The square of the Palace, with a park on either hand, and its main entrance fronting the Mall, has green gardens of its own, velvet turf, shady trees, shining water—now expanding into a great round pond, like that in Kensington Gardens, only larger—now narrowing till it is crossed by a rustic bridge. These cheat the eye and the fancy into the belief that the dwellers in the Palace have got rid of the town, and furnish pleasant paths and pretty effects of landscape gardening within a limited space.
But the Palace has a public as well as a private side. The former looks out on the parks and drives, which belong to all the world, and in the season are crowded with company.
The great white marble staircase leads to many a stately corridor, with kings and queens looking down from the walls, to many a magnificent room with domed and richly fretted roofs, ball-room with a raised dais for court company, and a spot where royal quadrilles are danced, banqueting-room, music-room, white, crimson, blue, and green drawing-rooms, crimson and gold throne-room. There are finely-wrought white marble chimney-pieces with boldly-carved heads, angelic figures, and dragons in full relief. There are polished pillars of purple-blue, and red scagliola, hugs china vases—oriental, Dresden, unpolished Sevres—and glittering timepieces of every shape and device.
King George and Queen Charlotte in shadowy form preside once and again, as well they may, seeing this was her house when it was named the Queen's House. Their family, too, still linger in their portraits. George IV. in very full-blown kingly state, the Duke of York and his Duchess, the Duke of Kent and his Duchess, the King of Hanover, King William and Queen Adelaide, the Duke of Sussex. But not one of their lives is so linked with the place as the life of Queen Victoria has been, especially the double life of the Queen and the Prince Consort in their "blooming time." Buckingham Palace was their London home, to which they came every season as regularly as Park Lane and Piccadilly, with the squares and streets of Belgravia, find their fitting occupants. From this Palace the girl-Queen drove to Westminster, to be crowned, and returned to watch in the soft dusk of the summer evening all London illuminated in her honour. Here she announced her intended marriage to her Lords in Council; here she met her princely bridegroom come across the seas to wed her. From that gateway she drove in her bridal white and orange blossoms, and it was up these steps she walked an hour-old wife, leaning on the arm of her husband. Most of their children were born here. The Princess Royal was baptized here, and she went from Buckingham Palace to St. James's, like her mother before her, to be married. In the immediate neighbourhood occurred some of the miserable attempts on the Queen's life, and it was round Buckingham Palace that nobility and people thronged to convince themselves of her Majesty's safety, and assure her of their hot indignation and deep sympathy. On that balcony she has shown herself, to the thousands craving for the sight, on the opening-day of the first Exhibition and on the morning when the Guards left for the Crimea. Through these corridors and drawing-rooms streamed the princely pageant of the Queen's Plantagenet Ball. Kingly and courtly company, the renowned men and the fair women of her reign, have often held festival here. Along these quiet garden walks the Queen was wont to stroll with her husband-lover; from that rustic bridge he would summon his feathered favourites around him; in yon sheet of water he swam for his life among the broken ice, the day before the christening of the Princess Royal. In the little chalet close to the house the Queen loved to carry on her correspondence on summer-days, rather than to write within palace walls, because she, whose life has been pure and candid as the day, has always loved dearly the open air of heaven. In the pavilion where the first English artists of the time strove to do their Prince's behest, working sometimes from eight in the morning to six or seven in the evening, her Majesty and the Prince delighted to watch Maclise put in Sabrina releasing the Lady from the enchanted chair, and Leslie make Comus offering the cup of witchery.
As in the case of King George and Queen Charlotte, it is well that portraits and marble statues of the Queen and the Prince, in the flower of their age, should remain here as unfailing links with the past which was spent within these walls.
In later years the widowed Queen has dwelt little at Buckingham Palace, coming rarely except for the Drawing-rooms, which inaugurate the season and lend the proper stamp to the gilded youth of the kingdom. What tales that Throne-room could tell of the beating hearts of debutantes and the ambitious dreams of care-laden chaperons! The last tale is of the kind consideration of the liege lady. From the room where the members of the royal family assemble apart, she walks, not to take her seat on the throne, but to stand in front of the steps which lead to it, that the ladies who advance towards her in single file may not have to climb the steps with stumbling feet, often caught in their trailing skirts, till the wearers were in danger of being precipitated against the royal knees as the ladies bent to kiss the Queen's hand. In the same manner, the slow and painful process of walking backwards with long trains, of which such stories were told in Queen Charlotte's day, is graciously dispensed with. A step or two, and the trains are thrown over their owners' arms by the pages in waiting, while the ladies are permitted to retire, like ordinary mortals, in a natural, easy, and what is really a more seemly fashion. A royal chapel has for a considerable time taken the place of a great conservatory, so that the Queen and the Prince could worship with their household, without the necessity of repairing to the neighbouring Chapel Royal of St. James's.
There are other suites of rooms besides the private apartments, notably the Belgian floor, full of memories of King Leopold and Queen Louise.
Among the portraits of foreign sovereigns, the correctly beautiful face of the Emperor Alexander of Russia, and the likeness of his successor, Nicholas, occur repeatedly. The portraits of the Emperor and Empress of Germany, when as Prince and Princess of Prussia they won the cordial friendship of the Queen, are here. There is a pleasant picture of Queen Victoria's girl friend, Maria da Gloria, and a companion picture of her husband, the Queen and the Prince's cousin. The burly figure of Louis Philippe appears in the company of two of his sons. Another ruler of France, the Emperor Napoleon III., looks sallow and solemn beside his Empress at the height of her loveliness. Other royal portraits are those of the King of Saxony, the present King and Queen of the Belgians, as Duke and Duchess of Brabant; the late blind King of Hanover and his devoted Queen; the Duke of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, now blind also, and his Duchess, who was the handsome and winning Princess Augusta of Cambridge; her not less charming sister, Princess Mary, Duchess of Teck; the familiar face of their soldierlike brother, the Duke of Cambridge; the Maharajah Dhuleep Singh, in his slender youth and eastern dress, &c. &c.
In the sister country of France, one has a feeling that there are blood stains on all the palaces. Let us be thankful that, as a rule, it is not so in England. But there are tragic faces and histories here too, mocking the glories of rank and State. There is a fine picture of Matilda of Denmark, to whom—but for the victim's fairer hair—her collateral descendant, Queen Victoria, is said to bear a great resemblance. The Queen's ancestress was herself a princess and a queen, yet she was fated to fall under an infamous, unproven charge, and to pine to an early death in a prison fortress.
Here, with a pathos all her own, in her pale dark girlish face and slight figure, is the Queen's Indian god-daughter, Princess Gouromma, the child of the Rajah of Coorg. She was educated in England, and married a Scotch gentleman named Campbell. But the grey northern skies and the bleak easterly winds were cruel to her, as they would have been to one of her native palm-trees, and she found an early grave.
A graceful remembrance of a peculiarly graceful tribute to the faithful service and devotion of a lifetime appears in a picture of the old Duke of Wellington—after whom the Queen named her third son—presenting his godfather's token of a costly casket to the infant Prince Arthur, seated on the royal mother's knee. Another laughing child, in the arms of another happy mother, is the Queen herself, held by the Duchess of Kent.
The long picture gallery contains valuable specimens of Dutch and Flemish art, a remnant of George IV.'s collection, and a portion, of the Queen's many fine examples of these schools. Here are Tenierses, full of riotous life; exquisite Metzus, Terburgs, and Gerard Dows; cattle by Paul Potter; ships by Van de Velde; skies by Cuyp; landscapes, with white horses, by Wouvermanns; driving clouds and shadow-darkened plains by Ruysdael, who, though he died in a workhouse, yet lives in his pictures in kings' palaces.
Lady Bloomfield has given the world a delightful glimpse of what the life at Windsor and Buckingham Palace was from 1842 to 1845; how much real friendliness existed in it; what simplicity and naturalness lay behind its pomp and magnificence. Dissipation and extravagance found no place there. That palace home—whether in town or country, where all sacred obligations and sweet domestic affections reigned supreme, where noble work had due prominence and high-minded study paved the way for innocent pleasure—was, indeed, a pattern to every home in the kingdom. The great household was like a large family, with a queenly elder sister and a royal brother at its head; for the Queen and the Prince were still in their first prime, and very kindly, as well as very wise, were their relations with old and young. It is good to read of the tenderly-united pair; of their well-regulated engagements—punctually performed as clockwork, and rarely jostling each other; of their generous consideration for others, their faithful regard for old friends, so that to this day the ranks of the Queen's household are replenished from the households of her youth. It has been pointed out how rarely the Duchess of Kent allowed any change in the little Princess's guardians and teachers. In like manner, as whoever will examine Court calendars may learn for themselves, this middle-aged Mistress of the Robes, or that elderly Lady in Waiting, was in former times a young Maid of Honour, and the youngest page of to-day is very likely the grandson of a veteran courtier, and has a hereditary interest in his surroundings.
When her Majesty was still young, there was the frankest sympathy with the young girls who were so proud to be in their Queen's service—a sympathy showing itself in a thousand unmistakable ways; in concern for each noble maiden's comfort and happiness; in interest in her friends pursuits, and prospects; by the kindly informal manner in which each member of the girlish suite was addressed by her familiar christian-name, sometimes with its home abbreviation; by the kiss with which she was greeted on her return from her six months' absence. We do not always connect such lovable attributes with kings' and queens' courts, and it is an excellent thing for us to know that the greatest, towards whom none may presume, can also he the most ready to oblige, the least apt to exact, the most cordial and trustful.
We hear from Lady Bloomfield that the sum total of a Maid of Honour's obligations, when she is in residence, like a canon, is to give the Queen her bouquet before dinner every other day. In reality, the young lady and her companions, as well as the older and more experienced Ladies and Women of the Bedchamber, are in waiting to drive, ride, or walk with the Queen when she desires their society, to sit near her at dinner, to share her occupations—such as reading, music, drawing, needlework—when she wishes it, to help to make up any games, dances, &c. &c. These favoured damsels enjoy a modest income of three hundred a year, and wear a badge—the Queen's picture, surrounded with brilliants on a red bow—such as the public may have seen in the portraits of several of the Maids of Honour belonging to the Queen which were exhibited on the walls of the Academy within recent years. The hours of "the Maids" never were so early as those of their royal mistress, while their labours, like their responsibilities, have been light as thistledown in comparison with hers.
The greatest restriction imposed on these youthful members of the Household, when Lady Bloomfield as Miss Liddell figured among them, seems to have been that they were expected to be at their posts, and they were not at liberty to entertain all visitors in their private sitting-rooms, but had to receive some of their friends in a drawing-room which belonged to the ladies in common.
The routine of the Palace passes before us, unpretentious in its dignity as the actual life was led: the waiting of the ladies in the corridor to meet the Queen when she left her apartments and accompany her to dinner; the talk at the dinner-table; the round game of cards—vingt-et-un, or some other in the evening, for which the stakes were so low, that the players were accustomed to provide themselves with a stock of new shillings, sixpences, and fourpenny pieces, and the winnings were now threepence, now eightpence; the workers and talkers in the background. In spite of different times and different manners, there is a slight flavour of Queen Charlotte's drawing-room, in Miss Burney's day, about the whole scene.
The ordinary current was broken by varying eddies of royal visits and visitors, with their accompanying whirl and bubble of excitement, and by ceremonies, like the opening and proroguing of Parliament, State visits to the City, royal baptisms. In addition there were the more tranquil and homely diversions of the festivals of the seasons and family festivals. There was Christmas, when everybody gave and received Christmas-boxes; and this happy individual had a brooch, "of dark and light blue enamel, with two rubies and a diamond in the shape of a bow;" and another had a bracelet, with the Queen's portrait; while to all there were pins, rings, studs, shawls, &c. &c. Or it was the Duchess of Kent's birthday, when the Court went to dine and dance, and wish the kind Duchess many happy returns of the day, at Frogmore. On one occasion the little ball ended in a curious dance, called "Grand-pere," a sort of "Follow my Leader." "The Prince and the Duchess of Kent led the way, and it was great fun, but rather a romp." Solemn statesmen, hoary soldiers, reverent churchmen, foreign diplomatists, were frequently consigned for companionship and entertainment to the "ladies of the Household," and relaxed and grew jocular in such company, under the spring sunshine of girlish smiles and laughter.
More mature and distinguished figures stood out among the women, to match the men—whose names will be household words so long as England keeps her place among the nations. Sagacious Baroness Lehzen, the incomparable early instructress and guide of the Queen, so good to all the young people who came under her influence, before she retired to her quiet home at Buckeburg; Lady Lyttelton, who had been with the Queen as one of the ladies-in-waiting ever since her Majesty came to the throne, who, after the most careful selection, was appointed governess to the Royal children, and was well qualified to discharge an office of such consequence to the Queen and the nation. It is impossible to read such portions of her letters as have been published without being struck by their wise womanliness and gentle motherliness. Beautiful Lady Canning, with her artist soul, was another star in an exalted firmament.
Little feet pattered amongst the brilliant groups. The Princess Royal was a remarkably bright, lively child; the Prince of Wales a beautiful good-tempered baby, in such a nautilus-shell cradle as Mrs. Thorneycroft copied in modelling the likeness of Princess Beatrice. We have the pretty fancy before us: the exquisite curves of the shell, its fair round-limbed occupant, one foot and one arm thrown out with the careless grace of childhood, as if to balance and steer the fairy bark, the other soft hand lightly resting on the breast, over which the head and face, full of infant innocence and peace, are inclined.
Both children were fond of music, as the daughter and son of parents so musical might well be. When the youthful pair were a little older they would stand still and quiet in the music-room to hear the Prince-father discourse sweet sounds on his organ, and the Queen-mother sing with one of her ladies, "in perfect time and tune," with a fine feeling for her songs, as Mendelssohn has described her. The small people furnished a never-ending series of merry anecdotes and witticisms all their own, and would have gone far to break down the highest dead wall of stiffness and reserve, had such a barrier ever existed. Now it was the little Princess, a quaint tiny figure "in dark-blue velvet and white shoes, and, yellow kid gloves," keeping the nurseries alive with her sports, showing off the new frocks she had got as a Christmas-box from her grandmamma, the Duchess of Kent, and bidding Miss Liddell put on one. Now it was the Queen offending the dignity of her little daughter by calling her "Missy," and being told in indignant remonstrance, "I'm not Missy—I'm the Princess Royal." Or it was Lady Lyttelton who was warned off with the dismissal in French, from the morsel of royalty, not quite three, "N'approchez pas moi, moi ne veut pas vous;" or it was the Duke of Wellington, with a dash of old chivalry, kissing the baby-hand and bidding its owner remember, him. Or the child was driving in Windsor Park with the Queen and three of her ladies, when first the Princess imagined she saw a cat beneath the trees, and announced, "Cat come to look at the Queen, I suppose." Then she longed for the heather on the bank, and asked Lady Dunmore to get her some; when Lady Dunmore said she could not do that, as they were driving so fast, the little lady observed composedly, "No, you can't, but those girls," meaning the two Maids of Honour, in the full dignity of their nineteen or twenty summers and their office, "might get me some."
Windsor Castle in the height of summer, Windsor in the park among the old oaks and ferns, Windsor on the grand terrace with its glorious English view, might well leave bright lingering memories in a susceptible young mind. So we hear of a delightful ride, when the kind Queen mounted her Maid of Honour on a horse which had once belonged to Miss Liddell's sister, and in default of Miss Liddell's habit, which was not forthcoming, lent her one of the Queen's, with hat, cellar and cuffs to suit, and the two cantered and walked over the greensward and down many a leafy glade for two hours and a half. Once, we are told, the Queen, the Prince, and the whole company went out after dinner in the warm summer weather, and promenaded in the brilliant moonlight, a sight to see, with the lit-up castle in the background, the men in the Windsor uniform, the women in full dress, like poor Marie Antoinette's night promenades at Versailles, or a page from Boccaccio.
Running through all the young Maid of Honour's diary is the love which makes all service light; the loyal innocent sense of hardship at being in waiting and not seeing the Queen "at least once a day;" the affectionate regret to lose any of her Majesty's company; the pride and pleasure at being selected by the Queen for special duties.
CHAPTER XVI. THE CONDEMNATION OF THE ENGLISH DUEL.—ANOTHER MARRIAGE.—THE QUEEN'S VISIT TO CHATEAU D'EU.
On the 1st of July, 1843, duelling received its death-blow in England by a fatal duel—so unnatural and so painful in its consequences that it served the purpose of calling public attention to the offence—long tolerated, even advocated in some quarters, and to the theory of military honour on which this particular duel took place. Two officers, Colonel Fawcett and Lieutenant Munro, who were also brothers-in-law, had a quarrel. Colonel Fawcett was elderly, had been in India, was out of health and exceedingly irritable in temper. It came out afterwards that he had given his relation the greatest provocation. Still Lieutenant Munro hung back from what up to that time had been regarded as the sole resource of a gentleman, especially a military man, in the circumstances. He showed great reluctance to challenge Colonel Fawcett, and it was only after the impression—mistaken or otherwise—was given to the insulted man that his regiment expected him to take the old course, and if he did not do so he must be disgraced throughout the service, that he called out his brother-in-law.
The challenge was accepted, the meeting took place, Colonel Fawcett was shot dead, and the horrible anomaly presented itself of two sisters—the one rendered a widow by the hand of her brother-in-law, and a family of children clad in mourning for their uncle, whom their father had slain. Apart from the bloodshed, Lieutenant Munro was ruined by the miserable step on which he had been thrust. Public feeling was roused to protest against the barbarous practice by which a bully had it in his power to risk the life of a man immeasurably his superior, against whom he happened to have conceived a dislike. Prince Albert interested himself deeply in the question, especially as it concerned the army. Various expedients were suggested; eventually an amendment was inserted into the Articles of War which was founded on the more reasonable, humane, and Christian conclusion, that to offer an apology, or even to make reparation where wrong had been committed, was more becoming the character of an officer and a gentleman, than to furnish the alternative of standing up to kill or to be killed for a hasty word or a rash act.
On the 28th of July, Princess Augusta of Cambridge was married in the chapel at Buckingham Palace to the hereditary Grand Duke of Mecklenburg-Strelitz. Princess Augusta was the elder of the two daughters of the Duke of Cambridge, was three years younger than the Queen, and at the time of her marriage was twenty-one years of age. In the cousins' childhood and early youth, during the reign of King William, the Duke of Cambridge had acted as the King's representative in Hanover, so that his family were much in Germany. At the date of the Queen's accession, Princess Augusta, a girl of fifteen, was considered old enough to appear with the rest of the royal family at the banquet at Guildhall, and in the other festivities which commemorated the beginning of the new reign. She figures in the various pictures of the Coronation, the Queen's marriage, &c. &c., and won the enthusiastic admiration of Leslie when he went to Cambridge House to take the portraits of the different members of the family for one of his pictures. Only a year before she had, in the character of Princess Claude of France, been one of the most graceful masquers at the Queen's Plantagenet Ball, and among the bridesmaids on the present occasion were two of the beauties at the ball, Lady Alexandrina Vane and Lady Clementina Villiers. Princess Augusta was marrying a young German prince, three years her senior, a kinsman of her father's through his mother, Queen Charlotte. She was going to the small northern duchy which had sent so brave a little queen to England.
Queen Victoria, Prince Albert, and all the royal family in the country, including the King of Hanover, who had remained to grace the ceremony, were present at the wedding, which, in old fashion, took place in the evening. Among the foreign guests were the King and Queen of the Belgians, the Prince and Princess of Oldenburg, the Crown Prince of Wurtemburg, &c. &c. The ambassadors, Cabinet Ministers, and officers of State were in attendance. The Archbishops of Canterbury and York, and the Bishops of London and Norwich, officiated. The marriage was registered and attested in the great dining room at Buckingham Palace. Then there passed away from the scene the Princess who had been for some years the solitary representative of the royal young ladyhood of England, as her sister, Princess Mary, was eleven years Princess Augusta's junior, and still only a little girl of ten. Princess Augusta had an annuity of three thousand a year voted to her by Parliament on her marriage.
A month later, on the 28th of August, the Queen went by railway to Southampton, in order to go on board the royal yacht for a trip to the Isle of Wight and the Devonshire coast. At Southampton Pier, the rain was falling heavily. Her Majesty had been received by the Mayor and Corporation, the Duke of Wellington, and other official personages, when it was discovered that there was not sufficient covering for the stage or gangway, which was to be run out between the pier and the yacht. Then the members of the Southampton Corporation were moved to follow the example of Sir Walter Raleigh in the service which introduced him to the notice of Queen Elizabeth. They pulled off their red gowns, spread them on the gangway, and so procured a dry footing for her Majesty.
Lady Bloomfield, as Miss Liddell, in the capacity of Maid of Honour in waiting, was with the Queen, and has furnished a few particulars of the pleasant voyage. The Queen landed frequently, returning to the yacht at night and sleeping on board. At the Isle of Wight she visited Norris Castle, where she had stayed in her youth, asking to see some of the rooms, and walking on the terrace. She told her companions that she would willingly have bought the place but could not afford it. At one point all the party except Lady Canning were overcome by sea sickness, which is no respecter of persons. At Dartmouth the Queen entered her barge and was rowed round the harbour, for the better inspection of the place, and the gratification of the multitude on the quays and in every description of sailing craft. At Plymouth the visitors landed and proceeded to Mount Edgcumbe, the beautiful seat of the Edgcumbe family. Wherever her Majesty went she made collections of flowers, which she had dried and kept as mementoes of the scenes in which they had been gathered. In driving through Plymouth, the crowd was so great, and pressed so much on the escort, that the infantry bayonets crossed in the carriages.
At Falmouth, the Queen was again rowed in her barge round the harbour, but the concourse of small boats became dangerous, as their occupants deserted the helms and rushed to one side to see the Queen, and the royal barge could only be extricated by the rowers exerting their utmost strength and skill, and forcing a passage through the swarming flotilla. The Mayor of Falmouth was a Quaker, and asked permission to keep on his hat while reading his address to the Queen. The Mayor of Truro, who with the Mayor of Penryn had accompanied their official brother when he put off in a small boat to intercept her Majesty in her circuit round the harbour, was doomed to play a more undignified part. He unluckily overleaped himself and fell into the water, so that he and his address, being too wet for presentation, were obliged to be put on shore again.
On board the Queen used to amuse herself with a favourite occupation of the ladies of the day, plaiting paper so as to resemble straw plait for bonnets. She was sufficiently skilled in the art to instruct her Maid of Honour in it.
On one occasion the Queen chanced to have her camp-stool set where it shut up the door of the place that held the sailors' grog-tubs. After much hanging about and consulting with the authorities, she was made acquainted with the fact, when she rose on condition that a glass of grog should be brought to her. She tasted it and said, "I am afraid I can only make the same remark I did once before, that I think it would be very good if it were stronger," an observation that called forth the unqualified delight of the men. Sometimes in the evening the sailors, at her Majesty's request, danced hornpipes on deck.
But the Queen's cruises this year were not to end on English or even Scotch ground. She was to make the first visit to France which had been paid by an English sovereign since Henry VIII. met Francis I. on the field of the Cloth of Gold. Earlier in the year two of Louis Philippe's sons, the sailor Prince Joinville, "tall, dark, and good looking, with a large beard, but, unfortunately for him, terribly deaf," and his brother, the man of intellect and culture if not of genius, the Duc d'Aumale, "much shorter and very fair," had been together at Windsor; and had doubtless arranged the preliminaries of the informal visit which the Queen was to pay to Louis Philippe. The King of France and his large family were in the habit of spending some time in summer or autumn at Chateau d'Eu, near the seaport of Treport, in Normandy; and to this point the Queen could easily run across in her yacht and exchange friendly greetings, without the elaborate preparations and manifold trouble which must be the accompaniment of a State visit to the Tuileries.
Accordingly the Queen and Prince Albert, on the 1st of September, sailed past the Eddystone Lighthouse, where they were joined by a little fleet of war-ships, and struck off for the coast of France. Besides her suite, the Queen was accompanied by two of her ministers, Lords Aberdeen and Liverpool. With the first, a shrewd worthy Scot, distinguished as a statesman by his experience, calm sagacity, and unblemished integrity, her Majesty and Prince Albert were destined to have cordial relations in the years to come.
In the meantime, French country people were pouring into Treport, where the King's barge lay ready. It was provided with a crimson silk awning, having white muslin curtains over a horseshoe-shaped seat covered with crimson velvet, capable of containing eleven or twelve persons. The rowers were clad in white, with red sashes and, red ribands round their hats.
The Queen was to land by crossing the deck of a vessel moored along the quay and mounting a ladder, the steps of which were covered with crimson velvet. At five o'clock in the afternoon the King and his whole family, a great cortege, arrived on horseback and in open chars-a-bancs. Prince Joinville had met the yacht at Cherbourg and gone on board. As soon as it lay-to the King came alongside in his barge. The citizen King was stout, florid, and bluff-looking, with thick grizzled hair brushed up into a point. As the exiled Duke of Orleans, in the days of the great Revolution, he had been a friend of the Queen's father, the Duke of Kent. The King did not fail to remind his guest of this, after he had kissed her on each check, kissed her hand, and told her again and again how delighted he was to see her. When the two sovereigns entered the barge the standards of England and France were hoisted together, and amidst royal salutes from the vessels in the roads and from the batteries on shore, to the music of regimental bands, in the sunset of a fine autumn evening the party landed.
At the end of the jetty the ladies of the royal family of France with their suites stood in a curved line. Queen Amelie, with her snowy curls and benevolent face, was two paces in advance of the others. Behind her were her daughter and daughter-in-law, the Queen of the Belgians and the widowed Duchesse d'Orleans, who appeared in public for the first time since her husband's death a year before. A little farther back stood Madame Adelaide, the King's sister, and the other princesses, the younger daughter and the daughters-in-law of the house. Louis Philippe presented Queen Victoria to his Queen, who "took her by both hands and saluted her several times on both cheeks with evident warmth of manner." Queen Louise, and at least one of the other ladies, were well known to the visitor, whom they greeted gladly, while the air was filled with shouts of "Vive la Reine Victoria!" "Vive la Reine d'Angleterre!"
The Queen, who was dressed simply, as usual, in a purple satin gown, a black mantilla trimmed with lace, and a straw bonnet with straw-coloured ribands and one ostrich feather, immediately entered the King's char-a-bancs, which had a canopy and curtains that were left open. Lady Bloomfield describes it as drawn by twelve large clumsy horses. There was a coachman on the box, with three footmen behind, and there was "a motley crowd of outriders on wretched horses and dressed in different liveries." The other chars-a-bancs with six horses followed, and the whole took their, way to the Chateau, a quaint and pleasant dwelling, some of it as old as the time of the Great Mademoiselle.
A stately banquet was held in the evening in the banqueting-room, hung round with royal portraits and historical pictures, the table heavy with gold and silver plate, including the gold plateau and the great gold vases filled with flowers. The King, in uniform, sat at the centre of the table. He had on his right hand Queen Victoria, wearing a gown of crimson velvet, the order of the garter and a parure of diamonds and emeralds, but having her hair simply braided. On her other side sat Prince Joinville. On the King's left hand was Queen Louise. The Duchesse d'Orleans, in accordance with French etiquette for widows in their weeds, did not come to the dinner-table. Opposite the King sat his Queen, with Prince Albert on her right hand and the Duc d'Aumale on her left. The royal host and hostess carved like any other old-fashioned couple.
The Queen received the same lively impressions from her first visit to France that she had experienced on her first visit to Scotland. Apart from the scenery there was yet more to strike her. The decidedly foreign dresses of the people, the strange tongue, the mill going on Sunday, the different sound of the church bells—nothing escaped her. There was also, in the large family of her brother king and ally—connected with her by so many ties, every member familiar to her by hearsay, if not known to her personally—much to interest her. The Queen had been, to all intents and purposes, brought up like an only child, and her genial disposition had craved for entire sympathy and equal companionship. She seems to have regarded wistfully, as an only child often regards, what she had never known, the full, varied, yet united life of a large, happy, warmly attached family circle. When she saw her children possessed of the blessing which had been denied to her in her early days, she was tempted to look back on the widowed restricted household in Kensington Palace as on a somewhat chill and grey environment. She has more than once referred to her childhood as dull and sad by comparison with what she lived to know of the young life of other children.
But the great royal household of France at this date, in addition to its wealth of interests and occupations, and its kindness to the stranger who was so quick to respond to kindness, was singularly endowed with elements of attractiveness for Queen Victoria. It appeared, indeed, as if all life at its different stages, in its different aspects, even in its different nationalities, met and mingled with a wonderful charm under the one roof-tree. Besides the old parent couple and the maiden aunt, who had seen such changes of fortune, there were three young couples, each with their several careers before them. There was the bride of yesterday, the youngest daughter of the house, Princess Clementine, with her young German husband, the Queen and Prince Albert's kinsman; there was Nemours, wedded to another German cousin, the sweet-tempered golden-haired Princess Victoire; there was Joinville, with his dark-haired Brazilian Princess. [Footnote: A kinswoman of Maria da Gloria's] It had been said that he had gone farther, as became a sailor, in search of a wife than any other prince in Europe. She was very pretty in a tropical fashion, very piquante, and, perhaps, just a little sauvage. She had never seen snow, and the rules and ceremonies of a great European court were almost as strange to her. Lady Bloomfield mentions her as if she were something of a spoilt child who could hardly keep from showing that the rigid laws of her new position fretted and bored her. She wore glowing pomegranate blossoms in her hair, and looked pensive, as if she were pining for the gorgeous little hummingbirds and great white magnolias—the mixture of natural splendour and ease, passion and languor, of a typical South American home.
D'Aumale and Montpensier were still gay young bachelors, and well would it have been for the welfare of the Orleans family and the credit of Louis Philippe if one of them had remained so. There was a widow as well as a bride in the house. There were the cherished memories of a dearly-prized lost son and daughter to touch with tender sorrow its blithest moments and lightest words. The Queen had to make the acquaintance of Helene, Duchesse d'Orleans; [Footnote: Princess Helena of Mecklenburg-Schwerin.] tall, thin and pale, not handsome, but better than handsome, full of character and feeling, shrinking from observation in her black dress, with the shadow of a life-long grief over her heart and life. And the visitor had to hear again of the gifted Princess Marie, the friend of Ary Scheffer, whose statue of Jeanne d'Arc is the best monument of a life cut down in its brilliant promise. Princess Marie's devoted sister Louise, Queen of the Belgians, in her place as the eldest surviving daughter of France, had long been Queen Victoria's great friend. Finally, there was the third generation, headed by the fatherless boy, "little Paris," with regard to whom few then doubted that he would one day sit on the throne of France.
It was not principally because the Chateau d'Eu was in France that the Queen wrote, the first morning she awoke there, the fulfilment of her favourite air-castle of so many years was like a dream, or that she grieved when her visit was over. She sought to find, and believed she had found, a whole host of new friends and kindred—another father and mother, more brothers and sisters, nephews and nieces, to make her life still richer and more full of kindly ties.
The speciality in the form of entertainment at Chateau d'Eu was drives in the sociable chars-a-bancs in the neighbouring forest, ending in dejeuners and fetes-champetres, which the Queen enjoyed heartily, both because they were novel to her and because they were spontaneous and untrammelled. "So pretty, so merry, so rural," she declared. "Like the fetes in Germany," Prince Albert said. The long, frequently rough drives under the yellowing trees in the golden September light, the camp-chairs, the wine in plain bottles, the improvised kitchen hidden among the bushes, the many young people of high rank all so gay, the king full of liveliness and brusqueness, his queen full of motherliness and consideration for all—everything was delightful.
One pathetic little incident occurred when the guests were being shown over the parish church of Notre Dame. As they came to the crypt, with its ancient monuments of the Comtes d'Eu, the Duchesse d'Orleans was overcome with emotion, and the Queen of the Belgians drew her aside. When the rest of the party passed again through the church, on their way back, they came upon the two mourning women prostrate before one of the altars, the Duchesse weeping bitterly.
The King presented Queen Victoria with fine specimens of Gobelin tapestry and of Sevres china. He went farther in professions and compliments. He was not content to leave the discussion of politics to M. Guizot and Lord Aberdeen. Louis Philippe volunteered to the Queen's minister the statement that he would not give his son to Spain (referring to a proposed marriage between the Duc de Montpensier and the Infanta Luisa, the sister of the young Queen Isabella, who had been lately declared of age), even if he were asked. To which the stout Scot replied, without beating about the bush, "that except one of the sons of France, any aspirant whom Spain might choose would be acceptable to England."
Louis Philippe, Queen Amelie, and the whole family escorted the Queen and the Prince on board the yacht, parting with them affectionately. Prince Joinville accompanied the couple to the Pavilion, Brighton. In the course of the sail there was a race between his ship and the Black Eagle, in which the English vessel won, to the French sailors' disgust.
Louis Philippe felt great satisfaction at a visit which proved his cordial relations with England, and served to remove the reproach which he seemed to think clung to him and prevented the other European royal families from fraternising with him and his children as they would otherwise have done—namely, that he was not the representative of the elder, and what many were pleased to consider the legitimate, branch of the Bourbons. He was but a king set up by the people, whom the people might pull down again. There was not much apparent prospect of this overthrow then, though the forces were at work which brought it about. In token of his gratification, and as a memorial of what had given him so much pleasure, the King caused a series of pictures to be taken of Queen Victoria's landing, and of the various events of her stay. These pictures remain, among several series, transferred to the upper rooms of one of the French palaces, and furnish glimpses of other things that have vanished besides the fashion of the day. There the various groups reappear. Queen Amelie with her piled-up curls, the citizen King and their numerous young people doing honour to the young Queen of England and her husband, both looking juvenile in their turn—all the more so for a certain antiquated cut in their garments at this date, a formality in his hat and neckerchief, a demureness in her close bonnet, and a pretty show of youthful matronliness in the little lace cap which, if we mistake not, she wears on one occasion.
CHAPTER XVII. THE QUEEN'S TRIP TO OSTEND:—VISITS TO DRAYTON, CHATSWORTH, AND BELVOIR.
"Ce n'est que le premier pas qui coute." In the course of another week the Queen took a second trip to the Continent, sailing to Ostend to pay the most natural visit in the world—the only thing singular about it was that it had been so long delayed—to her uncle, King Leopold. The yacht, which had been lying off Brighton, was accompanied by eight other steamers, and joined at Walmer by two ships of the line. At Dover a salute was fired from the castle. At Deal the Duke of Wellington came on board and dined with the royal party, the Queen watching with some anxiety the return of the old man in his boat, through a considerable surf which wetted him thoroughly, before he mounted his horse and rode off to Walmer, to superintend the illumination of the Castle in lines of light. In like manner every ship lying in the Downs glittered through the darkness.
At two o'clock on the following afternoon the Queen and the Prince reached Ostend, where they were received by King Leopold and Queen Louise. There had been some uncertainty whether the travellers, after not too smooth a passage, would be equal to the fatigue of a banquet at the Hotel de Ville that evening. But repose is the good thing to which royalty can rarely attain, so it was settled that the banquet should go on. The display was less, and there was more of undress among the chief personages than there had been at the opening banquet at Chateau d'Eu. The Queen must have looked to her host not far removed from the docile young niece he had so carefully trained and tutored, as she sat by him in white lace and muslin, with flowers in her hair—only bound by a ferroniere of diamonds. The King and Prince Albert were in plain clothes, save that they showed the ribands and insignia of the orders of the Garter and the Bath; the Queen of the Belgians wore a white lace bonnet. It was in the main a simple family party made for the travellers.
The next day the Prince and Princess of Hohenlohe arrived, when the elder sister would have knelt and paid her homage to the younger, had not her Majesty prevented her with a sisterly embrace. Ostend was the head-quarters of the royal party, from which in the mellow autumn time they visited Bruges and Ghent. "The old cities of Flanders had put on their fairest array and were very tastefully decorated with tapestries, flowers, trees, pictures, &c. &c." The crowds of staid Flemings wore stirred up to joyous enthusiasm.
The Queen's artistic tastes, in addition to her fresh sympathies and her affection for her uncle and his wife, rendered the whole scene delightful to her. She was fitted to relish each detail, from the carillons to the carvings. She inspected all that was to be seen at Bruges, from the Palace of Justice to the Chapel of the Holy Blood. At Ghent, she went to the church of St. Bavon, where the Van Eycks have left the best part of their wonderful picture before the altar while the dust of Hubert and Margaret, rests in the crypt below. She saw the fragment of the palace in which John of Gaunt was born, when an English queen-consort, Philippa, resided there five hundred years before. She visited the old Beguinage, with the shadowlike figures of the nuns in black and white flitting to and fro.
From Ostend the Queen and Prince Albert proceeded to the cheerful, prosperous, and, by comparison, modern town of Brussels, King Leopold's capital, and stayed a night at his palace of Lacken, which had been built by Prince Albert's ancestor and namesake, Duke Albert of Sechsen, when he governed the Netherlands along with his wife the Archduchess Christina, the favourite daughter of Maria Theresa and the sister of Marie Antoinette. From Brussels the travellers journeyed to Antwerp, where they saw another grand cathedral and witnessed the antique spectacle of "the Giant" before the palace in the Place de Mer.
On leaving Antwerp, the Queen and the Prince sailed for England, escorted so far on their way by King Leopold and Queen Louise. "It was such a joy to me," her Majesty wrote to her uncle, soon after their parting, "to be once again under the roof of one who has ever been a father to me." The vessel lay all night in Margate Roads, and the next morning arrived at Woolwich.
In the month of October her Majesty and the Prince visited Cambridge, where he received his degree of LL.D. A witty letter, written by Professor Sedgwick, describing the royal visit to the Woodwardian Museum, is quoted by Sir Theodore Martin
"....I received a formidable note from our master telling me of an intended royal visit to the Woodwardian den of wild beasts, immediately after Prince Albert's degree; and enjoining me to clear a passage by the side entrance through the old divinity schools. This threw me off my balance, for since the building of the new library this place of ancient theological disputation has been converted into a kind of lumber-room, and was filled from end to end with every kind of unclean things—mops, slop-pails, chimney-pots, ladders, broken benches, rejected broken cabinets, two long ladders, and an old rusty scythe were the things that met the eye, and all covered with half an inch of venerable dust. There is at the end of the room a kind of gallery or gangway, by which the undergraduates used to find their way to my lecture-room, but this was also full of every kind of rubbish and abomination. We did our best; soon tumbled all impediments into the area below, spread huge mats over the slop-pails, and, in a time incredibly short, a goodly red carpet was spread along the gangway, and thence down my lecture-room to the door of the Museum. But still there was a dreadful evil to encounter. What we had done brought out such a rank compound of villanous smells that even my plebeian nose was sorely put to it; so I went to a chemist's, procured certain bottles of sweet odours, and sprinkled them cunningly where most wanted.
"Inside the Museum all was previously in order, and inside the entrance door from the gangway was a huge picture of the Megatherium, under which the Queen must pass to the Museum, and at that place I was to receive her Majesty. So I dusted my outer garments and ran to the Senate House, and I was just in time to see the Prince take his degree and join in the acclamations. This ended, I ran back to the feet of the Megatherium, and in a few minutes the royal party entered the mysterious gangway above described. They halted, I half thought in a spirit of mischief, to contemplate the furniture of the schools, and the Vice-chancellor (Whewell) pointed out the beauties of the dirty spot where Queen Bess had sat two hundred and fifty years before, when she presided at the Divinity Act. A few steps more brought them under the feet of the, Megatherium. I bowed as low as my anatomy would let me, and the Queen and Prince bowed again most graciously, and so began act first. The Queen seemed happy and well pleased, and was mightily taken with one or two of my monsters, especially with the 'Plesiosaurus,' and a gigantic stag. The subject was new to her; but the Prince evidently had a good general knowledge of the old world, and not only asked good questions and listened with great courtesy to all I had to say, but in one or two instances helped me on by pointing to the rare things in my collection, especially in that part of it which contains the German fossils. I thought myself very fortunate in being able to exhibit the finest collection of German fossils to be seen in England. They fairly went the round of the Museum, neither of them seemed in a hurry, and the Queen was quite happy to hear her husband talk about a novel subject with so much knowledge and spirit. He called her back once or twice to look at a fine impression of a dragon-fly which I have in the Solenhope slate. Having glanced at the long succession of our fossils, from the youngest to the oldest, the party again moved into the lecture-room. The Queen was again mightily taken with the long neck of the Plesiosaurus; under it was a fine head of an Ichthyosaurus which I had just been unpacking. I did not know anything about it, as I had myself never seen its face before, for it arrived in my absence. The Queen asked what it was. I told her as plainly as I could. She then asked whence it came; and what do you think I said? That I did not know the exact place, but I believed it came as a delegate from the monsters of the lower world to greet her Majesty on her arrival at the University. I did not repeat this till I found that I had been overheard, and that my impertinence had been talked of among my Cambridge friends. All was, however, taken in good part, and soon afterwards the royal party again approached the mysterious gangway. The Queen and Prince bowed, the Megatherium packed up his legs close under the abdominal region of his august body, the royal pageant passed under, and was soon out of my sight and welcomed by the cheers of the multitude before the library.
"I will only add that I went through every kind of backward movement to admiration of all beholders, only having once trodden on the hinder part of my cassock, and never once having fallen during my retrogradations before the face of the Queen. In short, had I been a king crab, I could not have walked backwards better."
When in Cambridgeshire the Queen and the Prince visited Lord Hardwicke at Wimpole, where the whole county was assembled at a ball, and Earl De la Warr at Bourne.
In this month of October the great agitator for the repeal of the Irish Union, Daniel O'Connell, was arrested, in company with other Irish agitators, on a charge of sedition and conspiracy. After a prolonged trial, which lasted to the early summer of the following year, he was sentenced to a year's imprisonment and the payment of a fine of two thousand pounds, with recognisances to keep the peace for seven years. The sentence lapsed on technical grounds, but its moral effect was considerable.
In the month of September the Queen and Prince Albert visited Sir Robert Peel at Drayton, travelling by railroad, with every station they passed thronged by spectators. At Rugby the pupils of the great school, headed by Dr. Tait, were drawn up on the platform. Sir Robert Peel received his guests in a pavilion erected for the occasion, and conducted her Majesty to her carriage, round which was an escort of Staffordshire yeomanry. At the entrance to the town of Tamworth, the mayor, kneeling, presented his mace, with the words, "I deliver to your Majesty the mace;" to which the Queen replied, "Take it, it cannot be in better hands."
At eight o'clock in the evening Sir Robert Peel conducted the Queen, who wore pink silk and a profusion of emeralds and diamonds, to the dining-room, Prince Albert giving his arm to Lady Peel. Among the guests were the Duke of Wellington and the Duke and Duchess of Buccleugh. The Duchess on one occasion during the visit wore an old brocade which had belonged to a great grand-aunt of the Duke's, and was pronounced very beautiful. After dinner the party withdrew to the library. Either on this evening or the next the Queen played at the quaint old game of "Patience," with some of her ladies, while the gentlemen "stood about."
On the following day her Majesty walked in the grounds, while Prince Albert gratified an earnest wish by visiting Birmingham and inspecting its manufactures, undeterred, perhaps rather allured, by the fact that the great town of steel and iron was regarded as one of the centres of Chartism. This did not prevent its mighty population from displaying the most exultant loyalty as they pressed round the carriage in which the Prince and the Mayor, reported to be a rank Chartist, drove to glass and silver-plate manufactories and papier-mache works, the town hall, and the schools.
At the railway station the Prince was joined by the Queen-dowager and Prince Edward of Saxe-Weimar, who came from Whitley Court to accompany him back to Drayton. The next morning was devoted to shooting, when Prince Albert confirmed his good character as a sportsman by bringing down sixty pheasants, twenty-five hares, eight rabbits, one woodcock, and two wild ducks. In the afternoon the Queen visited Lichfield, to which she had gone as "the young Princess." Indeed, the next part of the tour was over old ground in Derbyshire, for from Drayton the royal couple proceeded to Chatsworth, and spent several days amidst the beauties of the Peak. Twenty thousand persons were assembled in the magnificent grounds at Chatsworth, and artillery had been brought from Woolwich to fire a salute. Many old friends, notably members of the great Whig houses—Lord Melbourne, Lord and Lady Palmerston, the Marquis and Marchioness of Normanby—met to grace the occasion. There was a grand ball, at which the aristocracy of invention and industry, trade and wealth, represented by the Arkwrights and the Strutts, mingled with the autocracy of ancient birth and landed property. Mrs. Arkwright was presented to the Queen. Her Majesty opened the ball with the Duke of Devonshire, dancing afterwards with Lord Morpeth and Lord Leveson—in the last instance, "a country dance, with much vigour"—and waltzing with Prince Albert. On the 2nd of December the party visited Haddon Hall, the ancient seat of the Vernons, where Dorothy Vernon lived and loved. On their return in the evening, the great conservatory was brilliantly illuminated, and there was a display of fireworks.
On the 3rd, Sunday, the Queen walked through the kitchen gardens and botanical gardens, and drove to Edensor. On the return of the party by the Home Farm, they went to see a prize-pig, weighing seventy pounds. The day ended with a concert of sacred music.
On Monday, the 4th, the Queen and the Prince parted from the Duke of Devonshire at Derby, and proceeded to Nottingham—not to visit what remained of the Castle so long associated with John and Lucy Hutchinson, or to penetrate to the cradle of hosiery, daring an encounter with the "Nottingham Lambs," the roughest of roughs, who at election times were wont to add to their natural beauties by painting their faces red, white, and blue, as savages tattoo themselves—but as a step on the way to Belvoir, the seat of the Duke of Rutland. There her Majesty entered that most aristocratic portion of England known as "The Dukeries." The Duke of Rutland, attended by two hundred of his tenantry on horseback, awaited his guests at Red Mile, and rode with them the three miles to Belvoir. Soon after the Queen's arrival, Dr. Stanton presented her Majesty with the key of Stanton Town, according to the tenure on which that estate is held.
Belvoir was a sight in itself, even after the stately lawns of Chatsworth. "I do not know whether you ever saw Belvoir," writes Fanny Kemble; "it is a beautiful place; the situation is noble, and the views, from the windows of the castle, and the terraces and gardens hanging over the steep hill crowned by it, is charming. The whole vale of Belvoir, and miles of meadow and woodland, lie stretched below it, like a map unrolled to the distant horizon, presenting extensive and varied prospects in every direction; while from the glen which surrounds the castle-hill, like a deep moat filled with a forest, the spring winds swell up as from a sea of woodland, and the snatches of birds' carolling, and cawing rooks' discourse, float up to one from the topmost branches of tall trees, far below one's feet, as one stands on the battlemented terraces."
December was not the best time for seeing some of the attractions of Belvoir; but Lady Bloomfield has written of her Majesty's proverbial good fortune in these excursions: "The Queen yachts during the equinox, and has the sea a dead calm; visits about in the dead of winter, and has summer weather." There were other respects in which Belvoir was in its glory in midwinter—it belonged to a hunting neighbourhood and a hunting society. Whereas at Drayton and Chatsworth the royal pair had been principally surrounded by Tory and Whig statesmen, at Belvoir, while the Queen-dowager and some of the most distinguished members of the company at Chatsworth were again of the party, the Queen and the Prince found themselves in the centre of the fox-hunters of Melton Mowbray.
Happily, the Prince could hunt with the best, and the Queen liked to look on at her husband's sport, so that the order of the day was the throwing off of the hounds at Croxton. In the evening the Queen played whist. The next day there was a second splendid meet royally attended, with cards again at night. The Prince wrote of one of these "runs," to Baron Stockmar, that he had distinguished himself by keeping up with the hounds all through. "Anson" and "Bouverie" had both fallen on his left and right, but he had come off "with a whole skin." We are also told that the Prince's horsemanship excited the amazed admiration of the spectators, to the Queen's half-impatient amusement. "One can scarcely credit the absurdity of the people," she wrote to her uncle, King Leopold; "but Albert's riding so boldly has made such a sensation that it has been written all over the country, and they make much more of it than if he had done some great act." Apparently the Melton Mowbray fox-hunters had, till now, hardly appreciated that fine combination of physical and mental qualities, which is best expressed in two lines of an old song:—
His step is foremost in the ha', His sword in battle keen.
On the 7th of December the visitors left for Windsor, passing through endless triumphal arches on the road, greeted at Leicester by seven thousand school children.
Shortly after the Queen's return home, she and the Prince heard, with regret, of the death of Thomas Graham, Lord Lynedoch. The veteran fell, indeed, like a shock of corn ripe for the garner, until it had been difficult to recognise in the feeble, nearly blind old man, upwards of ninety, the stout soldier of Barossa and Vittoria. But he carried with him many a memory which could never be recalled. Gallant captain though he was, his whole life was touched with tender romance. Born only four years after the Jacobite rebellion of '45, married in 1774, when he was twenty-five years of age, to his beautiful wife, the Hon. Mary Cathcart—whose sister Jane was married on the same day to John, Duke of Athole—for eighteen years Mr. Graham lived the quiet life of a country gentleman in Lynedoch Cottage, the most charming of cottages ornes, thatch-roofed, with a conservatory as big as itself, set down in a fine park. The river Almond flowed by, serving as a kind of boundary, and marking the curious limit which the plague kept in its last visit to Scotland. On a green "haugh" beneath what is known as the Burnbraes, within a short distance of Lynedoch Cottage, may be seen the carefully-kept double grave of two girls heroines of Scotch song, who died there of the "pest," from which they were fleeing.
Mr. Graham was happy in his marriage, though it is said Mrs. Graham did not relish that element in her lot which had made her the wife of a simple commoner, while her sister, not more fair, was a duchess. Death entered on the scene, and caused the distinctions of rank to be forgotten. The cherished wife was laid in a quiet grave in Methven kirk-yard, and the childless widower mourned for the desire of his heart with a grief that refused to be comforted. By the advice of his friends, who feared for his reason or his life, he went abroad, where he joined Lord Hood as a volunteer. It is said he fought his first battle in a black coat, with the hope that, being thus rendered conspicuous in any act of daring which he might perform, he would be stricken down before the day was done. Honours, not death, were to be his portion in his new career. A commission, rapid promotion, the praise of his countrymen followed. He received the thanks of both Houses of Parliament. It was on this occasion that Sheridan said eloquently, in allusion to the soldier's services in the retreat to Corunna, "In the hour of peril Graham was their best adviser, in the hour of disaster Graham was their surest consolation." A peerage, which there was none to share or inherit, a pension, the Orders of the Bath, of St. Michael and St. George, &c. &c., were conferred upon him. It seemed only the other day since Lord Lynedoch, hearing of her Majesty's first visit to Scotland, hurried home from Switzerland to receive his queen. A place in Westminster Abbey was ready for all that was mortal of him, but he had left express injunctions that he was to be buried in Methven kirk-yard, beside the wife of his youth, dead more than half a century before.
Most people know the history of Gainsborough's lovely picture of Mrs. Graham, the glory of the Scotch National Gallery—that it was not brought home till after the death of the lady, whose husband could not bear to look on her painted likeness, and sent it, in its case, to the care of a London merchant, in whose keeping it remained unopened, and well-nigh forgotten, for upwards of fifty years. On Lord Lynedoch's death, the picture came into the possession of his heir, Mr. Graham, of Redgorton, who presented it—a noble gift—to the Scotch National Academy.
CHAPTER XVIII. ALLIES FROM AFAR.—DEATH AND ABSENCE.—BIRTHDAY GREETINGS.
Lady Bloomfield describes a set of visitors at Windsor this year such as have not infrequently come a long way to pay their homage to the Queen, and to see for themselves the wonders of civilisation. The party consisted of five Indian chiefs, two squaws, a little girl, and a half-breed, accompanied by Mr. Catlin as interpreter. The Queen received the strangers in the Waterloo Gallery. The elder chief made a speech with all the dignity and self-confidence of his race. It was to the effect that he was much pleased the Great Spirit had permitted him to cross the large lake (the Atlantic) in safety. They had wished to see their great mother, the Queen. England was the light of the world; its rays illuminated all nations, and reached even to their country. They found it much larger than they expected, and the buildings were finer than theirs, and the wigwam (Windsor Castle) was very grand, and they were pleased to see it. Nevertheless, they should return to their own country and be quite happy and contented. They thanked the Great Spirit they had enough to eat and drink. They thought the people in England must be very rich, and they looked pleased and happy. They (the Chippewas) had served under the English sovereigns and had fought their battles. He—the chief—had served under ——, the greatest chief that had ever existed or had ever been known. He had been on the field of battle when his general was killed and had helped to bury him. He had received kindness from the English nation, for which he thanked them; their wigwams at home had been made comfortable with English goods. He had nothing more to say. He had finished.
These Indians had their faces tattooed and were clad in skins, with large bunches of feathers on their heads. The men were armed with tomahawks, clubs, wooden swords, bows, and spears. The women were in the height of squaw-fashion, with long black hair, dresses reaching to their feet, and quantities of coloured beads. Two war-dances were danced before the Queen, one of the chiefs playing a sort of drum, the music being assisted by shrieks and cries and the shaking of a rattle. The dance began by the dancers quivering in every joint, then passed into a slow movement, which ended in violent action.
Such an interlude was welcome in the necessary monotony of Court life to those who do not penetrate into its inmost circle. Lady Bloomfield writes, "Everything else changes; the life at Court never does; it is exactly the same from day to day and year to year." And she records, as an agreeable diversion from the set routine, the mistake of one of the pages, by which an equerry-in-waiting, in the absence of another official, received a wrong order about dinner. When the Queen dines in private there is a purely Household dinner in the room appointed for the purpose. In those days the Queen rarely dined two days consecutively in private, so that her suite were surprised by the announcement that there were to be two Household dinners—the one after the other. The ladies and gentlemen sat down together in the Oak Room at eight o'clock, and had finished their soup and fish, when a message came from the Queen to know who had given the order that they were to dine without her. The company stared blankly at each other, finished their dinner with what appetite they might, and adjourned to the drawing-room, when they were told that her Majesty was coming. One can fancy the consternation of the courtiers, who were "only in plain evening coats," instead of Windsor uniform. Happily it occurred to the defaulters that it would be but right to anticipate her Majesty, so that all rushed off to the corridor to meet the Queen and the Prince, who were much amused by the blunder.
There is a pleasant little picture of the young family at Windsor in one of the Prince's letters this winter: "The children, in whose welfare you take so kindly an interest, are making most favourable progress. The eldest, "Pussy" (the Princess Royal at three years of age), is now quite a little personage. She speaks English and French with great fluency and choice of phrase.... The little gentleman (the Prince of Wales) is grown much stronger than he was.... The youngest (Princess Alice) is the beauty of the family, and is an extraordinarily good and merry child."
January, 1844, brought a severe trial to Prince Albert, and through him to the Queen, in the sudden though not quite unexpected death of his father at Gotha, at the comparatively early age of sixty years. Father and son were much attached to each other, they had been parted for nearly four years since the Prince's marriage, and the early meeting to which they had been looking forward was denied to them.
The Queen wrote to Baron Stockmar, in the beginning of February, "Oh, if you could be here now with us: My darling stands so alone, and his grief is so great and touching.... He says (forgive my bad writing, but my tears blind me) I am now all to him. Oh, if I can be, I shall be only too happy; but I am so disturbed and affected myself, I fear I can be but of little use."
"I have been with the Queen a good deal, altogether,"—Lady Lyttelton refers to this time; "she is very affecting in her grief, which is in truth all on the Prince's account; and every time she looks at him her eyes fill afresh. He has suffered dreadfully, being very fond of his father, and his separation from him and the suddenness of the event, and his having expected to see him soon, all contribute to make him worse."
The Prince himself wrote to his trusty friend, "God will give us all strength to bear the blow becomingly. That we were separated gives it a peculiar poignancy; not to see him, not to be present to close his eyes, not to help to comfort those he leaves behind, and to be comforted by them is very hard. Here we sit together, poor Mama (the Duchess of Kent, the late Duke of Coburg's sister), Victoria and myself, and weep, with a great cold public around us, insensible as stone."
The Prince had one source of consolation, that of a good son who had never caused his father pain. He had another strong solace in the reality and worth of the new ties which were replacing the old, both in his own case and in that of his brother. "The good Alexandrine," Prince Albert remarked, referring to his sister-in-law, "seems to me in the whole picture like the consoling angel." Then he goes on, "Just so is Victoria to me, who feels and shares my grief and is the treasure on which my whole existence rests. The relation in which we stand to each other leaves nothing to desire. It is a union of heart and soul, and is therefore noble; and in it the poor children shall find their cradle, so as to be able one day to ensure a like happiness for themselves."
Lady Lyttelton describes a sermon which Archdeacon Wilberforce preached at Windsor at this season, February, 1844. "Just before church time the Queen told me that Archdeacon Wilberforce was going to preach, so I had my treat most unexpectedly, mercifully I could call it, for the sermon, expressed in his usual golden sweetness of language, was peculiarly practical and useful to myself—I mean, ought to be. 'Hold thee still in the Lord and abide patiently upon him,' was the text, and the peace, trust and rest which breathed in every sentence, ought to do something to assuage any and every worret, temporal and spiritual. There were some beautiful passages on looking forward into 'the misty future,' and its misery to a worldly view, and the contrary. The whole was rather the more striking from its seeming to come down so gently upon the emblems of earthly sorrow (referring to the mourning for Prince Albert's father), we are in such 'a boundless contiguity of shade.' There was a beautiful passage—I wish you could have heard it, because you could write it out—about growth in grace being greatest when mind and heart are at rest, and in stillness like the first shoot of spring which is not forwarded by the storm or hurricane, but by the silent dews of early dawn; another upon the melancholy of human life, 'most beautiful because most true.'"
It was judged desirable that the Prince should go to Germany for a fortnight at Easter. It was his first separation from the Queen since their marriage, and both felt it keenly. Lady Lyttelton wrote of her Majesty on the occasion: "The Queen has been behaving like a pattern wife as she is, about the Prince's tour; so feeling and so wretched and yet so unselfish; encouraging him to go, and putting the best face on it to the last moment.... We all feel sadly wicked and unnatural in his absence, and I am actually counting the days on my part as her Majesty is on hers," adds the kindly, sympathetic woman. The Queen of the Belgians,—and later, King Leopold, came over to console their niece by their company during part of her solitude. But her best refreshment must have been the letters with which couriers were constantly riding to and fro, full of a lover's tenderness and a brother's care, from the first to the last; these dispatches came unfailingly. They breathed "the tender green of hope," like the spring which was on the land at the time.
From Dover the husband wrote: "My own darling.... I have been here about an hour and regret the lost time which I might have spent with you. Poor child, you will, while I write, be getting ready for luncheon, and you will find a place vacant where I sat yesterday; in your heart, however, I hope my place will not be vacant. I, at least, have you on board with me in spirit. I reiterate my entreaty, 'Bear up,' and do not give way to low spirits, but try to occupy yourself as much as possible; you are even now half a day nearer to seeing me again; by the time you get this letter you will be a whole one—thirteen more and I am again within your arms."
From Ostend he wrote, "I occupy your old room." From Cologne, "Your picture has been hung up everywhere, and been very prettily wreathed with laurel, so that you will look down from the walls on my tete-a-tete with Bouverie" (the Prince's equerry).... "Every step takes me farther from you—not a cheerful thought." From Gotha, in the centre of his kinsfolk, he told her what delight her gifts had given, and added, "Could you have witnessed the happiness my return gave my family, you would have been amply repaid for the sacrifice of our separation. We spoke much of you." From Reinhardtsbrunn and Rosenau he sent the flowers he had gathered for her. He wrote of the toys he had got for the children, the presents he was bringing for her. At Kalenberg—one of his late father's country seats—he broke out warmly, "Oh, how lovely and friendly is this dear old country; how glad I should be to have my little wife beside me, that I might share my pleasure with her."
Coburg had grown marvellously in beauty. In company with his stepmother, brother, and sister-in-law, he went to the town church and was deeply moved by the devotional singing, and "an admirable sermon" from the pastor, who had confirmed the two brothers. Afterwards they rode together to their father's last resting-place. The Prince's biographer closes the account of this tour with a few significant words from Prince Albert's diary, in which he noted down in the briefest form the events of each day: "Crossed on the 11th. I arrived at six o'clock in the evening at Windsor. Great joy."
As a surprise for the Queen's birthday this year, the Prince had privately ordered a little picture of angels from Sir C. Eastlake, who had received a similar commission from the Queen for a picture with which she intended to greet the Prince.
A still more welcome surprise to Her Majesty was a miniature of Prince Albert in armour, according to a fancy of the Queen's, by Thorburn, a likeness which proved the best of all the portraits taken of the Prince, the most successful in catching the outward look when it expressed most characteristically the man within. This picture, together with that of the angels holding a medallion bearing the inscription "Heil und segen" (Health and Blessing), and all the other presents were placed in a room "turned into a bower by dint of enormous garlands."
The Queen and the Prince's relations with artists were naturally, from the royal couple's artistic tastes, intimate and happy. Accordingly, many pictures not only of great personages in State ceremonies, but of family groups in the simplicity of domestic life, survive as a proof of the connection. Vandyck did not paint Charles I. and Henrietta Maria more frequently than Landseer and some of his contemporaries painted her Majesty, with her husband and children, in the bright and unclouded summer of her life; and Vandyck, never painted his royal patrons in such easy unaffected guise and everyday circumstances. There is such a picture of Landseer's, well known from engravings, in which the Prince is represented in a Highland dress returned late from shooting, seated, surrounded by the trophies of his sport in deer, blackcock, &c. &c., and by a whole colony of delighted dogs,—beautiful Eos conspicuous by her sobriety and reserve, while an enraptured terrier presses forward to lick his master's hand. The Queen, dressed for dinner and still girlish-looking in her white satin, stands talking to the Prince. The Princess Royal, a chubby child of two or three, is prowling childlike among the dead game, curiously making her investigations.
Of many stories told of royal visits to studios, there are two which refer to an enfant terrible, the baby son of one of the painters. This small man having undertaken to be cicerone to his father's work, sought specially to point out to her Majesty that two elves were likenesses of himself and a little brother, "only, you know, we don't go about without clothes at home," he volunteered the confidential explanation.
The same child horrified an attentive audience by declining to receive a gracious advance made to him by the Queen, asserting with the utmost candour, "I don't like you."
"But why don't you like me, my boy?" inquired the loving mother of other little children, in some bewilderment.
"Because you are the Queen of England and you killed Queen Mary," the ardent champion of the slain Queen answered boldly.
The story goes on, that after a little laughter at the anachronism, Her Majesty took some trouble to explain to the malcontent that he was wrong, she did not kill Queen Mary, she had been very sorry for her fate. So far from killing her, she, Queen Victoria, was one of Queen Mary's descendants, and it was because she came of the old Stewart line that she reigned over both England and Scotland.
CHAPTER XIX. ROYAL VISITORS.—THE BIRTH OP PRINCE ALFRED.—A NORTHERN RETREAT.
The year 1844 may be instanced as rich in royal visitors to England. On the 1st of June the King of Saxony arrived and shortly after him a greater lion, the Emperor of Russia. The King of Saxony came as an honest friend and sightseer, entering heartily into the obligations of the latter. There was more doubt as to the motives of the Czar of all the Russias, and considerable wariness was needed in dealing with the northern eagle, whose real object might be, if not to use his beak and claws on the English nation, to employ them on some other nation after he had got an assurance that England would not interfere with his game. Indeed, jealousy of the French, and of the friendship between the Queen and Louis Philippe, was at the bottom of the Emperor's sudden appearance on the scene.
The Emperor had paid England a previous visit so far back as 1816, in the days of George, Prince Regent, when Prince Leopold and Princess Charlotte were the young couple at Claremont. He had then won much admiration and popularity by his strikingly handsome person, stately politeness, and gallant devotion to the English ladies who caught his fancy. He was still a handsome man—over six feet, with regular features, remarkable eyes, and bushy moustaches. He wore on his arrival a cloth cloak lined with costly fur, and a kind of cap which looked like a turban—rather a telling costume.
But time and the man's life and character had stamped themselves on what had once been a goodly mould. There was something oppressive in his elaborate politeness. There was a glare, not far removed from ferocity, in the great grey eyes, so little shaded by their lids and light eyelashes that occasionally a portion of the white eyeball above the iris was revealed, and there was an intangible brooding melancholy about the autocrat whose will was still law to millions of his fellow-creatures.
The Queen received her distinguished guest in the great hall at Buckingham Palace Shortly afterwards there was a dejeuner, at which some of the Emperor's old acquaintances in the royal family and out of it, met him—the Duchess of Gloucester, the Princess Sophia, the Duke of Cambridge, the Duke of Wellington, &c. &c. In the evening there was a banquet.
The Emperor followed the Queen to Windsor, where, amidst the gaieties of the Ascot week, he was royally entertained. Two visits were paid to the racecourse, with which the new-comer associated his name by founding the five hundred pounds prize. There was a grand review in Windsor Park, at which both the Emperor of Russia and the King of Saxony were present, as well as Her Majesty and Prince Albert and the royal children. The Emperor in a uniform of green and red, the King of Saxony in a uniform of blue and gold, and Prince Albert in a field-marshal's uniform—all the three wearing the insignia of the Garter—were the observed of all observers in the martial crowd. The only incidents of the day which struck Lady Lyttelton were "the very fine cheer on the old Duke of Wellington passing the Queen's carriage, and the really beautiful salute of Prince Albert, who rode by at the head of his regiment, and of course lowered his sword in full military form to the Queen, with such a look and smile as he did it! I never saw so many pretty feelings expressed in a minute."
On the return of the Court with its guests to Buckingham Palace, the Emperor went with Prince Albert to a fete at Chiswick, given by the Duke of Devonshire, and attended by seven or eight hundred noble guests. The Czar returned from it loud in the praise of the beauty of English women, while staunchly faithful to the belles he had admired twenty-eight years before. The same evening he accompanied the Queen to the opera, when she took his hand and made him stand with her in the front of the box, that the brilliant assemblage might see and welcome him.
The Emperor was an adept at saying courteous things. He remarked to the Queen, of Windsor, which he greatly admired, "It is worthy of you, Madame." He wished Prince Albert were his son. When the hour of leave-taking came he found the Queen in the small drawing-room with her children. He declared with emotion that he might at all times be relied upon as her most devoted servant, and prayed God to bless her. He kissed her hand and she kissed him; he embraced and blessed the children. He besought her to go no farther with him. "I will throw myself at your knees; pray let me lead you to your room." "But," wrote the Queen, "of course I would not consent, and took his arm to go to the hall.... At the top of the few steps leading to the lower hall he again took most kindly leave, and his voice betrayed his emotion. He kissed my hand and we embraced. When I saw him at the door I went down the steps, and from the carriage he begged I would not stand there; but I did, and saw him drive off with Albert to Woolwich."
The Emperor was rather suspiciously fond of declaring, "I mean what I say, and what I promise I will perform." Some of his speeches were emphatic enough. "I esteem England highly, but as for what the French say of me I care not; I spit upon it." He felt awkward in evening dress; he was so accustomed to wear military uniform that without it he said he felt as if they had taken off his skin. To humour him, uniform was worn every evening at Windsor during his stay. Among his camp habits was one which he had formed in his youth and kept up to the last: it was that of sleeping every night on clean straw stuffed into a leathern case. The first thing his valets did on being shown their master's bedroom in Windsor Castle was to send out for a truss of straw for the Emperor's bed. The last thing got for him at Woolwich was the same simple stuffing for his rude mattress.
On the 15th of June, 1844, Thomas Campbell, author of the "Pleasures of Hope," "Ye Mariners of England," &c., died at Boulogne at the age of sixty-seven. Although he had not quite reached the threescore and ten, the span of man's life on earth, he had long survived the authors, Scott, Byron, &c., with whom his name is linked. He was one of many well-known men in very different spheres who passed away in 1844. Sir Augustus Callcott, the painter; Crockford with his house of Turf celebrity; Beckford, the eccentric author of "Vathek," and the owner of the art-treasures of Fonthill; Lord Sidmouth, the well-known statesman of the "Addington Administration;" Sir Francis Burdett, who in recent times was lodged in the Tower under a charge of high treason.
In the same year an attempt was made to honour the memory of a greater poet than Thomas Campbell, one whose worldly reward had not been great, whose history ended in a grievous tragedy. The Scotchmen of the day seized the opportunity of the return of two of Robert Burns's sons from military service in India to give them a welcome home which should do something to atone for any neglect and injustice that had befallen their father. The festival was not altogether successful, as such festivals rarely are, but it excited considerable enthusiasm in the poet's native country, especially in his county of Ayrshire. And when the lord of the Castle of Montgomery presided over the tribute to the sons of the ploughman who had "shorn the harvest" with his Highland Mary on the Eglinton "lea-riggs," and Christopher North made the speech of the day, the demonstration could not be considered an entire failure.
Scotch hearts warmed to the belief that the Queen understood and admired Burns's poetry, and proud reference was made to the circumstance that during one of her Highland excursions she applied the famous descriptive passage in the "Birks of Aberfeldy" to the scene before her:
The braes ascend like lofty wa'e, The foamy stream deep roaring fa's, O'erhung with fragrant spreading shaws, The birks of Aberfeldy.
The hoary cliffs are crown'd wi' flowers, White o'er the linn the burnie pours, And rising, weets wi' misty showers The birks of Aberfeldy.
This summer, brown Queen Pomare, and the affairs of far-off Tahiti, had a strange, inordinate amount of attention from the English public. French interference in the island, the imprisonment of an English consul and Protestant missionary, roused the British lion. The dusky island-queen claimed the help of her English allies, and till Louis Philippe and M. Guizot disowned the policy which had been practised by their representatives in the South Seas, there was actually fear of war between England and France, in spite of the friendly visit to Chateau d'Eu. Happily the King and his minister made, or appeared to make, reparation as well as explanation, and the danger blew over.
On the 31st of July, down at Windsor a humble but affectionately loved friend died. Prince Albert's greyhound Eos—his companion from his fourteenth to his twenty-fifth year, his avant courier when he came as a bridegroom to claim his bride—was found dead, without previous symptom of illness. She lies buried on the top of the bank above the Slopes, and a bronze model of her marks the spot.
On the 6th of August the Queen's second son was born at Windsor Castle. The Prince of Prussia (the present Emperor of Germany), the third royal visitor this year, came over in time for the christening, when the little prince received the name of the great Saxon King of England, Alfred, together with the names of his uncle, Ernest, and his father, Albert. The godfathers were Prince George of Cambridge, the Queen's cousin, represented by his father; and the Prince of Leiningen, the Queen's brother, represented by the Duke of Wellington; while the godmother was the Queen and Prince Albert's sister-in-law, the Duchess of Coburg-Gotha, represented by the Duchess of Kent. "To see these two children there too," the Queen wrote of the Princess Royal and the Prince of Wales, "seems such a dream to me ... May God bless them all, poor little things." The engraving represents the sailor-Prince in his childhood.
A tour in Ireland had been projected for the Queen's holiday, but the excitement in the country consequent on the liberation of O'Connell and his companions rendered the time and place unpropitious for a royal visit, so it was decided that Her Majesty should go again to Scotland. On this occasion the Queen and the Prince took their little four-year-old daughter with them. The route was not quite the same as formerly. The party went by a shorter way to the Highlands, the yacht sailing to Dundee, the great manufacturing city so fortunate in its situation, where the rushing Tay calms and broadens into a wide Frith, with a background of green hills and a foreground of the pleasantly broken shores of Forfar and Fife. The trades held high holiday, and gave the Queen a jubilant welcome, the air ringing with shouts of gladness as she landed from the yacht, leaning on Prince Albert's arm, while he led by the hand the small daughter who reminded the Queen so vividly of herself—as the little Princess of past years.
The Queen, escorted by the Scots Greys, proceeded by Cupar Angus to Dunkeld, stopping at one of the hotels to get "some broth for the child," who proved an excellent traveller, sleeping in her carriage at her usual hours, not put out or frightened at noise or crowds—an excellent thing in a future empress—standing bowing to the people from the windows like a great lady.
At Moulinearn her Majesty tasted that luscious compound of whisky, honey, and milk known as "Athol brose."
The Queen's destination was Blair Castle, the seat of Lord Glenlyon—a white, barrack-like building in the centre of some of the grandest scenery of the Perthshire Highlands. There a strong body of Murrays met her Majesty at the gate and ran by the side of the carriages to the portico of the Castle, where the clansmen, pipers and all, were drawn up in four companies of forty each, to receive the guests. The Queen occupied the Castle during her stay, Lord and Lady Glenlyon, with their son and the other members of their family, being quartered in the lodge for the time.
The Queen and the Prince led the perfectly retired and simple life which was so agreeable to them. Spent among romantic and interesting scenery, it was doubly delightful to the young couple. They dispensed as much as possible with state and ceremony. The Highland Guard were ordered not to present arms more than twice a day to the Queen, and once a day to the Prince and the Princess Royal; but in other respects the Guard were so much impressed by their responsibility that not only would they permit no stranger to pass their cordon without giving the password, which was changed every day, they stopped Lord Glenlyon's brother for want of the necessary "open sesame," telling him that, lord's brother or not, he could not pass without the word.
Her Majesty's piper, Mackay, had orders to play a pibroch under her windows every morning at seven o'clock. At the same early hour a bunch of fresh heather, with a draught of icy-cold water from Glen Tilt, was brought to the Queen. The Princess Royal, on her Shetland pony, accompanied the Queen and the Prince in their morning rambles. Sometimes the little one was carried in her father's arms, while he pointed out to her any object that would amuse her and call forth her prattle. "Pussy's cheeks are on the point of bursting, they have grown so red and plump," wrote the Prince to his stepmother. "She is learning Gaelic, but makes wild work with the names of the mountains."
So free was the life that one morning when a lady, plainly dressed and unaccompanied, left the Castle about seven o'clock no notice was taken of her, and it was only after she had gone some distance that the rank of the pedestrian was discovered. With a little hesitation, a body-guard was told off and followed her Majesty, but she intimated that she would dispense with their attendance, and went on alone as far as the lodge, where she inquired for Lord Glenlyon. It was understood afterwards that she had chosen to be her own messenger with regard to some arrangements to be made respecting a visit to the Falls of the Bruar.
Lord Glenlyon was not out of bed, and the deputy-porter was electrified by being told that the Queen had called on his master. On her Majesty's return to the house she took a different road and lost her way, so that she had to apply to some Highland reapers whom she met, trudging to one of the isolated oatfields, to direct her to the Castle. They told her civilly, but without ceremony, to cross one of the "parks" (fields or meadows) and climb over a paling—instructions which she obeyed literally, and found herself at home again.
On a fine September morning the two who were so happy in each other's company rode on a dun and a grey pony, attended only by Sandy McAra, who led the Queen's pony through the ford, up the grassy hill of Tulloch, "to the very top." There they saw a whole circle of stupendous Bens—Ben Vrackie, Ben-y-Ghlo, Ben-y-Chat, as well as the Falls of the Bruar and the Pass of Killiecrankie, which the Hanoverian troopers likened to "the mouth of hell" on the day that Dundee fell on the field at Urrard.
"It was quite romantic," declared the Queen joyfully. "Here we were with only this Highlander behind us holding the ponies—for we got off twice and walked about; not a house, not a creature near us, but the pretty Highland sheep, with their horns and black faces, up at the top of Tulloch, surrounded by beautiful mountains ... the most delightful, the most romantic ride I ever had."
There was much more riding and driving in Glen Tilt, with its disputed "right of way" ease, but there was none to bar the Queen's progress. Her Majesty showed herself a fearless rider, abandoning the cart-roads and following the foot-tracks among the mountains. She grew as fond of her homely Highland pony, Arghait Bhean, with which Lord Glenlyon supplied her, as she was of her Windsor stud, with every trace of high breeding in their small heads, arching necks, slender legs, and dainty hoofs.
One day the foresters succeeded in driving a great herd of red-deer, with their magnificent antlers, across the heights, so that the Queen had a passing view of them. On another day she was able to join in the deer-stalking, scrambling for hours in the wake of the hunters, among the rocks and heather, when she was not "allowed," as she described it, to speak above a whisper, in case she should spoil the sport. It was a brief taste of an ideal, open-air, unsophisticated life, upon which there was no intrusion, except when stolid sightseers flocked to the little parish church of Blair Athol for the chance of "seeing royalty at its prayers, and hardly a regret beyond the lack of time to sketch the groups of keepers and dogs, the deer, the mountains.
The Queen, as usual, enjoyed and admired everything there was to admire—the pretty jackets or "short gowns" of the rustic maidens; the "burns," clear as glass; the mossy stones; the peeps between the trees; the depth of the shadows; the corn-cutting or "shearing," when a patch of yellow oats broke the purple shadow of the moor; Ben-y-Ghlo standing like a mighty sentinel commanding the course of the Garry, as when many a lad "with his bonnet and white cockade," sped with fleet foot by the flashing waters, "leaving his mountains to follow Prince Charlie;" Chrianean, where the eagles sometimes sat; the sunsets when the sky was "crimson, golden red, and blue," and the hills "looked purple and lilac," till the hues grew softer and the outlines dimmer. Prince Albert, an ardent admirer of natural scenery, was in ecstasy with the mountain landscape. But her Majesty has already permitted her people to share in the halcyon days of those Highland tours.