Page images

God in the soul of man." And to this the Prince, if any man, most surely attained.*



The Duke declined to allow the congratulations that were showered on him at the birth of his child (Alexandrina Victoria) to be tempered by regrets that the daughter was not a son. In reply to a letter conceived in this vein from his Chaplain, Dr. Prince, the Duke wrote, " at the same time that I assure you how truly sensible I am of the kind and flattering intentions of those who are prompted to express a degree of disappointment from the circumstance of the child not proving to be a son instead of a daughter, I feel it due to myself to declare that such sentiments are not in unison with my own, for I am decidedly of opinion that the decrees of Providence are at all times wisest and best."'+

The Duchess of Kent made the suitable education of her child the one absorbing object of her life; and she seems to have realized that education does not consist in merely learning facts or acquiring accomplishments, but should also aim at forming the character and disciplining the whole nature, so that it may acquire conscientiousness and the strength which comes from self-government. Keeping this end ever in view, and aided no doubt by a responsiveness in the child's own nature, the little Princess was trained in those habits of strict personal integrity which are the only unfailing safeguard for truthfulness

From The early years of H. R. H. The Prince Consort, by Lieut.-General The Hon. C. Grey.

From M. G. Fawcett's Life of H. M. Queen Victoria.

and fundamental honesty in regard to money and other possessions. All observers who have been brought in personal relationship with the Queen speak of her as possessing one of the most transparently truthful natures they have ever known.*

During the time that she resided at Claremont she was in the habit of taking walks with her illustrious mother in the neighbourhood. In one of these excursions, while walking in a beautiful and shady lane not far from the park, they found themselves close to an encampment of the Egyptian tribe, and had not long been in sight before the youthful princess was addressed by a bright-eyed girl with the usual words—“Tell your fortune, my dear, you were born to good luck : you shall have a lord across the seas now; you shall have seven children and a carriage to ride in,” the poor girl at the time little knowing to whom she addressed herself. The Princess was proceeding with the Duchess of Kent, when the girl asked for a trifle to assist her poor mother, who was very ill; with a heart over touched by the cry of poverty, our interesting Queen quickly desired to be conducted to the poor woman, whom they found extended on a hard and comfortless bed, suffering much. After leaving a donation, they

a departed; but the following morning, notwithstanding its being a day of drizzling rain, saw the charitable young Princess at the gypsy's encampment, followed by an attendant, carrying blankets, warm clothes, a black bonnet, food &c., and appeared in no small degree delighted when the poor woman presented her with a beautiful though swarthy infant, which had been born during the night. The Princess after requesting that the

* From M. G. Fawcett's Life of H. M. Queen Victoria.

little stranger might be christened by the name of her attendant Walter, left them amidst showers of blessings from the tribe.*


The young Princess at eleven years old, had said, when she learned her future destiny, “There is much splendour, but there is more responsibility,” and, lifting her little hand, added, “I will be good.” This gives the key-note to the Queen's character. Her childish resolve I will be good has been the secret of her strength throughout her reign.t

She was instructed in the usual educational subjects, besides, what was then unusual for a girl, Latin, Greek, and Mathematics. From an early age she spoke French and German with fluency; the latter indeed was almost another mother tongue. All her life she has shown delight in languages, and her subjects, especially those in Asia, were very interested to hear that, even in old age, she had begun to make a systematic study of Hindustani. From an early age she acquired considerable proficiency in drawing and music.t

The throne of Victoria is founded in peace,-
Let the air shed around it be pure and serene,-
Let Ocean her fullness and Earth her increase
Pour forth at the virginal feet of our Queen :
The garland of Empire that circles her brow
Be such as the meekest of maids might adorn;
Fresh 'roses, and olive, and myrtle, be now
Entwined with the laurel her fathers have worn,


* From Moral and entertuining anecdotes.
+ From M. G. Fawcett's Life of H. M. Queen Victoria,

Lament not, 0 People ! that fate should entrust
The sceptre of might to so tender a hand;
If strength can be gentle, and meroy be just,
How well for the ruler, how well for the land!

Remember the perils that wait upon Power,
That madden the - wicked, and weaken the wise ;
And be joyful that Innocence holds as a dower
What wilful Ambition might claim as a prize.

But if ever her spirit is faint with alarm
At the duties and dangers that shadow the throne,
The Faith that is in us shall strengthen her arm,
And the Heart of a nation encourage her own!


It is said that when the Archbishop of Canterbury asked the Queen, at her marriage with Prince Albert, whether, she being sovereign, he should omit the word

obey" from the marriage service, she sweetly answered, “ No! I wish to be married not as a Queen but as a woman."

On one occasion, in the early years of her reign, the Minister urged her to sign some document on the grounds of “expediency." She looked up quietly, and said, “ I have been taught to judge between what is right and what is wrong, but expediency' is a

. •

word I neither wish to hear nor to understand.” Another word which she objected to “ trouble." Mrs. Jameson relates that one of the ministers told her that he once carried the Queen some papers to sign, and said something about managing so as to give her Majesty “less trouble.” She looked up from her papers, and said, Pray never let me hear those words again; never


[ocr errors]

mention the word "trouble.' Only tell me how the thing is to be done, and done rightly, and I will do it if I can." This has been her principle throughout her reign : to do her work as well as she knew how to do it, without sparing herself either trouble or responsibility.


When the first warrant for execution was presented to Queen Victoria to sign, she burst into tears. Lord Melbourne said, “ Your Majesty knows that you have the prerogative of mercy.” “Then,” she replied, “let

, the sentence be changed to transportation for life." †

[ocr errors]

Returning to the subject of the influence of the Queen's early education and character, the remarkable degree to which her natural conscientiousness was developed is noticeable in a great variety of directions. Her extreme punctuality is an instance in point. She never wastes the time of others by keeping them waiting for her. Punctuality has been described as of kings,” and it is a courtesy in which the Queen is unfailing. Her care for her servants and household is another manifestation of her conscientiousness.*

“the courtesy

Greville speaks over and over again of the remarkable union she presented of womanly sympathy, girlish naïvete and queenly dignity. He says every one who was about her was warmly attached to her, “but that all feel the impossibility of for a moment losing sight of the respect which they owe her.

She never ceases to be a queen, but is always the most charming, cheerful, obliging, unaffected queen in the world." *

* From M. G. Fawcett's Life of H. M. Queen Victoria.
From Moral and Entertaining anecdotes.

« PreviousContinue »