Thursday, June 22, 2006

29Jun1859, Our First Queen's Ball

LONDON, June 29th, 1859.
—What with the manifold delights of this eventful day, I'm sorry to confess that, till this moment, the fact of its being St. Peter's feast and dear old Albert's birthday has never entered my head. To begin with, we went to luncheon with the Grahams (daughters of Sir James), which was extremely pleasant, as we are getting to like them both very much. And they sang to us till I could have cried with delight. The lovely little one has the most glorious voice, and " The Land of the Leal " and " The Last Rose of Summer," especially the latter, so went to my heart that the vision of them keeps coming back upon me with an indescribable thrill. There ! I hope I'm not high-flown : but great enjoyment ought to do one good, and so far it does indeed make me thank God for giving us such pleasures. " Thou hast anointed my head with oil, and my cup runneth over." It is indeed goodness and mercy following us all the days of our life that gives us these happy hours.

After they had sung till they were tired, nice kind things that they are, and after much conversation, Atie. P. picked us up, and we went again to Wimbledon, which was lovely : the smell of hay all round, and the pleasant fresh day perfect. Oh, how cd I forget : I dined as a face with A. P. and Wortleys at Ly. Waldegrave's, where I saw and was introduced to the " King of France," God bless him ! The crowning-point of these many breaks was our first Queen's ball, Meriel's very first ; I, as before detailed at great length, have been to children's balls at the Palace. What a beautiful sight it is ! the glittering uniforms, the regal rooms, and the Royal presence. We made our curtseys rather ill I'm afraid, such a slippery floor, and difficult to take the Queen's hand from her eminence of two steps. However, we did better than most, for at all events we went low down, and the rest of the world made nothing but nasty little bows and inclinations ; so horridly disrespectful. Pr. of Wales was there just come back from abroad, decidedly grown, tanned, and more manly looking, with all the Royal courtesy and grace of manner. Pr. Alice quite pretty, so very much improved in looks. The brother and sister valsed together with marvellous grace and dignity, considering that neither is tall. They went round only once or twice, slowly, so unlike the fierce fluttering whirls in a tight embrace that one sees elsewhere. It was happiness to see the Queen dancing the quadrilles with her colossal uniformed partners, majesty and grace in every movement of her little form, and the Pr. of Wales standing near her, and giving his hand to her in the Grand Rond with beautiful respect. And all to the sound of such music !

Of course we never dreamt of dancing, nor had we one chance, but this didn't in the least take from my pleasure. The only thing that did was that all the king's horses and all the king's men couldn't make Atie Pussy sit down again (what lovely poetry !) after a little bit of rest in one of the outer rooms, till about 1/4 1. The consequence was that M. and she looked at death's door, and even my back began to ache. However, after a peep at the gorgeous supper-room with its sideboard of plate reaching to the ceiling, we did get her into one of the tiers of seats under the orchestra, where we sat in bliss for about 25 minutes, when shooting a splendid place to the right of the throne, we moved there, and lucky it was we did ! Five minutes afterwards, the Queen rose, and stepped down. With one rush everyone stood up, while the old glorious music of " God save the Queen " struck up. The officers of state went before her, but facing her as they cleared the way. As she bowed to right and left all curtseyed low, and so, to the majestic time of the music, she went out in all her state. Oh ! I thought my heart would crack with excitement ! And so it was over. What a happy day ! I was determined to give a full, graphic, and particular account of it, and I think I have done my duty.

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