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The life of Queen Victoria and the story of her reign online

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" (Signed) EDITH E. ELLIOTT.

" 67, Bennerley Road, Wandsworth Common."

A gracious letter of thanks was sent to the child.

The Queen, as we have already told, made escapes of a different
kind during her early years, one being her narrow escape from death
on board her yacht.

Forty-two years after this, when Her Majesty was crossing over
from Osborne to Gosport, the yacht Mistletoe collided with the
royal yacht. The Mistletoe was sunk, with the result that the sister-
in-law of the owner and an old man perished. Her Majesty, who
was on deck at the time, was much distressed.


Shortly after coming to the throne the Queen and her mother
were out driving, when the horses took fright and bolted. A pub-
lican bravely ran into the road and stopped them near Highgate
Hill. He was graciously thanked, and being asked to name his
reward, he said : " Permission to put the Queen's arms on my sign."
It was granted, and next day a pocket-book was sent him, concern-
ing which, when asked by his friends, he simply said : " Heavy, very

There were other escapes besides this, including a carriage
accident in Scotland and a railway accident in 1851, but the Queen
came through them all unharmed.

A good deal of amusement, accompanied by not a little annoy-
ance, was caused by the proceedings of a boy who soon became
known as " the boy Jones." This lad found his way again and
again into Buckingham Palace, secreting himself in the chimneys
and so forth during the day, and emerging at night. He seems
to have had no intention of robbery or violence, but merely wanted
to be in the Queen's presence ; and he boasted he had repeatedly
listened to conversations between Her Majesty and Prince Albert.
He was caught and searched, but nothing of a dangerous character
was found upon him. In his examination before a magistrate he
said he had entered the palace only to gratify his curiosity and
learn how royal people and " great swells," like royal footmen,
lived. His examination caused much amusement, he boasting that
he had spent whole days in the palace; in fact, had "put up"
there. He added : " And a very comfortable place I found it. I
used to hide behind the furniture and up the chimneys in the day-
time ; when night came I walked about, went into the kitchen and
got my food. I have seen the Queen and her ministers in council,
and heard all they had to say. ... I know my way all over
the palace, and have been all over it, the Queen's apartment and
all. The Queen is very fond of politics."

He was so jolly and impudent a vagabond, and so young, that
he was let off with a light punishment. He made his way again


into the palace, and this time said he had heard a long conversation
between the Queen and Prince Albert while lying under a sofa in
one of her private apartments. Finally, as he seemed incorrigible
in his mania for entering the palace, he was sent to sea and induced
to go to Australia, where he became a well-to-do colonist. The ease
with which he entered and made his way about the royal mansion
speaks poorly for the watchfulness of the household at that period.
It led to more care being taken to prevent intrusion.


During the autumn of 1848 famine and disease raged in Ireland,
while England and Scotland did not altogether escape. The Queen
felt deeply for her people ; wrote a pleading for help ; sent all she
could, and reduced the palace expenses in every possible way in
order to aid the starving Irish. How England responded to her
appeal and example history records. It is stated that the gaieties
of the London season ceased, and every one contributed all they
could. The Queen's letter alone resulted in ,171,533.

"At last," says Sir Charles Trevelyan, " the famine was stayed.
The affecting and heart-rending crowds of destitutes disappeared
from the streets ; the cadaverous, hunger-stricken countenances of
the people gave place to looks of health ; deaths from starvation
ceased ; and cattle-stealing, the plunder of provisions, and other
crimes prompted by want of food were diminished by one-half in
the course of a single month. It was one of the noblest and
grandest attempts ever made to battle with a national calamity.
Organized armies, amounting altogether to some hundreds of thou-
sands, had been rationed before, but neither ancient nor modern
history can furnish a parallel to the fact that upward of three millions
of persons were fed every day in the neighborhood of their own
homes by administrative arrangements emanating from and con-
trolled by one central office."

During this memorable time of sorrow our good Queen was
found in the forefront of those who sought to mitigate the woes and


horrors of famine and distress. This intense practical sympathy
with suffering had ever been eminently characteristic of Queen

On the 25th of January, 1858, the Princess Royal was married
to Prince Frederick William of Prussia, afterward the Crown Prince
of Germany. For days before, the ceremony had been the common
topic of conversation in society. The Princess was very popular,
and the many splendid gifts she received were some slight evidence
of this popularity. The marriage was celebrated in the Chapel
Royal of St. James, and all the members of the royal family were
present, besides many other illustrious and noble guests. Follow-
ing the wedding ceremony were numerous elaborate receptions,
after which the bride and bridegroom left for Windsor, where they
were to spend the honeymoon.

The day was observed as a general holiday throughout the
United Kingdom, and in the evening London was brilliantly illumi-
nated. Only two days after the marriage the court removed to
Windsor, and Her Majesty created her royal son-in-law a Knight of
the Order of the Garter. On the twenty-ninth, the court and the
newly married couple returned to Buckingham Palace. In the
evening a state visit was paid to Her Majesty's Theater, when
"The Rivals" and "The Spitalfields' Weaver" were performed.
Addresses of congratulation poured in upon the bride and bride-

The first grandchild of the Queen was born at Berlin, on the
27th of January, 1859. The infant Prince's mother was then only
nineteen years of age, and his grandmother only forty. At his
christening the child had forty-two godfathers and godmothers.
This infant became William II., the all-potent Emperor of Germany.

These days of joy were followed by days of deep sorrow for the
Queen, over whose head heavy trials were impending. The
Duchess of Kent, then in her seventy-sixth year, was showing
alarming symptoms of breaking health.

On the 1 5th of March, 1861 "resting quite happily in her arm-



chair," the Duchess was seized with a shivering fit, from which
serious consequences were apprehended. The Queen, the Prince
Consort, and Princess Alice left Buckingham Palace immediately on
receiving the information, and reached FYogmore in two hours,
which seemed to her Majesty like an age. The Prince Consort first
went up to see the Duchess, and when he returned with tears in his
eyes, the Queen knew what to expect. She went up the staircase
with a trembling heart and entered her mother's room. The
Queen writes thus in her diary: "I asked the doctors if there was
no hope. They said they feared none whatever, for consciousness
had left her."


The Queen remained through the night by the side of the un-
conscious sufferer. In the morning her husband took her away for
a short time, but she soon returned to her vigils. Holding the
Duchess' hand, she sat down on a footstool and awaited the issue.
"I fell on my knees," subsequently wrote her Majesty, "holding
the beloved hand, which was still warm and soft, though heavier,
in both of mine. I felt the end was fast approaching, as Clark
went out to call Albert and Alice, I only left gazing on that beloved
face, and feeling as if my heart would break. ... It was a
solemn, sacred, never-to-be-forgotten scene. Fainter and fainter
grew the breathing ; at last it ceased, but there was no change
of countenance nothing ; the eyes closed as they had been for
the last half-hour. . . . The clock struck half-past nine at the
very moment. Convulsed with sobs, I fell on the hand and covered
it with kisses. Albert lifted me up and took me into the next
room himself entirely melted into tears, which is unusual for him
and clasped me in his arms. I asked if all was over ; he said
1 Yes.' I went into the room again, after a few minutes, and gave
one look. My darling mother was sitting as she had done before,
but was already white. O God ! how awful ! how mysterious !
But what a blessed end her gentle spirit at rest, her sufferings

We have spoken of trials. A still heavier one than the loss of
her mother was then impending over the Queen the death of the
Prince Consort, which has been made the subject of a preceding

In 1863 came a diversion to the deep grief of the orphaned and
widowed monarch in the marriage of her eldest son, the Prince of
Wales. This coming event was announced to the Houses of Parlia-
ment on February 19, 1863. The chosen bride was the Princess
Alexandra, daughter of Kin- Christian of Denmark, a maiden of

O >

unusual personal charms and of great loveliness of character. She
had visited England in her youth, staying with her grandaunt, the
Duchess- of Cambridge, and it is said that the Prince of Wales fell
in love with a miniature portrait of the Princess which he saw at the
house of this Duchess, and intrusted to a confidential friend the task
of repairing to Copenhagen to see her and to bring back a reliable
report of her personality. Subsequently an informal meeting took
place between the Princess and Prince, concerning which the suspi-
cion has existed that it was prearranged by the latter. At all events,
when the Prince was traveling abroad, in 1861, he went with his
attendants one day to see the famous cathedral of Worms, and there
met Prince Christian and the blue-eyed Alexandra, also sight-seeing.
Again, while staying at Heidelberg, the Prince encountered her, and
his father, the Prince Consort, recorded in his diary : " We hear
nothing but excellent accounts of the Princess Alexandra ; the young
people have evidently taken a warm liking to each other."


The early years of the Princess had been spent in the simplest
and most wholesome manner. At the time of her birth her father,
Prince Christian, had no expectation of ever succeeding to the
throne of Denmark, for he belonged to a younger branch of the
house of Oldenburg. His income was small for the maintenance
of a family numbering five children, but he was cast in an intel-
lectual mold; as was his wife, and the two supplemented whatever

was lacking in the instruction furnished by teachers who came to
Gule daily, for the services of resident tutors and governesses were
pecuniarily beyond reach.

The Princess Christian was a wise and careful mother. Her
daughters she taught the arts of dressmaking and millinery, so that
they could manufacture their own wardrobes, and household tasks
of all kinds formed part of their education. Princess Alexandra
remarked herself in later years: "We were made to learn when we
were children ; our parents told us it was necessary." She herself,
though not especially studious, inherited the maternal talent for
music and embroidery; in fact, in all gentle and feminine arts she
seemed to excel. She was early pronounced the beauty of the

Prince Christian had, from his thirteenth year, been the adopted
son of the reigning monarch of Denmark, King Christian VIII., and
his prospects were considerably altered upon the death of the latter
in the year 1852. Frederick VII. then came to the throne, and
Prince Christian was formally constituted heir to the monarchy.
No increase of income accompanied these increased honors, how-
ever, and extreme simplicity still characterized the life of his family.
The only change of moment was that of removal from Gule to the
chateau of Bernstorff, which the nation purchased and presented to


The annals of childhood in the case of Princess Alexandra con-
tain no striking incidents. Life at Bernstorff was much more delight-
ful than at Gule. It is narrated how she and her brothers rejoiced
with natural, childlike joy over the country pleasures now theirs, and
how they "roamed the woods gathering wild flowers, swinging on
the branches of great trees in the adjacent forests, cantering along
the country roads on their ponies, and tending their pet animals."
Untrammeled by forms and ceremonies of station, surrounded by
the love of good and wise parents, their lot was more enviable than
they, perhaps, could appreciate. Stories are multiplied of how, on


Sunday, they would accompany their parents on foot to the little
church of Gjentofie, where the villagers of the neighborhood wor-
shiped, and of how Alexandra and her sisters visited among the
peasants, carrying comforts to the needy and words of sympathy to
the sick or unhappy. These charities were the result of some self-
sacrifice, doubtless, for, as his children grew older, the modest
resources of the Prince compelled economy in the household.

Rosa Carey tells a story of how three young princesses sat in
a beautiful old wood, once upon a time, talking " in naive girlish
fashion " of the future.

"I should like," said one princess, who was very lively and
vivacious, "to have all the bost things the world can give, so that I
could do much good."

"I," observed a younger princess, "should like to be very
clever and wise and good."

" And I," observed the third princess, thoughtfully, "should like
best to be loved."

The truth of the story can not be vouched for, but it is said
that these three princesses were Dagmar, Thyra, and Alexandra of
Denmark, and that she who spoke last realized her ambition by
going to England as Princess of Wales, and earning the title
"Queen of Hearts."

And, indeed, the life-story of Queen Alexandra, so long beloved
as Princess of Wales, reads like a tale of enchantment. Born to
modest fortunes, no more simple and retiring existence could be
imagined than that which she led in the Gule Palace and the chateau
of Bernstorff. The former of these homes, where her earliest
years were spent, is described as being in no sense a palace, but
merely a comfortable dwelling, containing pleasantly furnished rooms
set around a dull and gloomy courtyard.

The accession of the father of Alexandra to the throne of Den-
mark, and the chance discovery of her miniature by the Prince of
Wales, if this part of the story can be accepted, vastly changed the
fortunes of the simply reared maiden.


We have spoken of two interviews of the Prince and Princess.
At a third, held at the countryseat of King Leopold in 1862, the
Prince declared his love and the Princess accepted his suit. The
youthful pair were betrothed, though the fact was not made known
to the world for months afterward.

The engagement was of six months' duration, and the prepara-
tions for the nuptial ceremony were gorgeous in the extreme. It is
said that the Princess took much pleasure in the elaboration of her
trousseau, confiding to an intimate friend that "it cost twice as much
as her father's income for a whole year." One hundred thousand
kroners, contributed by the Danes, were presented to her as the
" people's dowry," whereupon the Princess made six dowerless
Danish brides happy by ordering the division among them of 6000
thalers. King Leopold of Belgium presented her wedding dress,
wrought out of Brussels lace. Splendid and numerous were the
gifts showered upon the bride-elect, and the poor people among
whom she had lived and moved, and had tended, and whose utmost
devotion was hers, also had their offering to bring. A deputation of
villagers, led by the worthy pastor of the little church where she had
so often worshiped, presented to her a pair of porcelain vases. The
Princess was so much touched that tears choked the utterance of
her thanks.

And so the day came when, with fluttering pennons, throbbing
hearts, love outpoured, the people of England welcomed the Sea
King's daughter. Many times it has been told how the waiting
thousands shouted as with one voice, "Alexandra ! God bless her !"
and how her youthful grace and personality magnetized all eyes and
conquered all hearts. It is said that the crowds in the London
streets were so great that six women were crushed to death. Two
days later, March loth, the Prince of Wales wedded Alexandra of
Denmark in St. George's Chapel, in which no royal marriage had
been celebrated since that of Henry I., in the year 1142.

At once the whole United Kingdom seemed to emerge from the
gloom and sadness into which it had been plunged for two years.



Mourning was at an end ; illuminations, rejoicings, gladness of heart
were everywhere. The presents were wonderful for their richness ;
so much so that a room was opened at Kensington for their special
exhibition. As a fitting tribute, significant of the national feeling,
we append the beautiful poem written by Tennyson, then poet

laureate :

Sea King's daughter from over the sea,

Alexandra !

Saxon and Norman and Dane are we,
But all of us Danes in our welcome to thee,

Alexandra !

Welcome her thunders of fort and fleet !
Welcome her thundering cheers of the street !
Welcome her all things useful and sweet,
Scatter the blossoms under her feet !
Break, happy land, into earlier flowers !
Make music, O bird, in the new budded bowers !
Blazon your mottos of blessing and prayer !
Welcome her, welcome her, all that is ours !
Warble, O bugle, and trumpet, blare !
Flags flutter out upon turrets and towers !
Flames on the windy headland flare !
Utter your jubilee, steeple and spire !
Clash, ye bells, in the merry March air.
Flash, ye cities, in rivers of fire !
Rush to the roof, sudden rocket, and higher
Melt into stars for the land's desire !
Roll and rejoice, jubilant voice,
Roll as a ground swell dash'd on the strand ;
Roar as the sea when he welcomes the land ;
And welcome her, welcome the land's desire,
The Sea King's daughter, as happy, as fair,
Blissful bride of a blissful heir
Bride of the heir of the king of the sea !
O joy to the people and joy to the throne ;
Come to us, love us, and make us your own ;
For Saxon or Dane or Norman we,
Teuton or Celt, or whatever we be,
We are each all Dane in our welcome to thee,

Alexandra !


It was a fitting tribute to a woman who has proved herself at
once good and noble. Her devotedness as wife and mother, the
charities and domestic sweetness of her private life at Sandringham,
the charm of her manners and beauty when seen at public functions,
made her dearer to the people with each year of her residence in
England, and the British nation has great cause for thanksgiving
that Queen Victoria has such a noble and worthy successor in Queen

In 1875 the Prince visited India, and received an ovation in that
oriental land which reads like one of the tales of the " Arabian
Nights." On May ist of the following year Victoria, Queen of
Great Britain and Ireland, was proclaimed Empress of India, as al-
ready stated.


On December 14, 1878, the anniversary of the Prince Consort's
death, his beloved daughter and faithful nurse, the Princess Alice,
died and died, it will be remembered, a martyr to her love for her
children. The little ones and her husband had been suffering from
diphtheria. One died, and it seems that the eldest boy, in sym-
pathizing with his mother, impulsively threw his arms around her and
kissed her. It was the kiss of death. She caught the disease, and,
worn out with anxiety and watching, she could not resist, but after a
few days' illness passed away.

Since the death of the Prince Consort, seventeen years before,
nothing had so stirred the deepest sympathies of the nation, for the
Princess was warmly loved. For a time the Queen seemed utterly
overwhelmed by the loss of her tenderly affectionate daughter.


The Year of Jubilee

IN the year 1887 came a great occasion in the life of England's
beloved Queen, that of'the fiftieth anniversary of her reign, a year
of holiday and festivity which was celebrated in all quarters of
the earth. India led the way, rejoicings being general throughout
her vast area, from the snowy passes of the lofty Himalayas on the
north, to the tropical shores of Cape Comorin on the south. Other
colonies fell into line, the large-hearted and loyal Canadians vicing
with the sun-burned Africanders of Cape Town and Natal, the mer-
chants of the West Indies with the planters of the East Indies, in
celebrating worthily the Jubilee of Britain's Queen.


England has known, in earlier times, three Royal Jubilees
those of Henry III., Edward III., and George III. All of these
sovereigns reigned over fifty years, and it is a curious coincidence
they should all have been III. of the title. A few lines may be
devoted to the circumstances of these Royal Jubilees, which will
make it clear that Victoria's Jubilee was brightest of all.

The reign of Henry III. was one of considerable progress.
During its course, trial by jury was introduced, and in the Jubilee year
(1265), the first real English Parliament was summoned by Simon
de Montfort, Earl of Leicester. The year closed, however, sadly.
The turmoil of civil war, and the heavy losses of the bloody battle
of Evesham, made the hearts of men heavy and sore, and they were
in little humor for Jubilee rejoicings.

The next Jubilee came in 1376, when Edward III. entered on
the fiftieth year of his reign. In many respects, it had been a



glorious and prosperous period. The terrors of the "black death,
which had swept the land some twenty years previously, were for-
gotten, and men were ready to rejoice to the full. Hence history


speaks of tournaments, processions, high feastings, street pageants.
But alas ! in that very year " the Black Prince " died, and the nation


sorely mourned its most brilliant hero of chivalry. And before the
year's close, disorder and disunion were rampart, and civil war was
threatened, so that Edward's Jubilee came to as dark and cloudy
an end as that of Henry, a century before.

Nearly five centuries elapsed before there came another year of
Royal Jubilee. In 1810 George III. reached the fiftieth year of
his reign, and widespread festivities took place. It was not
through any particular admiration for the King, but through the
general enjoyment of the true Anglo-Saxon in a period of holiday
and entertainment. The Jubilee was held in great style, and we
read of state banquets, grand reviews, balls, general illuminations,
free open-air feasts, in which bullocks were roasted whole ;
deserters from the army and navy were pardoned, foreign prisoners
of war set free, and a great national subscription made for the
release of poor debtors. Yet the country was then in the throes
of its gigantic struggle with Napoleon ; the King, always a man
of weak intellect and feeble health, was then bereft of reason, the
Prince of Wales being appointed Regent, and the people's best
reason for rejoicing was that their King's inglorious career was
approaching its end.

Brightest and best of all the years of Jubilee was that which
dawned at the end of the Victorian half-century. This period had
been one of remarkable progress in every field of human endeavor.
It had been free from blighting pestilence, disastrous wars, deso-
lating famine, or any of the horrors which came upon England in
the reigns of many of her former sovereigns. And looking back
on the story of the fifty years since the well-loved Victoria ascended
the throne, the hearts of all her subjects were filled with thankful-
ness that God should have placed the sceptre of the empire in the
hands of one who had swayed it so long and well. Thus were they
prepared to hold high jubilee ; to express that heartfelt and hearty
affection and loyalty which burned no less brightly for their
widowed Sovereign than for her when, fifty years before, a blush-

Online LibraryCharles MorrisThe life of Queen Victoria and the story of her reign → online text (page 22 of 39)