Queen Victoria / Story of Her Life and Reign, 1819-1901

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QUEEN VICTORIA

STORY OF HER LIFE AND REIGN

1819-1901

[ILLUSTRATION: QUEEN VICTORIA. (From a Photograph by Russell & Son.)]

  ’Her court was pure, her life serene;

     God gave her peace; her land reposed;

     A thousand claims to reverence closed

   In her as Mother, Wife, and Queen.’

TENNYSON.

‘God bless the Queen for all her unwearied goodness! I admire her as a
woman, love her as a friend, and reverence her as a Queen. Her courage,
patience, and endurance are marvellous to me.’

NORMAN MACLEOD.

        ’A Prince indeed,

   Beyond all titles, and a household name,

   Hereafter, through all time, Albert the Good.’

TENNYSON.

PREFACE.

This brief life of Queen Victoria gives the salient features of her reign,
including the domestic and public life, with a glance at the wonderful
history and progress of our country during the past half-century. In the
space at command it has been impossible to give extended treatment. The
history is necessarily very brief, as also the account of the public and
private life, yet it is believed no really important feature of her life
and reign has been omitted.

It is a duty, incumbent on old and young alike, as well as a pleasing
privilege, to mark how freedom has slowly ‘broadened down, from precedent
to precedent,’ and how knowledge, wealth, and well-being are more widely
distributed to-day than at any former period of our history. And this
knowledge can only increase the gratitude of the reader for the golden
reign of Queen Victoria, of whom it has been truly written:

     A thousand claims to reverence closed

     In her as Mother, Wife, and Queen.

CONTENTS.

CHAPTER I.—Reign of Queen Victoria—Outlook of Royalty in 1819—Duke and
Duchess of Kent—Birth of Victoria—Anecdotes.
CHAPTER II.—First Meeting with Prince Albert—Death of William
IV.—Accession of Queen Victoria—First Speech from the
Throne—Coronation—Life at Windsor—Personal Appearance—Betrothal to
Prince Albert—Income from the Country.
CHAPTER III.—Marriage—Family Habits—Birth of Princess Royal—Queen’s
Views of Religious Training—Osborne and Balmoral—Death of the Duke of
Wellington.
CHAPTER IV.—Chief Public Events, 1837-49—Rebellion in Canada—Opium War
with China—Wars in North-west India—Penny Postage—Repeal of the
Corn-laws—Potato Famine—Free Trade-Chartism.
CHAPTER V.—The Crimean War, 1854-55—Interest of the Queen and Prince
Consort in the suffering Soldiers—Florence Nightingale—Distribution of
Victoria Crosses by the Queen.
CHAPTER VI.—The Indian Mutiny, 1857-58—The Queen’s Letter to Lord
Canning.
CHAPTER VII.—Marriage of the Princess Royal—Twenty-first Anniversary of
Wedding-day—Death of the Prince-Consort.
CHAPTER VIII.—Death of Princess Alice—Illness of Prince of Wales—The
Family of the Queen—Opening of Indian Exhibition and Imperial
Institute—Jubilee—Death of Duke of Clarence—Marriage of Princess May.
CHAPTER IX.—The Queen as an Artist and Author—In her Holiday
Haunts—Norman Macleod—Letter to Mr Peabody—The Queen’s
Drawing-room—Her pet Animals—A Model Mistress—Diamond Jubilee—Death of
the Queen.
CHAPTER X.—Summary of Public Events and Progress of the Nation.

CHAPTER I.

Reign of Queen Victoria—Outlook of Royalty in 1819—Duke and Duchess of

Kent—Birth of Victoria—Wisely trained by Duchess of Kent—Taught by

Fräulein Lehzen—Anecdotes of this Period—Discovers that she is next to

the Throne.

The reign of Queen Victoria may be aptly described as a period of progress
in all that related to the well-being of the subjects of her vast empire.
In every department of science, literature, politics, and the practical
life of the nation, there has been steady improvement and progress. Our
ships circumnavigate the globe and do the chief carrying trade of the
world. The locomotive binds industrial centres, and abridges time and
space as it speeds along its iron pathway; whilst steam-power does the
work of thousands of hands in our large factories. The telegraph links us
to our colonies, and to the various nationalities of the world, in
commerce and in closer sympathy; and never was the hand and heart of
Benevolence busier than in this later period of the nineteenth century.
Our colonial empire has shared also in the welfare and progress of the
mother-country.

When we come to look into the lives of the Queen and Prince-Consort, we
are thankful for all they have been and done. The wider our survey of
history, and the more we know of other rulers and courts, the more
thankful we shall be that they have been a guiding and balancing power,
allied to all that was progressive, noble, and true, and for the benefit
of the vast empire over which Her Majesty reigns. And the personal example
has been no less valuable in

     Wearing the white flower of a blameless life,

     Before a thousand peering littlenesses,

     In that fierce light which heats upon a throne,

     And blackens every blot.

In the year 1819 the family outlook of the British royal house was not a
very bright one. The old king, George III., was lingering on in deep
seclusion, a very pathetic figure, blind and imbecile. His son the Prince
Regent, afterwards George IV., had not done honour to his position, nor
brought happiness to any connected with him. Most of the other princes
were elderly men and childless; and the Prince-Regent’s only daughter, the
Princess Charlotte, on whom the hopes of the nation had rested, and whose
marriage had raised those hopes to enthusiasm, was newly laid in her
premature grave.

But almost immediately after Princess Charlotte’s death, the king’s third
and fourth sons, the Dukes of Clarence and Kent, had married. Of the Duke
of Clarence we need say little more. He and his consort eventually reigned
as William IV. and Queen Adelaide, and they had two children who died in
earliest infancy, and did not further complicate the succession to the
crown.

The Duke of Kent, born in 1767, fourth son of George III.—a tall, stately
man, of soldierly hearing, inclined to corpulency and entirely
bald—married the widowed Princess of Leiningen, already the mother of a
son and a daughter by her first husband. The duke was of active, busy
habits; and he was patron of many charitable institutions—he presided
over no less than seventy-two charity meetings in 1816. Baron Stockmar
describes the Princess of Leiningen after her marriage in 1818, as ‘of
middle height, rather large, but with a good figure, with fine brown eyes
and hair, fresh and youthful, naturally cheerful and friendly; altogether
most charming and attractive. She was fond of dress, and dressed well and
in good taste. Nature had endowed her with warm feelings, and she was
naturally truthful, affectionate, and unselfish, full of sympathy, and
generous.’ The princely pair lived in Germany until the birth of a child
was expected, when the duke at first thought of taking a house in
Lanarkshire—which would have made Queen Victoria by birth a Scotchwoman.
Eventually, the Duke and Duchess of Kent took up their abode in Kensington
Palace.

On the 24th May 1819, their daughter was born, and she was named
Alexandrina Victoria, after the reigning Emperor of Russia and her mother.
The Prince Regent had wished the name of Georgiana; her own father wished
to call her Elizabeth. The little one was the first of the British royal
house to receive the benefits of Jenner’s discovery of vaccination. The
Duke of Kent was so careful of his little girl that he took a cottage at
Sidmouth to escape the London winter. To a friend he wrote: ‘My little
girl thrives under the influence of a Devonshire climate, and is, I am
delighted to say, strong and healthy; too healthy, I fear, in the opinion
of some members of my family, by whom she is regarded as an intruder.’
Next winter the Duke came in one day, after tramping through rain and
snow, and played with his little child while in his damp clothes; he thus
contracted a chill from which he never rallied, and died January 23, 1820.

This child was destined to be the Empress-Queen, on whose dominion the sun

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