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BY THE SAME AUTHOR.

JVitA Frontispieus. Demy Svo, cloth^ 16/-.

Bodety In the Goimtry Hovse. Anecdotal Records of
Six Centuries.

Tlie Story of Brltlih IMploniMy: Iti Hakon and
MoTomeiiti.



LONDON : T. FISHER UNWIN.



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THENEW YORK

PUBLIC LIBRARY



A8T0R, LENOX ANO
T!L»EN FOUNDATlONt.



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I






I



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KING EDWARD
AND HIS COURT



BY

T. H. S. ESCOTT

AUTHOR OF *80CI1TY IN THl COUNTRY MOUSE,**
** SOCIAL TKANSrORMATIONS OF THI VICTORIAN AGS,*'

^'grntlkmxn or thi mouse or commons," itc.



LONDON: T. FISHER UNWIN
ADELPHI TERRACE. MCMVIII



/^•^'



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THE NEW YORK
PUBLIC LIBRARY



i ;^* fr »*/



MTon, LENOX AND

R 190b I



First Edition^ . 1903
Second Impression^ 1908



\AU rights reserved^



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CONTENTS



CHAPTER I

PAOS

King Edward VII. ........ 9

King Edward's connection with Paris — Paris before and after the
Franco-Prussian War of 1870-1 — Remains of French colonies in Eng-
land — ^Paris superseded by London as the fashionable metropolis of
Europe — ^The Americans of Paris — Advice given to the present King
by his &ther — Points of similarity between Prince Albert and his sons —
Work done by Prince Albert in connection with the Court — His
patronage of science — Literary men at Queen Victoria's Court — ^The
precursors of monthly reviews — ** Slumming" — Royal encouragement
of nursing — Curtailment of dinner — The organisation of the Court in
the new reign — ^King Edward VII. as an orator — His literary instincts^^
King Edward VII. 's royal ideas.

CHAPTER II
Thb Sovbreign at Homb . .26

Royalty's personal friends— The Duke of Cambridge— The Duke of
Connaught — ^The King in private life — The King as head of society —
The Duke and Duchess of Argyll— The Countess of Cadqgan^Enlarged
ideas of English society — Royalty and learning — King Edward's atti-
tude towards the Church.

CHAPTER III

A RBrRBSBMTATIVB CODRT . . . 40

( The composition of the Court — ^The Mistress of the Robes — The Ladies

and Women of the Bedchamber — ^The Maids of Honour — Sir Robert

^ • Nigel Kingscote— Sir Dighton Probyn— Sir H. P. Ewart— Other Court

^ officials— Lord Farquhar— The late Sir Charles Hall— The KnoUys

family — The late General Sir William Knollys — His son's former

*" intimacy with the Prince of Wales — ^Now, as Lord Knollys
manufacture could be comme il faut.

On the other hand, our French neighbours, from
the era of the great revolution, periodically and in
kind, reciprocated the compliment. In the theatre at
Versailles it was an audience of courtiers that had
cheered Voltaire's lines from the lips of a son of
Brutus, " whose heart bore graven upon it the love of
liberty and the horror of kings." A later chapter is
specially devoted to this subject. Here it need only
be said that, before the Versailles incident, from 1729
to 173 1, the political philosopher, Montesquieu, as the
guest of Lord Chesterfield, had studied closely the
working of the English polity. His writings, quoted
in the House of Commons by Burke and Fox,



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King Edward VII.

promptly followed suit by discarding the fantastic
dresses of the old Court for the simple costumes of the
islanders. Between 1820 and 1825 the coat-tails
of London visibly shortened. The recognition of
George IV. had made Beau Brummel a dictator over
his set and age ; to his genius and the patronage of
Carlton House was due the frock-coat That garment
suited the new French passion for simplicity, since it
concealed the stars and decorations which a little time
before had been proudly flaunted by the dandies of the
Palais Royal. In such apparel the Count de Segur,
who had been French ambassador at St. Petersburg,
discovered an indication for the passion of equality
which culminated in the outbreak of 1 793. At the
same time English horses first became in French
demand ; the French turf was reorganised after the
English model ; the English gig became the modish
vehicle for the Bois de Boulogne ; an English
seat on horseback was the ambition of French
equestrians. The Anglicising process has indeed
continued in France intermittently ever since its
eighteenth-century manifestations. Most persons
have smiled at the sign of the British shop on the
boulevards, " Old England," flanked on either side by
Bodegas, where unimpeachable British sherry is on
draught from the wood. Such are the superficial
manifestations that the French tendency to pay
perfidious Albion the homac^e of imitation is not



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King Edward VII. and his Court

done with the subject, full justice to which would have
demanded the genius of Shakespeare or iCschylus, he
drew to the life the superficial transformation effected
by England's example in some of the ideas and habits
of her nearest continental neighbour. Bulwer, him-
self, even in his original English, had as many
admirers on the other as on his own side of the Dover
Straits ; the revival of his popularity in England is
considered by some experts due to the impulse of
translations of his works in France.

All this was nothing in comparison with the
metamorphosis in the relations between the English
and French capitals to be worked by the Franco-
Prussian War ( 1 870-1). The exodus from France
during the revolutionary and Napoleonic periods left
its visible mark for years to come on those parts of
England whither geographical accidents first caused
the Gallic emigrants to betake themselves ; Brighton
is only one of several English South Coast towns
which remains to this day a social monument of
seventeenth and eighteenth century occupation by
French refugees of all classes. A Sussex waltzer
continued to Victorian days a synonym for proficiency
in the dance, the credit of whose invention is divided
between Germany and her next-door neighbour. To-
day these South Coast resorts are the paradise of
the foreigner en tour; whole neighbourhoods of
these English towns still bear traces of their earlier
occupation by French professors of the language or
of the movements that it was the business of Mr.
Micawber's lively neighbour, the Gaul, to teach the
slow-witted and slower - limbed islanders. The

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King Edward VII.

French strain in the physiognomy and patronymics
to be met with on the English Channel littoral still
survives; that, perhaps, may explain why the al-
fresco life of Boulogne, Dieppe, or Ostend is even
to-day reproduced more happily under the shadow
of Greorge IV.'s Pavilion and at the contiguous towns
than in any other part of the United Kingdom.

What was the sequel of these earlier movements
towards British cosmopolitanism that took place
upon so noticeable a scale rather more than a genera-
tion ago? In the September of 1870 the second
French Empire fell at Sedan ; the establishment of
the Republic of Adolphe Thiers and of L6on
Gambetta, supervening on the spasmodic outburst
of communism, rendered Paris for the time neither
a fashionable nor desirable place of sojourn. Before
and since Nathaniel Hawthorne the educated American
has had a peculiar passion for Rome; his less cultivated
compatriots have imbibed that affection — ^probably
because antiquity is the one thing that cannot be
manufactured to order. The flight of the Emperor
and Empress to Camden House, Chislehurst, left
their city a capital without a Court. To the republican
votary of fashion the idea of a European pleasure-
haunt dissociated from a palace and a crown seemed
intolerable. The aesthetic instinct of the modish
Yankee revolted against the thought of coffee and
lierht refreshments, served to the tune of the ** Mar•^



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King Edward VII. and his Court

not really popular and were without their Napoleonic
symbolism till the composer's son, in 1852, had been
dubbed Napoleon IIL — as their inspiring accompani-
ment Imagine literary exquisites like Mr. Marion
Crawford or Mr. Henry James living and writing
in a capital whose timepieces in drawing-rooms of
every degree were not set by the Palace clock. The
last quarter of the nineteenth century favoured London
with frequent visits from an elderly buck, Mr. Samuel
Ward, known through two continents as "Uncle
Sam," and a less hoary but still mature dandy who,
from the same new world, followed in his senior's
wake, Mr. W. H. Hurlbert, a fashionable newspaper
man. Both were chips of the same Gallo- American
block, both have justly descended to posterity as
types of the bom boulevardiers still shipped in
increasing quantities from New York to Europe.
Meanwhile, by the example of the future Edward VII.,
and by that of some among his chief lords, the
fashionable itinerary of travellers of quality on the
Grand Tour had come to include nearly the whole
of that country which, in the nineteenth century,
Spain had some reason to regret having encouraged
a Genoese mariner some four hundred years earlier
to discover. The coming of age of the then Prince
of Wales, still more the setting-up of his establish-
ment next year at Marlborough House, gave the
signal for the fashionable recognition of eligible
transatlantic strangers in the social latitudes of
Belgravia or Mayfair. London, as it were in a
moment, from the most insular and dullest of cities
was, by royalty's immediate patronage, converted into

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King Edward VII.

the smart capital of the world. Naturally, as the
successor of ancestral sovereigns of society, the two
last Georges and the fourth William, the Heir-
Apparent to Britain's imperial crown became, while
yet a subject, the controller of a fashionable centre
more variously and picturesquely cosmopolitan than any
of the old-world cities at their imperial prime had been.
" To dominate statesmen and to guide affairs were
the object and boast of your mother's predecessors.
In proportion as they represent and identify the
Crown with interest and forces will those who
reign after her make their throne the seat of
loyalty and power. I hope my son will remember
that truth in his turn." These words of wise counsel
may be searched for vainly in Sir Theodore Martin's
Life of Queen Victoria's husband, or in any of the
Court memoirs of the period. They were,, however,
shortly before his death on December 14, 1861,
addressed by the Prince Consort to his son, then
a lively and impressionable lad of twenty. A dutiful
child. King Edward from a boy missed no chance
of translating the parental precept into practice.
Instructed from his earliest years in the theory and
working on constitutional rule, his mother was no
sooner left a widow than he set himself to illustrate
the monarchy's fundamental maxim, that of itself,
for good or evil, royalty can do nothing. Before
further labouring these points, it cannot be insisted
on too strongly that King Edward VII. is at once
the modernised version and in some respect the
connective of Prince Albert, his father. The Duke
of Connaught, indeed, in his practical conversance

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King Edward VII. and his Court

with military details, the late Prince Leopold, in
the comprehensiveness of his intellectual tastes, each
recall some aspects of their sire.

The cosmopolitan universalism, the locomotive
habits, the diffused concern for the social welfare of
all classes, have won for the wearer and representatives
of the crown a social sovereignty that more than
compensates for curtailment of political power. The
Prince of Wales often received and gave pleasure by
exercising a kind of providential control over his
personal friends. Gradually that interest had been
extended over the entire industrial class. It con-
stitutes one among many proofs of the King's fidelity
to his father's example. George IV., in a moment of
amiable impulse, declared he would bestow a pension
on Flora Macdonald. One instalment of it was paid,
not, according to Wraxall, from the royal purse, but
by Macpherson to whom the King committed the
business, and who was never recouped for his ex-
penditure. Contrast with this King Edward's
expenditure of personal initiative and systematic
work on the provision of decent dwellings for the
industrial poor, and on the organisation of a movement
that has resulted in a re-endowment of hospitals.
"Slumming" acquired a fashionable vogue between ten
and twenty years ago. It prepared the rich and
smart for the responsibilities of a more practical



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King Edward VIL

Thames Embankment. '* Here," exclaimed Matthew
Arnold, then living, "was a new and intelligent
example for millionaires to follow." Would not some
one, of even greater influence and position, encourage
our capitalists, Asiatic or European, to benefit their
age and secure their own immortality by a similarly
wise use of their accumulated gold ? On coming to
the throne King Edward answered that appeal, made
by the dead apostle of culture, when he indicated
to his wealthier subjects a more excellent way of
employing their spare thousands. At the same time
he excited a noble emulation throughout the richest of
his courtiers. Plutocratic peers of Parliament and
the Midases of the Commons engaged in a beneficent
rivalry with the loan-mongers, the moneybrokers of
the City, and the anglicised billionaires of all nations,
from the Jordan to the Atlantic. Coming after the
Georges and the good-natured royal tippler, the sailor
king, William IV., the husband of Queen Victoria
rightly regarded it as his first duty towards his
regnant wife and his adopted country not to complete
but to undo the work of her predecessors. The
Court was to be made respectable, even so far as
might be distinguished ; the Crown, to such an extent
as might consist with German ideas of its dignity,
should be for the first time in English history really
popular. That last epithet scarcely belonged to the
Prince Consort till towards the close of his too short
life. His notions concerning the standard of dignity
proper to be observed within the royal precincts of
England were taken from the rigid ceremonialism
of a petty German Court. They were resented as

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oppressive and absurd by the best-drilled members
of the Queen s household.

The books of the Royal Society still contain the
clear and bold signature of Victoria Regina. From
the days of Charles II. natural philosophy had been
esteemed within the royal circle the fitting diversion
of kings. The tastes and accomplishments of Prince
Albert were scientific rather than literary. Physicism,
unlike letters, is of no country ; its votaries in England
were more likely to be welcomed in the palaces of
Albert and Victoria than were the writers, at whose
head was then the author of Pickwick, who lived in
and exhaled an intellectual atmosphere so different
from that wherein had been nurtured the Prince, at
Rosenau, at Brussels or Bonn. Tennyson, whose
Idylls of the King might be read as a panegyric on
the Queen's husband, could not but be highly
esteemed at Court. Arthur Stanley, afterwards Dean
of Westminster, the most graceful and picturesque of
ecclesiastical writers, would not have been denied the
same sunshine of royal favour as that in which basked
Principal TuUoch and Dr. Norman McLeod. But,
apart from the accomplishments of his pen, the English
historian of the Jewish Church had long been singled
out by the Prince Consort as, on his Palestinian tour,
the personal conductor of the future Edward VII. to
the Cave of Macpelah that contains the bones of
Abraham, of Sarah, and that till the royal visit in
1862, had never been unbarred to any tourist among
the Gentiles. Queen Victoria s favourite novelist was
Jane Austen ; Thackeray she disliked ; an attempt,
but partially successful, was made by her intellectual

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King Edward VII.

purveyors to place Dickens in xh^ index expurgatorius.
The creator of Becky Sharp never saw the inside of
a palace ; the genius which gave the world David
Copperfield, on his single visit to the sovereign's
home, found from the master of its ceremonies a
reception reminding him of the welcome given to a
governess in a great house who is permitted to
accompany her childish charge to the drawing-room.
This was only what had been expected by the ladies
and gentlemen surrounding the throne ; all these
complained among themselves that under the great
and good master of the Queen s household, in com-
parison with their own, the lot of Fanny Burney, as
under-mistress of the robes to George III/s queen,
was enviable and light. Next to his systematic
promotion of Court decorum and order on every level,
the most enduring service rendered by Prince Albert
was the tincturing of polite life with serious interests.
Something in that direction had indeed been done
during the earlier years of the century in which he
married the Queen. To-day, through the medium of
the monthly reviews, nearly in the order of their social
precedence, women of quality or of note, and men
who in some walk or other have contrived to make
their mark, convey their views to the vulgar. The
true literary parents of these miscellanies were the
Albums, Keepsakes, and other annuals of the same
sort conducted not by a professional impresario, but
by some matron of position, probably an Almack s
patroness of the Lady Blessington type, caricatured,
as is supposed, by Dickens in Mrs. Leo Hunter.
Thus the pen became in vogue with hands that

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usually held little except the fan or the cigar-
Edward Bulwer Lytton and Lord Francis Leveson-
Gower, among men, chiefly contributed to the rivalry
of letters with politics as a fit subject of fashionable
notice. The breakfasts of the poet-banker, Samuel
Rogers, in the Park Place room, overlooking the
Green Park, have been described as often as the
parties at Holland House, in the person of Sir Charles
Murray, died as recently as the first year of the
present century, the best known survivor of Rogers's
guests, who from experience could testify to the
educating influence diffused by these reunions. As a
guest in Park Place, Benjamin Disraeli won the
chance of contributing to Lady Blessington's Keepsake
some verses on Lady Stanhope's portrait. Those
secured him the first appreciation from the high ton
as a probable successor not to Pitt but to Byron.
Science also now began to be recognised as a
legitimate mode of fashionable culture.

The British Association owed its existence to Sir
David Brewster and to Sir Rodrick Murchison.
Established by these in 1831, it received its most
powerful impetus from the participation of the Prince
Consort in its late proceedings. The same patronage
made Michael Faraday's lectures a fashionable
function ; it had some share in creating the upper-class
appetite that professed to relish Carlyle's lectures some
years later in 1840. Faraday's later discourses were
listened to in his youth by King Edward, who has
condescended to call himself the pupil of that inquirer
into the universe. Nor can it be denied that the
royal disciple has, in his way, encouraged the pursuit

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King Edward VII.

of those studies in which an example was set by his
father. Long before, in Victorian days, '* slumming,"
to revive the cant word now obsolete, became the
mode with the Prince's friends, or the University and
other "Settlements" growing out of the Toynbee
experiment were heard of, the late Edward Denison,
son of a Bishop of Salisbury, after much conversation
on the subject with his contemporaries, the present Sir
Michael Hicks- Beach and the late Sir Baldwyn
Leighton, conceived the idea of bringing the West
End into closer sympathy with the extreme East, and
migrated from his pleasant rooms in Mayfair to a
mean lodging in a grimy and plague-smitten quarter
of Whitechapel. Thus began the organised effort, so
powerfully helped by his present Majesty, to ensure
for the helpless dwellers in these dark and doleful
districts, homes a little better than pigsties.

A concern for matters of this sort was a legacy
bequeathed by Prince Albert to all branches of his
family ; it was possessed by the mother of the present
Heir-Apparent's wife, the Princess Mary of Cambridge,
much of whose energies and fortune were spent in the
good works of a district visitor. But for the encourage-
ment of the late Queen's Consort Miss Florence
Nightingale would not have gone out on her mission
to the sufferers during the Crimean War, and the
beginning of nursing reforms might have been delayed
another ten years. Whereas now the female attendants
on the sick, satirised by Dickens in the notorious
persons of Mrs. Harris and Sarah Gamp, have been
quite superseded by ministering angels, necessarily
neither ugly nor old, but often quite comely, who,

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having restored the patient to health, sometimes crown
their good work by making him their husband. Thus
indirectly perhaps has royalty been instrumental in
hewing out a short cut through the sick-room to the
altar. Spectators, in recent years, of the well-drilled,



Online LibraryThomas Hay Sweet EscottKing Edward and his court → online text (page 1 of 24)