On the homeward journey to Dundee, Lord Glenlyon and his brother, Captain Murray, performed the loyal feat of riding fifty miles, the whole distance from Blair, by the Queen's carriage.
CHAPTER XX. LOUIS PHILIPPE'S VISIT.—THE OPENING OF THE ROYAL EXCHANGE.
The Queen and the Prince returned to Windsor to receive a visit from Louis Philippe. The King, who had spent part of his exiled youth in England, had not been back since 1815, when he took refuge there again during "the Hundred Days," after Napoleon's return from Elba and Louis XVIII.'s withdrawal to Ghent, till the battle of Waterloo restored the heads of the Bourbon and Orleans families to the Tuileries and the Palais Royal.
The King arrived on the 6th of October, accompanied by his son, the Duc de Montpensier, M. Guizot, and a numerous suite. They had sailed from Treport in the steamer Gomer, attended by three other, steamers, and arrived at Portsmouth, where the Corporation came on board to present an address.
The King answered in English, with much effusion and affability, shaking hands with the whole batch of magistrates, telling those who were too slow in removing their white gloves, "Oh! never mind your gloves, gentlemen," and recalling a former visit to Portsmouth when he was an exile. Prince Albert and the Duke of Wellington went on board the steamer, when the enthusiastic elderly gentleman saluted the Prince on both cheeks, to which he submitted, though he did not reply in kind, contenting himself with shaking his guest by the hand. It would seem as if the Prince had some perception of the wiliness which was one quality of the big, bluff citizen king, and of the discretion which must be practised in dealing with him, no less than with the Russian bear. For in writing from Blair to a kinswoman, in anticipation of the visit, the writer states, with a dash of humour, that after a preliminary training on the sea, the bold deerstalker and mountaineer would have to transform himself into a courtier to receive and entertain a King of the French, and play the part of a staid and astute diplomatist.
The king wore the French uniform of a Lieutenant-General—blue with red facings. The moment he ascended the stairs of the jetty, he turned with his hand on his heart and bowed to the multitude of spectators.
The Queen met her visitor in the grand vestibule fronting George the Fourth's Gate at Windsor Castle; the Duchess of Kent and the ladies of the Household, Sir Robert Peel and Lord Liverpool, and the officers of the Household, were with her Majesty. The moment the carriage drew up, the Queen advanced and extended her arms to her father's old friend. The two sovereigns embraced, and she led the way to the suite of rooms which had been previously occupied by the Emperor of Russia.
Lady Lyttelton has supplied her version of the arrival. "At two o'clock he arrived, this curious king, worth seeing if ever a body was. The Queen having graciously permitted me to be present, I joined the Court in the corridor, and we waited an hour, and then the Queen of England came out of her room to go and receive the King of France—the first time in history! Her Majesty had not long to wait (in the armoury, as she received him in the State apartments, his own private rooms; very civil); and from the armoury, amidst all the old trophies and knights' armour, and Nelson's bust, and Marlborough's flag, and Wellington's, we saw the first of the escort enter, the Quadrangle, and down flew the Queen, and we after her, to the outside of the door on the pavement of the Quadrangle, just in time to see the escort clattering up and the carriage close behind. The old man was much moved, I think, and his hand rather shook as he alighted, his hat quite off, and grey hair seen. His countenance is striking—much better than the portraits—and his embrace of the Queen was very parental, and nice. Montpensier is a handsome youth, and the courtiers and ministers very well-looking, grave, gentlemenlike people. It was a striking piece of real history—made one feel and think much."
"He is the first king of France who comes on a visit to the sovereign of this country," wrote the Queen in her Journal.... "The King said, as he went up the grand staircase to his apartments, 'Heavens! how beautiful!'.... I never saw anybody more pleased or more amused in looking at every picture, every bust. He knew every bust, and knew everything about everybody here in a most wonderful way. Such a memory! such activity! It is a pleasure to show him anything, as he is so pleased and interested. He is enchanted with the Castle, and repeated to me again and again (as did also his people) how delighted he was to be here; how he had feared that what he had so earnestly wished since I came to the throne would not take place, and 'Heavens! what a pleasure it is to me to give you my arm!'" The dinner was comparatively private, in the Queen's dining-room.
On the 8th of the month the whole royal party went on a little pilgrimage to Claremont and Twickenham, to the house in which Louis Philippe, as Duc d'Orleans, had resided, and wound up the day by a great banquet in St. George's Hall. The Queen records of this excursion, "We proceeded by Staines, where the King recognised the inn and everything, to Twickenham, where we drove up to the house where he used to live, and where Lord and Lady Mornington, who received us, are now living. It is a very pretty house, much embellished since the King lived there, but otherwise much the same, and he seemed greatly pleased to see it again. He walked round the garden, in spite of the heavy shower which had just fallen.... The King himself directed the postillion which way to go to pass by the house where he lived for five years with his poor brothers, before his marriage. From here we drove to Hampton Court, where we walked over Wolsey's Hall and all the rooms. The King remained a long time in them, looking at the pictures, and marking on the catalogue numbers of those which he intended to have copied for Versailles. We then drove to Claremont. Here we got out and lunched, and after luncheon took a hurried walk in the grounds.... We left Claremont after four, and reached Windsor at a little before six."
Of the conversation during the banquet her Majesty wrote, "He talked to me of the time when he was 'in a school in the Grisons, a teacher merely,' receiving twenty pence a day, having to brush his own boots, and under the name of Chabot. What an eventful life his has been!" On the 9th there was an installation of a Knight of the Garter. Sir Theodore Martin reminds his readers, 'with regard to the ceremony, that it "must have been pregnant with suggestions to all present who remembered that the Order had been instituted by Edward III. after the battle of Cressy, and that its earliest knights were the Black Prince and his companions, whose prowess had been so fatal to France. "In the Throne-room, in a State chair, sat Queen Victoria, in the (blue velvet) mantle of the Order, its motto inscribed on a bracelet that encircled her arm; a diamond tiara on her head. The chair of State by her side was vacant. Round the table before her sat the knights-companions of the highest rank; on the steps of the throne behind the Queen's chair were seated the high civil ministers of the two sovereigns, and some officers of the French suite. At the opposite end of the room were the royal ladies (members of the royal family) and the two young Princes (the Duc de Montpensier and Prince Edward of Saxe-Weimar) visiting at the Castle.... The King, dressed in a uniform of dark blue and gold, was introduced by Prince Albert and the Duke of Cambridge, preceded by Garter King-at-Arms, the Queen and the knights all standing. The sovereign (Queen Victoria) in French announced the election. The declaration having been pronounced by the Chancellor of the Order, the new knight was invested by the Queen and Prince Albert with the Garter and the George, and received the accolade."
"Albert then placed the Garter round the King's leg," wrote the Queen. "I pulled it through while the admonition was being read, and the King said to me, 'I wish to kiss this hand,' which he did afterwards, and I embraced him."
"Taking the King's arm, her Majesty conducted him in state to his own apartments," the Annual Register ends its account of an interesting episode.
"At four o'clock we again went over to the King's room," wrote the Queen, "and I placed at his feet a large cup representing St. George and the dragon, with which he was very much pleased." That night there was a splendid banquet in St. George's Hall to commemorate the installment.
On the 12th the King was to have left, but first the Corporation of London went down to Windsor in civic state to present Louis Philippe with an address. This unusual compliment from the City was due partly to the general satisfaction which the visit, with, its promise of continued friendly relations between England and France, gave to the whole country, partly to the circumstance that it was judged inadmissible, in view of the susceptibility of the French nation, for the King of France to pay a formal visit to London, since the Queen of England, in her recent trip to Treport, had not gone to Paris. A somewhat comical contretemps occurred in the preparation of the reply to this address. It was written by the person who usually acted for the King in such matters, and brought to him shortly before the arrival of the Corporation, when Louis Philippe found to his disgust that the speech was so French in spirit, and expressed in such bad English, he could not hope to make it understood. "It is deplorable.... It is cruel," cried the mortified King. "And to send it to me at one o'clock! They will be here immediately!" No time was to be lost; the King had to sit down and, with the help of his host and hostess, who had come to his rooms opportunely, to write out a more suitable answer.
In M. Guizot's "Memoirs" he tells a curious incident of this visit. On retiring to his room at night he lost his way, and appeared to wander, as Baroness Bunsen feared she might do on a similar occasion, along miles of corridors and stairs. At last, believing he recognised his room-door, he turned the handle, but immediately withdrew, on getting a glimpse of a lady seated at a toilet-table, with a maid busy about her mistress's hair. It was not till next day that from some smiling words addressed to him by the Queen the horrified statesman discovered he had been guilty of an invasion of the royal apartments.
Louis Philippe started on his homeward journey accompanied by her Majesty and Prince Albert, who were to go on board the Gomer and there take leave of their guest. Afterwards they were to embark in the royal yacht and cross to the Isle of Wight. But the stormy weather overturned all these plans. The swell in the sea was so great that it was feared the King could not land at Treport. Eventually he parted from the Queen and the Prince on shore, returned in the evening to London, went to New Cross—where he found the station on fire—proceeded by train to Dover, and sailed next day, amidst wind and rain, in French steamer to Calais. In order to soften the disappointment to the officers and crew of the Gomer, the Queen and Prince Albert breakfasted on board that vessel before they proceeded to the Isle of Wight.
The cause of the cruise of the Queen and the Prince at this season was the wish to see for themselves the house and grounds of Osborne, belonging to Lady Isabella Blatchford. They were to be sold, and had been, suggested by Sir Robert Peel to her Majesty and the Prince as exactly constituted to form the retired yet not too remote country and seaside home—not palace, for which the royal couple were looking out. It is unnecessary to say that the personal visit was quite satisfactory, though the purchase was not made till some months later. The engraving gives a pleasant idea of the Osborne of to-day, with its double towers—seen out at sea—its terraces, and its fountains.
On the 21st of October the Queen and the Prince happened to be yachting off Portsmouth. It was the anniversary of the battle of Trafalgar, and the Victory lay in the roads, adorned with wreaths and garlands from stem to stern. The Queen expressed her desire to visit the ship. She went at once to the quarter-deck to see the spot where Nelson fell. It is marked by a brass plate with an inscription, on this day surrounded by a wreath of laurel. The Queen gazed in silence, the tears rising to her eyes. Then she plucked a couple of leaves from the laurel wreath, and asked to be shown the cabin in which Nelson died. The cockpit was lit up while the party were inspecting the poop of the Victory, which bears the words of the great Admiral's last signal, "England expects every man to do his duty." In the cockpit, long associated with merry, mischievous sprites of "middies," there had been for many a year the representation of a funeral urn, with the sentence, "Here Nelson died." The visitors looked at the spot without speaking. There, on this very day in the fast-receding past, amidst the hardly subdued din of a great naval battle, the dying hero with his failing breath made the brief, tender appeal to his faithful captain, "Kiss me, Hardy." The Queen requested that there might be no firing when she left the ship, and was sped on her way only by "the three tremendous British cheers of the sailors manning the yards."
On the 28th of October the great civic ceremonies of the opening of the new Royal Exchange by the Queen took place. The morning had been foggy, but cleared up into brilliant autumn sunshine, a happy instance of the Queen's weather, when a considerable part of the programme, as a matter of necessity, was enacted under the open sky.
Crowds almost as great as on the day of the Coronation six years before occupied the line of route, swarming in St. James's Park and St. Paul's Churchyard and at Charing Cross, while the Poultry—deriving its name from the circumstance that it was once filled with poulterers' shops—was reserved for the Livery of the City Companies. Every window which could command the passing of the pageant was filled with spectators. The Queen, in her State coach, drawn by her cream-coloured horses, drove through the marble arch at Buckingham Palace about eleven o'clock. She was accompanied by Prince Albert, and attended by Lady Canning in the absence of the Duchess of Buccleugh, Mistress of the Robes, and by the Earl of Jersey, Master of the Horse. The great officers of her Household in long procession preceded her, and she was followed by an escort of Life Guards. At this time the Queen's popularity was a very active principle, though not more heartfelt and abiding than it is to-day. As she appeared, it is said the words "God bless you," uttered by some loyal subject, were caught up and passed from lip to lip, running through the vast concourse. The simply-clad lady of the Highlands was magnificently dressed to-day, to do honour to her City of London, in white satin and silver tissue, sparkling with jewels. On her left side she wore the star of the Order of the Garter, and round her left arm the Garter itself, with the motto set in diamonds. She had at the back of her head a miniature crown entirely composed of brilliants, while above her forehead she wore a diamond tiara. Prince Albert was in the uniform of a colonel of artillery.
The City magnates as usual had gathered at Child's Bank, from which they went to Temple Bar. The common councilmen were in their mazarine-blue cloaks and cocked hats, the aldermen in their scarlet robes, the Lord Mayor in a robe of crimson velvet, with a collar of SS, and, strange to say, a Spanish hat and feather. In truth a goodly show. The gates of Temple Bar, which had been previously closed, were thrown open to admit the royal procession. The Queen's carriage drew up. The Lord Mayor advanced on foot before the spikes on which many a traitor's head had been stuck, and with a profound reverence offered to her Majesty the City sword, which, the Queen touched as a sign of acceptance, and then waved it back to the Lord Mayor. Nothing can read better, but accidents will happen.
From Lady Bloomfield, on the authority of the late Sir Robert Peel, who told the story in the maid-of-honour's hearing, we have additional particulars. The Lord Mayor, in his Spanish hat and feather, was at this very moment in as awkward a predicament as ever befell an unlucky chief magistrate. He had drawn on a pair of jack-boots over his shoes and stockings, to keep the mud off till the moment of action. Unfortunately the boots proved too tight, and could not be got off when the sign was given that the Queen was coming. One of the victim's spurs caught in the fur trimming of an alderman's robe, and rendered the confusion worse. The Lord Mayor stood with a leg out, and several men tugging at his boot. In the meantime the Queen was coming nearer and nearer; she was only a few paces off, while the representative of her good City of London struggled in an agony with one boot on and one off. At last he became beside himself, and cried wildly, "For God's sake put that boot on again." He only got it on in time to make his obeisance to her Majesty. He had to wear the detestable boots till the banquet; just before it, he was successfully stripped of his encumbrances.
As the procession went on, the civic body fell into its place, the Lord Mayor on horseback, where his jack-boots would not look amiss, with three footmen in livery on each side of him, carrying the City sword before the Queen's coach.
The Royal Exchange, at the end of the Poultry, with the Mansion House on the right and the Bank of England on the left, has been twice burnt. Sir Thomas Gresham's Exchange, which was built after an Antwerp model, while it bore the Greshams' grasshopper crest conspicuous on the front, was opened by good Queen Bess, and perished in the Great Fire of London. This building's successor was burnt down in 1838, one of the bells which rang tunes pealing forth, in the middle of the fire, the only too appropriate melody, "There's nae luck about the house." In the large cloistered court of the present Royal Exchange, the stage of this day's festivities, stands a statue of Queen Victoria. There is an allegorical figure of Commerce on the front of the building. The inscription on the pedestal, selected by Dean Milman, is due to a suggestion of Prince Albert's to the sculptor, Westmacott, that there should be the recognition of a superior Power. The well-chosen words declare "The earth is the Lord's and the fullness thereof."
At the Royal Exchange the body of the procession went in by the northern entrance, only to hurry to the western door to receive the Queen. She entered the building leaning on the arm of Prince Albert, and the royal standard was immediately hoisted. The procession was again formed. She set forth "in slow State" to make her circuit of the roofless quadrangle, round the corridor and through the inner court, all in the open air. At the foot of the campanile the bells chimed for the first time "God save the Queen." Her Majesty went upstairs and passed through the second banqueting-room to show herself, then walked on to the throne-room, hung with crimson velvet and cloth, and furnished with a throne of crimson velvet. The Queen took her seat, Prince Albert standing on her right and the Duchess of Kent and the Duke of Cambridge on her left, Sir Robert Peel and Sir James Graham being near. The Lord Mayor and the rest of the Corporation formed a semicircle facing the Queen. The Recorder read the loyal and congratulatory address welcoming his sovereign, and recalling Queen Elizabeth's visit to open the first Exchange. Did anybody remember the picture of the Virgin Queen with the outshone goddesses fleeing abashed before her virtues, with which the child-princess reared at Kensington must have been familiar?
The speaker concluded by asking her Majesty's "favourable regard and sanction for the work which her loyal citizens of London had now completed." The Queen returned a gracious reply, gave the Lord Mayor her hand to kiss, and doubtless consoled him for any misadventure by announcing her intention to create him a baronet in remembrance of the day.
In the great room of the underwriters, ninety-eight feet long by forty wide, a dejeuner was served, at which the Queen, the Prince, the Duchess of Kent, and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, with other persons of rank, including the foreign ambassadors and their wives, sat on the dais at the cross-table. At the long table beneath the dais, among the Cabinet ministers and their wives, members of Parliament, judges, the Court of Aldermen, and many other distinguished and privileged persons, sat Sir Robert and Lady Sale, in another scene than any they had known among the defiles and forts of Afghanistan. The Bishop of London said grace. The usual toasts, "Her gracious Majesty, Queen Victoria"—no longer the young girl who bore her part so well at the Guildhall dinner, but the woman in her flower, endowed with all which makes life precious—"Prince Albert, the Prince of Wales, and the rest of the royal family," were drunk, and replied to by the comprehensive wish, "Prosperity to the City of London."
At twenty minutes after two the Queen and the Prince went downstairs again to the quadrangle, in the centre of which her Majesty stopped, while the Ministers and the Corporation formed a circle round her. The heralds made proclamation and commanded silence; the Queen, after receiving a slip of paper from Sir James Graham, announced in clear, distinct tones, "It is my royal will and pleasure that this building be hereafter called "The Royal Exchange." This ceremony concluded the day's programme, and her Majesty left shortly afterwards. Great festivities in the City wound up the gala. The Lord Mayor entertained at the Mansion House, the Lady Mayoress gave a ball, the Livery Companies dined in their respective halls.
A little adventure occurred at the Opera in November, 1844. The Queen went, not in State, or even semi-state, but privately, to hear Auber's opera of "The Siren," when Mr. Bunn, the lessee, was found to have made known without authority her Majesty's intention. The result was a great house, but some inconvenience to the first lady in the land. The Queen was called for, but declined to come forward, and for ten minutes there was a commotion, the audience refusing to let the opera go on. At last the National Anthem was played, the Queen showed herself, and this section of her subjects was appeased and passed from clamorous discontent to equally clamorous satisfaction.
During the winter Sir Robert and Lady Sale paid the Queen a visit at Windsor, while Miss Liddell was maid-of-honour in waiting. The lively narrator of the events of these days describes Lady Sale, as tall, thin, and rather plain, but with a good countenance, while Sir Robert was stout. Lady Sale told these wondering listeners, in a palace that she started from Cabul in a cloth habit, which got wet the first day, and became like a sheet of ice, while it was nine days before she could take it off. She was wounded in the arm on the second day's march, the ball passing first below the elbow and coming out at the wrist, while there were other balls which passed through her habit; Mrs. Sturt's fatherless child, Lady Sales's grand-daughter, was born in a small room without light and almost without air. The captive ladies often slept in the open air on the snow, with the help of sheepskins, half of which were under and half over the sleepers. They washed their clothes by dipping them in the rivers and patting the garments till they became dry. Sometimes the prisoners were twenty-four hours without food, and when served it consisted of dishes of rice with sheeps' tails in the middle, and melted fat like tallow poured over them. The captivity lasted ten weary months, while the captives were dragged from place to place, over fearful roads, amidst the snows of the Caucasus. Lady Sale was told she was kept by Akbar Khan as a hold on her "devil of a husband."
END OF VOL. I.