Wednesday, May 03, 2006

07Jun1859, The Opening of Parliament

LONDON, June 7th, 1859.
—It's of little use my writing small : I must take up space when there's so much to talk about. In the morning, what did I do but go to the Opening of Parliament ! ! ! The beauty of the tiers of bright colours and sparkling ornaments first struck me, as we went in, and Papa, delighted to get rid of me, hoisted me into a capital place next Ly. Gertrude Talbot, where we waited for about 3 qrs of an hour, amusing ourselves greatly with finding out the few beauties among the fat and wizzy peeresses opposite. Those we did see were Ly. Lothian, Ly. Raglan, Ly. Mary Craven, and the Duchess of Manchester. The peers kept dropping in in their red robes, looking for the most part rather quizzical, but the rich colour nice to see in dingy England. Papa looked vey comical.

I saw Ld. Spencer and Ld. Lothian, who has got a sort of creeping palsy ; so very sad, and his poor pretty young wife ! At last from the midst of gentlemen-in-waiting and other attendants, I became aware of the little Queen standing on the step of the throne, a diamond coronet on her head, in her robes of state, the crown held on one side of her, and the mighty sword of justice on the other ; while all stood up, and there was deep silence. It was a stately sight. The Queen sat down, everyone also sat down. What next ?, I thought, as several minutes passed in the same grave silence, and the Queen looked at us, and we looked at the Queen. I soon found out what was being waited for. There was a scurry and rush outside the doors, which were dashed open, and in poured the Commons, jostling and talking like nothing on earth but a pack of schoolboys or herd of bullocks. It was a curious contrast to the red-robed peers, sitting in solemn order, and the Queen in all her majesty. When as many as cd squeeze in had jammed themselves against the rails, and after some hushing had begun to hold their tongues, the Queen, slightly raising her voice, said, " My Lords, be seated." (This, however, they were already.) Then she read her speech, with a low, clear, and most harmonious utterance, and so distinct that I heard perfectly. There was nothing interesting in it : " in spite of her earnest endeavours, the peace of Europe had been broken, we were to keep neutral, and at the same time the fleet was to be done something to, etc., etc." —things that are talked of every day. Then she gave her paper to a maukin near her, we all stood up again, and she went away : there were no cheers in the House, but plenty outside I hear, and I have actually seen Parliament opened ! There was a little musical practice in the morning. Meriel and I dined with Ats. C. & K. at the Percys', immediately on returning from which at 11 1/4 we found a note directing us to go to House of Commons, which we did to my great delight, and heard the greater part of an interesting speech of Ld. Palmerston's against Govt. The debate was adjourned, so we were home by 1/4 1. An eventful day.

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