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It was clear that before very long there would be a great explosion; and in the hot days of August it came. The Duchess and the Princess had gone down to stay at Windsor for the King's birthday party, and the King himself, who was in London for the day to prorogue Parliament, paid a visit at Kensington Palace in their absence. There he found that the Duchess had just appropriated, against his express orders, a suite of seventeen apartments for her own use. He was extremely angry, and, when he returned to Windsor, after greeting the Princess with affection, he publicly rebuked the Duchess for what she had done. But this was little to what followed. On the next day was the birthday banquet; there were a hundred guests; the Duchess of Kent sat on the King's right hand, and the Princess Victoria opposite. At the end of the dinner, in reply to the toast of the King's health, he rose, and, in a long, loud, passionate speech, poured out the vials of his wrath upon the Duchess. She had, he declared, insulted him--grossly and continually; she had kept the Princess away from him in the most improper manner; she was surrounded by evil advisers, and was incompetent to act with propriety in the high station which she filled; but he would bear it no longer; he would have her to know he was King; he was determined that his authority should be respected; henceforward the Princess should attend at every Court function with the utmost regularity; and he hoped to God that his life might be spared for six months longer, so that the calamity of a regency might be avoided, and the functions of the Crown pass directly to the heiress-presumptive instead of into the hands of the "person now near him," upon whose conduct and capacity no reliance whatever could be placed. The flood of vituperation rushed on for what seemed an interminable period, while the Queen blushed scarlet, the Princess burst into tears, and the hundred guests sat aghast. The Duchess said not a word until the tirade was over and the company had retired; then in a tornado of rage and mortification, she called for her carriage and announced her immediate return to Kensington. It was only with the utmost difficulty that some show of a reconciliation was patched up, and the outraged lady was prevailed upon to put off her departure till the morrow.
Her troubles, however, were not over when she had shaken the dust of Windsor from her feet. In her own household she was pursued by bitterness and vexation of spirit. The apartments at Kensington were seething with subdued disaffection, with jealousies and animosities virulently intensified by long years of propinquity and spite.
There was a deadly feud between Sir John Conroy and Baroness Lehzen. But that was not all. The Duchess had grown too fond of her Major-Domo. There were familiarities, and one day the Princess Victoria discovered the fact. She confided what she had seen to the Baroness, and to the Baroness's beloved ally, Madame de Spath. Unfortunately, Madame de Spath could not hold her tongue, and was actually foolish enough to reprove the Duchess; whereupon she was instantly dismissed. It was not so easy to get rid of the Baroness. That lady, prudent and reserved, maintained an irreproachable demeanour. Her position was strongly entrenched; she had managed to secure the support of the King; and Sir John found that he could do nothing against her. But henceforward the household was divided into two camps.[*] The Duchess supported Sir John with all the abundance of her authority; but the Baroness, too, had an adherent who could not be neglected. The Princess Victoria said nothing, but she had been much attached to Madame de Spath, and she adored her Lehzen. The Duchess knew only too well that in this horrid embroilment her daughter was against her. Chagrin, annoyance, moral reprobation, tossed her to and fro. She did her best to console herself with Sir John's affectionate loquacity, or with the sharp remarks of Lady Flora Hastings, one of her maids of honour, who had no love for the Baroness. The subject lent itself to satire; for the pastor's daughter, with all her airs of stiff superiority, had habits which betrayed her origin. Her passion for caraway seeds, for instance, was uncontrollable. Little bags of them came over to her from Hanover, and she sprinkled them on her bread and butter, her cabbage, and even her roast beef. Lady Flora could not resist a caustic observation; it was repeated to the Baroness, who pursed her lips in fury, and so the mischief grew.
[*] Greville, IV, 21; and August 15, 1839 (unpublished). "The cause of the Queen's alienation from the Duchess and hatred of Conroy, the Duke [of Wellington] said, was unquestionably owing to her having witnessed some familiarities between them. What she had seen she repeated to Baroness Spaeth, and Spaeth not only did not hold her tongue, but (he thinks) remonstrated with the Duchess herself on the subject. The consequence was that they got rid of Spaeth, and they would have got rid of Lehzen, too, if they had been able, but Lehzen, who knew very well what was going on, was prudent enough not to commit herself, and who was, besides, powerfully protected by George IV and William IV, so that they did not dare to attempt to expel her."
The King had prayed that he might live till his niece was of age; and a few days before her eighteenth birthday--the date of her legal majority--a sudden attack of illness very nearly carried him off. He recovered, however, and the Princess was able to go through her birthday festivities--a state ball and a drawing-room--with unperturbed enjoyment. "Count Zichy," she noted in her diary, "is very good-looking in uniform, but not in plain clothes. Count Waldstein looks remarkably well in his pretty Hungarian uniform." With the latter young gentleman she wished to dance, but there was an insurmountable difficulty. "He could not dance quadrilles, and, as in my station I unfortunately cannot valse and gallop, I could not dance with him." Her birthday present from the King was of a pleasing nature, but it led to a painful domestic scene. In spite of the anger of her Belgian uncle, she had remained upon good terms with her English one. He had always been very kind to her, and the fact that he had quarrelled with her mother did not appear to be a reason for disliking him. He was, she said, "odd, very odd and singular," but "his intentions were often ill interpreted." He now wrote her a letter, offering her an allowance of L10,000 a year, which he proposed should be at her own disposal, and independent of her mother. Lord Conyngham, the Lord Chamberlain, was instructed to deliver the letter into the Princess's own hands. When he arrived at Kensington, he was ushered into the presence of the Duchess and the Princess, and, when he produced the letter, the Duchess put out her hand to take it. Lord Conyngham begged her Royal Highness's pardon, and repeated the King's commands. Thereupon the Duchess drew back, and the Princess took the letter. She immediately wrote to her uncle, accepting his kind proposal. The Duchess was much displeased; L4000 a year, she said, would be quite enough for Victoria; as for the remaining L6000, it would be only proper that she should have that herself.
King William had thrown off his illness, and returned to his normal life. Once more the royal circle at Windsor--their Majesties, the elder Princesses, and some unfortunate Ambassadress or Minister's wife--might be seen ranged for hours round a mahogany table, while the Queen netted a purse, and the King slept, occasionally waking from his slumbers to observe "Exactly so, ma'am, exactly so!" But this recovery was of short duration. The old man suddenly collapsed; with no specific symptoms besides an extreme weakness, he yet showed no power of rallying; and it was clear to everyone that his death was now close at hand.
All eyes, all thoughts, turned towards the Princess Victoria; but she still remained, shut away in the seclusion of Kensington, a small, unknown figure, lost in the large shadow of her mother's domination. The preceding year had in fact been an important one in her development. The soft tendrils of her mind had for the first time begun to stretch out towards unchildish things. In this King Leopold encouraged her. After his return to Brussels, he had resumed his correspondance in a more serious strain; he discussed the details of foreign politics; he laid down the duties of kingship; he pointed out the iniquitous foolishness of the newspaper press. On the latter subject, indeed, he wrote with some asperity. "If all the editors," he said, "of the papers in the countries where the liberty of the press exists were to be assembled, we should have a crew to which you would NOT confide a dog that you would value, still less your honour and reputation." On the functions of a monarch, his views were unexceptionable. "The business of the highest in a State," he wrote, "is certainly, in my opinion, to act with great impartiality and a spirit of justice for the good of all." At the same time the Princess's tastes were opening out. Though she was still passionately devoted to riding and dancing, she now began to have a genuine love of music as well, and to drink in the roulades and arias of the Italian opera with high enthusiasm. She even enjoyed reading poetry--at any rate, the poetry of Sir Walter Scott.
When King Leopold learnt that King William's death was approaching, he wrote several long letters of excellent advice to his niece. "In every letter I shall write to you," he said, "I mean to repeat to you, as a FUNDAMENTAL RULE, TO BE FIRM, AND COURAGEOUS, AND HONEST, AS YOU HAVE BEEN TILL NOW." For the rest, in the crisis that was approaching, she was not to be alarmed, but to trust in her "good natural sense and the TRUTH" of her character; she was to do nothing in a hurry; to hurt no one's amour-propre, and to continue her confidence in the Whig administration! Not content with letters, however, King Leopold determined that the Princess should not lack personal guidance, and sent over to her aid the trusted friend whom, twenty years before, he had taken to his heart by the death-bed at Claremont. Thus, once again, as if in accordance with some preordained destiny, the figure of Stockmar is discernible--inevitably present at a momentous hour.
and other comforts. At Caylen, the most southern island,2023-12-03 12:52
and told him he could have whatever money he wanted to2023-12-03 12:51
sport the oak? Perhaps it is your father. But surely he2023-12-03 12:24
— and she, Ellen, had done the greater part of the buying2023-12-03 11:57
him sped the yellow figure, and right to the end. The seemingly2023-12-03 11:55
be gaining over me. We sported the oak now, and before2023-12-03 11:19
start his shop with, if what he had in hand was not sufficient.2023-12-03 10:59
or object that he knew, helped at once to link him on to2023-12-03 10:41
tables, and lifting Helen Cumberly, carried her half-way2023-12-03 10:38
than not? Where one could live two could do so, and if2023-12-03 10:31
He paused for a moment, hoping to be able to lower the2023-12-03 12:58
of coffee, bread and butter, sausages, marmalade, etc.2023-12-03 12:51
applauded him heartily for what he had done. He was very2023-12-03 12:39
the same when we find unity convenient. This is illogical,2023-12-03 12:23
barter. Money was scarcely worth anything, but their eagerness2023-12-03 11:56
were beginning to show themselves, for it was now the 30th2023-12-03 11:51
than he possessed to suspect how completely she had fallen2023-12-03 11:46
get than how to get it. Nevertheless, what he wanted was2023-12-03 11:26
bivouacked near us. They had no shelter during the rain.2023-12-03 11:05
coffee, and some nice brown toast. Ernest had been his2023-12-03 10:57