Volume 11, 1900, pgs. 34-41, 109-116, 178-181, 247-251, 384-389 (Parts 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 of a series of articles)
[We have long wished to present our readers with some memorial of the early days of our beloved Queen, feeling that every mother would read between the lines, and learn something from the "Education" of this "Princess." A quaint little volume bound in green watered silk, published at the date of the Accession, has come into our hands, which appears to answer our purpose. It is called Victoria; An Anecdotal Memoir of Her Majesty.--Ed.] [Google dates this from 1838; an author's name has not been found.--Proofreader.]
Granted in the answer to a nation's prayer to replace the loss it had so recently sustained, the day, and eve--the very hour of her birth, for it was that of sunrise, seemed to guarantee those hopes which from the dawn of her existence have been fixed upon her, which have gradually gathered strength as, rising day by day towards maturity, she has been presented lovely and beloved to the gaze of her future subjects; and which, now that she is beheld a Virgin Queen, proudly seated upon the throne of her ancestors, we may humbly trust are rapidly advancing to fulfillment.
The accouchement of the Duchess of Kent took place amongst all those forms of state and etiquette which are prescribed by our laws for the guardianship of the royal succession. The privy councilors and great officers of state assembled in the saloon adjoining her Royal Highness's bed-chamber, and there, at a quarter past four in the morning of the 24th of May, 1819, it was announced to them that the Duchess was safely delivered of a Princess; the state attendants immediately entered the apartment, the infant was presented to them, and they signed, conjointly with the physicians, a certificate of its birth, together with a report of its perfectly healthful appearance. The Duke of Kent, with his own hand, signified the joyful news to all his relatives, both at home and abroad, before he retired to rest.
The Duchess Her Infant's Nurse
It was very speedily announced that the Royal Duchess intended to suckle the infant Princess herself, and this expression of maternal tenderness so unusual in royalty, was received with the highest satisfaction by the English people, who rejoiced to find that their future Queen was not likely to be reared amidst the cold forms of etiquette, but under the free and uncontrolled influence of the affections of the heart.
The satisfaction which this circumstance universally excited was heightened by the gradual progress of the Royal Mother towards convalescence, and by the thriving condition of the infant Princess, who grew and advanced daily in health and strength.
On Wednesday, June the 9th, the physicians announced that the Duchess of Kent was so far advanced in convalescence that the regular daily bulletins would be no longer issued; and the infant Princess was also reported in the best of health. During the succeeding fortnight the Royal Lady gained strength rapidly, and the Duke of Kent, with that pious principle which presided over all his conduct, appointed Thursday, the 24th of June, the very earliest day that the restored health of his invalid Princess would permit for initiating his beloved child, then exactly a month old, into the church of Christ.
During the ensuing six months, although the Duke and Duchess of Kent occasionally joined in the friendly circles of the nobility, and frequently visited the theatres, their appearance was never expected early in the evening, as it was known to be the constant habit of the Duchess to devote her whole attention to the nursery, until the satisfied nature of her lovely babe had sunk into sweet repose.
The Christening and a Review
The first few weeks of helpless infancy glide unconsciously away, leaving little to record, even of the royal babe, save the watchful anxiety of the mother, and the exulting joy of the father as he proudly presents his smiling cherub to each succeeding guest, and listens with unwearied delight to their perpetually repeated praises of its activity, intelligence and beauty. During this period, however, the ceremony of baptising the infant Princess was performed with all the pomp of circumstance in the grand saloon at Kensington Palace, her Royal Highness receiving the names of Alexandrina-Victoria; and the Prince Regent, Alexander, Emperor of Russia, the Queen of Dowager of Saxe-Coburg standing sponsors.
Not long afterwards a grand review took place on Hounslow Heath, at which the Prince Regent was present attended by a splendid train of military officers, amongst whom was the Duke of Kent. The Royal Duchess was on the heath in her carriage and four, accompanied by the Princess Victoria and her attendants. The Prince Regent is said to have objected to this early display of parental pride, and, turning to the Duke of Kent, asked with some displeasure, "Why was not that infant left at home? She is too young to be brought into public." Into public the royal babe was brought no more during the short period of her father's life; and it is believed that, to this expression of the Regent's opinion, may be in some measure attributed the extreme retirement in which the first ten years of the young Princess's life were passed.
A Picture of Domestic Happiness
The Duke and Duchess of Kent spent the whole of this summer at Kensington, in the enjoyment of the most perfect domestic felicity and retirement. Every day they were to be seen walking arm and arm in the beautiful gardens which surround the palace, mingling with pleasure amongst their delighted countrymen. The interest of the scene was much increased by the presence of the royal infant, who, in the arms of her nurse, would answer with her innocent smiles to the occasional caresses of her fond parents, and the more respectful notice of the spectators. No strangers were permitted to approach her too closely; but the cheerful accents of her prattle, and her blooming healthful countenance were sufficient evidence of her flourishing condition. Her Royal Highness was vaccinated in the month of August, the operation perfectly succeeded, and in the course of a fortnight all signs of indisposition had disappeared.
Adoption by the Duke of York
It pleased Providence, however, in a few short months to overcloud this interesting scene, and to snatch from the amiable Duchess and her infant offspring, by a sudden stroke of his Almighty arm, the loving husband and the tender father. Their Royal Highness had removed during the winter months into Devonshire, for the benefit of its milder climate, but had scarcely domesticated themselves in their beautiful retreat, Woolbrook Cottage, Sidmouth, before the illustrious Duke was seized with severe indisposition, the effects of neglected cold, which, defying all the efforts of medicine, terminated fatally within a fortnight from the first attack. The Duchess was immediately withdrawn from the scene of her bereavement; and returning to her apartments at Kensington Palace, received there the kindest attention from the various members of the Royal Family; Prince Leopold and the Duchess of Clarence, now the amiable Queen Dowager, were especially distinguished for their affectionate solicitude.
At the first visit paid by the Duke of York to his afflicted sister-in-law, the following interesting incident occurred. The Duke having inquired for his infant niece, she was no sooner, in compliance with his desire, brought into the room, than recognizing, it is supposed, his great resemblance to her deceased father, she stretched out her little arms towards him and called him Papa. The Duke was greatly affected, and clasping her to his bosom, promised to be indeed a father to her; this promise, as far as circumstances would admit, he always faithfully observed; he watched with paternal solicitude over the growth and early education of the interesting orphan, and was repaid by her infantine love and gratitude, particularly exemplified in his Royal Highness's last illness, when she visited him daily, always carrying in her hand a beautiful bouquet of choice flowers, with which the Duke delighted to decorate his private sitting-room, until it was replaced the following day by a fresh supply from her own store of sweets.
The Infant Princess
The following interesting description of the Princess at the age of fifteen months, has been supplied from an authentic source: "Walking one day at Kensington Gardens, accompanied by my sister, we were fortunate enough to meet, quite unexpectedly, with the infant Princess Victoria, whom we had before seen. She was riding in a very elegant child's phaeton, painted bright yellow, and bearing upon the panels the initials and coronet of the young Princess. Her Royal Highness was tied into it by a broad black ribbon round her waist; the carriage was drawn when we first saw it by the Princess Feodore, and two ladies and a man-servant were in attendance. On approaching the dear child, she immediately noticed us by the name of "Lady;" we walked, by permission of her attendants, alongside the carriage for a considerable distance, which appeared to please her Royal Highness greatly, as she never once turned her face from us, but continued talking the whole time very distinctly, and with great intelligence for her age; she noticed with vivacity everything that passed; and continually addressed us as "Lady," as though unwilling to part company. On taking leave we requested permission to kiss her hand, but we were told by the Baroness de Spaedth, that the Duchess's permission should be asked, and if obtained, an early opportunity should be taken to gratify our wishes.
A few days afterwards, passing through the court of the palace, the young Princess overtook us on her return from her usual airing. The window of the carriage was drawn up, notwithstanding which, our little darling had no sooner seen us, than, to our great surprise, she assumed the most intelligent smile of recognition; and turning quickly to her nurse, said in a loud and authoritative tone, "Lady." The Princess having been lifted out and carried into the hall, in the arms of the Baroness de Spaedth, her nurse returned to the door, and requested us to walk in "to have the honour of kissing the Princess's hand." We did so accordingly, and the Baroness Spaedth addressing herself to us, said, "The Princess knew you were to be invited to kiss her hand, and she pointed you out to me the moment she saw you." Surely this was a most extraordinary instance of acuteness in so very young an infant.
She held out her pretty, fair, fat little hand to be kissed with the utmost grace and dignity, and on our taking leave some minutes after, said, "Thank you." of her own accord, most plainly and distinctly. She was at this period a most beautiful child, bearing a very strong resemblance to her father, and indeed to the Royal Family generally. Though small and delicately formed, she was very fat, and might be called a remarkably fine child for her age; her eyes were large and blue, her complexion extremely fair, with a rosy colour expressive of high health, and her curled lips continually parted, shewed her four pretty white teeth; she was forward in her speech, very lively, and appeared of a gentle, happy temper; occasionally a sweet and merry smile animated her intelligent countenance. She was dressed in a white cambric pelisse, neatly frilled at the bottom, and a large straw bonnet trimmed with black ribbons. We were informed by her nurse, that she did not yet run alone; indeed she was not entirely short coated until more than a year old, doubtless to prevent her being placed upon her feet too early."
With the Public in Kensington Gardens
During these evanescent but interesting years of early childhood, the little Princess was daily to be seen riding or running about in Kensington Gardens, and her intercourse with the visitors there was of a very endearing description.
In addition to her little carriage she had a favourite donkey, presented by the Duke of York, which, gaily caparisoned in blue ribbons, bore his royal mistress daily round the gardens to her great delight; so fond indeed was she of him, and of the exercise he procured her, that it was generally necessary to persuade her that the donkey was tired or hungry to induce her to alight.
Even at this very early age the Princess took great pleasure in mixing with the people generally, and seldom passed anybody in the gardens, without accosting them with, "How do you do?" or "Good morning, sir, or lady;" and always seemed pleased to enter into conversation with strangers, returning their compliments, or answering their questions in the most distinct and good-humoured manner. Her Royal Highness was a particular admirer of children, and rarely allowed an infant to pass her, without requesting permission to see it close; she always expressed great delight at meeting a young ladies' school, had something to say to most of the children, but particularly distinguished the younger ones. When a little older it was exhilarating to witness her infantine activity as, holding her sister Feodore in one hand, and the string of her little cart in the other, with a moss rose fastened into her bosom, she would run with astonishing rapidity the whole length of the broad gravel walk, or up and down the green hills with which the gardens abound, her eyes sparkling with animation and glee, until the attendants, fearful of the effects of such violent exercise, were compelled to put a stop to it, much against the will of the little romp: and although a large assemblage of well-dressed ladies, gentlemen, and children would on such occasions form a semicircle round the scene of the amusement, their presence never seemed in any way to disconcert the royal child, who would continue her play, occasionally speaking to the spectators as though they were partakers in her enjoyment, which in very truth they were. If, whilst amusing herself in the enclosed lawn, she observed, as sometimes happened, many persons collected round the green railing, she would walk close up to it, and curtsy and kiss her hand to the people, speaking to all who addressed her, and when her nurse led her away, she would again and again slip from her hand and return to renew the mutual greetings between herself and her future subjects.
A private letter written in January, 1822, says, "Walking this morning in Kensington Gardens, I met my little friend, the Princess Victoria, most curiously dressed in a duffield cloak, lined with pink, made to fit her, and reaching quite to the ground; I could not help laughing at her grotesque appearance as she walked slowly along, holding her cloak quite tight with her two little hands: the Duchess, who was stooping down endeavoring to arrange it more commodiously for her, seemed as much amused as I was, and observed to the Baroness de Spaedth, "that she looked like a little matchwoman." She very soon, however, grew tired of her new accoutrement, and complaining of the heat, induced her mother to take it off: after which, she ran about much at her ease in the gravel walk, bearing a very altered appearance, her dress as now exhibited, consisting of a purple velvet pelisse most elegantly made, and a very becoming white beaver bonnet; she looked extremely beautiful. On seeing me, the Princess as usual wished me a good morning, I wished her Royal Highness many happy new years, to which she replied with a sweet smile, "And I wish you a happy new year too."
One day, walking with her sister, she met a little girl, something younger than herself, who had hold of her mother's hand. The Princess curtsied to the mother, who returned the salute, then to the child, who took no notice; she curtsied again, but the little creature stood still: "Make a curtsy to me baby," said the Princess, "why don't you make a curtsy to me?" And after repeating her desire several times unavailingly, she turned away saying in a pitying tone to her sister, "Poor baby, she can't make a curtsy, she won't speak."
Some ladies, who were much in the habit of walking in Kensington Gardens, and were delighted with the opportunity thus afforded of frequently seeing the little Princess, perceiving that she was very fond of flowers, seldom failed to present her with a small nosegay, which was accepted with pleasure, until her Royal Highness began to look upon it as a matter of course, and would ask for her flowers as soon as the ladies appeared; but this, she was told by her governess she must not do, but wait till they were offered to her. It happened a short time after this that the ladies were seen without the usual bouquet, and the Princess, knowing that she was not to ask for it, and chancing at the moment to meet a little girl with a reticule in her hand, addressed her with "Little girl, have you any flowers in that bag? at the same time glancing her blue eye towards the ladies who had disappointed her with a very merry and arch expression.
Her Royal Highness was one day met upon her walk by the late Bishop Fisher of Salisbury, who affectionately saluted her, but without attracting her attention; his lordship repeated, "How do you do, my Princess;" still she took no notice. He then spoke to the attendants, and entreated her Royal Highness's attention--he even went on one knee to court it--and the ladies threatened the Duchess's displeasure if she did not speak to the bishop; but all in vain, the willful child made her escape at the earliest opportunity, running as fast as her little legs would carry her, till she was fairly out of reach; she then turned round, and, with a quick and graceful air, kissed her hand repeatedly to the venerable prelate.
Part II, Parents Review Volume XI 1900 Pg 109-116
"In the hay-making season the Princess was on the grass every afternoon with her little rake, fork, and cart, industriously employed in collecting the hay, which she would carry to a little distance, and returning, fill her cart again. An anecdote has been related with reference to this amusement which proves that even in pursuing her recreations care was taken to turn every little incident to the benefit of her future character. She had one day completely fatigued herself with filling and refilling her cart, and at length threw down her rake when it was but half loaded; her governess immediately desired her to resume it, and to finish filling her cart; she replied she was too tired. 'But Princess you should have thought of that before you began the last load, for you know we never leave anything unfinished;' and her Royal Highness was most judiciously persuaded to complete the work she had begun.
"Again--riding one day across the garden in her little carriage, a violent storm of wind suddenly arose, and the uncourtly element, little regarding the exalted dignity of the infant heiress of England, very unceremoniously blew her bonnet off her head; the Princess looked surprised and amused, but very handily replaced it; again it nearly flew away; her Royal Highness then appealed to her nurse, saying, 'It wont stay on;'--'Then hold it tight, Princess,' was the reply, and her Royal Highness did so with both her hands, laughing heartily all the way home.
"It was pleasing to observe that amongst all the enjoyments her daily recreations afforded, none seemed more truly to gratify the little Princess than the indulgence of her benevolent and compassionate dispositions. A poor man or woman would frequently follow her carriage into the Palace Court entreating charity, and the dear babe, long before she could speak plain, would lisp her command to the footman to give sixpence or a shilling to the beggar, which was always done according to her directions. This spontaneous desire to contribute to the welfare of her less fortunate fellow-creatures increased in large proportion to her advancing years. Her Royal Mother gave ample encouragement to the development of these amiable feelings both by precept and example; and it is well known that, not only have our public institutions of every description derived the greatest benefit from the generosity and kindness of the Duchess and her Royal Daughter, but that their private charities have been even more liberal and extensive. Kensington and its neighbourhood have long found cause to bless the hand which has been stretched out to raise the wretched, and alleviate the sorrows of the afflicted; and wherever the Duchess and the Princess have taken up their temporary abode, there have the same results been visible. Even in the most distant parts of the country has the name of our Princess been associated with acts of goodness and charity which have endeared it to every heart, and less perhaps for the intrinsic value of those acts, than for the condescension, sweetness, and grace, with which they have invariably been performed.
The Favourite Donkey
"The King, George the Fourth, presented the Princess Victoria on her fourth birthday, with a superb token of remembrance, a miniature portrait of himself most richly set in diamonds; and very shortly afterwards his Majesty issued cards of invitation for a state dinner party, signifying to the Duchess of Kent his wish that her infant daughter should accompany her, and be presented to the assembled guests in the drawing-room before they adjourned to the royal banquet.
"The Princess was full of joyful anticipation on the morning of this memorable visit, 'I am going,' said she, 'to see the King!' and, turning to her Royal Parent, she naively asked, 'Oh Mamma! shall I go upon my donkey?' Her donkey, be it remembered, was the present of her beloved Uncle, the Duke of York, and the greatest treasure she then possessed in the world: the King had never seen it, and with infantine simplicity she believed that she could not pay her Royal Uncle a greater compliment than to visit him on her favourite 'Dickey.'
"Shortly after the Princess had completed her fourth year, her Royal Mother considering it necessary that some reverend gentleman of the Church of England should be appointed to superintend her present English and future classical and religious studies, took great pains to engage one in every way suitable and competent to this responsible and honourable office; at the recommendation of the Rev. Thomas Rennell, the late highly gifted vicar of Kensington, the Rev. George Davys, now Dean of Chester, was appointed Preceptor to her Royal Highness, and has continued from that time to the period of her accession to perform his important duties to the high satisfaction of their late Majesties, and of the Duchess of Kent. Mr. Davys found his royal pupil well grounded in all the requirements suited to her age; quick, intelligent, and generally very docile, though not, at this early age, much given to application.
"About two years afterwards, in the year 1825, an addition of £6000 per annum was unanimously voted by Parliament to the hitherto circumscribed income of her Royal Highness the Duchess of Kent, for the honourable support and education of her royal daughter; and accordingly the Princess, having now reached an age at which she was capable of benefiting by the instructions of professors in various branches of study, her establishment was immediately placed upon a considerably enlarged scale; and the public were pleased to observe, from the new official appointments, that native talent chiefly was put in requisition for the education of the infant heiress.
"The Princess Feodore having nearly completed her eighteenth year, resigned her beloved governess, Miss Lehzen, whose valuable services were rewarded by an appointment to the same responsible situation about the person of the British Princess; and the nation is greatly indebted to this most estimable lady for the talent and judgment displayed in the early tuition of her Royal Pupil. In consideration of her distinguished merits in this capacity, King George the Fourth conferred upon her, shortly before his death, the title of Baroness in the Kingdom of Hanover.
"The Rev. Mr. Davys still superintended the general rudiments of learning, but devoted his attention especially to her religious studies, her pious mother being determined to erect the fair fabric of her education upon the broad and firm basis of Christianity; Mr. Steward, the writing-master of Westminster school, was engaged to teach her writing and arithmetic; Madame Bourdin, dancing; and Mr. J. B. Sale, at the particular desire of the King, was appointed her music master; in the latter department her Royal Highness already exhibited the taste and talent hereditary in her family: she sang 'God save the King,' most sweetly, for the gratification of her royal relatives assembled at Marlborough House in her honour, on the day that she completed her sixth year.
"The very striking manner in which the Queen has delivered all public addresses since her accession to the throne, and particularly the correct and beautiful elocution of her speeches to her Parliament, naturally induces an observation upon the distinctness and propriety of her pronunciation of her native language, for which has been remarkable from her earliest infancy, and upon which subject a curious anecdote occurred when she was about four years old. A little girl of her own age was one day indulged by a walk in Kensington Gardens for the purpose of seeing the little Princess, of whom she had heard much and enthusiastically fond. She met the Princess on her donkey; her Royal Highness, always attracted by children, stooped down to speak to little Margaret, and the child proudly presented her future Queen with a pretty nosegay of fresh flowers, which was graciously accepted. The next morning, breakfasting with her papa, and relating all the pleasures of the preceding day, her father asked her if the Princess was pleased with her flowers, and whether she said 'thank ye' for them. 'No, Papa,' replied the observant little girl, 'the Princess did not say thank ye, she said 'Thank you.'
"At this age her Royal Highness also understood French perfectly, and could read and speak German as well as English.
Ramsgate and Turnbridge Wells
"For several ensuing summers, during the early childhood of the Princess, these two agreeable watering places were alternately chosen by the Duchess of Kent for the temporary residence of her family; and the inhabitants were equally gratified by the substantial benefits derived from these royal visits, and by the opportunity they afforded of becoming intimately acquainted with the person, manners and disposition of the heiress presumptive to the British throne, who speedily became quite the delight of both places. When the weather was favourable she was constantly to be seen twice a day upon the sands at Ramsgate, in the morning on her donkey, and in the afternoon on foot, always attended by her governess, and one or two men-servants, and sometimes accompanied by her mother and sister. She frequently amused herself in the afternoon by digging on the sands with a spade, and throwing the stones into the sea with her hands, which she would afterwards rub together to clean. When tired, she would seat herself upon a camp stool opposite the sea, and after a short rest return again to her labours so intently as not to observe anything that was passing round her, and in no way discomposed by the spectators, who would assemble in large groups to witness her recreations. She would sometimes run up to her ankles in the sea, wearing thick shoes over her boots. Her Royal Highness was occasionally permitted to play with the children of the gentry, whom she met upon the beach; but if she attempted to take unfair advantage of her exalted rank, the ladies in attendance always interfered to set her right.
"The young Princess was remarkable for the habit of fixing her large blue eyes on the face of any persons who attracted her attention, and looking at them steadily, or as some people have expressed it, staring at them, as if desirous of impressing their features upon her memory; and she was observed to possess the faculty peculiar to her family of recollecting everybody she had once seen; but the names belonging to the faces of her acquaintances would sometimes escape her recollection; and she one day walked up to a strange gentleman, the father of a little girl whose name she had accidentally heard, and looking up in his face, said in the most engaging tone, "Will you be so good, sir, as to tell me the name of that little girl, for I have quite forgotten it?"
"Walking, on another occasion, with her Royal Mother, whose hand she held, she inquired with earnestness, "Mamma, why do all the gentlemen take off their hats to me, they do not to sister Feodore?"
"Running once very fast upon the sands, her foot slipped and she fell; a gentleman, who was close at the moment, assisted her to rise: the Princess thanked him in the most graceful and engaging manner, and on his expressing a hope that she was not hurt, gaily exclaimed, "Oh, no! I am not hurt, but Mamma will say the Princess of England should not be so giddy."
Affection for Her Mother.
"An anecdote was current at this period which is deserving of record here as affording an interesting proof of the remarkably amiable and affectionate disposition of the little Princess, and particularly of the strong attachment to her mother which has always formed a striking feature in her character. The royal party one day honoured Sir William Garrow with a visit at her residence at Pegwell Bay, and were conducted by the host over his house and grounds; amongst other curiosities was a fine marble bath, which the young Princess, in her eagerness to examine, approached so close that losing her balance she fell in; she of course cried loudly, but was no sooner extricated from her unpleasant situation, and found herself once more above ground, than her tears and sobs were interrupted to inquire, "Does mamma know that I am not hurt?"
Visits to Windsor
"When the Princess Victoria was seven years old, she received an invitation, for the first time, from the King, to accompany her mother to the Royal Lodge in Windsor Park, and great indeed was the illustrious child's enjoyment during the three days to which this fascinating visit extended. The King was, in his turn, so much pleased and flattered by his little niece's engaging and lively manner, and by the artless affection she expressed for him, that he presented her, on taking leave, with a beautiful pair of diamond bracelets, and promised an early renewal of the pleasure she had now enjoyed. Accordingly, during the ensuing years of King George's reign, the Princess generally passed some days of the summer revelling in all the luxury of the stately castle, to which the court very shortly removed, surrounded by regal pomp, magnificence, and flattery, and permitted every indulgence which could dazzle the youthful imagination, or lend rapidity to the wings of time; whilst her Uncle King, for by this familiar title she was accustomed to address his majesty, absolutely forbad any contradiction of her inclinations during her visits to him. The judicious mother, however, always shortened these seducing visits as much as in propriety she could; and the country may perhaps have ample reason to rejoice that the fair Maid of Kent was in her earliest years so far removed from the direct succession, as to permit of her education on those principles of self-denial, and in that absence of court intrigue and falsehood, which are so essential to forming the infant mind for the dignified and blameless performance of the important duties imposed by that high destiny to which she was heir. Even in more recent times, when the royal maiden stood on the very step of the throne, her mother, still the sole guardian of her person, has cautiously abstained from permitting her unlimited association with the courtly circle, feeling, doubtless, and perhaps even experiencing from these temporary visits, how pernicious would be its effects upon the ductile heart of youth.
Quickness of Repartee
"One day, during her first visit at the Royal Lodge, the King entered the drawing-room leading his little niece by the hand; the band was stationed as usual in the adjoining conservatory; "Now, Victoria," said his Majesty, "the band is in the next room, and shall play any tune you please, what shall it be?" "Oh! Uncle King," replied her Royal Highness with quickness, "I should like God save the King better than any other tune."
Another time his Majesty asked the Princess which she had most enjoyed of all the amusements she had partaken of during her stay at Windsor, "The ride I took with you Uncle King,' was the ready reply; his Majesty had once indulged her with a short téte-a-téte airing in his pony phaeton which he had driven himself.
"It was shortly after this that the young Princess sat, by the King's desire, to Mr. Behnes for that masterly bust which attracted such general admiration at the exhibition of the Royal Academy. This exquisite model of loveliness and innocence now adorns the corridor of Windsor Castle, where it will probably remain for many ages, a proud monument of the dignity and beauty which distinguished the infant years of England's most cherished Queen; in it is strikingly portrayed that peculiarity of carriage which characterized even the childhood of the Princess, and is thus alluded to in a poetical address upon her ninth birthday: --
'The say e'en now thou has a Queenly look;
And walk'st thy Palace with majestic gait,
As though each pace thy Royal footsteps took
Were conscious that it moved a thing of state:
Thy hand as if it knew a Sceptre's weight
They say doth wave;--thy brow as if it bore
A regal diadem doth look sedate;
Yet, though of dignity thou hast such store
Of sweetness infantine thou still possessest more.'
(To be continued.)
"The Education of a Royal Princess." Part III
Parents Review Volume 11 1900 pg 178-181
(Continued from page 116.)
Attendance Upon Divine Service.
"At the opening of the year 1827, the Princess Victoria advanced a step nearer to the throne, but at the expense of a heavy domestic affliction, in which the whole nation deeply sympathized. The death of the lamented Duke of York, over whose grave the royal child shed her first tears of grief, naturally drew a large share of public attention upon the youthful Princess, whose opening character, for she had nearly completed her eighth year, and was now generally regarded as the probable future Queen, excited considerable interest amongst all classes. Still, however, the same unostentatious retirement marked the course of the interesting subject of these hopes and speculations; the time had not yet arrived when her excellent mother judged she might be advantageously placed before the eyes of the people as a public personage. The prospect of her succession to the throne was by no means assured; the household had all, therefore, commands never to allude to the subject; and the little Princess, happy in herself and in her family circle, thought little of crowns and sceptres; and it is an interesting fact that she entertained no suspicion of her regal destiny until very shortly before the death of King George the Fourth, immediately upon which event she became the heiress presumptive of King William.
"So fearful indeed was the Royal Duchess of the baneful effect of flattery upon the mind of the Princess, that when her Royal Highness had entered her eighth year, and it became desirable that she should constantly attend the performance of divine service every Sunday, her mother declined to take her to Kensington Church lest the attention of the congregation should be improperly directed towards her, and her young heart become unduly elated by the adulation of the multitude. The church service was therefore regularly performed in the private chapel communicating with the Duchess's apartments in the Palace, and a sermon preached every Sunday morning by the Rev. Mr. Davys, the Princess's preceptor; the Duchess herself, who had hitherto always frequented the German Chapel in St. James Palace, relinquished this custom, and, with the Princesses Victoria and Feodore, and the whole of their household, was constantly present. When their Royal Highnesses have been resident at the sea-side, however, the Princess has been always taken to the parish church, frequently twice on a Sunday; and the demeanour of the royal child during the performance of her religious duties has, from her earliest years, been such as might be expected from the precept and example of her exemplary parent, serious, devout, attentive; her humility in presenting herself at the footstool of the King of kings has been exemplified in the reverent posture it has ever been her habit to assume; and the devotion of her heart has been eloquently portrayed in her expressive countenance, her blue eyes raised to heaven, and her lips employed in fervent addresses to her Maker, with an air of abstraction and piety at once artless and affecting.
Attachment to Prince Leopold
"During the childhood of the Princess, much of her time was spent at Claremont, the residence of Prince Leopold, her maternal and best beloved uncle. At this beautiful retreat her Royal Highness, in company with her illustrious mother, frequently passed weeks and even months together in the enjoyment of the happiest domestic intercourse, to a participation in which a select party of nobility were sometimes invited. During these lengthened visits, the Princess delighted in her unrestrained rambles through the charming pleasure grounds; the flower garden, especially, was continually resorted to, and here her Royal Highness often amused herself in examining the plants with great minuteness, giving proofs, although still so young, of a botanical taste, which was carefully cultivated by Prince Leopold, who, himself highly accomplished in this science, yet condescended to the capacity of the royal child, and entertained her with simple lectures on the nature and properties of the various plants and flowers which were brought under her observation. His Royal Highness indeed took great pleasure in superintending the whole progress of her various studies, and evinced an almost paternal tenderness for this living image of his departed consort, in the splendour of whose destiny he found an additional resemblance, and a new source of interest. When in town, the Prince was a constant visitor at Kensington Palace, and the little evening concerts, in which the youthful Princess was early accustomed to bear a part, were enjoyed with redoubled zest, derived from his frequent company, and assistance.
"The Princess, when very young, was one day reading to her preceptress, the Baroness Lehzen, that passage in the Roman history which relates, that a noble lady, having visited Cornelia, the mother of the Gracchi, after the custom of the time displayed her casket of precious stones, and called upon the Roman matron to produce her jewels in return; when Cornelia, handing forth her children, exclaimed with maternal pride, 'Behold my jewels!' The little Princess laid down the book, and looking archly in the Baroness's face, said, "Jewels, then I suppose they were Cornelians.'
"Her French-master having once given her an interesting narrative to translate from English into French, the Duchess desired her, when she had finished her lesson, to thank M. Grandineau for the trouble he had taken. 'No, mamma,' replied the young Princess with assumed dignity; 'M. Grandineau should thank me; for I have taken the trouble to translate the story for him.'
"Her Royal Highness has evinced, on various occasions during her growing up, that, like her august Grandfather, she gloried the name of Briton. She has always expressed a repugnance to be taken abroad until she had become thoroughly acquainted with the manners, customs, arts and manufactures of her native country generally, and even of its localities, and so far did the youthful heiress carry this patriotic preference, that, though perfectly acquainted with several European languages, and especially with the French and German, she could never be persuaded to converse in any of them as a habit, always observing, that 'She was a little English girl, and would speak nothing but English.' In this particular, as in many others, her character and disposition bore a striking resemblance to the late beloved Princess Charlotte, with perhaps the distinction, as once elegantly expressed by a gentleman of refined taste, intimately connected with both, 'That grew a little wild flower, but this is highly cultivated.'
Simplicity of Dress and Diet
"The young Princess always appeared both at home and abroad in a dress of striking neatness; a cambric frock and pelisse, white as the driven snow, and trimmed with a frill of the finest needlework, and a straw bonnet lined with pink or blue, by both which colours her transparent complexion was shown off to the best advantage, was her most usual summer attire; this was varied in the winter only by the warmer material which the change of atmosphere required; and it is a remarkable instance of the plainness and simplicity with which she was educated, affording an example worthy of imitation, that neither curling-irons nor papers were permitted to approach her beautiful hair until the Princess had completed her tenth year, up to which period she always wore it merely parted over her ample forehead, without an attempt at artificial ornament.
"Returning on one occasion from Ramsgate to London, the royal party stopped at Maidstone to change horses, but did not alight from their carriage. A vast assemblage of spectators were attracted to the spot, and it is impossible adequately to describe their astonishment and gratification on hearing the young Princess, when asked what refreshment she would take, request in the sweetest accent, 'a small piece of stale bread.' Their delight at this simple circumstance exceeded all bounds, and broke forth in the loudest and most enthusiastic acclamation.
The Heiress Presumptive
"By the death of King George the Fourth, and the accession of King William, which event occurred on the 26th of June, 1830, her Royal Highness the Princess Victoria was placed in the interesting light of Heiress Presumptive to the throne of these realms. It has been already noticed that the young Princess was not aware of her exalted destiny until nearly the present period, and an interesting anecdote which strongly confirms this fact, is derived from the highest authority. During the spring of the present year (1830), her Royal Highness, in reading English history with her governess, the Baroness Lehzen, in the presence of her mother, met with some point connected with the line of succession to the crown, (probably purposely placed before her just at this period); the Princess had recourse to her genealogical table, considering it attentively for some time, inquired of her governess,
"'In the event of the death of the King, her uncle, who would be the presumptive successor to the throne?'
"The Baroness parried the question by the reply, "'The Duke of Clarence will succeed on the death of the present King.'
"'Yes,' said the Princess, 'that I know; but who will succeed him?'
"The governess, who saw the bearing of the inquiry, hesitated a moment, and then answered, "Princess, you have several uncles!'
"Her Royal Highness now became agitated, the colour rose rapidly to her cheek, and she observed with much seriousness, "'True, I have; but I perceive here,' pointing to her table, 'that my papa was next in age to my uncle Clarence; and it does appear to me from what I have just been reading, that when he and the present king are both dead, I shall become Queen of England!'
"Lady Lehzen looked towards the royal mother, and was silent. "The Duchess somewhat startled and doubtless much affected, after a short pause, replied to the following effect:
"'We are continually looking forward, my beloved child, in the hope that your dear aunt, the Duchess of Clarence, may yet give birth to living children; should it please God, however, that this be not the case, and that you are spared to the period, very distant, I trust, which terminates the valuable lives of our revered sovereign, and the Duke of Clarence, you will indeed, by the established laws of our country, become their undoubted successor. Should this event--at present too remote and uncertain to engage our attention, further than to stimulate our endeavours so to form your mind as to render you not unworthy so high a destiny--should this event indeed occur, may you prove a blessing to your country, and an ornament to the throne you are called to fill!'
"The precepts suggested by maternal solicitude on so important and interesting an occasion, were probably pursued much further; but it appeared, at least, that the recognition of her close proximity to the throne excited in the mind of the young Princess thoughts of serious import. Her manners during the day were grave and somewhat agitated, and she exhibited none of the pleasure or levity in contemplating her future regality which might have been expected from one so young.
The Princess at Eleven Years Old
"At the period of King William's accession to the throne, an interesting and hopeful prospect opened upon the country in the person of the youthful heiress, who had lately completed her eleventh year. Her Royal Highness was rather short for her age, although the Duchess of Kent, in a familiar letter written about this time, says, 'Our Victoria grows tall, robust, and handsome, she evinces much talent in whatever she undertakes;' her abilities were indeed excellent, and her observations sensible and inquisitive, but the rapidity with which it was her habit to turn from one subject of inquiry to another, frequently occasioned her instructors some trouble in keeping pace with her elastic imagination. Her education, laid on the best foundation, a solid understanding of the great truths of Christianity, was now most satisfactorily proceeding, without any affectation of unusual precocity or premature proficiency. She spoke with fluency and elegance nearly all the modern European languages; in Latin she was already a fair scholar, reading Virgil and Horace with ease; and in mathematics she had made considerable progress. Her knowledge and understanding of the Bible was such as might be expected from the talents and unremitting exertions of her reverend preceptor, to whom she was also chiefly indebted for an extensive acquaintance with ancient and modern history generally, but particularly with that of her native country; and from the learned professor, Mr. Amos, she was now receiving lectures upon the English Constitution. In the lighter accomplishments suited to her years, her Royal Highness's advance was equally gratifying; in music especially, her hereditary talent was developing itself in a most interesting manner. Her Royal mother again observes, 'The dear girl is extremely fond of music; she already fingers the piano with some skill, and has an excellent voice.'
"At the age of nine years her Royal Highness was present, for the first time, when Beethoven's celebrated 'Hallelujah to the Father' was performed by a full band; and the emotion which she evinced when that beautiful passage, 'The exalted Son of God' burst upon her astonished ear, will never be forgotten by those who witnessed it; for several minutes after the conclusion of the chorus, she appeared spell-bound, and utterly unable to give expression to those feelings of delight with which her bosom evidently heaved, and which at length found enthusiastic utterance. From that moment the Princess always expressed a decided predilection for the works of Haydn, Handel, Beethoven, Pergolesi, and other authors of the same class; and this entirely at her own suggestion, as her musical studies were frequently of a different character; and indeed her Royal Highness has, from an early age, excelled in the performance of light German and Italian airs, to which her voice is peculiarly adapted. Drawing, also, was a favourite occupation of the Princess, and one in which she had made so considerable a progress, as to enable her, a very few months subsequent to this period, to copy off at once with correctness and spirit, some specimens of Sir Thomas Lawrence's early talent, which were some hours only in her possession. Of the Princess's gradual proficiency in this accomplishment, the public have had several opportunities of judging, as her Royal Highness has, from time to time, condescended to present facsimiles of her drawings to various charitable bazaars, which have always proved an interesting and lucrative article for sale, and have exhibited considerable talent, with a regular and decided improvement in proportion to her years; her Royal Highness was accustomed from her childhood to express to her talented instructor, Mr. Westall, the pleasure she derived from his lessons, and often told him that she considered the hours devoted to her drawing as that of her most agreeable recreation, and always looked forward to its recurrence with impatience. A daily register of her Royal Highness's progress in her studies was constantly kept during her growing up, and a copy regularly transmitted once a month for Prince Leopold's inspection.
(to be continued)
Part 4 pages 247-251
Journey to Malvern
"The Duchess of Kent having determined upon a residence at Malvern during the present season, the removal of their Royal Highnesses thither was attended with much more publicity and state than had hitherto been observed in their visits to Ramsgate or Tunbridge Wells. The Duchess arranged to halt for a day or two at Birmingham, in order to show the youthful Princess the various manufactures of that celebrated city, and nothing could be more gratifying than the manner in which this object was accomplished; or indeed, than the whole progress of this interesting journey. One feeling of delight animated the thousands assembled in the various towns to greet the royal ladies; and although all the streets through which they passed were literally thronged with spectators, the greatest order and good humour universally prevailed; whilst the joy-breathing shout that welcomed them in every direction, and the respectful demeanour of the assembled multitudes, appeared to reciprocate these feelings of heartfelt pleasure in the bosoms of the illustrious visitors.
"Their Royal Highnesses expressed themselves much interested in everything they saw at Birmingham; but the processes of glass-blowing and of coining seemed particularly to fix the attention of the youthful Princess; the respectable inhabitants were freely admitted, under proper regulations, to all these institutions during the progress of the royal visitors, and had thus an opportunity of observing, not only the person and manners of the heiress presumptive, but the intelligent interest with which she entered into the passing scene. It was remarked with pleasure, that she attended closely to everything that was offered to her notice, frequently asking very pertinent questions, and drawing shrewd conclusions. Her powers of attention appeared extraordinary for her age, and her memory extremely retentive, which, indeed, phrenologists would infer from the prominency of her eyes.
Residence at Malvern
"Their Royal Highnesses occupied Hollymount, the seat of Thomas Woodyatt, Esq., during their abode at Malvern, and here for ten weeks the young Princess enjoyed the invigorating air of these beautiful Downs, and free exercise unrestrained by the trammels of etiquette; their excursions, however, were by no means confined to the immediate vicinity of their residence, for they favoured Worcester several times with their presence, inspecting its far famed porcelain manufactories, making extensive purchases, attended its triennial music meeting in the Cathedral, the first appearance of the Princess in a large public assembly, and joined with much apparent zest in the amusements of its race-course; they also visited Hereford and Cheltenham, and condescended to partake of a dejeune (breakfast), in company with a select circle, at the seats of several of the nobility in the neighbourhood.
"On the route homewards their Royal Highnesses made a most agreeable tour, visiting Gloucester, Clifton, Bath, Devizes, Salisbury, Southampton and Portsmouth. At the latter place the young Princess was shown the Royal George yacht, and the St. Vincent man-of-war; and also, in company with her mother, took a lengthened survey of the Dock-yard establishment, every branch of which excited her highest interest.
"Walking one day on the downs, the Princess amused herself (as was her frequent habit) by running on before her mother and governess, accompanied by her beautiful dog, Pero, till she overtook a little girl of about her own age, of the peasant class, but neatly dressed, with whom probably she wished to enter into conversation, or otherwise really thinking that her dog was fatigued, she thus addressed her young companion, 'My dog is very tired, will you carry him for me if you please.'
"The good natured child, quite unconscious of the exalted rank of the applicant, immediately complied, and taking the dog in her arms, tripped alongside the Princess for some time in cheerful chat; at length she said, 'I am tired now, and cannot carry your dog any longer.'
"'Tired!' said the Princess, 'impossible, think what a little way you have carried him.'
"'Quite far enough,' was the unceremonious reply; 'besides, I am going to my aunt's, and if your dog must be carried, why cannot you carry him yourself?' So saying, she replaced Pero on the grass, and he again joyfully frisked beside his royal mistress.
"'Going to your aunt's,' said the Princess, 'and who is your aunt?'
"'Mrs. Johnson, the miller's wife.'
"'And where does she live?'
"'In that pretty little white house, which you see just at the bottom of the hill;' and the youthful pair stood still that the Princess might make sure she was right, thus giving time for the Duchess and the Baroness Lehzen to come up to them.
"'Oh! I should like to see her,' exclaimed the merry Princess, 'I will go with you, so let us run down the hill together.'
"'No, no, my Princess,' said the Baroness, taking her Royal Highness's hand, 'you have conversed long enough with that little girl, and now the Duchess wishes you to walk with her.'
"At the word Princess, the peasant child, blushing and trembling, earnestly begged pardon for the liberties she had taken, but was kindly thanked by the Duchess for her trouble in carrying the Princess Victoria's dog, and recompensed by the gift of half-a-crown. She curtsied her thanks, and ran briskly to her aunt's, where she related all that had passed, and particularly dwelt upon the apprehension she had felt, when she found that it was the Princess whom she had desired to carry her dog for herself. The half-crown was afterwards framed, and hung up in the homely parlour as a memento of this pleasing adventure.
The Regency Bill
"The first act of King William's new Parliament, was a provision for the government of the country in case of the death of the King, during the minority of his successor. This question, which had been discussed in all sorts of assemblies, both public and private, for some months past, was decided in the most satisfactory manner to all parties. The Duchess of Kent was invested with the regency solely, and without restriction, from the period of the King's death to that of the completion of the 18th year by the Princess her daughter. The testimony borne to the character and conduct of the Royal Duchess, by the most eminent men in both Houses of Parliament, and the perfect unanimity with which this act was passed, are proud records for the mother of our Queen to look back upon; and it is not too much to assert that every word uttered within those walls on the occasion was re-echoed by the country at large, which rejoiced in the opportunity of offering so worthy a tribute of gratitude to the illustrious lady for the unwearied assiduity and zeal, the tenderness and judgement she had hitherto evinced in that important and precious charge, the education of her royal daughter, for the almost fearfully exalted station to which it appeared that, in all human probability, it would ultimately please Providence to call her.
The Dean of Chester
"Soon after the accession of Earl Grey to office, his lordship proposed to the Duchess of Kent, by the King's desire, the appointment of a dignitary of the Church to preside over the education of the young Princess; and suggested to her Royal Highness's approbation, the Bishop of Lincoln, as a proper person to be entrusted with so important a charge. Her Royal Highness commissioned his lordship with her grateful thanks for the interest the King had graciously expressed in the welfare of her august daughter; and stated that she perfectly coincided in his Majesty's views as regarded the propriety of the Princess's establishment being headed by a dignitary of the Church, adding, however, that she felt the most perfect satisfaction at the progress of her education, under the able tuition of her present preceptor; 'But my Lord,' said her royal highness, with that dignity of manner for which she is so remarkable, 'there can surely be no difficulty in preferring Mr. Davys to the dignitaries of the Church.' In consequence of this conversation, Mr. Davys was very shortly preferred to the Deanery of Chester.
The Duchess of Northumberland
"The appointment of this high-born, amiable, and accomplished lady to the office of governess, afforded universal satisfaction to the nation; one more worthy of, or better qualified for, the important trust confided to her, could scarcely have been selected from the whole circle of British nobility. The Queen Adelaide and the Duchess of Kent united their efforts to prevail upon her Grace to accept the appointment, and having once succeeded in giving her consent to the arrangement, the attentions of the Duchess to her Royal Charge were unremitting. Every day, whilst resident in London, she passed several hours in the society of the young Princess, who soon became most affectionately attached to her; and during the absence of the Duchess on her annual visits to the North, an interesting correspondence was always kept up between them. The Baroness Lehzen, however, still retained her importance in the household of the Princess, and forwarded with assiduity and skill all the plans of the Royal Mother and the Duchess of Northumberland. On occasions of the public appearance of the Heiress Presumptive, the Duchess invariably attended her, forming a most dignified and appropriate addition to her suite.
Opinion of Queen Elizabeth
"It was when the Princess was about twelve years old, that the Bishops of London and Lincoln, at the especial request of the Duchess of Kent, examined into the progress of her Royal Highness's education, and they were enabled to send a most highly satisfactory report to the King of her proficiency in all those branches of study which were included within the limits of their inquiry. The good disposition and excellent discrimination of the Princess were eminently evinced in her answer to one of the Right Reverend Prelates, who, observing that her Royal Highness had been lately reading the history of England, asked what opinion she had formed of Queen Elizabeth? The Princess, with the modesty and timid deference which forms so interesting a part of her character, immediately replied, 'I think that Queen Elizabeth was a very great Queen, but I am not quite sure that she was so good a woman.' Their Lordships considered that her Royal Highness's capacity was extraordinary for her years, her facility at learning appeared to be very great, and her acuteness so remarkable, that in a company of fifty person she would have her eye upon all, and know how each was employed.
Parents Review 1900 Volume XI Pg 384-389
Coronation of King William.
"Severe was the disappointment occasioned by the absence of the Heiress Presumptive from this imposing ceremonial; for next to the King and his august Consort, the popular anticipation had decidedly rested with the greatest interest upon the appearance of the young Princess on this occasion; and the causes of her absence gave rise to angry and prolonged discussions; causes, however, did exist with which the public were entirely unacquainted.
"One morning during the week preceding the coronation, the Princess Victoria, whilst taking her airing, in company with her young friend, Miss Victoria Conroy, her governess and attendants, was, by an unfortunate accident, thrown from her pony; providentially her Royal Highness was not injured or even materially hurt at the moment, but her medical attendants recommended that for some time she should be kept quite quiet. This, it can scarcely be doubted, was the true cause of their Royal Highnesses' absence, particularly as it is an ascertained fact that, only four days before the appointed time, the Duchess and her daughter, then resident in the Isle of Wight, were expected at Claremont for the purpose of attending the coronation, and that the Duchess had appointed Lord Morpeth to be the bearer of her coronet to the Abbey.
Amusement Blended with Study
"As the mind of the young Princess became, with her increasing years, more intently occupied upon her various studies, her judicious and tender mother more anxiously sought for a variation of amusement, which might, during the hours of recreation, withdraw her attention from subjects calculated to over-excite it. Accordingly, her Royal Highness was now indulged with frequent visits to the theatres, particularly the Opera, in which she much delighted, and always appeared to take a real and quite naïve interest in the business of the scene; but these visits were always made privately, and it was the habit of the royal party to leave the Opera House regularly at eleven o'clock, seldom remaining for the ballet; during the spring season she attended the most striking exhibitions, panoramas, bazaars, &c., with which art and ingenuity have so abundantly furnished the metropolis of this great empire.
"The appearance of the young Princess at a public concert in the month of May, 1832, is thus pleasingly spoken of by one who sat near her on the occasion: 'It gave me the greatest pleasure to observe the perfectly healthful look of our little Heiress Presumptive, and not less the animation of her pretty countenance, all innocence and intelligence, untinged with even a shade of affectation.'
"Little family meetings, which her Royal Highness always thoroughly enjoyed, were likewise frequent; and the Princess was introduced, not only to the chief nobility, but to all the principal literary and scientific characters of the age, at the table of her royal mother, whose select dinner parties, convened once or twice a week, afforded the most agreeable diversity of scene and society to both their Royal Highnesses. The young Princess was thus accustomed to listen to, and gradually to join in, refined conversation upon those interesting, and in some instances, important topics, which were of her intellectual powers. Another great source of pleasure and amusement was derived from her occasional visits to the country residences of her royal relatives, but especially to Sion House, the delightful retreat of her beloved governess, the Duchess of Northumberland; here, the beauties of nature were displayed in luxuriant abundance to her admiring eye, and it afforded equal gratification to herself and her noble hostess, to walk together through these charming grounds, and enjoy the lovely scenery and romantic retirement which so eminently distinguish them.
Residence in Wales
"During the summer of 1832, a lengthened residence in the Island of Anglesey, in North Wales, and a long detour afterwards, not only gave the young Princess an opportunity of seeing a vast extent of her native country, and of gaining much important information respecting it, but introduced her personally to large numbers of the nobility and gentry, living at their country seats in the true style of English hospitality; and also gave rise to a general burst of enthusiasm amongst the populace throughout the whole of her route, such as has been seldom witnessed on any similar occasion.
Their Royal Highnesses left Kensington Palace on Wednesday, the 1st of August; and resting by the way at Powis Castle, and at Wynnstay Park, reached the place of their destination on the following Monday. Whilst stopping to change horses at the Hand Inn, Llangollen, on that day, the young daughter of Mr. Phillips, the landlord, presented the Princess with a Welsh doll, attired in full Cambrian costume, with which she expressed herself highly pleased. Their Royal Highnesses having passed through Bangor, entered the island by the Menai bridge at about half past five o'clock, and were received at Beaumaris with a joyous welcome by the congregated thousands, the Princess showing herself at the carriage window, and appearing greatly delighted with the homage she received. The sons of Mona were in raptures with her blooming appearance and prepossessing manners, testifying their approbation in their own expressive language: 'Y mae hi yn beth bach anwyl." On reaching the hotel, her Royal Highness bounded from the carriage and up the steps of the portico with a light and graceful motion, which fully confirmed the appearance of health beaming upon her countenance, and shortly afterwards presented herself upon the portico, acknowledging the greetings of popular attachment with a frankness and unaffected simplicity which found its way to the heart of everyone present, and redoubled the loyal love already surrounding her. It was the general remark, that with the bloom of healthful loveliness, the young Princess displayed all the buoyancy of spirit so beautifully characteristic of her age.
Their Royal Highnesses continued their residence at the Bulkeley Arms, Beaumaris, for about three weeks, during which time they made various excursions both by land and water, the Emerald yacht being in attendance upon their pleasure. They very soon visited the Town and Castle of Carnarvon, and examined the extensive ruins of the latter with minute attention; the Princess Victoria especially, was most interested in the inspection, and desired to be shown the apartment in which the unfortunate Edward the Second is said to have been born, the stone roof and walls of which are still perfect, expressing her surprise, that a prince of her royal house should have drawn his first breath in a room of the confined dimensions of eight feet by fourteen, in a castle, the materials of which would have built St. James's palace six times over.
On the Duchess' birthday, their Royal Highnesses made their public entry into Bangor in an open carriage; and on this occasion, they appeared, in compliment to the fair maids of Cambria, in the head-dress of the country, the Welsh hat, which national costume the ingenuous countenance of the Heiress Presumptive well became.
Their Royal Highnesses afterwards removed to Plas-Newydd, the noble mansion of the Marquis of Anglesey, and here they remained for many weeks, enjoying daily, either in their yacht or carriage, some distant excursion, or riding on horseback for several hours, deriving, the young Princess especially, the greatest benefit from the exhilarating mountain breezes; her health and spirits were indeed excellent, and her growth during this period remarkable.
Perhaps the greatest gala which occurred during this period was the National Eisteddfod, celebrated in Beaumaris Castle; and great was the disappointment to the youthful enthusiast in music, when, on the appointed morning, the rain descended, and the winds blew so chilly and so damp, that the prudence of the royal mother prohibited the promised enjoyment; but the weather cleared up towards the afternoon sufficiently to enable them to partake of the entertainment at Baron Hill, the fine seat of Sir Richard Bulkeley, where their Royal Highnesses gratified the successful candidates by themselves investing them with their respective prizes. The company at the music meeting all adjourned, by the hospitable invitation of Sir Richard, to his grounds, where the ceremony was performed at four o'clock on the terrace in front of the mansion; the young Princess performing her part in it with mingled grace and sweetness, dignity and diffidence. Shortly afterwards, their Royal Highnesses, with their host and hostess, and a numerous party, sat down to dinner, the Princess on this occasion taking her seat at table, as was her constant habit, on the right of her mother. At seven o'clock the assembly broke up to enable the young Princess to reach her temporary home, at the distance of six or seven miles, at an early hour.
Tour in the Midland Counties.
"The visit of the Heiress Presumptive and her illustrious mother aroused to the highest pitch the enthusiasm of devoted loyalty in Cambria. Her beacons blazed--her mountain fires were lighted--her rocks and woods--her hills and valleys rang with the shouts of welcome; never indeed was there witnessed such intensity of feeling as that displayed on every occasion of their Royal Highnesses' public appearance amongst this warm-hearted people. The youthful Princess was of course the principal object of attraction, and the joyous greeting she always met with from the peasantry and the quarrymen, by whom she was styled, 'Y frenines fach' or 'Reinas Bache,' could scarcely be surpassed. The Duchess and her daughter were, on their part, delighted, not only with their reception in the island, but with the variety of interesting objects and lovely scenery with which it presented them; and seemed most anxious to reciprocate in every possible way those sentiments of attachment which they rejoiced to inspire. During their residence of more than two months between Beaumaris and Plas-Newydd, they may literally be said to have gone about continually doing good; and it is difficult to decide whether their munificent acts of charity, or their kind, condescending, and at the same time, dignified, demeanour towards all classes, made the most lasting impression on the minds of the Welsh.
"On Monday, the 15th of October, their Royal Highnesses took their departure from this fascinating residence, and at six o'clock in the evening, reached Eaton Hall, near Chester, after a most gratifying journey through Denbighshire and Flintshire. At this magnificent mansion of the Marquis of Westminster, their Royal Highnesses passed Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, during which period the Princess was present at the public ceremony of opening a new bridge over the Dee at Chester, afterwards inspecting this ancient and remarkable city with its venerable Cathedral; took upon herself the responsibility of sponsor, standing godmother in person to the infant daughter of Lord and Lady Robert Grosvenor, who was named after her Victoria-Charlotte; and particularly enjoyed on the last day a delightful archery fete given in the Marquis's grounds, at the conclusion of which she sat down to dinner, served in a style of princely magnificence to two hundred and fifty guests.
"On Friday morning the Duchess and her daughter took leave of the Marquis of Westminster and his family to proceed to Chatsworth, where they remained till the following Wednesday. The Duchess of Kent made use of the opportunity thus afforded, to show the Princess Victoria the extensive cotton manufactories of Messrs. Strutt, at Belper. Her Royal Highness was much interested in the explanations she received of the variety of machinery in use at this establishment; and with her usual fondness for children, was especially delighted with the gladsome countenances and neat appearance of those employed in the manufactory, noticing them repeatedly with expression of the most cordial kindness.
"From Chatsworth their Royal Highnesses made a picturesque day's journey through portions of the romantic counties of Derby and Stafford to Shugborough; they alighted by the way for about two hours at Alton Towers, the seat of the Earl of Shrewsbury, where they partook of luncheon, and viewed the unique gardens and various curiosities of this baronial residence.
"During Thursday and Friday their Royal Highnesses rested at Shugborough Park, the residence of the Earl of Lichfield, by whom they were received with the same liberal hospitality which had greeted them on their preceding visits. The young Princess was shown to the public on the day after her arrival, at a review of the Staffordshire Yeomanry in his Lordship's Park, where thousands had an opportunity of contemplating her engaging countenance and affable manners. It was observed of her here, that although she evidently made an effort to assume an air of becoming dignity, she could not altogether chase from her features an expression of childish satisfaction at the attention she excited and the homage she received.
(To be continued.)
[Note - Part 5 appeared in issue number 6 for 1900; presumably June. No further continuations of this article appear in 1900.]
Proofread June 2011, LNL
|Copyright © 2002-2021 AmblesideOnline. All rights reserved. Use of these resources subject to the terms of our License Agreement.