The Letters of Queen Victoria, Volume 1 (of 3), 1837-1843)
by Queen Victoria
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Queen Victoria to Viscount Melbourne.


The Queen forgot to ask Lord Melbourne if he thought there would be any harm in her writing to the Duke of Cambridge that she really was fearful of fatiguing herself, if she went out to a party at Gloucester House on Tuesday, an Ancient Concert on Wednesday, and a ball at Northumberland House on Thursday, considering how much she had to do these last four days. If she went to the Ancient Concert on Wednesday, having besides a concert of her own here on Monday, it would be four nights of fatigue, really exhausted as the Queen is.

But if Lord Melbourne thinks that as there are only to be English singers at the Ancient Concert, she ought to go, she could go there for one act; but she would much rather, if possible, get out of it, for it is a fatiguing time....

As the negotiations with the Tories are quite at an end, and Lord Melbourne has been here, the Queen hopes Lord Melbourne will not object to dining with her on Sunday?


Sir Robert Peel to Queen Victoria.

10th May 1839.

Sir Robert Peel presents his humble duty to your Majesty, and has had the honour of receiving your Majesty's note of this morning.

In respectfully submitting to your Majesty's pleasure, and humbly returning into your Majesty's hands the important trust which your Majesty had been graciously pleased to commit to him, Sir Robert Peel trusts that your Majesty will permit him to state to your Majesty his impression with respect to the circumstances which have led to the termination of his attempt to form an Administration for the conduct of your Majesty's Service.

In the interview with which your Majesty honoured Sir Robert Peel yesterday morning, after he had submitted to your Majesty the names of those whom he proposed to recommend to your Majesty for the principal executive appointments, he mentioned to your Majesty his earnest wish to be enabled, with your Majesty's sanction, so to constitute your Majesty's Household that your Majesty's confidential servants might have the advantage of a public demonstration of your Majesty's full support and confidence, and that at the same time, as far as possible consistently with that demonstration, each individual appointment in the Household should be entirely acceptable to your Majesty's personal feelings.

On your Majesty's expressing a desire that the Earl of Liverpool[40] should hold an office in the Household, Sir Robert Peel requested your Majesty's permission at once to offer to Lord Liverpool the office of Lord Steward, or any other which he might prefer.

Sir Robert Peel then observed that he should have every wish to apply a similar principle to the chief appointments which are filled by the Ladies of your Majesty's Household, upon which your Majesty was pleased to remark that you must reserve the whole of those appointments, and that it was your Majesty's pleasure that the whole should continue as at present, without any change.

The Duke of Wellington, in the interview to which your Majesty subsequently admitted him, understood also that this was your Majesty's determination, and concurred with Sir Robert Peel in opinion that, considering the great difficulties of the present crisis, and the expediency of making every effort in the first instance to conduct the public business of the country with the aid of the present Parliament, it was essential to the success of the Commission with which your Majesty had honoured Sir Robert Peel, that he should have that public proof of your Majesty's entire support and confidence which would be afforded by the permission to make some changes in that part of your Majesty's Household which your Majesty resolved on maintaining entirely without change.

Having had the opportunity through your Majesty's gracious consideration, of reflecting upon this point, he humbly submits to your Majesty that he is reluctantly compelled, by a sense of public duty and of the interests of your Majesty's service, to adhere to his opinion which he ventured to express to your Majesty.

He trusts he may be permitted at the same time to express to your Majesty his grateful acknowledgments for the distinction which your Majesty conferred upon him by requiring his advice and assistance in the attempt to form an Administration, and his earnest prayers that whatever arrangements your Majesty may be enabled to make for that purpose may be most conducive to your Majesty's personal comfort and happiness, and to the promotion of the public welfare.

[Footnote 40: Charles Cecil Cope Jenkinson, third Earl, 1784-1851, became Lord Steward in 1841.]

[Pageheading: THE QUEEN'S JOURNAL]

Extract from the Queen's Journal.

Friday, 10th May 1839.

Lord Melbourne came to me at two and stayed with me till ten minutes to three. I placed in his hands Sir Robert Peel's answer, which he read. He started at one part where he (Sir Robert) says, "some changes"—but some or all, I said, was the same; and Lord Melbourne said, "I must submit this to the Cabinet." Lord Melbourne showed me a letter from Lord Grey about it—a good deal alarmed, thinking I was right, and yet half doubtful; one from Spring Rice, dreadfully frightened, and wishing the Whig ladies should resign; and one from Lord Lansdowne wishing to state that the ladies would have resigned. Lord Melbourne had also seen the Duke of Richmond, and Lord Melbourne said we might be beat; I said I never would yield, and would never apply to Peel again. Lord Melbourne said, "You are for standing out, then?" I said, "Certainly." I asked how the Cabinet felt. "John Russell, strongly for standing out," he said; "Duncannon, very much so; Holland, Lord Minto, Hobhouse, and the Chancellor, all for standing out; Poulett Thomson too, and Normanby also; S. Rice and Howick alarmed."

[Pageheading: CABINET MINUTE]




Her Majesty's Confidential Servants having taken into consideration the letter addressed by Her Majesty to Sir Robert Peel on the 10th of May, and the reply of Sir Robert Peel of the same day, are of opinion that for the purpose of giving to an Administration that character of efficiency and stability and those marks of the constitutional support of the Crown, which are required to enable it to act usefully for the public service, it is reasonable that the great offices of the Court and the situations in the Household held by members of either House of Parliament should be included in the political arrangements made on a change of Administration; but they are not of opinion that a similar principle should be applied or extended to the offices held by Ladies in Her Majesty's Household.[41]

[Footnote 41: This paragraph was read by Lord John Russell to the House of Commons during the course of the Ministerial explanations on 13th May.]

Her Majesty's Confidential Servants are therefore prepared to support Her Majesty in refusing to assent to the removal of the Ladies of her Household, which Her Majesty conceived to be contrary to usage, and which is repugnant to her feelings, and are prepared to continue in their offices on these grounds.

Viscount Howick concurs in the opinion expressed in the foregoing Minute that the removal of the Ladies of Her Majesty's Household ought not to form part of the arrangements consequent upon a change of Administration, and shares in the readiness his colleagues have declared to support Her Majesty in acting upon this opinion; but he thinks it his duty to state his conviction that the immediate resumption of their offices by Her Majesty's Confidential Servants is not the mode in which their support can be most effectively afforded and is not calculated to promote the good of Her Majesty's service.

He conceives that before it is determined that the present Administration should be continued, further explanation should be sought with Sir Robert Peel, by which it is not impossible that his concession to Her Majesty's just objection to the removal of the Ladies of her Household might have been obtained, while the endeavour to arrive at this result, even though unsuccessful, would at all events tend to secure additional support to Her Majesty's present Servants, and thus to enable them to surmount those difficulties, which have recently compelled them humbly to tender their resignations to Her Majesty, and which he fears will be found not to have been diminished by the course it has now been determined to pursue.

In humbly submitting this opinion to Her Majesty, Viscount Howick begs permission to add that he nevertheless acquiesces in the determination of his colleagues, and will render them the best assistance in his power in their endeavour to carry on Her Majesty's service.


Queen Victoria to Viscount Melbourne.


The Queen is very anxious to hear that Lord Melbourne has not suffered from the ball last night, as it was very hot at first. The beginning was rather dull and heavy, but after supper it got very animated, and we kept it up till a quarter past three; the Queen enjoyed herself very much and isn't at all tired; she felt much the kindness of many of her kind friends, who are her only real friends. Lady Cowper and Lord and Lady Minto, the Duchess of Somerset, and Lord Anglesey were particularly kind. On the other hand, there were some gloomy faces to be seen, and the Duchess of Gloucester was very cross.

The Queen is ashamed to say it, but she has forgotten when she appointed the Judge Advocate; when will the Cabinet be over?

The Queen danced the first and the last dance with the Grand Duke,[42] made him sit near her, and tried to be very civil to him, and I think we are great friends already and get on very well; I like him exceedingly.

[Footnote 42: The Hereditary Grand Duke of Russia, afterwards the Emperor Alexander II.]

Queen Victoria to Viscount Melbourne.


The Queen anxiously hopes Lord Melbourne is quite well this morning, and has not suffered from the dinner at Pozzo's.

The Queen wishes to know if she ought to say anything to the Duchess, of the noble manner in which her Government mean to stand by her? The account in the Observer of the whole proceeding is the most correct both as to details and facts, that the Queen has yet seen; were they told what to put in? There was considerable applause when the Queen entered the Theatre, which she, however, thought best and most delicate not to encourage, and she was cheered when she drove up to the Theatre and got out, which she never is in general.

The Grand Duke came and sat with the Queen in her box, for at least half an hour last night—and the Queen asked him if he knew exactly what had happened, which he said he did not—and the Queen accordingly gave him an account of what passed, and he was shocked at Sir Robert Peel's proposal, thought his resignation on that account absurd, and was delighted at the continuance in office of my present Government.

The Queen supposes and fears that Lord Melbourne dines with the Lansdownes to-morrow, but she wishes to know if Wednesday, Saturday, and Sunday would suit him?

Lord Melbourne must not forget the List of our supporters in the House of Commons, which the Queen is very anxious to have as soon as possible. If Lord Melbourne can dine here to-morrow the Queen would be glad, of course.


Lord John Russell to Queen Victoria.

13th May 1839.

Lord John Russell presents his humble duty to your Majesty, and has the honour to report that he this day made his statement to the House, in answer to Sir Robert Peel.

Sir Robert Peel made a skilful, and not unfair statement. He, however, spoke only of his intention of changing some of the Ladies of the Bedchamber. But he did not say that he had made this intention clear to your Majesty; only that he had so arranged the matter with his political friends. The popular impression is greatly in favour of the course pursued by your Majesty.

Viscount Melbourne to Queen Victoria.

14th May 1839.

Lord Melbourne presents his humble duty to your Majesty, and is most sorry to hear that your Majesty does not feel well. It is very natural that your Majesty does not. Lord Melbourne does not believe that there was anything wanting in your Majesty's manner yesterday evening,[43] but depend upon it, if there was, every allowance would be made for the fatigue and anxiety which your Majesty has gone through, and for the painful and embarrassing situation in which your Majesty is still placed.

Lord Melbourne will wait upon your Majesty at two, and will have the honour of conversing with your Majesty upon Peel's speech.

[Footnote 43: At the State Concert.]

[Pageheading: THE QUEEN'S VIEW]

Queen Victoria to the King of the Belgians.


MY DEAR UNCLE,—I begin to think you have forgotten me, and you will think I have forgotten you, but I am certain you will have guessed the cause of my silence. How much has taken place since Monday the 7th to yesterday the 13th. You will have easily imagined how dreadful the resignation of my Government—and particularly of that truly inestimable and excellent man, Lord Melbourne—was for me, and you will have felt for me! What I suffered I cannot describe! To have to take people whom I should have no confidence in, ... was most painful and disagreeable; but I felt I must do it, and made up my mind to it—nobly advised and supported by Lord Melbourne, whose character seems to me still more perfect and noble since I have gone through all this.

I sent for the Duke of Wellington, who referred me to Peel, whom I accordingly saw.

Everything fair and just I assented to, even to having Lord Lyndhurst as Chancellor, and Sir H. Hardinge and Lord Ellenborough in the Cabinet; I insisted upon the Duke in the Foreign Office, instead of Lord Aberdeen.... All this I granted, as also to give up all the Officers of State and all those of my Household who are in Parliament.

When to my utter astonishment he asked me to change my Ladies—my principal Ladies!—this I of course refused; and he upon this resigned, saying, as he felt he should be beat the very first night upon the Speaker, and having to begin with a minority, that unless he had this demonstration of my confidence he could not go on!

You will easily imagine that I firmly resisted this attack upon my power, from these people who pride themselves upon upholding the prerogative! I acted quite alone, but I have been, and shall be, supported by my country, who are very enthusiastic about it, and loudly cheered me on going to church on Sunday. My Government have nobly stood by me, and have resumed their posts, strengthened by the feelings of the country....

Pray tell my dearest Aunt that I really cannot write to her to-day, for you have no conception of what I have to do, for there are balls, concerts, and dinners all going on besides. Adieu! my beloved Uncle. Ever your devoted Niece,



The King of the Belgians to Queen Victoria.

LAEKEN, 17th May 1839.

MY DEAREST VICTORIA,—I feel deeply grateful for your very kind and interesting letter, which reached me yesterday, inclusive of the papers.

You have passed a time of great agitation and difficulty, which will, however, contribute to enlarge the circle of your experience. I approve very highly of the whole mode in which you proceeded; you acted with great good faith and fairness, and when finally propositions were made which you considered you could not submit to, you were very right to resist them. The march of the whole affair is very clear and fair, and does you great credit.... Peel in making his demand misjudged you; he remembered George IV., and even the late King, and dreamt of Court influence of people near the Sovereign. You have the great merit, for which you cannot be too much praised, of being extremely honest and honourable in your dealings. If you had kept Peel, you would have acted honestly by him, without any Lady's having a chance of doing him a bad turn. When he asked the measure as an expression of your great confidence in him, it was not fair, because you had not wished to take him; he was forced upon you, and therefore, even if you had granted his request, nobody would have seen in it a proof of your confidence in him, but rather a sacrifice to a far-stretched pretence.

Besides, that he was to have encountered difficulties as a Minister was partly the consequence of the policy of his party, and you were not bound to give him any assistance beyond what he had a right to ask as a Minister. I was sure that Lord Melbourne would give you both the fairest and the most honourable advice in this painful crisis. He was kind enough last year to speak to me on the subject, and I could but approve what he said on the subject. Altogether, keeping now your old Ministers, you will have reason to congratulate yourself on the result; it is likely to strengthen them, by showing the Radicals what may be the consequences.

Rumour spoke of their wishing to add some Radicals to the Cabinet; I don't see that they could improve the Ministry by it, which is perfectly well composed as it is at present, and new elements often have a dissolving effect. It was very kind of you to have explained everything so clearly to me, but I deserve it for the great interest I take in all that concerns you....


Lord John Russell to Queen Victoria.

6th June 1839.

Lord John Russell presents his humble duty to your Majesty, and has the honour to report that Sir Robert Peel's Bill[44] was discussed yesterday in the House of Commons, with great fairness and an entire absence of party spirit.

Viscount Melbourne will have acquainted your Majesty with the result of the Cabinet of yesterday. It appears to Lord John Russell that the Liberal party, with some explanation, will be satisfied with the state of things for the present, and that the great difficulties which attend the complete union of the majority will be deferred till the commencement of next Session. It is always well to have some breathing-time.

[Footnote 44: The Jamaica Bill for the temporary suspension of the Constitution.]

Lord John Russell to Queen Victoria.

WILTON CRESCENT, 11th June 1839.

Lord John Russell presents his humble duty to your Majesty, and has the honour to state that the division of last night was extremely encouraging to the future prospects of the Government.

Combined with the division on the Speakership,[45] it shows that the Liberal party have still a clear though small majority in the House of Commons, and that it may probably not be necessary to resort to a dissolution. Indeed, such a measure in present circumstances would be of very doubtful issue.

Lord John Russell stated last night that he would not divide on the Canada resolutions, but move for leave to bring in a Bill.

[Footnote 45: Mr Shaw Lefevre was elected by 317 against 299 for Mr Goulburn.]

Lord John Russell to Queen Victoria.

6th July 1839.

Lord John Russell presents his humble duty to your Majesty, and has the honour to report that Mr. Rice yesterday brought forward his financial statement with great ability.

He moved a resolution in favour of a penny postage, which Sir Robert Peel declared it to be his intention to oppose on the report. This will be on Friday next. This seems a mistake on the part of the Opposition.[46]

[Footnote 46: The penny postage scheme came into operation on 10th January 1840.]


Queen Victoria to Viscount Melbourne.

BUCKINGHAM PALACE, 12th July 1839. (20 minutes to 12.)

The Queen is really quite shocked to see that her box was taken to Lord Melbourne to Park Lane, and she fears (by the manner in which Lord Melbourne's note is written) that he was at dinner at Lady Elizabeth H. Vere's when he got it. The Queen had imagined that the House of Lords was still sitting, and therefore desired them to take the box there, but never had intended it should follow him to dinner; she begs Lord Melbourne to excuse this mistake which must have appeared so strange.

Did the dinner go off well at Lady Elizabeth H. Vere's, and were there many people there? Did Lord Melbourne go to Lady R. Grosvenor's party or did he go home?

The Queen hopes Lord Melbourne is quite well and not tired.

Monday at two o'clock for the Judge Advocate.

The Queen hears Lady Sandwich is very much delighted at her appointment.

Queen Victoria to the King of the Belgians.

BUCKINGHAM PALACE, 15th July 1839.

MY DEAR UNCLE,—I have no letter from you, but hope to get one soon....

I shall send this letter by a courier, as I am anxious to put several questions to you, and to mention some feelings of mine upon the subject of my cousins' visit, which I am desirous should not transpire. First of all, I wish to know if Albert is aware of the wish of his Father and you relative to me? Secondly, if he knows that there is no engagement between us? I am anxious that you should acquaint Uncle Ernest, that if I should like Albert, that I can make no final promise this year, for, at the very earliest, any such event could not take place till two or three years hence. For, independent of my youth, and my great repugnance to change my present position, there is no anxiety evinced in this country for such an event, and it would be more prudent, in my opinion, to wait till some such demonstration is shown,—else if it were hurried it might produce discontent.

Though all the reports of Albert are most favourable, and though I have little doubt I shall like him, still one can never answer beforehand for feelings, and I may not have the feeling for him which is requisite to ensure happiness. I may like him as a friend, and as a cousin, and as a brother, but not more; and should this be the case (which is not likely), I am very anxious that it should be understood that I am not guilty of any breach of promise, for I never gave any. I am sure you will understand my anxiety, for I should otherwise, were this not completely understood, be in a very painful position. As it is, I am rather nervous about the visit, for the subject I allude to is not an agreeable one to me. I have little else to say, dear Uncle, as I have now spoken openly to you, which I was very, very anxious to do.

You will be at Paris, I suppose, when you get this letter, and I therefore beg you to lay me at the feet of the whole family, and to believe me ever your very devoted Niece,


Queen Victoria to Viscount Melbourne.

BUCKINGHAM PALACE, 20th July 1839.

The Queen anxiously hopes Lord Melbourne has slept well, and has not suffered from last night. It was very wrong of him not to wish the Queen good-night, as she expected he would in so small a party, for she saw that he did not go away immediately after supper. When did he get home? It was great pleasure to the Queen that he came last night. We kept up the dancing till past three, and the Queen was much amused, and slept soundly from four till half-past ten, which she is ashamed of. She is quite well, but has got a good deal of cold in her head; she hopes to see Lord Melbourne at two.


Queen Victoria to Viscount Melbourne.

BUCKINGHAM PALACE, 25th July 1839.

The Queen has seen the Duchess of Braganza,[47] who, though a good deal changed, is still handsome, and very amiable; she seemed so glad, too, to see the Queen again. The child[48] is grown a dear fine girl. Lord Palmerston thought it right that I should ask her to dinner also on Saturday and take her to the Opera; and on Sunday, as she came on purpose to see the Queen, and goes on Monday.

On Sunday (besides Lord Melbourne) the Queen proposes asking Palmerston, Normanby, Uxbridge, and Surrey, and no one else except the Duchess's suite. The Queen hopes Lord Melbourne will approve of this. He will not forget to let the Queen know how the debate is going on, at about nine or ten, as she will be curious to know. She trusts he will not suffer from the fatigue of to-night.

[Footnote 47: The step-mother of Donna Maria. Pedro I. assumed the title of Duke of Braganza after his abdication.]

[Footnote 48: Probably the princess known as "Chica," afterwards Princesse de Joinville.]

[Pageheading: SYRIAN AFFAIRS]

The King of the Belgians to Queen Victoria.

ST CLOUD, 26th July 1839.

... Everything is pretty quiet, and the grace accordee a Barbes[49] has put down the rage against the King personally, at least for some little time. The affairs of the Orient interest a good deal. I think that it is better the Porte should be on a favourable footing with Mehemet Ali than if that gentleman had pushed on in arms, as it will put the casus foederis out of the question, and the Turks will not call in the assistance of the Russians. Whoever pushed the late Sultan into this war has done an act of great folly, as it could only bring the Porte into jeopardy.

[Footnote 49: Armand Barbes, the leader of a fatal riot in Paris, was sentenced to death, a sentence afterwards remitted.]

Viscount Melbourne to Queen Victoria.

3rd August 1839.

Lord Melbourne will wait upon your Majesty at a quarter before five, if possible, but there is much to discuss at the Cabinet. The Caspian Pasha has taken the Turkish fleet to Alexandria,[50] and Mehemet Ali says that he will not give it up to the Sultan until he dismisses the Grand Vizier, and acknowledges the hereditary right of the Pasha to the countries which he at present governs. This is to make the Sultan his subject and his vassal.

The accounts from Birmingham are by no means good.[51] There has been no disturbance of the peace, but the general disposition is both violent and determined.

[Footnote 50: The Viceroy of Egypt had revolted against the Porte, and on 8th June the Sultan purported to deprive him and Ibrahim, his son, of their dignities. War was declared, and the Turkish fleet despatched to Syria. But the Admiral treacherously sailed to Alexandria, and the Ottoman troops, under Hafiz, who had succeeded Mehemet Ali in the Government of Egypt, were utterly routed. With the traitorous conduct of the Turkish admiral, Disraeli, a few years later, compared Peel's conversion to Free Trade.]

[Footnote 51: Chartist riots were very frequent at the time. See Introductory Note, ante, p. 141. (to Ch. VIII)]

[Pageheading: THE OPERA]

Queen Victoria to Viscount Melbourne.

BUCKINGHAM PALACE, 4th August 1839.

The Queen hopes Lord Melbourne is quite well this morning, and did not sit up working very late last night; the Queen met him twice yesterday in the Park, and really wondered how anybody could ride, for she came home much hotter than she went out, and thought the air quite like as if it came out of an oven; to-day we can breathe again. It was intensely hot at the Opera; the Queen-Dowager visited the Queen in her box, as did also the young Grand Duke of Weimar, who is just returned from Scotland, and whom the Queen has asked to come after dinner to-morrow. The Queen has not asked the Duke of Sussex to come after dinner to-morrow, as she thought he would be bored by such a sort of party; does not Lord Melbourne think so? and she means to ask him to dinner soon.

The Queen has not asked Lord Melbourne about any days this week besides to-morrow (when she trusts he may be able to come, but she does not know what there is in the House) and Wednesday; but perhaps Lord Melbourne will consent to leave Thursday and Friday open in case he should be able to come one or both of those days.

Queen Victoria to Viscount Melbourne.

BUCKINGHAM PALACE, 4th August 1839.

The Queen has just received Lord Melbourne's letter; and wishes to know if Lord Melbourne means by "to-day" that he is also coming to see her this afternoon, (which she does not expect) as well as this evening? for she did not ask him in her note of this morning if he would come to-night (for she felt sure of that), but if he could come to-morrow, about which he has not answered her, as to whether he expects there will be anything of great length in the House of Lords. Lord Melbourne will forgive the Queen's troubling him again, but she felt a little puzzled by his letter; she sent him a card for Wednesday without previously asking him, as she thought that would suit him, and hopes it does?

The Queen will follow Lord Melbourne's advice respecting the Duke of Sussex.

We have just returned from hearing not only a very long, and very bad, but also, a very ludicrous, sermon.

The heat is somewhat less, but the Queen is undecided as to driving out or not.


The King of the Belgians to Queen Victoria.

LAEKEN, 9th August 1839.

... I am sorry that you are less pleased with the old Duke, but party spirit is in England an incurable disease. These last two years he had rendered essential service to the present Administration; perhaps he has been soured by last summer's events. It was my intention to have answered your questions sooner, but from Paris I had not the means. Now the time draws so near when I hope to have the happiness of seeing you, that I think it will be better to treat the matter verbally, the more so as my most beloved Majesty is easily displeased with what may be written with the best intention, instead that in conversation the immediate reply renders any misunderstanding, however small, very difficult; and as I do not wish to have any great or small with you, and see no occasion for it, I will give my answer de vive voix.

Now comes a subject which will astonish you. I am charged de sonder your will and pleasure on the following subject. The King my father-in-law goes to Eu, where he hopes to remain till the 5th or 6th of September. Having at his disposition some very fine steamers, his great wish would be to go over to Brighton, just for one afternoon and night, to offer you his respects in person. He would in such a case bring with him the Queen, my Aunt, Clementine,[52] Aumale and Montpensier. The first step in this business is to know what your pleasure is, and to learn that very frankly, as he perfectly understands that, however short such a visit, it must be submitted to the advice even of some of your Ministers. What renders the thing very difficult, in my opinion, is that in a country like France, and with so many Ministerial difficulties, the King to the last hour will hardly know if he can undertake the thing. As, however, the first object is to know your will, he begged me to ascertain that, and to tell you that if you had the smallest objection you would not be carried away by the apprehension of hurting him by telling me honestly that you did not see how the affair could be arranged, but to speak out, that he knew enough how often objections may arise, and that even with himself he could only be sure of the thing at the last moment.

[Footnote 52: Who afterwards married Queen Victoria's cousin, Prince Augustus (Gusti) of Coburg.]

[Pageheading: THE NEW SULTAN]

Viscount Palmerston to Queen Victoria.

FOREIGN OFFICE, 19th August 1839.

Viscount Palmerston presents his humble duty to your Majesty, and in submitting the accompanying private letter from the Earl Granville[53] begs to state that neither Viscount Melbourne nor Viscount Palmerston are of opinion that it would be expedient that your Majesty should send an Ambassador Extraordinary to compliment the young Sultan[54] on his accession. The circumstances connected with his accession are indeed fitter matter for condolence than for congratulation, and he would probably be better pleased by the restoration of his fleet than by the arrival of Ambassadors Extraordinary. Moreover, it has not been customary for the Sovereign of England to send such missions upon the accession of Sultans.

[Footnote 53: The first Earl Granville (1773-1846), formerly Ambassador Extraordinary to the Russian Court, at this time Ambassador at Paris.]

[Footnote 54: Abdul Medjid, a lad of sixteen, succeeded the Sultan Mahmoud. The majority of the Powers agreed to place him under the protection of Europe, and to warn Mehemet Ali that the matter was for Europe, not him, to decide. France, however, wished to support Mehemet, and direct the Alliance against Russia. But Nicholas I. of Russia was prepared to support England as far as regarded the affairs of Turkey and Egypt, and to close the Dardanelles and Bosphorus to warships of all nations, it being stipulated that Russian ships of war only were to pass the Bosphorus, as acting under the mandate of Europe in defence of the Turks. See further, Introductory Notes for 1839 and 1840. (to Ch. VIII and Ch. IX)]

The King of the Belgians to Queen Victoria.

OSTENDE, 24th August 1839.

... The King's intention would be to leave Eu in the evening, let us say at eight or nine o'clock, and to land, perhaps at ten or eleven, at Brighton on the following morning. He would have the honour of dining with you, and would re-embark in the evening of the same day, so as to be back on the following morning at Eu. He will therefore, as you see, not sleep in England.

If you cannot give any pied-a-terre in the Palace for these few hours, they will remain in an hotel. But I must say that as the King and Queen put themselves to some inconvenience in coming to see you, it would be rather desirable to offer them rooms in the Palace, which I think might be easily managed. As far as we are concerned, it does not matter if we are housed in an hotel or where we bivouac. I will charge Van de Weyer to take rooms for us somewhere....

Do not imagine that I have done the least to bring this about for my own satisfaction, which is very limited in this business, but the King wished much to see you once, and so did the Queen, who abhors sailing more than anybody, and this is perhaps the only opportunity which may ever offer of doing it, even with some political benefit, as it certainly is desirable that it should appear that the two maritime Powers are on good terms.... And now, God bless you! Ever, my dearest Victoria, your devoted Uncle,



The King of the Belgians to Queen Victoria.

OSTENDE, 25th August 1839. (La St Louis.)

MY DEAR VICTORIA,—To keep up the fire of letters, I write again, having received this morning interesting news. As I must forward this letter by Calais, and know not who may read it in these times of curiosity, I am forced to be guarded; but the news are as follows, of the 23rd—curious coincidence, as your letter was also of that date—that, the moment approaching, many and serious difficulties arise, and that the expedition was considered imprudent by some people, that, besides, the presence would perhaps be required, before the possible departure, at the usual home of the person interested, that therefore for the present it would perhaps be best to give it up. I must say that I am most happy that matters have come to this pass, because it would have been next to impossible to arrange affairs properly in proper time. You may now consider everything as over, and settle your plans without reference to it....


Queen Victoria to the King of the Belgians.

BUCKINGHAM PALACE, 26th August 1839.

MY DEAREST UNCLE,—I had already written you a letter when I received your two very kind ones, and I shall therefore not send my first. My friendship for the dear King and Queen makes me, as you may easily understand, wish most exceedingly to see them and to make the acquaintance of the Queen and all the family. And I feel the immense kindness of them all in wishing to see me, and in coming over for only a few hours. Politically it would be wished by us all, and the only difficulty I see is the following, which is, that I do not feel quite equal to going to Brighton and receiving them all, so soon after the Prorogation.[55] I do not feel well; I feel thoroughly exhausted from all that I have gone through this Session, and am quite knocked up by the two little trips I made to Windsor. This makes me fear, uncertain as it all is, with such a pressure of business, so many affairs, and with so much going on, that I should be unequal to the journey and the whole thing. This, and this alone, could make me express a wish that this most kind visit should take place next year instead of this year. I feel such regret really in saying this—I should so wish to see them, and yet I feel I am not quite up to it. You will understand me, dear Uncle, I am certain, as I know the anxiety you always express for my health. For once I long to leave London, and shall do so on Friday. If you could be at Windsor by the 4th, I should be delighted.

The dear Ferdinands, whom I all dearly love, will await you here. I have had so much to do and so many people to see, that I feel quite confused, and have written shockingly, which you must forgive. Ever your devoted Niece,


[Footnote 55: On 27th August.]

[Pageheading: THE QUEEN'S SPEECH]

Queen Victoria to Viscount Melbourne.

BUCKINGHAM PALACE, 26 August 1839. (10 minutes to 12.)

The Queen has received both Lord Melbourne's notes; she was a good deal vexed at his not coming, as she had begged him herself to do so, and as he wrote to say he would, and also as she thinks it right and of importance that Lord Melbourne should be here at large dinners; the Queen insists upon his coming to dinner to-morrow, and also begs him to do so on Wednesday, her two last nights in town, and as she will probably not see him at all for two days when she goes on Friday; the Queen would wish to see Lord Melbourne after the Prorogation to-morrow at any hour before five he likes best.

The Queen has been a good deal annoyed this evening at Normanby's telling her that John Russell was coming to town next Monday in order to change with him.[56] Lord Melbourne never told the Queen that this was definitely settled; on the contrary, he said it would "remain in our hands," to use Lord Melbourne's own words, and only be settled during the Vacation; considering all that the Queen has said on the subject to Lord Melbourne, and considering the great confidence the Queen has in Lord Melbourne, she thinks and feels he ought to have told her that this was settled, and not let the Queen be the last person to hear what is settled and done in her own name; Lord Melbourne will excuse the Queen's being a little eager about this, but it has happened once before that she learnt from other people what had been decided on.

The Queen has such unlimited confidence in Lord Melbourne that she knows all that he does is right, but she cannot help being a little vexed at not being told things, when she is accustomed to great confidence on Lord Melbourne's part.

Lord Melbourne may rely on the Queen's secrecy respecting Howick; he knows the Queen always keeps things to herself; Normanby hinted at his wish to get rid of Howick.

The Speech is safely arrived, has been read over twice, and shall not be forgotten to-morrow; the Queen wishes they would not use such thin and slippery paper—for it is difficult to hold with nervous, and, as Lord Melbourne knows, shaking hands. The Queen trusts Lord Melbourne will be less tired in the morning.

[Footnote 56: See Introductory Note, ante, p. 141. (to Ch. VIII)]

The King of the Belgians to Queen Victoria.

OSTENDE, 21st September 1839.

MY DEAREST VICTORIA,—Your delightful little letter has just arrived and went like an arrow to my heart. Yes, my beloved Victoria! I do love you tenderly, and with all the power of affection which is often found in characters who do not make much outward show of it. I love you for yourself, and I love in you the dear child whose welfare I carefully watched. My great wish is always that you should know that I am desirous of being useful to you, without hoping for any other return than some little affection from your warm and kind heart. I am even so far pleased that my eternal political affairs are settled, as it takes away the last possibility of imagining that I may want something or other. I have all the honours that can be given, and I am, politically speaking, very solidly established, more so than most Sovereigns in Europe. The only political longing I still have is for the Orient, where I perhaps shall once end my life, unlike the sun, rising in the West and setting in the East. I never press my services on you, nor my councils, though I may say with some truth that from the extraordinary fate which the higher Powers had ordained for me, my experience, both political and of private life, is great. I am always ready to be useful to you when and where it may be, and I repeat it, all I want in return is some little sincere affection from you....

And now I conclude for to-day, not without expressing again my satisfaction and pleasure at having seen you yesterday morning with your dear honest face, looking so dear in your morning attire. Our time was spent very satisfactorily, and only the weather crossed our wishes, and to that one can submit when everything else is delightful. Once more, God bless you! Ever, my dearest Victoria, your devoted Uncle,



Queen Victoria to the King of the Belgians.

WINDSOR CASTLE, 25th September 1839.

MY DEAR UNCLE,—You will, I think, laugh when you get this letter, and will think I only mean to employ you in stopping my relations at Brussels, but I think you will approve of my wish. In the first place I don't think one can reckon on the Cousins arriving here on the 30th. Well, all I want is that you should detain them one or two days longer, in order that they may arrive here on Thursday, the 3rd, if possible early. My reason for this is as follows: a number of the Ministers are coming down here on Monday to stay till Thursday, on affairs of great importance, and as you know that people are always on the alert to make remarks, I think if all the Ministers were to be down here when they arrive, people would say—it was to settle matters. At all events it is better to avoid this. I think indeed a day or two at Brussels will do these young gentlemen good, and they can be properly fitted out there for their visit. Ever yours devotedly,


Queen Victoria to the King of the Belgians.

WINDSOR CASTLE, 1st October 1839.

MY DEAR UNCLE,—I received your kind letter on Sunday, for which many thanks. The retard of these young people puts me rather out, but of course cannot be helped. I had a letter from Albert yesterday saying they could not set off, he thought, before the 6th. I think they don't exhibit much empressement to come here, which rather shocks me.

I got a very nice letter from dear Alexander yesterday from Reinhardtsbrun;[57] he says Albert is very much improved, but not taller than Augustus. His description of him is as follows:—"Albert, I found, had become stronger and more handsome; still he has not grown much taller; he is of about the same size as Augustus; he is a most pleasant, intelligent young man. I find, too, that he has become more lively than he was, and that sits well on him, too." (Translation.) I think you may like to hear this, as I know Alexander is a very correct observer of persons, and his opinion may be relied upon. He adds that Albert plagues Leopold beyond measure.

I shall take care and send a gentleman and carriages to meet my cousins, either at Woolwich or the Tower, at whichever place you inform me they land at. The sooner they come the better. I have got the house full of Ministers. On Monday the Queen Dowager is coming to sleep here for two nights; it is the first time, and will be a severe trial. Ever your devoted Niece,


[Footnote 57: A picturesque castle, about eight miles from Gotha.]


Queen Victoria to Viscount Melbourne.

WINDSOR CASTLE, 7th October 1839.

The Queen sends the little charm which she hopes may keep Lord Melbourne from all evil, and which it will make her very happy if he will put [? it with] his keys. If the ring is too small Lord Melbourne must send it back to her, and she will have it altered.

The Queen has made up her mind at length to ask Lady Clanricarde, as Lord Melbourne wishes it so much. Shall Surrey invite her, or Lord Palmerston? and from Thursday to Friday?

Queen Victoria to the King of the Belgians.

WINDSOR CASTLE, 8th October 1839.

MY DEAR UNCLE,—I have to thank you for three kind letters of the 1st, 4th, and 5th, the last which I received yesterday. I received another letter from Alex. M. yesterday, since Ernest's arrival, and he says that they have determined on setting off, so as to embark at Antwerp on the 9th and be here after all on the 10th! I suppose you will have also heard. I shall therefore (unless I hear from you to the contrary) send one of my equerries and two carriages to the Tower on Thursday.

I am sorry to hear of the serious disturbances at Ghent; I trust it is all got under now. If you should hear anything more of Roi Guillaume's[58] marriage, pray let me hear it, as it is such an odd story. Old Alava, who was here for two nights last week, told me he knew Pauline d'Oultremont many years ago, when she was young and very gay and pretty, but that he wonders much at this marriage, as the King hates Catholics. Alava is rayonnant de bonheur.

I told Lord Melbourne of your alarms respecting the financial crisis, which we did not bring on—those wild American speculations are the cause of it—and he desires me to assure you that we will pursue as moderate and cautious a course as possible.

The Queen Dowager came here yesterday and stays till to-morrow; she is very cheerful and in good spirits....

I must conclude in haste. Ever your devoted Niece,


Many thanks for the two supplies of ortolans, which were delicious.

[Footnote 58: William I., King of the Netherlands, was greatly attached to the Roman Catholic Countess d'Oultremont, and in October 1840, being sixty-seven, abdicated his Crown to marry her. He was father of the Prince of Orange, who succeeded him.]


Queen Victoria to the King of the Belgians.

WINDSOR CASTLE, 12th October 1839.

MY DEAR UNCLE,—... The dear cousins arrived at half-past seven on Thursday, after a very bad and almost dangerous passage, but looking both very well, and much improved. Having no clothes, they could not appear at dinner, but nevertheless debuted after dinner in their neglige. Ernest is grown quite handsome; Albert's beauty is most striking, and he so amiable and unaffected—in short, very fascinating; he is excessively admired here. The Granvilles and Lord Clanricarde[59] happened just to be here, but are gone again to-day. We rode out yesterday and danced after dinner. The young men are very amiable, delightful companions, and I am very happy to have them here; they are playing some Symphonies of Haydn under me at this very moment; they are passionately fond of music.

In the way of news I have got nothing to tell you to-day. Everything is quiet here, and we have no particular news from abroad. In Spain the Fueros[60] seem to give sad difficulty to the Cortes.

Ever, my dearest Uncle, your devoted Niece,


[Footnote 59: Ulick John, first Marquis of Clanricarde (1802-1874), Ambassador at St Petersburg, afterwards Lord Privy Seal.]

[Footnote 60: Certain rights and privileges of the Basques.]


Queen Victoria to the King of the Belgians.

WINDSOR CASTLE, 15th October 1839.

MY DEAREST UNCLE,—This letter will, I am sure, give you pleasure, for you have always shown and taken so warm an interest in all that concerns me. My mind is quite made up—and I told Albert this morning of it; the warm affection he showed me on learning this gave me great pleasure. He seems perfection, and I think that I have the prospect of very great happiness before me. I love him more than I can say, and I shall do everything in my power to render the sacrifice he has made (for a sacrifice in my opinion it is) as small as I can. He seems to have a very great tact—a very necessary thing in his position. These last few days have passed like a dream to me, and I am so much bewildered by it all that I know hardly how to write; but I do feel very, very happy.

It is absolutely necessary that this determination of mine should be known to no one but yourself, and Uncle Ernest—till the meeting of Parliament—as it would be considered otherwise neglectful on my part not to have assembled Parliament at once to have informed them of it.... Lord Melbourne, whom I of course have consulted about the whole affair, quite approves my choice, and expresses great satisfaction at the event, which he thinks in every way highly desirable. Lord Melbourne has acted in this business, as he has always done towards me, with the greatest kindness and affection.

We also think it better, and Albert quite approves of it, that we should be married very soon after Parliament meets, about the beginning of February; and indeed, loving Albert as I do, I cannot wish it should be delayed. My feelings are a little changed, I must say, since last Spring, when I said I couldn't think of marrying for three or four years; but seeing Albert has changed all this.

Pray, dearest Uncle, forward these two letters to Uncle Ernest (to whom I beg you will enjoin strict secrecy, and explain these details, which I have not time to do) and to faithful Stockmar.

I think you might tell Louise of it, but none of her family. I should wish to keep the dear young gentlemen here till the end of next month. Ernest's sincere pleasure gave me great delight. He does so adore dearest Albert. Ever, dearest Uncle, your devoted Niece,


Viscount Melbourne to Queen Victoria.

WINDSOR CASTLE, 16th October 1839.

Lord Melbourne will be ready to wait upon your Majesty at a little before one.

Lord Melbourne reads with great satisfaction your Majesty's expression of feeling, as your Majesty's happiness must ever be one of Lord Melbourne's first objects and strongest interests.



The King of the Belgians to Queen Victoria.

WIESBADEN, 24th October 1839.

MY DEAREST VICTORIA,—Nothing could have given me greater pleasure than your dear letter. I had, when I saw your decision, almost the feeling of old Zacharias[61]—"Now lettest Thou Thy servant depart in peace"! Your choice had been for these last years my conviction of what might and would be best for your happiness; and just because I was convinced of it, and knowing how strangely fate often deranges what one tries to bring about as being the best plan one could fix upon, the maximum of a good arrangement, I feared that it would not happen. In your position, which may and will, perhaps, become in future even more difficult in a political point of view, you could not exist without having a happy and an agreeable interieur.

And I am much deceived—which I think I am not—or you will find in Albert just the very qualities and dispositions which are indispensable for your happiness, and which will suit your own character, temper, and mode of life. You say most amiably that you consider it a sacrifice on the part of Albert. This is true in many points, because his position will be a difficult one; but much, I may say all, will depend on your affection for him. If you love him, and are kind to him, he will easily bear the burthen of the position; and there is a steadiness and at the same time cheerfulness in his character which will facilitate this. I think your plans excellent. If Parliament had been called at an unusual time it would make them uncomfortable, and if, therefore, they receive the communication at the opening of the Session, it will be best. The marriage, as you say, might then follow as closely as possible.

Lord Melbourne has shown himself the amiable and excellent man I always took him for. Another man in his position, instead of your happiness, might have merely looked to his own personal views and imaginary interests. Not so our good friend; he saw what was best for you, and I feel it deeply to his praise.

Your keeping the cousins next month with you strikes me as a very good plan. It will even show that you had sufficient opportunity of judging of Albert's character....

On the 22nd, Prince Metternich came to see me. He was very kind, and talked most confidentially about political affairs, particularly the Oriental concerns.[62] M. de Brunnow had been with him. The short of his views is this: he wishes that the Powers could be unanimous, as he sees in this the best chance of avoiding measures of violence against the Pasha of Egypt, which he considers dangerous, either as not sufficiently effective, or of a nature to bring on complications most earnestly to be avoided, such as making use of Russian troops. Austria naturally would like to bring about the best possible arrangement for the Porte, but it will adhere to any arrangement or proposition which can be agreed upon by England and France. He is, however, positive that Candia must be given back to the Porte, its position being too threatening, and therefore constantly alarming the Porte. He made me write the import of our conversation to King Louis Philippe, which I did send after him to Frankfort, where he was to forward it to Paris. Perhaps you will have the goodness to communicate this political scrap to good Lord Melbourne with my best regards. He spoke in praise of Lord Beauvale.[63] The Prince is better, but grown very old and looking tired. It gave me great pleasure to see him again.

I drink the waters now four days, and can therefore not yet judge of their good or bad effects. My palpitations are rather increased here; if my stupid heart will get diseased I shall soon be departing for some other world. I would it could be soon then.

Till further orders I shall say nothing to your Mother, Charles, or Feodore.

Now I will conclude with my best blessings, and remain, my dearest and most beloved Victoria, your devoted Uncle,


[Footnote 61: An obvious slip for Simeon.]

[Footnote 62: See Introductory Notes for 1839 and 1840. (to Ch. VIII and Ch. IX)]

[Footnote 63: Frederick Lamb, younger brother of Lord Melbourne, Ambassador Extraordinary at Vienna, who had recently been made a Peer.]


Queen Victoria to the King of the Belgians.

WINDSOR CASTLE, 29th October 1839.

MY DEAREST UNCLE,—Your most kind and most welcome letter of the 24th arrived yesterday, and gave me very, very great pleasure. I was sure you would be satisfied and pleased with our proceedings.

Before I proceed further, I wish just to mention one or two alterations in the plan of announcing the event.

As Parliament has nothing whatever to say respecting the marriage, can neither approve nor disapprove it (I mean in a manner which might affect it), it is now proposed that, as soon as the cousins are gone (which they now intend to do on the 12th or 14th of November, as time presses), I should assemble all the Privy Councillors and announce to them my intention....

Oh! dear Uncle, I do feel so happy! I do so adore Albert! he is quite an angel, and so very, very kind to me, and seems so fond of me, which touches me much. I trust and hope I shall be able to make him as happy as he ought to be! I cannot bear to part from him, for we spend such happy, delightful hours together.

Poor Ernest has been suffering since Wednesday last with the jaundice, which is very distressing and troublesome, though not alarming.... I love him dearly too, and look upon him quite as a brother.

What you say about Lord Melbourne has given me great pleasure; it is very just and very true. There are not many such honest kind friends to be found in this world. He desires me to say that he is deeply sensible of your good opinion, and that he can have no other object than that which he considers best to secure my happiness, which is closely connected with the well-being of the country.

I am glad you saw Prince Metternich, and that you were satisfied with the interview.

I hope and trust you may derive much benefit from your stay at Wiesbaden. Pray name me to good Stockmar, and believe me, always, your most devoted Niece and Child,



The Queen of the Belgians to Queen Victoria.

LAEKEN, 9th November 1839.

MY MOST BELOVED VICTORIA,—Your Uncle has already told you, I trust, with what feelings of deep affection and gratitude I received the so interesting and important communication which you permitted him to make to me; but I was longing for an opportunity to speak to you myself of the great subject which fills now our hearts, and to tell you how very grateful I have been, I am, and will ever be, for the confidence and trust which you so kindly placed in me. All I can say is that you did full justice to my feelings, for nothing could interest more my heart than your marriage, my most dearly loved Victoria, and I could not have heard even of that of Clementine with more anxious affection and sisterly love. I cannot really tell you with words how deeply and strongly I was moved and affected by the great news itself, and by your dear, unaffected, confiding, happy letter. When I received it I could do nothing but cry, and say internally, "May God bless her now and ever!" Ah! may God bless you, my most beloved Victoria! may He shower on you His best blessings, fulfil all your heart's wishes and hopes, and let you enjoy for many, many years the happiness which the dearest ties of affection alone can give, and which is the only real one, the only worthy of the name in this uncertain and transitory world!

I have seen much of dear Albert two years ago, I have watched him, as you may well think, with particular care, attention, and interest, and although he was very young then, I am well convinced that he is not only fit for the situation which he is now called to fulfil, but, what is still more important in my eyes, that he has all those qualities of the heart and the mind which can give and ensure happiness. I think even that his disposition is particularly well calculated to suit yours, and I am fully confident that you will be both happy together. What you tell me of your fear of not being worthy of him, and able to make him sufficiently happy, is for me but a proof more of it. Deep affection makes us always diffident and very humble. Those that we love stand so high in our own esteem, and are in our opinion so much above us and all others that we naturally feel unworthy of them and unequal to the task of making them happy: but there is, I think, a mingled charm in this feeling, for although we regret not to be what we should wish to be for them, feeling and acknowledging the superiority of those we love and must always love and respect, is a great satisfaction, and an increasing and everlasting one. You will feel it, I am sure, as well as I do....

You will excuse my blots and hurried scribbling when I will tell you that in order to profit of the private messenger which goes to-morrow morning I write to you at ten in the evening, a thing quite unusual for me, and even rather forbidden: but after having been deprived of expending my heart for so many days, I could not not avail myself of the present opportunity. When I write to you by the ordinary messenger I will continue to be silent; but I trust you will permit me to say some time a word, when a safe opportunity presents itself, for my heart is with you more than I can tell. I would that I could see you, when it could be, for an hour. I remain, my most beloved Victoria, ever and ever your most affectionate



Queen Victoria to the Duke of Sussex.

WINDSOR CASTLE, 11th November 1839.

MY DEAR UNCLE,—The affection which you have shown me makes me feel certain that you will take interest in an event which so nearly concerns the future happiness of my life; I cannot, therefore, delay any longer to inform you of my intended marriage with my Cousin Albert, the merits of whose character are so well known by all who are acquainted with him, that I need say no more than that I feel as assured of my own happiness as I can be of anything in this world.

As it is not to be publicly known, I beg you not to mention it except to our own Family.

I hope you are well and enjoying yourself. Believe me, always, your affectionate Niece,


[Footnote 64: Similar letters with slight variations were written to the Duke of Cambridge, the Princess Augusta, the Princess Sophia, the Duchess of Gloucester, the Princess Sophia Matilda, the King of Hanover, and the Princess Elizabeth (Landgravine of Hesse-Homburg).]

Queen Victoria to Queen Adelaide.

WINDSOR CASTLE, 14th November 1839.

MY DEAR AUNT,—Your constant kindness and the affection you have ever shown me make me certain that you will take much interest in an event which so nearly concerns the future happiness of my life; I cannot, therefore, any longer delay to inform you of my intended marriage with my Cousin Albert. The merits of his character are so well known to all who are acquainted with him, that I need say no more than that I feel as assured of my own happiness as I can be of anything here below, and only hope that I may be able to make him as happy as he deserves to be. It was both my duty and my inclination to tell you of this as soon as it was determined upon; but, as it is not to be yet publicly announced I beg you not to mention it except to our own Family. I thank you much for your kind letter, and rejoice to hear you have enjoyed yourself so much. Believe me, always, your very affectionate Niece,


Queen Victoria to Viscount Melbourne.

WINDSOR CASTLE, 18th November 1839.

The Queen just writes two lines to send Lord Melbourne the accompanying civil letter from the Queen Dowager, and to give him an account of the visit of the Cambridges. They were all very kind and civil, George grown but not embellished, and much less reserved with the Queen, and evidently happy to be clear of me. He gave a very indifferent account of the King of Greece, but a favourable one of the Queen.

The Duchess said she had expected the Queen would marry Albert, and was not surprised at the event. They were very discreet and asked no questions, but described the Duchess of Gloucester to be suffering much from the necessity of keeping the secret.

The weather cleared up, and the Queen has just returned from a walk. She hopes Lord Melbourne got safe to London in spite of the wet and the water on the road; and she hopes he will take great care of himself. She would be thankful if he would let her know to-morrow if he will dine with her also on Thursday or not.


Queen Victoria to the King of the Belgians.

WINDSOR CASTLE, 19th November 1839.

MY DEAR UNCLE,—Many thanks for your kind letter of the 5th, received last week. I am in a great hurry, and therefore have only time to write to you a line to tell you, first, that on the 15th I wrote to all the Royal Family announcing the event to them, and that they answered all very kindly and civilly; the Duchess of Cambridge and Augusta, with the Duke and George, came over on purpose to congratulate me yesterday; secondly, that the marriage is to be publicly announced in an Open Council on the 23rd, at Buckingham Palace, where I am going to-morrow. I return here after the Council on the 23rd. I am so happy to think I need not then conceal my feelings any longer. I have also written to the King of Hanover and the Landgravine,[65] and to all our relations abroad. I hope, dear Uncle, you will not have ill-treated my dearest Albert! I am very anxious to hear from him from Wiesbaden. Ever your devoted Niece,


[Footnote 65: Princess Elizabeth (1770-1840), daughter of George III. and widow of the Landgrave Frederick Joseph Louis of Hesse-Homburg.]

[The following extracts of letters from the Queen to Prince Albert were written partly in English and partly in German. The English portions are printed in italics, the German, translated, in ordinary type. These letters are all written in terms of profound affection, which deepened very shortly into complete and absolute devotion to the Prince.]

Queen Victoria to Prince Albert.

BUCKINGHAM PALACE, 21st November 1839.

... It is desired here that the matter should be declared at Coburg as soon as possible, and immediately after that I shall send you the Order.[66]

Your rank will be settled just before you come over, as also your rank in the Army. Everything will be very easily arranged. Lord Melbourne showed me yesterday the Declaration, which is very simple and nice. I will send it you as soon as possible....

Lord Melbourne told me yesterday, that the whole Cabinet are strongly of opinion that you should NOT be made a Peer. I will write that to Uncle....

[Footnote 66: The Garter.]


22nd November 1839.

... Lord Melbourne has just been with me, and greatly wishes the Declaration to be made at Coburg as soon as possible. He also desired me to ask you to see if you can ... a short History of the House of Saxe-Coburg, who our direct ancestors were, and what part they took in the Protestant, or rather Lutheran, religion; he wishes to hear this in order to make people here know exactly who your ancestors are, for a few stupid people here try to say you are a Catholic, but nobody will believe it. Send (it) as soon as possible; perhaps good Mr. Schenk would write it out in English....

As there is nothing to be settled for me, we require no treaty of marriage; but if you should require anything to be settled, the best will be to send it here. Respecting the succession, in case Ernest should die without children, it would not do to stipulate now, but your second son, if you had one, should reside at Coburg. That can easily be arranged if the thing should happen hereafter, and the English would not like it to be arranged now....

[Pageheading: THE DECLARATION]

Queen Victoria to the Prince Albert.

WINDSOR CASTLE, 23rd November 1839.

... Just arrived here, 5.30. Everything has gone off very well. The Council[67] was held at two o'clock; more than a hundred persons were present, and there I had to read the Declaration. It was rather an awful moment, to be obliged to announce this to so many people, many of whom were quite strangers, but they told me I did it very well, and I felt so happy to do it.

Good Lord Melbourne was deeply moved about it, and Uxbridge likewise; it lasted only two or three minutes. Everybody, they tell me, is very much pleased, and I wish you could have seen the crowds of people who cheered me loudly as I left the Palace for Windsor. I am so happy to-day! oh, if only you could be here! I wish that you were able to participate in all the kindness which is shown to me. To-day I can only send you the Declaration.[68] The description of the whole I will send after this....

Send me as soon as possible the report of the announcement at Coburg. I wear your dear picture mornings and evenings, and wore it also at the meeting of the Conseil.

[Footnote 67: A Special Meeting of the Privy Council was held on the 23rd November, to receive the Queen's intimation of her engagement. The Queen wrote in her Journal:—

"I went in; the room was full, but I hardly knew who was there. Lord M. I saw, looking at me with tears in his eyes, but he was not near me. I then read my short Declaration. I felt my hands shook, but I did not make one mistake. I felt more happy and thankful when it was over."]

[Footnote 68: J. W. Croker wrote to Lady Hardwicke:—

"24th November 1839.

"... She then unfolded a paper and read her Declaration, which you will, before this can reach you, have seen in the newspapers. I cannot describe to you with what a mixture of self-possession and feminine delicacy she read the paper. Her voice, which is naturally beautiful, was clear and untroubled; and her eye was bright and calm, neither bold nor downcast, but firm and soft. There was a blush on her cheek which made her look both handsomer and more interesting; and certainly she did look as interesting and as handsome as any young lady I ever saw.

"I happened to stand behind the Duke of Wellington's chair, and caught her eye twice as she directed it towards him, which I fancy she did with a good-natured interest. ...The crowd, which was not great but very decent, I might almost say respectable, expressed their approbation of the Duke of Wellington and Sir R. Peel, and their disapprobation of the Ministers very loudly. Lord John and Lord Normanby, they tell me, were positively hooted.... Lord Melbourne ... seemed to me to look careworn, and on the whole the meeting had a sombre air."—Croker Papers, ii. 359.]


The King of the Belgians to Queen Victoria.

WIESBADEN, 22nd November 1839.

MY DEAREST VICTORIA,—I was delighted with your dear little letter. You write these kind of letters with a very great facility, and they are generally so natural and clever, that it makes one very happy to receive them. I had written less of late, because I thought you occupied more agreeably than to read my letters. I have on purpose kept back a courier, to be able to send you the latest news from here of M. Albert. The young people arrived here only on the 20th, in the morning, having very kindly stopped at Bonn. I find them looking well, particularly Albert; it proves that happiness is an excellent remedy, and keeps people in better health than any other. He is much attached to you, and moved when he speaks of you. He is, besides, in great spirits and gaiety, and full of fun; he is a very amiable companion.

Concerning the peerage, that is a matter to be considered at any time; the only reason why I do wish it is, that Albert's foreignership should disappear as much as possible. I have, in different circumstances to be sure, suffered greatly from my having declined conditionally the peerage when it was offered me in 1816.[69] Your Uncle[70] writes to you in German: as far as I understood him, he speaks of the necessity of a marriage treaty; that is a matter of course. There is, however, something additional to be regulated concerning the possible succession in the Coburg-Gotha dominions, there being betwixt it and Albert but good Ernest. Some regulation becomes therefore necessary, at least reasonable. The Duke wishes also to know if the treaty is to be made in England or in Germany. Should the last of the two be fixed upon, he thinks that one of your Ministers abroad would be the proper person for it. Ever, my dear Victoria, your devoted Uncle,


[Footnote 69: The Dukedom of Kendal was offered to, and, after consideration, declined by, Prince Leopold.]

[Footnote 70: The Duke of Saxe-Coburg (Ernest I.).]

Queen Victoria to the King of the Belgians.

WINDSOR CASTLE, 26th November 1839.

MY DEAR UNCLE,—I thank you for your kind letter which I received the day before yesterday; but I fear you must have been very dull at Wiesbaden....

Everything went off uncommonly well on the 23rd, but it was rather formidable;[71] eighty-two Privy Councillors present; everybody very much pleased—and I was loudly greeted on leaving the Palace after the Council.

The whole Cabinet agree with me in being strongly of opinion that Albert should not be a Peer; indeed, I see everything against it and nothing for it; the English are very jealous at the idea of Albert's having any political power, or meddling with affairs here—which I know from himself he will not do.

As Wiesbaden is half-way (or thereabouts) to Coburg, I take the liberty of enclosing a large letter to Albert, which I beg you to send on to him.

We are quite flooded here, and the road to Datchet is quite impassable. Ever your devoted Niece,


[Footnote 71: Greville mentions that the Queen's hands trembled so, that she could hardly read the Declaration which she was holding.]


Viscount Melbourne to Queen Victoria.

27th November 1839.

Lord Melbourne presents his humble duty to your Majesty....

A little civility would be well bestowed upon Lord and Lady Tankerville, and might not be without its effect, but if your Majesty does not like it, it cannot be helped.

The others also shall, if possible, be kept in good humour.

The misrepresentation, respecting Prince Alexander[72] your Majesty will see corrected in the Morning Chronicle of that morning, but of course your Majesty will not expect that this contradiction will put an end to bitter and offensive remarks. It will now be said that, knowing the true religion, he has given over his children to the false, and that he has sacrificed their eternal welfare to his own worldly objects.[73] There is nothing which cannot be turned in an hostile and malignant manner by malignant and perverted ingenuity.

Can your Majesty inform Lord Melbourne what is the arrangement respecting King Leopold's children? They are, Lord Melbourne presumes, to be brought up Roman Catholics.

Lord Melbourne earnestly hopes to hear that your Majesty is better and more free from pain. He is himself very well.

[Footnote 72: Prince Alexander of Wuertemberg.]

[Footnote 73: See ante, p. 150. (Ch. VIII, Footnote 22)]

Queen Victoria to the Prince Albert.

WINDSOR CASTLE, 27th November 1839.

The English are very jealous of any foreigner interfering in the government of this country, and have already in some of the papers (which are friendly to me and you) expressed a hope that you would not interfere. Now, though I know you never would, still, if you were a Peer, they would all say, the Prince meant to play a political part. I am certain you will understand this, but it is much better not to say anything more about it now, and to let the whole matter rest. The Tories make a great disturbance (saying) that you are a Papist, because the words "a Protestant Prince" have not been put into the Declaration—a thing which would be quite unnecessary, seeing that I cannot marry a Papist....

Queen Victoria to the Prince Albert.

29th November 1839.

I had a talk with Lord Melbourne last night. He thinks your view about the Peerage question quite correct. Uncle seems to me, after all, much more reasonable about it. We had a good talk this morning about your arrangements for our marriage, and also about your official attendants, and he[74] has told me that young Mr. Anson (his Private Secretary), who is with him, greatly wishes to be with you. I am very much in favour of it, because he is an excellent young man, and very modest, very honest, very steady, very well-informed, and will be of much use to you. He is not a member of the House of Commons, which is also convenient; so long as Lord Melbourne is in office he remains his Secretary—but William Cowper[75] was also for some time Secretary to his Uncle, and at the same time my Groom-in-Waiting. Lord Melbourne feared it was not advisable for you to have Mr. Anson, and also his uncle, but I told him that did not matter if the people are fit for the posts....

[Footnote 74: Lord Melbourne.]

[Footnote 75: Afterwards William Cowper-Temple and Lord Mount Temple, author of the well-known amendment to the Education Act of 1870.]


Queen Maria II. of Portugal to Queen Victoria.

LISBONNE, 1 Decembre 1839.

MA BIEN CHERE VICTOIRE,—Hier ayant recu la communication de votre mariage avec Albert, je ne veux pas tarder un seul instant a vous en feliciter sur votre heureux choix, et en meme temps vous prier de croire aux v[oe]ux sinceres que je forme pour votre bonheur avec votre excellent c[oe]ur il n'est pas possible le contraire. Permettez que je vous dise que votre choix ne m'a pas du etonner, car sachant combien Albert est bon, vous ne pouviez pas choisir un autre dont vous fussiez aussi sure qu'il puisse vous rendre aussi heureuse comme vous le meritez, chere Victoire. Pour que tous mes souhaits soient exauces je vous desire un bonheur aussi complet que l'est le mien. Qu'Albert soit comme Ferdinand et vous serez parfaitement heureuse. Adieu! ma chere Victoire. Je vous prie de me croire, votre devouee Cousine,


Ferdinand vous fait dire mille choses.


Queen Victoria to the Prince Albert.

WINDSOR CASTLE, 8th December 1839.

As to your wish about your gentlemen, my dear Albert, I must tell you quite honestly that it will not do. You may entirely rely upon me that the people who will be about you will be absolutely pleasant people, of high standing and good character. These gentlemen will not be in continual attendance on you; only on great occasions, and to accompany you when you go anywhere, and to dinners, etc. Seymour is your confidential attendant, and also Schenk and Anson,[76] whom Lehzen has written to you about.

Old Sir George Anson has been told of your gracious wish to have him as Groom of the Bedchamber and is delighted.

I can only have Lords, and they will not be Peers, but Lords, the eldest sons of Dukes or Marquesses, or Earls (Counts), and who as far as possible are not in Parliament, for then they need not change, but your people are appointed by you and not by me (nominally), and therefore, unless they were to vote against my Government (which would be awkward), they need not change. You may rely upon my care that you shall have proper people, and not idle and not too young, and Lord Melbourne has already mentioned several to me who would be very suitable....

I have received to-day an ungracious letter from Uncle Leopold. He appears to me to be nettled because I no longer ask for his advice, but dear Uncle is given to believe that he must rule the roast everywhere. However, that is not a necessity. As he has written to Melbourne, Melbourne will reply to him on every point, and will also tell him that Stockmar ought to come here as soon as possible to arrange everything about the treaty. That will be a very good thing, because Stockmar understands all English things so well.

The Second, as you always called Palmerston, is to be married within the next few days to Lady Cowper, the sister of my Premier (Primus); I have known this for a long time, but Melbourne asked me not to tell it to any one. They are, both of them, above fifty, and I think that they are quite right so to act, because Palmerston, since the death of his sisters, is quite alone in the world, and Lady C. is a very clever woman, and much attached to him; still, I feel sure it will make you smile.

[Footnote 76: Mr George Anson had been Private Secretary to Lord Melbourne; it was on Lord Melbourne's recommendation that the Queen appointed him Private Secretary to Prince Albert. The Prince was inclined to resent the selection, and to think that in the case of so confidential an official he should have been allowed to make his own nomination. But they became firm friends, and the Prince found Mr Anson's capacity, common sense, and entire disinterestedness of the greatest value to him. Later he became keeper of the Prince's Privy Purse, and died in 1849.]

(Continued on the 9th).—To-day I have had a Conseil, and then I knighted the Mayor of Newport[77] (who distinguished himself so much in that riot of the Chartists[78]); he is a very timid, modest man, and was very happy when I told him orally how exceedingly satisfied I am with his conduct.... The officers have been rewarded too.... I am plaguing you already with tiresome politics, but you will in that find a proof of my [confidence] love,[79] because I must share with you everything that rejoices me, everything that vexes or grieves me, and I am certain you will take your part in it....

To-day I saw Lord William Russell—you know him, don't you? I forgot to tell you that you will have a great Officer of State at the head of your Household, who is called the Groom of the Stole; it is a position in the Court for prestige only, without any business; he will be a Peer....

[Footnote 77: Mr T. Phillips, the Mayor of Newport, Monmouthshire, had behaved with great coolness and courage during the riot on 4th November. He read the Riot Act among showers of bullets before ordering the troops to fire.]

[Footnote 78: Frost, Williams, and others, afterwards convicted at Monmouth.]

[Footnote 79: The Queen had begun the word "confidence" but struck it out and substituted "love."]

(Continued 10th December).—I am very impatient at your bust not having yet arrived; the Duchess of Sutherland wrote to me she had seen it in Rome, and it was so beautiful!...

Who has made the little copy which you sent me, and who the original? Feodore writes to me so much about you....

We expect Queen Adelaide to-day, who will stay here until the day after to-morrow. Melbourne has asked me to enquire of you whether you know Lord Grosvenor? He is the eldest son of the Marquis of Westminster, and does not belong to any party; he is not in Parliament. He is very pleasant, speaks German very well, and has been a good deal on the Continent. If he accepts, he might be one of your gentlemen. Lord Melbourne is particularly desirous of doing everything that is most agreeable to you. I have a request to make, too, viz., that you will appoint poor Clark your physician; you need not consult him unless you wish it. It is only an honorary title, and would make him very happy....


Queen Victoria to the King of the Belgians.

WINDSOR CASTLE, 9th December 1839.

MY DEAR UNCLE,—... I was quite miserable at not hearing from Albert for ten days; such a long silence is quite insupportable for any one in my position towards Albert, and I was overjoyed on receiving yesterday the most dear, most affectionate, delightful long letter from him. He writes so beautifully, and so simply and unaffectedly. I hope, dear Uncle, you received my last letter (quite a packet) for Albert, on the 5th or 6th? I send you another now. I fear I am very indiscreet about these letters, but I have so much to tell him, and it will only last two months, so that I trust you will forgive it, and forward them.

I mentioned the topics you spoke of to me in your letter to our good friend Lord Melbourne, and as he is writing, I leave it to him to explain to you, as he writes so much better than I do. He will explain to you why the word Protestant was left out in the Declaration, which I think was quite right; for do what one will, nothing will please these Tories.... I shall be delighted to see Stockmar here, for so many reasons, and the quicker he comes the better....

I have a favour to ask you, dear Uncle, which I hope you will grant, unless it should be indiscreet in me. It is, if you have still got Aunt Charlotte's bust at Claremont, if you would give it to me to put in the Gallery here, where you would see it oftener than you do at Claremont, and I am so anxious there should be one of her here.

We have vile weather, cold and foggy; such fogs we have here! I move to London for good on the 9th or 10th of January. Ever your devoted Niece,


Queen Victoria to the Prince Albert.

WINDSOR CASTLE, 11th December 1839.

... I like Lady A—— very much too, only she is a little strict and particular, and too severe towards others, which is not right; for I think one ought always to be indulgent towards other people, as I always think, if we had not been well brought up and well taken care of, we might also have gone astray. That is always my feeling. Yet it is always right to show that one does not like to see what is obviously wrong; but it is very dangerous to be too severe, and I am certain that as a rule such people always greatly regret that in their youth they have not been as careful as they ought to have been. I have explained this so badly, and written it so badly, that I fear you will hardly be able to make it out.

Queen Victoria to the Prince Albert.

WINDSOR CASTLE, 15th December 1839.

... Again no letter from you!... Lord Melbourne left here this morning, but comes back to-morrow evening, after the wedding of his sister. I hope he will remain here, because I am fond of him, and because he has a share in all my happiness, and is the only man with whom I can speak without gene on everything, which I cannot do with my Court.

"Islay"[80] is still plagued by him every evening—a thing which he much enjoys—and constantly begs for the spectacles. I forgot to tell you that Karl has given me a pretty little Rowley, who likewise lives in the house. The multitude of dogs is really terrible!

The ceremony of Declaration must have been very fine and touching, and I am most happy that the good people of Coburg are so pleased with our marriage....

[Footnote 80: A pet dog of the Queen's.]

Dec. 17th.—I have spoken to Lord M. about your wish, and he says—what is my own opinion too—that your people ought to be as much as possible out of Parliament when they have hardly any politics, which is the best thing—as your Household must not form a contrast to mine—and therefore you could not have violent Tories amongst your people; but you may be quite certain that both I and Lord Melbourne will take the greatest care to select respectable and distinguished people, and people of good character. Perhaps Lord Grosvenor may be your Groom of the Stole, though he is no Peer; but his rank and family are so high, that he would do very well; and, besides, not belonging to any party, and being out of Parliament, is such a great advantage.

The design of our Arms without supporters is unfortunately not finished, but I send you a little drawing which I have made of it myself. The report of Sir William Woods I beg you will send back, but the Arms you can keep.

I add a little pin as a small Christmas present. I hope you will sometimes wear it.


The King of the Belgians to Queen Victoria.

LAEKEN, 14th December 1839.

MY DEAREST VICTORIA,—I lived in the hope of receiving some letters for you from Albert, but nothing is arrived to-day. Your dear long letter gave me great pleasure. Before I answer some parts of it, I will say a few words on Lord Melbourne's letter. Perhaps you will be so good to tell him that it gratified me much. It is the letter of an honest and an amiable statesman, practical and straightforward. In the omission of the word "Protestant" he was probably right, and it is equally probable that they would have abused him—maybe even more if he had put it in. There is only this to say, however: the Ernestine branch of the Saxon family has been, there is no doubt, the real cause of the establishment of Protestantism in Germany, and consequently in great parts of Northern Europe. This same line became a martyr to that cause, and was deprived of almost all its possessions in consequence of it.

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