|Victoria, Queen of England|
|by James Parton, 1868|
Another anecdote illustrating Victoria's admirable good sense and strict domestic discipline, came to me directly from one who witnessed the occurrence.
"One day, when the queen was present in her carriage, at a military review, the princess royal, then rather a willful girl of about thirteen, sitting on the front seat, seemed disposed to be rather familiar and coquettish with some young officers of the escort. Her Majesty gave several reproving looks, without avail; 'winked at her, but she wouldn't stay winked.' At length, in flirting her handkerchief over the side of the carriage, she dropped it, -- too evidently not accidentally. Instantly two or three young heroes sprang from their saddles to return it to her fair hand; but the awful voice of royalty stayed them.
"'Stop, gentlemen!' exclaimed the queen; 'leave it just where it lies. Now, my daughter, get down from the carriage and pick up your handkerchief.'
"There was no help for it. The royal footmen let down the steps for the little royal lady, who proceeded to lift from the dust the pretty piece of cambric and lace. She blushed a good deal, though she tossed her head saucily, and she was doubtless angry enough. But the mortifying lesson may have nipped in the bud her first impulse towards coquetry. It was hard, but it was wholesome. How many American mothers would be equal to such a piece of Spartan discipline?"
I will venture to borrow another pretty story from Grace Greenwood's budget. The following anecdote was related to her by the hero of it.
"My friend, Mr. W, is a person of very artistic tastes, -- a passionate picture lover. He had seen all the great paintings in the public galleries of London, and had a strong desire to see those of Buckingham Palace, which, that not being a 'show-house,' were inaccessible to an ordinary connoisseur. Fortune favored him at last. He was the brother of a London carpet merchant, who had orders to put down new carpets in the state apartments of the palace. And so it chanced that the temptation came to my friend to put on a workman's blouse, and thus enter the royal precincts, while the flag indicating the presence of the august family floated defiantly over the roof.
"So he effected an entrance; and, when once within the royal halls, dropped his assumed character, and devoted himself to the pictures. It happened that he remained in one of the apartments after the workmen had left, and while quite alone, the queen came tripping in, wearing a plain white morning dress, and followed by two or three of her younger children, dressed with like simplicity. She approached the supposed workman, and said, 'Pray, can you tell me when the new carpet will be put down in the Privy Council Chamber?'
"And he, thinking he had no right to recognize the queen under the circumstances, replied,
"'Really, madam, I cannot tell, but I. will inquire.'
"'Stay,' she said, abruptly, but not unkindly; 'who are you? I perceive that you are not one of the workmen.'
"Mr. A, blushing and stammering somewhat, yet made a clean breast of it and told the simple truth. The queen seemed much amused with his ruse, and for the sake of his love for the art forgave it; then added, smiling,,'I knew for all your dress that you were a gentleman, because you did not "Your Majesty" me. Pray look at the pictures as long as you will. Good-morning! Come chicks, we must go.'"
These are but trifles; but they serve to show the queen's simple and kindly character. Her Highland Diary, recently published, abounds in similar trifles, and exhibits to us the picture of a happy family, always delighted to escape from the trammelling etiquette and absurd splendors of their rank, and capable of being, pleased with those natural pleasures which are accessible to most of mankind.
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