The letters of Queen Victoria : a selection from Her Majesty's correspondence between the years 1837 and 1861 : published by authority of His Majesty the king (Volume 1) online

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had a real and intelligent acquaintance with foreign affairs, though
it was rather personal than political, and, as we have seen, was
more inspired by her interest in the fortunes and position of her
numerous maternal relations than by the political views of her
paternal relatives. Among the English statesmen of the day
there were few who were qualified to help and instruct her.
The two men who for over twenty years alternately guided
the foreign policy of the country were Lord Aberdeen and
Lord Palmerston. They represented two opposed schools. Lord
Aberdeen, a Peelite, was naturally and by tradition inclined to
desire harmonious relations with the great Continental Powers ;
Palmerston was a disciple of Canning, who had definitely broken
with the principles of the Congress of Vienna. The only other
man who had any title to speak with authority on foreign affairs
was the Duke of Wellington, who had held the seals as Foreign
Secretary for a few months in 1834 and 1835. He had, however,
lost much of the reputation for political sagacity which he had
held at the time when he was the arbiter of Europe and virtual
ruler of France. Moreover, being, as he was, a much occupied
man, with varied business to transact, and at the mercy of his
almost excessive conscientiousness, he held himself to a consider-
able extent aloof from current politics, though he never lost his
absorbing interest in continental affairs.



[The first letter ever received by Queen Victoria
appears to be the following little note, written
by the Duchess of Clarence, afterwards Queen
Adelaide, in May 1821, when the Princess entered
upon her third year. It is pathetic to recollect
that the Duchess's surviving child, Princess
Elizabeth, had died, aged three months, in
March of the same year.]

MY DEAR LITTLE HEART, I hope you are well and
don't forget Aunt Adelaide, who loves you so fondly.

Loulou and Wilhelm l desire their love to you, and
Uncle William also.

God bless and preserve you is the constant prayer
of your most truly affectionate Aunt, ADELAIDE.

The Duchess of Clarence to the Princess Victoria.

May, 1822.

Uncle William and Aunt Adelaide send their love
to dear little Victoria with their best wishes on her
birthday, and hope that she will now become a very
good Gi?'l, being now three years old. Uncle William
and Aunt Adelaide also beg little Victoria to give dear
Mama and to dear Sissi 2 a kiss in their name, and to

1 Princess Louise and Prince William of Saxe- Weimar, children of Duchess
Ida of Saxe-Weimar (sister of the Duchess of Clarence). They were the
eldest brother and sister of Prince Edward of Saxe-Weimar.

2 Princess Feodore, the Queen's half-sister.



Aunt Augusta, 1 Aunt Mary 2 and Aunt Sophia 3 too,
and also to the big Doll. Uncle William and Aunt
Adelaide are very sorry to be absent on that day and
not to see their dear, dear little Victoria, as they are
sure she will be very good and obedient to dear Mama
on that day, and on many, many others. They also hope
that dear little Victoria will not forget them and know
them again when Uncle and Aunt return.
To dear little Xandrina Victoria.

[The following is the earliest letter preserved of the
long series written by the Queen to King (then
Prince) Leopold. The Princess was then nine
years old.]

KENSINGTON PALACE, 25th November 1828.

MY DEAREST UNCLE, I wish you many happy
returns of your birthday ; I very often think of you,
and I hope to see you soon again, for I am very fond
of you. I see my Aunt Sophia 3 often, who looks
very well, and is very well. I use every day your
pretty soup-basin. Is it very warm in Italy ? It is
so mild here, that I go out every day. Mama is
tolerable well and am quite well. Your affectionate

P. S. I am very angry with you, Uncle, for you
have never written to me once since you went, and
that is a long while.

Prince Leopold' 1 to the Princess Victoria.

PARIS, 20th April 1829.

MY DEAREST LOVE, Though in a few days I hope
to have the happiness of seeing you, still I wish to

1 Augusta, daughter of Frederick, Landgrave of Hesse-Cassel, wife of the
Duke of Cambridge.

2 Princess Mary, a daughter of George III., married to her cousin the
Duke of Gloucester.

3 Princess Sophia, daughter of George III.
* Afterwards King of the Belgians.


recall myself even before that time to your recollection,
and to tell you how delighted I shall be to embrace my
dearest little child. I have travelled far over the world
and shall be able to give you some curious information
about various matters.

Stockmar, who was very ill, and whom I despaired of
seeing here, did arrive before yesterday, 1 and you may
guess what pleasure it gave me. Now I will conclude ;
au rcvoir, and let me find you grown, blooming, and
kind to your old and faithful Uncle, LEOPOLD.

The Princess Hohenlohe 2 to the Princess Victoria.

[May 1829.]

If I had wings and could fly like a bird, I should
fly in at your window like the little robin to-day,
and wish you many very happy returns of the 24th,
and tell you how 1 love you, dearest sister, and how
often 1 think of you and long to see you. I think if I
were once with you again I could not leave you so soon.
I should wish to stay with you, and what would poor
Ernest 2 say if I were to leave him so long ? he ^ ould
perhaps try to fly after me, but I fear he would not
get far ; he is rather tall and heavy for flying. So you
see I have nothing left to do but to write to you, and
wish you in this way all possible happiness and joy for
this and many, many years to come. I hope you will
spend a very merry birthday. How I wish to be with
you, dearest Victoire, on that day !

I have not thanked you, I believe, for a very dear
letter you have written to me, which gave me the
greatest pleasure. Your descriptions of the plays you
had seen amused me very much. I wish I had seen
your performance too. Your most affectionate Sister,


1 I. e. arant hier.

2 The Princess Feodore of Leinincren, the Queen's half-sister, had married,
in January 1828, the Prince (Ernest) of Hohenlohe-Langenburg.


The Duchess of Clarence to the Princess Victoria.

BUSHEY PAKK, Uth August 1829.

A thousand thanks to you, dear Victoria, for your
very nice and well written letter full of good wishes,
which I had the pleasure to receive yesterday ; and many
thanks more for the pretty gifts your dear Mamma
has sent me in your name. I wore them last night for
your sake, dearest child, and thought of you very often.

It gives me great satisfaction to hear that you are
enjoying the sea air and like the place which you now
occupy. I wish I could pay your Mamma a visit there
and see you again, my dear little niece, for I l(3ng to
have that pleasure, and must resign myself at being
deprived of it some time longer. Your Uncle desires to
be most kindly remembered to you, and hopes to
receive soon also a letter from you, of whom he is as
fond as I am. We speak of you very often, and trust
that you will always consider us to be amongst your
best friends. . . .

God bless you, my dear Victoria, is always the prayer
of your most truly affectionate Aunt, ADELAIDE.

The King of the Belgians to the Princess Tictoria.

BRUSSELS, 22nd May 1832.

MY DEAREST LOVE, Let me offer you my sincerest
and best wishes on the return of the anniversary of your
birthday. May heaven protect and prosper you, and
shower all its best blessings on you.

Time flies : it is now thirteen years that you came
into the world of trouble ; I therefore can hardly
venture to call you any longer a little Princess.

This will make you feel, my dear Love, that you must
give your attention more and more to graver matters.
By the dispensation of Providence you are destined to
fill a most eminent station ; to fill it well must now
become your study. A good heart and a trusty and
honourable character are amongst the most indispen-
sable qualifications for that position.


You will always find in your Uncle that faithful
friend which he has proved to you from your earliest
infancy, and whenever you feel yourself in want of
support or advice, call on him with perfect confidence.

If circumstances permitted my leaving Ostend early
to-morrow morning, I should be able to place myself
my birthday present into your fair hair ; as this
happiness has not fallen to my lot, your excellent
mother has promised to act as my representative.

You will probably have little time to spare. I
therefore conclude with the assurance of the sincere
attachment and affection with which I shall ever be,
my dearest Love, your faithful and devoted friend and

The King of the Belgians to the Princess Victoria.

L.AEKEN, 1 31st Allf/USt 1832.

MY DEAREST LOVE, You told me you wished to
have a description of your new Aunt, 2 I therefore
shall both mentally and physically describe her to

She is extremely gentle and amiable, her actions are
always guided by principles. She is at all times ready
and disposed to sacrifice her comfort and inclina-
tions to see others happy. She values goodness,
merit, and virtue much more than beauty, riches, and
amusements. With all this she is highly informed
and very clever ; she speaks and writes English,
German and Italian ; she speaks English very well
indeed. In short, my dear Love, you see that I
may well recommend her as an example for all
young ladies being Princesses or not.

Now to her appearance. She is about Feodore's
height, her hair very fair, light blue eyes, of a very
gentle intelligent and kind expression. A Bourbon
nose and small mouth. The figure is much like

1 The Royal Palace, four miles from Brussels, which Napoleon owned for
many years. A monument to King Leopold now stands there.

2 Louise Marie, Princess of Orleans, daughter of King Louis Philippe of
France, was married to King Leopold on 9th August 1832.


Feodore's but rather less stout. She rides very well,
which she proved to my great alarm the other day,
by keeping her seat though a horse of mine ran away
with her full speed for at least half a mile. What
she does particularly well is dancing. Music unfortu-
nately she is not very fond of, though she plays on
the harp ; I believe there is some idleness in the
case. There exists already great confidence and
affection between us ; she is desirous of doing every-
thing that can contribute to my happiness, and I
study whatever can make her happy and contented.

You will see by these descriptions that though my
good little wife is not the tallest Queen, she is a very
great prize which I highly value and cherish. . . .

Now it is time I should finish my letter. Say
everything that is kind to good Lehzen, and believe
me ever, my dearest Love, your faithful friend and

The King of the Belgians to the Princess Victoria.

LAEKEN, 2lst May 1833.

MY DEAREST LOVE, To make quite sure of my
birthday congratulations reaching you on that day,
I send them by to-day's messenger, and confide them
to the care of your illustrious mother.

My sincere good wishes for many happy returns
of that day which gave you, dear little soul, to us,
will be accompanied by some few reflections, which
the serious aspect of our times calls forth. My
dearest Love, you are now fourteen years old, a period
when the delightful pastimes of childhood must be
mixed with thoughts appertaining already to a matured
part of your life. I know that you have been very
studious, but now comes the time when the judgment
must form itself, when the character requires attention ;
in short when the young tree takes the shape which
it retains afterwards through life.

To attain this object it is indispensable to give
some little time to reflection. The life in a great town


is little calculated for such purposes ; however, with
some firmness of purpose it can be done.

Self-examination is the most important part of the
business, and a very useful mode of proceeding is, for
instance, every evening to recapitulate the events of
the day, and the motives which made one act oneself,
as well as to try to guess what might have been the
motives of others. Amiable dispositions like yours
will easily perceive if your own motives were good.
Persons in high situations must particularly guard
themselves against selfishness and vanity. An in-
dividual in a high and important situation will easily
see a great many persons eager to please the first,
and to flatter and encourage the last. Selfishness,
however, makes the individual itself miserable, and
is the cause of constant disappointment, besides being
the surest means of being disliked by everybody.

Vanity, on the other hand, is generally artfully used
by ambitious and interested people to make one a tool
for purposes of their own, but too often in opposition
with one's own happiness and destruction of it.

To learn to know oneself, to judge oneself with
truth and impartiality, must be the great objects of
one's exertion ; they are only attainable by constant
and cool self-examination.

The position of what is generally called great
people has of late become extremely difficult. They
are more attacked and calumniated, and judged with
less indulgence than private individuals. What they
have lost in this way, they have not by any means
regained in any other. Ever since the revolution of
1790 they are much less secure than they used to be,
and the transition from sovereign power to absolute
icant has been as frequent as sudden.

It becomes, therefore, necessary that the character
should be so formed as not to be intoxicated by
greatness and success, nor cast down by misfortune.
To be able to do so, one must be able to appreciate
things according to their real value, and particularly
avoid giving to trifles an undue importance.


Nothing is so great and clear a proof of unfitness
for greater and nobler actions, than a mind which is
seriously occupied with trifles.

Trifling matters may be objects of amusement and
relaxation to a clever person, but only a weak mind
and a mean spirit consider trifles as important. The
good sense must show itself by distinguishing what
is and what is not important.

My sermon is now long enough, my dear child.
I strongly recommend it, however, to your reflection
and consideration.

My gift consists in a set of views of the former
Kingdom of the Netherlands, out of which you will
be able to discover all those of the present Belgium.

Let me soon hear from you ; and may God bless
and preserve you. Ever, my dear love, your affection-
ate Uncle, LEOPOLD R.

The Princess Victoria to the King of t/ie Belgians.

TtiNBRiDGE WELLS, \\th September 1834.

MY DEAREST UNCLE, - - Allow me to write you a
few words, to express how thankful I am for the very
kind letter you wrote me. It made me, though, very
sad to think that all our hopes of seeing you, which we
cherished so long, this year, were over. I had so hoped
and wished to have seen you again, my beloved Uncle,
and to have made dearest Aunt Louisa's acquaintance.
I am delighted to hear that dear Aunt has benefited
from the sea air and bathing. We had a very pretty
party to Hever Castle yesterday, which perhaps you
remember, where Anne Boleyn used to live, before
she lost her head. We drove there, and rode home.
It was a most beautiful day. We have very good
accounts from dear Feodore, who will, by this time,
be at Langenburg.

Believe me always, my dearest Uncle, your very
affectionate and dutiful Niece, VICTORIA.


The King of the Belgians to the Princess Victoria.

LAEKEN, 18th October 1834.

MY DEAREST LOVE, I am happy to learn that
Tunbridge Wells has done you good. Health is the first
and most important gift of Providence ; without it we
are poor, miserable creatures, though the whole earth
were our property ; therefore I trust that you will take
great care of your own. I feel convinced that air and
exercise are most useful for you. In your leisure
moments I hope that you study a little ; history is
what I think the most important study for you. It
will be difficult for you to learn human-kind's ways and
manners otherwise than from that important source
of knowledge. Your position will more or less render
practical knowledge extremely difficult for you, till
you get old, and still if you do not prepare yourself
for your position, you may become the victim of wicked
and designing people, particularly at a period when
party spirit runs so high. Our times resemble most
those of the Protestant reformation ; then people were
moved by religious opinions, as they now undoubtedly
are by political passions. Unfortunately history is
rarely written by those who really were the chief
movers of events, nor free from a party colouring ; this
is particularly the case in the works about English
history. In that respect France is much richer, because
there we have authenticated memoirs of some of the
most important men, and of others who really saw
what passed and wrote it down at the time. Political
feelings, besides, rarely created permanent parties like
those in England, with the exception, perhaps, of the
great distinctions of Catholics and Protestants. What
I most should recommend is the period before the
accession of Henry IV. of France to the throne, then
the events after his death till the end of the minority
of Louis XIV. ; after that period, though interesting,
matters have a character which is more personal, and
therefore less applicable to the present times. Still


after &r S. ffla/yter at C LilindAOT Ccu^Ue


even that period may be studied with some profit to
get knowledge of mankind. Intrigues and favouritism
were the chief features of that period, and Madame de
Maintenon's immense influence was very nearly the
cause of the destruction of France. What I very
particularly recommend to you is to study in the
Memoirs of the great and good Sully 1 the last years
of the reign of Henry IV. of France, and the events
which followed his assassination. If you have not got
the work, I will forward it to you from hence, or give
you the edition which I must have at Claremont.

As my paper draws to a close, I shall finish also
by giving you my best blessings, and remain ever,
my dearest Love, your faithfully attached friend and

The Princess Victoria to the King of the Belgians.

TmiBRiDOE WELLS, 22nd October 1834.

MY DEAREST UNCLE, You cannot conceive how
happy you have made me, by your very kind letter,
which, instead of tiring, delights me beyond every-
thing. I must likewise say how very grateful I feel
for the kind and excellent advice you gave me in it.

For the autographs I beg to return my best
thanks. They are most valuable and interesting,
and will be great additions to my collections. As
I have not got Sully 's Memoirs, I shall be delighted
if you will be so good as to give them to me.
Reading history is one of my greatest delights, and
perhaps, dear Uncle, you might like to know which
books in that line I am now reading. In my lessons
with the Dean of Chester, 2 I am reading Russell's
Modern Europe, 3 which is very interesting, and
Clarendon's History of tlie Rebellion. It is drily

1 Maximilien, Due de Sully, was Henry's Minister of Finance. A curious
feature of the Memoirs is the fact that they are written in the second person :
the historian recounts the hero's adventures to him.

2 The Rev. George Davys. See ante, p. 21.

3 This History of Modern Europe, in a series of letters from a nobleman to
his son, 5 vols. (1779-1784), deals with the rise of modem kingdoms down
to the Peace of Westphalia (1648).

VOL. i. \


written, but is full of instruction. I like reading
different authors, of different opinions, by which
means I learn not to lean on one particular side.
Besides my lessons, I read Jones' 1 account of the
wars in Spain, Portugal, and the South of
France, from the year 1808 till 1814. It is well
done, I think, and amuses me very much. In
French, 1 am now in La Rivalite de la France ct
de TEspagne, par Gaillard, 2 which is very interesting.
I have also begun Rollin. 3 I am very fond of making
tables of the Kings and Queens, as I go on, and I
have lately finished one of the English Sovereigns
and their consorts, as, of course, the history of my
own country is one of my first duties. I should be
fearful of tiring you with so long an account of
myself, were I not sure you take so great an interest
in my welfare.

Pray give my most affectionate love to dearest
Aunt Louisa, and please say to the Queen of the
French and the two Princesses how grateful I am
for their kind remembrance of me.

Believe me always, my dearest Uncle, your very
affectionate, very dutiful, and most attached Niece,


The Princess Victoria to the King of the Belgians.

ST LEONARDS, 19th November 1834.

MY DEAREST UNCLE, It is impossible for me, to
express how happy you have made me by writing so
soon again to me, and how pleased I am to see by
your very kind letter that you intend to write to
me often. I am much obliged to you, dear Uncle, for
the extract about Queen Anne, but must beg you, as
you have sent me to show what a Queen ought not
to be, that you will send me what a Queen ought to be*

1 Sir John Thomas Jones, Bart. (1783-1843), a Royal Engineer, who
served in the Peninsular War.

3 Gabriel Henri Gaillard (1726-1806), Member of the French Academy.

3 The Histoire Ancienne, by Charles Rollin (1661-1741), Rector of the
University of Paris.

4 King Leopold had sent the Princess an extract from a French Memoir,
containing a severe criticism of the political character of Queen Anne.


Might I ask what is the very pretty seal with
which the letter I got from you yesterday was closed ?
It is so peculiar that I am anxious to know.

Believe me always, dear Uncle, your very affec-
tionate, very dutiful, and very attached Niece,


The King of the Belgians to the Princess Victoria.

LAKKF.K, 2nd December 1834.

MY DEAREST LOVE, You have written a very
clever, sharp little letter the other day, which gave
me great pleasure. Sure enough, when I show you
what a Queen ought not to be, I also ought to tell
you what she should be, and this task I will very
conscientiously take upon myself on the very first
occasion which may offer itself for a confidential
communication. Now I must conclude, to go to
town. I must, however, say that I have given orders
to send you Sully 's Memoirs. As they have not been
written exclusively for young ladies, it will be well
to have Lehzen to read it with you, and to judge
what ought to be left for some future time. And
now God bless you ! Ever, my beloved child, your
attached friend and Uncle, LEOPOLD R.

The Princess Victoria to the King of the Belgians.

ST LEONARDS, 28th December 1834.

MY DEAREST UNCLE, I must again, with your
permission, write you a few lines, to wish you a very
happy new year, not only for this year, but for many
to come. I know not how to thank you sufficiently
for the invaluable and precious autographs which you
were so very kind as to send me. Some of them I
received a few days ago, and the others to-day,
accompanied by a very kind letter from you, and
a beautiful shawl, which will be most useful to me,
particularly as a favourite one of mine is growing
very old. I wish you could come here, for many


reasons, but also to be an eye-witness of my extreme
prudence in eating, which would astonish you. The
poor sea-gulls are, however, not so happy as you
imagine, for they have great enemies in the country-
people here, who take pleasure in shooting them.

Believe me always, my dearest Uncle, your very
affectionate and most grateful Niece, VICTORIA.

The Princess Victoria to the King of the Belgians.

KENSINGTON PALACE, 2nd February, 1835.

MY DEAREST UNCLE, - - 1 know not how to thank
you sufficiently for the most valuable autographs you
were kind enough to send me. I am particularly
delighted with that of Louis Quatorze, " le grand Roi,"
and my great admiration. . . . You will not, I hope,
think me very troublesome, if I venture to ask for
two more autographs which I should very particularly

Online LibraryUnknownThe letters of Queen Victoria : a selection from Her Majesty's correspondence between the years 1837 and 1861 : published by authority of His Majesty the king (Volume 1) → online text (page 5 of 52)