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QUEEN VICTORIA. HER GIRLHOOD AND WOMANHOOD.
BY GRACE GREENWOOD
A DEDICATORY LETTER
TO CAMILLA TOULMIN (MRS. NEWTON CROSLAND), LINTON LODGE, BLACKHEATH PARK:
Permit me, my dear friend, to inscribe to you this very imperfect Life of your beloved Queen, in remembrance of that dear old time when the world was brighter and more beautiful than it is now (or so it seemeth to me) and things in general were pleasanter;--when better books were written, especially biographies, and there were fewer of them;--when the "gentle reader" and the "indulgent critic" were extant;--when Realism had not shouldered his way into Art;--when there were great actors and actresses of the fine old school, like Macready and the elder Booth--Helen Faucit and Charlotte Cushman; and real orators, like Daniel O'Connell and Daniel Webster;--when there was more poetry and more romance in life than now;-- when it took less silk to make a gown, but when a bonnet was a bonnet;-- when there was less east-wind and fog, more moonlight to the month, and more sunlight to the acre;--when the scent of the blossoming hawthorn was sweeter in the morning, and the song of the nightingale more melodious in the twilight;--when, in short, you and I, and the glorious Victorian era, were young.
I send this book out to the world with many misgivings, feeling that it is not what I would like it to be--not what I could have made it with more time. I have found it especially difficult to procure facts and incidents of the early life of the Queen--just that period which I felt was of most interest to my younger readers. So much was I delayed that for the actual arrangement and culling of my material, and the writing of the volume, I have had less than three months, and during that time many interruptions in my work--the most discouraging caused by a serious trouble of the eyes.
I am aware that the book is written in a free and easy style, partly natural, and partly formed by many years of journalistic work--a style new for the grave business of biographical writing, and which may be startling in a royal biography,--to my English readers, at least. I aimed to make a pleasant, simple fireside story of the life and reign of Queen Victoria--and I hope I have not altogether failed. Unluckily, I had no friend near the throne to furnish me with reliable, unpublished personal anecdotes of Her Majesty.
I have made use of the labor of several English authors; first, of that of the Queen herself, in the books entitled, "Leaves from the Journal of Our Life in the Highlands," and "The Early Years of His Royal Highness the Prince-Consort"; next, of that of Sir Theodore Martin, K.C.B., in his "Life of the Prince-Consort." For this last appropriation I have Sir Theodore Martin's gracious permission. I am much indebted to Hon. Justin McCarthy, in his "History of Our Own Times." I have also been aided by various compilations, and by Lord Ronald Gower's "Reminiscences."
I have long felt that the wonderful story of the life of the Queen of England--of her example as a daughter, wife and mother, and as the honored head of English society could but have, if told simply, yet sympathetically, a happy and ennobling influence on the hearts and minds of my young countrywomen. I have done my work, if lightly, with entire respect, though always as an American and a republican. I could not do otherwise; for, though it has made me in love with a few royal people, it has not made me in love with royalty. I cannot but think that, so far from its being a condition of itself ennobling to human character, those born into it have often to fight to maintain a native nobility,--as Queen Victoria has fought, as Prince Albert fought,--for I find the "blameless Prince" saying: "To my mind the exaltation of royalty is only possible through the personal character of the sovereign."
It suits England, however, "excellent well," in its restricted constitutional form; she has all the venerable, splendid accessories--and I hope "Albert the Good" may have founded a long race of good kings; but it would not do for us;--a race cradled in revolution, and nurtured on irreverence and unbelief, as regards the divine right of kings and the law of primogeniture. To us it seems, though a primitive, an unnatural institution. We find no analogies for it, even in the wildest venture of the New World. It is true the buffalo herd has its kingly commander, who goes plunging along ahead, like a flesh-and-blood locomotive; the drove of wild horses has its chieftain, tossing his long mane, like a banner, in advance of his fellows; even the migratory multitudes of wild-fowl, darkening the autumn heavens, have their general and engineer,--but none of these leaders was born, or hatched into his proud position. They are undoubtedly chosen, elected, or elect themselves by superior will or wisdom. Entomology does, indeed, furnish some analogies. The sagacious bees, the valiant wasps, are monarchists,--but then, they have only queens.
LONDON, _October 20th_, 1883.
PART I. CHILDHOOD AND GIRLHOOD
PART II. WOMANHOOD AND QUEENHOOD
PART III. WIFEHOOD AND MOTHERHOOD
PART IV. WIDOWHOOD
1. THE PRINCESS VICTORIA. 2. QUEEN VICTORIA AT THE AGE OF 18. 3. THE DUCHESS OF KENT, MOTHER OF THE QUEEN. 4. THE QUEEN AT THE AGE OF 64. 5. PRINCE ALBERT, HUSBAND OF THE QUEEN.
CHILDHOOD AND GIRLHOOD.
Sketch of the Princess Charlotte--Her Love for her Mother--Anecdotes--Her Happy Girlhood--Her Marriage with Prince Leopold--Her Beautiful Life at Claremont--Baron Stockmar, the Coburg Mentor--Death of the Princess Charlotte.
It seems to me that the life of Queen Victoria cannot well be told without a prefacing sketch of her cousin, the Princess Charlotte, who, had she lived, would have been her Queen, and who was in many respects her prototype. It is certain, I think, that Charlotte Augusta of Wales, that lovely miracle-flower of a loveless marriage, blooming into a noble and gracious womanhood, amid the petty strifes and disgraceful intrigues of a corrupt Court, by her virtues and graces, by her high spirit and frank and fearless character, prepared the way in the loyal hearts of the British people, for the fair young kinswoman, who, twenty-one years after her own sad death, reigned in her stead.
Through all the bright life of the Princess Charlotte--from her beautiful childhood to her no less beautiful maturity--the English people had regarded her proudly and lovingly as their sovereign, who was to be; they had patience with the melancholy madness of the poor old King, her grandfather, and with the scandalous irregularities of the Prince Regent, her father, in looking forward to happier and better things under a good woman's reign; and after all those fair hopes had been coffined with her, and buried in darkness and silence, their hearts naturally turned to the royal little girl, who might possibly fill the place left so drearily vacant. England had always been happy and prosperous under Queens, and a Queen, please God, they would yet have.
The Princess Charlotte was the only child of the marriage of the Prince Regent, afterwards George IV., with the Princess Caroline of Brunswick, Her childhood was overshadowed by the hopeless estrangement of her parents. She seems to have especially loved her mother, and by the courage and independence she displayed in her championship of that good- hearted but most eccentric and imprudent woman, endeared herself to the English people, who equally admired her pluck and her filial piety--on the maternal side. They took a fond delight in relating stories of rebellion against her august papa, and even against her awful grandmamma, Queen Charlotte. They told how once, when a mere slip of a girl, being forbidden to pay her usual visit to her poor mother, she insisted on going, and on the Queen undertaking to detain her by force, resisted, struggling right valiantly, and after damaging and setting comically awry the royal mob-cap, broke away, ran out of the palace, sprang into a hackney-coach, and promising the driver a guinea, was soon at her mother's house and in her mother's arms. There is another--a Court version of this hackney-coach story--which states that it was not the Queen, but the Prince Regent that the Princess ran away from--so that there could have been no assault on a mob-cap. But the common people of that day preferred the version I have given, as more piquant, especially as old Queen Charlotte was known to be the most solemnly grand of grandmammas, and a personage of such prodigious dignity that it was popularly supposed that only Kings and Queens, with their crowns actually on their heads, were permitted to sit in her presence.
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