Queen Emma, Hawaii, Antebellum

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Queen Emma

While working on my novel Eighth Wonder this morning, I discovered I needed to research some information on Mark Twain, and during the course of my internet surfing I came across this fascinating royal, whom Mark Twain met and wrote about in an article published in an antebellum Hawaiin newspaper.

Life

Early years

Queen Emma was born on January 2, 1836 in Honolulu and was often called Emalani (“royal Emma”). Her father was High Chief George Naʻea and her mother was High Chiefess Fanny Kekelaokalani Young.[1] She was adopted under the Hawaiian tradition of hānai by her childless maternal aunt, chiefess Grace Kamaʻikuʻi Young Rooke, and her husband, Dr. Thomas C.B. Rooke.

Emma’s father Naʻea was the son of High Chief Kamaunu and High Chiefess Kukaeleiki.[2] Kukaeleiki was daughter of Kalauawa, a Kauaʻi noble, and she was a cousin of Queen Keōpūolani, the most sacred wife of Kamehameha I. Among Naʻea’s more notable ancestors were Kalanawaʻa, a high chief of Oʻahu, and High Chiefess Kuaenaokalani, who held the sacred kapu rank of Kekapupoʻohoʻolewaikala (so sacred that she could not be exposed to the sun except at dawn).[3]:4

On her mother’s side, Emma was the granddaughter of John Young, Kamehameha I’s British-born military advisor known as High Chief Olohana, and Princess Kaʻōanaʻeha Kuamoʻo.[4] Her maternal grandmother, Kaʻōanaʻeha, was generally called the niece of Kamehameha I. Chiefess Kaʻōanaʻeha’s father is disputed; some say she was the daughter of Prince Keliʻimaikaʻi, the only full brother of Kamehameha; others state Kaʻōanaʻeha’s father was High Chief Kaleipaihala-Kalanikuimamao.[5][6] This confusion is due to the fact that High Chiefess Kalikoʻokalani, the mother of Kaʻōanaʻeha, married both to Keliʻimaikaʻi and to Kaleipaihala. Through High Chief Kaleipaihala-Kalanikuimamao she could be descended from Kalaniʻopuʻu, King of Hawaii before Kiwalaʻo and Kamehameha. King Kalākaua and Queen Liliʻuokalani criticized Queen Emma’s claim of descent from Kamehameha’s brother, supporting the latter theory of descent. Liliʻuokalani claimed that Keliʻimaikaʻi had no children, and that Kiilaweau, Keliʻimaikaʻi’s first wife, was a man.[7]:404 This was to strengthen their claim to the throne, since their great-grandfather was Kamehameha I’s first cousin. But even through the second line Queen Emma would still have been descendant of Kamehameha I’s first cousin since Kalaniʻopuʻu was the uncle of Kamehameha I. It can be noted that one historian of the time, Samuel Kamakau, supported Queen Emma’s descent from Keliʻimaikaʻi.[3]:357-358

Emma grew up at her foster parents’ English mansion, the Rooke House, in Honolulu. Emma was educated at the Royal School, which was established by American missionaries. Other Hawaiian royals attending the school included Emma’s half-sister Mary Paʻaʻāina. Like her classmates Bernice Pauahi Bishop, David Kalākaua and Lydia Liliʻuokalani, Emma was cross-cultural — both Hawaiian and Euro-American in her habits. But she often found herself at odds with her peers. Unlike many of them, she was neither romantic nor prone to hyperbole.[citation needed] When the school closed, Dr. Rooke hired an English governess, Sarah Rhodes von Pfister, to tutor the young Emma. He also encouraged reading from his extensive library. As a writer, he influenced Emma’s interest in reading and books. By the time she was 20, she was an accomplished young woman. She was 5′ 2″ and slender, with large black eyes. Her musical talents as a vocalist, pianist and dancer were well known. She was also a skilled equestrian.

Friends

Emma had many friends, a cosmopolitan group that included non-Hawaiians, hapa-haole (mixed race) and kānaka maoli (full blooded Hawaiians), who were mostly people she had met in her school days and her reign as Queen Consort. Prior to her education at Royal School, Emma had no childhood friends besides her cousin Peter Kaeo.[3]:67

  • Princess Victoria Kamāmalu, two years younger than Emma, had been friends with her since school days. Their friendship grew after Emma became Victoria’s sister-in-law. Like Emma, she was a talented singer and pianist, and a devout Christian (although she was Calvinist and Emma was Anglican). Emma spent more time with Victoria than any other friend, since they attended the same family and official functions.
  • High Chiefess Elizabeth Kekaaniau Pratt, a quarter Caucasian like Emma, was Emma’s roommate at Royal School. Emma referred to her as her “cousin Lizzy” since they were third cousins. They were born in the same year, but she outlived Emma by forty-three years. Elizabeth was a bridesmaid at Emma’s wedding and frequently was a lady-in-waiting.[8]
  • Lucy Kaopauli Kalanikiekie Peabody, four years Emma’s junior, served as one of Emma’s maids-of-honor. Her mother was Elizabeth K. Davis, daughter of George H. Davis, son of Isaac Davis, the companion in arms of Emma’s grandfather, John Young. Emma’s father, Dr. Rooke, was once involved in a business partnership with Lucy’s father, Dr. Parker Peabody, an American physician.
  • Mary Pitman, one of the queen’s bridesmaids, was her first cousin. Mary’s mother was the Chiefess Kinoʻole o Liliha from the Olaʻa region of Hawaii island, and the daughter of High Chief Hoʻolulu who concealed the bones of Kamehameha I in a secret hiding place. Mary’s father was American businessman Benjamin Pitman.
  • Rebecca Gregg’s friendship developed out of the relationship that her husband had as an adviser and later minister to the king in spite of the king’s opposition to annexation by the United States. The Greggs were often guests in Kailua-Kona on Hawaii island and at their Nuʻuanu summer house. Rebecca was frequently present at court functions and a companion for rides with court ladies. She even named one of her daughters Emma.[3]:68
  • Cornelia Hamlin, Gregg’s niece from California, accompanied them to Hawaii in 1853. She also accompanied the Greggs on their first audience with King Kamehameha II when they met Prince Alexander for the first time. It must have been shortly thereafter that Cornelia met Emma and became a close friend. When Cornelia married Captain William Babcock (a whaler) in Jan. 1857, both the king and queen attended the wedding. The king even gave away the bride. Gregg described Cornelia as being the “Queen’s most intimate friend”.
  • Annie S. Parke, five years Emma’s senior, had easy access to the court because of her husband’s position. William Parke served both Kamehameha II and Alexander Liholiho as the kingdom’s marshal, until 1884. Annie chose the wedding trousseau for Emma and a wardrobe for Victoria on her trip to the U.S. mainland a few months before the wedding.
  • Alice Brown was the niece of Sarah Von Pfister, Emma’s childhood governess. Her father was Thomas Brown, the royal gardener at Windsor Castle before he moved to Hawaii in 1844. Alice was an Anglican, devoted to her faith and to helping the poor and the sick. These qualities must have attracted Emma to Alice.

Emma had other female friends, such as Bernice Pauahi, her third cousin and schoolmate; Ruth Keʻelikōlani, her half-sister-in-law; Juliette Cooke, her old teacher; Sarah Von Pfister, her governess; Lydia Kamakaeha and Kapiʻolani, before 1874.

Close male friends included her cousin Peter Kaeo, who was diagnosed with leprosy; David Kalākaua, a classmate from school; Prince Lot, an old classmate and her brother-in-law; David Gregg, the American Commissioner; and Robert Crichton Wyllie, the minister of foreign affairs.[3]:69

Married life and reign

Emma and Queen Victoria silver christening cup

Emma became engaged to the king of Hawaii, Alexander Liholiho. At the engagement party, a Hawaiian charged that Emma’s Caucasian blood made her unfit to be the Hawaiian queen; her lineage was not suitable enough to be Alexander Liholiho’s bride. On June 19, 1856, she married Alexander Liholiho, who a year earlier had assumed the throne as Kamehameha IV. He was also fluent in both Hawaiian and English. Two years later on May 20, 1858 Emma gave birth to a son, Prince Albert Edward Kamehameha.

During her reign, the queen tended palace affairs, including the expansion of the palace library. During her reign and after, she was known for her humanitarian efforts. Inspired by her adoptive father’s work, she encouraged her husband to establish a public hospital to help the Native Hawaiians who were in decline due to foreign-borne diseases like smallpox. In 1859, Emma established Queen’s Hospital and visited patients there almost daily whenever she was in residence in Honolulu. It is now called the Queen’s Medical Center.

Prince Albert, who was always called “Baby” by Emma, had been celebrated for days at his birth and every public appearance. Mary Allen, wife of the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court Elisha Hunt Allen, had a son Frederick about the same age, and they became playmates. In 1862, Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom agreed to become godmother by proxy, and sent an elaborate silver christening cup. Before the cup could arrive, the prince fell ill in August and condition worsened. The Prince died on August 27, 1862. Her husband died a year later, and Emma would not have any more children.[9]

[edit] Names

After her son’s death and before her husband’s death, she was referred to as “Kaleleokalani”, or “flight of the heavenly one”. After her husband also died, it was changed into the plural form as “Kaleleolani” , or the “flight of the heavenly ones”. She was baptized into the Anglican faith in October 21, 1862 as “Emma Alexandrina Franis Agnes Lowder Byde Rook Young Kaleleokalani.[3]:152

Queen Emma was also nicknamed “Wahine Holo Lio” in deference to her renowned horsemanship.

[edit] Religious legacy

ceremony under tent

Cornerstone of St. Andrew’s Cathedral layed in 1867

In 1860, Queen Emma and King Kamehameha IV petitioned the Church of England to help establish the Church of Hawaii. Upon the arrival of Anglican bishop Thomas Nettleship Staley and two priests, they both were baptized on October 21, 1862 and confirmed in November 1862. With her husband, she championed the Anglican (Episcopal) church in Hawaii and founded St. Andrew’s Cathedral, raising funds for the building. In 1867 she founded Saint Andrew’s Priory School for Girls.[10] She also laid the groundwork for an Episcopal secondary school for boys originally named for Saint Alban, and later ʻIolani School in honor of her husband. Emma and King Kamehameha IV are honored with a feast day of November 28 on the liturgical calendar of the U.S. Episcopal Church.[11][12]

[edit] Royal Election of 1874

After the death of King Lunalilo, Emma decided to run in the constitutionally-mandated royal election against future King David Kalākaua. She claimed that Lunalilo had wanted her to succeed him, but died before a formal proclamation could be made.

The day after Lunalilo died, Kalākaua declared himself candidate for the throne. The next day Queen Emma did the same. The first real animosity between the Kamehamehas and Kalākaua begun to appear, as he published a proclamation:

” To the Hawaiian Nation.”

“Salutations to You—Whereas His Majesty Lunalilo departed this life at the hour of nine o’clock last night; and by his death the Throne of Hawaii is left vacant, and the nation is without a head or a guide. In this juncture it is proper that we should seek for a Sovereign and Leader, and doing so, follow the course prescribed by Article 22nd of the Constitution. My earnest desire is for the perpetuity of the Crown and the permanent independence of the government and people of Hawaii, on the basis of the equity, liberty, prosperity, progress and protection of the whole people. It will be remembered that at the time of the election of the late lamented Sovereign, I put forward my own claim to the Throne of our beloved country, on Constitutional grounds — and it is upon those grounds only that I now prefer my claims, and call upon you to listen to my call, and request you to instruct your Representatives to consider, and weigh well, and to regard your choice to elect me, the oldest member of a family high in rank in the country. Therefore, I, David Kalakaua, cheerfully call upon you, and respectfully ask you to grant me your support.” D. KALAKAUA
Iolani Palace, Feb. 4, 1874.

Her supporters styled themselves as Emmaites or Queenites and were made up of mostly Hawaiians and British subject of Hawaii.

Queen Emma issued her proclamation the next day:

“To the Hawaiian People:
” Whereas, His late lamented Majesty Lunalilo died on the 3rd of February, 1874, without having publicly proclaimed a Successor to the Throne; and whereas, ” His late Majesty did before his final sickness declare his wish and intention that the undersigned should be his Successor on the Throne of the Hawaiian Islands, and enjoined upon me not to decline the same under any circumstances; and whereas. “Many of the Hawaiian people have since the death of His Majesty urged me to place myself in nomination at the ensuing session of the Legislature; ” Therefore, in view of the foregoing considerations and my duty to the people and to the memory of the late King, I do hereby announce and declare that I am a Candidate for the Throne of these Hawaiian Islands, and I request my beloved people throughout the group, to assemble peacefully ad orderly in their districts, and to give formal expression to their views on this important subject, and to instruct their Representatives in the coming session of the Legislature. “God Protect Hawaii! ” “Honolulu, Feb. 5, 1874.
EMMA KALELEONALANI. “[3]:283

Emma’s candidacy was agreeable to many Native Hawaiians, not only because her husband was a member of the Kamehameha Dynasty, but she was also closer in descent to Hawaii’s first king, Kamehameha The Great, than her opponent. On foreign policy, she (like her husband) were pro-British while Kalākaua was pro-American. She also strongly wished to stop Hawaii’s dependence on American industry and to give the Native Hawaiians a more powerful voice in government. While the people supported Emma, the Legislative Assembly, which actually elected the new monarch, favored Kalākaua, who won the election 39 – 6. News of her defeat caused a large-scale riot, which was eventually dispersed due to the assistance of both British and American troops stationed on warships in Honolulu Harbor.

After the election, she retired from public life. While she would come to recognize Kalākaua as the rightful king, she would never speak with his wife Queen Kapiʻolani.

[edit] As Queen Dowager

After the death of her husband and son, she remained a widow for the rest of her life. Known affectionately as the “Old Queen”, King Kalākaua left a seat for her at any royal occasion, even though she rarely attended. Specific conspicuous events that Emma did not attend were:

  1. Liliʻuokalani’s birthday celebration at Aliʻiolani Hale
  2. Receptions for high foreign officials and guests (including American Admiral Stevens of the USS Pensacola and the new minister of Foreign Affairs)
  3. The laying of the foundation of Lunalilo Home.

Emma would never attend any event with either Liliʻuokalani or Kapiʻolani. This was because Emma had blamed the death of Albert on Queen Kapiʻolani, who was supposed to be the child’s governess.[citation needed]

Despite the great differences in their kingdoms, Queen Emma and Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom became life-long friends; both had lost sons and spouses. They exchanged letters, and Emma traveled to London in 1865 to visit and spend a night at Windsor Castle on November 27. Queen Victoria remarked of Emma, “Nothing could be nicer or more dignified than her manner.”[13]

On her way back, she had a reception given for her on August 14, 1866 by Andrew Johnson at the White House.[14] Some note this as the first time anyone with the title “Queen” had had an official visit to the U.S. presidential residence.[15]

Emma was known to be strongly against republicanism, she was once said:

“We have yet the right to dispose of our country as we wish, and be assured that it will never be to a Republic!”

[edit] Impressions

Queen Emma was warmly received by Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom. The two widow queens sympathize with each other and Queen Victoria recodred in her journal on the afternoon of September 9, 1865:

“After luncheon I received Queen Emma, the widowed Queen of the Sandwich Islands or Hawaii, met her in the Corridor & nothing could be nicer or more dignified than her manner. She is dark, but not more so than an Indian, with fine feathers [features?] & splendid soft eyes. She was dressed in just the same widow’s weeds as I wear. I took her into the White Drawing room, where I asked to sit down next to me on the sofa. She was moved when I spoke to her of her great misfortune in losing her only child. She was very discreet & would only remain a few minutes. She presented her lady, who husband is Chaplain, both being Hawaiians….”[3]:199-200

Isabella Bird, on her travels to Hawaii, met Queen Emma and described her as very British and Hawaiian in many ways:

“Miss W. kindly introduced me to Queen Emma, or Kaleleonalani, the widowed queen of Kamehameha IV., whom you will remember as having visited England a few years ago, when she received great attention. She has one-fourth of English blood in her veins, but her complexion is fully as dark as if she were of unmixed Hawaiian descent, and her features, though refined by education and circumstances, are also Hawaiian; but she is a very pretty, as well as a very graceful woman. She was brought up by Dr. Rooke, an English physician here, and though educated at the American school for the children of chiefs, is very English in her leanings and sympathies, an attached member of the English Church, and an ardent supporter of the “Honolulu Mission.” Socially she is very popular, and her exceeding kindness and benevolence, with her strongly national feeling as an Hawaiian, make her much beloved by the natives.”[16]

in an interview, Kanahele, author of Queen Emma: Hawaii’s remarkable queen said :

“She was different from any of her contemporaries. Emma is Emma is Emma. There’s no one like her. A devout Christian who chose to be baptized in the Anglican church in adulthood, and a typically Victorian woman who wore widow’s weeds, gardened, drank tea, patronized charities and gave dinner parties, she yet remained quintessentially Hawaiian. She wrote exquisite chants of lament in Hawaiian, craved Hawaiian food when she was away from it, loved to fish, hike, ride and camp out (activities she kept up to the end of her life) and, throughout her life, took very seriously her role as a protector of the people’s welfare. In a way, she was a harbinger of things to come in terms of Hawaii’s multi-ethnic, multi-cultural society. You have to be impressed with her eclecticism — spiritually, emotionally and physically. She was kind of our first renaissance queen.”[citation needed]

MARK TWAIN

An Epistle from Mark Twain published in the Daily Hawaiin Herald 1866

San Francisco, Sept. 24th

THE QUEEN’S ARRIVAL.

Queen Emma and suite arrived at noon today in the P. M. S. S. Sacramento, and was received by Mr. Hitchcock, the Hawaiian Consul, and escorted to the Occidental Hotel, where a suite of neatly decorated apartments had been got ready for her. The U. S. Revenue cutter Shubrick went to sea and received the guest with a royal salute of 21 guns, and then escorted her ship to the city; Fort Point saluted again, and the colors of the other fortifications and on board the U. S. war steamer Vanderbilt were dipped as the Sacramento passed. The commander of the fleet in these waters had been instructed to tender the Vanderbilt to Queen Emma to convey her to the Islands when she shall have concluded her visit. the City government worried for days together over a public reception programme, and then, when the time arrived to carry it into execution, failed. But a crowd of gaping American kings besieged the Occidental Hotel and peered anxiously into every carriage that arrived and criticised every woman who emerged from it. Not a lady arrived from the steamer but was taken for Queen Emma, and her personal appearance subjected to remarks – some of them flattering and some otherwise. C. W. Brooks and Jerome Leland, and other gentlemen, are out of pocket and a day’s time, in making preparations all day yesterday for a state reception – but at midnight no steamer had been telegraphed, and so they sent their sumptuous carriages and spirited four-horse teams back to the stables and went to bed in sorrow and disappointment.

The Queen was expected at the public tables at dinner tonight, (in the simplicity of the American heart,) and every lady was covertly scrutinized as she entered the dining room – but to no purpose – Her Majesty dined in her rooms, with her suite and the Consul.

She will be serenaded tonight, however, and tomorrow a numerous cortege will march in procession before the hotel and give her three cheers and a tiger, and then, no doubt, the public will be on hand to see her if she shows herself.

ALPHABET WARREN.

I believe I do not know of anything further to write about that will interest you, except that in Sacramento, a few days ago, when I went to report the horse fair of the State Agricultural Society, I found Mr. John Quincy Adam Warren, late of the Islands, and he was well dressed and looked happy. He had on exhibition a hundred thousand varieties of lave and worms, and vegetables, and other valuables which he had collected in Hawaii-nei. I smiled on him, but he wouldn’t smile back again. I did not mind it a great deal, though I could not help thinking it was ungrateful in him. I made him famous in California with a paragraph which I need not have written unless I wanted to – and this is the thanks I get for it. He would never have been heard of if I had let him alone – and now he declines to smile. I will never do a man a kindness again.

MISCELLANEOUS.

Charles L. Richards, of Honolulu, sails tomorrow for the Islands with a fast team he purchased here.

The steamer Colorado is undergoing the alterations necessary to fit her for the China Mail Company’s service, and will sail about the first of January with about all the cabin passengers she can carry. She will touch at Honolulu, as I now understand. I expect to go out in her, in order to see that everything is done right. commodore Watson is to command her I believe. I am going chiefly, however, to eat the editor of the Commercial Advertiser for saying I do not write the truth about the Hawaiian Islands, and for exposing my highway robbery in carrying off Father Damen’s book – History of the Islands. I shall go there might hungry. Mr. Whitney is jealous of me because I speak the truth so naturally, and he can’t do it without taking the lock-jaw. But he ought not to be jealous; he ought not to try to ruin me because I am more virtuous than his is; I cannot help it – it is my nature to be reliable, just as it is his to be shaky on matters of fact – we cannot alter these natures – us leopards cannot change our spots. Therefore, why growl? – why go and try to make trouble? If he cannot tell when I am writing seriously and when I am burlesquing – if he sits down solemnly and take one of my palpable burlesques and reads it with a funereal aspect, and swallows it as petrified truth, – how am I going to help it? I cannot give him the keen perception that nature denied him – now can I? Whitney knows that. Whitney knows he has done me many a kindness, and that I do not forget it, and am still grateful – and he knows that if I could scour him up so that he could tell a broad burlesque from a plain statement of fact, I would get up in the night and walk any distance to do it. You know that, Whitney. But I am coming down there might hungry – most uncommonly hungry, Whitney.

MARK TWAIN.

Death and legacy

In 1883, Emma suffered the first of several small strokes and died two years later on April 25, 1885 at the age of 49.

At first she was laid in state at her house; but Alexander Cartwright and a few of his friends moved the casket to Kawaiahaʻo Church, saying her house was not large enough for the funeral. This was evidently not popular with those in charge of the church, since it was Congregational; Queen Emma had been a supporter of the Anglican Mission, and was an Episcopalian. Queen Liliʻuokalani said it “…showed no regard for the sacredness of the place”. However, for the funeral service, Bishop Willis of the English Church officiated in the Congregational church with his ritual. She was given a royal procession and was interred in the Royal Mausoleum of Hawaii known as Mauna ʻAla, next to her husband and son.[7]:108–109

The Queen Emma Foundation was set up to provide continuous lease income for the hospital. Its landholding in the division known as the Queen Emma Land Company include the International Marketplace and Waikiki Town Center buildings.[17][18] Some of the 40 year leases expire in 2010.[19] The area known as Fort Kamehameha in World War II, the site of several coastal artillery batteries, was the site of her former beach-front estate. After annexation it was acquired by the U.S. federal government in 1907.[20]

The Emalani festival, Eo e Emalani i Alakaʻi held in October on the island of Kauaʻi in Koke’e State Park celebrates an 1871 visit. [21]

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19th Century Royalty, Queen Victoria, Antebellum Part 5

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A few months later the crisis came. King Leopold determined to make a bold push, and to carry Victoria with him, this time, by a display of royal vigour and avuncular authority. In an abrupt, an almost peremptory letter, he laid his case, once more, before his niece. ” You know from experience,” he wrote, ” that I never ash anything of you. . . . But, as I said before, if we are not careful we may see serious consequences which may affect more or less everybody, and this ought to be the object of our most anxious attention. I remain, my dear Victoria, your affectionate uncle, Leopold R.” l The Queen immediately despatched this letter to Lord Melbourne, who replied with a carefully thought-out form of words, signifying nothing whatever, which, he suggested, she should send to her uncle. She did so, copying out the elaborate formula, with a liberal scattering of ” dear Uncles ” interspersed; and she concluded her letter with a message of ” affectionate love to Aunt Louise and the children.” Then at last King Leopold was obliged to recognise the facts. His next letter contained no reference at all to politics. ” I am glad,” he wrote, ” to find that you like Brighton better than last year. I think Brighton very agreeable at this time of the year, till the east winds set in. The pavilion, besides, is comfortable; that cannot be denied. Before my marriage, it was there that I met the Regent. Charlotte afterwards came with old Queen Charlotte. How distant all this already, but still how present to one’s memory.” Like poor Madame de Lieven, His Majesty felt that he had made a mistake.2

KING LEOPOLD ATTEMPTS AGAIN TO USE AVUNCULAR INFLUENCE

Nevertheless, he could not quite give up all hope. Another opportunity offered, and he made another effort—but there was not very much conviction in it, and it was immediately crushed. ” My dear Uncle,” the Queen wrote, ” I have to thank you for your last letter which I received on Sunday. Though you seem not to dislike my political sparks, I think it is better not to increase them, as they might finally take fire, particularly as I see with regret that upon this one subject we cannot agree. I shall, therefore, limit myself to my expressions of very sincere wishes for the welfare and prosperity of Belgium.” 1 After that, it was clear that there was no more to be said. Henceforward there is audible in the King’s letters a curiously elegiac note. ” My dearest Victoria, your delight fid little letter has just arrived and went like an arrow to my heart. Yes, my beloved Victoria! I do love you tenderly … I love you for yourself, and I love in you the dear child whose welfare I tenderly watched.” He had gone through much; yet, if life had its disappointments, it had its satisfactions too. ” I have all the honours that can be given, and I am, politically speaking, very solidly established.” But there were other things besides politics; there were romantic yearnings in his heart. ” The only longing I still have is for the Orient, where I perhaps shall once end my life, rising in the west and setting in the east.” As for his devotion to his niece, that could never end. ” I never press my services on you, nor my councils, though I may say with some truth that from the extraordinary fate which the higher powers had ordained for me, my experience, both political and of private life, is great. I am always ready to be useful to you when and where it may be, and I repeat it, all I want in return is some little sincere affection from you.” l

that which a powerful jaw betokens; it was a selfwill imperturbable, impenetrable, unintelligent; a self-will dangerously akin to obstinacy. And the obstinacy of monarchs is not as that of other men. 1

THE YOUNG QUEEN AND MOTHER AT ODDS

Within two years of her accession, the stormclouds which, from the first, had been dimly visible on the horizon, gathered and burst. Victoria’s relations with her mother had not improved. The Duchess of Kent, still surrounded by all the galling appearances of filial consideration, remained in Buckingham Palace a discarded figure, powerless and inconsolable. Sir John Conroy, banished from the presence of the Queen, still presided over the Duchess’s household, and the hostilities of Kensington continued unabated in the new surroundings. Lady Flora Hastings still cracked her malicious jokes; the animosity of the Baroness was still unappeased. One day, Lady Flora found the joke was turned against her. Early in 1839, travelling in the suite of the Duchess, she had returned from Scotland in the same carriage with Sir John. A change in her figure became the subject of an unseemly jest; tongues wagged; and the jest grew serious. It was whispered that Lady Flora was with child.1 The state of her health seemed to confirm the suspicion; she consuited Sir James Clark, the royal physician, and, after the consultation, Sir James let his tongue wag, too. On this, the scandal flared up sky-high. Everyone was talking; the Baroness was not surprised; the Duchess rallied tumultuously to the support of her lady; the Queen was informed. At last the extraordinary expedient of a medical examination was resorted to, during which Sir James, according to Lady Flora, behaved with brutal rudeness, while a second doctor was extremely polite. Finally, both physicians signed a certificate entirely exculpating the lady. But this was by no means the end of the business.

THE HASTINGS FAMILY INFLUENCE

The Hastings family, socially a very powerful one, threw itself into the fray with all the fury of outraged pride and injured innocence; Lord Hastings insisted upon an audience of the Queen, wrote to the papers, and demanded the dismissal of Sir James Clark. The Queen expressed her regret to Lady Flora, but Sir James Clark was not dismissed. The tide of opinion turned violently against the Queen and her advisers; high society was disgusted by all this washing of dirty linen in Buckingham Palace; the public at large was indignant at the ill-treatment of Lady Flora. By the end of March, the popularity, so radiant and so abundant, with which the young Sovereign had begun her reign, had entirely disappeared.1

iGreville, IV, 178, and August 15, 1839 (unpublished).

There can be no doubt that a great lack of discretion had been shown by the Court. Ill-natured tittle-tattle, which should have been instantly nipped in the bud, had been allowed to assume disgraceful proportions; and the Throne itself had become involved in the personal malignities of the palace. A particularly awkward question had been raised by the position of Sir James Clark. The Duke of Wellington, upon whom it was customary to fall back, in cases of great difficulty in high places, had been consulted upon this question, and he had given it as his opinion that, as it would be impossible to remove Sir James without a public enquiry, Sir James must certainly stay where he was.2 Probably the Duke was right; but the fact that the peccant doctor continued in the Queen’s service made the Hastings family irreconcilable and produced an unpleasant impression of unrepentant error upon the public mind. As for Victoria, she was very young and quite inexperienced; and she can hardly be blamed for having failed to control an extremely difficult situation.

LORD MELBOURNE

That was clearly Lord Melbourne’s task; he was a man of the world, and, with vigilance and circumspection, he might have quietly put out the ugly flames while they were still smouldering. He did not do so; he was lazy and easy-going; the Baroness was persistent, and he let things slide. But doubtless his position was not an easy one; passions ran high in the palace; and Victoria was not only very young, she was very headstrong, too. Did he possess the magic bridle which would curb that fiery steed? He could not be certain. And then, suddenly, another violent crisis revealed more unmistakably than ever the nature of the mind with which he had to deal. ” Nobody cares for the Queen, her popularity has sunk to zero, and loyalty is a dead letter.” Greville, March 25, 1839; Morning Po*t, September 14, 1839.

2Greville, August 15, 1839 (unpublished).

VII

QUEEN SEPARATED FROM MINISTER

The Queen had for long been haunted by a terror that the day might come when she would be obliged to part with her Minister. Ever since the passage of the Reform Bill, the power of the Whig Government had steadily declined. The General Election of 1837 had left them with a very small majority in the House of Commons; since then, they had been in constant difficulties— abroad, at home, in Ireland; the Radical group had grown hostile; it became highly doubtful how much longer they could survive. The Queen watched the development of events in great anxiety. She was a Whig by birth, by upbringing, by every association, public and private; and, even if those ties had never existed, the mere fact that Lord M. was the head of the Whigs would have amply sufficed to determine her politics. The fall of the Whigs would mean a sad upset for Lord M. But it would have a still more terrible consequence: Lord M. would have to leave her; and the daily, the hourly, presence of Lord M. had ^ become an integral part of her life. Six months after her accession she had noted in her diary ” I shall be very sorry to lose him even for one night “;’ and this f eeling of personal dependence on her Minister steadily increased. In these circumstances it was natural that she should have become a Whig partisan. Of the wider significance of political questions she knew nothing; all she saw was that her friends were in office and about her, and that it would be dreadful if they ceased to be so. ” I cannot say,” she wrote when a critical division was impending, “(though I feel confident of our success) How low, How sad I feel, when I think of the Possibility of this excellent and truly kind man not remaining my Minister! Yet I trust fervently that He who has so wonderfully pro

i Letters, I, 154,

VI

KING LEOPOLD

The correspondence with King Leopold was significant of much that still lay partly hidden in the character of Victoria. Her attitude towards her uncle had never wavered for a moment. To all his advances she had presented an absolutely unyielding front. The foreign policy of England was not his province; it was hers and her Ministers’; his insinuations, his entreaties, his struggles—all were quite useless; and he must understand that this was so. The rigidity of her position was the more striking owing to the respectfulness and the affection with which it was accompanied. From start to finish the unmoved Queen remained the devoted niece. Leopold himself must have envied such perfect correctitude; but what may be admirable in an elderly statesman is alarming in a maiden of nineteen. And privileged observers were not without their fears. The strange mixture of ingenuous light-heartedness and fixed determination, of frankness and reticence, of childishness and pride, seemed to augur a future that was perplexed and full of dangers. As time passed the less pleasant qualities in this curious composition revealed themselves more often and more seriously. There were signs of an imperious, a peremptory temper, an egotism that was strong and hard. It was noticed that the palace etiquette

far from relaxing, grew ever more and more inflexible. By some, this was attributed to Lehzen’s influence; but, if that was so, Lehzen had a willing pupil; for the slightest infringements of the freezing rules of regularity and deference were invariably and immediately visited by the sharp and haughty glances of the Queen.1 Yet Her Majesty’s eyes, crushing as they could be, were less crushing than her mouth. The self-will depicted in those small projecting teeth and that small receding chin was of a more dismaying kind than that which a powerful jaw betokens; it was a selfwill imperturbable, impenetrable, unintelligent; a self-will dangerously akin to obstinacy. And the obstinacy of monarchs is not as that of other men.

19th Century, Queen Victoria, Childhood (pt.4)

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The visits to Claremont were frequent enough; but one day, on a special occasion, she paid one of a rarer and more exciting kind. When she was seven years old, she and her mother and sister were asked by the King to go down to Windsor. George IV, who had transferred his fraternal illtemper to his sister-in-law and her family, had at last grown tired of sulking, and decided to be agreeable. The old rip, bewigged and gouty, ornate and enormous, with his jewelled mistress by his side and his flaunting court about him, received the tiny creature who was one day to hold in those same halls a very different state. ” Give me your little paw,” he said; and two ages touched. Next morning, driving in his phaeton with the Duchess of Gloucester, he met the Duchess of Kent and her child in the Park. ” Pop her in,” were his orders, which, to the terror of the mother and the delight of the daughter, were immediately obeyed. Off they dashed to Virginia Water, where there was a great barge, full of lords and ladies fishing, and another barge with a band; and the King ogled Feodora, and praised her manners, and then turned to his own small niece. ” What is your favourite tune? The band shall play it.” “ God save the King, sir,” was the instant answer. The Princess’s reply has been praised as an early example of a tact which was afterwards famous. But she was a very truthful child, and perhaps it was her genuine opinion.1

In 1827 the Duke of York, who had found some consolation for the loss of his wife in the sympathy of the Duchess of Rutland, died, leaving behind him the unfinished immensity of Stafford House and £200,000 worth of debts. Three years later George IV also disappeared, and the Duke of Clarence reigned in his stead. The new Queen, it was now clear, would in all probability never again be a mother; the Princess Victoria, therefore, was recognised by Parliament as heir-presumptive; and the Duchess of Kent, whose annuity had been doubled five years previously, was now given an additional £10,000 for the maintenance of the Princess, and was appointed regent, in case of the death of the King before the majority of her daughter. At the same time a great convulsion took place in the constitution of the State. The power of the Tories, who had dominated England for more than forty years, suddenly began to crumble. In the tremendous struggle that followed, it seemed for a moment as if the tradition of generations might be snapped, as if the blind tenacity of the reactionaries and the determined fury of their enemies could have no other issue than revolution. But the forces of compromise triumphed: the Reform Bill was passed. The centre of gravity in the constitution was shifted towards the middle classes; the Whigs came into power; and the complexion of the Government assumed a Liberal tinge. One of the results of this new state of affairs was a change in the position of the Duchess of Kent and her daughter. From being the protigies of an opposition clique, they became assets of the official majority of the nation. The Princess Victoria was henceforward the living symbol of the victory of the middle classes.

i Letters, I, 11-12; Lee, 26.

 

The Duke of Cumberland, on the other hand, suffered a corresponding eclipse: his claws had been pared by the Reform Act. He grew insignificant and almost harmless, though his ugliness remained; he was the wicked uncle still—but only of a story.

The Duchess’s own liberalism was not very profound. She followed naturally in the footsteps of her husband, repeating with conviction the catchwords of her husband’s clever friends and the generalisations of her clever brother Leopold. She herself had no pretensions to cleverness; she did not understand very much about the Poor Law and the Slave Trade and Political Economy; but she hoped that she did her duty; and she hoped—she ardently hoped—that the same might be said of Victoria. Her educational conceptions were those of Dr. Arnold, whose views were just then beginning to permeate society. Dr. Arnold’s object was, first and foremost, to make his pupils z “in the highest and truest sense of the words, Christian gentlemen”; intellectual refinements might follow. The Duchess felt convinced that it was her supreme duty in life to make quite sure that her daughter should grow up into a Christian queen. To this task she bent all her energies; and, as the child developed, she flattered herself that her efforts were not unsuccessful. When the Princess was eleven, she desired the Bishops of London and Lincoln to submit her daughter to an examination, and report upon the progress that had been made. ” I feel the time to be now come,” the Duchess explained, in a letter obviously drawn up by her own hand, ” that what has been done should be put to some test, that if anything has been done in error of judgment it may be corrected, and that the plan for the future should be open to consideration and revision. … I attend almost always myself every lesson, or a part; and as the lady about the Princess is a competent person, she assists Her in

King George III

preparing Her lessons, for the various masters, as I resolved to act in that manner so as to be Her Governess myself. . . . When she was at a proper age she commenced attending Divine Service regularly with me, and I have every feeling that she has religion at Her heart, that she is morally impressed with it to that degree, that she is less liable to error by its application to her feelings as a Child capable of reflection.” ” The general bent of Her character,” added the Duchess, ” is strength of intellect, capable of receiving with ease, information, and with a peculiar readiness in coming to a very just and benignant decision on any point Her opinion is asked on. Her adherence to truth is of so marked a character that I feel no apprehension of that Bulwark being broken down by any circumstances.” The Bishops attended at the Palace, and the result of their examination was all that could be wished. ” In answering a great variety of questions proposed to her,” they reported, ” the Princess displayed an accurate knowledge of the most important features of Scripture History, and of the leading truths and precepts of the Christian Religion as taught by the Church of England, as well as an acquaintance with the Chronology and principal facts of English History remarkable in so young a person. To questions in Geography, the use of the Globes, Arithmetic, and Latin Grammar, the answers which the Princess returned were equally satisfactory.” They did not believe that the Duchess’s plan of education was susceptible of any improvement; and the Archbishop of Canterbury, who was also consulted, came to the same gratifying conclusion.1

 

 

One important step, however, remained to be taken. So far, as the Duchess explained to the Bishops, the Princess had been kept in ignorance of the station that she was likely to fill. ” She is aware of its duties, and that a Sovereign should live for others; so that when Her innocent mind receives the impression of Her future fate, she receives it with a mind formed to be sensible of what is to be expected from Her, and it is to be hoped, she will be too well grounded in Her principles to be dazzled with the station she is to look to.”In the following year it was decided that she should be enlightened on this point. The wellknown scene followed: the history lesson, the genealogical table of the Kings of England slipped beforehand by the governess into the book, the

Princess’s surprise, her inquiries, her final realisation of the facts. When the child at last understood, she was silent for a moment, and then she spoke: ” I will be good,” she said. The words / were something more than a conventional protestation, something more than the expression of a superimposed desire; they were, in their limitation and their intensity, their egotism and their humility, an instinctive summary of the dominating qualities of a life. ” I cried much on learning it,” her Majesty noted long afterwards. No doubt, while the others were present, even her dear Lehzen, the little girl kept up her self-command; and then crept away somewhere to ease her heart of an inward, unfamiliar agitation, with a handkerchief, out of her mother’s sight.1

But her mother’s sight was by no means an easy thing to escape. Morning and evening, day and night, there was no relaxation of the maternal vigilance. The child grew into the girl, the girl into the young woman; but still she slept in her mother’s bedroom; still she had no place allowed her where she might sit or work by herself.2 An extraordinary watchfulness surrounded her every step: up to the day of her accession, she never went downstairs without someone beside her holding her hand.1 Plainness and regularity ruled the household. The hours, the days, the years passed slowly and methodically by. The dolls—the innumerable dolls, each one so neatly dressed, each one with its name so punctiliously entered in the catalogue—were laid aside, and a little music and a little dancing took their place. Taglioni came, to give grace and dignity to the figure,2 and Lablache, to train the piping treble upon his own rich bass. The Dean of Chester, the official preceptor, continued his endless instruction in Scripture history, while the Duchess of Northumberland, the official governess, presided over every lesson with becoming solemnity. Without doubt, the Princess’s main achievement during her schooldays was linguistic. German was naturally the first language with which she was familiar; but English and French quickly followed; and she became virtually trilingual, though her mastery of English grammar remained incomplete. At the same time, she acquired a working knowledge of Italian and some smattering of Latin. Nevertheless, she did not read very much. It was not an occupation that she cared for; partly, perhaps, because the books that were given her were all either sermons, which were very dull, or poetry, which was incomprehensible. Novels were strictly forbidden. Lord Durham persuaded her mother to get her some of Miss Martineau’s tales, illustrating the truths of Political Economy, and they delighted her; but it is to be feared that it was the unaccustomed pleasure of the story that filled her mind, and that she never really mastered the theory of exchanges or the nature of rent.1

i Martin, I, 13. 2 Letters, I, 11.

 

i Girlhood, I, 42, * Crawford, 87.

 

It was her misfortune that the mental atmosphere which surrounded her during these years of adolescence was almost entirely feminine. No father, no brother, was there to break in upon the gentle monotony of the daily round with impetuosity, with rudeness, with careless laughter and wafts of freedom from the outside world. The Princess was never called by a voice that was loud and growling; never felt, as a matter of course, a hard rough cheek on her own soft one; never climbed a wall with a boy. The visits to Claremont —delicious little escapes into male society—came to an end when she was eleven years old and Prince Leopold left England to be King of the Belgians. She loved him still; he was still ” il mio secondo padre—or, rather, solo padre, for he is indeed like my real father, as I have none “; but his fatherliness now came to her dimly and indirectly, through the cold channel of correspondence. Henceforward female duty, female elegance, female enthusiasm, hemmed her completely in; and her spirit, amid the enclosing folds, was hardly reached by those two great influences, without which no growing life can truly prosper—humour and imagination. The Baroness Lehzen—for she had been raised to that rank in the Hanoverian nobility by George IV before he died—was the real centre of the Princess’s world. When Feodora married, when Uncle Leopold went to Belgium, the Baroness was left without a competitor. The Princess gave her mother her dutiful regards; but Lehzen had her heart. The voluble, shrewd daughter of the pastor in Hanover, lavishing her devotion on her royal charge, had reaped her reward in an unbounded confidence and a passionate adoration. The girl would have gone through fire for her “precious Lehzen,” the ” best and truest friend,” she declared, that she had had since her birth. Her journal, begun when she was thirteen, where she registered day by day the small succession of her doings and her sentiments, bears on every page of it the traces of the Baroness and her circumambient influence. The young creature that one sees there, self-depicted in ingenuous clarity, with her sincerity, her simplicity, her quick affections and pious resolutions, might almost have been the daughter of a German pastor herself. Her enjoyments, her admirations, her engouements were of the kind that clothed themselves naturally in underlinings and exclamation marks. ” It was a delightful ride. We cantered a good deal. Sweet Little Rosy Went Beautifully! ! We came home at a ^ past 1. . . . At 20 minutes to 7 we went out to the Opera. . . . Rubini came on and sang a song out of ‘ Anna Boulena’ quite beautifully. We came home at % past 11.”‘ In her comments on her readings, the mind of the Baroness is clearly revealed. One day, by some mistake, she was allowed to take up a volume of memoirs by Fanny Kemble. ” It is certainly very, pertly and oddly written. One would imagine by the style that the authoress must be very pert, and not well bred; for there are so many vulgar expressions in it. It is a great pity that a person endowed with so much talent, as Mrs. Butler really is, should turn it to so little account and publish a book which is so full of trash and nonsense which can only do her harm. I stayed up till 20 minutes past 9.” Madame de Sevigne’s letters, which the Baroness read aloud, met with more approval. “How truly elegant and natural her style is! It

is so full of naivete, cleverness, and grace.” But her highest admiration was reserved for the Bishop of Chester’s ” Exposition of the Gospel of St. Matthew.” ” It is a very fine book indeed. Just the sort of one I like; which is just plain and comprehensible and full of truth and good feeling. It is not one of those learned books in which you have to cavil at almost every paragraph. Lehzen gave it me on the Sunday that I took the Sacrament.” 1 A few weeks previously she had been confirmed, and she described the event as follows: “I felt that my confirmation was one of the most solemn and important events and acts in my life; and that I trusted that it might have a salutary effect on my mind. I felt deeply repentant for all what I had done which was wrong and trusted in God Almighty to strengthen my heart and mind; and to forsake all that is bad and follow all that is virtuous and right. I went with the firm determination to become a true Christian, to try and comfort my dear Mamma in all her griefs, trials, and anxieties, and to become a dutiful and affectionate daughter to her. Also to be obedient to dear Lehzen, who has done so much for me. I was dressed in a white lace dress, with a white crape bonnet with a wreath of white roses round it. I went in the chariot with my dear Mamma and the others followed in another carriage.”1 One seems to hold in one’s hand a small smooth crystal pebble, without a flaw and without a scintillation, and so transparent that one can see through it at a glance.

i Girlhood, I, 129.

 

Yet perhaps, after all, to the discerning eye, the purity would not be absolute. The careful searcher might detect, in the virgin soil, the first faint traces of an unexpected vein. In that conventual existence visits were exciting events; and, as the Duchess had many relatives, they were not infrequent; aunts and uncles would often appear from Germany, and cousins too. When the Princess was fourteen she was delighted by the arrival of a couple of boys from Wurtemberg, the Princes Alexander and Ernst, sons of her mother’s sister and the reigning duke. ” They are both extremely tall” she noted; “Alexander is very handsome, and Ernst has a very kind expression. They are both extremely amiable.” And their departure filled her with corresponding regrets. “We saw them get into the barge, and watched them sailing away for some time on the beach. They were so amiable and so pleasant to have in the house; they were always satisfied, always good-humoured; Alexander took such care of me in getting out of the boat, and rode next to me; so did Ernst.” * Two years later, two other cousins arrived, the Princes Ferdinand and Augustus. ” Dear Ferdinand,” the Princess wrote, ” has elicited universal admiration from all parties. . . . He is so very unaffected, and has such a very distinguished appearance and carriage. They are both very dear and charming young men. Augustus is very amiable, too, and, when known, shows much good sense.” On another occasion, “Dear Ferdinand came and sat near me and talked so dearly and sensibly. I do so love him. Dear Augustus sat near me and talked with me, and he is also a dear good young man, and is very handsome.” She could not quite decide which was the handsomer of the two. On the whole, she concluded, ” I think Ferdinand handsomer than Augustus, his eyes are so beautiful, and he has such a lively clever expression; both have such a sweet expression; Ferdinand has something quite beautiful in his expression when he speaks and smiles, and he is so good.” However, it was perhaps best to say that they were ” both very handsome and very dear.”2 But shortly afterwards two more cousins arrived, who threw all the rest into the shade. These were the Princes Ernest and Albert, sons of her mother’s eldest brother, the Duke of Saxe-Coburg. This time the Princess was more particular in her observations. ” Ernest,” she remarked, ” is as tall as Ferdinand and Augustus; he has dark hair, and fine dark eyes and eyebrows, but the nose and mouth are not good; he has a most kind, honest and intelligent expression in his countenance, and has a very good figure. Albert, who is just as tall as Ernest but stouter, is extremely handsome; his hair is about the same colour as mine; his eyes are large and blue, and he has a beautiful nose and a very sweet mouth with fine teeth; but the charm of his countenance is his expression, which is most delightful; c’est a la fois full of goodness and sweetness, and very clever and intelligent.” ” Both my cousins,” she added, ” are so kind and good; they are much more formes and men of the world than Augustus; they speak English very well, and I speak it with them. Ernest will be 18 years old on the 21st of June, and Albert 17 on the 26th of August. Dear Uncle Ernest made me the present of a most delightful Lory, which is so tame that it remains on your hand and you may put your finger into its beak, or do anything with it, without its ever attempting to bite. It is larger than Mamma’s grey parrot.” A little later, ” I sat between my dear cousins on the sofa and we looked at drawings. They both draw very well, particularly Albert, and are both exceedingly fond of music; they play very nicely on the piano. The more I see them the more I am delighted with them, and the more I love them. … It is delightful to be with them; they are so fond of being occupied too; they are quite an example for any young person.” When, after a stay of three weeks, the time came for the young men and their father to return to Germany, the moment of parting was a melancholy one. ” It was our last Happy Happy breakfast, with this dear Uncle and those dearest beloved cousins, whom I do love so Very Very dearly; much more dearly than any other cousins in the world. Dearly as I love Ferdinand, and also good Augustus, I love Ernest and Albert more than them, oh yes, Much more. . . . They have both learnt a good deal, and are very clever, naturally clever, particularly Albert, who is the most reflecting of the two, and they like very much talking about serious and instructive things and yet are so very very merry and gay and happy, like young people ought to be; Albert always used to have some fun and some clever witty answer at breakfast and everywhere; he used to play and fondle Dash so funnily too. . . . Dearest Albert

was playing on the piano when I came down. At 11 dear Uncle, my dearest beloved cousins, and Charles, left us, accompanied by Count Kolowrat. I embraced both my dearest cousins most warmly, as also my dear Uncle. I cried bitterly, very bitterly.” 1 The Princes shared her ecstasies and her italics between them; but it is clear enough where her secret preference lay. ” Particularly Albert “! She was just seventeen; and deep was the impression left upon that budding organism by the young man’s charm and goodness and accomplishments, and his large blue eyes and beautiful nose, and his sweet mouth and fine teeth.

rv King William could not away with his sister-inlaw, and the Duchess fully returned his antipathy. Without considerable tact and considerable forbearance their relative positions were well calculated to cause ill-feeling; and there was very little tact in the composition of the Duchess, and no forbearance at all in that of his Majesty. A bursting, bubbling old gentleman, with quarterdeck gestures, round rolling eyes, and a head like a pineapple, his sudden elevation to the throne after fifty-six years of utter insignificance had almost sent him crazy. His natural exuberance completely got the best of him; he rushed about doing preposterous things in an extraordinary manner, spreading amusement and terror in every direction, and talking all the time. His tongue was decidedly Hanoverian, with its repetitions, its catchwords—” That’s quite another thing! That’s quite another thing!”—its rattling indomitability, its loud indiscreetness. His speeches, made repeatedly at the most inopportune junctures, and filled pell-mell with all the fancies and furies that happened at the moment to be whisking about in his head, were the consternation of Ministers. He was one part blackguard, people said, and three parts buffoon; but those who knew him better could not help liking him—he meant well; and he was really good-humoured and kind-hearted, if you took him the right way. If you took him the wrong way, however, you must look out for squalls, as the Duchess of Kent discovered.

i Girlhood, I, 157-61.

 

She had no notion of how to deal with him— could not understand him in the least. Occupied with her own position, her own responsibilities, her duty, and her daughter, she had no attention to spare for the peppery susceptibilities of a foolish, disreputable old man. She was the mother of the heiress of England; and it was for him to recognise the fact—to put her at once upon a proper footing—to give her the precedence of a dowager Princess of Wales, with a large annuity from the privy purse.1 It did not occur to her that such pretensions might be galling to a king who had no legitimate child of his own, and who yet had not altogether abandoned the hope of having one. She pressed on, with bulky vigour, along the course she had laid out. Sir John Conroy, an Irishman with no judgment and a great deal of self-importance, was her intimate counsellor, and egged her on. It was advisable that Victoria should become acquainted with the various districts of England, and through several summers a succession of tours—in the West, in the Midlands, in Wales—were arranged for her. The intention of the plan was excellent, but its execution was unfortunate. The journeys, advertised in the Press, attracting enthusiastic crowds, and involving official receptions, took on the air of royal progresses. Addresses were presented by loyal citizens; the delighted Duchess, swelling in sweeping feathers and almost obliterating the diminutive Princess, read aloud, in her German accent, gracious replies prepared beforehand by Sir John, who, bustling and ridiculous, seemed to be mingling the roles of major-domo and Prime Minister. Naturally the King fumed over his newspaper at Windsor. ” That woman is a nuisance !” he exclaimed. Poor Queen Adelaide, amiable though disappointed, did her best to smooth things down, changed the subject, and wrote affectionate letters to Victoria; but it was useless. News arrived that the Duchess of Kent, sailing in the Solent, had insisted that whenever her yacht appeared it should be received by royal salutes from all the men-of-war and all the forts. The King declared that these continual poppings must cease; the Premier and the First Lord of the Admiralty were consulted; and they wrote privately to the Duchess, begging her to waive her rights. But she would not hear of it; Sir John Conroy was adamant. ” As her Royal Highness’s confidential adviser/’ he said, ” I cannot recommend her to give way on this point.” Eventually the King, in a great state of excitement, issued a special Order in Council, prohibiting the firing of royal salutes to any ships except those which carried the reigning sovereign or his consort on board.1

 

i GrevUle, II, 195-6.

 

When King William quarrelled with his Whig Ministers the situation grew still more embittered, for now the Duchess, in addition to her other shortcomings, was the political partisan of his enemies. In 1836 he made an attempt to prepare the ground for a match between the Princess Victoria and one of the sons of the Prince of Orange, and at the same time did his best to prevent the visit of the young Coburg princes to Kensington. He failed in both these objects; and the only result of his efforts was to raise the anger of the King of the Belgians, who, forgetting for a moment his royal reserve, addressed an indignant letter on the subject to his niece. ” I am really astonished” he wrote, ” at the conduct of your old Uncle the King; this invitation of the Prince of Orange and his sons, this forcing him on others, is very extraordinary. . . . Not later than yesterday I got a half-official communication from England, insinuating that it would be highly desirable that the visit of your relatives should not take place this year—qu’en dites-vous? The relations of the Queen and the King, therefore, to the God-knowswhat degree, are to come in shoals and rule the land, when your relations are to be forbidden the country, and that when, as you know, the whole of your relations have ever been very dutiful and kind to the King. Really and truly I never heard or saw anything like it, and I hope it will a Utile

rouse your spirit; now that slavery is even abolished in the British Colonies, I do not comprehend why your lot alone should be to be kept a white little slavey in England, for the pleasure of the Court, who never bought you, as I am not aware of their ever having gone to any expense on that head, or the King’s ever having spent a sixpence for your existence. . . . Oh, consistency and political or other honesty, where must one look for you!”1

Shortly afterwards King Leopold came to England himself, and his reception was as cold at Windsor as it was warm at Kensington. ” To hear dear Uncle speak on any subject,” the Princess wrote in her diary, ” is like reading a highly instructive book; his conversation is so enlightened, so clear. He is universally admitted to be one of the first politicians now extant. He speaks so mildly, yet firmly and impartially, about politics. Uncle tells me that Belgium is quite a pattern for its organisation, its industry, and prosperity; the finances are in the greatest perfection. Uncle is so beloved and revered by his Belgian subjects, that it must be a great compensation for all his extreme trouble.”2 But her other uncle by no means shared her sentiments. He could not, he said, put up with a water-drinker; and King Leopold would touch no wine. “What’s that you’re drinking, sir?” he asked him one day at dinner. “Water, sir.” “God damn it, sirl” was the rejoinder. ” Why don’t you drink wine? I never allow anybody to drink water at my table.” 1

iLetters, I, 47-8. z Girlhood, I, 168.

 

It was clear that before very long there would be a great explosion; and in the hot days of August it came. The Duchess and the Princess had gone down to stay at Windsor for the King’s birthday party, and the King himself, who was in London for the day to prorogue Parliament, paid a visit at Kensington Palace in their absence. There he found that the Duchess had just appropriated, against his express orders, a suite of seventeen apartments for her own use. He was extremely angry, and, when he returned to Windsor, after greeting the Princess with affection, he publicly rebuked the Duchess for what she had done. But this was little to what followed. On the next day was the birthday banquet; there were a hundred guests; the Duchess of Kent sat on the King’s right hand, and the Princess Victoria opposite. At the end of the dinner, in reply to the toast of the King’s health, he rose, and, in a long, loud, passionate speech, poured out the vials of his wrath upon the Duchess. She had, he declared, insulted him—grossly and continually; she had kept the Princess away from him in the most improper manner; she was surrounded by evil advisers, and was incompetent to act with propriety in the high station which she filled; but he would bear it no longer; he would have her to know he was King; he was determined that his authority should be respected; henceforward the Princess should attend at every Court function with the utmost regularity; and he hoped to God that his life might be spared for six months longer, so that the calamity of a regency might be avoided, and the functions of the Crown pass directly to the heiress-presumptive instead of into the hands of the ” person now near him,” upon whose conduct and capacity no reliance whatever could be placed. The flood of vituperation rushed on for what seemed an interminable period, while the Queen blushed scarlet, the Princess burst into tears, and the hundred guests sat aghast. The Duchess said not a word until the tirade was over and the company had retired; then in a tornado of rage and mortification, she called for her carriage and announced her immediate return to Kensington. It was only with the utmost difficulty that some show of a reconciliation was patched up, and the outraged lady was prevailed upon to put off her departure till the morrow.1

iGreville, III, 377.

 

 

Her troubles, however, were not over when she had shaken the dust of Windsor from her feet. In her own household she was pursued by bitterness and vexation of spirit. The apartments at Kensington were seething with subdued disaffection, with jealousies and animosities virulently intensified by long years of propinquity and spite.

There was a deadly feud between Sir John Conroy and Baroness Lehzen. But that was not all. The Duchess had grown too fond of her Major-Domo. There were familiarities, and one day the Princess Victoria discovered the fact. She confided what she had seen to the Baroness, and to the Baroness’s beloved ally, Madame de Spath. Unfortunately, Madame de Spath could not hold her tongue, and was actually foolish enough to reprove the Duchess; whereupon she was instantly dismissed. It was not so easy to get rid of the Baroness. That lady, prudent and reserved, maintained an irreproachable demeanour. Her position was strongly entrenched; she had managed to secure the support of the King; and Sir John found that he could do nothing against her. But henceforward the household was divided into two camps.1 The Duchess supported Sir John with all the abundance of her authority; but the Baroness, too, had an adherent who could not be neglected. The Princess Victoria said nothing, but she had been much attached to Madame de Spath, and she adored her Lehzen. The Duchess knew only too well that in this horrid embroilment her daughter was against her. Chagrin, annoyance, moral reprobation, tossed her to and fro. She did her best to console herself with Sir John’s affectionate loquacity, or with the sharp remarks of Lady Flora Hastings, one of her maids of honour, who had no love for the Baroness. The subject lent itself to satire; for the pastor’s daughter, with all her airs of stiff superiority, had habits which betrayed her origin. Her passion for carraway seeds, for instance, was uncontrollable. Little bags of them came over to her from Hanover, and she sprinkled them on her bread and butter, her

III, 374-6.

 

iGreville, IV, 21; and August 15, 1839 (unpublished). “The cause of the Queen’s alienation from the Duchess and hatred of Conroy, the Duke [of Wellington] said, was unquestionably owing to her having witnessed some familiarities between them. What she had seen she repeated to Baroness Spaeth, and Spaeth not only did not hold her tongue, but (he thinks) remonstrated with the Duchess herself on the subject. The consequence was that they got rid of Spaeth, and they would have got rid of Lehzen, too, if they had been able, but Lehzen, who knew very well what was going on, was prudent enough not to commit herself, and she was, besides, powerfully protected by George IV and William IV, so that they did not dare to attempt to expel her.”

cabbage, and even her roast beef. Lady Flora could not resist a caustic observation; it was repeated to the Baroness, who pursed her lips in fury; and so the mischief grew.1

v The King had prayed that he might live till his niece was of age; and a few days before her eighteenth birthday—the date of her legal majority— a sudden attack of illness very nearly carried him off. He recovered, however, and the Princess was able to go through her birthday festivities—a state ball and a drawing-room—with unperturbed enjoyment. ” Count Zichy,” she noted in her diary, ” is very good-looking in uniform, but not in plain clothes. Count Waldstein looks remarkably well in his pretty Hungarian uniform.”2 With the latter young gentleman she wished to dance, but there was an insurmountable difficulty. ” He could not dance quadrilles, and, as in my station I unfortunately cannot valse and gallop, I could not dance with him.” s Her birthday present from the King was of a pleasing nature, but it led to a painful domestic scene. In spite of the anger of her Belgian uncle, she had remained upon good terms with her English one. He had always been very kind to her, and the fact that he had quarrelled with her mother did not appear to be a reason for disliking him. He was, she said, ” odd, very odd and singular,” but ” his intentions were often ill interpreted.” 1 He now wrote her a letter, offering her an allowance of £10,000 a year, which he proposed should be at her own disposal, and independent of her mother. Lord Conyngham, the Lord Chamberlain, was instructed to deliver the letter into the Princess’s own hands. When he arrived at Kensington, he was ushered into the presence of the Duchess and the Princess, and, when he produced the letter, the Duchess put out her hand to take it. Lord Conyngham begged her Royal Highness’s pardon, and repeated the King’s commands. Thereupon the Duchess drew back, and the Princess took the letter. She immediately wrote to her uncle, accepting his kind proposal. The Duchess was much displeased; £4000 a year, she said, would be quite enough for Victoria; as for the remaining £6000, it would be only proper that she should have that herself.*

iGreville, IV, 21; Crawford, 128-9. * Girlhood, I, 192-3.

a Ibid., I, 191.

 

King William had thrown off his illness, and returned to his normal life. Once more the royal circle at Windsor—their Majesties, the elder Princesses, and some unfortunate Ambassadress or Minister’s wife—might be seen ranged for hours round a mahogany table, while the Queen netted a purse, and the King slept, occasionally waking from his slumbers to observe ” Exactly so, ma’am, exactly so! “1 But this recovery was of short duration. The old man suddenly collapsed; with no specific symptoms besides an extreme weakness, he yet showed no power of rallying; and it was clear to everyone that his death was now close at hand. All eyes, all thoughts, turned towards the Princess Victoria; but she still remained, shut away in the seclusion of Kensington, a small, unknown figure, lost in the large shadow of her mother’s domination. The preceding year had in fact been an important one in her development. The soft tendrils of her mind had for the first time begun to stretch out towards unchildish things. In this King Leopold encouraged her. After his return to Brussels, he had resumed his correspondence in a more serious strain; he discussed the details of foreign politics; he laid down the duties of kingship; he pointed out the iniquitous foolishness of the newspaper press. On the latter subject, indeed, he wrote with some asperity. ” If all the editors,” he said, ” of the papers in the countries

i Girlhood, I, 194. 2 Greville, m, 407-8.

 

• Creevey, II, 262.

 

where the liberty of the press exists were to be assembled, we should have a crew to which you would not confide a dog that you would value, still less your honour and reputation.”l On the functions of a monarch, his views were unexceptionable. ” The business of the highest in a State,” he wrote, ” is certainly, in my opinion, to act with great impartiality and a spirit of justice for the good of all.”2 At the same time the Princess’s tastes were opening out. Though she was still passionately devoted to riding and dancing, she now began to have a genuine love of music as well, and to drink in the roulades and arias of the Italian opera with high enthusiasm. She even enjoyed reading poetry—at any rate, the poetry of Sir Walter Scott.8

When King Leopold learnt that King William’s death was approaching, he wrote several long letters of excellent advice to his niece. ” In every letter I shall write to you,” he said, ” I mean to repeat to you, as a fundamental rule, to be courageous, firm, and honest, as you have been till now.” For the rest, in the crisis that was approaching, she was not to be alarmed, but to trust in her ” good natural sense and the truth ” of her character; she was to do nothing in a hurry; to hurt no one’s amour-propre, and to continue her

i Letters, I, 53. * Letters, I, 61. « Girlhood, I, 175.

 

confidence in the Whig administration.1 Not content with letters, however, King Leopold determined that the Princess should not lack personal guidance, and sent over to her aid the trusted friend whom, twenty years before, he had taken to his heart by the death-bed at Claremont. Thus, once again, as if in accordance with some preordained destiny, the figure of Stockmar is discernible—inevitably present at a momentous hour.

On June 18, the King was visibly sinking. The Archbishop of Canterbury was by his side, with all the comforts of the church. Nor did the holy words fall upon a rebellious spirit; for many years his Majesty had been a devout believer. ” When I was a young man,” he once explained at a public banquet, ” as well as I can remember, I believed in nothing but pleasure and folly—nothing at all. But when I went to sea, got into a gale, and saw the wonders of the mighty deep, then I believed; and I have been a sincere Christian ever since.” 1 It was the anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo, and the dying man remembered it. He should be glad to five, he said, over that day; he would never see another sunset. ” I hope your Majesty may live to see many,” said Dr. Chambers. ” Oh! that’s

quite another thing, that’s quite another thing,” was the answer.1 One other sunset he did live to see; and he died in the early hours of the following morning. It was on June 20, 1837.

When all was over, the Archbishop and the Lord Chamberlain ordered a carriage, and drove post-haste from Windsor to Kensington. They arrived at the Palace at five o’clock, and it was only with considerable difficulty that they gained admittance.2 At six the Duchess woke up her daughter, and told her that the Archbishop of Canterbury and Lord Conyngham were there, and wished to see her. She got out of bed, put on her dressing-gown, and went, alone, into the room where the messengers were standing. Lord Conyngham fell on his knees, and officially announced the death of the King; the Archbishop added some personal details. Looking at the bending, murmuring dignitaries before her, she knew that she was Queen of England. ” Since it has pleased Providence,” she wrote that day in her journal, ” to place me in this station, I shall do my utmost to fulfil my duty towards my country; I am very young, and perhaps in many, though not in all things, inexperienced, but I am sure, that very few have more real good will and more real desire to do what is fit and right than I have.” 1 But there was scant time for resolutions and reflections. At once, affairs were thick upon her. Stockmar came to breakfast, and gave some good advice. She wrote a letter to her uncle Leopold, and a hurried note to her sister Feodora. A letter came from the Prime Minister, Lord Melbourne, announcing his approaching arrival. He came at nine, in full court dress, and kissed her hand. She saw him alone, and repeated to aim the lesson which, no doubt, the faithful Stockmar had taught her at breakfast. ” It has long been my intention to retain your Lordship and the rest of the present Ministry at the head of affairs;” whereupon Lord Melbourne again kissed her hand and shortly after left her. She then wrote a letter of condolence to Queen Adelaide. At eleven, Lord Melbourne came again; and at half-past eleven she went downstairs into the red saloon to hold her first Council.2 The great assembly of lords and notables, bishops, generals, and Ministers of State, saw the doors thrown open and a very short, very slim girl in deep plain mourning come into the room alone and move forward to her seat with extraordinary dignity and grace; they saw a countenance, not beautiful, but prepossessing—fair hair, blue prominent eyes, a small curved nose, an open mouth revealing the upper teeth, a tiny chin, a clear complexion, and, over all, the strangely mingled signs of innocence, of gravity, of youth, and of composure; they heard a high unwavering voice reading aloud with perfect clarity ; and then, the ceremony was over, they saw the small figure rise and, with the same consummate grace, the same amazing dignity, pass out from among them, as she had come in, alone.1