The same thoughtful observer was present when the King of Prussia saw the Queen open Parliament. "February, 1842, Thursday. The opening of the Parliament was the thing from which I expected most, and I was not disappointed; the throngs in the streets, in the windows, in every place people could stand upon, all looking so pleased; the splendid Horse Guards, the Grenadiers of the Guard—of whom might be said as the King said on another occasion—'An appearance so fine, you know not how to believe it true;' the Yeomen of the Body Guard; then in the House of Lords, the Peers in their robes, the beautifully-dressed ladies with very many beautiful faces; lastly, the procession of the Queen's entry and herself, looking worthy and fit to be the converging-point of so many rays of grandeur. It is self-evident that she is not tall, but were she ever so tall, she could not have more grace and dignity, a head better set, a throat better arching; and one advantage there is in her looks when she casts a glance, being of necessity cast up and not down, that the effect of the eyes is not lost, and they have an effect both bright and pleasing. The composure with which she filled the throne while awaiting the Commons, I much admired—it was a test, no fidget, no apathy. Then her voice and enunciation cannot be more perfect. In short it could not be said that she did well, but that she was the Queen—she was, and felt herself to be, the descendant of her ancestors. Stuffed in by her Majesty's mace-bearers, and peeping over their shoulders, I was enabled to struggle down the emotions I felt, at thinking what mighty pages in the world's history were condensed in the words so impressively uttered by that soft and feminine voice. Peace and war—the fate of millions—relations and exertions of power felt to the extremities of the globe! Alterations of corn-laws, birth of a future sovereign, with what should it close, but the heartfelt aspiration, God bless her and guide her for her sake, and the sake of all."
Lady Bloomfield, who was also present, mentions that when the Queen had finished speaking and descended from the throne, she turned to the King of Prussia and made him a low curtsey. The same eye-witness refers to one of the "beautiful faces" which Madame Bunsen remarked; it was that of one of the loveliest and most accomplished women of her time: "Miss Stewart (afterwards Marchioness of Waterford) was there, looking strikingly handsome. She wore a turquoise, blue velvet which was very becoming, and she was like one of the Madonnas she is so fond of painting."
The Queen and the Prince's hearts were gladdened this spring by the news of the approaching marriage of his brother, Prince Ernest, to Princess Alexandrine of Baden. In a family so united such intelligence awoke the liveliest sympathy. The Queen wrote eagerly on the subject to her uncle, and the uncle of the bridegroom, King Leopold. "My heart is full, very full of this marriage; it brings back so many recollections of our dear betrothal—as Ernest was with us all the time and longed for similar happiness... I have entreated Ernest to pass his honeymoon with us, and I beg you to urge him to do it, for he witnessed our happiness and we must therefore witness his."
There were warm wishes for Prince Albert's presence at the ceremony at Carlsruhe on the 3rd of May; but though his inclination coincided with these wishes, he believed there were grave reasons for his remaining in England, and, as was usual with him, inclination yielded to duty. The times were full of change and excitement. The people were suffering. Rioting had occurred in the mining districts, both in England and Scotland. Lord Shaftesbury, then Lord Ashley, a champion of hard-pressed humanity, was able to obtain an Act of Parliament which redeemed women from the degradation and slavery of their work as beasts of burden in the mines, and he was pushing forward his "Factories Bill," to release little children from the unchildlike length of small labour, which was required from them in mills. The Anti-corn Law League was stirring up the country through its length and breadth. The twin names of Cobden and Bright, men of the people, were becoming associated everywhere with eloquent persistent appeals for "Free Trade"—cheap bread to starving multitudes. Fears were entertained of the attitude of the Chartists. The true state of matters in Afghanistan began to break on the public. America was sore on what she considered the tampering with her flag in the interests of the abolition of the slave trade. Sir Robert Peel's income-tax, in order to replenish an ill-filled exchequer, was pending. Notwithstanding, the season was a gay one, though the gaiety might be a little forced in some quarters. Certainly an underlying motive was an anxious effort to promote trade by a succession of "dinners, concerts, and balls."
One famous ball is almost historical. It is still remembered as "the Queen's Plantagenet Ball." It was a very artistic and wonderfully perfect revival, for one night at Buckingham Palace, of the age of Chaucer and the Court of Edward III. and Queen Philippa.
Nothing could exceed the enthusiasm with which the idea was taken up in the great world. All aristocratic London set themselves to study the pages of Chaucer and Froissart. At the same time, though the Court was to be that of Edward III and his Queen, no limit was put to the periods and nationalities to be selected by the guests. The ball was to be a masque, and perhaps it would have lost a little of its motley charm had it been confined entirely to one age in history, and to one country of the world. A comical petition had to be presented, that the masquers might remain covered before the Queen, lest the doffing of hats should cause the displacement of wigs.
The great attraction lay in the fact that not only did her Majesty represent one of her predecessors, an ancestress however remote, but that many of the guests were enabled to follow her example. They appeared—some in the very armour of their forefathers, others in costumes copied from family pictures, or in the dress of hereditary offices still held by the representatives of the ancient houses. For it was the sons and daughters of the great nobles of England that held high revelry in Buckingham Palace that night. There was an additional picturesqueness, as well as a curious vividness, lent to the pageant by the circumstance that in many cases the blood of the men and the women represented ran in the veins of the performers in the play.
The wildest rumours of the extent and cost of the ball circulated beforehand. It was said that eighteen thousand persons were engaged in it. The Earl of Pembroke was to wear thirty-thousand pounds' worth of diamonds—the few diamonds in his hat alone would be of the value of eighteen thousand pounds. He was to borrow ten thousand pounds' worth of diamonds from Storr and Mortimer at one per cent, for the night. These great jewellers' stores were reported to be exhausted. Every other jeweller and diamond merchant was in the same condition. It almost seemed as if the Prince of Esterhazy must be outdone, even though the report of his losses from falling stones on the Coronation-day had risen to two thousand pounds. One lady boasted that she would not give less than a thousand pounds for her dress alone. Lord Chesterfield's costume was to cost eight hundred pounds. Plain dresses could not be got under two hundred; the very commonest could not be bought under fifty pounds. A new material had been invented for the occasion—gold and silver blonde to replace the heavy stuffs of gold and silver, since the nineteenth century did not always furnish strength or endurance to bear such a burden in a crowded ball-room on a May night. Truly one description of trade must have received a lively impetus.
Both The Times and the Morning Post give full accounts of the ball. "The leading feature.... was the assemblage and meeting of the Courts of Anne of Brittany (the Duchess of Cambridge) and Edward III. and Philippa (her Majesty and Prince Albert). A separate entrance to the Palace was set apart for the Court of Brittany, the Duchess of Cambridge assembling her Court in one of the lower rooms of the Palace, while the Queen and Prince Albert, surrounded by a numerous and brilliant circle, prepared to receive her Royal Highness in the Throne-room, which was altered so as to be made as much as possible to harmonize with the period. The throne was removed and another erected, copied from an authentic source of the time of Edward III. It was lined (as well as the whole alcove on which the throne was placed) with purple velvet, having worked upon it in gold the crown of England, the cross of St. George, and emblazoned shields with the arms of England and France. The State chairs were what might be called of Gothic design, and the throne was surmounted with Gothic tracery. At the back of the throne were emblazoned the royal arms of England in silver. Seated on this throne, her Majesty and Prince Albert awaited the arrival of the Court of Anne of Brittany."
Her Majesty's dress was entirely composed of the manufactures of Spitalfields. Over a skirt with a demi-train of ponceau velvet edged with fur there was a surcoat of brocade in blue and gold lined with miniver (only her Majesty wore this royal fur). From the stomacher a band of jewels on gold tissue descended. A mantle of gold and silver brocade lined with miniver was so fastened that the jewelled fastening traversed the jewelled band of the stomacher, and looked like a great jewelled cross on the breast. Her Majesty's hair, folded a la Clovis, was surmounted by a light crown of gold; she had but one diamond in her crown, so large that it shone like a star. It was valued at ten thousand pounds.
Prince Albert, as Edward III., wore a cloak of scarlet velvet, lined with ermine and trimmed with gold lace—showing oak-leaves and acorns, edged with two rows of large pearls. The band connecting the cloak was studded with jewels; so was the collar of the full robe, or under-cloak, of blue and gold brocade slashed with blue velvet. The hose were of scarlet silk, and the shoes were richly jewelled. The Prince had on a gold coronet set with precious stones.
The suite were in the costume of the time. The Hon. Mrs. Anson and Mrs. Brand, Women of the Bedchamber, had dresses bearing the quarterings of the old arms of England, with lions and fleurs-de-lys. The Maids of Honour had dresses and surcoats trimmed with gold and silver. The Duke of Buccleugh figured as one of the original Knights of the Garter. The Countess of Rosslyn appeared as the beautiful Countess of Salisbury.
About half-past ten, the heralds marshalled the procession from the lower suite of rooms up the grand white marble staircase, and by the Green Drawing-room to the Throne-room, all the State-rooms having been thrown open and brilliantly illuminated. The Duchess of Cambridge entered magnificently dressed as Anne of Brittany, led by the Duke of Beaufort, richly clad as Louis XII., and followed by her court. It included the Earl of Pembroke as the Comte d'Angouleme, with Princess Augusta of Cambridge as Princess Claude; Prince George of Cambridge as Gaston de Foix, with the Marchioness of Ailesbury as the Duchesse de Ferrare; Lord Cardigan as Bayard, with Lady Exeter as Jeanne de Conflans; Lord Claud Hamilton as the Comte de Chateaubriand, with Lady Lincoln as Ann de Villeroi.... The Duchess of Gloucester and the Duchess of Saxe-Weimar represented two French Chatelaines of the period. Each gentleman, leading a lady, passed before the Queen and Prince Albert, and did obeisance.
Among the most famous quadrilles which followed that of France were the German quadrille, led by the Duchess of Sutherland, and the Spanish quadrille, led by the Duchess of Buccleugh. There were also Italian, Scotch, Greek and Russian quadrilles, a Crusaders' quadrille led by the Marchioness of Londonderry, and a Waverley quadrille led by the Countess De la Warr.
One of the two finest effects of the evening was the passing of the quadrilles before the Queen, a ceremony which lasted for an hour. On leaving the Throne-room, the quadrille company went by the Picture Gallery to join the general company in the ballroom. The Queen and the Prince then headed their procession, and walked to the ballroom, taking their places on the haut pas under a canopy of amber satin, when each quadrille set was called in order, and danced in turn before the Queen, the Scotch set dancing reels. The court returned to the Throne-room for the Russian mazurkas. The Russian or Cossack Masquers were led by Baroness Brunnow in a dress of the time of Catherine II., a scarlet velvet tunic, full white silk drawers, and white satin boots embroidered with gold, a Cossack cap of scarlet velvet with heron's feathers. The appearance of the Throne-room with its royal company and brilliant picturesque groups, when the mazurkas were danced, is said to have been striking and beautiful.
The diamonds of the Queen, the Duchess of Cambridge, and the Marchioness of Londonderry outshone all others. Lady Londonderry's very gloves and shoes were resplendent with brilliants. The Duke and Duchess of Beaufort—the one as Louis XII. of France, the other as Isabelle of Valois, Queen of Spain, in the French and Spanish quadrilles, were magnificent figures.
Among the beauties of the evening, and of Queen Victoria's earlier reign, were Lady Clementina Villiers as Vittoria Colonna; Lady Wilhelmina Stanhope as her ancestress, Anne Stanhope, Duchess of Somerset; Lady Frances and Lady Alexandrina Vane as Rowena and Queen Berengaria; and the Ladies Paget in the Greek quadrille led by the Duchess of Leinster. Another group of lovely sisters who took part in three different quadrilles, were the Countess of Chesterfield, Donna Florinda in the Spanish quadrille; the Honourable Mrs. Anson, Duchess of Lauenburg in the German quadrille; and Miss Forrester, Blanche de St. Pol in the French quadrille.
Of the ladies and gentlemen who came in the guise of ancient members of their families, or in the costumes of old hereditary offices, Lady De la Warr appeared as Isabella Lady De la Warr, daughter of the Lord High Treasurer of Charles I.; Lady Colville as the wife of Sir Robert Colville, Master of the Horse to James IV. of Scotland; Viscountess Pollington, daughter of the Earl of Orford, as Margaret Rolle, Baroness Clinton, in her own right, and Countess of Orford; and the Countess of Westmorland as Joan Beaufort, daughter of John of Gaunt and wife of Ralph Neville, first Earl of Westmoreland. Earl De la Warr wore the armour used by his ancestor in the battle of Cressy, and the Marquis of Exeter the armour of Sir John Cecil at the siege of Calais. The Earl of Warwick went as Thomas Beauchamp, Earl of Warwick, Marshal-General of the army at the battle of Poietiers; the Duke of Norfolk as Thomas Howard, Earl-Marshal in the reign of Elizabeth; the Earl of Rosslyn as the Master of the Buckhounds; the Duke of St. Albans as Grand Falconer-hereditary offices.
Mr. Monckton Milnes, the poet, presented himself as Chaucer. The historical novelist of the day, Sir Edward Lytton Bulwer, contented himself with a comparatively humble anonymous dress, a doublet of dark velvet slashed with white satin. The Duke of Roxburgh as David Bruce, the captive King of Scotland, encountered no rival royal prisoner, though a ridiculous report had sprung up that a gentleman representing John of France was to form a prominent feature of the pageant, to walk in chains past the Queen. This stupid story not only wounded the sensitive vanity of the French, to whom the news travelled, it gave rise to a witty canard in the Morning Chronicle professing to give a debate on the affront, in the Chamber of Deputies.
The tent of Tippoo Saib was erected in the upper or Corinthian portico communicating with the Green Drawing-room, and used as a refreshment-room. At one o'clock, the Earl of Liverpool, the Lord High Steward, as an ancient seneschal, conducted the Queen to supper, which was served in the dining-room. The long double table was covered with shields, vases, and tankards of massive gold plate. Opposite the Queen, where she sat at the centre of the horseshoe or cross table, a superb buffet reached almost to the roof, covered with plate, interspersed with blossoming flowers. After supper her Majesty danced in a quadrille with Prince George of Cambridge, opposite the Duke of Beaufort and the Duchess of Buccleugh. The Queen left the ball-room at about a quarter to three o'clock, and dancing was continued for an hour afterwards. Thus ended the most unique and splendid fete of the reign. About a fortnight afterwards, the Queen and the Prince went in state to a ball given at Covent Garden Theatre, for the relief of the Spitalfields weavers. Society followed the Queen's example. There was another fancy ball at Stafford House, and a magnificent rout at Apsley House. Fanny Kemble was present at both, and retained a vivid remembrance of "the memorable appearance" of two of the belles of the evening at the last fete, "Lady Douro and Mdlle. D'Este, [Footnote: Daughter of the Duke of Sussex, by his morganatic marriage with Lady Augusta Murray. Mdlle. D'Este became the wife of Lord Chancellor Truro.] who, coming into the room together, produced a most striking effect by their great beauty and their exquisite dress. They both wore magnificent dresses of white lace over white satin, ornamented with large cactus flowers, those of the blonde Marchioness being of the sea-shell rose colour, and the dark Mademoiselle D'Este's of deep scarlet, and in the bottom of each of those large veined blossoms lay, like a great drop of dew, a single splendid diamond. The women were noble samples of fair and dark beauty, and their whole appearance, coming in together attired with such elegance and becoming magnificent simplicity, produced an effect of surprise and admiration on the whole brilliant assembly." Of this year's Drawing-rooms we happen to have two characteristic reports. Baroness Bunsen attended one on April 8th, and wrote: "I was extremely struck with the splendour of the scene at the Drawing-room, and had an excellent place near enough to see everybody come up to the Queen [Footnote: "At a Levee or Drawing-room it is his (the Lord Chamberlain's) duty to stand next to the Queen and read out the names of each one approaching the royal presence.... Any peeress on presentation, as also daughters of dukes, marquises, and earls, have the privilege of being kissed by her Majesty; all other ladies make the lowest Court curtsey they can, and lifting the Queen's hand, which she offers, on the palm of their hand, it is gently kissed.... It seems unnecessary to say that of course the right-hand glove is removed before reaching the Presence Chamber."—"Old Court Customs and Modern Court Rule," by the Hon. Mrs. Armytage.] and pass off again. I was very much entertained, and admired a number of beautiful persons. But nobody did I admire more than Mrs. Norton, whom I had never seen before, and Lady Canning's face always grows upon me." Fanny Kemble also attended a Drawing-room and described it after her fashion. "You ask about my going to the Drawing-room, which happened thus. The Duke of Rutland dined some little time ago at the Palace, and speaking of the late party at Belvoir, mentioned me, when the Queen asked why I didn't have myself presented? The Duke called next day, at my house, but we did not see him, and he being obliged to go out of town, left a message for me with Lady Londonderry to the effect that her Majesty's interest about me (curiosity would have been the more exact word I suspect) rendered it imperative that I should go to the Drawing-room; and indeed Lady Londonderry's authoritative 'Of course you'll go,' given in her most gracious manner, left me no doubt whatever as to my duty in that respect...."
"You ask me how I managed about diamonds to go to Court in?" she wrote afterwards in reply to a friend's question. "I used a set of the value of seven hundred pounds, which I also wore at the fete at Apsley House; they were only a necklace and earrings, which I wore ... stitched on scarlet velvet and as drops in the middle of scarlet velvet bows in my hair, and my dress being white satin and point lace, trimmed with white Roman pearls, it all looked nice enough.
"I suffered agonies of nervousness, and I rather think did all sorts of awkward things; but so I dare say do other people in the same predicament, and I did not trouble my head much about my various mis-performances. One thing, however, I can tell you, if her Majesty has seen me, I have not seen her, and should be quite excusable in cutting her wherever I met her. 'A cat may look at a king,' it is said; but how about looking at the Queen? In great uncertainty of mind on this point I did not look at my sovereign lady. I kissed a soft white hand which I believe was hers; I saw a pair of very handsome legs in very fine silk stockings, which I am convinced were not hers, but am inclined to attribute to Prince Albert; and this is all I perceived of the whole Royal family of England, for I made a sweeping curtsey to the 'good remainders of the Court' and came away, with no impression but that of a crowded mass of full-dressed confusion, and neither know how I got in or out of it."
We might furnish a third sketch of a Drawing-room from one of the letters of Bishop, then Archdeacon, Wilberforce, who was often at Court about this time. In the early part of 1842 he paid a visit to Windsor, of which he has left a graphic account. "All went on most pleasantly at the Castle. My reception and treatment throughout was exceedingly kind. The Queen and the Prince were both at church, as was also Lord Melbourne, who paid his first visit at the same time. The Queen's meeting with him was very interesting. The exceeding pleasure which lighted up her countenance was quite touching. His behaviour to her was perfect—the fullest attentive deference of the subject with a subdued air of 'your father's friend' that was quite fascinating. It was curious to see (for I contemplated myself at the moment objectively—and free from the consciousness of subjectivity), sitting round the Queen's table, (1) the Queen, (2) the Prince, (3) Lord Melbourne, (4) Archdeacon, (5) Lady F. Howard, (6) Baron Stockmar, (7) Duchess of Kent, (8) Lady Sandwich, in the evening, discussing Coleridge, German literature, &c., with 2 and 3, and a little with 4 and 6, who is a very superior man evidently. The remarks of 3 were highly characteristic, his complaints of 'hard words,' &c., and 2 showed a great deal of interest and taste in German and English literature, and a good deal of acquaintance with both. I had orders to sit by the Duchess of Kent at dinner, just opposite to 1 and 2, 3 sitting at l's right, and the conversation, especially after dinner, was much more general across the table on etymology," &c. &c.
CHAPTER XIII. FRESH ATTEMPTS AGAINST THE QUEEN'S LIFE.—MENDELSSOHN.—DEATH OF THE DUC D'ORLEANS.
On the 30th of May a renewed attempt to assassinate the Queen, almost identical in the circumstances and the motive—or no motive, save morbid vanity—with the affair of Oxford, awoke the same disgust and condemnation. This was a double attack, for on the previous day, Sunday, at two o'clock, as the Queen and the Prince were driving home from the Chapel Royal, St. James's, in passing along the Mall, near Stafford House, amidst a crowd of bowing, cheering spectators, the Prince saw a man step out and present a pistol at him. He heard the trigger snap, but the pistol missed fire. The Queen, who had been bowing to the people on the opposite side, neither saw nor heard anything. On reaching the Palace the Prince questioned the footmen in attendance, but neither had they noticed anything, and he could judge for himself that no commotion, such as would have followed an arrest, had taken place. He was tempted to doubt the evidence of his senses, though he thought it necessary to make a private statement before the Inspector of Police. Confirmation came in the story of a stuttering boy named Pearse. He had witnessed the scene, and after a little delay arrived of his own accord at the Palace, to report what had happened. Everybody concerned was now convinced of the threatened danger, but it was judged best to keep it secret. The Prince, writing afterwards to his father, mentions in his simple straightforward fashion that they were both naturally much agitated, and that the Queen was very nervous and unwell; as who would not be with the sword of Damocles quivering ready to fall on the doomed head? Her Majesty's doctor wished that she should go out, and the wish coincided with the quiet courage and good sense of the Royal couple. To have kept within doors might have been to shut themselves up for months, and the Queen said later, "she never could have existed under the uncertainty of a concealed attack. She would much rather run the immediate risk at any time than have the presentiment of danger constantly hovering over her." But the brave, generous woman, a true queen in facing the dastardly foe, was careful to save others from unnecessary exposure. The Annual Register of the year mentions that she did not permit her female attendants to accompany her according to her usual practice, on that dangerous drive. Lady Bloomfield, who as Miss Liddell was one of the Maids of Honour in waiting, amply confirms the statement. No whisper of what was expected to occur had reached the ladies of the Household. They waited at home all the afternoon counting on being summoned to drive with the Queen. Contrary to her ordinary habit and to her wonted consideration for them, they were neither sent for to accompany her, nor apprised in time that they were not wanted, so that they might have disposed of their leisure elsewhere. The Queen went out alone with Prince Albert. When she returned and everybody knew what she had encountered, she said to Miss Liddell: "I dare say, Georgy, you were surprised at not driving with me this afternoon, but the fact was that as we returned from church yesterday, a man presented a pistol at the carriage window, which flashed in the pan; we were so taken by surprise that we had not time to escape, so I knew what was hanging over me, and was determined to expose no life but my own." The young Maid of Honour, in speaking warmly of the Queen's courage and unselfishness, shrewdly reminds her readers that had three ladies driven rapidly by instead of one, the would-be assassin might have been bewildered and uncertain in his aim. The Queen and the Prince had driven in the direction of Hampstead in "superb weather," with "hosts of people on foot" around them—a strange contrast in their ease and tranquillity to the beating hearts and watchful eyes in the Royal carriage. There had been no misadventure and nothing suspicious observed, though every turn, almost every face was scanned, till on the way home, between the Green Park and the garden wall, at the same spot, though on the opposite side from where Oxford had stood two years before, a shot was fired about five paces off. The Prince immediately recognised the man who had aimed at him the day before, "a little swarthy ill-looking rascal," who had been already seized, though too late to stop the shot, by a policeman close at hand.
When the worst was over without harm done, "We felt as if a load had been taken off our hearts," wrote the Prince, "and we thanked the Almighty for having preserved us a second time from so great a danger." The Prince added, "Uncle Mensdorff [Footnote: The Duchess of Kent's eldest sister married a private gentleman, originally a French emigre, afterwards a distinguished officer in the Austrian service. His sons were Prince Albert's early companions and intimate friends.] and mamma were driving close behind us. The Duchess Bernhard of Weimar was on horseback—not sixty paces from us."
It was said that when the Queen arrived at the Palace and met the Duchess of Kent, whom Count Mensdorff had conducted thither, the poor mother was deeply affected and fell upon her daughter's neck with a flood of tears, "while the Queen endeavoured to reassure her with cheerful words and affectionate caresses." Indeed the Queen was greatly relieved, and in the reaction she recovered her spirits. She wrote to the King of the Belgians the day afterwards, "I was really not at all frightened, and feel very proud at dear Uncle Mensdorff calling me 'very courageous,' which I shall ever remember with peculiar pride, coming from so distinguished an officer as he is." We may mention that the general impression made on the public by the Queen's bearing under these treacherous attacks was that of her utter fearlessness and strength of nerve; a corresponding idea, which we think quite mistaken, was that the Prince showed himself the more nervous of the two.
A great crowd assembled to cheer the Queen when she drove out on the following day. "One long shout of hurrahs," with waving of hats and handkerchiefs, greeted her. She bowed and smiled and appeared calm and collected, though somewhat flushed; but when she came back from what is described as like a triumphal progress, it was observed that, in spite of her gratification, she looked pale and not so well as she had done on the day preceding the attack. The bravest heart in a woman's breast could not surmount unmoved such an ordeal; she was at the Italian Opera the same evening, however, and heard the national anthem interrupted at every line by bursts of cheering.
In this case, as in the other, the offender was a mere lad, little over twenty, named John Francis. He was the son of a stage-carpenter, and had himself been a young carpenter who had led an irregular life, and been guilty of dishonesty. He behaved at first with much coolness and indifference, jeering at the magistrates. Francis was tried in the month of June for high treason, and sentenced to death, when his bluster ceased, and he fell back in a fainting fit in the arms of the turnkey.
The Queen was exceedingly anxious that the sentence should not be executed, though "fully conscious of the encouragement to similar attempts—which might follow from such leniency," and the sentence of death was commuted to banishment for life.
On the very day after the commutation of the sentence had been announced, Sunday, the 3rd of July, the Queen was again fired at as she sat by the side of her uncle, King Leopold, on her way to the Chapel Royal, St. James's. The pistol missed fire, and the man who presented it, a hunchback, was seized by a boy of sixteen called Dasset. So ridiculous did the group seem, that the very policemen pushed away both captor and captive as actors in a bad practical joke. Then the boy Dasset, who retained the pistol, was in danger of being taken up as the real culprit, trying to throw the blame upon another. At last several witnesses proved the true state of the case. The pistol was discovered to contain only powder, paper, and some bits of a tobacco-pipe rammed together. On examination it was found that the hunchback, another miserable lad named Bean, was a chemist's assistant, who had written a letter to his father declaring that he "would never see him again, as he intended doing something which was not dishonest, but desperate."
The Queen was not aware of Bean's attempt till she came back from St. James's, "when she betrayed no alarm, but said she had expected a repetition of the attempts on her life, so long as the law remained unaltered by which they could be dealt with only as acts of high treason."
"Sir Robert Peel hurried up from Cambridge on hearing what had occurred, to consult with the Prince as to the steps to be taken. During this interview her Majesty entered the room, when the Minister, in public so cold and self-controlled, in reality so full of genuine feeling, out of his very manliness, was unable to control his emotion, and burst into tears;" [Footnote: "Life of the Prince Consort"] an honourable sequel to the difficulties and misunderstanding which had heralded the Premier's entrance on office.
It was, indeed, high time that a suitable provision should be made to meet what seemed likely to be a new and base abuse of Royal clemency.
In the meantime, Prince Albert's fair and fearless treatment of the whole matter was very remarkable. He wrote that he could imagine the circumstance of Bean's attempt being made the day after Francis received his pardon would excite much surprise in Germany. But the Prince was satisfied that Bean's letter making known his intention had been written days before. Prince Albert was convinced that, as the law then stood, Francis's execution, notwithstanding the verdict of the jury, would have been nothing less than a judicial murder, as it was essential that the act should be committed with intent to kill or wound, and in Francis's case this, to all appearance, was not the fact; at least it was open to grave doubt. There was no proof that Francis's pistol was loaded. "In this calm and wise way," observes Mr. Justin M'Carthy, "did the husband of the Queen, who had always shared with her whatever of danger there might be in the attempts, argue as to the manner in which they ought to be dealt with." The historian adds, "The ambition which moved most or all the miscreants who thus disturbed the Queen and the country, was that of the mountebank rather than the assassin." It merited contempt no less than severity. A bill was brought forward on the 12th of July, and passed on the 16th, making such attacks punishable, as high misdemeanours, by transportation for seven years, or imprisonment with or without hard labour for a term not exceeding three years; the culprit to be publicly or privately whipped as often and in such manner and form as the court shall direct, not exceeding thrice. Bean was tried by this law on the 25th of August, and sentenced to eighteen months' imprisonment.
One of the attractions of the season was the reappearance of Rachel, ravishing all hearts by her acting of Camille in Les Horaces, and winning ovations of every kind up to roses dropped from the Queen's bouquet.
Mendelssohn was also in London, and went to Buckingham Palace. He has left a charming account of one of his visits in a letter to his mother. "I must tell you," he writes, "all the details of my last visit to Buckingham Palace.... It is, as G. says, the one really pleasant and thoroughly comfortable English house where one feels a son aise. Of course I do know a few others, but yet on the whole I agree with him. Joking apart, Prince Albert had asked me to go to him on Saturday at two o'clock, so that I might try his organ before I left England; I found him alone, and as we were talking away, the Queen came in, also alone, in a simple morning-dress. She said she was obliged to leave for Claremont in an hour, and then, suddenly interrupting herself, exclaimed, 'But, goodness, what a confusion!' for the wind had littered the whole room, and even the pedals of the organ (which, by the way, made a very pretty picture in the room), with leaves of music from a large portfolio that lay open. As she spoke she knelt down, and began picking up the music; Prince Albert helped, and I too was not idle. Then Prince Albert proceeded to explain the stops to me, and she said that she would meanwhile put things straight.
"I begged that the Prince would first play me something, so that, as I said, I might boast about it in Germany. He played a chorale by heart, with the pedals, so charmingly, and clearly, and correctly, that it would have done credit to any professional; and the Queen, having finished her work, came and sat by him and listened, and looked pleased. Then it was my turn, and I began my chorus from St. Paul, "How lovely are the messengers." Before I got to the end of the first verse they both joined in the chorus, and all the time Prince Albert managed the stops for me so cleverly—first a flute, at the forte the great organ, at the D major part the whole register, then he made a lovely diminuendo with the stops, and so on to the end of the piece, and all by heart—that I was really quite enchanted. Then the young Prince of Gotha came in, and there was more chatting; and the Queen asked if I had written any new songs, and said she was very fond of singing my published ones. 'You should sing one to him,' said Prince Albert, and after a little begging she said she would try the 'Fruhlingslied' in B flat. 'If it is still here,' she added, 'for all my music is packed up for Claremont.' Prince Albert went to look for it, but came back saying it was already packed. 'But one might, perhaps, unpack it,' said I. 'We must send for Lady ——,' she said (I did not catch the name). So the bell was rung, and the servants were sent after it, but without success; and at last the Queen went herself, and while she was gone, Prince Albert said to me, 'She begs you will accept this present as a remembrance,' and gave me a little case with a beautiful ring, on which is engraved 'V. R., 1842.'
"Then the Queen came back and said, ' Lady —— is gone, and has taken all my things with her. It really is most annoying.' You can't think how that amused me. I then begged that I might not be made to suffer for the accident, and hoped she would sing another song. After some consultation with her husband, he said, 'She will sing you something of Gluck's.' Meantime, the Princess of Gotha had come in, and we five proceeded through various corridors and rooms to the Queen's sitting-room. The Duchess of Kent came in too, and while they were all talking, I rummaged about amongst the music, and soon discovered my first set of songs; so, of course, I begged her rather to sing one of those than the Gluck, to which she very kindly consented; and which did she choose? 'Schoner und schoner schmuck sich,' sang it quite charmingly, in strict time and tune, and with very good execution. Only in the line 'Der Prosa Lasten und muh,' where it goes down to D, and then comes up again by semi-tones, she sang D sharp each time, and as I gave her the note the two first times, the last time she sang D, where it ought to have been D sharp. But with the exception of this little mistake it was really charming, and the last long G I have never heard better, or purer, or more natural, from any amateur. Then I was obliged to confess that Fanny had written the song (which I found very hard; but pride must have a fall), and to beg her to sing one of my own also. 'If I would give her plenty of help she would gladly try,' she said, and then she sang 'Pilgerspruch,' 'Lass dich nur,' really quite faultlessly, and with charming feeling and expression. I thought to myself, one must not pay too many compliments on such an occasion, so I merely thanked her a great many times, upon which she said. 'Oh, if only I had not been so frightened! generally I have such long breath.' Then I praised her heartily, and with the best conscience in the world; for just that part with the long C at the close, she had done so well, taking it and the three notes next to it all in the same breath, as one seldom hears it done, and therefore it amused me doubly that she herself should have begun about it.'
"After this Prince Albert sang the 'Arndle-lied,' 'Es ist ein schnitter,' and then he said I must play him something before I went, and gave me as themes the chorale which he had played on the organ, and the song he had just sung. If everything had gone as usual I ought to have improvised dreadfully badly, for it is almost always so with me when I want it to go well, and then I should have gone away vexed with the whole morning. But just as if I were to keep nothing but the pleasantest, most charming recollection of it, I never improvised better; I was in the best mood for it, and played a long time, and enjoyed it myself so much that, besides the two themes, I brought in the songs that the Queen had sung quite naturally; and it all went off so easily, that I would gladly not have stopped; and they followed me with so much intelligence and attention, that I felt more at my ease than I ever did in improvising to an audience. The Queen said several times she hoped I would soon come to England again, and pay them a visit, and then I took leave; and down below I saw the beautiful carriages waiting, with their scarlet outriders, and in a quarter of an hour the flag was lowered, and the Court Circular announced, 'Her Majesty left the palace at twenty minutes past three.'"
The Queen and the Prince were enjoying the company of Prince Albert's brother, Prince Ernest, the hereditary Prince of Saxe-Coburg Gotha, and his newly-wedded wife, who were both with the Court during its short stay at Claremont. There the news reached her Majesty of the sad and sudden death of the Duc d'Orleans, the eldest son of Louis Philippe, and the favourite brother of the Queen of the Belgians. The Duc d'Orleans had been with the King and Queen of France at Neuilly, from which he was returning in order to join the Duchesse d'Orleans at Plombieres, when the horses in his carriage started off near the Porte Maillot. Fearing that he should be overturned the Prince rashly leaped out, when his spurs and his sword caught in his cloak and helped to throw him to the ground with great violence. The result was concussion of the brain, from which he died within three hours, never recovering consciousness. The Duc d'Orleans was a young man of great promise, and his death was not only a source of deep distress to all connected with him, it was in the end, so far as men can judge, fatal to the political interests of his family. Many of us can recollect still something of the agonised prayer of the poor mother by the dying Prince, "My God, take me, but save my child!" and the cry of the bereaved father, the first time he addressed the Chamber afterwards, when he broke down and could utter nothing save the passionate lamentation of David of old, "My son, my son!" The Queen and Prince Albert were doubly and trebly allied to the Orleans family by the marriages of the Queen of the Belgians, the Duc de Nemours, and later of Princess Clementine, to three members of the Coburg family—the uncle and two of the cousins of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. They felt much for the unhappy family in their terrible bereavement. The Queen grieved especially for her particular friend, Queen Louise, and for the young widow, a cultured, intellectual German Princess, with her health already broken. "My poor dearest Louise, how my heart bleeds for her. I know how she loved poor Chartres, [Footnote: The Duc de Chartres was the earlier title of the Duc d'Orleans, which he bore when his father was still Duc d'Orleans, before he became King of France as "Louis Philippe." Apparently the son continued "Chartres" to his intimate friends.] and deservedly, for he was so noble and good. All our anxiety now is to hear how poor dear frail Helene (the Duchesse d'Orleans) has borne this too dreadful loss. She loved him so, and he was so devoted to her."
During the night of the 27th of July this year, London was visited by the most violent thunderstorm which had been experienced for many summers. It lasted for several hours. The fine spire of the church of St. Martin-in-the-Fields was struck by the lightning and practically destroyed.
On the 9th of August the Queen prorogued Parliament, when the Prince and Princess of Saxe-Coburg Gotha witnessed the interesting ceremony, occupying chairs near the chair of State, kept vacant for the Prince of Wales to the right of the Queen, while Prince Albert sat in the chair to her left.
The Prince of Wales was still at a considerable distance from the occupancy of that chair. Even as we see him here, in a copy of Mrs. Thornycroft's graceful statue, he is in the character of a shepherd lad, like David of old, and not in that of the heir-apparent to the throne.
At the close of this season, the Queen's old friend and servant Baroness Lehzen withdrew from Court service and retired to Germany to end her days in her native country, in the company of a sister. Lady Bloomfield saw the Baroness Lehzen in her home at Buckeburg, within a day's journey of Hanover, a few years subsequently. "She resided with her sister in a comfortable small house, where she seemed perfectly contented and happy. She was as much devoted to the Queen as ever, and her rooms were filled with pictures and prints of her Majesty." The Prince and Princess of Buckeburg were very kind to her, and she had as much society as she liked or desired. What a change from the great monarchy of England to the tiny princedom of Buckeburg! But the Baroness was a German, and could reconcile the two ideas in her mind. She was also an ageing woman, to whom the rest and freedom of domestic life were sweet and the return to the customs of her youth not unacceptable..
CHAPTER XIV. THE QUEEN'S FIRST VISIT TO SCOTLAND.
The Queen had never been abroad. It was still well-nigh an unconstitutional step for a sovereign of England to claim the privilege, enjoyed by so many English subjects, of a foreign tour, let it be ever so short. However, this year the proposal of a visit to her uncle King Leopold at Brussels, where several members of Louis Philippe's family were to have met her, was made. But the lamentable death of the Duc d'Orleans put an end for the present to the project. Neither were affairs at home in so flourishing a condition as to encourage any great departure from ordinary rule and precedent. The manufacturing districts were in a most unsettled state. The perpetually recurring riots—so long as the corn laws stood in the way of a sure and abundant supply of grain, which meant cheap bread, and as the people believed prosperous trade—had broken out afresh in Lancashire, Yorkshire, and the Midland counties. The aspect of Manchester alone became so threatening, that all the soldiers who could be spared from London, including a regiment of the Guards, were dispatched to the North of England. Happily, the disturbances were quelled, though not without bloodshed; and it was resolved, notwithstanding the fact that similar rioting had taken place in Lanarkshire, the Queen and the Prince should pay their first visit to Scotland, a country within her dominions, but different in physical features and history from the land in which she had been born and bred. How much the royal visitors were gratified, has been amply shown; but to realise what the Queen's visit was to the Scotch people, it is necessary to go back to the nation's loyalty and to the circumstance that since the exile of the Stewarts, nay, since the days when James VI. left his ancient capital to assume the crown of England, the monarchs had shown their faces rarely in the north; while in the cases of Charles I. and Charles II. there had been so much of self-interest and compulsion in their presence as to rob it of its grace. George IV. had come and gone certainly, but though he was duly welcomed, it was difficult even for his most zealous supporters to be enthusiastic about him. At the proposed arrival of the young Queen, who was well worthy of the most ardent devotion, the "leal" heart of Scotland swelled with glad anticipation. The country had its troubles like the rest of the world. In addition to vexed questions between perplexed mill-masters, shipbuilders, and mine-owners on the one side, and on the other, penniless mechanics and pitmen, the crisis which more than all others rent the Covenanting church, so dear to the descendants of the old Whigs, was close at hand. All was forgotten for the hour in the strange resemblance which exists between one strain of the character of the staid Scotch, and a vein in the nature of the impulsive French, two nations that used to be trusty allies. There is, indeed, a bond to unite "Caledonia stern and wild" and "the sunny land of France;" a weft of passionate poetry crosses alike the woof of the simple cunning of the Highlander and the slow canniness of the Lowlander. Scotland as well as France has been
The chosen home of chivalry, the garden of romance.
The news that the Queen and the Prince were coming, travelled with the rapidity of the ancient clansmen's fiery cross from the wan waters of the south to the stormy friths of the north, and kindled into a blaze the latent fire in every soul. The fields, the pastures, the quarries, the shootings, were all very well, and the Kirk was still better; but the Queen was at the door—the Queen who represented alike Queen Mary, King Jamie—all the King Jamies,—King William, the good friend of religious liberty, and of "Cardinal Carstairs," "Bonnie Prince Charlie," at once pitied and condemned, and King George, "honest man!" not unfair or unmerciful, whatever his minister Walpole might advise. The Queen was, above all, herself the flower of her race. Who would not hurry to meet and greet her, to give her the warmest reception?
All the traditions, all the instincts of the people thrilled and impelled them. Multitudes formed of broadly and picturesquely contrasting elements flocked to Edinburgh to hail her Majesty's landing. Manifold preparations were made for her entrance into the capital, the one regret being that she was not to dwell in her own beautiful palace of Holyrood—unoccupied by royal tenants since the last French exiles, Charles X., the Dauphin and the Dauphiness (the Daughter of the Temple), and the Duchesse de Berri, with her two children, the young Duc de Bourdeaux and his sister, found a brief refuge within its walls. The Queen, like her uncle George IV., was to be in the first place the guest of the Duke of Buccleugh at Dalkeith Palace.
Her Majesty and the Prince left Windsor at five o'clock on the morning of the 29th August, 1842, and after journeying to London and Woolwich, embarked on board the Royal George yacht under a heavy shower of rain. The yacht was attended by a squadron of nine vessels, the Trinity House steamer, and a packet, besides being followed for some distance, in spite of the unpropitious weather, by innumerable little pleasure-boats. The squadron was both for safety and convenience; certain vessels conveyed the ladies and gentlemen of the suite, and one took the two dogs, the chosen companions of their master and mistress, "Eos," and another four-footed favourite, "Cairnach." [Footnote: Sir Edwin Landseer painted these two dogs for the Queen, "Eos" with the Princess Royal in 1841, "Eos" alone, a sketch for a large picture in 1842, "Cairnach" in 1841. In 1838, the great animal painter had painted for her Majesty "little Dash" along with two other dogs, and "Lorey," a pet parrot belonging to the Duchess of Kent.]
The voyage was both tedious and trying, the sea was rough, and the royal voyagers were ill. On the morning of the 31st they were only coasting Northumberland, when the Queen saw the Fern Islands, where Grace Darling's lighthouse and her heroic story were still things of yesterday. Before her Majesty's return to England, she heard what she had not known at the time, that the brave girl had died within twenty-four hours of the royal yacht's passing the lighthouse station.
The Queens first remark on the Scotch coast, though it happened to be the comparatively tame east coast, was "very beautiful—so dark, rocky, bold, and wild—totally unlike our coast." All her observations had the naive freshness and sympathetic willingness to be pleased, of an unexhausted, unvitiated mind. She noticed everything, and was gratified by details which would have signified nothing to a sated, jaded nature, or, if they had made an impression, would only have called forth more weariness, varied by contemptuous criticism. The longer light in the north, that dear summer gloaming which is neither night nor day, but borrows something from both—from the silence and solemn mystery of the latter, and from the clear serenity of the former—a leisure time which is associated from youth to age with a host of happy, tender associations; the pipes playing in one of the fishing-boats; the reel danced on board an attendant steamer; the bonfires on the coast—nothing was too trivial to escape the interested watcher, or was lost upon her, Queen though she was.
The anchor of the royal yacht was let down in Leith Roads at midnight. At seven o'clock on the morning of the 1st of September the Queen saw before her the good town of Leith, where Queen Mary had landed from France; and in the background, Edinburgh half veiled in an autumn fog, lying at the foot of its semicircle of hills—the grim couchant lion of Arthur's seat; Salisbury Crags, grey and beetling; the heatherly slopes of the Pentlands in the distance. A little after eight her Majesty landed at Granton Pier, amidst the cheers of her Scotch subjects. The Duke of Buccleugh, whose public-spirited work the pier was, stood there to receive his sovereign, when she put her foot on shore, as he had already been on board the yacht to greet her arrival in what was once called Scotland Water.
When Queen Mary landed at Leith, it took her more than one day, if we remember rightly, to make a slow progress to her capital. Things are done faster in the nineteenth century; a few minutes by railway now separate Granton from Edinburgh. But the Edinburgh and Granton railway did not exist in 1842. Her Majesty and the Prince drove in a barouche, followed by the ladies and gentlemen of her suite in other carriages, and escorted by the Duke of Buccleugh and several gentlemen on horseback, to the ancient city of her Stewart ancestry. An unfortunate misconception robbed the occasion of the dignified ceremony and the exhibition of fervent personal attachment which had awaited it. All the previous day the authorities and the crowd had been on the look-out for the great event, and in the delay had passed the time quite happily in watching the preparations, and the decorations and devices for the coming illumination. The Lord Provost, Sir James Forrest, had taken the precaution to send a carriageful of bailies over night, or by dawn of day, to catch the first sign of the Queen's landing, and drive with it, post-haste, to the chief magistrate, who with his fellows was to be stationed at the barrier erected in the High Street, to present the keys of the city to the sovereign claiming admittance. But whether the bailies blundered over their instructions or slept at their post, or lost their way, no warning of the Queen's approach reached the Provost and his satellites in time. They were calm in the confident persuasion that the Queen would not arrive till noon—at the soonest—a persuasion which was based on the conviction that the event was too great to be hurried over, and which left out of sight the consideration of the disagreeable sea-voyage, and the natural desire to be on solid ground, and at rest, on the part of the travel-tossed voyagers. "We both felt dreadfully tired and giddy," her Majesty wrote of herself and the Prince when they reached Dalkeith.
The result was that these gentlemen in office were seated at breakfast as usual, or were engaged in getting rid betimes of some of the numerous engagements which beset busy men on a busy day, when the cry arose that the Queen was there, in the midst of them, with nobody to meet her, no silver keys on a velvet cushion to be respectfully offered and graciously returned. The ancient institution of the Royal Archer Guard, one of the chief glories of the situation, was only straggling by twos and threes to its muster-ground. The Celtic Society was in a similar plight, headed in default of the Duke of Argyle by the Marquis of Lorn, a golden-haired stripling in a satin kilt of the Campbell set, who looked all the slighter and more youthful, with more dainty calves in his silken hose, because of the big burly chieftains—Islay conspicuous among them—whom he led. The stands, the windows, the very grand old streets were half empty as yet, in the raw September morning. No King or Queen had visited Edinburgh for a score of years, and when at last the Queen of Hearts did come, the citizens were found napping—a sore mortification with which her Majesty deals very gently in her Journal, scarcely alluding to the inopportune accident. In truth only a moiety of early risers—those mostly country folks who had trooped into the town—restless youthful spirits, ardent holiday-makers, who could not find any holiday too long—or gallant devoted innocent Queen-worshippers, sleepless with the thought that the Queen was so near and might already be stirring—were abroad and intent on what was passing, looking at the vacant places, speculating on how they would be choke full in a couple of hours, amusing themselves easily with the idlest trifles, by way of whetting the appetite for the great sight, which they were to remember all their lives. These spectators were startled by seeing a gentleman, said afterwards to have been Lord John Scott, the popular but somewhat madcap brother of the Duke of. Buccleugh, gallop up the street bareheaded, waving his hat above his head and shouting "The Queen, the Queen!" The listeners looked at each other and laughed. How well the hoax was gone about; but who would presume to play such a trick, it was too much even from Lord John—did not somebody say it was Lord John? On the line of route too! What were the police thinking of?
Then swift corroboration followed, in the train of carriages rolling up, the first attended by a few of the Royal Archers, in their picturesque costumes of green and gold, each with his bow in one hand and his arrows in his belt. But the calmest had his equanimity disturbed by the consciousness that the main body of his comrades, all noblemen and gentlemen of Scotland, were running pell-mell behind, in a desperate effort to form into rank and march in due order. One eager confused glance, one long-drawn breath, one vehement heart-throb for her who was the centre of all, and the disordered pageant had swept past.
The Queen wrote in her Journal that the Duke of Roxburgh and Lord Elcho were the members of the Body Guard on her side of the carriage, and that Lord Elcho, whom she did not know at the time, pointed out the various monuments and places of interest.
Both the Queen and Prince Albert were much struck by the beautiful town, the massive stone houses, the steep High Street, the tall buildings, "and the Castle on the grand rock in the middle of the town, and Arthur's Seat in the background, a splendid spectacle."
On the country road to Dalkeith, the cottages built of stone, the walls ("dry stane dykes") instead of fences, the old women in their close caps ("sou-backed mutches"), the girls and children of the working classes, with flowing hair, often red, and bare feet, all the little individual traits, which impress us on our first visit to a foreign country, were carefully noted down. The Duke and Duchess of Buccleugh proved a noble host and hostess, but they could provide no such cicerone for the Queen as was furnished for George IV., when Sir Walter Scott showed him Edinburgh, and for the Governor of the Netherlands, when Rubens introduced him to Antwerp. Neither did any peer or chief appear on the occasion of the Queen's visit, with such a telling accompaniment as that ruinous "tail" of wild Highlanders, attached to Glengarry, when he waited on the King.
On the "rest day," which succeeded that of her Majesty's arrival at Dalkeith, she had three fresh experiences, chronicled in her Journal. She tasted oatmeal porridge, which she thought "very good," and "Finnan haddies," of which she gave no opinion, and she was stopped and turned back in her drive by "a Scotch mist." Indeed, not all the Queen's proverbial good luck in the matter could now or at any future time greatly modify the bane of open-air enjoyment amidst the beautiful scenery of Scotland—the exceedingly variable, even inclement, weather which may be met with at all seasons.
Saturday, the 3rd of September, afforded abundant compensation for all that had been missed on the Queen's entrance into Edinburgh. She paid an announced and formal visit from Dalkeith Palace to the town, in order to accomplish the balked ceremony of the presentation of the keys and to see the Castle on its historic rock. By Holyrood Chapel and Holyrood Palace, which the Queen called "a royal-looking old place," but where she did not tarry now, because there was fever in the neighbourhood; up the old world Cannon-gate, and the High Street, where the Setouns and the Leslies had their brawl, and the Jacobites went with white cockades in their cocked hats and white roses at their breasts, braving the fire of the Castle, to pay homage to Prince Charlie; on to the barrier. Edinburgh was wide awake this time. The streets were densely crowded, every window, high and low, in the tall grey houses framed a galaxy of faces, stands had been erected, and platforms thrown out wherever stand and platform could find space. The very "leads" of the public buildings bore their burden of sightseers. The Lord Provost and his bailies stood ready, and the Queen came wearing the royal Stewart tartan, "A' fine colours but nane o' them blue," to show that she was akin to the surroundings. She heard and replied to the speech made to her by the representative of the old burghers, and gave him back the token of his rule. She reached the Castle, after having passed the houses of Knox and the Earl of Moray. She saw the Scotch regalia, and heard anew how it had once been saved by a minister's brave wife, who carried it hidden in a bundle of yarn in her lap, out of the northern castle, which was in the hands of the enemy; and how it had been concealed again—only too well, forgotten in the course of a generation or two, and actually lost sight of for a hundred years. She entered the room, "such a very, very small room," she wrote, in her wonder at the rude and scanty accommodation of those days, in which James VI. was born. No doubt "Mons Meg," the old Flemish cannon and grim darling of the fortress, was presented to her. But what seems to have moved her most was the magnificent view, which included the rich Lothians and the silver shield of the Frith, and stretched, but only, when the weather was fine enough, in the direction of Stirlingshire, to the round-backed Ochils and the blue giants, the Grampians, while at her feet lay the green gardens of Princes Street and the handsome street itself—once the Nor' Loch and the Burgh Muir—Allan Ramsay's house and Heriot's Hospital, or "Wark," the princely gift of the worthy jeweller to his native town.
A little incident, the motive of which was unknown to her Majesty, occurred on her drive back to Dalkeith. An enthusiastic active young fellow, who had seen the presentation of the keys, hurried out the length of a mile on the country road to Dalkeith, and choosing a solitary point, stationed himself on the summit of a wall, where he was the only watcher, and awaited the return of the carriages. The special phaeton drove up with the young couple, talking and laughing together in the freedom of their privacy. The single spectator took off his hat at the risk of losing his precarious footing, and in respectful silence, bowed, or "louted low"—another difficult proceeding under the circumstances. Prince Albert, who was sitting with his arms crossed on his breast, treated the demonstration as not meant for him. The smiling Queen inclined her head, and the eager lad had what he sought, a mark of her recognition given to him alone. To the day of his death no more loyal heart beat for his Queen throughout her wide dominions.
The Queen drove to Leith on another day, and she and the Prince were still more charmed with the view, which he called "fairylike." After the fashion of most strangers, the travellers had their attention attracted by the Newhaven fish-wives, who offered a curious contrast to the rest of the population. Their Flemish origin announced itself, for her Majesty pronounced them "very clean and very Dutch-looking with their white caps and bright-coloured petticoats." It was about this time that a great author made them all his own, by "choosing a fit representative for his heroine, and describing a fisherman's marriage on the island of Inchcolm.
On Sunday, Dean Kamsay, whose memory is so linked with Scotch stories, read prayers.
On Monday, the Queen held a Drawing-room at Dalkeith Palace. It was an antiquarian question whether there had been another Drawing-room since the Union. Well might the stay-at-home ladies of Scotland plume themselves. Afterwards, her Majesty received addresses from the Magistrates of Edinburgh, the Scotch Church, and Universities.
The Queen's stay at Dalkeith was varied by drives about the beautiful grounds on the two Esks, and short visits to neighbouring country seats, characteristic and interesting, Dalmeny, Dalhousie, &c. &c. In the evening, it is said, Scotch music was frequently given for her Majesty's delectation, and that among the songs were some of the satires and parodies poured forth on the unfortunate Lord Provost and bailies, who had robbed the town of the full glory of the Queen's arrival. The cleverest of these was an adaptation of an old Jacobite ditty, itself a cutting satire which a hundred years before had taunted the Georgian general, Sir John Cope, with the excess of caution that led him to shun an engagement, withdraw his forces over night, and leave the country open to the Pretender to march southward. The mocking verses thus challenged the defaulter—
Hey! Johnnie Cope, are ye waukin' yet? Or are your drums a-beatin' yet?
Now, with a slight variation on the words the measure ran—
Hey! Jamie Forrest, are ye waukin' yet? Or are your bailies snorin' yet?
Then, after proceeding to run over the temptations which might he supposed to have overmastered the party, the writer dwelt with emphasis on a favourite breakfast dish in Scotland—
For kipper it is savoury food, Sae early in the mornin'.
Common rumour would have it that Lord John Scott, whose good qualities included a fine voice and a love for Scotch songs, to which his wife contributed at least one exquisite ballad, sang this squib to her Majesty. An improvement on the story, which is at least strictly in keeping with the Prince's character, added, that when another song was suggested, and the "Flowers of the Forest" mentioned, Prince Albert, unacquainted with the song in question, and misled by a word in the title, exclaimed kindly, "No, no; let the poor man alone, he has had enough of this sort of thing."
From Dalkeith the Queen and the Prince started for the Highlands, on a bright, clear, cold, frosty morning. They crossed the Forth and landed at Queen's Ferry, which bore its name from another queen when she was going on a very different errand; for there it is said the fugitive Margaret, the sister of the Atheling, after she had been wrecked in Scotland Water, landed and took her way on foot to Dunfermline to ask grace of Malcolm Cean Mohr, who made her his wife. Queen Victoria only saw Dunfermline and the abbey which holds the dust of King Robert the Bruce from a distance, as she journeyed by Kinross and Loch Leven, getting a nearer glimpse of Queen Mary's island prison, to Perthshire.
At Dupplin the 42nd Highlanders, in their kilts, were stationed appropriately. Perth, with its fair "Inches" lying on the brimming Tay, in the shadow of the wooded hills of Kinnoul and Moncrieff, delighted the royal strangers, and reminded Prince Albert of Basle.
The old Palace of Scone, under the guardianship of Lord Mansfield, was the restingplace for the night. Next day the Queen saw the mound where the early kings of Scotland were crowned. A sort of ancient royal visitors' book was brought out from Perth to her Majesty, and the Queen and the Prince were requested to write their names in it. The last names written were those of James VI. and Charles I. Her Majesty and Prince Albert gave their mottoes as well as their names. Beneath her signature she wrote, "Dieu et mon Droit;" beneath his he wrote, "Treu und Fest."
From Scone the party proceeded to Dunkeld, passing through Birnam Pass, the first of the three "Gates," into the Highlands, where the prophecy against Macbeth was fulfilled, and entered what is emphatically "the Country" by the lowest spur of the mighty Grampians.
The romantic, richly-wooded beauty of Dunkeld was increased by a picturesque camp of Athole Highlanders, to the number of a thousand men, with their piper in attendance. They had been called out for her Majesty's benefit by the late Duke of Athole, then Lord Glenlyon, who was suffering from temporary blindness, so that he had to be led about by Lady Glenlyon, his wife. At Dunkeld the Queen lunched, and walked down the ranks of Highland soldiers. The piper played, and a reel and the ancient sword-dance, over crossed swords—the nimble dancer avoiding all contact with the naked blades—were danced. The whole scene—royal guests, noble men and women, stalwart clansmen in their waving dusky tartans—must have been very animated and striking in the lovely autumn setting of the mountains when the ling was red, the rowan berries hung like clusters of coral over the brown burns, and a field of oats here and there came out like a patch of gold among the heather. To put the finishing-touch to the picture, the grey tower of Gawin Douglas's Cathedral, still and solemn, kept watch over the tomb of the Wolf of Badenoch.
But Dunkeld was not the Queen's destination. She was going still farther into the Highlands. She left the mountains of Craig-y-barns and Craig-vinean behind her, and travelled on by Aberfeldy to Taymouth, the noble seat of the Marquis of Breadalbane. Lord Glenlyon's Highlanders gave place to Lord Breadalbane's, the Murrays, in their particular set of tartan with their juniper badge, to the Campbells and the Menzies, in their dark green and red and white kilts, with the tufts of bog myrtle and ash in their bonnets. The pipers were multiplied, and a company of the 92nd Highlanders replaced the 42nd, in kilts like their neighbours. "The firing of the guns," wrote the Queen, "the cheering of the great crowd, the picturesqueness of the dresses, the beauty of the surrounding country with its rich background of wooded hills, altogether formed one of the finest scenes imaginable. It seemed as if a great chieftain in olden feudal times was receiving his sovereign. It was princely and romantic."
Such a "sovereign" of such a "chief" is the crowned lady, every inch a queen, represented in Durham's bust reproduced in the illustration.
Lord Breadalbane was giving his Queen a royal welcome. Lady Breadalbane, a childless wife, had been one of the beautiful Haddington Baillies, descendants of Grizel Baillie; she was suffering from wasting sickness, and her beauty, still remarkable, was "as that of the dead." Some of the flower of the Scotch nobility were assembled in the house to meet the Queen and the Prince—members of the families of Buccleugh, Sutherland, Abercorn, Roxburgh, Kinnoul, Lauderdale &c. &c. The Gothic dining-room was dined in for the first time; the Queen was the earliest occupant of her suite of rooms. After dinner, the gardens were illuminated, the hills were crowned with bonfires, and Highlanders danced reels to the sound of the pipes by torchlight in front of the house. "It had a wild and very gay effect."
The whole life, with its environment, was like a revelation of new possibilities to the young English Queen who had never been out of England before. It was at the most propitious moment that she made her first acquaintance with the Scotch Highlands which she has learned to love so well; she enjoyed everything with the keen sense of novelty and the buoyance of unquenched spirits. Looking back upon it all, long afterwards, she wrote with simple pathos, "Albert and I were then only twenty-three, young and happy."
At Taymouth there was shooting for the Prince; and there was much pleasant driving, walking, and sketching for the Queen—with the drives walks, and sketches unlike anything that she had been accustomed to previously. The weather was not always favourable; the sport was not always so fortunate as on the first day, when the Prince shot nineteen roe-deer, several hares and pheasants, three brace of grouse, and wounded a capereailzie, which was afterwards brought in; but the travellers made the best of everything and became "quite fond of the bagpipes," which were played in perfection at breakfast, at luncheon, whenever the royal pair went out and in, and before and during dinner. One evening there was a ball for the benefit of the county people, at which the Queen danced a quadrille with Lord Breadalbane; Prince Albert and the Duchess of Buccleugh being the vis-a-vis.
On September 10th, a fine morning, the Queen left Taymouth. She was rowed up Loch Tay, past Ben Lawers with Benmore in the distance. The pipers played at intervals, the boatmen sang Gaelic songs, and the representative of Macdougal of Lorn steered. At Auchmore, where the party lunched, they were rejoined by the Highland Guard. As her Majesty drove round by Glen Dochart and Glen Ogle, the latter reminded her of the fatal Kyber Pass with which her thoughts had been busy in the beginning of the year. By the time Loch Earn was reached, the fine weather had changed to rain. By Glenartney and Duneira, earthquake-haunted Comrie, Ochtertyre, where grows "the aik," and Crieff with the "Knock," on which the last Scotch witch was burnt, the travellers journeyed to Drummond Castle, belonging to Lady Willoughby d'Eresby, where her Majesty was to make her next stay. Lady Willoughby was a chieftainess in her own right, the heiress of the old Drummonds, Earls of Perth. Lord Willoughby was the representative of the lucky English Burrells and the Welsh Gwydyrs, one of whom had married a Maid of Honour to Catharine of Aragon, and come to grief, because, unlike her royal mistress, she and her husband adopted the Protestant religion, and fell into dire disgrace in the reign of Bloody Mary. The Drummonds. like the Murrays and unlike the Campbells, had been staunch Jacobites. The mother of the first and last Duke of Perth caused the old castle to be blown up after her two sons had joined the rebellion in the '45, lest the keep should fall into the hands of King George's soldiers. [Footnote: She is said to have been the heroine of the popular Jacobite song, "When the King comes over the water."] The Queen alludes in her Journal to the steep ascent to the castle. The long narrow avenue leads up by the side of the fine castle rock, tufted with wild strawberries, ferns, and heather, to the courtyard. Her Majesty also mentions the old terraced garden; "like an old French garden," or like such an Italian garden as was a favourite model for the gardens of its day.
The Willoughby Highlanders, wearing the Drummond tartan and the holly badge, were now the Queen's guard. The lady of the castle and her daughters wore the Drummond tartan and the holly when they met the Queen.
It was at Drummond Castle that Prince Albert made his first attempt at deer-stalking, under the able guidance of Campbell of Moonzie. The Prince's description of the sport was that it was "one of the most interesting of pursuits," in which the sportsman, clad in grey, in order to remain unseen, had to keep under the hill, beyond the possibility of scent, and crawl on hands and knees to approach his prey.
There was a story told at the time of the Prince and Campbell of Moonzie. Prince Albert had arranged to return at a particular hour to drive with the Queen. Moonzie, who was the most ardent and agile deer-stalker in the neighbourhood, had got into the swing of the sport, till then unsuccessful, when, as the men lay crouching among the heather, waiting intently for the herd expected to come that way, the Prince said it was, time to return.
"But the deer, your Royal Highness," faltered the Highlander, looking aghast, and speaking in the whisper which the exigencies of the case required.
The Prince explained that the Queen expected him.
It is to be feared the Highlander, in the excitement of the moment, and the marvel that any man—not to say any prince—could give up the sport at such a crisis, suggested that the Queen might wait, while the deer certainly would not.
"The Queen commands," said her true knight, with a quiet smile and a gentle rebuke.
In the evening there was company, as at Taymouth, some in kilts. Campbell of Moonzie showed himself as great in reels as in deer-stalking. (Ah! the wild glee and nimble grace of a Highland reel well danced.) The Queen danced one country dance with Lord Willoughby, while Prince Albert had the eldest daughter of the house, Lady Carington, for his partner.
The next day the royal party, starting as early as nine on a hazy morning, reached Stirling and visited the castle, which figures so largely in the lives of the old Stewart kings. The Queen saw the room in which James II. slew Douglas, John Knox's pulpit, the field of Bannockburn, which saved Scotland from a conquest, and the Knoll or "Knowe" where the Scotch Queens and the Court ladies sat to look down on their knights "Riding the Ring" or playing at the boisterously boyish game of "Hurleyhacket." But the autumn mists shut out the "Highland hills," already receding in the background, and the Links of Forth, where the river winds like the meshes of a chain through the fertile lowlands to the sea. Soon Drummond Castle and Taymouth, with their lochs and mountains and "plaided array," would be like a wonderful dream, to be often recalled and recounted at Windsor and Buckingham Palace.
From Stirling the Queen travelled back to Dalkeith, where she arrived the same night. During her Majesty's last day in Scotland, which she expressed herself as "very sorry to leave," she drove to Roslin Chapel, where twenty "barons bold" of the house of St. Clair wear shirts of mail for shrouds, then went on to storied Hawthornden—a wooded nest hung high over the water, where the poet Drummond entertained his English brother-of-the-pen, Ben Jonson.
On Thursday, the 15th of September, the Queen embarked in the Trident, a large steamboat, likely to be swifter than the Royal George, and surrounded by the flotilla, which, with the exception of one, fell behind, and out of sight in the course of the voyage, sailed for England, past Berwick Law, Tantallon, the ruined keep of the Douglases, and the Bass, where a gloomy state prison once frowned on a rock, now given up to seagulls and Solan geese. The weather was favourable and the moonlight fine. The voyage became enjoyable as the young couple ate a "pleasant little dinner on deck in a tent, made of flags," or paced the deck in the moonlight, or read the "Lay of the Last Minstrel," and played on the piano in the cabin. Notwithstanding the good time, winds and waves are not to be trusted, and the roar of the guns which announced that the vessel was at the Nore was a welcome awakening at three o'clock on the morning of Saturday, the 17th. The sun smiled through a slight haze on the sail up the river, among the familiar English sights and sounds. The tour, which had delighted the pair, was over; but home, where a loving mother and little children awaited them, was sweet.
CHAPTER XV. A MARRIAGE, A DEATH, AND A BIRTH IN THE ROYAL FAMILY.—A PALACE HOME.
The rest of the autumn and early winter passed in busy quiet and domestic happiness. In November, the Queen honoured the Duke of Wellington by a second visit to Walmer. She was no longer the girl-princess—a solitary figure, but for her devoted mother, she was the Queen-wife, taking with her not only her good and noble husband, but her two fine children, to show her old servant, the great soldier of a former generation, who had known her from her childhood, how rich she had become in all womanly blessings. During her stay her Majesty went to Dover, and included the guardian castle of England, on the chalk cliffs which overlook the coast of France, among the venerable fortresses she had inspected this year.
In the meantime, the agitation for Free Trade was exciting the country in one direction, and O'Connell was thundering for a repeal of the union between England and Ireland in another. On the 20th of January, 1843, a public crime was committed which shocked the whole nation and aroused the utmost sympathy of the Queen and Prince Albert. A half-crazy man named Macnaughten, who conceived he had received a political injury from Sir Robert Peel, planned to waylay and shoot the Premier in Downing Street. The man mistook his victim, and fatally wounded Sir Robert's private secretary, Mr. Drummond, who perished in the room of his chief. The plea of insanity accepted by the jury on the trial was so far set aside by the judges.
The descendants of the numerous family of George III. and Queen Charlotte, in the third generation, only numbered five princes and princesses. Apart from her German kindred, the Queen had only four cousins—her nearest English relations after her uncles and aunts. Of these the Crown Prince of Hanover, German born but English bred as Prince George of Cumberland, and long regarded as, in default of Princess Victoria, the heir to the crown, married at Hanover, on the 18th of February, Princess Mary of Saxe-Altenburg. The Crown Prince was then twenty-four years of age. Though he had no longer any prospect of succeeding to the throne of England, he was the heir to a considerable German kingdom. But the terrible misfortune which had cost him his eyesight did not terminate his hard struggle with fate. His father, whose ambition had been built upon his son from his birth, appeared to have more difficulty in submitting to the sore conditions of the Prince's loss than the Prince himself showed. By a curious self-deception, the King of Hanover never acknowledged his son's blindness, but persisted in treating him, and causing others to treat him, as if he saw. The Queen of Hanover, once a bone of contention at the English Court, and Queen Charlotte's bete noire, as the divorced wife of one of her two husbands prior to her third marriage with the Duke of Cumberland, had died two years before. It was desirable in every light that she should find a successor—a princess—to preside over the widowed Court, and be the mother to the future kings of Hanover, supposing Hanover had remained on the roll of the nations. A fitting choice was made, and the old King took care that the marriage should be celebrated with a splendour worthy of the grandson of a King of England. Twenty-four sovereigns and princes, among them the King of Prussia, graced the ceremony. The bride wore cloth of silver and a profusion of jewels, and whatever further troubles were in store for the blind bridegroom, whose manly fortitude and uprightness of character—albeit these qualities were not without their alloy of pride and obstinacy—won him the respect of his contemporaries, Providence blessed him on that February day with a good, bright, devoted wife.
On the 25th of March, the Thames Tunnel, which at the time was fondly regarded as the very triumph of modern engineering, and a source of the greatest convenience to London, was opened for foot-passengers by a procession of dignitaries and eminent men, including in their ranks the Lord Mayor, Sir Robert Inglis, Lord Lincoln, Joseph Hume, Messrs. Babbage and Faraday, &c. &c. The party descended by one staircase, shaft, and archway which carried them to Wapping, and, ascending again, returned by the other archway to Rotherhithe. Some of the Thames watermen hoisted black flags as a sign that they considered their craft doomed.
For the first time since her accession, the Queen had been unable, from the state of her health, to open Parliament or to hold the usual spring levees. Prince Albert relieved her of this, as of so many of her burdens, and Baron Stockmar paid a visit to England, at the Prince's urgent request, that the Baron's sagacity and experience might be brought to bear on what remained of the arduous task of getting a Queen's household into order and directing a royal nursery. The care of the Queen's Privy Purse had been transferred to the Prince on the departure of Baroness Lehzen. These various obligations, together with his rapidly increasing interest in public affairs, and the number of persons who claimed his attention, especially when he was in London, become a serious tax on his strength, a tax which the Queen even at this early date feared and sought to guard against. Baron Stockmar was greatly pleased with the aspect of the family. He proudly proclaimed that the Prince was quickly showing what was in him, among other things that he was rich in that very practical talent in which the Baron had feared the young man might be deficient; at the same time the old family friend remarked that the Prince, in the midst of his industry and happiness, frequently looked "pale, worried, and weary."
An instance of Prince Albert's cordial interest in the welfare of the humbler ranks is to be found in one of Bishop Wilberforce's letters, dated March, 1843: "After breakfast with the Prince, for three-quarters of an hour talked about Sunday. Told him that I thought 'Book of Sports' did more than anything to shock the English mind. He urged want of amusements for common people of an innocent class—no gardens. In Coburg, with ten thousand inhabitants, thirty-two gardens, frequented by different sorts of people, who meet and associate in them. 'I never heard a real shout in England. All my servants marry because they say it is so dull here, nothing to interest-good living, good wine, but there is nothing to do but turn rogue or marry.'"
On the 20th of April, Prince Augustus of Saxe-Coburg was married to Princess Clementine of France, the youngest daughter of Louis Philippe. On the following day, the 21st, the Queen's uncle, the Duke of Sussex, who had long been infirm, and for a little time seriously ailing, died at Kensington Palace, at the age of seventy years. The body lay in state there on the 3rd of May, all persons in decent mourning being admitted to witness the sight. Twenty-five thousand persons availed themselves of the permission. On the following morning, the funeral of the first of the Royal Dukes, who was buried by daylight and not in the royal vault at Windsor, took place. There was a great procession, a mile in length, beginning and ending with detachments of Horse and Foot Guards, their bands playing at intervals the "Dead March in Saul," in acknowledgement of the military rank of the deceased. The hearse, drawn by eight black horses, was preceded and followed by twenty-two mourning-coaches and carriages, each with six horses, and upwards of fifty private carriages, one of these containing Sir Augustus d'Este, the son of the dead Duke and of Lady d'Ameland (Lady Augusta Murray). [Footnote: The Duke of Sussex made a second morganatic marriage, after Lady d'Ameland's death, with Lady Cecilia Buggin, daughter of the second Earl of Arran, and widow of Sir George Buggin. She was created Duchess of Inverness. She survived the Duke of Sussex thirty years.] The Duke of Cambridge acted as chief mourner. The cortege passed along the High Street to Kensal Green Cemetery, where Prince Albert, Prince George of Cambridge, and the Grand Duke of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, whose son was about to become the husband of Princess Augusta of Cambridge, awaited its arrival. The service was read by the Bishop of Norwich in the cemetery chapel, and the coffin was deposited in the vault prepared for it. It was observed of Prince Albert that "he seemed to be more affected than any person at the funeral."
An old face, once very familiar, had passed away: a young life had dawned. In the interval between the Duke of Sussex's death and funeral, five days after the death, on the 24th of April, 1843, a second princess was born. The Queen was soon able to write to King Leopold that the baby was to be called "Alice," an old English name, "Maud," another old English name, and "Mary," because she had been born on the birthday of the Duchess of Gloucester. The godfathers were the Queen's uncle, the King of Hanover, and Prince Albert's brother, by their father's retirement, already Duke of Coburg. The King of Hanover came to England, though, unfortunately, too late to be present at the christening, so that one likes to think of the Princess, whose name is associated with all that is good and kind, as having served from the first in the light of a messenger of peace to heal old feuds. The godmothers were the Princess of Hohenlohe and Princess Sophia Matilda of Gloucester.
In the illustration Princess Alice is given as she represented "Spring" in the family mask in 1854.
On the 18th of May, 1843, the prolonged contest between the civil and ecclesiastical courts in Scotland reached its climax—in many respects striking and noble, though it may be also one-sided, high-handed, and erring. The chief civil law-court in Scotland—the Court of Session—had overruled the decisions of the chief spiritual court—the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland—and installed, by the help of soldiers, in the parishes, which patronage had presented to them, two ministers, disliked by their respective congregations, and resolutely rejected by them, though neither for moral delinquencies nor heretical opinions. The Government, after a vain attempt to heal the breach and reconcile the contending parties, not only declined to interfere, but asserted the authority of the law of the land over a State church.
Once more the representatives of the Scotch clergy and laity, of all shades of opinion, met, as their forefathers had done for centuries, in the Assembly Hall, in Edinburgh, in the month of May. Then, after the usual introductory ceremonies, the moderator, or chairman, delivered a solemn protest against the State's interference with the spiritual rights of the Church, declared that the sovereignty of its Divine Head was invaded, and, in the name of himself and his brethren, rejected, a union which compelled submission to the civil law on what a considerable proportion of the population persisted in regarding as purely spiritual questions. Four hundred and seventy ministers of one of the poorest churches in Christendom had appended their names to the protest. Churches, manses, livings were laid down, the mass following their leaders. Among them, though many a good and gifted man remained with equal conscientiousness behind, there were men of remarkable ability as well as Christian worth; and there was one, Dr. Chalmers, with a world-wide reputation for genius, eloquence, and splendid benevolence. The band formed themselves into a procession of black-coated soldiers of a King—not of this world—marched along the crowded streets of Edinburgh, hailed and cheered by an enthusiastic multitude, and entering a building temporarily engaged for the purpose, constituted themselves a separate church, and flung themselves on the liberality of their portion of the people, on whom they were thenceforth entirely dependent for maintenance. And their people, who, with their compatriots, are regarded among the nations as notably close-fisted and hard-headed, responded generously, lavishly, to the impassioned appeal. All Scotland was rent and convulsed then, and for years before and after, by the great split in what lay very near its heart—its church principles and government. These things were not done in a corner, and could not fail to arouse the interest of the Queen and Prince, whatever verdict their judgment might pronounce on the dispute, or however they might range themselves on the constitutional side of the question, as it was interpreted by their political advisers—indeed, by the first statesmen, Whig or Tory, of the day.
Six years later, Sir Edwin Landseer painted the picture called "The Free Kirk," which became the property of her Majesty.
The Royal Commission on the Fine Arts, at the head of which was Prince Albert, in view of the decoration of the new Houses of Parliament, had an exhibition of prize cartoons in Westminster Hall during the summer of 1843. Great expectations were entertained of the effect of such patronage on painting in its higher branches. Many careful investigations were made into the best processes of fresco painting, of which the Prince had a high opinion, and this mode of decoration was ultimately adopted, unfortunately, as it proved, for in spite of every precaution, and the greatest care on the part of the painters—some of whom, like Dyce, were learned in this direction, while others went to Italy to acquire the necessary knowledge—the result has been to show the perishable nature of the means used, in this climate at least, since the pictures on the walls of the Houses of Parliament have become but dim, fast-fading shadows of the original representations. In the early days of the movement the Prince, in order the better to test and encourage a new development of art in this country, gave orders for a series of fresco paintings from Milton's "Comus," in eight lunettes, to decorate a pavilion in the grounds of Buckingham Palace. Among the painters employed were Landseer, Maclise, Leslie, Uwins, Dyce, Stanfield, &c. &c. Two of them—Leslie and Uwins—record the lively interest which the Queen and the Prince took in the painting of the pavilion, how they would come unannounced and without attendants twice a day, when the Court was at Buckingham Palace, and watch the painters at work. Uwins wrote, that in many things the Queen and her husband were an example to the age. "They have breakfasted, heard morning prayers with the household in the private chapel, and are out some distance from the Palace, talking to us in the summer-house, before half-past nine o'clock—sometimes earlier. After the public duties of the day, and before the dinner, they come out again, evidently delighted to get away from the bustle of the world to enjoy each other's society in the solitude of the garden.... Here, too, the royal children are brought out by the nurses, and the whole arrangement seems like real domestic pleasure."