Dorothy Frances Blomfield Gurney.

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THE CHILDHOOD OF
QUEEN VICTORIA




MINIATURE OK PRINCESS VICTORIA AT THE AGE op- Six YEARS



THE CHILDHOOD OF
QUEEN VICTORIA



BY



MRS. GERALD GURNEY

(DOROTHY FRANCES BLOMFIELD)



ILotttJOtt

JAMES NISBET fcf CO., LIMITED

21 BERNERS STREET

1901



printed by BALLANTYNE, HANSON &> Co.
At the Ballantyne Press



TO

THE CHILDREN OF
THE EMPIRE



2OG5796



PREFACE

IT is with feelings of the deepest reverence and
diffidence that I have ventured upon these
records of the child-life of one of the greatest
women, and perhaps the greatest Sovereign, the
world has ever known. The death of our be-
loved Queen Victoria is still a fresh wound in
the hearts of her devoted people, and any small
fact or anecdote connected with her is eagerly
seized upon and treasured.

My excuse for going over ground already
covered by abler chroniclers is, that I am en-
abled to give to the public for the first time,
by the gracious permission of his Majesty, the
correspondence between the Queen's mother,
the Duchess of Kent, and the Bishops of
London and Lincoln, relative to the early
education of the Princess, and also the
reports of her various masters, a list of books



viii PREFACE

read by her in her studies, and a disposition
of her day.

I am also indebted to my brother, Frederick
Charles Blomfield, for the use of these docu-
ments, which have come into his possession as
the present head of our family ; and I should
like to take this opportunity of warmly thank-
ing all who have lent me encouragement and
help in my work, especially Canon and Miss
Argles, and Mrs. Willingham Rawnsley, grand-
children of Dr. Davys, of Peterborough, the
Queen's tutor ; and Major M'Crea, whose
wife was a granddaughter of Sir Frederick
Wetherall, for many years the faithful friend
and Controller of the Household to the Duke
of Kent, and after his death to the Duchess of
Kent.

I have endeavoured to trace the life of the
late Queen up to the moment when, in her
twelfth year, she realised for the first time the
exact relation in which she stood to the throne
of England. That moment, very happily as it
seemed to me, coincided with the hitherto un-
published correspondence between the Duchess
and my grandfather, Dr. Blomfield, Bishop of



PREFACE ix

London, and Dr. Kaye, Bishop of Lincoln,
and suggested a fit end to a record of the child-
life as distinct from the girlhood of the Princess
Victoria.

The task, though a labour of delight, has
not been an easy one. Volumes of letters,
biographies, and histories of the period had
to be waded through, each of which yielded
perhaps but one tiny anecdote or remark
about the little Princess, so secluded was her
childhood.

Death has removed some, who might, I
think, have added to my slender stock of infor-
mation ; in more than one instance the caution
of the possessors, or the carelessness of their
descendants, has destroyed documents which
would have been of great value. I am indebted
to Dr. Davys' family for the little childish letter
from the Princess Victoria to him probably
the first she ever wrote which has never yet
been published ; nor has the miniature given
by her to Sir Frederick Wetherall ever been
reproduced till now, when I am allowed, by
the kindness of Major M'Crea, to include it
among the illustrations of the book.



x PREFACE

I have borrowed and quoted freely from
former writers, especially from Miss Sarah
Tooley's charming " Personal Life of the
Queen " ; and I have availed myself freely of
the diary of Dr. Davys during the time he was
her tutor, which has already appeared in the
" Life of the Queen," written by the Duke of
Argyll.

It has been my aim to show the present
generation what a debt of gratitude the
British Empire, and the world at large, owe
to the parents and guardians of her late
Majesty, especially to H.R.H. the Duchess of
Kent.

If I have failed to present the royal child
to my readers in a manner worthy of her great
character and personality, it has not been from
want of love and interest in my study, but
from my own poor abilities. May God preserve
her hallowed memory for all time in the hearts
of her faithful people.

Note. The following correspondence between
Bishop Blomfield's widow and her Majesty
Queen Victoria took place through the medium



PREFACE xi

of Lady Augusta Bruce. The Bishop had not
long been dead, apd her Majesty's communi-
cation to Mrs. Blomfield shows her habitual
thoughtful consideration for the feelings of
others :

LETTEE I

" Mrs. Blomfield presents her compliments to Lady
Augusta Bruce, and, at Lady Jocelyn's suggestion, for-
wards the enclosed letters for the Queen ; and which
Mrs. Blomfield begs that Lady Augusta Bruce will
have the goodness to present to Her Majesty, with
her humble duty.

"RICHMOND, July 16, 1861."



LETTER II

"July 19, '6 1.

"Lady Augusta Bruce presents her compliments to
Mrs. Blomfield, and is commanded by the Queen to
convey to Mrs. Blomfield Her Majesty's thanks for
the perusal of the enclosed most interesting and valu-
able letters. The Queen, having found the draft of
them among the papers of H.E.H. the late Duchess
of Kent, returns them to Mrs. Blomfield, not wishing
to deprive the family of Him to whom they were



xii PREFACE

addressed of papers which now must possess a doubly
sacred interest."

In 1897 it occurred to me that the letters
and documents referred to above, which had
come into my brother's possession, might prove
of the deepest interest to the public at such a
time. I submitted them to her Majesty, asking
permission to publish them, and received the
following reply :

LETTER III

"EXCELSIOR HOTEL, EEQINA, CIMIEZ,
March 31', 1897.

"DEAK MADAM, The enclosed letters and papers
have been submitted to the Queen, and after careful
consideration Her Majesty desires me to express her
regret at feeling unable to grant her permission for
their publication. But The Queen regards the letters
which passed between the Duchess of Kent and the
Bishops as bearing so much upon the essentially
private and domestic life of her childhood that Her
Majesty thinks they should not be published during
her lifetime. I am further desired to thank you for
kind thoughtfulness in referring this question for Her



PREFACE xiii

Majesty's decision. The documents are indeed most
deeply interesting.

" I am, Dear Madam, Yrs. very faithfully,

"ARTHUR BlGGE.
"Miss DOROTHY BLOMPIELD.

"P.S. I have omitted to explain that the 'accident'
by which Princess Victoria became aware of her posi-
tion with regard to the throne was due to studying a
genealogical table of the British Sovereigns, so that
the published accounts on this point are practically
correct. A. B."



CONTENTS



CHAPTER I



PAGE

THE FATHER AND MOTHER OF THE QUEEN . i



CHAPTER II
AMORBACH AND KENSINGTON, 1818-1819 . . 25

CHAPTER III
SIDMOUTH AND KENSINGTON, 1820, 1821, 1822 . 49

CHAPTER IV

KENSINGTON, RAMSGATE, AND CLAREMONT,

1823 73

CHAPTER V

KENSINGTON, RAMSGATE, AND CLAREMONT,

1824-1825 . 89



xvi CONTENTS



CHAPTER VI

PAGE

KENSINGTON, WINDSOR, AND TUNBRIDGE

WELLS, 1826 AND 1827 105



CHAPTER VII
KENSINGTON, 1828 AND 1829 . . , . . . 139

CHAPTER VIII
KENSINGTON, 1830 ....... 171



CHAPTER IX

THE BISHOPS AND THEIR REPORT , . . .201

CHAPTER X

KENSINGTON, 1830 . . . . ... 225



CHAPTER I

t

THE FATHER AND MOTHER OF
THE QUEEN



The
Childhood of Queen Victoria

CHAPTER I

THE FATHER AND MOTHER OF THE QUEEN

IT is now, I think, a generally acknowledged
truism that there are two main factors in the
sum of human life, heredity and education.
We inherit, to a great extent, from our ances-
tors the trend of our characters, the bias of
our minds, and the health or disease of our
bodies. It is the business of education to
direct and modify these tendencies, and this
is most valuably done in the first years of
childhood. What we are as children will pro-
bably determine the whole course of our lives.
Consequently, to a student of human nature,
the early years of a great life are, in some
respects, the most fascinating and vital, and

3



4 CHILDHOOD OF QUEEN VICTORIA

the consideration of antecedent generations is
of no small importance.

Victoria the Good, the Mother of her people,
was singularly fortunate in many of her rnces-
tors, and notably in her own father and mother.
She had the blood of the gallant and unfor-
tunate Stuarts of which she was very proud
in her veins, and she inherited much of
their celebrated charm of manner and power
of inspiring deep attachment. She resembled
her great ancestress, the Electress Sophia, in
a certain imperiousness of nature, and in her
breadth of view and mental ability. She was
very like her grandfather, George III., in her
love of domestic pleasures and in her great
simplicity, perhaps the most marked of all her
characteristics. She owed much, too, to her
mother's parents, the Duke and Duchess of
Saxe-Coburg and Saalfeld, the former a man
of great refinement and sweetness of mind, a
warm lover of Nature and the Arts, and the
latter intellectual, vivacious, and of singular
nobility of character, essentially a wise woman.

But to her own parents Queen Victoria owed
perhaps most of her remarkable character. Her



HER FATHER AND MOTHER 5

father, Edward Augustus, Duke of Kent, was
the fourth son of George III. and his wife
Queen Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, and
deservedly the most popular of all their sons.
He was born on the 2nd of November 1767,
at Buckingham House, and was early placed
under the care of the good, wise John Fisher,
Bishop of Salisbury, who was faithfully de-
voted to him, and to whom the Duke was
much attached all through his life. The
Bishop recorded of him that he was a " Prince
with whom love of truth was paramount
to every other consideration, a Prince whom
nothing could induce to dissemble."

This passion for truth, together with his ex-
cellent principles and life of self-control, made
him scarcely a persona grata to his easy-going
brothers, George IV. and William IV., and,
allowing for some prejudices on both sides,
there is little doubt that he suffered injustice
at their hands in later years, and in earlier
days from his father and mother, especially in
the matter of his allowance, which was never
adequate to his position.

He lived a most regular life, was an early



6 CHILDHOOD OF QUEEN VICTORIA

riser, and very abstemious in his habits. An
old soldier, who had served at Gibraltar during
the Duke's command there, said of him that
he " was too temperate for a soldier, the
Father Mathew of his family " ; and another
old veteran remarked that he wouldn't let them
(the soldiers) drink, and was " worse than any
teetotaller."

Both at Gibraltar and in Canada he put
down drunkenness and loose living with a
high hand ; he disliked gambling, and had
small mercy on the idle and incompetent, and
while he tried in many instances successfully
to impress his own lofty sense of duty and
conduct on those placed under him, he won
the love and respect of persons of like be-
haviour, but was naturally unpopular with the
dissipated and unprincipled. He spared neither
time nor money in bringing about much-needed
reforms, often working seventeen hours a day,
and never flinching in the exercise of his duty.
His bravery was beyond question, and on one
occasion, we are told by one of his biographers,
it formed the subject of a special representation
to the King by the General commanding-in-



HER FATHER AND MOTHER 7

chief. The same chronicler remarks that " he
led every man to his post, and never deserted
his own."

He has been accused of undue severity as
a commander, and there is no doubt that his
military training in Germany left its mark upon
him, and made him a very rigid disciplinarian.
But he was never unjust, and an officer of high
rank wrote of him that he " was the most ac-
cessible of human beings," and that " he never
broke faith." Dr. Rudge, his chaplain, said
of him that he "took a delight in doing good,"
and that "in no instance did he ever fail to
relieve the distressed if their characters proved
to be good."

His rigid punctuality was a characteristic
which his daughter notably shared. He was
invariably punctual in all his habits, public
and private ; he kept the closest personal
supervision over his correspondence, and his
days were arranged with a methodical regularity
which he never suffered to be disturbed.

For many years before his marriage he lived
at Ealing, in his own house, Castle Hill, now
pulled down, but then a charming place,



8 CHILDHOOD OF QUEEN VICTORIA

quaintly described in a letter of Mr. Justice
Hardynge, which gives such an attractive de-
scription of the Duke that I quote it in full.
The reader will see by it that in the manage-
ment of his household his Royal Highness
puts many a notable housewife to shame. The
same order prevailed in the establishment at
Kensington Palace.

" MELBOURNE HOUSE,
August 15, 1811.

" MY DEAREST EICHARD, That I may lose no drop
from the cup of pleasure, which I enjoyed from seven
in the evening of October the first to eleven, and from
eight the next morning till eleven before noon, at
Castle Hill, I shall record upon paper, as memory can
present them, all the images of my enchantment,
though the consummation is past.

" In the afternoon of October the first, and at half-
past five, I followed my servant, in undress, from
Baling Vicarage to the lodge of the Duke's palace.
Between these wings I was received in due form by
a porter, in livery, full trimmed and powdered. He
opened his iron gates for me, bowed as if I had been
the King, and rang the alarm bell, as if I had been
a hostile invader. I looked as tall, as intrepid, and
as affable as I could ; but I am afraid that I was not
born for State.



HER FATHER AND MOTHER 9

"The approach to the palace door is magnificent,
graceful, and picturesque. The line of the road,
flanked by a row of lamps, the most brilliant I ever
saw, is a gentle serpentine. It commands to the
right, through young but thriving plantations,
Harrow-on-the-Hill, and carries the eye in a sort
of leap to that eminence over the intermediate
ground, which is a valley better unseen, for it is
very tame. The lodges are quite new and in Mr.
Wyatt's best manner. A second gate flew open to
me; it separates the home-garden from the lawn of
entrance. The head gardener made his appearance
in his best clothes, bowed, rang his bell to the house,
and withdrew.

" When I arrived at the palace door my heart went
pit-a-pat. The underwriters would not have insured
my life at seven minutes' purchase, unless tempted by
a most inordinate premium. An aspen leaf in a high
wind stood better upon its legs than I stood upon
mine ; indeed, I am not sure if it was not upon my
head instead of my legs. I invoked all the saints of
impudence to befriend me ! But think of little me !
attended by six footmen ! three of a side ! and received
at the head of this guard by the house steward! a
venerable henchman of the old court, and of the last
age, who had very much the appearance of a Cabinet
Minister. He conducted me with more solemnity
than I wished upstairs into my toilette-room. At the
door of it stood the Duke's valet, who took charge of



io CHILDHOOD OF QUEEN VICTORIA

me into the room, bowed, and retired. In this apart-
ment I found my own servant.

"The exterior of the house has an elegant and a
chaste, as well as a princely air. You can see ' Wyatt
fecit ' on every part of the effect. But the interior
struck me infinitely more even in the bird's-eye view
of it. I was all astonishment, but it was accompanied
with dismay at the awful silence which reigned, as
well as at the unexampled brilliancy of all the colours.
There was not one speck to be seen ; everything was
exquisite of its kind, in the taste of its outline, pro-
portions, and furniture.

" My dressing-room, in which there was an excellent
fire, attached itself to the bedroom, and was laid open
to it by a folding-door. These are the Eegent's terri-
tories whenever he is at Castle Hill. My toilette was
& peindre, and there was not anything omitted which
could make a youthful Adonis out of an old hermit ;
but the mirror was honest, and youth is no birth of
art. My servant (who is in general cavalier, keeps me
in order, and gives me only two or three jerks with his
comb), half-scared at the new and imperial honours of
his little master, waited on me with more deference
and assiduity than I had ever before marked in him.
He called me once or twice 'My Lord,' as upon
circuit, and I half expected that he would say ' Your
Eoyal Highness.' A gentle tap at the door alarmed
us both. We opened upon a messenger, who told me
in French that His Eoyal Highness was dressing, but



HER FATHER AND MOTHER n

would soon do himself the honour of taking me by the
hand.

" Opening by accident one of the doors in the bed-
chamber, painted with traillage in green and gold, I
discovered in an adjoining closet a running stream and
a fountain. I began to think I was in the Fields
Elysian. The bed was only to be ascended by a ladder
of steps, and they were dressed in flowered velvet.
There was a cold bath, and at night hot water for my
feet, if they should happen to wish for it. Pen, ink,
and paper of all descriptions made love to me. Books
of amusement were dispersed upon the tables like
natural flowers. I was in my shirt when His Eoyal
Highness knocked at the door. Not waiting for my
answer, he opened the door himself and gave me a
shake of the hand with his royal fist, so cordial that
one of my chalk-stone fingers, had I possessed them,
would have begged him, if he had not been the son of a
king, to be rather less affectionate in that shape. I
hurried on my coat and waistcoat in his presence, and
then he walked before me into the library. All the
passages and staircases were illuminated with lamps of
different colours, just as if a masquerade was in train.
I began to think more and more of ' Sly ' in Shake-
speare, and said, like him, to myself, ' Am I indeed a
lord?' This library, fitted up in the perfection of
taste, is the first room of a magnificent range, com-
manding at least a hundred feet. All the contiguous
apartments in that suite were lighted up and laid open



12 CHILDHOOD OF QUEEN VICTORIA

to this apartment. By a contrivance in the manage-
ment of the light it seemed as if the distance had no
end.

"The Duke, among other peculiarities of habit,
bordering upon whim, always recommends the very
chair on which you are to sit. I suppose it is a regal
usage. He opened a most agreeable and friendly chat,
which continued for half-an-hour tttt-a-t&te. So far it
was like the manner of the King (when he was him-
self), that it embraced a variety of topics and was un-
remitted. He improved at close quarters even upon
his pen ; and you know what a pen it is. The manly
character of his good sense, and the eloquence of his
expression, was striking. But even they were not so
enchanting as that grace of manner which distinguishes
him. Compared with it, in my honest opinion, Lord
Chesterfield, whom I am old enough to have heard and
seen, was a dancing-master. I found the next morning
at our tete-a-Ute, that he has infinite humour, and even
that of making his countenance subserve the character
he has to personate.

" In about an hour dinner was announced. The Duke
led the way. I was placed at the head of the table ;
the Duke was on my right. The dinner was exquisite.
The soup was of a kind that an epicure would have
travelled barefoot three miles in a deep snow to have
been in time for it.

"The famous Dumourier was accidentally men-
tioned. I said that I loved seeing those whom I



HER FATHER AND MOTHER 13

admired unseen, upon report alone and in the mind's
view. ' But I shall never see Dumourier,' said I, ' for
he is the Lord knows where (and I cannot run after
him) upon the Continent.' ' Not he,' said the Duke ;
' he is in this very island, and he often dines with us
here.' I looked, but said nothing ; my look was heard.
A third party present asked the Duke if it could not
be managed. ' Nothing more practicable,' said he ; 'if
the Judge will but throw down his glove in the fair
spirit of chivalry, Dumourier shall pick it up.'

" The servants, though I could not reconcile myself
to the number of them, were models of attention, of
propriety, and of respect ; their apparel gave the im-
pression of clothes perfectly new ; the hair was
uncommonly well dressed and powdered. Thereby
hangs a tale, which I cannot have a better opportunity
of reporting. I had it from the best authority, that of
my own servant, who had it from the souterraine of
the establishment, which he had confidentially ex-
plored. A hairdresser for all the livery servants con-
stitutes one of the efficient characters in this dramatic
arrangement. At a certain hour every male servant
appears before the Duke to show himself, perfectly
well-dressed and dean. Besides this 'law of the
Medes ' every man has a niche to fill, so that he can
never be unoccupied save at his meals, in some duty
or another, and is amenable to a sudden visit into the
bargain. I can assure you the result is that in this
complicated machine of souls and bodies the genius of



14 CHILDHOOD OF QUEEN VICTORIA

attention, of cleanliness, and of smart appearance is
the order of the day.

" When the Duke took me next morning to his
master of the horse, instead of dirty coachmen or
grooms, they were all as neat as if they never had
anything to do, or as if they were going to church
in state. The male servants meet in their hall at
an unvaried hour, and round this apartment, as in a
convent, are little recesses or cells, with not only beds
in them for each, but every accommodation as well as
implement for their apparel. Yet all this absolute
monarchy of system is consistent with a most obliging
manner to the servants on his part, which I attested
more than once ; and with attachment as well as homage
to him, attested by the hermit's inquisitor and spy, who
gave me this note of his comments. I mean, of course,
my own servant.

" The next morning I rose at seven. The lawn
before me, surrounded by an amphitheatre of plan-
tation, was covered by leaves, for they will fall, even
in a garden of state. The head gardener made his
appearance, and with him five or six men who were
under his wing. In much less than a quarter of an
hour every dead leaf had disappeared, and the turf
became a carpet after mowing, and after a succession
of rollers, iron and stone.

" After this episode we are to go back and to be
at the table again. A very little after dinner the
summons came for coffee, and as before, he led the



HER FATHER AND MOTHER 15

way, conducting me to another of the apartments
in the range before described, and which, as it hap-
pened, was close to the bedroom. They were open
to each other ; but such a room was that bedroom as
no Loves or Graces ever thought of showing to a
hermit. It was perfectly regal.

" In the morning the Duke showed me all his
variety of horses and carriages. He pointed out a
curricle to me. 'I bought that curricle,' said he,
' twenty years ago, have travelled in it all over the
world, and there it is, firm on its axle. I never was
spilt from it but once. It was in Canada, near the
Falls of Niagara, over a concealed stump in a wood
just cleared.'

" He afterwards opened himself to me very much in
detail, with disclosures in confidence, and political
ones too, which interested as well as enlightened me
greatly, but which, as a man of honour, I cannot
reveal even to you. He is no gamester; he is no
huntsman. He never goes to Newmarket, but he
loves riding upon the road, a full swing trot of nine
miles an hour.

"I am going to part with him in my narrative,
but not before I have commanded you to love him.
" In the morning he asked how I was mounted,
and before I could answer him he whispered (in a
kind of parenthesis) that he 'had for two months
been putting a little circuit horse in training for my
use of him in spring.' ' It was a pet,' he said, ' of



16 CHILDHOOD OF QUEEN VICTORIA

the dear King, who gave it me; and you will ride
it with more pleasure for both our sakes.' These
were not ' goodly words,' like those of Naphtali or
' the hind let loose/ for my servant raised the intelli-
gence that such a keepsake was intended for me. How
charming is the delicacy of conduct like this ! I had


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Online LibraryDorothy Frances Blomfield GurneyThe childhood of Queen Victoria → online text (page 1 of 11)