On, Tuesday Versailles was the visitors' destination. They went in many carriages. Troops and national guards, and especially gendarmes, were to be seen everywhere. The gardens and the fountains, with throngs of company, were much admired.
The Queen visited the two Trianons. At the larger the Emperor showed her the room and bed provided for her, in the expectation of her visiting Paris, by "poor Louis Philippe;" Madame Maintenon's sedan- chair, by which Louis XIV. was wont to walk; and the little chapel in which "poor Marie (Louis Philippe's daughter) was married to Alexander of Wurtemberg in 1838," two years before the Queen's marriage.
At Little Trianon the Empress (who had a passion for every relic of Marie Antoinette) joined the party, and luncheon was eaten in one of the cottages where princes and nobles were wont to play at being peasants.
In the evening the Emperor, with his guests, paid a State visit to the opera-house in the Rue Lepelletier. Part of the performance was a representation of Windsor Castle, with the Emperor's reception there, when "God save the Queen" was splendidly sung, and received with acclamation. The Emperor's happy animation, in contrast to his usual impassiveness, was remarked by the audience.
Wednesday's visit, in the continuously fine August weather, was to the French Exhibition, which the Queen and the Prince were so well calculated to appreciate. They rejoiced in the excellent manner in which England was represented, particularly in pottery. The specially French productions of Sevres, Goblins, and Beauvais were carefully studied. The Queen also examined the French Crown jewels, the crown bearing the renowned Regent diamond, which, though less large than the Koh-i-noor, is more brilliant. The Emperor presented the Prince with a magnificent Sevres vase, a souvenir of the Exhibition of 1851. The Tuileries was visited, and luncheon taken there in rooms containing pictures and busts or Napoleon I., Josephine, &c., &c. The Queen received the Prefect and consented to attend the ball to be given in her honour.
After a visit to the British Embassy, the Queen and the Prince, with the Princess Royal and one of the ladies of the suite, took a drive incognito through Paris, which they enjoyed exceedingly. They went in an ordinary remise, the three ladies wearing common bonnets and mantillas, and her Majesty having a black veil over her face.
On Thursday morning the Queen rested, walking about the gardens with her young daughter, and sketching the Zouaves at the gate. The afternoon was spent at the Louvre, where the Queen mentions the heat as "tropical."
After dinner at the Tuileries, the party stood laughing together at an old-fashioned imperial cafetiere which would not let down the coffee, listening to the music, the carriages, and the people in the distance, and talking of past times; as how could people fail to talk at the Tuileries! The Emperor spoke of having known Madame Campan (to whose school his mother was sent for a time), and repeated some of the old court dresser's anecdotes of Marie Antoinette and the Great Revolution.
In her Majesty's full dress for the ball given to her by the City of Paris, she wore a diadem in which the Koh-i-noor was set. Through the illuminated, crammed streets, the Queen proceeded to the Hotel de Ville, and entered among flags, flowers, and statues, "like the Arabian Nights," the Emperor said.
The royal visitors occupied chairs on a dais. One quadrille and one valse were danced, the Emperor being the Queen's partner, while Prince Albert danced with Princess Mathilde (the Empress was in delicate health); Prince Napoleon and Madame Haussman (the wife of the Prefect of the Seine), and Prince Adalbert of Bavaria and Lady Cowley (wife of the English ambassador) completing the set.
Several Arabs in long white burnouses were among the guests, and kissed the hands of the Queen and the Emperor. Her Majesty made the tour of the stately suite of rooms, lingering in the one in which "Robespierre was wounded, Louis Philippe proclaimed, and from the windows of which Lamartine spoke for so many hours in 1848."
On Friday there was a second visit to the Exhibition, and in the afternoon a grand review of troops in the Champ de Mars, which the Queen admired much, regretting that she had not been on horseback, though the day was not fine. From the Champ de Mars the visitors drove to the Hotel des Invalides, and there occurred the most striking scene in the memorable visit, of which the passages from the Queen's journal in the "Life of the Prince Consort," give so many graphic, interesting details. Passing between rows of French veterans, the Queen and the Prince went to look by torchlight at the great tomb, in which, however, all that was mortal of Napoleon I. had not yet been laid. The coffin still rested in a side chapel, to which her Majesty was taken by the Emperor. The coffin was covered with black velvet and gold, and the orders, hat, and sword of "le Petit Caporal" were placed at the foot. The Queen descended for a few minutes into the vault, the air of which struck cold on the living within its walls.
The Emperor took his guests in the evening to the Opera Comique. It was not a State visit, but "God save the Queen" was sung, and her Majesty had to show herself in front of the Emperor's private box. On Saturday the royal party went to the forest of St. Germain's, and a halt was made at the hunting-lodge of La Muette. The Grand Veneur and his officials in their hunting-dress of dark-green velvet, red waistcoats, high boots, and cocked hats, received the company. The dogs were exhibited, and a fanfare sounded on the huntsmen's horns.
The strangers repaired to the old palace of St. Germain's, where her Majesty saw the suite of rooms which had served as a home for her unhappy kinsman, James II. It is said she went also to his tomb, and stood by it in thoughtful silence for a few minutes. On the return drive to St. Cloud detours were made to Malmaison, where the Emperor remembered to have seen his grandmother, the Empress Josephine, and to the fortress of St. Valerien.
The same night there was a State ball at Versailles. At the top of the grand staircase stood the Empress—"like a fairy queen or nymph," her Majesty writes, "in a white dress trimmed with bunches of grass and diamonds, ..." wearing her Spanish and Portuguese orders. The enamoured Emperor exclaimed in the hearing of his guests, "Comme tu es belle!" (how beautiful you are!) The long Galerie de Glaces, full of people, was blazing with light, and had wreaths of flowers hanging from the ceiling. From the windows the illuminated trellis was seen reflected in the splashing water of the fountains. The balconies commanded a view of the magnificent fireworks, among which Windsor Castle was represented in lines of light.
The Queen danced two quadrilles, with the Emperor and Prince Napoleon, Prince Albert dancing with Princess Mathilde and the Princess of Augustenburg. Among the guests presented to her Majesty was Count Bismarck, Prussian Minister at Frankfort.
The Queen waltzed with the Emperor, and then repaired to the famous Oeil-de-Boeuf, hung with Beauvais tapestry. After the company had gone to supper, the Queen and the Emperor's procession was formed, and headed by guards, officers, &c. &c, they passed to the theatre, where supper was served. The whole stage was covered in, and four hundred people sat in groups of ten, each presided over by a lady, at forty small tables. Innumerable chandeliers and garlands of flowers made the scene still gayer. The boxes were full of spectators, and an invisible band was playing. The Queen and Prince Albert, with their son and daughter, the Emperor and the Empress, Prince Napoleon, Princess Mathilde, and Prince Adalbert of Bavaria, sat at a small table in the central box. Her Majesty seems to have been much struck with this Versailles ball, which was designed and arranged by the Empress from a plate of the time of Louis XV. It was said there had been no ball at Versailles since the time of Louis XVI. The last must have been the ball in the Orangery, on the night that the Bastille fell.
Sunday was Prince Albert's birthday, which was not forgotten among these brilliant doings. Loving hands laid out the flower-decorated table with its gifts. At luncheon the Emperor presented the Prince with a picture by Meissonier. The Empress gave a pokal, or mounted cup, carved in ivory. During a quiet drive with the Emperor through the park in the morning, the Queen, with her characteristic sincerity, courageously approached a topic which was a burden on her mind, on which Baron Stockmar had long advised her to act as she was prepared to do. She spoke of her intercourse with the Orleans family, on which the French ambassador in London had laid stress as likely to displease the Emperor. She said they were her friends and relations, and that she could not drop them in their adversity, but that politics were never touched upon between her and them. He professed himself perfectly satisfied, and sought in his turn to explain his conduct in the confiscation and forced sale of the Orleans property.
The English Church service was read in a room at St. Cloud as before. In the afternoon the Emperor took his guests to the memorial Chapelle de St. Ferdinand, erected on the spot where the late Duc d'Orleans was killed.
On Monday, the 27th of August, the Queen wrote in her diary her deep gratitude for "these eight happy days, for the delight of seeing such beautiful and interesting places and objects," and for the reception she had met with in Paris and France. The Emperor arrived to say the Empress was ready, but could not bring herself to face the parting, and that if the Queen would go to her room it would make her come. "When we went in," writes her Majesty, "the Emperor called her: 'Eugenie, here is the Queen,' and she came," adds her Majesty, "and gave me a beautiful fan, and a rose and heliotrope from the garden, and Vicky a beautiful bracelet, set with rubies and diamonds, containing her hair...."
The morning was beautiful as the travellers, accompanied by the Emperor and Empress, drove for the last time through the town of St. Cloud, with its Zouaves and wounded soldiers from the Crimea, under the Arc de Triomphe, where the ashes of the great Napoleon had passed, to Paris and the Tuileries. There was talk of future meetings at Windsor and Fontainbleau. (And now of the places which the Queen admired so much, St. Cloud and the Tuileries are in ruins like Neuilly, while the Hotel de Ville has perished by the hands of its own children.) Leave was taken of the Empress not without emotion;
At the Strasbourg railway station the Ministers and municipal authorities were in attendance, and the cordiality was equal to the respect shown by all.
Boulogne, to which the Emperor accompanied his guests, was reached between five and six in the afternoon. There was a review of thirty- six thousand infantry, besides cavalry, on the sands. The Queen describes the beautiful effect of the background of calm, blue sea, while "the glorious crimson light" of the setting sun was gilding the thousands of bayonets, lances, &c. It was the spot where Napoleon I. inspected the army with which he was prepared to invade England; while Nelson's fleet, which held him in check, occupied the anchorage where the Queen's squadron lay. Before embarking, her Majesty and Prince Albert drove to the French camps in the neighbourhood.
At last, when it was only an hour from midnight, in splendid moonlight, through a town blazing with fireworks and illuminations, with bands playing, soldiers saluting, and a great crowd cheering as if it was noonday, the Queen and the Prince returned to their yacht, accompanied by the Emperor. As if loth to leave them, he proposed to go with them a little way. The parting moment came, the Queen and the Emperor embraced, and he shook hands warmly with the Prince, the Prince of Wales, and the Princess Royal. Again at the side of the vessel, her Majesty pressed her late host's hand, and embraced him with an, "Adieu, sire." As he saw her looking over the side of the ship and watching his barge, he called out, "Adieu, Madame, au revoir," to which the Queen answered, "Je l'espere bien."
On the 6th of September the Court went to Scotland, staying a night at Holyrood, as usual in those years. On the Queen's arrival she drove through the old castle of Balmoral, the new house being habitable, though much of the building was still unfinished. An old shoe was thrown after her Majesty, Scotch fashion, for luck, as she entered the northern home, where everything charmed her.
On the 10th of September the Duchess of Kent, who was staying at Abergeldie, dined with the Queen. At half-past ten despatches arrived for her Majesty and Lord Granville, the Cabinet Minister in attendance. The Queen began reading hers, which was from Lord Clarendon, with news of the destruction of Russian ships. Lord Granville said, "I have still better news," on which he read, "'From General Simpson. Sebastopol is in the hands of the allies.'" "God be praised for it," adds the Queen.
Great was the rejoicing. Prince Albert determined to go up Craig Gowan and light the bonfire which had been ready the year before, had been blown down on the day of the battle of Inkermann, and was at last only waiting to be lit. All the gentlemen, in every species of attire, all the servants, and gradually the whole population of the little village, keepers and gillies, were aroused and started, in the autumn night, for the summit of the hill. The happy Queen watched from below the blazing light above. Numerous figures surrounded it, "some dancing, all shouting; Ross (the Queen's piper) playing his pipes (surely the most exultant of pibrochs), and Grant and Macdonald firing off guns continually," the late Sir E. Gordon's old Alsatian servant striving to add his French contribution to the festivities by lighting squibs, half of which would not go off. When Prince Albert returned he described the health-drinking in whiskey as wild and exciting.
BETROTHAL OF THE PRINCESS ROYAL—QUEEN'S SPEECH TO THE SOLDIERS RETURNED FROM THE CRIMEA—BALMORAL.
An event of great importance to the Queen and her family was now impending. A proposal of marriage for the Princess Royal—still only fifteen years of age—had been made by the Prince of Prussia, the heir of the childless king, in the name of the Prince's only son, Prince Frederick William, a young man of four-and-twenty, nearly ten years the Princess's senior. From the friendship which had long existed between the Queen and the Prince and the Princess of Prussia, their son was well-known and much liked in the English royal family, and the youthful Princess Royal was favourably inclined to him. The proposal was graciously received, on certain conditions. Of course the marriage of the young Princess could not take place for some time. She had not even been confirmed. She ought to be allowed to know her mind fully. The couple must become better acquainted. It was agreed at first that nothing should be said to the Princess Royal on the subject till after her confirmation. But when the wooer arrived to pay a delightfully private visit to the family in their Highland retreat, the last interdict was judged too hard, and he was permitted to plead his cause under the happiest auspices.
We have pleasant little glimpses in her Majesty's journal, and Prince Albert's letters, of what was necessarily of the utmost moment to all concerned; nay, as the contracting parties were of such high estate, excited the lively sympathies of two great nations. The Prince writes in a half tender, half humorous fashion, of the young couple to Baron Stockmar, "The young man, 'really in love,' 'the little lady' doing her best to please him." The critical moment came during a riding party up the heathery hill of Craig-na-Ban and down Glen Girnock, when, with a sprig of white heather for "luck" in his hand, like any other trembling suitor, the lover ventured to say the decisive words, which were not repulsed. Will the couple ever forget that spot on the Scotch hillside, when they fill the imperial throne of Charlemagne? They have celebrated their silver wedding-day with loud jubilees, may their golden wedding still bring welcome memories of Craig-na-Ban and its white heather.
The Court had travelled south to Windsor, and in the following month, in melancholy contrast to the family circumstances in which all had been rejoicing, her Majesty and the Prince had the sorrowful intelligence that her brother, the Prince of Leiningen, while still only in middle age, just over fifty, had suffered from a severe apoplectic attack.
In November the King of Sardinia visited England. His warm welcome was due not only to his patriotic character, which made Victor Emmanuel's name a household word in this country, but to the fact that the Sardinians were acting along with the French as our allies in the Crimea. He was royally entertained at Windsor, saw Woolwich and Portsmouth, received an address at Guildhall, and was invested with the Order of the Garter. He left before five the next morning, when, in spite of the early hour, the intense cold, and a snowstorm, the Queen took a personal farewell of her guest.
In the beginning of 1896 the Queen and the Prince were again wounded by newspaper attacks on him, in consequence of his having signed his name, as Colonel of the Grenadier Guards, among the other officers of the Guards, to a memorial to the Queen relating to the promotion and retirement of the officers.
On the 31st of January her Majesty opened Parliament amidst much enthusiasm, in a session which was to decide the grave question of peace or war. In March the welcome news arrived that the Empress of the French had given birth to a son.
On the 20th of March the ceremony of the confirmation of the Princess Royal took place in the private chapel, Windsor. The Archbishop of Canterbury and the Bishop of Oxford, Lord High Almoner, officiated, in the presence of the Queen and the royal family, the Ministers, Officers of State, &c. Prince Albert led in the Princess; her Godfather, King Leopold, followed with the Queen. Bishop Wilberforce made a note of the scene in a few words. "To Windsor Castle. The confirmation of Princess Royal. Interesting. She devout, composed, earnest. Younger sister much affected. The Queen and Prince also."
On the 30th of March peace was signed. London became aware of it by the firing of the Park and the Tower guns at ten o'clock at night. The next morning the Lord Mayor, on the balcony of the Mansion House, read a despatch from the Secretary of State, to a large crowd assembled in the street, who received the tidings with loud cheers. At noon his Lordship, preceded by the civic functionaries, went on foot to the Exchange and read the despatch there.
The Tower guns were again fired, the church-bells rang merry peals, flags were hung out from all the public buildings. A few days afterwards the Queen conferred on Lord Palmerston the Order of the Garter—a frank and cordial acknowledgment of his services, which the high-spirited statesman received with peculiar pleasure.
On the 18th of April her Majesty and Prince Albert went to Aldershot to commemorate the completion of the camp and review the troops, when the Queen spent her first night in camp, in the pavilion prepared for her use. On one of the two days she wore a Field-Marshal's uniform, with the Star and Order of the Garter, and a dark blue riding habit. Within a week, in magnificent weather, Her Majesty and Prince Albert inspected a great fleet at Spithead.
After Easter Lord Ellesmere, in his last appearance in the House of Lords, moved the address to the Queen on the peace, and spoke the feelings of the nation when he expressed in the words of a poet the country's deep debt of gratitude to Florence Nightingale. On the 8th of May the Lords and Commons went in procession to Buckingham Palace to present their addresses to the Queen. The same evening she gave a State ball—the first in the new ball-room—to celebrate the peace.
Lord Dalhousie returned in this month of May from India, where he had been Governor-General. He was a hopeless invalid, while still only in his forty-fifth year. The moment the Queen heard of his arrival, she wrote to him a letter of welcome, for which her faithful servant thanked her in simple and touching words, as for "the crowning honour of his life." He could not tell what the end of his illness might be, but he ventured to say that her Majesty's most gracious words would be a balm for it all.
On the 19th of May the Queen laid the foundation of the military hospital at Netley, which she had greatly at heart.
In June a serious accident, which might have been fatal, occurred to the Princess Royal while her promised bridegroom was on a visit to this country. Indeed he was much in England in those days, appearing frequently in public along with the royal family, to the gratification of romantic hearts that delighted to watch young royal lovers. She was sealing a letter at a table when the sleeve of her light muslin dress caught fire and blazed up in a moment. Happily she was not alone. The Princess's governess, Miss Hildyard, was at the same table, and Princess Alice was receiving a lesson from her music-mistress in the room. By their presence of mind in wrapping the hearthrug round the Princess Royal, who herself showed great self possession under the shock and pain of the accident, her life was probably saved. The arm was burnt from below the elbow to the shoulder, though not so as to be permanently disfigured. Lady Bloomfield has a pretty story about this accident. She has been describing the Princess as "quite charming. Her manners were so perfectly unaffected and unconstrained, and she was full of fun." The writer goes on to say, "When she, the Princess, burnt her arm, she never uttered a cry; she said 'Don't frighten mamma—send for papa first.'" She wrote afterwards to her music- mistress, dictating the letter and signing it with her left hand, to tell how she was, because she knew the lady, who had been present when the accident happened, would be anxious.
King Leopold, his younger son, and his lovely young daughter, Princess Charlotte, were among the Queen's visitors this summer, and a little later came the Prince and Princess of Prussia to improve their acquaintance with their future daughter-in-law.
In July the Queen and the Prince were again at Aldershott to review the troops returned from the Crimea. But the weather, persistently wet, spoilt what would otherwise have been a joyous as well as a glorious scene. During a short break in the rain, the Crimean regiments formed three sides of a square round the carriage in which the Queen sat. The officers and four men of each of the troops that had been under fire "stepped out," and the Queen, standing up in the carriage, addressed them. "Officers, non-commissioned officers, and soldiers, I wish personally to convey through you to the regiments assembled here this day my hearty welcome on their return to England in health and full efficiency. Say to them that I have watched anxiously over the difficulties and hardships which they have so nobly borne, that I have mourned with deep sorrow for the brave men who have fallen in their country's cause, and that I have felt proud of that valour which, with their gallant allies, they have displayed on every field. I thank God that your dangers are over, while the glory of your deeds remains; but I know that should your services be again required, you will be animated with the same devotion which in the Crimea has rendered you invincible."
When the clear, sweet voice was silent, a cry of "God save the Queen!" sprang to every lip. Helmets, bearskins, and shakos were thrown into the air; the dragoons waved their sabres, and a shout of loyal acclamation, caught up from line to line, rang through the ranks.
The next day, in summer sunshine, the Queen and her City of London welcomed home the Guards. In anticipation of a brilliant review in the park, she saw them march past from the central balcony of Buckingham Palace, as she had seen them depart on the chill February morning more than two years before: another season and another scene—not unchastened in its triumph, for many a once-familiar face was absent, and many a yearning thought wandered to Russian hill and plain and Turkish graveyard, where English sleepers rested till the great awakening.
An old soldier figured before the Queen and the Prince in circumstances which filled them with sorrow and pity. Lord Hardinge, the Commander-in-Chief, was having an audience with the Queen, when he was suddenly struck by paralysis. He resigned his post, to which the Duke of Cambridge was appointed. Lord Hardinge died a few months afterwards.
After several yachting excursions, marred by stormy weather, the Court went north, and reached Balmoral on the 30th of August. The tower and the offices, with the terraces and pleasure-grounds, were finished, and every trace of the old house had disappeared. The Balmoral of to- day, though it still lacked what has become some of its essential features, stood before the Queen. We are fain to make it stand before our readers as it is now.
The road to Balmoral may be said to begin with the Strath at Aberdeen. The farther west the railway runs, the higher grow the mountains and the narrower waxes the valley. Yet the Highlands proper are held to commence only at Ballater, the little northern town with its gray square, and its pleasant inn by the bridge over the rushing Dee. The whole is set between the wooded hills of Pannanich and Craigendarroch, the last-named from the oak wood which crowns its summit. The Prince of Wales's house, Birkhall, stands back from the road on a green eminence with the mountain rising behind, and in front the river Muich running down to join the Dee.
At Ballater the railway ends, and two picturesque roads follow the course of the river, one on each side, the first passing Crathie, the other going through the fir and birch woods of Abergeldie on the same side as Balmoral. Both command grand glimpses of the mountains, which belong to the three great ranges of the district—Cairngorm, Glengairn, and Loch-na-Gar.
Approaching on the Crathie side, the stranger is struck with the frequent tokens of a life that was once the presiding genius of this place, which passing away in its prime, has left the shadow of a great grief, softened by the merciful touch of time. The haunting presence, mild in its manliness and gentle in its strength, of a princely benefactor common to all, has displaced the grim phantoms of old chieftains and reigns in their stead. It hovers over the dearly loved Highland home with its fitting touch of stateliness in the middle of its simplicity, over the forest where a true sportsman stalked the deer, over the streams and lochs in which he fished, and the paths he trod by hill and glen. We are made to remember that Balmoral was the Prince Consort's property, that he bought it for his possession, as Osborne was the Queen's, and that it was by a bequest in his will that it came, with all its memories, to his widow. Three different monuments to the Prince, on as many elevations above the castle, at once attract the eye. The highest and most enduring, seen from many quarters and at considerable distances, is a gable-like cairn on the summit of a hill. It is here that such of the Prince's sons as are in the neighbourhood, and all the tenantry and dependents who can comply with the invitation, assemble on the Prince Consort's birthday and drink to his memory.
Lower down stands a representation of the noble figure of the Prince, attended by his greyhound, Eos. On another spur of the same hill is an obelisk, erected by the tenantry and servants to the master who had their interests so deeply at heart.
The castle, like its smaller predecessor of which this pile of building has taken the place, stands in a haugh or meadow at the foot of a hill, within a circle of mountain-tops. The porter's ledge and gate might belong to the hunting-seat of any gentleman of taste and means; only the fact that, even when her Majesty is not in residence, a constable of police is in attendance, marks the difference between sovereign and subject.
Within the gate the surroundings are still wild and rural, in keeping with nature free and unshackled, and have a faint flavour of German parks where the mowing-machine is not always at work, but a sweet math of wild flowers three or four feet high is supposed to cheat the dweller in courtly palaces into a belief that he too is at liberty to breathe the fresh air without thought or care, and roam where he will, free from the fetters of form and etiquette.
Great innocent moon-daises, sprightly harebells, sturdy heather, bloom profusely and seem much at home within these royal precincts, under the brow of the hills and within sight and sound of the flashing Dee. Gradually the natural birch wood shows more traces of cultivation, and is interspersed with such trees and shrubs as suit the climate, and the rough pasture gives place to the smooth lawn, with a knot of bright flower-beds on one side.
The house is built of reddish granite in what is called the baronial style, with a sprinkling of peaked gables and pepper-box turrets, and a square tower with a clock which is said to keep the time all over the parish. Above the principal entrance are the coats of arms, carved, coloured, and picked out with gold. There are two bas-reliefs serving to indicate the character of the building—a hunting-lodge under the patronage of St. Hubert, supported by St. Andrew of Scotland and St. George of England, the stag between whose antlers the sacred cross sprang, forming part of the representation. The other bas-relief shows groups of men engaged in Highland games.
Within doors many a relic of the chase appears in antlered heads surmounting inscriptions in brass of the date of the slaying of the stag and the name of the slayer. The engravings on the walls are mostly of mountain landscapes and sporting scenes, in which Landseer's hand is prominent, and of family adventures in making this ascent or crossing that ford.
The furniture is as Scotch as may be—chairs and tables, with few exceptions, of polished birch hangings and carpets with the tartan check on the velvet pile, the royal "sets" in all their bewildering variety: "royal Stewart," strong in scarlet; "Victoria," with the check relieved on a white ground; "Albert," on a deep blue, and "hunting Stewart," which suddenly passes into a soft vivid green, crossed by lines of red and yellow.
Drawing-room, dining-room, billiard-room, and library are spacious enough for royalty, while small enough for comfort when royalty is in happy retreat in little more than a large family circle rusticating from choice. The corridors look brown and simple, like the rest of the house, and lack the white statuary of Osborne, and the superb vases, cabinets, and pictures of Buckingham Palace and Windsor. By the chimney-piece in the entrance hall rest the tattered colours once borne through flood and field by two famous regiments, one of them "the Cameronians."
In the drawing-room is a set of chairs with covers in needlework sewed by a cluster of industrious ladies-in-waiting. In the library hangs a richly wrought wreath of flowers in porcelain, an offering from Messrs. Minton to the Queen. On the second story are the private rooms of her Majesty and the different members of the royal family. Perhaps the ballroom, a long hall, one story in height, running out from the building like an afterthought, is one of the most picturesque features of the place. The decorations consist of devices placed at intervals on the walls. These devices are made up of Highland weapons, Highland plaids, Highland bonnets bearing the chief's feather or the badge of the clan. Doubtless tufts of purple heather and russet bracken, with bunches of the coral berries of the rowan, will supplement other adornments as the occasion calls for them; and when the lights gleam, the pipers strike up, and the nimble dancers foot it with grace and glee through reel [Footnote: "Yesterday we had the Gillies' Ball, at which Arthur distinguished himself and was greatly applauded in the Highland reels. Next to Jamie Gow, he was the 'favourite in the room.'"—Extract from one of the Prince Consort's letters.] and sword- dance, the effect must be excellent of its kind. For long years the balls at Balmoral have been mostly kindly festivals to the humble friends who look forward to the royal visits as to the galas of the year, the greater part of which is spent in a remote solitude not without the privations which accompany a northern winter.
The parish church of Crathie, a little, plain, white building, well situated on a green, wooded knoll, looks across the Dee to Balmoral. The church is notable for its wide, red-covered gallery seats, to which the few plain pews in the area below bear a small proportion. The Queen's arms are in front of the gallery, which contains her seat and that of the Prince of Wales. Opposite are two stained-glass windows, representing King David with his harp, and St. Paul with the sword of the Spirit and the word of God, gifts of the Queen in memory of her sister, the Princess of Hohenlohe, and of Dr. Norman Macleod. Famous speakers and still more famous hearers have worshipped together in this simple little country church. Macleod, Tulloch, Caird, Macgregor—the foremost orators in the Church of Scotland—have taken their turn with the scholarly parish minister, while in the pews, bearing royalty company, have sat statesmen and men of letters of whom the world has heard: Lord Derby, Mr. Gladstone, Dean Stanley, Sir Arthur Helps, &c., &c.
The old churchyard in which John Brown, the Queen's trusty Scotch servant, faithful as a squire of old, sleeps, lies down in the low land near the Dee. John Brown's house, solid and unpretending like the man himself, which he only occupied once, when his coffin lay for a night in the dining-room, is in the neighbourhood.
The Queen has white cottages not far from the castle gate, built on the model of the Osborne cottages, pretty and convenient homes of keepers, keepers' widows, &c., &c., with the few artisans whose services are necessary for the small population. There are other cottages of the old, homely sort, containing no more than "the butt and the benn" of stereotyped Scotch architecture, with the fire made of "peats" or of sticks on the hearth-floor. In some of these, the walls of the better rooms are covered with good plates and photographs of every member of the royal family, with whose lineaments we are familiar, from the widowed Queen to the last royal couple among her grandchildren. These likenesses are much-valued gifts from the originals.
As a nucleus to the cottages, there is the shop or Highland store with a wide door and a couple of counters representing two branches of trade in the ordinarily distinct departments of groceries and haberdashery. Probably this is the one shop in her Majesty's domains in which, as we have evidence in her journal, [Footnote: "Life in the Highlands"—Queen's journal. "Albert went out with Alfred for the day, and I walked out with the two girls and Lady Churchill, stopped at the shop and made some purchases for poor people and others. Drove a little way, got out and walked up the hill to Balnacroft, Mrs. P. Farquharson's, and she walked round with us to some of the cottages to show me where the poor people lived, and to tell them who I was.... I went into a small cabin of old Kitty Kear's, who is eighty-six years old, quite erect, and who welcomed us with a great air of dignity. She sat down and spun. I gave her, also, a warm petticoat; she said, 'May the Lord ever attend ye and yours, here and hereafter, and may the Lord be a guide to ye and keep ye from all harm.' ... We went into three other cottages—to Mrs. Symons's (daughter-in-law to the old widow living next door) who had an 'unwell boy,' then across a little burn to another old woman's, and afterwards peeped into Blair's, the fiddler. We drove back and got out again to visit old Mrs. Grant (Grant's mother), who is so tidy and clean, and to whom I gave a dress and a handkerchief; and she said, 'You're too kind to me, you're over kind to me, ye give me more every year, and I get older every year.' After talking some time to her, she said, 'I am happy to see ye looking so nice.' She had tears in her eyes, and speaking of Vicky's going said, 'I'm very sorry, and I think she is sorry hersel'.'..."] she avails herself of the feminine privilege of shopping. For the Queen can live the life of a private lady—can show herself the most considerate and sympathetic of noble gentlewomen in this primitive locality. She can walk or drive her ponies, or visit on foot her commissioner or her minister, or look in at her school, or call on her sick, aged, and poor, and take to them the comforts she has provided for them, the tokens of her remembrance they prize so much. She can enjoy their simple friendliness and native shrewdness. She can read to them words of lofty promise and tender consolation. She can do all as if she were not crowned Queen and ruler of a great kingdom. In hardly any other part of her empire would such pleasant familiar intercourse and gentle personal charities be possible for her. The association has been deepened and strengthened by a duration of more than thirty years. The Queen came while still a young wife to Balmoral, and she has learnt to love and be loved by her neighbours in the long interval which leaves her a royal widow of threescore. Her children were fair-haired little boys and girls, making holiday here, playing at riding and shooting, getting into scrapes like other children, [Footnote: There is a story told of one of the little princes having chased an old woman's hen and been soundly scolded by her for the offence. Her neighbours remonstrated with her, and her heart failed her when, a few days afterwards, she saw the Prince Consort coming up the path to her house leading the small offender. But the visit was one of courteous deprecation, in order that the little hunter of forbidden game might personally apologise for his delinquency.] prattling to the old women in "mutches" and "short gowns," whose houses were so charmingly queer and convenient, with the fires on the hearths to warm cold little toes, and the shadowy nooks ready for hide-and-seek. These children are now older than their mother was when she first came up Dee-side, heads of houses in their turn, but they have not forgotten the friends of their youth.
The rustic community is pervaded in an odd and fascinating manner with the fine flavour of a Court. It has, as it were, a touch of Arcady. Among tales of the great storms and fragments of old legends, curious reflections of high life and gossip of lords and ladies crop up. Not only are noble names and distinguished personages, everyday sounds and friendly acquaintances in this privileged region, but when the great world follows its liege lady here, it is to live in villiagiatura, to copy her example in adapting itself to the ways of the place and in cultivating the natives. Courtiers are only courtly in being frankly at ease with the whole human race. Ladies-in-waiting and maids of honour lose their pride of rank and worldly ambition—if they ever had any, stroll about, drop into this or that cottage at will, and have their cronies there as in loftier localities. We hear of this or that marriage, which has yet to be announced in the Morning Post; how a noble duke, who was conveniently in attendance on the Prince, once walked with a fair and gentle lady, whose father was in waiting on the Queen, through the birch woods and by the brawling Dee, and a marriage, only too shortlived, came of it. And we end by listening to the piteous details of the swift fading away of the much-loved young duchess. Other names, with which the Court Calendar has made us familiar, are constantly coming to the surface in the conversation, generally in association with some act of cheery good fellowship. The son of an earl found a dog for his mother at one of these cottage hearths, and never returned to the neighbourhood without punctually reporting himself to tell its old mistress how well her former pet was thriving—that it had its dinner with the family in the dining-room, and drove every day with the countess in her carriage.
The fine old white house of Abergeldie, with its single-turreted tower, has become the Scotch home of a genial prince and a beautiful princess, who, we may remember, remained steadfastly settled there during the darkening, shortening days of a gloomy autumn, in devoted watch over her lady-in-waiting lying sick, nigh unto death with fever. Abergeldie has another cherished memory, that of the good old Duchess of Kent, for whom Prince Albert first rented the castle, who often stayed in it, accompanied by her son, the Prince of Leiningen, her daughter, the Princess of Hohenlohe, or some member of their families. The peculiar cradle which used to be swung across the Dee here, conveying passengers as well as parcels, has been removed in consequence of the last disaster which befell its progress. An earlier tragedy of a hapless bride and bridegroom who perished in making the passage is still remembered. Remoter traditions, like that of the burning of a witch on Craig-na-Ban, linger in the neighbourhood.
Beyond Balmoral, in the Braemar direction, stretches the fine deer- forest—a great fir-wood on broken ground—of Ballochbuie, a remnant of the old forest of Mar, where a pretended hunting expedition meant a projected rebellion. It is said an earl of that name bestowed it on a Farquaharson in exchange for so small a matter as a plaid. It is now part of the estate of Balmoral. The hills of Craig Nortie and Meal Alvie lie not far off, while on the opposite side rise Craig-na-Ban and Craig Owsel.
Of all the Queen's haunts, that which she has made most her own, where she has stayed for a day or two at a time, seeming to prefer to do so when the hills have received their first powdering of snow, [Footnote: "A little shower of snow had fallen, but was succeeded by brilliant sunshine. The hills covered with snow, the golden birch-trees on the lower brown hills, and the bright afternoon sky, were indescribably beautiful"—Extract from the Queen's journal.] almost every year during her residence in Aberdeenshire, is that which includes Alt-na- Giuthasach and the Glassalt Shiel. This retreat is now reached by a good carriage-road over a long tract of moorland among brown hills, opening now and then in different directions to show vistas closed in by the giant heads and shoulders—here of dark Loch-na-Gar, there of Ben Macdhui, both of them presenting great white splashes on their seamed and scarred sides—wide patches of winter snow on this July day, far more than usual at the season, which will not melt now while the year lasts. "Burns," the Girnoch and the Muich, trot by turns along with us, singing their stories, half blythe, half plaintive. Once or twice a lowly farmhouse has a few grass or oat-fields spread out round it, with the solitude of the hills beyond. A cross-road to such a house was so bad that a dog-cart brought up to it, had been unyoked and left by the side of the main road, while its occupants trudged to their destination on foot, leading with them the horse, which needed rest and refreshment still more than its masters. The blue waters of Loch Muich come in sight with bare precipitous hills round; a little wood clothes the mouth of the pass and the loch, and helps to shelter Alt-na-Ginthasach. The hut is now the Prince of Wales's small shooting-lodge. The modest blue stone building, with its brown wooden porch and its offices behind, is built on a knoll, and commands a beautiful view of the loch and the steep rocky crags to those who care for nature at the wildest. The only vestige of soft green is the knoll on which the hut stands. All the rest is bleak and brown, or purple when the heather is in bloom. The hills, torn by the winter torrents, are glistening after a summer shower with a hundred silver threads in the furrows of the watercourses.
There are fences and gates to the royal domicile, but there is hardly an attempt to alter its character within, unless by a round plot of rhododendrons offering a few late blossoms. But all nature, however stern and savage, smiles on a July day. The purple heather-bell is in bloom, the tiny blue milkwort and the yellow rock-rose help to make a summer carpet which is rendered still gayer by many a pale peach- coloured orchis and by an occasional spray of wild roses, deeper in the rose than the same flower is in the low countries, or by a tall white foxglove. Loch Muich may be desolation itself when the heather and bracken are sere, when the lowering sky breathes nothing save gloom, and chill mist-wreaths creep round its precipices; but when the air is buoyant in its tingling sharpness, when the dappled white clouds are reflected in water—blue, not leaden, and there is enough sunshine to cast intermittent shadows on the hillsides and the loch, though a transient darkness and a patter of raindrops vary the scene, it has its day and way of blossoming.
The Queen's house or shiel of the Glassalt stands near the head of the two miles long loch, just beyond the point where the Glassalt burn comes leaping and dashing down the hillside. Here, too, is a small sheltering fir and birch plantation, though not large enough to hide the full view of the sentinel hills. A "roundel" of Alpenrosen, or dwarf rhododendrons, is the only break in the growth of moss and heather. The loch is so near the house that a stone thrown by a child's hand from the windows of the principal rooms would fall into the watery depths.
The interior is almost as simple and limited in accommodation as Alt- na-Giuthasach was when the Queen described it in her journal. The dining-room and drawing-room might, in old fashioned language, be called "royal closets"—cosy and sweet with chintz hangings and covers to chairs and couches, a small cottage piano, a book-tray in which Hill Burton's "History of Scotland" and Sir Walter Scott's "Tales of a Grandfather," find their place among Scotch poetry old and new. The engravings on the walls tell of that fidelity to the dead which implies truth to the living. There are likenesses of the Prince—who died before this house was built, as in the great palaces; the Duchess of Hesse—best known in the north as Princess Alice; the Princess of Hohenlohe, with her handsome matronly face, full of sense and kindness, and her young daughter, Princess Elise, who passed away in the springtime of her life. In these rustic sitting-rooms and the adjacent bedrooms and dressing-rooms we come again on many a portrait of the humble friends of the family—the dogs which we seem to know so well; the early group of little Dash and big Nero, and Hector with the parrot Lorey; Cairnach, Islay, Deckel, &c. [Footnote: An anecdote of the royal kennels states that when no notice has been given, the servants shall know of her Majesty's presence in the vicinity, and will say among themselves, "The Queen is at Frogmore" by the actions of the dogs, the stir and excitement, the eager listening, sniffing of the air, wagging of tails, and common desire to break bounds and scamper away to greet their royal mistress.]
Behind the house a winding footpath leads up the hill to the rocky cleft from which issues in a succession of white and foamy twists and downward springs, the Falls of the Glassalt. Turning round from the spectacle, the stranger looks down on the loch in its semicircle of mountains. Gaining the crest of the hill and descending the edge on the opposite side, the foot of the grim giant Loch-na-Gar is reached.
Among the visitors at Balmoral in 1858 was Florence Nightingale. The Queen had before this presented her with a jewel in remembrance of her services in the Crimea. The design was as follows: a field of white enamel was charged with a St. George's cross in ruby red enamel, from which shot rays of gold. This field was encircled by a black band bearing the scroll "Blessed are the merciful." The shield was set in a framework of palm-branches in green enamel tipped with gold, and united at the bottom by a riband of blue enamel inscribed "Crimea" in gold letters. The cypher V.R. surmounted by a crown in diamonds, was charged upon the centre of the cross. On the back was a gold tablet which bore an inscription from the hand of her Majesty.
While the Queen was in Scotland the marriage in Germany of one of the daughters of the Princess of Hohenlohe took place. Princess Adelaide, like her sister Princess Elise, possessed of many attractions, became the wife of Prince Frederick of Schleswig Holstein Sonderberg- Augustenberg, the brother of Prince Christian, destined to become the husband of Princess Helena.
DEATH OF THE PRINCE Of LEININGEN—BIRTH OF PRINCESS BEATRICE—BESTOWAL OF THE VICTORIA CROSS—INDIAN MUTINY.
The court returned to Windsor in October, and in November a severe blow struck the Queen in the death of her brother, the Prince of Leiningen. A second fit of apoplexy ended his life while his sister, the Princess of Hohenlohe, watched by his death-bed. Prince Leiningen was fifty-two years of age. He had served in the Bavarian army, and was a man of recognised influence among his countrymen in the German troubles of 1848, which cost him his principality. He had married in 1829, when he was twenty-seven years of age and when the Queen was only a little girl of ten, Marie (nee) Countess of Kletelsberg. He left two sons, the eldest of whom, Prince Ernest, entered the English navy.
Her Majesty's references to the death in her letters to King Leopold are very pathetic. "Oh! dearest uncle, this blow is a heavy one, my grief very bitter. I loved my dearest, only brother, most tenderly." And again, "We three were particularly fond of each other, and never felt or fancied that we were not real geschwister (children of the same parents). We knew but one parent, our mother, so became very closely united, and so I grew up; the distance which difference of age placed between us entirely vanished...." The aged Duchess of Kent was "terribly distressed, but calm and resigned."
Baron Stockmar was with the royal family at this time. It was his last visit to England. His company, always earnestly coveted, especially by the Prince, was apt to be bestowed in an erratic fashion characteristic of the man. Some one of the royal children would unexpectedly announce, "Papa, do you know the Baron is in his room," which was the first news of his arrival.
During the stay of the Court at Osborne in December, the graceful gift of the Resolute was made by the Americans to the Queen, and accepted by her Majesty in person, with marked gratification. The Resolute was one of the English ships which had gone to the north seas in search of Sir John Franklin. It had been abandoned in the ice, found by an American vessel, taken across the Atlantic, refitted, and by a happy thought offered as a suitable token to the Queen.
On the 14th of April, 1857, the Queen's fifth daughter and ninth and last child was born at Buckingham Palace. A fortnight afterwards the Duchess of Gloucester, the last of George the III. and Queen Charlotte's children, died in her eighty-third year. The Queen wrote of her to King Leopold, who must have been well acquainted with her in his youth, "Her age, and her being a link with bygone times and generations, as well as her great kindness, amiability, and unselfishness, rendered her more and more dear and precious to us all, and we all looked upon her as a sort of grandmother." Sixty-two years before, when the venerable Princess was a charming maiden of eighteen, she had gloried in the tidings of her princely cousin's laurels, won on the battlefields of Flanders. More than twenty years afterwards, when Princess Charlotte descended the staircase of Carlton House after her marriage with Prince Leopold, "she was met at the foot with open arms by the Princess Mary, whose face was bathed in tears." The first wedding had removed the obstacle to the second, which was celebrated a few weeks later. The Duchess lived for eighteen years happily with her husband, then spent more than twenty years in widowhood. She ended her long life at Gloucester House, Park Lane. At her earnest request, she was buried without pomp or show with her people in the family vault at Windsor.
Before the late Duchess of Gloucester's funeral, Prince Albert, according to a previous pledge, opened, on the 5th of May, the great Art Exhibition at Manchester, to which the Queen contributed largely.
On the announcement to Parliament of the Princess Royal's approaching marriage, the House of Commons voted in a manner gratifying to the Queen and the Prince a dowry of forty thousand, with an annuity of eight thousand a year to the Princess.
At Osborne the Queen had a flying visit from one of her recent enemies, the Archduke Constantine, the Admiral-in-Chief of the Russian navy.
On the 14th of June, the young Archduke Maximilian of Austria arrived. He was an object of peculiar interest to the Queen and the Prince, as the future husband of their young cousin, Princess Charlotte of Belgium. He seemed in every way worthy of the old king's careful choice for his only daughter. Except in the matter of looks, he was all that could have been wished—good, clever, kind. But man proposes and God disposes; so it happened that the marriage attended by such bright and apparently well-founded hopes resulted in one of the most piteous tragedies that ever befell a noble and innocent royal pair. Another bridegroom, Prince Frederick William, was in England to meet the Archduke, and a third was hovering in the background in the person of Don Pedro of Portugal, whose marriage with Princess Stephanie of Hohenzollern Prince Albert had been requested to negotiate. Marriage- bells were in the air, and that must indeed have been a joyous christening at which two of the bridegrooms were present. Prince Frederick William of Prussia acted as godfather to his future little sister-in-law, while his betrothed bride was one of the godmothers. The infant was named as her Majesty explained to King Leopold: "She is to be called Beatrice, a fine old name, borne by three of the Plantaganet princesses, and her other names will be Mary (after poor Aunt Mary), Victoria (after mamma and Vicky, who with Fritz Wilhelm are to be the sponsors), and Feodore (the Queen's sister)." Her Majesty's last baby was a beautiful infant, soon to exhibit bright and winning ways, the pet plaything of her brothers and sisters, and especially of her father.
On the 25th of June the Queen conferred on Prince Albert, by letters patent, the title of "Prince Consort." The change was desirable, to insure the proper recognition of his rank, as her Majesty's husband, at foreign courts.
On the following day, the 26th, the interesting ceremony of the first bestowal of the Victoria Cross took place in Hyde Park before many thousands of spectators. The idea was to provide a decoration which might be earned by officers and soldiers alike, as it should be conferred for a single merit—the highest a soldier could possess, yet in its performance open to all—devoted, unselfish courage. Thus arose the most coveted and honourable of English orders, which confers more glory on its wearer than the jewelled star of the Order of the Garter gives distinction. In excellent keeping with the motive of the creation, the Maltese cross is of the plainest material, iron from the cannon taken at Sebastopol; in the centre is the crown, surmounted by the lion; below it the scroll "For Valour." On the clasp are branches of laurel; the cross hangs suspended from it by the letter V—a red riband being for the army, a blue for the navy. The decoration includes a pension of ten pounds a year. The arrangements for the ceremony were similar to those at the distribution of the medals, except that her Majesty was on horseback. She rode a grey roan, and wore a scarlet jacket with a black skirt. Stooping from her seat on horseback, she pinned the cross on each brave man's breast, while the Prince saluted him with "a gesture of marked respect." [Footnote: "Life of the Prince Consort."] Prince Frederick William was with the royal party.
A few days afterwards, the Queen, the Prince, their two elder daughters and two elder sons and Prince Frederick William of Prussia, a large party, paid a visit to Manchester, staying two nights at Worsley Hall. They inspected the great picture exhibition, received addresses, and traversed the streets to Peel Park, where a statue to her Majesty had been recently erected, the whole amidst much rejoicing.
In the end of June, King Leopold arrived with his daughter on a farewell visit before her marriage, so that there were two young brides comparing experiences and anticipating what the coming years would bring, under her Majesty's wing. The princesses were nearly of an age, neither quite seventeen. They had been playmates and friends since childhood, but the fates in store for them were very different.
In the second week of July the freedom of the City of London was presented to Prince Frederick William of Prussia; the Prince Consort was sworn in master of the Trinity House, and the Queen and the Prince visited the camp at Aldershott. On the 27th the marriage of the Princess Charlotte of Belgium and the Archduke Maximilian was celebrated at Brussels. The Prince went abroad for a few days, to make one in the group of friends and relations, among whom was the old French Queen Amelie, the grandmother of the bride. Queen Victoria wrote to King Leopold, that she was present with them in spirit, and that she could not have given a greater proof of her love than she had shown in urging her husband to go. "You cannot think how much this costs me," she added, "or how completely forlorn I am and feel when he is away, or how I count the hours till he returns. All the numerous children are as nothing to me when he is away. It seems as if the whole life of the house and the home were gone."
On the 6th of August, the Emperor of the French's yacht, with the Emperor and Empress on board, arrived on the English coast, and a private visit of a few days' length was paid to the Queen and the Prince at Osborne. On the 19th of August Her Majesty and the Prince, with six of their children, in the royal yacht, paid an equally private visit to Cherbourg, in the absence of the Emperor and Empress. During the short stay there was a long country drive to an old chateau, when darkness overtook the adventurous party, and all was agreeably fresh and foreign.
By the beginning of September terrible tidings arrived from India. The massacre of the English women and children at Cawnpore, after the surrender of the fort, and the perilous position of the garrison at Lucknow, darkened the usually joyous stay at Balmoral, to which the Princess Royal was paying her last visit. Another source of distress to the Queen and the Prince, when the mutiny began to be put down, was the indiscriminate vengeance which a section of the rulers in India seemed inclined to take on the natives for the brutalities of the rebels. At length Lucknow was relieved, and England breathed freely again, though the country had to mourn the death of Havelock. Sir Colin Campbell completed the defeat of the enemy, and the first steps were taken to put an end to the complications of government in India, by bringing the great colony directly under the rule of the Queen, and causing the intermediate authority of the East India Company to cease.
THE MARRIAGE OF THE PRINCESS ROYAL.
In the end of 1857 there were many preparations for the marriage of the Princess Royal in the month of January in the coming year. In the interval a calamity occurred at Claremont which revived the recollection of the great disaster in the early years of the century, and was deeply felt by the Queen and the Prince Consort. The pretty and gentle Victoire, Duchesse de Nemours, the Queen and the Prince Consort's cousin, and his early playfellow, had given birth to a princess, and appeared to be recovering, in spite of her presentiment to the contrary. The Queen had gone to see and congratulate her. The old Queen Amelie and the Duc de Nemours had been at Windsor full of thankfulness for the happy event. The Duchess was sitting up in bed, looking cheerfully at the new dress in which she was to rejoin the family circle next day, when in a second she fell back dead.
Another shock was the news of the Orsini bomb, which exploded close to the Emperor and Empress of the French as they were about to enter the opera-house.
The marriage of the Princess Royal was fixed for the 25th of January, 1858. On the 15th the Court left Windsor for Buckingham Palace, when the Queen's diary records the sorrow with which the young bride relinquished many of the scenes and habits of her youth. One sentence recalls vividly the kindly family ties which united the royal children. Her Majesty writes, "She slept for the last time in the same room with Alice." In the course of the next few days all the guests had assembled, including, King Leopold and his sons, the Prince and Princess of Prussia, the Duke of Saxe Coburg, with minor princes and princesses, to the number of nearly thirty, so that even Buckingham Palace was hardly large enough to hold the guests and their suites. At the nightly dinner party from eighty to ninety covers were laid. But one old friend was absent, to the regret of all, and not least so of the bride. Baron Stockmar was too ill to accept the invitation to be present at the ceremony. One of his sons was to accompany the Princess to Berlin as her treasurer.
"Such bustle and excitement," wrote the Queen, and then she describes an evening party with a "very gay and pretty dance" on the 18th, when Ernest, Duke of Coburg, said, "It seemed like a dream to him to see Vicky dance as a bride, just as I did eighteen years ago, and I am still (so he said) looking very young. In 1840 poor dear papa (late Duke of Coburg) danced with me, as Ernest danced with Vicky." In truth, neither the father nor the mother of the bride of seventeen had reached the age of forty.
The first of the public festivities were three of the four State visits to Her Majesty's Theatre, "when the whole of the boxes on one side of the grand tier had been thrown into one" for the royal company gracing the brilliant audience—which, as on a former occasion, filled the back of the stage as well as the rest of the house. The plays and operas were, Macbeth, in which Helen Faucit acted, [Footnote: Another great actress had just passed away in her prime. Mademoiselle Rachel had died in the beginning of this month, near Cannes.] Twice Killed, The Rose of Castille, Somnambula. At the first performance, the Queen sat between the King of the Belgians and the Prince of Prussia. After the play, "God save the Queen" was sung with much enthusiasm.
As when her own marriage had occurred, all the nation sympathised with Her Majesty. It was as if from every house a cherished young daughter was being sent with honour and blessing. The Princess Royal, always much liked, appealed especially to the popular imagination at this time because of her extreme youth, her position as a bride, and the circumstance that she was the first of the Queen's children thus to quit the home-roof. But, indeed, we cannot read the published passages in the Queen's journal that refer to the marriage without a lively realisation of the touch of nature which makes the whole world kin, without a sense that good true hearts beat alike everywhere, and that strong family affection—an elixir of life—is the same in the palace as in the cottage.
In fine frosty weather, on Saturday, the 23rd, the Prince Consort, after a walk in Buckingham Palace Gardens with the Queen and the child so soon to be parted from them, started to bring the bridegroom, who had landed in England that morning. He arrived in the middle of the day, and was received in the presence of the Court. The Queen found him looking pale and nervous, but no doubt alive to her warm greeting, at the bottom of the grand staircase. At the top a still sweeter reward awaited him, for the Princess Royal, with her fifteen years' old sister, Princess Alice, to keep her company, stood there.
On the 24th, all the gifts to the young couple, which the Queen calls "splendid," were shown in the large drawing-room—the Queen's, the Prince Consort's, the Duchess of Kent's, &c., on one table; the Prussian and other foreign gifts on another. Of the bride-groom's gift—a single string of large pearls, said to have been worth five thousand pounds, her Majesty remarks that they were the largest she ever saw. The Queen gave a necklace of diamonds, the Prince Consort a set of diamonds and emeralds, the Prince of Wales a set of diamonds and opals, the King and Queen of Prussia a diamond tiara, the Prince of Prussia a diamond and turquoise necklace, King Leopold a Brussels lace dress, valued at a thousand pounds. On a third table were the candelabra which the Queen and the Prince gave to their son-in-law. The near relations of the bride and bridegroom brought the young couple into the room, and witnessed their pleasure at the magnificent sight. Before the Sunday service the Princess Royal gave the Queen a brooch with the Princess's hair, clasping her mother in her arms as she did so, and telling her—precious words for such a mother to hear, nobly fulfilled in the days to come—that she hoped to be worthy to be her child.
Wilberforce, Bishop of Oxford, preached an eloquent sermon.
"Very busy, interrupted and disturbed every instant," the record runs on. Many can enter into the feelings which prompted the Queen and the Prince, after the duties of hospitality were discharged, to accompany their child to her room for the last time, and to kiss and bless her while she clung to them. It is necessary to remember that every rank has its privations. Not the least penalty of such a station as that which the Princess Royal was to occupy arose from the fact that its many and weighty obligations precluded the hope of her returning frequently or for any length of time to the home where she had been so happy, which she was so grieved to quit, though social customs have improved in this respect, and royal marriages no longer mean, as a matter of course, banishment for life from the bride's native country.
On the wedding morning, the Queen declared very naturally that she felt as if she were being married over again herself, "only much more nervous," since now it was for another, and a dearer than herself, that her heart was throbbing. Besides, she said, she had not "that blessed feeling, elevating and supporting, of giving herself up for life to him whom she loved and worshipped—then and ever." She was comforted by her daughter's coming to her while the Queen was dressing, showing herself quiet and composed. The day was fine, with a winter sun shining brightly, as all England, especially all London knew, for many a pleasure-seeker was abroad betimes to enjoy the holiday. The marriage was to take place, like the Queen's marriage, in the little Chapel Royal of St. James's. Before setting out, a final daguerreotype was taken of the family group, father, mother, and daughter, "but I trembled so," the Queen writes, "my likeness has come out indistinct."
In the drive from Buckingham Palace to St James's, the Princess Royal in her wedding dress was in the carriage with her Majesty, sitting opposite to her, when "the flourish of trumpets and the cheering of thousands" made the Queen's motherly heart sink. In the bride's dressing-room, fitted up for the day, to which the Queen took the Princess, were the Prince Consort and King Leopold, both in field- marshals' uniform, and carrying batons, and the eight bridesmaids, "looking charming in white tulle, with wreaths and bouquets of pink roses and white heather."
Her Majesty left the bride and repaired to the royal closet, where she found the Duchess of Kent and the Duchess of Cambridge with her son and daughter. Old and new relations were claiming the Queen at the same time. Her thoughts were perpetually straying back to that former wedding-day. She spared attention from her daughter to bestow it on her mother, "looking so handsome in violet velvet, trimmed with ermine and white silk and violets." And as the processions were formed, her Majesty exclaimed, perhaps with a vague pang, referring to the good old Duchess still with her, and still able to play her part in the joyful ceremony, "How small the old royal family has become!" Indeed, there were but two representatives—the Duchesses of Kent and Cambridge. The Princess Mary of Cambridge, the farthest removed from the throne, walked first of the English royal family, her train borne by Lady Arabella Sackville West; then the Duke of Cambridge; the Duchess of Cambridge followed, her train borne by Lady Geraldine Somerset. The Duchess of Kent, with her train borne the Lady Anna Maria Dawson, walked next to the present royal family. They were preceded by Lord Palmerston, bearing the sword of state. The Prince of Wales, and Prince Alfred, fresh from his naval studies, lads of sixteen and fourteen, in Highland costumes, were immediately before the Queen, who walked between Prince Arthur and Prince Leopold, children of eight and five years of age. Her Majesty's train was of lilac velvet, petticoat of lilac and silver moire—antique, with a flounce of Honiton lace; corsage ornamented with diamonds, the Koh-i- noor as a brooch; head-dress, a magnificent diadem of diamonds and pearls. The three younger princesses—Alice, Helena, and Louise, girls of fifteen, twelve, and ten—went hand-in-hand behind their mother. They wore white lace over pink satin, with daisies and blue cornflowers in their hair.
Most of the foreign princes were already in the chapel, which was full of noble company, about three hundred peers and peeresses being accommodated there. White and blue prevailed in the colours of the ladies dresses, blue in compliment to Prussia. At the altar, set out with gold plate of Queen Anne's reign, were the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Bishops of London, Oxford, and Chester, and the Dean of Windsor. As the Queen entered, she and the Princess of Prussia exchanged profound obeisances. Near her Majesty were her young princes and princesses; behind her the Duchess of Kent; opposite her the Princess of Prussia, with the foreign princes behind her.
The drums and trumpets and the organ played as the bridegroom's and the bride's processions approached, and the Queen describes the thrilling effect of the music drawing nearer and nearer. The bridegroom entered between his supporters, his father and brother-in- law, the Prince of Prussia and Prince William of Baden. Prince Frederick William, soldierly and stately, wore the blue uniform of a Prussian general, with the insignia of the Black Eagle, and carried in his hand his polished silver helmet. He looked pale and agitated, but was quite master of himself. He bowed low to the Queen and to his mother, then knelt with a devotion which attracted attention. The bride walked as at her confirmation, between her father and godfather— her grand-uncle King Leopold. Her blooming colour was gone, and she was pale almost as her white dress of moire and Honiton lace, with wreaths of orange and myrtle blossoms. Her train was borne by eight bridesmaids—daughters of dukes, marquises, and earls—Lady Susan Clinton, Lady Emma Stanley, Lady Susan Murray, Lady Victoria Noel, Lady Cecilia Gordon Lennox, Lady Katherine Hamilton, Lady Constance Villiers, and Lady Cecilia Molyneux.
One can well conceive that the young princess looked "very touching and lovely, with such an innocent, confiding, and serious expression, her veil hanging back over her shoulders."
As the Princess advanced to the altar, she paused and made a deep obeisance to her mother, colouring high as she did so, and the same to the Princess of Prussia. The bridegroom when he took the bride's hand bent one knee.
Once more as the Prince Consort gave her daughter away, her Majesty had a bright vision of her own happy marriage on that very spot; again she was comforted by her daughter's self-control, and she could realise that it was beautiful to see the couple kneeling there with hands joined, the bridesmaids "like a cloud of maidens hovering near her (the bride) as they knelt."
When the ring was placed on the Princess's finger cannon were fired, and a telegram was sent off to Berlin that the same compliment might be paid to the pair there. The close of the "Hallelujah Chorus" was sung at the end of the ceremony.
The usual congratulations followed. The bride flung herself into her mother's arms and was embraced by her again and again, then by her bridegroom and her father. Prince Frederick William kissed first the hand and then the cheek of his father and mother, saluted the Prince Consort and King Leopold foreign fashion, and was embraced by the Queen. Princess Frederick William would have kissed her father-in- law's hand, but was prevented by his kissing her cheek. The bride and bridegroom left the chapel hand-in-hand to the sound of Mendelssohn's "Wedding March." The register was signed in the Throne-room first by the young couple, then by their parents, and afterwards by all the princes and princesses—including the Maharajah Duleep Singh "resplendent in pearls."
The newly wedded pair drove to Buckingham Palace, to which the Queen and the Prince Consort followed, with the Prince and Princess of Prussia, through an immense multitude, amidst ringing cheers. The whole party showed themselves on the balcony before the window over the grand archway, where the Queen had appeared on so many memorable occasions. First her Majesty with her children came out, then the Queen led forward the bride, who stood hand-in-hand with her bridegroom; afterwards the rest of the circle joined them. It was a matter of lively satisfaction to her Majesty and the Prince Consort to witness the loyal, affectionate interest which the people took in their daughter, and the Queen and the Prince were ready to gratify the multitude by what is dear to every wedding crowd, "a sight of the bride and bridegroom."
The wedding cake was six feet high. The departure of the couple for Windsor, where they were to spend their honeymoon, was no more than a foreshadowing of that worse departure a week later. The Queen and the Princess of Prussia accompanied their children to the grand entrance; the Prince Consort escorted his daughter to her carriage. The bride wore a while epingle dress and mantle trimmed with grebe, a white bonnet with orange blossoms, and a Brussel's lace veil.
At the family dinner after the excitement and fatigue of the day were over, the Queen felt "lost" without her eldest daughter. In the evening a messenger arrived from Windsor, bringing a letter from the bride telling how the Eton boys had dragged the carriage from the station to the castle, though she might not know that they, had flung up their hats in the air, many of them beyond recovery, the wearers returning bareheaded to their college. When the Queen and the Prince read this letter all London was illuminated, and its streets filled with huzzaing spectators. At the palace the evening closed quietly with a State concert of classic music.
The Princess Royal's honeymoon so far as a period of privacy was concerned, did not last longer than the Queen's. Two days after the marriage the Court followed the young couple to Windsor, where a chapter of the Order of the Garter was held, and Prince Frederick William was created a knight, a banquet being held in the Waterloo Gallery. On the 29th of January, the Court-including the newly married pair-returned to Buckingham Palace, and in the evening the fourth state visit was paid to Her Majesty's Theatre, when The Rivals and The Spitalfields Weaver were given. The bride was in blue and white, the Prussian colours, and wore a wreath of sweet peas on her hair.
On the 30th of January, the addresses from the City of London and other cities and towns of the Empire, many of them accompanied by wedding gifts, were received, and there was a great and of course specially brilliant Drawing-room, which lasted for four hours. On Sunday the thought of the coming separation pressed heavily on those loving hearts, "but God will carry us through, as He did on the 25th," wrote the Queen reverently, "and we have the comfort of seeing the dear young people so perfectly happy."
On Monday, the Queen in noting that it was the last day of their dear child's being with them, admitted she was sick at heart, and the poor young bride confided to her mother, "I think it will kill me to take leave of dear papa."
Tuesday, the 2nd of February, was dark and cold, with snow beginning to fall, unpropitious weather for a long journey, unless in the Scotch saying which declares that a bride is happy who goes "a white gate" (road:) All were assembled in the hall, not a dry eye among them, the Queen believed. "I clasped her in my arms, and blessed her, and knew not what to say." The royal mother shared all good mother's burdens. "I kissed good Fritz, and pressed his hand again and again. He was unable to speak, and the tears were in his eyes." One more embrace of her daughter at the door of the open carriage, into which the Prince Consort and the Prince of Wales went along with the Prince and Princess Frederick William, the band struck up, and they were gone.
The embarkation was at Gravesend. The Londoners assembled in crowds to see the last of their Princess on her route to the coast by the Strand, Cheap, and London Bridge. Many persons recall to this day the sorrowful scene in the cheerless snowy weather. This was the reverse side of all the splendid wedding festivities-the bride of seventeen quitting family, home, and native country, sitting grave and sad beside her equally pale, and silent father—the couple so tenderly attached, on the eve of the final parting. At Gravesend, where young girls, in spite of the snow, strewed flowers before the bride's steps, the Prince waited to see the ship sail—not without risk in the snowstorm—for Antwerp. But no daughter appeared for a last look; the passionate sorrow of youth hid itself from view.
Away at Buckingham Palace the Queen could not bear to look at the familiar objects—all linked with one vanished presence. The very baby princess, so great a darling in the household, only brought the thought of how fond her elder sister had been of her; how but yesterday the two had played together.
The Princess wrote home from the steamer, and every telegram and letter, together with the personal testimony of Lady Churchill and Lord Sydney, who had accompanied the travellers to Berlin, conveyed the most gratifying and consoling intelligence of the warm welcome the stranger had met with, and how well she bore herself in difficult circumstances. "Quiet and dignified, but with a kind word to say of everybody; on the night of her public entry into Berlin and reception at Court, when she polonaised with twenty-two princes in succession." [Footnote: Lady Bloomfield.] The Princess Frederick William continued to write "almost daily, sometimes twice a day," to her mother, and regularly once a week to her father. And another fair young daughter was almost ready to take the Princess Royal's place at the Queen's side. From the date of her sister's marriage, the Prince Consort's letters and the Queen's journal tell that the Princess Alice, with her fine good sense and unselfishness, almost precocious at her age, was a great help and comfort in the royal circle.
DEATH OF THE DUTCHESS D'ORLEANS—THE PRINCE CONSORT'S VISIT TO GERMANY—THE QUEEN AND PRINCE CONSORT'S VISIT TO PRINCE AND PRINCESS FREDERICK WILLIAM AT BABELSBERG.
In February, Lord Palmerston's ministry resigned after a defeat on the Conspiracy Bill, and Lord Derby, at the Queen's request, formed a short-lived Cabinet. The Prince of Wales was confirmed on Maundy Thursday in the chapel at Windsor.
In April, the young Queen of Portugal, Princess Stephanie of Hohenzollern, visited England with her father on her way to her husband—to whom she had been married by proxy—and her future home. Her charm and sweetness greatly attracted the Queen and the Prince. In May, only seven months after the death of Victoire, Duchesse de Nemours, the sympathies of her Majesty and the Prince Consort were awakened afresh for the Orleans family. Helene, Duchesse d'Orleans, died suddenly from the effects of influenza at Cranbourne House, Richmond. How many of the large family party with which the Queen had been so delighted when she visited Chateau d'Eu had already passed away—the old King, Queen Louise, the Duchesse de Nemours, and now the Duchesse d'Orleans! Her two young sons—the elder the Comte de Paris, not yet twenty—were specially adopted by Queen Amelie.
In the end of May the Prince started for a short visit to Germany, with the double intention of getting a glimpse of his daughter, and revisiting his country for the first time after thirteen years absence. He accomplished both purposes, and heard "the watchman's horn" once more before he retired to rest in the old home. He sent many a loving letter, and tender remembrance to England in anticipation of his speedy return. On his arrival in London he was met by the Queen at the Bricklayers' Arms station.
In the course of a very hot June, the Queen and the Prince went to Warwickshire, which she had known as a young girl, in order to pay a special visit to Birmingham. They were the guests for two nights of Lord and Lady Leigh, at Stoneleigh. Her Majesty had the privilege of seeing Birmingham without a particle of smoke, while a mighty multitude of orderly craftsmen, with their wives and children, stood many hours patiently under the blazing sun, admiring their banners and flags, and cheering lustily for their Queen. One of the objects of the visit was that her Majesty might open a people's museum and park at Aston for the dwellers in the Black country. The royal party drove next day to one of the finest old feudal castles in England—Warwick Castle, with its noble screen of woods, mirroring itself in the Avon— and were entertained at luncheon by Lord and Lady Warwick. In the evening, in the middle of a violent thunderstorm, the Queen and the Prince returned to Buckingham Palace.
This season as usual, there was a visit from the King of the Belgians and several of his family.
The first Atlantic cable was laid, and lasted just long enough for the exchange of messages of proud congratulation on the wonderful annihilation of distance between Europe and America, so far as the thoughts of men were concerned.
After a month's stay at Osborne, during one of the warmest Julys ever known in this country, when the condition of the river Thames threatened to drive the Parliament from Westminster, the Queen and the Prince Consort, with the Prince of Wales and their suites, paid a state visit to Cherbourg. The great fort was nearly completed, and the harbour was full of French war-vessels as her Majesty steamed in, on the evening of the 4th of August, receiving such a salute from the ships and the fortress itself as seemed to shake earth and sky. The Emperor and Empress, who arrived the same day, came on board at eight o'clock, and were cordially received by the Queen and the Prince, though the relations between France and England were not quite so assured as when their soldiers were brothers-in-arms in the Crimea. After the visitors left, the Queen's journal records that she went below and read, and nearly finished "that most interesting book 'Jane Eyre.'"
When the Queen and the Prince landed next day, which was fine, they were received by the Emperor and Empress, entered with them one of the imperial carriages, and drove through the town to the Prefecture, where the party breakfasted or rather lunched. In the afternoon the fort with its gigantic ramparts and magnificent views was visited. There was a State dinner in the evening, in the French ship Bretagne. The Emperor received the Queen at the foot of the ladder. The dinner was under canvas on deck amidst decorations of flowers and flags. The Queen sat between the Emperor and the Duke of Cambridge; the Empress sat between the Prince Consort and the Prince of Wales. The speechmaking, to which one may say all Europe was listening, was a trying experience. The Emperor, though he changed colour, spoke well "in a powerful voice," proposing the health of the Queen, the Prince, and the royal family, and declaring his adherence to the French alliance with England. The Prince replied. "He did it very well, though he hesitated once," the Queen reported. "I sat shaking, with my eyes riveted to the table." The duty done, a great relief was felt, as the speechmakers, with the Queen and the Empress, retired to the privacy of the cabin, shook hands, and compared notes on their nervousness.
A splendid display of fireworks was witnessed from the deck of the Bretagne. In the middle of it the Queen and the Prince returned to the yacht, escorted by the Emperor and Empress, when they took their departure in turn. They were followed by showers of English rockets and rounds of English cheers.
The next morning the Emperor and Empress paid a farewell visit on board the yacht, which sailed at last under "heavy salutes." At five o'clock in the afternoon the beach at Osborne was reached. The sailor Prince, whose fourteenth birthday it was, stood on the pier. All the children, including the baby, were at the door. The dogs added their welcome. The young Prince's birthday-table was inspected. There was still time to visit the Swiss Cottage, to which Princess Alice and the Queen drove the other members of the family. The children's castle, where they had lunched in honour of the day, was gay with flags. Prince Alfred with Princess Alice was promoted to join the royal dinner party. The little princes, Arthur and Leopold, appeared at dessert. "A band played," writes the Queen, "and after dinner we danced, with the three boys and the three girls and the company, a merry country-dance on the terrace—a delightful finale to the expedition! It seemed a dream that this morning at twelve we should have been still at Cherbourg, with the Emperor and Empress on board our yacht."
On the 11th of August, the Queen and the Prince arrived in the yacht at Antwerp, on their way to Germany, to pay their first eagerly anticipated visit to the Princess Royal—then a wife of six months standing—in her Prussian home.
The travellers proceeded by railway to Malines, where they were met by King Leopold with his second son, and escorted to Verviers in a progress which was to be as far as possible without soldiers, salutes, addresses; and at Aix-la-Chapelle the Prince of Prussia joined the party. The halt for the night was at Dusseldorf, where the Prince and Princess of Hohenzollern were waiting. The Queen and the Prince Consort quitted their hotel to dine with the Hohenzollern family, in whose members they were much interested. The Queen made the acquaintance of a young son who is now Prince of Roumania, and a handsome girl-princess who has become the wife of the Comte de Flanders, King Leopold's younger son.
The next day, long looked forward to as that which was to bring about a reunion with the Princess Royal, was suddenly overclouded by the news of the sad, unexpected death of the Prince's worthy valet, "Cart," who had come with him to England, and been in his service twenty-nine years—since his master was a child of eight The Prince entered the room as the Queen was dressing, carrying a telegram, and saying "My poor Cart is dead." Both felt the loss of the old friend acutely. "All day long," wrote the Queen, "the tears would rush into my eyes." She added, "He was the only link my loved one had about him which connected him with his childhood, the only one with whom he could talk over old times. I cannot think of my dear husband without Cart." It was no day for sorrow, yet the noble, gentle hearts bled through all their joys.
Before seven the royal party, including the Prince of Prussia, were on their way through Rhenish Prussia. As the train rushed by the railway platform at Buckeburg there stood the aged Baroness Lehzen, the Queen's good old governess, waving her handkerchief. In the station at Hanover were the King and Queen of Hanover, Princess Frederick Charles of Prussia, and her Majesty's niece, the Princess Feodore of Hohenlohe, a charming girl of nineteen, with her betrothed husband, the Duke of Saxe-Meiningen, a widower of thirty-two.
The Queen then made the acquaintance of one of the cradles of her race, driving out to the country palace of Herrenhausen, which had been the home of the Electress Sophia, and where George I. was residing when he was summoned to be king of England. At five o'clock, in the heat and the dust, her Majesty resumed her journey, "with a racking headache." At Magdeburg Prince Frederick William appeared, "radiant," with the welcome intelligence that his Princess was at the Wildpark station. "There on the platform stood our darling child, with a nosegay in her hand." The Queen described the scene. "She stepped in, and long and warm was the embrace, as she clasped me in her arms; so much to say, and to tell, and to ask, yet so unaltered; looking well, quite the old Vicky still! It was a happy moment, for which I thank God!" It was eleven o'clock at night before the party reached Babelsberg—a pleasant German country house, with which her Majesty was much pleased. It became her headquarters for the fortnight during which her visit lasted. In addition to enjoying the society of her daughter, the Queen became familiar with the Princess's surroundings. Daily excursions were made to a succession of palaces connected with the past and present Prussian royal family. In this manner her Majesty learnt to know the King's palace in Berlin, while the poor King, a wreck in health, was absent; Frederick the Great's Schloss at Potsdam; his whimsical Sans Souci with its orange-trees, the New Palais, and Charlottenburg with its mausoleum. The Queen also attended two great reviews, gave a day to the Berlin Museum, and met old Humboldt more than once. Among the other guests at Babelsberg were the Duke of Saxe- Coburg and Baron Stockmar. The Prince Consort's thirty-ninth birthday was celebrated in his daughter's house. At last with struggling tears and a bravely said "Auf baldiges wiedersehn" (to a speedy meeting again), the strongly attached family party separated. The peculiar pang of separation to the Queen, she expressed in words which every mother will understand. "All would be comparatively easy were it not for the one thought, that I cannot be with her (the Princess Royal), at that very critical moment when every other mother goes to her child."
The royal travellers stayed over the Sunday at Deutz, and again saw Cologne illuminated, the cathedral like "a mass of glowing red fire." On reaching Osborne on the 31st of August, the Queen and the Prince were met by Prince Alfred—who had just passed his examination and been appointed to a ship—"in his middy's jacket, cap, and dirk."
On their way to Scotland the Queen and the Prince Consort, accompanied by the Princesses Alice and Helena, visited Leeds, for the purpose of opening the Leeds Town Hall. The party stayed at Woodley House, the residence of the mayor, who is described in her Majesty's journal as a "perfect picture of a fine old man." In his crimson velvet robes and chain of office he looked "the personification of a Venetian doge." The Queen as usual made "the tour of the town amidst a great concourse of spectators." She remarked on the occasion, "Nowhere have I seen the children's names so often inscribed. On one large arch were even 'Beatrice and Leopold,' which gave me much pleasure...." a result which, had they known it, would have highly gratified the loyal clothworkers. After receiving the usual addresses, the Queen knighted the mayor, and by her command Lord Derby declared the hall open.
While her Majesty was at Balmoral, the marriages of a niece and nephew of hers took place in Germany—Princess Feodore, the youngest daughter of the Princess of Hehenlohe, married the Duke of Saxe-Meiningen; and Ernest, Prince of Leiningen, the eldest son of the late Prince of Leiningen, who was in the English navy, married Princess Marie Amelie of Baden.
More of the English royal children were taking flight from the parent nest. Mr. Bruce, Lord Elgin's brother, was appointed Governor to the Prince of Wales, and was about to set out with him on a tour in Italy. Prince Alfred was with his ship at Malta.
BIRTH OF PRINCE WILLIAM OF PRUSSIA—DEATH OF PRINCE HOHENLOHE— VOLUNTEER REVIEWS—SECOND VISIT TO COBURG—BETROTHAL OF PRINCESS ALICE.
One of the beauties of the Queen's early Court, Lady Clementina Villiers, daughter of the Earl of Jersey, died unmarried at her father's seat of Middleton Park in 1858. She was as good and clever as she was beautiful. Like her lovely sister, Princess Nicholas Esterhazy, Lady Clementina died in the prime of life, being only thirty-four years of age.
On the 27th of January, 1859, the Queen and the Prince received the good news of the birth of their first grandchild, a fine boy, after great suffering on the part of the young mother. He had forty-two godfathers and godmothers.
In April Princess Alice was confirmed. Her Majesty's estimate of her daughter's character was amply borne out in the years to come. "She is very good, gentle, sensible, and amiable, and a real comfort to me." Without her sister, the Princess Royal's, remarkable intellectual power, Princess Alice had fine intelligence. She was also fair to see in her royal maidenhood. The two elder sons were away. The Prince of Wales was in Italy, Prince Alfred with his ship in the Levant. At home the volunteer movement, which has since acquired such large proportions, was being actively inaugurated. The war between Austria and France, and a dissolution of Parliament, made this spring a busy and an anxious time. The first happy visit from the Princess Royal, who came to join in celebrating her Majesty's birthday at Osborne, would have made the season altogether joyous, had it not been for a sudden and dangerous attack of erysipelas from which the Duchess of Kent suffered. The alarm was brief, but it was sharp while it lasted.