When the Queen arrived, accompanied by her mother and her ladies, and attended by an escort, on the June morning of her proclamation, she was received by the other members of the royal family, the Household, and the Cabinet Ministers. Already every avenue to the Palace and every balcony and window within sight were crowded to excess. In the quadrangle opposite the window where her Majesty was to appear a mass of loyal ladies and gentlemen was tightly wedged. The parapets above were filled with people, conspicuous among them the big figure of Daniel O'Connell, the agitator, waving his hat and cheering with Irish effusion.
"At ten o'clock," says the Annual Register, "the guns in the park fired a salute, and immediately afterwards the Queen made her appearance at the window of the tapestried ante-room adjoining the ante-chamber, and was received with deafening cheers. She stood between Lords Melbourne and Lansdowne, in their State dresses and their ribands, who were also cheered, as was likewise her Royal Highness the Duchess of Kent. At this and the two other windows we recognised the King of Hanover, the Dukes of Sussex, Wellington, and Argyle; Lords Hill, Combermere, Denbigh, Duncannon, Albemarle, and Winchester; Sir E. Codrington, Sir William Houston, and a number of other lords and gentlemen, with several ladies.
"Her Majesty looked extremely fatigued and pale, but returned the repeated cheers with which she was greeted with remarkable ease and dignity. She was dressed in deep mourning, with a white tippet, white cuffs, and a border of white lace under a small black bonnet, which was placed far back on her head, exhibiting her light hair in front simply parted over the forehead. Her Majesty seemed to view the proceedings with considerable interest. Her Royal Highness the Duchess of Kent was similarly dressed to the Queen."
"In the courtyard were Garter-King-at-Arms with heralds and pursuivants in their robes of office, and eight officers of arms on horseback bearing massive silver maces; sergeants-at-arms with their maces and collars; the sergeant-trumpeter with his mace and collar; the trumpets, drum-major and drums, and knights'-marshal and men."
"On Her Majesty showing herself at the Presence Chamber window, Garter-Principal-King-at-Arms having taken his station in the courtyard under the window, accompanied by the Duke of Norfolk as Earl-Marshal of England, read the proclamation containing the formal and official announcement of the demise of King William IV., and of the consequent accession of Queen Alexandrina Victoria to the throne of these realms ... 'to whom we acknowledge all faith and constant obedience, with all humble and hearty affection, beseeching God, by whom kings and queens do reign, to bless the Royal Princess Alexandrina Victoria with long and happy years to reign. God save the Queen.' At the termination of this proclamation the band struck up the National Anthem, and a signal was given for the Park and Tower guns to fire in order to announce the fact of the proclamation being made. During the reading of the proclamation her Majesty stood at the Presence Chamber window, and immediately upon its conclusion the air was rent with the loudest acclamations by those within the area, which were responded to by the thousands without."
The scene drew from Elizabeth Barrett Browning the following popular verses:—
O, maiden, heir of kings, A king has left his place; The majesty of death has swept All other from his face; And thou upon thy mother's breast No longer lean adown, But take the glory for the rest, And rule the land that loves thee best. The maiden wept, She wept to wear a crown.
* * * * *
God bless thee, weeping Queen, With blessings more divine, And fill with better love than earth That tender heart of thine; That when the thrones of earth shall be As low as graves brought down, A pierced hand may give to thee The crown which angels shout to see. Thou wilt not weep To wear that heavenly crown.
A maiden Queen in her first youth, wearing the crown and wielding the sceptre, had become un fait accompli and the news spread over the length and breadth of the land. We have seen how it touched the oldest statesmen, to whom State ceremonials had become hackneyed—who were perhaps a little sceptical of virtue in high places. It may be imagined, then, how the knowledge, with each striking and picturesque detail, thrilled and engrossed all the sensitive, romantic young hearts in the Queen's dominions. It seemed as if womanhood and girlhood were exalted in one woman and girl's person—as if a new era must be inaugurated with such a reign, and every man worthy of the name would rally round this Una on the throne.
The prosaic side of the question was that the country was torn by the factions of Whig and Tory, which were then in the full bloom of party spirit and narrow rancorous animosity. The close of the life of William IV. had presented the singular and disastrous contradiction of a King in something like open opposition to his Ministers. William had begun by being a liberal in politics, but alarmed by the progress of reform, he had hung back resisted, and ended by being dragged along an unwilling tolerator of a Whig regime. The Duke of Kent had been liberal in his opinions when liberality was not the fashion. The Duchess was understood to be on the same side; her brother and counsellor, the King of the Belgians, was decidedly so. Accordingly, the Whigs hailed the accession of Queen Victoria as their triumph, likely to secure and prolong their tenure of office. They claimed her as their Queen, with a boasting exultation calculated to wound and exasperate every Tory in the kingdom. Lord Campbell, who, though a zealous Whig, was comparatively cool and cautious, wrote in his journal, after the Queen's first Council, "We basked in the full glare of royal sunshine;" and this tone was generally adopted by his party. They met with some amount of success in their loud assertion, and the consequence was a strain of indignant bitterness in the Tory rejoinder. A clever partisan inscribed on the window-pane of an inn at Huddersfield:
"The Queen is with us," Whigs insulting say, "For when she found us in, she let us stay." It may be so; but give me leave to doubt How long she'll keep you when she finds you out.
There was even some cooling of Tory loyalty to the new Queen. Chroniclers tell us of the ostentatious difference in enthusiasm with which, at Tory dinners, the toasts of the Queen, and the Queen-dowager were received.
As a matter of course, Lord Melbourne became the Queen's instructor in the duties of her position, and as she had no private secretary, he had to be in constant attendance upon her—to see her, not only daily, but sometimes three or four times a day. The Queen has given her testimony to the unwearied kindness and pleasantness, the disinterested regard for her welfare, even the generous fairness to political opponents, with which her Prime Minister discharged his task. It seems as if the great trust imposed on him drew out all that was most manly and chivalrous in a character which, along with much that was fine and attractive, that won to him all who came in close contact with him, was not without the faults of the typical aristocrat, correctly or incorrectly defined by the popular imagination. Lord Melbourne, with his sense and spirit, honesty and good-nature, could be haughtily, indifferent, lazily self-indulgent, scornfully careless even to affectation, of the opinions of his social inferiors, as when he appeared to amuse himself with "idly blowing a feather or nursing a sofa-cushion while receiving an important and perhaps highly sensitive deputation from this or that commercial interest." The time has come when it is fully recognised that whatever might have been Lord Melbourne's defects, he never brought them into his relations with the Queen. To her he was the frank, sincere, devoted adviser of all that it was wisest and best for her to do. "He does not appear to have been greedy of power, or to have used any unfair means of getting or keeping it. The character of the young Sovereign seems to have impressed him deeply. His real or affected levity gave way to a genuine and lasting desire to make her life as happy and her reign as successful as he could. The Queen always felt the warmest affection and gratitude for him, and showed it long after the public had given up the suspicion that she could be a puppet in the hands of a Minister. "But men—especially Lord Melbourne's political adversaries—were not sufficiently large-minded and large-hearted to put this confidence in him beforehand. They remembered with wrath and disgust that, even in the language of men of the world, "his morals were not supposed to be very strict." He had been unhappy in his family life. The eccentricities and follies of Lady Caroline Lamb had formed the gossip of several London seasons long years before. Other scandals had gathered round his name, and though they had been to some extent disproven, it was indignantly asked, could there be a more unsuitable and undesirable guide for an innocent royal girl of eighteen than this accomplished, bland roue of threescore? Should he be permitted to soil—were it but in thought—the lily of whose stainlessness the nation was so proud? The result proved that Lord Melbourne could be a blameless, worthy servant to his Sovereign.
In the meantime the great news of Queen Victoria's accession had travelled to the princely student at Bonn, who responded to it in a manly, modest letter, in which he made no claim to share the greatness, while he referred to its noble, solemn side. Prince Albert wrote on the 26th of June: "Now you are Queen of the mightiest land of Europe; in your hand lies the happiness of millions. May Heaven assist you 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." To others he expressed his satisfaction at what he heard of his cousin's astonishing self-possession, and of the high praise bestowed on her by all parties, "which seemed to promise so auspiciously for her reign." But so far from putting himself forward or being thrust forward by their common friends as an aspirant for her hand, while she was yet only on the edge of that strong tide and giddy whirl of imposing power and dazzling adulation which was too likely to sweep her beyond his grasp, it was resolved by King Leopold and the kindred who were most concerned in the relations of the couple, that, to give time for matters to settle down, for the young Queen to know her own mind—above all, to dissipate the premature rumour of a formal engagement between the cousins which had taken persistent hold of the public mind ever since the visit of the Saxe-Coburg princes to Kensington Palace in the previous year, Prince Albert should travel for several months. Accordingly, he set out, in company with his brother, to make an enjoyable tour, on foot, through Switzerland and the north of Italy. To a nature like his, such an experience was full of keen delight; but in the midst of his intoxication he never forgot his cousin. The correspondence between them had been suffered to drop, but that she continued present to his thoughts was sufficiently indicated by the souvenirs he collected specially for her: the views of the scenes he visited, the Alpenrosen he gathered for her in its native home, Voltaire's autograph.
The Queen left Kensington, within a month of her uncle's death, we do not need to be told "greatly to the regret of the inhabitants." She went on the 13th of July to take up her residence at Buckingham Palace. "Shortly after one o'clock an escort of Lancers took up a position on the Palace Green, long previous to which an immense concourse of respectable persons had thronged the avenue and every open space near the Palace." About half-past one an open carriage drawn by four greys, preceded by two outriders, and followed by an open barouche, drawn by four bays, drove up from her Majesty's mews, Pimlico, and stopped before the grand entrance to the Duchess of Kent's apartments. The Queen, accompanied by the Duchess of Kent and Baroness Lehzen, almost immediately got into the first carriage. There was a tumult of cheering, frankly acknowledged. It is said the young Queen looked "pale and a little sad" at the parting moment. Then with a dash the carriages vanished in a cloud of July dust, and the familiar Palace Green, with its spreading trees and the red chimneys beyond—the High Street—Kensington Gore, were left behind. Kensington's last brief dream of a Court was brought to an abrupt conclusion. What was worse, Kensington's Princess was gone, never to return to the changed scene save for the most fleeting of visits.
We should like to give here one more story of her Majesty's stay at Kensington—a story that refers to these last days. We have already spoken of an old soldier-servant of the Duke of Kent's, said to have been named Stillman, who was quartered with his family—two of them sickly—in a Kensington cottage of the period, visited by the Duchess of Kent and the Princess Victoria. The little boy had died; the ailing girl still lived. The girl's clergyman, a gentleman named Vaughan, went to see her some days after the Queen had quitted the Palace, and found the invalid looking unusually bright. He inquired the reason. "Look there!". said the girl, and drew a book of Psalms from under her pillow, "look what the new Queen has sent me to-day by one of her ladies, with the message that, though now, as Queen of England, she had to leave Kensington, she did not forget me." The lady who had brought the book had said the lines and figures in the margin were the dates of the days on which the Queen herself had been accustomed to read the Psalms, and that the marker, with the little peacock on it, was worked by the Princess's own hand. The sick girl cried, and asked if this act was not beautiful?
CHAPTER V. THE PROROGUING OF PARLIAMENT, THE VISIT TO GUILDHALL, AND THE CORONATION.
Buckingham Palace had been a seat of the Duke of Buckingham's, which was bought by George II., and in the next reign was settled on Queen Charlotte instead of Somerset House, and called the "Queen's House." It was rebuilt by George IV. but not occupied by him, and had been rarely used by King William. Besides its gardens, which are of some extent, it shares with St. James's, which it is near, the advantage of St. James's Park, one of the most agreeable in London, and full of historic memories. Though it, too, was modernised by George IV., its features have still much interest. It was by its canal, which has been twisted into the Serpentine, that the Merry Monarch strolled alone, lazily playing with his dogs, feeding his ducks, and by his easy confidence flattering and touching his good citizens of London. On the same water his gay courtiers practised their foreign accomplishment of skating, which they had brought back with them from the Low Countries. In the Mall both Charles and his brother, the Duke of York, joined in the Court game of Palle Malle, when a ball was struck with a mallet through an iron ring down a walk strewn with powdered cockle-shells. At a later period the Mall was the most fashionable promenade in London. While dinners were still early on Sunday afternoons, the fashionable world walked for an hour or two after dinner in the Mall. An eyewitness declared that he had seen "in one moving mass, extending the whole length of the Mall, five thousand of the most lovely women in this country of female beauty, all splendidly attired, and accompanied by as many well-dressed men." For, as Mr. Hare, in his "Walks in London," points out, the frequenters of the Mall were very different in one respect from the company in the Row: "The ladies were in full dress and gentlemen carried their hats under their arms."
One relic of the past survives intact in the park—that is, the cow-stalls, which formerly helped to constitute "Milk Fair." Mr. Hare tells us "the vendors are proud of the number of generations through which the stalls have been held in their families."
From Buckingham Palace the Queen went in State on the 17th of July to close Parliament. The carriage, with the eight cream-coloured horses, was used. As far as we can judge, this was the first appearance in her Majesty's reign of "the creams," so dear to the London populace. The carriage was preceded by the Marshalmen, a party of the Yeomen of the Guard in State costumes, and runners. The fourth carriage, drawn by six black horses, contained the Marchioness of Lansdowne, the Duchess of Sutherland, the Duke of Argyle, Lord Steward and Gold Stick in Waiting. The Queen was accompanied by the Earl of Albemarle, Master of the Horse, and the Countess of Mulgrave, the Lady-in-Waiting. The procession, escorted by a squadron of the Horse Guards, moved into Whitehall, and was cheered in Parliament Street by deafening shouts from a mass of spectators lining the streets and covering the house-tops. On arriving opposite the entrance of the House of Lords her Majesty was received by a battalion of the Grenadier Guards, whose splendid band, when she alighted, played the National Anthem.
Thus heralded, the young Queen entered the old Houses of Parliament, seated herself on the throne of her ancestors, and accorded her maiden reception to her loyal Lords and faithful Commons. This was the first occasion in a great assembly that people remarked the natural gift which has proved a valuable possession to her Majesty, and has never failed to awaken the admiration of the hearers. We allude to the peculiar silvery clearness, as well as sweetness, of a voice which can be heard in its most delicate modulations through the whole House. In reply to the Speaker of the House of Commons' assurance of the Commons' cordial participation in that strong and universal feeling of dutiful and affectionate attachment which prevailed among the free and loyal people of which they were the representatives, the Queen read her speech in an unfaltering voice, thanking the Parliament for its condolence upon the death of his late Majesty, and for its expressions of attachment and affection to herself, announcing her determination to preserve all the rights, spiritual and civil, of her subjects, touching on the usual topics in a royal speech in its relation to home and foreign affairs, and making the solemn assertion: "I ascend the throne with a deep sense of the responsibility which is imposed upon me, but I am supported by the consciousness of my own right intentions and by my dependence on the protection of Almighty God." Fanny Kemble was present at this memorable scene, and has given her impression of it. Her testimony, as a public speaker, is valuable. "The Queen was not handsome, but very pretty, and the singularity of her great position lent a sentimental and poetical charm to her youthful face and figure. The serene, serious sweetness of her candid brow and clear soft eyes gave dignity to the girlish countenance, while the want of height only added to the effect of extreme youth of the round but slender person, and gracefully moulded hands and arms. The Queen's voice was exquisite, nor have I ever heard any spoken words more musical in their gentle distinctness than "My Lords and Gentlemen," which broke the breathless silence of the illustrious assembly whose gaze was riveted on that fair flower of royalty. The enunciation was as perfect as the intonation was melodious, and I think it is impossible to hear a more excellent utterance than that of the Queen's English by the English Queen."
The accession of Queen Victoria almost coincided with a new era in English history, art and letters, new relations in politics at home and abroad, new social movements undreamt of when she was born. In spite of the strong party spirit, the country was at peace within and without. France, the foreign neighbour of most importance to England, was also at peace under a so-called "citizen-king." The "Tractarian" movement at Oxford was startling the world with a proposed return to the practices of the primitive Church, while it laid the foundation of the High Church and Ritualistic parties in the modern Church of England. The names of Newman and Pusey especially were in many mouths, spoken in various terms of reprobation and alarm, or approval and exultation. Next to Tractarianism, Chartism—the people's demand for a charter which should meet their wants—was a rising force, though it had not reached its full development. Arnold was doing his noble work, accomplishing a moral revolution in the public schools of England. Milman and Grote had arisen as historians. Faraday was one of the chief lights of science. Sir John Herschel occupied his father's post among the stars. Beautiful modest Mary Somerville showed what a woman might do with the Differential Calculus; Brewster had taken the place of Sir Humphry Davy. Murchison was anticipating Robert Dick and Hugh Miller in geology. Alfred Tennyson had already published two volumes of poems; Browning had given to the world his "Paracelsus," and this very year (1837) his Strafford had been performed at Covent Garden, while it was still on the cards that his calling might be that of a great dramatist. Dickens, the Scott of the English lower-middle classes, was bringing out his "Pickwick Papers." Disraeli had got into the House of Commons at last, and his "Vivian Grey" was fully ten years old. So was Bulwer's "Pelbam"—the author of which also aided in forming the literary element of the House of Commons in the Queen's first Parliament. Mrs. Gore, Mrs. Trollope, Miss Mitford, Mrs. S. C. Hail, and Harriet Martinean represented under very different aspects the feminine side of fiction. Macready remained the stage king, but he shared his royalty with the younger Kean. A younger Kemble had also played Juliet well, but the stage queen was Helen Faucit. In painting, Turner was working in his last style; Stanfield's sea-pieces were famous. Mulready and Leslie were in the front as genre painters. Maclise was making his reputation; Etty had struggled into renown, while poor Haydon was sinking into despair. Landseer was already the great animal painter. Sir C. Eastlake had court commissions. Wilkie, too, still had royal commissions, but his best work was done, and he was soon to set out on his last travels in a vain search after health and strength.
Withal the world was a light-hearted world enough—not so hurried as it is to-day, though railways were well established, and the electric telegraph had been hit upon in this same 1837. Young blood continued hot, and play was apt to be riotous. Witness the fantastic frolics of the Marquis of Waterford—public property in those years. He had inherited the eccentricities of the whole Delaval race, and not content with tickling his peers in England, carried his whims and pranks into Scotland and Ireland and across the Channel. Various versions of his grotesque feats circulated and scintillated through all classes, provoking laughter, and tempting to clumsy imitation, till the gentleman may be said to have had a species of world-wide reputation in a madly merry way.
The Queen held a review at Windsor on the 28th of September, 1837. She had dwelt at Windsor before as a cherished guest; but what must it not have been to her to enter these gates as the Queen? The rough hunting-seat of William Rufus had long been the proudest and fairest palace in England. St George's Tower and battlements are the most royal in these realms. St. George's Hall and St. George's Chapel are the best examples of ancient and modern chivalry. The stately terrace commanding the red turrets of Eton and the silvery reaches of the Thames, where George III. and Queen Charlotte, with their large family and household, were wont to promenade on Sunday afternoons for the benefit of their Majesties' loyal subjects, where the blind old King used to totter along supported by two of his faithful Princesses; the green alleys and glades of the ancient forest, with the great boles of the venerable oaks—Queen Elizabeth's among them; Virginia Water sparkling in the sunshine or glimmering in the moonlight, all make up such a kingly residence, as in many respects cannot be surpassed. What must it not have been to enter the little Court town, another Versailles or Fontainebleau, as its liege Lady, to be hailed and welcomed by the goodly throng of Eton lads—those gay and gallant attendants on royal Windsor pageants—to pass through these halls as their mistress, and fairly recognise that all the noble surroundings were hers, with all England, all Britain and many a great dependency and colony on which the sun never sets—hers to rule over, hers to bless if she would?
At the review, in compliment to her soldiers whom she saw marshalled in their disciplined masses, and saluting her as the Captain of their Captains—even of Wellington himself—the Queen wore a half-military dress—a tight jacket with deep lappels, the blue riband of the Garter across one shoulder, and its jewelled star upon her breast, a stocklike black neckerchief in stiff folds holding up the round throat, and on the head—hiding nearly all the fair hair—a round, high, flatcap with a broad black "snout"; beneath it the soft, open, girlish face, with its single-hearted dignity.
In this month of September the Queen heard that her sister-queen and girl friend, Donna Maria da Gloria, had received consolation for the troubles of her kingdom in becoming the youthful mother of a son and heir, Prince Ferdinand of Portugal.
By November the Court was back at Buckingham Palace, and on the 9th the Queen paid her first visit to the City of London, which received her with magnificent hospitality.
Long before the hour appointed for her Majesty's departure for Guildhall, all the approaches to the palace and the park itself presented dense crowds of holiday folks. At two o'clock the first carriage of the procession emerged from the triumphal arch, and in due time came the royal State carriage, in which sat the Queen, attended by the Mistress of the Robes and the Master of the Horse. Her Majesty's full-dress was a "splendid pink satin shot with silver." She wore a queenly diamond tiara, and, as we are told, looked remarkably well. Her approach was the signal for enthusiastic cheering, which increased as she advanced, while the bells of the city churches rang out merry peals. The fronts of the houses were decorated with bright-coloured cloth, green boughs, and such flowers as November had spared. Devices in coloured lamps waited for the evening illumination to bring them out in perfection. Venetian masts had not been hoisted then in England, but "rows of national flags and heraldic banners were stretched across the Strand at several points, and busts and portraits of her Majesty were placed in conspicuous positions." The only person in the Queen's train who excited much interest was the Duke of Wellington, and he heard himself loudly cheered. The mob was rapidly condoning what they had considered his errors as a statesman, and restoring him to his old eminence, in their estimation, as the hero of the long wars, the conqueror of Bonaparte. Applause or reprobation the veteran met with almost equal coolness. When he had been besieged by raging, threatening crowds, calling upon him to do justice to Queen Caroline, as he rode to Westminster during the wild days of her trial, he had answered "Yes, yes," without a muscle of his face moving, and pushed on straight to his destination. For many a year he was to receive every contrite huzza, as he had received every fierce hiss, with no more than the twinkling of an eyelid or the raising of two fingers.
The gathering at Temple Bar—real, grim old Temple Bar, which had borne traitors' heads in former days—was so great that a detachment of Life Guards, as well as a strong body of police, had work to do in clearing a way for the carriages. The aldermen had to be accommodated with a room in Child's old banking-house, founded by the typical industrious apprentice who married his master's daughter. It sported the quaint old sign of the "Marigold," and was supposed to hold sheaves of papers containing noble, nay, royal secrets, as well as bushels of family jewels, in its strong boxes. It had even a family romance of its own, for did not the great Child of his day pursue his heiress in her flight to Gretna with the heir of the Villiers, who, leaning, pistol in hand, from his postchaise in front, sent a bullet into the near horse of the chaise behind, and escaped with his prize?
Undisturbed by these exciting stories, the aldermen waited in the dim interior—charged with other than money-lending mysteries, till the worthy gentlemen were joined by the Lord Mayor and sheriffs, when they proceeded to mount their chargers in Temple Yard—perhaps the most disturbing proceeding of any, with the riders' minds a little soothed by the circumstance that the horses had been brought from the Artillery barracks at Woolwich, and each was led by the soldier to which it belonged, in the capacity of groom.
"A few minutes before three the approach of the Queen was announced. The Lord Mayor dismounted, and, taking the City sword in his hand, stood on the south side of Temple Bar. As soon as the Queen's carriage arrived within the gateway it stopped, and then, unfortunately, it began to rain." The Queen's weather, which has become proverbial, of which we are given to boast, did not attend her on this occasion. Perhaps it would have been too much to expect of the clouds when the date was the 9th of November. Regardless of the weather, "the Lord Mayor delivered the keys of the City to the Queen, which her Majesty restored in the most gracious manner." At this time the multitude above, around, and below, from windows, scaffolding, roofs, and parapets, cheered long and loud. The Lord Mayor remounted, and, holding the City sword aloft, took his place immediately before the royal carriage, after which the aldermen, members of the Common Council, and civic authorities formed in procession.
Rather a curious ceremony was celebrated in front of St. Paul's. Booths and hustings had been erected in the enclosure for the accommodation of members of the different City companies and the boys of Christ's Hospital. "The royal carriage having stopped in the middle of the road, opposite the cathedral gate, a platform was wheeled out, on which were Mr. Frederick Gifford Nash, senior scholar of Christ's Hospital, and the head master and treasurer. The scholar, in conformity with an old usage, delivered an address of congratulation to her Majesty, concluding with an earnest prayer for her welfare. 'God Save the Queen' was then sung by the scholars and a great part of the multitude."
But already the dreariness and discomfort of a dark and wet November afternoon had been too much even for the staunchest loyalty, and had dispersed the feebler spirits among the onlookers. The Lord Mayor assisted her Majesty to alight at the door of the Guildhall, where the Lady Mayoress was waiting to be presented by her husband. We have a full description of the Council-room and retiring-room, with their draperies of crimson and gold, including the toilet-table, covered with white satin, and embroidered with the initials V. R., a crown and wreath in gold, at which the maiden Queen was understood to receive the last touches to her toilet, while she was attended by such distinguished matrons as the Duchess of Kent, the Duchess of Gloucester, and the Duchess of Cambridge. In the drawing-room the address of the City of London was read by the Recorder, and replied to by the Queen. At twenty minutes past five dinner was announced, and the Queen, preceded by the Lord Mayor and the Lady Mayoress, and conducted by the Lord Chamberlain, in "respectful silence," descended into the hall where the banquet was prepared. The great old hall, with its "glorious timber roof," could hardly have known itself. Gog and Magog—compared by Nathaniel Hawthorne to "playthings for the children of giants"—must have looked down with goggle eyes at the transformation. These were different days from the time when Anne Ascue, of Kelsey, was tried there for heresy, and the brave, keen-witted lady told her judges, when examined on the doctrine of transubstantiation, she had heard that God made man, but that man made God she had never heard; or when gallant Surrey encountered his enemies; or melodious Waller was called to account. It was on the raised platform at the east end of the hall that the Common Council had expended its strength of ornament and lavished its wealth. Here London outdid itself. The throne was placed there. "It was surmounted by an entablature, with the letters V. R. supporting the royal crown and cushion. In the front was an external valance of crimson velvet, richly laced and trimmed with tassels. The back-fluting was composed of white satin, relieved with the royal arms in gold. The curtains were of crimson velvet, trimmed with lace and lined with crimson silk. The canopy was composed of crimson velvet, with radiated centre of white satin enamelled with gold, forming a gold ray from which the centre of velvet diverged; a valance of crimson velvet, laced with gold, depended from the canopy, which was intersected with cornucopia, introducing the rose, thistle, and shamrock, in white velvet. Beneath this splendid canopy was placed the State-chair, which was richly carved and gilt, and ornamented with the royal arms and crown, including the rose, thistle, and shamrock, in crimson velvet. Its proportions were tastefully and judiciously diminished to a size that should in some sort correspond with the slight and elegant figure of the young Sovereign for whom it was provided. The platform on which the throne stood was covered with ermine and gold carpeting of the richest description." ... In front of the throne was placed the royal table, extending the whole width of the platform. It was thirty-four feet long and eight wide, and was covered with a cloth of the most exquisite damask, trimmed with gold lace and fringe. The sides and front of the platform were decked with a profusion of the rarest plants and shrubs. The royal table was on a dais above the level of the hall. A large mirror at each side of the throne reflected the gorgeous scene. From the impromptu dais four long tables extended nearly half-way down the hall, where the Lord and Lady Mayoress presided over the company of foreign ambassadors, Cabinet Ministers, nobility, aldermen, and members of the Common Council. The "royal avenue" led up the middle of the hall to the throne, with the tables on each side. The Queen took her seat on the throne; the Lord and Lady Mayoress stood on either side of her Majesty, but were almost immediately bidden be seated at their table.
The company had now time to study the central figure, the cause and culmination of the assembly. Over her pink and silver she wore the riband and order of the Garter, with the George appended. Besides her diamond tiara she had a stomacher of brilliants, and diamond ear-rings. She sat in the middle of a regal company, only two of the others young like herself. To the rest she must have been the child of yesterday; while to each and all she preserved in full the natural relations, and was as much the daughter, niece, and cousin as of old; yet, at the same time, she was every inch the Queen. What a marvel it must have seemed—still more to those who sat near than to those who stood afar. The Queen was supported by the Dukes of Sussex and Cambridge, the Duchesses of Kent, Gloucester, Cambridge, and Sutherland; and there were present her two cousins, Prince George and Princess Augusta Of Cambridge.
After dinner, Non Nobus Domine was sung; and then, preceded by a flourish of trumpets, the common crier advanced to the middle of the hall and said, "The Right Honourable the Lord Mayor gives the health of our most gracious Sovereign, Queen Victoria."
The company simultaneously rose and drank the toast with enthusiasm. "God Save the Queen" was sung, after which her Majesty rose and bowed repeatedly with marked goodwill.... The common crier then shouted, "Her Majesty gives the Lord Mayor and Prosperity to the City of London." Bishop's "When the Wind Blows" was sung. The only other toast was, "The Royal Family," given by the Lord Mayor.
At half-past eight her Majesty's carriage was announced. The weather was unpleasant, the streets were unusually dirty, but a vast crowd once more greeted her. On arriving at the end of Cheapside, she was hailed out of the glimmering illumination and foggy lamplight by "God Save the Queen," again sung by many hundred voices, accompanied by a band of wind instruments, the performance of the Harmonic Society, and the music was followed all the way by enthusiastic cheering. The Baroness Bunsen remarked of such a scene long afterwards, "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, and the centre of attraction for all those eyes. But the Queen has royal strength of nerve." Not so much strength of nerve, we should say, as strength of single-heartedness and simple sense of duty which are their own reward, together with the comparative immunity produced by long habit.
Still it is a little relief to turn from so much State and strain to a brief glimpse of the girl-Queen in something like the privacy of domestic life. In the month of November, 1837, the Attorney-General, Lord Campbell, with his wife, Lady Stratheden, received an invitation to Buckingham Palace, to dine with her Majesty at seven, and one of the guests wrote thus of the entertainment: "I went, and found it exceedingly agreeable, although by no means so grand as dining at Tarvit with Mrs. Rigg. The little Queen was exceedingly kind to me, and said she had heard from the Duchess of Gloucester that I had the most beautiful children in the world. She asked me how many we had, and when she heard seven, seemed rather appalled, considering this a number which she would never be able to reach. She seems in perfect health, and is as merry and playful as a kitten."
Amongst the other innumerable engagements which engrossed every moment of the Queen from the time of her accession, she had been called on to sit for her portrait to many eager artists—among them Hayter and Sir David Wilkie. The last has recorded his impression of her in his manly, unaffected, half-homely words. "Having been accustomed to see the Queen from a child, my reception had a little the air of that of an early acquaintance. She is eminently beautiful, her features nicely formed, her skin smooth, her hair worn close to her face in a most simple way, glossy and clean-looking. Her manner, though trained to act the Sovereign, is yet simple and natural. She has all the decision, thought, and self-possession of a queen of older years, has all the buoyancy of youth, and from the smile to the unrestrained laugh, is a perfect child. While I was there she was sitting to Pistrucci for her coin, and to Hayter for a picture for King Leopold."
The mention of the coin recalls the "image and superscription" on the gold, silver, and copper that passes through our hands daily, which we almost forget to identify with the likeness of the young Queen. About this time also commenced the royal patronage of Landseer, which resulted later in many a family group, in which numerous four-footed favourites had their place. At the exhibition of Landseer's works after his death, the sight of these groups recalled to elderly men and women who had been his early neighbours, the days when a goodly cavalcade of ladies and gentlemen, with their grooms, on horseback, used to sweep past the windows, and the word went that the young Queen was honouring the painter by a visit to his studio.
On the 20th of November the Queen went in State to the House of Lords to open Parliament for the first time, with as great a crowd of members and strangers present as had flocked to witness the prorogation in July. In the course of the month of December the bills were passed which fixed the Queen's income at three hundred and eighty-five thousand pounds a year, and further raised the Duchess of Kent's annuity from twenty-two thousand, which it had been latterly, to thirty thousand a year. On the 23rd of December the Queen went to give her assent to the bills, and thank her Parliament personally, according to old custom on such an occasion. On presenting the bill the Speaker observed that it had been framed in "a liberal and confiding spirit." The Queen simply bowed her acknowledgement.
Lord Melbourne, "with the tears in his eyes," told Lord Campbell that in one of his first interviews with the Queen she had said to him, "My father's debts must be paid." Accordingly the late Duke of Kent's debts were paid by his daughter, in the name of herself and her mother, in the first year of Queen Victoria's reign. In the second year she discharged the debts which the Duchess of Kent had incurred in meeting the innumerable heavy calls made upon her, not only as the widow of one of the Royal Dukes, but as the mother of the future Sovereign.
The summer of 1838 was gay with the preparations for the Queen's coronation. All classes took the greatest interest in it, so that splenetic people pronounced the nation "coronation mad." Long before the event coronation medals were being struck, coronation songs and hymns written, coronation ribands woven. Every ingenious method by which the world could commemorate the joyful season was put in practice. The sentiment was not confined to the inhabitants of the United Kingdom. "Foreigners of various conditions, and from all quarters of Europe, flocked in to behold the inauguration of the maiden monarch of the British Empire. In the Metropolis for some weeks anterior to the event the excitement was extreme. The thousand equipages which thronged the streets, the plumed retainers of the ambassadors, the streams of swarthy strangers, and the incessant din of preparation, which resounded by night as well as by day, along the intended line of the procession, constituted by themselves a scene of no ordinary animation and interest, and sustained the public mind in an unceasing stretch of expectation."
Some disappointment was experienced on the knowledge that the ancient custom of a royal banquet in Westminster Hall on the coronation day was to be dispensed with. But the loss was compensated by a procession—a modification of the old street pageant—on the occasion.
On the morning of the 28th of June the weather was not promising. It was cold for the season, and some rain fell; but the shower ceased, and the day proved fresh and bright, with sunshine gilding the darkest cloud. The Tower artillery awoke the heaviest City sleepers. It is needless to say a great concourse, in every variety of vehicle and on foot, streamed from east to west through the "gravelled" streets, lined with soldiers and policemen, before the barriers were put up. "The earth was alive with men," wrote an enthusiastic spectator; "the habitations in the line of march cast forth their occupants to the balconies or the house-tops; the windows were lifted out of their frames, and the asylum of private life, that sanctuary which our countrymen guard with such traditional jealousy, was on this occasion made accessible to the gaze of the entire world."
At ten o'clock the Queen left Buckingham Palace in the State coach, to the music of the National Anthem and a salute of guns, and passed beneath the Royal Standard hoisted on the marble arch. A marked feature of the procession was the magnificent carriages and escorts of the foreign ambassadors: the splendid uniform of the German Jagers delighted the populace. A deeper and subtler feeling was produced by the sight of one of Napoleon's marshals, Soult, Wellington's great adversary, rearing his white head in a coach the framework of which had belonged to the State carriage of the Prince de Conde, and figured in the beaux jours of Louis XVI. The consciousness that this worthy foe had come to do honour to the young Queen awoke a generous response from the crowd. Soult was cheered lustily along the whole route, and in the Abbey itself, so that he returned to France not only full of personal gratification at the welcome he had received, but strongly convinced of the goodwill of John Bull to Frenchmen in general. How the balls of destiny roll! Soult feted in London, Ney dead by a traitor's death, filling his nameless grave in Pere la Chaise. The procession, beginning with trumpeters and Life Guards, wound its way in relays of foreign ambassadors, members of the royal family and their suites—the Duchess of Kent first—the band of the Household Brigade, the Queen's bargemaster and her forty-eight watermen—honorary servants for many a day—twelve carriages with her Majesty's suite, a squadron of Life Guards, equerries, gentlemen riders and military officials, the royal huntsmen, yeomen-prickers, and foresters, six of her Majesty's horses, with rich trappings, each horse led by two grooms; the Knight-Marshal, marshalmen, Yeomen of the Guard, the State coach—drawn by eight cream-coloured horses, attended by a Yeoman of the Guard at each wheel, and two footmen at each door—the Gold Stick, Viscount Combermere, and the Captain of the Yeomen of the Guard, the Earl of Ilchester, riding on either side. In the coach sat the Queen, the Mistress of the Robes (the Duchess of Sutherland), the Master of the Horse (the Earl of Albemarle), and the Captain-General of the Royal Archers (the Duke of Buccleugh). The whole was wound up by a squadron of Life Guards. In this order of stately march, under the June sky, emerging from the green avenues of the park, the procession turned up Constitution Hill, traversed Piccadilly, St. James's Street, Pall Mall, Cockspur Street, and by Charing Cross, Whitehall, and Parliament Street, reached the west door of Westminster Abbey—
Where royal heads receive the sacred gold.
At the Abbey door, at half-past eleven, the Queen was received by the great officers of State, the noblemen bearing the regalia, the bishops carrying the patina, the chalice, and the Bible. Her Majesty proceeded to the robing-room, and there was a hush of expectation in the thronged interior, where the great persons who were to play a part in the ceremony and the privileged ticket-holders had been waiting patiently for long hours.
Underneath the galleries and below the platform were ranged lines of Foot Guards. The platform (under the central tower) was the most conspicuous object. It was covered with cloth of gold, and bore the chair of homage, or throne, facing the altar. Farther on, within the altar-rails, was "St. Edward's Chair," or the chair decorated by "William the Painter" for Edward. Enclosed within it is the "Stone of Destiny," or Fatal Stone of Scone—a sandy stone, supposed to have formed the pillow on which Jacob slept at Bethel, and long used in the coronation of the Scotch kings. In this chair all the kings of England, since the time of Edward I., have been crowned. The altar was covered with massive gold plate.
The galleries of the Abbey were arranged for the members of the House of Commons, the foreign ambassadors, the judges, Knights of the Bath, members of the Corporation, &c. &c. The floor of the transepts was occupied by benches for the peers and peeresses, who may be said to be in their glory at a coronation; the space behind them was for the ticket-holders.
Harriet Martineau has preserved some of the splendours and "humours" of the coronation with her usual clever power of observation and occasional caustic commentary. "The maids called me at half-past two that June morning, mistaking the clock. I slept no more, and rose at half-past three. As I began to dress the twenty-one guns were fired, which must have awakened all the sleepers in London. When the maid came to dress me she said numbers of ladies were already hurrying to the Abbey. I saw the grey old Abbey from the window as I dressed, and thought what would have gone forward within it before the sun set upon it. My mother had laid out her pearl ornaments for me. The feeling was very strange of dressing in crape, blonde, and pearls at five in the morning.... The sight of the rapidly filling Abbey was enough to go for. The stone architecture contrasted finely with the gay colours of the multitude. From my high seat I commanded the whole north transept, the area with the throne, and many portions of galleries, and the balconies which were called the vaultings. Except a mere sprinkling of oddities, everybody was in full dress. In the whole assemblage I counted six bonnets. The scarlet of the military officers mixed in well, and the groups of the clergy were dignified; but to an unaccustomed eye the prevalence of Court dresses had a curious effect. I was perpetually taking whole groups of gentlemen for Quakers till I recollected myself. The Earl-Marshal's assistants, called Gold Sticks, looked well from above, lightly fluttering about in white breeches, silk stockings, blue laced frocks, and white sashes. The throne—an arm-chair with a round back, covered, as was its footstool, with cloth of gold—stood on an elevation of four steps in the centre of the area. The first peeress took her seat in the north transept opposite, at a quarter before seven, and three of the bishops came next. From that time the peers and their ladies arrived faster and faster. Each peeress was conducted by two Gold Sticks, one of whom handed her to her seat, and the other bore and arranged her train on her lap, and saw that her coronet, footstool, and book were comfortably placed. I never saw anywhere so remarkable a contrast between youth and age as in these noble ladies." Miss Martineau proceeds to remark in the strongest and plainest terms on the unbecoming effect of full dress, with "hair drawn to the top of the head, to allow the putting on of the coronet" on these venerable matrons. She goes on to express her admiration of a later generation of peeresses. "The younger were as lovely as the aged were haggard.... About nine the first gleams of the sun slanted into the Abbey and presently travelled down to the peeresses. I had never before seen the full effect of diamonds. As the light travelled each peeress shone like a rainbow. The brightness, vastness, and dreamy magnificence of the scene produced a strange effect of exhaustion and sleepiness.... The great guns told when the Queen had set forth, and there was renewed animation. The Gold Sticks flitted about, there was tuning in the orchestra, and the foreign ambassadors and their suites arrived in quick succession. Prince Esterhazy crossing a bar of sunshine was the most prodigious rainbow of all. He was covered with diamonds and pearls, and as he dangled his hat it cast a dancing radiance all round.
"At half-past eleven the guns told that the Queen had arrived, but as there was much to be done in the robing-room, there was a long pause before she appeared."
A little after twelve the grand procession of the day entered the choir. The Prebendaries and Dean of Westminster and Officers-at-Arms, the Comptroller, Treasurer, Vice-Chamberlain, and Lord Steward of her Majesty's Household, the Lord Privy Seal, the Lord President, the Lord Chancellor of Ireland, came first. When these gentlemen were peers their coronets were carried by pages. The Treasurer bore the crimson bag with the medals; the Vice-Chancellor was attended by an officer from the Jewel Office, conveying, on a cushion, the ruby ring and the sword for the offering. Then followed the Archbishops of Canterbury, York, and Armagh, with the Lord Chancellor, each archbishop in his rochet, with his cap in his hand; the princesses of the blood royal, all in "robes of estate" of purple velvet and wearing circlets of gold; the Duchess of Cambridge, her train borne by Lady Caroline Campbell and a gentleman of her household, her coronet by Viscount Villiers; the Duchess of Kent, her train borne by Lady Flora Hastings, and her coronet by Viscount Morpeth; the Duchess of Gloucester, her train borne by Lady Caroline Legge, and her coronet by Viscount Evelyn. (The royal generation next that of George III. was fast dwindling away when these three ladies represented the six daughters and the wives of six of the sons of the old King and Queen. But there were other survivors, though they were not present to-day. The Queen-dowager; Princess Augusta, an aged woman of seventy; Princess Elizabeth, Landgravine of Hesse-Homburg, nearly as old, and absent in Germany; the Queen as well as the King of Hanover, who had figured formerly as Duke and Duchess of Cumberland; and Princess Sophia, who was ten years younger than Princess Augusta, and resident in England, but who was an invalid.) The regalia came next, St. Edward's staff, borne by the Duke of Roxburgh, the golden spurs borne by Lord Byron, the sceptre with the cross borne by the Duke of Cleveland, the third sword borne by the Marquis of Westminster, Curtana borne by the Duke of Devonshire, the second sword borne by the Duke of Sutherland, each nobleman's coronet carried by a page, Black Rod and Deputy-Garter walking before Lord Willoughby d'Eresby, Lord Great Chamberlain of England, with page and coronet.
The princes of the blood royal were reduced to two. The Duke of Cambridge, in his robe of estate, carrying his baton as Field-Marshal, his coronet borne by the Marquis of Granby, his train by Sir William Gomm; the Duke of Sussex, his coronet carried by Viscount Anson, his train by the Honourable Edward Gore.
The High Constable of Ireland, the Duke of Leinster; the High Constable of Scotland, the Earl of Errol, with their pages and coronets. The Earl-Marshal of England, the Duke of Norfolk, with his staff, attended by two pages; the sword of State, borne by Viscount Melbourne, with his page and coronet; the Lord High Constable of England, the Duke of Wellington, with his staff and baton as Field-Marshal, attended by two pages. The sceptre with the dove, borne by the Duke of Richmond, page and coronet; St. Edward's crown, borne by the Lord High Steward, the Duke of Hamilton, attended by two pages; the orb, borne by the Duke of Somerset, page and coronet. The patina, borne by the Bishop of Bangor; the Bible, borne by the Bishop of Winchester; the chalice, borne by the Bishop of London.
At last the Queen entered, walking between the Bishops of Bath and Wells and Durham, with Gentlemen-at-Arms on each side. She was now a royal maiden of nineteen, with a fair, pleasant face, a slight figure, rather small in stature, but showing a queenly carriage, especially in the pose of the throat and head. She wore a royal robe of crimson velvet furred with ermine and bordered with gold lace. She had on the collars of her orders. Like the other princesses, she wore a gold circlet on her head. Her train was borne by eight "beautiful young ladies," as Sir David Wilkie called them, all dressed alike, some of them destined to officiate again as the Queen's bridesmaids, when the loveliness of the group attracted general attention and admiration. These noble damsels were Lady Adelaide Paget, Lady Fanny Cowper, Lady Anne Wentworth Fitzwilliam, Lady Mary Grimston, Lady Caroline Gordon Lennox, Lady Mary Talbot, Lady Catherine Stanhope, Lady Louisa Jenkinson. The Ladies of her Majesty's Household came next in order, the Duchess of Sutherland, the Mistress of the Robes, walking first, followed by Lady Lansdowne as first Lady of the Bed-chamber. Other ladies of the Bed-chamber, whose names were long familiar in association with that of the Queen, included Ladies Charlemont, Lyttelton, Portman, Tavistock, Mulgrave, and Barham. The Maids of Honour bore names once equally well known in the Court Circular, while the office brought with it visions of old historic Maids prominent in Court gossip, and revealed to this day possibilities of sprightliness reined in by Court etiquette, and innocent little scrapes condoned by royal graciousness and kindness. The Maids of Honour at the Queen's coronation were the Honourable Misses Margaret Dillon, Cavendish, Lister, Spring Rice, Harriet Pitt, Caroline Cocks, Matilda Paget, and Murray. One has heard and read less of the Women of the Bed-chamber, noble ladies also, no doubt, but by the time the superb procession reached them, with the gathering up of the whole in Goldsticks, Captains of the Royal Archers, of the Yeomen of the Guard, of the Gentlemen-at-Arms, though pages and coronets still abounded, the strained attention could take in no more accessories, but was fain to return to the principal figure in the pageant, and dwell with all eyes on her.
"The Queen looked extremely well, and had an animated countenance." The scene within the choir on her entrance was so gorgeous, that, it is said, even the Turkish Ambassador, accustomed we should say to gorgeousness, stopped short in astonishment. As the Queen advanced slowly toward the centre of the choir, she was received with hearty plaudits, everybody rising, the anthem, "I was glad," sung by the musicians, ringing through the Abbey. "At the close of the anthem, the Westminster boys (who occupied seats at the extremity of the lower galleries on the northern and southern sides of the choir) chanted Vivat Victoria Regina. The Queen moved towards a chair placed midway between the chair of homage and the altar, on the carpeted space before described, which is called the theatre." Here she knelt down on a faldstool set for her before her chair, and used some private prayers. She then took her seat in the chair and the ceremonial proceeded.
First came "the Recognition" by the Archbishop of Canterbury, who advanced to the Queen, accompanied by the Lord Chancellor, the Lord Chamberlain, the Lord High Constable, and the Earl-Marshal, preceded by the Deputy-Garter, and repeated these words: "Sirs, I here present unto you Queen Victoria, the undoubted Queen of this realm, wherefore all you who are come this day to do your homage, are you willing to do the same?" Then burst forth the universal cry from the portion of her Majesty's subjects present, "God save Queen Victoria." The Archbishop, turning to the north, south, and west sides of the Abbey, repeated, "God save Queen Victoria," the Queen turning at the same time in the same direction.
"The Bishops who bore the patina, Bible, and chalice in the procession, placed the same on the altar. The Archbishop of Canterbury and the Bishops who were to read the Litany put on their copes. The Queen, attended by the Bishops of Durham and Bath and Wells, and the Dean of Westminster, with the great officers of State and noblemen bearing the regalia, advanced to the altar, and, kneeling upon the crimson velvet cushion, made her first offering, being a pall or altar-cloth of gold, which was delivered by an officer of the Wardrobe to the Lord Chamberlain, by his lordship to the Lord Great Chamberlain, and by him to the Queen, who delivered it to the Archbishop of Canterbury, by whom it was placed on the altar. The Treasurer of the Household then delivered an ingot of gold, of one pound weight, to the Lord Great Chamberlain, who having presented the same to the Queen, her Majesty delivered it to the Archbishop, by whom it was put into the oblation basin.
"The Archbishop delivered a prayer in the prescribed form. The regalia were laid on the altar by the Archbishop. The great officers of State, except the Lord Chamberlain, retired to their respective places, and the Bishops of Worcester and St. David's read the Litany. Then followed the Communion service, read by the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Bishops of Rochester and Carlisle. The Bishop of London preached the sermon from the following text, in the Second Book of Chronicles, chapter xxxiv. verse 31: 'And the king stood in his place, and made a covenant before the Lord, to walk after the Lord, and to keep his commandments, and his testimonies, and his statutes, with all his heart, and with all his soul, to perform the words of the covenant which are written in this book.'
"In the course of his sermon from this text, the Bishop praised the late king for his unfeigned religion, and exhorted his youthful successor to follow in his footsteps. At the conclusion of the sermon 'the oath' was administered to the Queen by the Archbishop of Canterbury. The form of swearing was as follows: The Archbishop put certain questions, which the Queen answered in the affirmative, relative to the maintenance of the law and the established religion; and then her Majesty, with the Lord Chamberlain and other officers, the sword of State being carried before her, went to the altar, and laying her right hand upon the Gospels in the Bible carried in the procession, and now brought to her by the Archbishop of Canterbury, said, kneeling:
"'The things which I have here before promised I will perform and keep. So help me God.'
"The Queen kissed the book and signed a transcript of the oath presented to her by the Archbishop. She then kneeled upon her faldstool, and the choir sang 'Veni, Creator, Spiritus.'
"'The Anointing' was the next part of the ceremony. The Queen sat in King Edward's chair; four Knights of the Garter—the Dukes of Buccleugh and Rutland, and the Marquesses of Anglesea and Exeter—held a rich cloth of gold over her head; the Dean of Westminster took the ampulla from the altar, and poured some of the oil it contained into the anointing spoon, then the Archbishop anointed the head and hands of the Queen, marking them in the form of a cross, and pronouncing the words, 'Be thou anointed with holy oil, as kings, priests, and prophets were anointed; and as Solomon was anointed king by Zadok the priest, and Nathan the prophet, so be you anointed, blessed, and consecrated Queen over this people, whom the Lord your God hath given you to rule and govern, in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost, Amen.'
"The Archbishop then said the blessing over her.
"The spurs were presented by the Lord Chamberlain, and the sword of State by Viscount Melbourne, who, however, according to custom, redeemed it with a hundred shillings, and carried it during the rest of the ceremony. Then followed the investing with the 'royal robes and the delivery of the orb,' and the 'investiture per annulum et baculum,' by the ring and sceptre.
"The Coronation followed. The Archbishop of Canterbury offered a prayer to God to bless her Majesty and crown her with all princely virtues. The Dean of Westminster took the crown from the altar, and the Archbishop of Canterbury, with the Archbishops of York and Armagh, the Bishops of London, Durham, and other Prelates, advanced towards the Queen, and the Archbishop taking the crown from the Dean reverently placed it on the Queen's head. This was no sooner done than from every part of the crowded edifice arose a loud and enthusiastic cry of 'God save the Queen,' mingled with lusty cheers, and accompanied by the waving of hats and handkerchiefs. At this moment, too, the Peers and Peeresses present put on their coronets, the Bishops their caps, and the Kings-of-Arms their crowns; the trumpets sounding, the drums beating, and the Tower and park guns firing by signal."
Harriet Martineau, who, like most of the mere spectators, failed to see and hear a good deal of the ceremony, was decidedly impressed at this point. "The acclamation when the crown was put on her head was very animating; and in the midst of it, in an instant of time, the Peeresses were all coroneted—all but the fair creature already described." The writer refers to an earlier paragraph in which she had detailed a small catastrophe that broke in upon the harmonious perfection of the scene. "One beautiful creature, with transcendent complexion and form, and coils upon coils of light hair, was terribly embarrassed about her coronet; she had apparently forgotten that her hair must be disposed with a view to it, and the large braids at the back would in no way permit the coronet to keep on. She and her neighbours tugged vehemently at her braids, and at last the thing was done after a manner, but so as to spoil the wonderful effect of the self-coroneting of the Peeresses."
To see "the Enthronement," the energetic Norwich woman stood on the rail behind her seat, holding on by another rail. But first "the Bible was presented by the Archbishop of Canterbury to the Queen, who delivered it again to the Archbishop, and it was replaced on the altar by the Dean of Westminster.
"The Benediction was delivered by the Archbishop, and the Te Deum sung by the choir. At the commencement of the Te Deum the Queen went to the chair which she first occupied, supported by two Bishops; she was then 'enthroned,' or 'lifted,' as the formulary states, into the chair of homage by the Archbishops, Bishops, and Peers surrounding her Majesty. The Queen delivered the sceptre with the cross to the Lord of the Manor of Worksop (the Duke of Norfolk), and the sceptre with the stone to the Duke of Richmond, to hold during the performance of the ceremony of homage. The Archbishop of Canterbury knelt and did homage for himself and other Lords Spiritual, who all kissed the Queen's hand. The Dukes of Sussex and Cambridge, removing their coronets, did homage in these words:—
"'I do become your liege man of life and limb, and of earthly worship; and faith and truth I will bear unto you, to live and die, against all manner of folks, so help me God.'
"They touched the crown on the Queen's head, kissed her left cheek, and then retired. It was observed that her Majesty's bearing towards her uncles was very kind and affectionate. The Dukes and other Peers then performed their homage, the senior of each rank pronouncing the words; as they retired each Peer kissed her Majesty's hand. The Duke of Wellington, Earl Grey, and Lord Melbourne were loudly cheered as they ascended the steps to the throne. Lord Rolle, "who was upwards of eighty, stumbled and fell on going up the steps. The Queen immediately stepped forward and held out her hand to assist him, amidst the loudly expressed admiration of the entire assembly."
"While the Lords were doing homage, the Earl of Surrey, Treasurer of the Household, threw coronation medals, in silver, about the choir and lower galleries, which were scrambled for with great eagerness.
"At the conclusion of the homage the choir sang the anthem, 'This is the day which the Lord hath made.' The Queen received the two sceptres from the Dukes of Norfolk and Richmond; the drums beat, the trumpets sounded, and the assembly cried out—'God save Queen Victoria!'" [Footnote: Annual Register.]
Harriet Martineau, from her elevated perch, says, "Her small dark crown looked pretty, and her mantle of cloth of gold very regal; she, herself, looked so small as to appear puny." (At a later stage of the proceedings the same keen critic notes that the enormous train borne by her ladies made the figure of the Queen look still less than it really was.) "The homage was as pretty a sight as any: trains of Peers touching her crown, and then kissing her hand. It was in the midst of that process that poor Lord Rolle's disaster sent a shock through the whole assemblage. It turned me very sick. The large infirm old man was held up by two Peers, and had nearly reached the royal footstool when he slipped through the hands of his supporters, and rolled over and over down the steps, lying at the bottom coiled up in his robes. He was instantly lifted up, and he tried again and again, amidst shouts of admiration of his valour. The Queen at length spoke to Lord Melbourne, who stood at her shoulder, and he bowed approval; on which she rose, leaned forward, and held out her hand to the old man, dispensing with his touching the crown. He was not hurt, and his self-quizzing on his misadventure was as brave as his behaviour at the time. A foreigner in London gravely reported to his own countrymen, what he entirely believed on the word of a wag, that the Lords Rolle held their title on the condition of performing the feat at every coronation."
Sir David Wilkie, who was present at the coronation, wrote simply, "The Queen looked most interesting, calm, and unexcited; and as she sat upon the chair with the crown on, the sun shone from one of the windows bright upon her."
Leslie, another painter who witnessed the scene, remarked, "I was very near the altar, and the chair on which the Queen was crowned, when she signed the coronation oath. I could see that she wrote a large, bold hand.... I don't know why, but the first sight of her in her robes brought tears into my eyes, and it had this effect on many people; she looked almost like a child."
"The Archbishop of Canterbury then went to the altar. The Queen followed him, and giving the Lord Chamberlain her crown to hold, knelt down at the altar. The Gospel and Epistle of the Communion service having been read by the Bishops, the Queen made her offering of the chalice and patina, and a purse of gold, which were laid on the altar. Her Majesty received the sacrament kneeling on her faldstool by the chair."
Leslie afterwards painted this part of the ceremony for her Majesty. In his picture are several details which are not given elsewhere. The Peers and Peeresses who had crowned themselves simultaneously with the coronation of the Queen, removed their crowns when she laid aside hers. Among the gentlemen of the royal family was the Duc de Nemours.
After receiving the communion, the Queen put on her crown, "and with her sceptres in her hands, took her seat again upon the throne. The Archbishop of Canterbury proceeded with the Communion service and pronounced the final blessing. The choir sang the anthem, 'Hallelujah! for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth.' The Queen then left the throne, and attended by two Bishops and noblemen bearing the regalia and swords of State, passed into King Edward's chapel, the organ playing. The Queen delivered the sceptre with the dove to the Archbishop of Canterbury, who laid it on the altar. She was then disrobed of her imperial robe of State and arrayed in her royal robe of purple velvet by the Lord Chamberlain. The Archbishop placed the orb in her left hand. The gold spurs and St. Edward's staff were delivered by the noblemen who bore them to the Dean of Westminster, who placed them on the altar. The Queen then went to the west door of the Abbey wearing her crown, the sceptre with the cross being in the right and the orb in the left hand.... It was about a quarter to four o'clock when the royal procession passed through the nave, in the same order as before, at the conclusion of the ceremony in the Abbey."
The coronation lasted three hours, and must have been attended with great fatigue of mind and body to the young girl who bore the burden of the honours. Even the mere spectators, who, to be sure, had been in their places from dawn of day, the moment the stimulus of excitement was removed, awoke to their desperate weariness. "I watched her (the Queen) out at the doors," said Harriet Martineau, "and then became aware how fearfully fatigued I was. I never remember anything like it. While waiting in the passages and between the barriers, several ladies sat or lay down on the ground. I did not like to sink down in dust half a foot deep, to the spoiling of my dress and the loss of my self-respect, but it was really a terrible waiting till my brothers appeared at the end of the barrier."
But the day's business was not ended for the great world, high and low. The return of the procession, though the line was broken, had the special attraction that the Queen wore her crown, and the Peers and Peeresses their coronets. The Queen's crown was a mass of brilliants, relieved here and there by a large ruby or emerald, encircling a purple velvet cap. Among the stories told of the coronation, foremost and favourite of which was the misadventure of poor Lord Rolle, and the pretty gentle way in which the young Queen did her best to help the sufferer; an incident was reported which might have had its foundation in the difficulties described by Miss Martineau as besetting the fair Peeress in the Abbey. It was said that the Queen's crown was too cumbrous, and disturbed the arrangement of those soft braids of hair, the simple, modest fashion of which called forth Sir David Wilkie's praise, and that as her Majesty drove along in her State carriage, she was seen laughingly submitting to the good offices of her beautiful companion seeking with soft hands to loop up afresh the rebellious locks which had broken loose. Leslie, from whom we have already quoted, gives an anecdote of the Queen on her coronation-day, which serves at least to show how deeply the youthfulness of their sovereign was impressed on the public mind. He had been informed that she was very fond of dogs, and that she possessed a favourite little spaniel which was always on the look-out for her. She had been away from him longer than usual on this particular day. When the State coach drove up to the palace on her return, she heard his bark of joy in the hall. She cried, "There's Dash!" and seemed to forget crown and sceptre in her girlish eagerness to greet her small friend. [Footnote: In the list of Sir Edwin Landseer's pictures there is one, the property of the Queen, which was painted in 1838. It includes "Hector," "Nero," "Dash," and "Lorey" (dogs and parrot).]
In spite of the ordeal her Majesty had undergone, she entertained a party of a hundred to dinner, and witnessed from the roof of Buckingham Palace the grand display of fireworks in the Green Park and the general illumination of London. The Duke of Wellington gave a ball at Apsley House, followed next day by official dinners on the part of the Cabinet ministers. The festivities lasted for more than a week in the metropolis. Prominent among them was a fancy fair held for the space of four days in Hyde Park, and visited by the Queen in person. On the 9th of July, a fine, hot day there was a review in Hyde Park. The Queen appeared soon after eleven in an open barouche, with her aides-de-camp in full uniform. The Dukes of Cambridge and Wellington, the Duc de Nemours, Marshal Soult, Prince Esterhazy, Prince Schwartzenburg, Count Stragonoff, were present amidst a great crowd. The Queen was much cheered. The country's old gallant foe, Soult, was again hailed with enthusiasm, though there was just a shade of being exultingly equal to the situation, in the readiness with which, on his having the misfortune to break a stirrup, a worthy firm of saddlers came forward with a supply of the stirrups which Napoleon had used in one of his campaigns. And there might have been something significant to the visitor, in the rapturous greeting which was bestowed on the Iron Duke, round whose erect, impassive figure the multitude pressed, the nearest men and women defying his horse's hoofs and stretching up to shake hands with "the Conquering Hero" amidst a thunder of applause.
The rejoicings pervaded every part of the country from John o' Groat's to Land's End, from the Scilly Isles to Sark. There was merry-making among the English residents in every foreign place, as far as the great colonies in the still remote continents.
To many simple people the Queen did not seem to reign, hardly to exist, till she had put on her crown and taken up her sceptre. It was to do the first honour to their youthful liege lady that June garlands were swung over every village street, bonfires gleamed like carbuncles on mountain cairns, frightening the hill foxes, or lit up the coast-line and were flung back in broken reflections from the tossing waves, scaring the very fish in the depths of the sea, where hardy islanders had kindled the token on some rock of the ocean.
Pen and pencil were soon busy with the great event of the season. Elizabeth Barrett Browning wrote later:—
The Minster was alight that day, but not with fire, I ween, And long-drawn glitterings swept adown that mighty aisled scene; The priests stood stoled in their pomp, the sworded chiefs in theirs, And so the collared knights—and so the civil ministers; And so the waiting lords and dames—and little pages best At holding trains—and legates so, from countries east and west; So alien princes, native peers, and high-born ladies bright Along whose brows the Queen's new crown'd, flashed coronets to light. And so, the people at the gates, with priestly hands on high, Which bring the first anointing to all legal majesty; And so, the Dead—who lay in rows beneath the Minster floor, There verily an awful state maintaining evermore— The statesman, with no Burleigh nod, whate'er court tricks may be; The courtier, who, for no fair Queen, will rise up to his knee; The court-dame, who for no court tire will leave her shroud behind; The laureate, who no courtlier rhymes than "dust to dust" can find; The kings and queens who having ta'en that vow and worn that crown, Descended unto lower thrones and darker, deeper adown; "Dieu et mon Droit," what is't to them? what meaning can it have? The king of kings, the dust of dust—God's judgment and the grave. And when betwixt the quick and dead the young fair Queen had vowed, The living shouted, "May she live! Victoria, live!" aloud, And as these loyal shouts went up, true spirits prayed between, The blessings happy monarchs have, be thine, O Crowned Queen!
In the autumn and winter of 1838 Leslie went down to Windsor to get sittings for his picture of the coronation. He had been presented to the Queen on her first visit to the Academy after her accession, as he mentions in one of his pleasant letters to his kindred in America. He was now to come into nearer contact with royalty. He slept at the Castle Inn, Windsor, and went up daily to the Castle. If he found her Majesty and any other sitter engaged, he improved the occasion by copying two of the Queen's fine Dutch pictures, a De Hooghe and a Nicholas Maas. He wrote his experience to his wife in London, and his sister in America. To the latter he said, "I came here on the 29th of last month by appointment to have a sitting of the Queen, and with little expectation of having more than one.... I have been here ever since, with the exception of a day or two in town (I perform the journey in an hour by the railroad), and the Queen has sat five times. She is now so far satisfied with the likeness, that she does not wish me to touch it again. She sat not only for the face, but for as much as is seen of the figure, and for the hands with the coronation-ring on her finger. Her hands, by-the-bye, are very pretty, the backs dimpled, and the fingers delicately shaped. She was particular also in having her hair dressed exactly as she wore it at the ceremony, every time she sat. She has suggested an alteration in the composition of the picture, and I suppose she thinks it like the scene, for she asked me where I sat, and said, 'I suppose you made a sketch on the spot.'
"The Duchess of Kent and Lord Melbourne are now sitting to me, and last week I had sittings of Lord Conyngham and Lady Fanny Cowper [Footnote: Daughter of a beautiful and popular mother, Lady Palmerston, by her first husband, Earl Cowper.] (a very beautiful girl, and one of the Queen's train-bearers), who was here for a few days on a visit to her Majesty. Every day lunch is sent to me, which, as it is always very plentiful and good, I generally make my dinner. The best of wine is sent in a beautiful little decanter, with a V.R. and the crown engraved on it, and the table-cloth and napkins have the royal arms and other insignia on them as a pattern.
"I have two very good friends at the Castle—one of the pages, and a little man who lights the fires. The Queen's pages are not little boys in green, but tall and stout gentlemen from forty to fifty years of age. My friend (Mr. Batchelor) was a page in the time of George III, and was then twenty years old; George IV died in his arms, he says, in a room adjoining the one I am painting in. Mr. Batchelor comes into the room whenever there is nobody there, and admires the picture to my heart's content. My other friend, the fire-lighter, is extremely like Peter Powell, only a size larger. He also greatly admires the picture; he confesses he knows nothing about the robes, and can't say whether they are like or not, but he pronounces the Queen's likeness excellent." [Footnote: Leslie's Autobiography.]
CHAPTER VI. THE MAIDEN QUEEN.
When the great event of the coronation was over the Queen was left to fulfil the heavy demands of business and the concluding gaieties of the season. It comes upon us with a little pathetic shock, to think of one whom we have long known chiefly in the chastened light of the devoted unflagging worker at her high calling, of our lady of sorrows, as a merry girl—girl-like in her fondness, in spite of her noble nature and the serious claims she did not neglect, of a racket of perpetual excitement. We read of her as going everywhere, as the blithest and most indefatigable dancer in her ball-room, dancing out a pair of slippers before the night was over; we hear how reluctant she was to leave town, how eager to return to it.
Inevitably the old and dear friends most interested in her welfare were now regarding this critical period in the Queen's career with anxious eyes. In looking back upon it in after life, she has frankly and gravely acknowledged its pitfalls; "a worse school for a young girl, or one more detrimental to all natural feeling and affection, cannot well be imagined, than the position of a queen at eighteen, without experience, and without a husband to guide and support her. This the Queen can state from painful experience, and she thanks God that none of her dear daughters are exposed to such danger."
The King of the Belgians sought to abridge the period of probation by renewing the project of the worthy marriage to which his niece had been well inclined two years before. But either from the natural coyness and the strain of perversity which are the privilege and the danger of girlhood, or simply because, as she has, stated, "the sudden change from the secluded life at Kensington to the independence of her position as Queen Regnant, at the age of eighteen, put all ideas of marriage out of her head," the bride in prospect demurred. She declared, with the unhesitating decision of her age, that she had no thought of marriage for years to come. She objected, with some show of reason, that both she and Prince Albert were too young, and that it would be better for him to have a little more time to perfect his English education.
The princely cousin who had won her first girlish affections, and the tender sweetness of love in the bud, were by no means forgotten. The idea of marriage never crossed the Queen's mind without his image presenting itself, she has said, and she never thought of herself as wedded to any other man. But every woman, be she Queen or beggar-maid, craves to exercise one species of power at one era of her life. It is her prerogative, and though the ruth of love may live to regret it, and to grudge every passing pang inflicted, half wilfully half unwittingly, on the true heart, it may be questioned whether love would flourish better, whether it would attain its perfect stature, without the test of the brief check and combat for mastery.
But if a woman desires to prove her power, a man cannot be expected to welcome the soft tyranny; the more manly, the more sensitive he is, the more it vexes and wounds him. Here the circumstances were specially trying, and while we have ample sympathy with the young Queen—standing out as much in archness as in imperiousness for a prolonged wooing—we have also sympathy to spare for the young Prince, with manly dignity and a little indignant pain, resisting alike girlish volatility and womanly despotism, asserting what was only right and reasonable, that he could not wait much longer for her to make up her mind—great queen and dear cousin though she might be. It was neither just nor generous that he should be kept hanging on in a condition of mortifying uncertainty, with the risk of his whole life being spoilt, after it was too late to guard against it, by a final refusal on her part. That the Queen had in substance made up her mind is proved by the circumstance that it was by her wish, and in accordance with her written instructions—of which, however, Prince Albert seems to have been ignorant—that Baron Stockmar, on quitting England in 1838, joined the Prince, who had just endured the trial of being separated from his elder brother, with whom he had been brought up in the closest and most brotherly relations, so that the two had never been a day apart during the whole of their previous lives. Prince Albert was to travel in Italy, and Baron Stockmar and Sir Francis (then Lieutenant) Seymour were appointed his travelling companions, visiting with him, during what proved a happy tour, Rome and Naples.
At home, where Baroness Lehzen retained the care of purely personal matters and played her part in non-political affairs and non-political correspondence, Lord Melbourne, with his tact and kindness, discharged the remaining offices of a private secretary. But things did not go altogether well. Party feeling was stronger than ever. The Queen's household was mainly of Whig materials, but there were exceptions, and the lady who had borne the train of the Duchess of Kent at the coronation belonged to a family which had become Tory in politics.
Lady Flora Hastings was a daughter of the Marquis of Hastings and of Flora, Countess of Loudoun, in her own right. The Countess of Loudoun in her youth chose for her husband Earl Moira, one of the plainest-looking and most gallant officers in the British army. The parting shortly after their marriage, in order that he might rejoin his regiment on active service, was the occasion of the popular Scotch song, by Tannahill, "Bonnie Loudoun's woods and braes." Earl Moira, created Marquis of Hastings, had a distinguished career as a soldier and statesman, especially as Governor-General of India. When he was Governor-General of Malta he died far from Loudoun's woods and braes, and was buried in the little island; but in compliance with an old promise to his wife, who long survived him, that their dust should rest together, he directed that after death his right hand should be cut off, enclosed in a casket, and conveyed to the family vault beneath the church of Loudoun, where the mortal remains of his widow would lie.
Lady Flora Hastings was good, clever and accomplished, dearly loved by her family and friends. But whether she, nevertheless, possessed capabilities of offending her companions in office at Court; whether her conduct in any respect rebuked theirs, and provoked dislike, suspicion, and a desire to find her in the wrong; whether the calamity was sheerly due to that mortal meanness in human nature, which tempts people not otherwise unworthy to receive the most unlikely and injurious evil report of their neighbour, on the merest presumptive evidence, the unhappy sequel remains the same. Lady Flora had been attacked by an illness which caused so great a change in her personal appearance, as to lend colour to a whispered charge that she had been secretly guilty of worse than levity of conduct. The cruel whisper once breathed, it certainly became the duty of every person in authority round a young and maiden Queen to guard her Court jealously from the faintest suspicion of such a reproach. The fault lay with those who uttered the shameful charge on slight and, as it proved, totally mistaken inferences.
When the accusation reached the ears of Lady Flora—last of all, no doubt—the brave daughter of a brave man welcomed such a medical examination as must prove her innocence beyond dispute. Her name and fame were triumphantly cleared, but the distress and humiliation she had suffered accelerated the progress of her malady, and she died shortly afterwards, passionately lamented by her friends. They sought fruitlessly to bring punishment on the accusers, which could not be done since there was no evidence of deliberate insincerity and malice on the part of the circulators of the scandal. The blame of the disastrous gossip fell on two of the Whig Ladies of the Bed-chamber; and just before the sad climax, the other event, which angry Tory eyes magnified to the dignity of a conspiracy, drew double attention to both catastrophes.
In May, 1839, the Whig Government had been defeated in a crucial measure, and the ministry under the leadership of Lord Melbourne resigned office. The Queen sent for the Duke of Wellington, and he recommended that Sir Robert Peel should be called upon to form a new Cabinet. It was the first time that the Queen had experienced a change of Ministers, and she was naturally dismayed at the necessity, and reluctant to part with the friend who had lent her such aid on her accession, whom she trusted implicitly, who in the requirements of his office had been in daily communication with her for the last two years. In her interview with Sir Robert Peel, who in his shyness and constraint appeared to have far fewer personal recommendations for a young Queen's counsellor, she told him with a simple and girlish frankness that she was sorry to have to part with her late Minister, of whose conduct she entirely approved, but that she bowed to constitutional usage. [Footnote: Justin Macarthy.] Sir Robert took the impulsive speech in the straightforward spirit in which it was spoken, while time was to show such a good understanding and cordial regard established between the Queen and her future servant, as has rarely been surpassed in the relations of sovereigns and their advisers. But in the meanwhile a contretemps, which was more than half a blunder, occurred. "The negotiations went on very smoothly as to the colleagues Peel meant to recommend to her Majesty, until he happened to notice the composition of the royal household, as regarded the ladies most closely in attendance on the Queen. For example, he found that the wife of Lord Normanby and the sister of Lord Morpeth were the two ladies in closest attendance on her Majesty. Now it has to be borne in mind—it was proclaimed again and again during the negotiations—that the chief difficulty of the Conservatives would necessarily be in Ireland, where their policy would be altogether opposed to that of the Whigs. Lord Normanby had been Lord Lieutenant of Ireland under the Whigs, and Lord Morpeth, whom we can all remember as the amiable and accomplished Lord Carlisle of later time, Irish Secretary. It certainly would not be satisfactory for Peel to try to work a new Irish policy, whilst the closest household companions of the Queen were the wife and sister of the displaced statesmen, who directly represented the policy he had to supersede. Had this point of view been made clear to the sovereign at first, it is hardly possible that any serious difficulty could have arisen. The Queen must have seen the obvious reasonableness of Peel's request, nor is it to be supposed that the two ladies in question could have desired to hold their places under such circumstances. But unluckily some misunderstanding took place at the very beginning of the conversations on this point. Peel only desired to press for the retirement of the ladies holding the higher offices, [Footnote: This has been the rule in subsequent changes of Ministry.] he did not intend to ask for any change affecting a place lower in official rank than that of Lady of the Bed-chamber. But somehow or other he conveyed to the mind of the Queen a different idea. She thought he meant to insist as a matter of principle upon the removal of all her familiar attendants and household associates. Under this impression she consulted Lord John Russell, who advised her on what he understood to be the facts. On his advice the Queen stated in reply, that she could not "consent to a course which she conceives to be contrary to usage, and is repugnant to her feelings." Sir Robert Peel held firm to his stipulation, and the chance of his then forming a Ministry was at an end. Lord Melbourne and his colleagues had to be recalled, and at a Cabinet meeting they adopted a minute declaring it "reasonable, that the great offices of the Court, and situations in the household held by members of Parliament, should be included in the political arrangements made on a change in the Administration; but they are not of opinion that a similar principle should be applied or extended to the offices held by ladies in her Majesty's household."