Thursday, March 25, 2010

11Mar1872, Monstrous Clothes

LONDON, Monday, March 11th, 1872.
—Drawingroom, to which I went with Lou, diverging to the common herd in the Palace and joining M. I thought the dear Queen looked rayonnante : she spoke to me. A large assortment of monstrous clothes was to be seen ; in particular one yellow train over a pink gown.

Monday, March 22, 2010

04Mar1872, The Course of Events Like a Drama

LONDON, Monday, March 4th, 1872.
—Dinner at Dow. Ly. Cowper's. Dufferins, young Cowpers, Evelyn Ashley (his wife at Menton for her health), Mr. Leveson [FN: Hon. Frederick Leveson-Gower, brother of Lord Granville.], hearing with great philosophy the arrival of Ld. Granville's son and heir, just announced, cutting out Mr. Leveson's boy. Said boy, however, seems a good deal more distressed at the abolition of extra weeks at Eton than by his manqué prospects. Little Vita Leveson asked her father : "Is it you or Mamma that's going to give me a little brother ?" There were also Ly. Gertrude Talbot, Mr. H. Cowper, etc.
Dean Stanley and Ly. Augusta came in after dinner : the Dean was in his element, and very delightful, talking of the loyal outburst in the country. He said nothing cd. have been imagined more striking than the course of events, and indeed it has been like a drama. The grumbling Republicanism culminating almost in threats, followed by the illness of the Prince, and that illness one so prolonged as to melt all hearts and awaken all sympathies, the devotion of the Queen and Princess — the turn for the better on the anniversary of his father's death—the great Thanksgiving Day, with its fine weather breaking out after lowering rain and fog : then the attack on the Queen by what wd. seem like the one disloyal hand among three millions, and the fresh rush of loving feeling caused by it and by her courage.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

01Mar1872, The Queen is Attacked

LONDON, Friday, March 1st, 1872.
—A crazy attack was made on the Queen last night as she came home from a drive by a wretched Irish boy with an old broken unloaded pistol, which he levelled within a foot of her head. It seems he hoped (sanguine!) to frighten her into signing a paper he had for the release of the Fenian prisoners ; and that he had tried in vain to play this precious trick near S. Paul's on Tuesday. Lucky for him the crowd was too great : he wd. certainly have been set upon by the people and very likely torn to pieces. In a p.s. at the end of this document he begs to be shot, not hung, if he is caught ; I fear he will have neither honour, but a sound flogging. The Queen behaved beautifully ; she was horribly frightened, and just called out "Save me" to Lady Churchill, who was next to her ; but the next thing she did was to beg the guards not to hurt the scamp as he struggled with them ; and she then immediately sent off Gen, Hardinge to the Houses of Parlt. to have a proper statement made of the matter, and to prevent panic. Nevertheless some newsboys, I believe, shouted "Assassination of the Queen" about some of the streets. If anything was wanted to send loyalty up to boiling-point, this attempt has done it ! Great crowds gathered in the Park when the Queen pluckily drove out this morning in an open carriage with no extra precautions ; and again to see her go away ; and cheered famously. Little Bertram saw the departure joisted on somebody's shoulder, and announced that he cheered as loud as he cd., which no doubt encouraged Her Majesty.
Mr. Birch, the Pr. of Wales' old tutor, saw him since his illness and told — how much struck he was with the Prince's improved tone and seriousness ; adding, "I think Lady Lyttelton's early training may be telling now."

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.

23Feb1872, A Strange Will and Gov. Eyre

LONDON, Friday, February 23rd, 1872.
—The W. E.G.'s dined with us : he had a regular scrimmage last night over a Parks Bill : Mr. Hardy rather inexcusably leading off with sharp party accusations, Dizzy maliciously seizing the opportunity for tickling up Uncle W. with a straw, Mr. Harcourt "posing as tribune of the roughs," and the lot amongst them getting sad rises out of the Prime Minister, who never will learn [FN: The same incapacity to ignore attacks meant only to "draw" him caused great loss of time in his later Ministries.] the right moments for silent contempt or calm snubs. In spite of all this, however, and the many more important vexations and anxieties ahead, Uncle W. plunged con amore into Jamaican politics and told us of his father's odd will leaving his sugar estates, when they were at the lowest ebb of value, to be divided inalienably among his four daughters-in-law ! His sons desired only to sell these shares to their brother Robertson ; but could not do so legally ; and Uncle W. was advised that his only dodge was to put a clause into his own will disinheriting anybody who should dispute the sale ! The Gov. Eyre topic came up, and it was interesting to see Uncle W.'s intense feeling against the panic style of putting down black risings—the more striking as coming from the son of a canny old slaveholder. He told us of certain terrible reprisals in Cephalonia upon the subject race that had got up a row many years ago—his whole countenance full of wrath and pain. "The English are not a humane people," he said with great emphasis.

22Feb1872, Handsome and Love-lorn Hubert Parry

LONDON, Thursday, February 22nd, 1872.
—Dined at Portl. Pl. [FN: Her father's house.], meeting Ly. A. Compton, Helen Gladstone, Mr. Strutt, the handsome and love-lorn Hubert Parry, who may not marry his Maude Herbert for a long while, viewing money ; darling King Alfred, etc. Nice music and singing.