. Hard Cash (an exposure of bad administration of lunatic asylums).

JOHN RUSKIN (1819-1900). 1859. The Two Paths. 1862. Unto this Last. 1871. Fors Clavigera. (In the last-named book Ruskin describes the scheme of his St George's Guild, an attempt to restore happiness to England by allying art and science with commercial industry.)

CHAPTER VII: The Children of England

"From the folding of its robe, it brought two children; wretched, abject, frightful, hideous, miserable. . . . They were a boy and a girl. Yellow, meagre, ragged, scowling, wolfish; but prostrate, too, in their humility. . . . 'They are Man's,' said the Spirit, looking down upon them. 'And they cling to me, appealing from their fathers. This boy is Ignorance. This girl is Want. Beware them both, and all of their degree, but most of all beware this boy, for on his brow I see that written which is Doom, unless the writing be erased.'"[8]

[Footnote 8: Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol.]

In surveying the long reign of Queen Victoria nothing strikes one more than the gradual growth of interest in children, and the many changes in the nation's ideas of their upbringing and education. At the beginning of her reign the little children of the poor were for the most part slaves, and were often punished more cruelly by their taskmasters than the slaves one reads of in Uncle Tom's Cabin.

When Disraeli, afterward Lord Beaconsfield and Prime Minister, wrote Sybil, he drew, in that book, a terrible picture of the life of children in the manufacturing districts and in the country villages. The following extract speaks for itself:

"There are many in this town who are ignorant of their very names; very few who can spell them. It is rare that you meet with a young person who knows his own age; rarer to find the boy who has seen a book, or the girl who has seen a flower. Ask them the name of their sovereign and they will laugh; who rules them on earth or who can save them in heaven are alike mysteries to them."

In such a town as Disraeli describes there were no schools of any kind, and the masters treated their apprentices "as the Mamelouks treated the Egyptians." The author declares that "there is more serfdom now in England than at any time since the Conquest. . . . The people were better clothed, better fed, and better lodged just before the Wars of the Roses than they are at this moment. The average term of life among the working classes is seventeen."

One of the first results of machinery taking the place of human labour was that an enormous number of women and young children of both sexes were employed in the factories in place of grown men, who were no longer needed. Especially in the spinning mills thousands of men were thrown out of work, and lower wages were paid to those who took their place. This led directly to the breaking up of the home and home-life. The wives were often obliged to spend twelve to thirteen hours a day in the mills; the very young children, left to themselves, grew up like wild weeds and were often put out to nurse at a shilling or eighteenpence a day.

One reads of tired children driven to their work with blows; of children who, "too tired to go home, hide away in the wool in the drying-room to sleep there, and could only be driven out of the factory with straps; how many hundreds came home so tired every night that they could eat no supper for sleepiness and want of appetite, that their parents found them kneeling by the bedside where they had fallen asleep during their prayers."

Elizabeth Barrett Browning, one of the greatest poets of Victoria's reign, pleads for mercy and human kindness in her "Cry of the Children."

Do ye hear the children weeping, O my brothers, Ere the sorrow comes with years? They are leaning their young heads against their mothers, And that cannot stop their tears. The young lambs are bleating in the meadows, The young birds are chirping in the nest, The young fawns are playing with the shadows, The young flowers are blowing toward the west— But the young, young children, O my brothers, They are weeping bitterly! They are weeping in the playtime of the others, In the country of the free.

"For oh," say the children, "we are weary, And we cannot run or leap; If we cared for any meadows, it were merely To drop down in them and sleep. Our knees tremble sorely in the stooping, We fall upon our faces, trying to go; And, underneath our heavy eyelids drooping The reddest flower would look as pale as snow; For, all day, we drag our burden tiring Through the coal-dark underground— Or, all day, we drive the wheels of iron In the factories, round and round."

In the country the state of affairs was no better. New systems of industrial production threw large numbers of farm hands out of work, the rate of wages fell, and machinery, steam, and the work of women and children took the place of the labourer.

The children found a champion in Lord Ashley, afterward Lord Shaftesbury, who succeeded in the face of much opposition in his efforts to pass laws which should do away with such shameful wrong and injustice.

The increased amount of coal used (15-1/2 million tons at the beginning of the century, 64-1/2 million tons in 1854) naturally led to the demand for more workers, and it was owing to this that the proposals of Lord Shaftesbury met with such opposition from the mine-owners, who feared that if child labour were made illegal they would not have sufficient 'hands' to work the mines and that they would have to pay higher wages.

The Act of 1842 forbade altogether the employment of women and girls in the mines, and allowed only boys of the age of ten or more to do such work. The Poor Law Guardians of the time used to send children into the mines at the age of seven as a means of finding employment for them. The hours of work were limited to ten daily and fifty-eight each week.

Little or no attempt was made in the Bill to give children the means of obtaining a good education, although considerably more than half the children in the country never went to school at all, and many large towns were without a proper school.

By a previous Factory Act of 1834 all children under fourteen years of age were compelled to attend school for two hours daily. The employer was allowed to deduct one penny a week from the child's wages to pay the teacher. This proved absolutely useless, as the masters employed worn-out workers as teachers, and in consequence the children learnt nothing at all.

It was not until the year 1870 that a Bill was passed in Parliament to create an adequate number of public elementary schools for every district in the kingdom. To show the increase in the number of schools built, there were in the year 1854, 3825, and in the year 1885, 21,976.

But the children of England owe almost as much to Charles Dickens as they do to Lord Shaftesbury. He was almost the first, and certainly the greatest, writer who, with a heart overflowing with sympathy for little children, has left us in his books a gallery of portraits which no one can ever forget.

He himself, "a very small and not over-particularly-taken-care-of boy," passed through a time of bitter poverty, and his stay at school, short as it was, was not a period of his life upon which he looked back with any pleasure.

The material for his books was drawn from life—from his own and from the lives of those around him—and for this reason all that he wrote will always be of great value, as it gives us a good idea of the Early and Mid Victorian days.

His ambition was to strike a blow for the poor, "to leave one's hand upon the time, lastingly upon the time, with one tender touch for the mass of toiling people."

Who can ever forget in the Christmas Carol the crippled Tiny Tim, "who behaved as good as gold and better. Somehow he gets thoughtful, sitting by himself so much, and thinks the strangest things you ever heard. He told me, coming home, that he hoped the people saw him in the church, because he was a cripple, and it might be pleasant to them to remember upon Christmas Day who made lame beggars walk, and blind men see."

Other pictures of suffering childhood are 'Little Nell' and 'The Marchioness' in The Old Curiosity Shop, 'Jo' and 'Charley' in Bleak House, and 'Smike,' the victim of the inhuman schoolmaster 'Squeers.'

The cruelty of the times is shown in the case of an unfortunate sempstress who tried to earn a living by making shirts for three-halfpence each. Once, when she had been robbed of her earnings, she tried to drown herself. The inhuman magistrate before whom she was brought told her that she had "no hope of mercy in this world."

It was after hearing of this from Charles Dickens that Thomas Hood wrote the well-known "Song of the Shirt":

Work—work—work! From weary chime to chime, Work—work—work As prisoners work for crime! Band, and gusset, and seam, Seam, and gusset, and band, Till the heart is sick, and the brain benumbed, As well as the weary hand.

The age might well take to heart the lesson taught by the great-souled writer—that the two chief enemies of the times were Ignorance and Want.

The lot of the unfortunate children in the Union Workhouses was no better. They were treated rather worse than animals, with no sympathy or kindness, owing to the ignorance of those who were set in authority over them. Any one who reads Oliver Twist may learn the nature of the life led by the 'pauper' children in those 'good old days.'

"The members of this board were very sage, deep, philosophical men; and when they came to turn their attention to the workhouse, they found out at once, what ordinary folks would never have discovered—the poor people liked it! It was a regular place of public entertainment for the poorer classes; a tavern where there was nothing to pay; a public breakfast, dinner, tea, and supper all the year round; a brick and mortar elysium, where it was all play and no work. 'Oho!' said the board, looking very knowing, 'we are the fellows to set this to rights; we'll stop it all, in no time.' So, they established the rule, that all poor people should have the alternative (for they would compel nobody, not they) of being starved by a gradual process in the house, or by a quick one out of it. With this view, they contracted with the waterworks to lay on an unlimited supply of water; and with a corn-factor to supply periodically small quantities of oatmeal; and issued three meals of thin gruel a day, with an onion twice a week, and half a roll on Sundays. . . . Relief was inseparable from the workhouse and the gruel; and that frightened people."

A movement which helped, possibly far more than any other, to better the lot of the children of the Poor commenced with the foundation of the Ragged School Union, of which the Queen became the patroness.

Out of this sprang a small army of agencies for well-doing. Commencing only with evening schools, which soon proved insufficient, the founders established day schools, with classes for exercise and industrial training: children were sent to our colonies where they would have a better chance of making a fair start in life; training ships, cripples' homes, penny banks, holiday homes followed, and from these again the numerous Homes and Orphanages which entitle us to call the Victorian Age the Age of Kindness to Children.

Charles Dickens took the keenest interest in the work of the Ragged Schools. A letter from Lord Shaftesbury quoted in his Life gives a clear idea of the marvellous work they had accomplished up to the year 1871:

"After a period of 27 years, from a single school of five small infants, the work has grown into a cluster of some 300 schools, an aggregate of nearly 30,000 children, and a body of 3000 voluntary teachers, most of them the sons and daughters of toil. . . . Of more than 300,000 children, which, on the most moderate calculation, we have a right to conclude have passed through these schools since their commencement, I venture to affirm that more than 100,000 of both sexes have been placed out in various ways—in emigration, in the marine, in trades and in domestic service. For many consecutive years I have contributed prizes to thousands of the scholars; and let no one omit to call to mind what these children were, whence they came, and whither they were going without this merciful intervention. They would have been added to the perilous swarm of the wild, the lawless, the wretched, and the ignorant, instead of being, as by God's blessing they are, decent and comfortable, earning an honest livelihood, and adorning the community to which they belong."

Dickens believed, first of all, in teaching children cleanliness and decency before attempting anything in the form of education. "Give him, and his," he said, "a glimpse of heaven through a little of its light and air; give them water; help them to be clean; lighten the heavy atmosphere in which their spirits flag and which makes them the callous things they are . . . and then, but not before, they will be brought willingly to hear of Him whose thoughts were so much with the wretched, and who had compassion for all human sorrow."

CHAPTER VIII: Ministering Women

Honour to those whose words or deeds Thus help us in our daily needs; And by their overflow Raise us from what is low! LONGFELLOW

No account of the reign of Queen Victoria would be complete without some reference to the achievements of women, more especially when their work has had for its chief end and aim the alleviation of suffering. Woman has taken a leading part in the campaign which has been and is now being ceaselessly carried on against the forces of sin, ignorance, and want.

In the early years of Victoria's reign the art of sick-nursing was scarcely known at all. The worst type of nurse is vividly pictured for us by Charles Dickens in Martin Chuzzlewit:

"She was a fat old woman, this Mrs Gamp, with a husky voice and a moist eye, which she had a remarkable power of turning up, and only showing the white of it. Having very little neck, it cost her some trouble to look over herself, if one may say so, at those to whom she talked. She wore a very rusty black gown, rather the worse for snuff, and a shawl and bonnet to correspond. In these dilapidated articles of dress she had, on principle, arrayed herself, time out of mind on such occasions as the present; . . . The face of Mrs Gamp—the nose in particular—was somewhat red and swollen, and it was difficult to enjoy her society without becoming conscious of a smell of spirits."

For a long time, though it had been recognized that the care of the sick was woman's work, no special training was required from those undertaking it. Florence Nightingale did away with all such wrong ideas. In a letter on the subject of training she wrote: "I would say also to all young ladies who are called to any particular vocation, qualify yourselves for it, as a man does for his work. Don't think you can undertake it otherwise. . . . If you are called to man's work, do not exact a woman's privileges—the privilege of inaccuracy, of weakness, ye muddle-heads. Submit yourselves to the rules of business, as men do, by which alone you can make God's business succeed; for He has never said that He will give His success and His blessing to inefficiency, to sketchy and unfinished work."

She prepared herself for her life's work by years of hard study and ten years' training, visiting all the best institutions in Germany, France, and Italy. She gave up a life of ease and comfort in order to develop her natural gift to the utmost.

Her opportunity was not long in coming. In 1854 the Crimean War broke out. Most of the generals in the English army were old men whose experience of actual warfare dated back to the early days of the century. Everything was hopelessly mismanaged from the beginning. In August the English and French allied forces moved against the fortress of Sebastopol, from which Russia was threatening an attack on Constantinople. Troops were landed in a hostile country without the means of moving them away again; there was little or no provision made to transport food, baggage, or medical stores.

After the victory of Alma Lord Raglan marched on to Balaclava, and here the transport utterly broke down. The soldiers, in addition to undertaking hard fighting, were forced to turn themselves into pack-mules and tramp fourteen miles through the mud in the depth of winter in order to obtain food and warm blankets for their comrades and themselves. Their condition rapidly became terrible. Their clothing wore to rags, their boots—mostly of poor quality—gave out entirely. Their food—such as it was—consisted of biscuit, salt beef or pork, and rum.

No vegetables could be obtained, and for want of green food scurvy broke out among the troops. Stores were left decaying in the holds of transports, and the doctors were forced to see men dying before their eyes without the means of helping them. The loss of life from the actual fighting was considerable, but more particularly so from the insanitary condition of the camp and the wretched hospital arrangements.

The actual figures of our losses in the war speak for themselves. Out of a total loss of 20,656, only 2598 fell in battle; 18,058 died from other causes in hospital. Several regiments lost nearly all their men, and during the first seven months of the siege men died so fast that in a year and a half no army would have been left at all.

William Russell, the special correspondent of The Times, first brought this appalling state of affairs to the notice of the public, and the nation at last woke up. A universal outburst of indignation forced ministers to act, and to act quickly.

Stores were hurried to the front; fresh troops were sent out to relieve the almost exhausted remnants of the army, and on the 21st October Florence Nightingale, with a band of nurses, set sail; she arrived on the very eve of the Battle of Inkerman.

Within a few months of her arrival it is estimated that she had no fewer than ten thousand sick men in her charge, and the rows of beds in one hospital alone measured two and one-third miles in length.

Her influence over the rough soldiers was extraordinary; one of them said of her: "She would speak to one and another, and nod and smile to many more; but she could not do it to all, you know—we lay there in hundreds—but we could kiss her shadow as it fell, and lay our heads on the pillow again, content."

Out of chaos she made order, and there were no more complaints of waste and inefficiency. She never quitted her post until the war was at an end, and on her return to England she received a national welcome. She was received by the Queen and presented with a jewel in commemoration of her work, and no less than fifty thousand pounds was subscribed by the nation, a sum which was presented by Miss Nightingale to the hospitals to defray the expenses of training nurses.

Since this time no war between civilized peoples has taken place without trained nurses being found in the ranks of both armies, and at the Convention of Geneva, some years later, it was agreed that in time of war all ambulances, military hospitals, etc., should be regarded as neutral, and that doctors and nurses should be considered as non-combatants. Nursing rapidly became a profession, and from the military it spread to the civil hospitals, which were used as training schools for all who took up the work.

Florence Nightingale's advice was sought by the Government and freely given upon every matter which affected the health of the people, and it is entirely owing to her influence and example that speedy reforms were carried out, especially in the army.

Her noble work was celebrated by Longfellow, in his poem "Santa Filomena," often better known as "The Lady with the Lamp":

Thus thought I, as by night I read Of the great army of the dead, The trenches cold and damp, The starved and frozen camp,

The wounded from the battle-plain, In dreary hospitals of pain, The cheerless corridors, The cold and stony floors.

Lo! in that house of misery A lady with a lamp I see Pass through the glimmering gloom, And flit from room to room.

And slow, as in a dream of bliss, The speechless sufferer turns to kiss Her shadow, as it falls Upon the darkening walls.

The Queen followed the course of the war with painful interest. "This is a terrible season of mourning and sorrow," she wrote; "how many mothers, wives, sisters, and children are bereaved at this moment. Alas! It is that awful accompaniment of war, disease, which is so much more to be dreaded than the fighting itself." And again, after a visit to Chatham: "Four hundred and fifty of my dear, brave, noble heroes I saw, and, thank God, upon the whole, all in a very satisfactory state of recovery. Such patience and resignation, courage, and anxiety to return to their service. Such fine men!"

Many acts had been passed in previous reigns to improve the disgraceful state of the prisons in this country, but it was left to a band of workers, mostly Quakers, led by Elizabeth Fry, to bring about any real improvement. Any one who wishes to read what dens of filth and hotbeds of infection prisons were at this time need only read the account of the Fleet prison in the Pickwick Papers and of the Marshalsea in Little Dorrit.

Reform proved at first to be a very slow and difficult matter. New laws passed in 1823 and 1824 insisted upon cleanliness and regular labour for all prisoners; chaplains and matrons for female prisoners were appointed. The public, however, got the idea—as in the case of workhouses—that things were being made too comfortable for the inmates, and the Society for the Improvement of Prison Discipline was bitterly attacked.

Mrs Fry had started work in Newgate Prison, then justly considered to be the worst of all the bad prisons in the country. The condition of the women and children was too dreadful to describe, and she felt that the only way to introduce law and decency into this 'hell upon earth' was by influencing the children.

She founded a school in the prison, and it was not long before there was a marked improvement in the appearance and behaviour of both the children and the women.

The success of her work attracted public attention, and a Committee of the House of Commons was appointed to inquire into the condition of the London prisons. Mrs Fry was called upon to give evidence, and she recommended several improvements, e.g. that prisoners should be given some useful work to do, that rewards should be given for good behaviour, and that female warders should be appointed.

She visited other countries in order to study foreign prison systems, and her work in the prisons led her to consider what could be done to improve the condition of the unfortunate women who were transported as convicts. She succeeded in improving matters so much that female warders were provided on board ship, and proper accommodation and care on their arrival at their destination.

Even such a tender-hearted man and friend of the poor as Thomas Hood, author of "Song of the Shirt," misunderstood Mrs Fry's aims, for in a poem called "A Friendly Address to Mrs Fry," he wrote:

No—I will be your friend—and, like a friend, Point out your very worst defect—Nay, never Start at that word! But I must ask you why You keep your school in Newgate, Mrs Fry?

Your classes may increase, but I must grieve Over your pupils at their bread and waters! Oh, though it cost you rent—(and rooms run high)— Keep your school out of Newgate, Mrs Fry!

In the face of domestic sorrows and misfortunes, Mrs Fry persevered until the day of her death in 1845 in working for the good of others.

The work in this direction was continued by Mary Carpenter, whose father was the headmaster of a Bristol school. She began her life's work after a severe outbreak of cholera in Bristol in 1832. At this time there were practically no reformatory or industrial schools in the country, and Mary Carpenter set to work with some friends to found an institution near Bristol. She worked to save children—especially those whose lives were spent in the midst of sin and wickedness—from becoming criminals, and in order to bring this about she aimed at making their surroundings as homelike and cheerful as possible.

She even helped to teach the children herself, as she found great difficulty in finding good assistants. She wished to convince the Government that her methods were right, and so persuade them to set up schools of a similar kind throughout the country.

The great Lord Shaftesbury was her chief supporter, but it was not until the year 1854 that Mary Carpenter succeeded in her desire, when a Bill was passed establishing reformatory schools. From this time her influence rapidly increased, and it is mainly owing to her efforts that at the present day such precautions are taken to reform young criminals on the sound principle of "prevention is better than cure."

Mary Carpenter also visited India no fewer than four times in order to arouse public opinion there to the need for the better education of women, and at a later date she went to America, where she had many warm friends and admirers. She had, as was only natural, been keenly interested in the abolition of negro slavery.

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