Sunday, March 21, 2010

27Feb1872, Thanksgiving for the Prince's Recovery

LONDON, Tuesday, February 27th, 1872.
—The day of Thanksgiving for the recovery of the Prince of Wales. He accompanied the Queen, who went in state to S. Paul's. Oh, what a never-to-be-forgotten day it has been ! I for one had prayed for fine weather, so dreadful would it have been if it had rained ; and thank God it was a fair February day, with occasional bright gleams of sunshine. The Talbots and we went by river from the Parliament Quay, where a select little mob of Peers and Commons were pouring down the stairs and embarking in beflagged steamers. The progress was swift and dignified and we landed at S. Paul's Wharf and got to our places without any difficulty. But would that we had driven, as it turned out we might well have done. Such a sight can never have been seen before. From Buckingham Palace up Pall Mall and the Strand thro' the City to the Cathedral was one mighty multitude and one continued acclamation. The Queen and Prince sat in one carriage, with the Prss. of Wales, Princess Beatrice, and little Prince Edward bodkin : the other Princes were in another carriage with little Prince George. There were nine other carriages, including the new Speaker (Mr. Brand) in a gorgeous coach, and the Ld. Chancellor : the Queen had 8 horses and there were troops and guards of honour. We meanwhile waited patiently for 2 hours under the dome, watching the 13,000 people gradually fill the grand Cathedral—choir, nave, transepts, and galleries. A few minutes before 1 was heard that most thrilling sound—the National Anthem coming nearer and nearer and, as the bands outside ceased, being taken up by the organ, as the procession entered the great West door. The Queen leant on the Prince's arm ; he held his eldest son's hand : on the Queen's left was the Princess leading Prince George : the others followed. There was a short pause while they took their places at the junction of the nave with the transepts, then the choir broke forth into the Te Deum. Never before had I realised what a Psalm of Thanksgiving it is, and most beautiful and moving were the words specially dwelt upon by the music : "Also the Holy Ghost, the Comforter," and "When Thou hadst overcome the sharpness of death."
All was ended within an hour. Those who were near the Queen and Prince were struck with their devout look and behaviour : the dear Princess was in tears during the special thanksgiving prayer—thinking no doubt of that cry for mercy in which she used to join when she cd. leave him for a few minutes in that fight between life and death. The dear Queen sang the hymn with all her heart. When it was over, the great congregation dispersed very easily, many staying to look at the Cathedral. Noble and grand it always looks to me indeed—its proportions so perfect, that I found S. Peter's did not at all spoil me for it. But it does call out for decoration, and a great subscription will be started from this day. The Queen gives £1,000, the Prince £500.
I coaxed F. to drive with me along Oxford Street after dinner ; the illuminations and decorations were famous, and the crowds were very well behaved and in high delight.

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