THE year 1842 brought with it many sad episodes. Terrible news came from Afghanistan, where "the fatal policy of English interference with the fiery tribes of Northern India in support of an unpopular ruler had ended in the murder of Sir Alexander Burnes and Sir William Macnaghten, and the evacuation of Cabul by the English." Other disasters succeeded, chief amongst which was the destruction of her Majesty's 44th Regiment. The soldiers were cut down almost to a man, and only one individual of the whole British force was able to reach Jellalabad. This was Dr. Brydon, who arrived there, faint and wounded, on the 13th of January.
As the year opened, there was also war with China, which resulted in favor of Great Britain. After the taking of Chin-keang-foo by the British, and the appearance of the squadron before Nankin, hostilities were suspended, and negotiations for peace were entered into and concluded between the Chinese Commissioners and Sir Henry Pottinger.
But the condition of things at home was very serious. Not only was there a continuous fall in the revenue, but an ever-growing agitation throughout the country on the subject of the Corn Laws. Loud and general complaints were heard of depression in all the principal branches of trade, accompanied by distress among the poorer classes; and after all allowance had been made for exaggeration there still remained a real and lamentable amount of misery and destitution. Though the people bore their sufferings with exemplary patience and fortitude, there could be no doubt that they were passing through a period of deep trial and privation.
On the 12th of May the Queen gave a grand bal masque at Buckingham Palace, which is spoken of as ''the Queen's Plantagenet Ball." The object of the ball was to endeavor to give a stimulus to trade in London, which had gradually been getting worse. At the Palace on this brilliant occasion a past age was revived with great picturesqueness and splendor. Her Majesty appeared as Queen Philippa, consort of Edward III, and Prince Albert as Edward III himself; the costumes of those of the Queen's own circle belonging mostly to the same era. Fabulous sums were spent upon dresses, diamonds, and jewels, which could hardly have a direct effect upon the trade of the East End, though they undoubtedly did upon that of the West. Her Majesty's dress, however, was entirely composed of materials manufactured at Spitalfields. In her crown she had only one diamond, but that was a treasure in itself, being valued at £10,000. The leading feature of the ball, according to the journals of the day, was the assemblage and meeting of the Courts of Anne of Brittany and Edward III and Philippa. All the arrangements were made in exact accordance with the customs of the period.
About a fortnight after this pageant a grand ball was given in her Majesty's Theatre for the benefit of the Spitalfields weavers, at which the Queen was present with a brilliant circle. Fancy balls were also given at Stafford House and Apsley House for the same charitable object.
Her Majesty's first visit to Scotland — the land for which she afterward came to entertain such affection — was paid in the year 1842. The Queen and Prince Albert, accompanied by the Duchess of Norfolk and the Earl of Morton, as lady and lord in waiting, and other members of the household, embarked at Woolwich in the "Royal George" yacht. Landing at Granton Pier, they proceeded direct to Dalkeith Palace, the splendid seat of the Duke of Buccleuch. The civic authorities of Edinburgh, who did not anticipate so early an arrival, were not prepared for her Majesty's reception. At night the city was brilliantly illuminated. As the royal visit to the Scottish capital was one of national importance, Edinburgh presented a spectacle such as had never before been witnessed. An immense concourse of people gathered together from all parts of the country, journeying by steamer, rail, and stage coach, while some trudged on foot from the remotest districts of the North.
Her Majesty yielded to the desire for a State procession through Edinburgh. Having taken the city, as it were, by surprise on her first entry, this new arrangement was made to meet the wishes of the people, and to compensate the civic authorities for their disappointment, when they were unable to give the Queen that right royal reception they had prepared for her. The State procession was of a most successful and gratifying character, and was described with great circumstantiality of detail in all the Scotch and English papers.
The Queen set out from Dalkeith Palace about half-past ten o'clock a. m. Around her carriage were the Royal Company of Archers. Her Majesty wore a tartan plaid of the Royal Stuart pattern. As the Queen entered the precincts of the royal grounds a salute was fired from the Castle. Amidst the loud cheers of the people the procession moved up the Canongate and the High Street to the Cross, where the city barrier was erected. Here the magistracy were assembled to present the keys of the city to the Sovereign, and the crowd was excessive. There were also drawn up at this spot the members of the Celtic Society, in the full costume of their respective clans. They saluted the Queen with their claymores in true Highland fashion, and her Majesty made a gracious acknowledgment. The society then formed in the rear of the royal cortege, and escorted her Majesty to the Castle. The procession halted in front of the Royal Exchange, about fifty yards from the barrier, where the Lord Provost advanced, and after delivering a brief address, presented the keys of the city to her Majesty.
The Queen, after receiving the keys, replied, with much dignity mingled with kindness of manner: "I return the keys of the city with perfect confidence into the safe keeping of the Lord Provost, Magistrates, and Council." After viewing: the magnificent scene over the Firth of Forth from the Mortar Battery, the Queen proceeded to the Half-moon Battery, and thence to the Old Barrack Square. The Crown Jewel Office was next visited, where are deposited the regalia of Scotland, which, after being lost for a long period, were recovered in 1818, chiefly through the instrumentality of Sir Walter Scott. Her Majesty was much interested in the insignia. Queen Mary's rooms were now visited, and here the Queen was accompanied by Prince Albert only. The chamber in which King James was born her Majesty regarded with special interest.
Everything of historical interest having been viewed, the Queen returned to the Castle gate, where she again entered her carriage. Amidst the loud cheering of the muldtude she drove down the Castle hill.
On leaving Edinburgh the royal party proceeded to Dalmeny Park, where the Earl of Rosebery — the predecessor of the illustrious statesman who now bears that title — had provided a sumptuous luncheon. It had been arranged that after the dejeuner the Queen should walk in the grounds which command a view of the Forth, the islands which stud it, and the heights beyond; but the rain fell heavily.
A great multitude of persons had assembled on the lawn, however, undeterred by the weather; and in order not to disappoint them, her Majesty went to the library, whose windows opened upon the lawn, and advancing to an open window remained there for some time, amidst the most enthusiastic demonstrations of loyalty. In the afternoon the Queen and Prince Albert left Dalmeny Park for Dalkeith, passing through Leith, which was en fête, and where her Majesty stopped to receive a civic address.
Her Majesty held a levee in Dalkeith Palace which was attended by an extraordinary concourse of the nobility and gentry of Scotland. Holyrood House could not be used on the occasion, because of a contagious fever lately prevalent in the vicinity. The Queen received a number of deputations, including one from the Church of Scotland and in replying to the address of the latter she said: "I acknowledge with gratitude the inestimable advantages which have been derived from the ministrations of the Church of Scotland. They have contributed in an eminent degree to form the character of a loyal and religious people." The remainder of the Queen's Scotch visit was thoroughly enjoyed by the Sovereign and her husband. Leaving Dalkeith, they went to Queensferry, where they embarked in a royal steamer. Landing at North Ferry, in Fifeshire, they proceeded to Dupplin Castle, where they dined with the Earl of Kinnoull. The Lord Provost and Town Council of Perth attended to present an address, and subsequently her Majesty drove into Perth, where a handsome triumphal arch of Grecian architecture had been erected in honor of her visit. The Queen dined and slept at Scone Palace, the seat of the Earl of Mansfield. Next morning, at the solicitation of the authorities of Perth, the Queen and Prince enrolled their names in the Guildry Books, in imitation of the precedents therein contained of King James VI and King Charles I. The following were the inscriptions:
Dieu et IDon Droit.
September 7th 1842,
Treu and fest.
September 7th, 1842.
Taymouth Castle, the seat of the Marquis of Breadalbane, was next visited, and her Majesty's stay here was rendered full of interest.
Previous to leaving Taymouth Castle, the Queen planted a fir and an oak tree in the grounds as a memorial of her visit. The royal party then embarked on Loch Tay, and were rowed up to Auchmore, a distance of sixteen miles. As the barges and boats proceeded slowly and majestically up the loch, they exhibited to the spectators a very beautiful sight.
A picturesque scene took place when a hundred Highlanders in the Drummond tartan, some armed with Lochaber axes, others with swords and bucklers, paraded before her Majesty. An old man known as Comrie of Comrie, who claimed to be hereditary standard-bearer of the Perth family, displayed the very flag which was rescued by his great-uncle, after it had been taken by King George's troops at the battle of Culloden; and he also wore the same claymore which did service on that occasion.
The Queen was so deeply impressed with the heartiness of her reception by all classes of her Northern subjects that before leaving Scotland she caused the Earl of Aberdeen to write the following letter, in which she gave expression to her gratified feelings: "The Queen cannot leave Scotland without a feeling of regret that her visit on the present occasion could not be further prolonged. Her Majesty fully expected to witness the loyalty and attachment of her Scottish subjects; but the devotion and enthusiasm evinced in every quarter, and by all ranks, have produced an impression on the mind of her Majesty which can never be effaced."
The print celebrates the return of Queen Victoria from Edinburgh to London, 17 September 1842. Queen Victoria, reportedly wearing a pink bonnet and blue mantle, and her husband Prince Albert, stand under the awning on the deck of the ‘Trident’. They journeyed to Scotland on the ‘Royal George’, which was the last royal yacht to use sail. When on the three-day voyage on board the ‘Royal George’ the yacht was outpaced by paddle steamers, the queen refused to use the ‘Royal George’ again and so she returned to London on the ‘Trident’. The buildings of Woolwich Dockyard can be seen in the distance on the right. Two ships of the escort are shown on the left. There is a City of London barge in the lower left corner. A number of paintings by the artist William Huggins were engraved, like this one, by his son-in-law Edward Duncan. The artist William Huggins dedicated this print to Queen Victoria.
When Parliament assembled on the 1st of February, 1843, the Queen was unable, for the first time since her accession, to open it in person. But not long after this we find that she manifested her anxiety for the highest interests of the people by returning a gracious answer to an address forwarded to her at the instance of the philanthropic Lord Ashley (the Earl of Shaftesbury of honored memory), praying the Sovereign seriously to consider the best means of diffusing the blessings of a moral and religious education among the working classes.
Another daughter was born to her Majesty at Buckingham Palace on the 25th of April. The infant Princess was christened on the 2nd of June, and received the names of Alice Maud Mary. The child grew up to be an especial favorite with the English people, who sympathized deeply with her in the many sorrows which marked her married life.
The first public statue of her Majesty which had been erected in any part of her dominions was unveiled at Edinburgh on the 24th of January, 1844. It was a colossal statue by Mr. (afterward Sir John) Steell, and it was placed in position on the colonnade of the Royal Institution, fronting Prince's Street. From the high elevation of the pedestal, the gigantic figure, which was nearly four times life size, assumed to the spectators almost natural proportions, and harmonized with the massive building on which it was placed. The whole composition was modeled on the severest principles of Grecian art, and it still remains a classic conception of much grandeur. Her Majesty is represented seated on a throne, with the diadem on her brow, while her right hand grasps the sceptre, and her left leans on the orb, emblematic of her extended sway.
The last days of January were saddened for the Queen and her consort by the death of Prince Albert's father, the Duke of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, at the age of sixty years.
On the 1st of February the Queen opened Parliament in person. The Irish Repeal agitation was at this time causing much concern, and State trials were proceeding at Dublin. Daniel and John O'Connell and six other prisoners were charged with conspiracy in endeavoring to obtain a repeal of the union between Great Britain and Ireland. Her Majesty, in receiving an address on the 2nd of February from the Corporation of Dublin, said: "I receive with satisfaction the assurance that sentiments of loyalty and attachment to my person continue to be cherished by you. The legal proceedings to which you refer are now in progress before a competent tribunal, and I am unwilling to interrupt the administration of justice according to law." O'Connell and his fellow-agitators were convicted, and sentenced to various terms of imprisonment; but an appeal being made to the House of Lords, the judgment was reversed. The Repeal agitation, however, did not flourish after the trial.Life and reign of Queen Victoria: being a complete narrative ... including the lives of King Edward VII. and Queen Alexandra
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