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by the amiability of her disposition, her excellence in the performance of necessary and honourable domestic duties, and her intellectual gifts and attainments, which, according to a contemporary report, included not only the accomplishments of a lady, but also Latin, Greek, and mathematics. The features of her face were marked by a refinement and harmony seldom met with ; not the least noticeable being the lofty brow, whichthanks to the becoming and graceful manner of wearing the hair then in vogue—could be seen in its natural beauty. With these combined attractions it is not a matter of surprise if Her Royal Highness, both in the outer world, where she was personally unknown, and in the small and less critical home circle, was equally regarded as “ the flower of the flock.” Nevertheless, a letter written by her in the month of May following, but not made public till after her decease, showed that she was possessed of higher recommendations than even these, as it furnished evidence of a depth of Christian character at that time unknown; so much so, indeed, that on its perusal it would be difficult to believe that it was the production of a young girl who could have had but little experience of sorrow, and was not that of some more matured hand, did not its emphatic personal character disabuse the mind of such an idea. The Princess was mourning at the time, in common with the Queen and the Royal Family generally, on account of the death of the Duchess of Kent; and it was to Mr. Corbould, who, it is believed, had taught her drawing, and had recently lost a daughter, that the Princess thus wrote :
“ Tuesday morning, May 24th, 1861. “Dear Mr. Corbould.—Having just heard of your sad bereavement, I cannot refrain from sending you a few lines to tell you how truly I sympathize with you and mourn over your loss. Having so lately for the first time seen death, and felt its grief, and the anguish of losing one we loved so deeply, so truly, I know what bitter, bitter trial you have, and how little words from others can bring comfort to the bleeding heart. There is but One who can give you consolation, and we have that blessed hope of meeting again to part no more. She has only left you for a little while, and her gentle spirit watches over you and waits for you. If the sympathy of one who feels, and that most warmly, for your grief, can bring you the slightest consolation, I do sympathize with all my heart. May God sapport, strengthen, and comfort you, and your wife and children under this heavy affliction. This is the fervent prayer of
“ALICE.” The letter was accompanied by an enclosure :
“ The souls of believers are at their death made perfect in holiness, and so immediately pass into glory. Yes! immediately. There is to the departed spirit no middle state at all between earth and Heaven. Not but that millions of miles may intervene; not but that the two worlds may be parted by a fathomless abyss of cold dull space; yet, swift as never light went, swift as never thought went, flies the just man's spirit across the profound. One moment the sick room, the scaffold, the stake; the next, the great deep swell of the angel's song. Never think that the dear one you have seen die had far to go to meet God after she parted from you. Never think, parents who have seen your children die, that after that, after they have left you, they had to traverse a dark solitary valley along which you would have liked, if it had been possible, to lead them by the hand and bear them company till they came into the presence of God. You did so if you stood by them till the last breath was drawn. You did bear them company into God's very presence if you stayed beside them till they died. The moment they left you they were with Him. The light pressure of the cold fingers lingered with you yet, but the little child was with her Saviour.'
“ Copied for Mr. Corbould by Alice, hoping he may find some consolation in these beautiful lines.”
This letter is indicative to a marked degree of personal sorrow as well as of sympathy; but before seven months had passed away it was appointed to the gentle writer of it to bear a weight of woe, in comparison with which that she now endured was but as the few heavy raindrops that announce the coming thunderstorm : while the NOTES.
thoughtful kindness that could dictate such an epistle to a mere friend, was to the disinterestedness that was then developed but as “the crimson streak on ocean's cheek” is to the full radiance of noon-day. It was during the first week in December that the Prince Consort became unwell, though for some days his indisposition was of such a nature as not to occasion apprehension in the minds of his attendants as to the result. In the following week, however, anxiety was manifested by both his family and his physicians as the graver aspects of the disease from wbich he was suffering became apparent. In spite of every care and attention these symptoms gradually increased in intensity, till, in the course of the afternoon of Saturday the 14th, it was seen that all further hope of his recovery was useless. He calmly breathed his last a little before eleven o'clock the same night, in the presence of the Queen, the Prince of Wales, the Princesses Alice and Helena, and the Prince and Princess of Leiningen. When the Princess Alice was informed that all was over she fell to the floor in a swoon, and remained in an insensible condition so long that fears began to be entertained for her recovery, a circumstance not difficult to understand when we know the strain to which for days past both her mind and her affections had been subjected. To what extent this was the case is shown by the following letter, which was written by a member of the Queen's household, and published shortly afterwards :-“The last Sunday the Prince passed on earth was a very blessed one for the Princess Alice to look back upon. He was very ill and very weak, and she spent the afternoon alone with him while the others were in church. He begged to have his sofa drawn to the window that he might see the sky and the clouds sailing past. He then asked her to play to him, and she went through several of his favourite hymns and chorales. After she had played some time she looked round and saw him lying back, his hands folded as if in prayer and his eyes shut. He lay so long without moving that she thought he had fallen asleep. Presently he looked up and smiled. She said, “Were you asleep, dear papa ?' Oh no,” he answered, 'only I have such sweet thoughts. During his illness his hands were often folded in prayer; and when he did not speak, his serene face showed that the happy thoughts' were with him to the end. The Princess Alice's fortitude has amazed us ali. She saw from the first that both her father's and her mother's firmness depended on her firmness, and she sat herself to the duty. He loved to speak openly of his condition and had many wishes to express. He loved to hear hymns and prayers. He could not speak to the Queen of himself, for she could not bear to listen, and shut her eyes to the danger. His danghter saw that she must act differently, and she never let her voice falter or shed a single tear in his presence. She sat by him, listened to all he said, repeated hymns, and then, when she could bear it no longer, would walk calmly to the door, and then rush away to her room, returning soon with the same calm and pale face, without any appearance of the agitation she had gone through.” This is high eulogy on a girl little over eighteen years of age, who thus became by her conduct at the time perhaps the most conspicuous person in the country—one, in fact, on whom the Queen herself was, in a sense, dependent. Canon Farrar, in his sermon at Westminster Abbey after her death, remarked :-“Things were told at the time of the devotion and the marvellous self-control of the young girl, called so sternly and so suddenly to face death in the person of a father, on whose life that of the Queen herself seemed to depend, and whose counsels she knew to be of inestimable value to the nation. A few days after the Prince's death she was spoken of by The Times in these noticeable words :-Of the devotion and strength of mind shown by the Princess Alice all through these trying scenes it is impossible to speak too higbly. Her Royal Highness has indeed felt that it was her place to be a comfort and a support to her mother in her affliction; and to her dutiful care we may perhaps owe it that the Queen has borne her loss with exemplary resignation and a composure, which, under so sudden and terrible a bereavement, could not have been anticipated.' The knowledge of this fact-and it was a fact-sank deeply into people's minds. It was never forgotten ; and from that day the name of the Princess Alice became a cherished household word.” Happy is it for a nation when it
can look up to those who occupy the highest and most influential positions, and find them eschewing the contemptible frivolities of idleness and fashion; and not more conspicuous for exalted rank and station than for the elevated manner in which they discharge the duties arising therefrom, and for their exemplary and blameless lives! The marriage of the Princess took place in the month of July following, on which occasion, by a decorous and becoming arrangement, there was no attempt made to lay aside the mourning garb then being worn for the deceased Prince,—this being simply toned down by a certain admixture of grey or violet or white to make it not wholly out of character with the day's ceremonial. The bride and bridegroom went to Germany to live, though many months had not elapsed before they came back to this country on a visit. While here, and while one day riding in the neighbourhood of Osborne, the Princess met with an accident by being thrown from the chaise. Happily the misfortune was not as serious as might have been expected, and no ill results followed. After awhile, with her husband she returned home, and was not brought very conspicuously before the English people for several years.
The Franco-Prussian war broke out in 1870, and in it the Prince of Hesse was called to take part, necessitating his presence in the field for some months. During this period the Princess distinguished herself by the devoted and unselfish zeal with which she nursed the sick soldiers who were constantly being brought in; and doubtless her own character exerted a wholesome influence upon the management that prevailed in the hospitals, so that nothing should be wanting calculated to alleviate the sufferings or to promote the recovery of the inmates. When will the insane folly and diabolical wickedness of war cease; and the sinful, unclean passions of pride, avarice, revenge and ambition be so brought under the blessed influences of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace, as to admit of the extension of that humane and Christ-like action that is ever ready to heal the wounds of the victims, if not to prevent their being occasioned in the first place—and even though they be of the hostile camp—till it shall spread universally, and men “shall beat their swords into ploughshares and their spears into pruning-hooks : nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more ” ? When will the truth set forth in Longfellow's verse be so burned into the mind and heart of rulers and people alike that they shall hate and scorn to appeal in their disputes to the arbitrament of the sword, on account not more of its inherent wickedness than of its amazing folly :
“Were half the power that keeps the world in terror,
Were half the wealth bestowed on camps and courts,
THERE WERE NO NEED OF ARSENALS AND FORTS;
The warrior's name would be a name abhorred,
And every nation that should lift its hand again
Should wear for evermore the curse of Cain!”
When will the world learn that humanity, compassion, and virtue are not matters of sex, but are incumbent on every individual—not less on the husband than on the wife, or the brother than the sister; and that vice and crime committed by husband or brother are not the less heinous and hideous because the wife or sister studies to lessen as far as possible the ravages and havoc wantonly occasioned thereby ?
Towards the close of the year 1871 the Princess Alice was summoned to her native country in consequence of the illness of the Prince of Wales, which, arising from the same disease as had proved fatal in the case of his father, was the cause of much anxiety not only to the Royal Family but to the nation at large. The Princess displayed her customary assiduity and attention, though day by day anxiety increased as the Prince's condition became more serious, and day by day the anniversary approached more near of that upon which the Prince Consort had breathed his last. Bulletins were posted up
in conspicuous places at intervals of a few hours, and these were eagerly scanned by the passers by. A day was appointed on which special prayers were to be offered to Almighty God for the recovery of the Prince; though this, except that it was a Royal and national recognition of a Divine Ruler holding in His hand the issues of life and death, and Who has said “ Call upon me in the day of trouble : I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify Me,' was scarcely needed : as a loyal and affectionate sympathy for the Queen and Princess of Wales in their affliction, if no other object, had already induced petitions to arise from those who were accustomed in their daily life by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving “to let their requests be made known unto God.” The prayers thus offered were graciously answered and in the very significant manner that a change for the better took place on the day which had been viewed with such dread and apprehension; insomuch that henceforth it became a day to be observed, especially in the Royal circle, not more with sad and solemn recollections of bereavement than with humble and hearty thanksgiving for signal mercies received. A change for the better having taken place, and progress towards convalescence being made as rapidly as could be expected, the Princess was no longer required, and she returned home shortly afterwards. The shadow of death thus happily passed away, and the Home Secretary received the Queen's commands to make public the following letter, which appeared in the London Gazette, December 29th :
“Windsor Castle, December 26, 1871. • “The Queen is very anxious to express her deep sense of the touching sympathy of the whole nation on the occasion of the alarming illness of her dear son, the Prince of Wales. The universal feeling shown by her people during those painful and terrible days, and the sympathy evinced by them with herself and her beloved daughter, the Princess of Wales, as well as the general joy at the improvement in the Prince of Wales's state, have made a deep and lasting impression on her heart which can never be effaced. It was, indeed, nothing new to her, for the Queen had met with the same sympathy when, just ten years ago, a similar illness removed from her side the mainstay of her life, the best, wisest, and kindest of husbands.
“ The Queen wishes at the same time to express on the part of the Princess of Wales her feelings of heartfelt gratitude, for she has been as deeply touched as the Queen by the great and universal manifestation of loyalty and sympathy.
“The Queen cannot conclude without expressing her hope that her faithful subjects will continue their prayers to God for the complete recovery of her dear son to health and strength.”
The last sentence is in pleasing contrast to the suggestion put forth about the same time by a man eminent in the domain of science, but not equally so in that of piety, that two hospitals should be set apart, in one of which the patients should be made the subjects of prayer and in the other they should not, with a view to testing the reality of the existence of a Supreme Being, Who can and Who will hear the petitions of those who call on Him and Who will grant their requests. Further, on the opening of Parliament in February, the Queen's Speech announced that a day of public thanksgiving would be appointed, and that the Queen herself would attend in St. Paul's Cathedral to give thanks with her subjects to Almighty God for having heard the nation's prayers. The day ultimately appointed was the 27th of the same month, February, and it proved worthy of being had in lasting remembrance by all concerned, on account of the extraordinary burst of loyal enthusiasm it evoked; when above and beyond the excitement commonly occasioned by the gay pageantry of a State procession, was the fervid emotion of loving hearts that, recently strained by apprehension and anxiety, and mourning with those who mourned, now shared in the relief that they experienced, and rejoiced with those who were rejoicing. As years go by, much that affects us deeply at the time becomes forgotten, and it is instructive therefore to look over the newspapers published at a time like that referred to, and refresh our memory by a perusal of the narratives they contain. In so doing, we note with interest that the Times, commenting on the preparations that had been made to give a hearty reception to the Royal Family, looked forward “not NOTES.
without a certain awe, even if there were no cause for anxiety, to the greatest assemblage of our people and race which memory or history can tell of.” The day following the ceremonial, the same journal wrote that " The Thanksgiving Day has come and gone, and universal opinion proclaims that it has exhibited one of the grandest and most impressive ceremonies ever witnessed in this country ;” and again, “ We are expressing a sentiment, the justice of which will at once be universally acknowledged, when we say that the greatest marvel of all the marvels of yesterday was the mighty mass of people which poured forth to fill streets and squares, windows, housetops, and balconies. There was everywhere for miles a crowd ; and again at night everywhere for miles a crowd.” Such were the comments of the Times, while the Daily Telegraph, determined, apparently, not to understate matters from any want of enthusiasm, wrote, “ We believe that never Sovereign yet in all the annals of all the nations, found prepared beforehand any such Via Triumphalis—any such avenue of bright and affectionate faces, any such concourse of hearts beating together, and eyes lighted by a common and noble sympathy. Of the show itself we may speak now without fear of comparison; those seven miles of festive preparation formed without flattery a Royal and Stately Road of Love and Honour which no conqueror, nor despot, nor Sovereign before Victoria ever traversed.” Two days later the London Gazette contained the following letter, which furnishes Her Majesty's own views of the reception she received :
“Buckingham Palace, February 29, 1872. “The Queen is anxious, as on a previous occasion, to express publicly her own personal very deep sense of the reception she and her dear children met with on Tuesday, February 27th, from millions of her subjects, on her way to and from St. Paul's. Words are too weak for the Queen to say how very deeply touched and gratified she has been by the immense enthusiasm and affection exhibited towards her dear son and herself, from the highest down to the lowest, on the long progress through the capital, and she would earnestly wish to convey her warmest and most heartfelt thanks to the whole nation for this great demonstration of loyalty. The Queen, as well as her son and dear daughter-in-law, felt that the whole nation joined with them in thanking God for sparing the beloved Prince of Wales's life. The remembrance of this day, and of the remarkable order maintained throughout, will for ever be affectionately remembered by the Queen and her family.”
A letter appeared in the press from an American gentleman which deserves insertion here. In it the writer says: “I am sure that among all the strangers who participated in the magnificent celebration of Thanksgiving Day, none entered into it more heartily and thoroughly than my own countrymen-the Americans. Throughout the length and breadth of the United States, the name of your Queen is held in the greatest honour and respect, as representing the highest expression of all truth and virtue. Throughout the desperate and lingering illness of the Prince we felt the deepest sympathy, and rejoiced when the shadow of death passed away from the Royal heir. Whatever diplomatic misunderstanding may for the moment separate us, it can never weaken or imperil the affection and kinship the great mass of our people entertain for your country. It was this feeling of sympathy and rejoicing that brought hundreds of us from the Continent to participate in your National Thanksgiving, to join accord with you in thanking God that a great affliction had been averted. More than six hundred of us were assembled together at the banking houses of Bowles Brothers and Co. (our most generous and courteous entertainers), and there, with the flags of England and the United States peacefully entwined, we hailed your noble Queen and thanked God that He had hearkened unto your nation's prayer and spared the Prince of Wales.” It is only necessary to cast our thoughts across the Channel, and see the unsettled condition which prevails there from generation to generation, every few years seeing a new form of government, and with but small chance of there ever being one that has not been established by violent and possibly criminal means, to be able to appreciate the events which in this country marked the 27th day of February, 1872, and to regard it, exemplifying as it does the close and affectionate relationship that exists between the people and their Sovereign, as a day to be had in as