TThe Emperor, the King of Saxony, and Prince Albert witnessed the races at Ascot, and there was a grand military review in the Great Park at Windsor. The greatest enthusiasm was manifested for the Iron Duke, who really attracted more attention than the Czar; but Wellington took off his hat, and waving it in the air, said to the people very earnestly: "No, no! not me — the Emperor! the Emperor!" The people then warmly cheered the Czar. During the inspection of the troops the Emperor was most keenly interested in the 17th Lancers and 47th Foot. He surveyed them minutely, saying that he wished to see the regiments which had fought and gained England's battles in India. On the approach of the Life Guards the Duke of Wellington put himself at the head of his regiiment, and advanced with it before her Majesty; the spectacle calling forth an exhibition of unusual enthusiasm. In spite of the immense number of spectators present, not a single accident occurred during the day.
On the evening of this day, and for several succeeding days, there were splendid festivities at Windsor and at Buckingham Palace, and on the 8th of June the Duke of Devonshire gave a grand fete to the Emperor and the King of Saxony at his Grace's suburban villa at Chiswick. The Queen, Prince Albert, the Czar, and the King subsequendy attended the opera at Her Majesty's Theatre, which was crowded in every part. On the 10th the Emperor Nicholas left London on his return to Russia. During his stay in England the Emperor's private gifts had been on the most lavish and princely scale, no one being forgotten.
The Queen gave birth to a son on the 6th of August at Windsor Castle. The event was scarcely expected so soon, and only three hours before her Majesty had signed the commission for giving the royal assent to various bills. The Queen's happy delivery was announced in the Times in precisely forty minutes after it had taken place at Windsor Castle; and as this was the first occasion on which the electric telegraph had been so used, the rapid publication of the news was considered very surprising. The young Prince was christened on the 6th of September in the names of "Alfred Ernest Albert", being afterward created Duke of Edinburgh.
The Oueen had intended to visit Ireland in the summer of 1844, but the unsettled condition of the country rendered this unadvisable, and a second visit to Scotland took the place of the projected Irish tour. Therefore, early in September, her Majesty, accompanied by the Prince and the little Princess Royal, set out for Scotland. All along the way there was an enthusiastic series of receptions from the loyal Scotch.
After the opening of Parliament in February, 1845, the Queen and the Prince Consort went down to Brighton to make a short stay at the Pavilion. From thence they visited Arundel Castle and Buxted Park. During her stay at Brighton the Queen was exposed to great annoyance in consequence of the rude behavior of the crowd, who lay in wait to follow her in her walk from the Pavilion to the pier. She was very glad when the time came for taking possession of Osborne, which she and the Prince did on the 29th of March following. The park and grounds attached to this marine residence comprised upward of 300 acres, chiefly sloping to the east, and well stocked with noble timber. The views from Osborne are very extensive, commanding Portsmouth, Splthead, etc. A new mansion was subsequently built for the Queen In lieu of the old house.
Her Majesty held a Court at Buckingham Palace on May 21st, to receive an address from the Lord Mayor and Corporation of Dublin, inviting her to visit Ireland.
On the 6th of June, at Buckingham Palace, the Queen gave a grand costume ball illustrating the period of George II. The precise period selected was the ten years from 1740 to 1750. The company numbered about 1,200, and amongst those present were the Duke and Duchess of Nemours and the Prince of Leiningen, then on a visit to her Majesty. Noblemen, ambassadors, statesmen, senators, and judges attended the ball. Ladies were most perplexed to fulfill all the points of the costume of the period, and it was de rigueur that they should thus appear. "However, it was discovered that the powder made the complexion show more brilliant, and if the hoop disguised the figure, the stomacher displayed it; while both hoop and stomacher displayed the glowing jewelry, the rich and elegant lace, the splendid brocades, magnificent velvets, and gorgeous trimmings that were the pride of the evening." The men appeared in coats of velvet — crimson, black, or blue — adorned with gold or silver; and powdered wigs were universal. Many wore the dresses of their old ancestors, copied from family portraits. The beauty of the ball was the Marchioness of Douro, daughter-in-law of the Duke of Wellington.
In 1845 her Majesty set out with the Prince Consort on her first visit to Germany. Such a tour must have had special interest for her, seeing that Germany was not only her husband's country, but that of her mother also. For the first time in her many excursions by sea and land the Queen had unfavorable weather. Her Majesty and Prince Albert disembarked at Antwerp, and went on to Malines, where they were met by the King and Queen of the Belgians, who escorted them through their dominions to Verviers and Aix-la-Chapelle, where the King of Prussia was in readiness to receive them. Then came in succession Cologne, Bonn, and the royal palace of Bruhl. At Bonn the Queen was quite pleased to meet with some of her husband's old professors. Of the Prince's "former little house" her Majesty writes: "It was such a pleasure for me to be able to see this house. We went all over it, and it is just as it was — in no way altered. We went into the little bower in the garden, from which you have a beautiful view."
While in Germany the royal visitors witnessed the inauguration of Beethoven's statue at Bonn, and in the evening there was a splendid spectacle on the river; Cologne was illuminated, and the Rhine was made one vast feu de joie.
The visit of the Queen and Prince was marked by fetes and celebrations innumerable, and finally, when it came time for them to return home, there was a very affectionate parting between the old and the young monarch, after which the Queen's yacht stood for England. On the 10th her Majesty and the Prince reached their home at Osborne, where a joyous welcome awaited them as they "drove up straight to the house after landing; for there, looking like roses, so well and so fat, stood the four children." The Queen has left it on record that this visit to Germany was one of the most exquisite periods of enjoyment in her whole life.
The ensuing winter of 1845-6 was a disastrous one in some respects in our domestic history. In England the railway mania had hurried many into ruin, while in Ireland there was fearful destitution through the failure of the potato crop. T he settlement of the great Corn Law question was seen to be imperative toward the close of 1845, and Sir Robert Peel resigned office in order that Lord John Russell and the Whigs might come in and grapple with this long-vexed question. Lord John was unable to form a Ministry, however, and on the 5th of December Sir Robert Peel returned to power. He courageously resolved to abolish the Corn Laws, and although by doing so he incurred great odium with his party, the country generally acknowledged with gratitude his great and disinterested services. The obnoxious Corn Laws were swept away, and Peel's action was more than justified by subsequent events.
During the thick of the political conflict the Queen gave birth, at Buckingham Palace, on the 25th of May, to her third daughter, Princess Helena, afterward Princess Christian.
The infant Princess was christened at Buckingham Palace on the 25th of July in the names of "Helena Augusta Victoria."
But the season in London, always inexorable, was not without its gayeties. The theatre saw the reappearance of Fanny Kemble, whilst at the Italian Opera a new prima donna appeared, concerning whom the Queen thus wrote: "Her acting alone is worth going to see, and the piano way she has of singing, Lablache says, is unlike anything he ever heard. He is quite enchanted. There is a purity In her singing and acting which is quite indescribable." The new operatic star which thus suddenly came upon the horizon was that popular favorite, Jenny Lind.
The Queen resolved upon spending the early autumn of 1847 in Scotland. This was partly due to the pleasure derived from her previous visit, and the beneficial effect it had upon her health, and also to the strong desire of the Prince Consort to enjoy the really fine sport of chasing the red-deer in their native forests.
The Queen and Prince had a true Highland reception. For four weeks this life of enjoyment and perfect retirement lasted, but upon this period of calm and peaceful repose in the Highlands was shortly to supervene one of profound care and anxiety.
THE year 1848 was one of great upheaval amongst the States of Europe. France was the first to feel the force of the revolutionary movement. The policy of Louis Phillpe, and especially his intrigues with a view to Bourbon aggrandizement, had long rendered the King very unpopular. The public discontent now found vent in revolution, and the dynasty was swept away and a republic proclaimed.
The effects of the revolutionary spirit were felt in other countries — Italy, Spain, Prussia, and Austria; but in Belgium the attempts to incite the people against the monarchy proved abortive, and the throne of her Majesty's uncle remained secure. This, however, was not the case with her brother and brother-in-law, the Princes of Leiningen and Hohenlohe, who were compelled to abdicate their seignorial rights.
In the midst of the general solicitude for the peace of England during this time of convulsion, the Queen was delivered of her fourth daughter, the Princess Louise. The royal infant was christened at Buckingham Palace on the 13th of May following, receiving the names of "Louise Caroline Alberta".
By way of showing the immense labor which devolved upon the Queen and Prince Albert, as well as the Foreign Secretary, during this year of trial and anxiety, it is stated that "no less that twenty-eight thousand dispatches were received by or sent out from the Foreign Office."