in a small, specially constructed theatre in the Castle, and are collecting what still remains of the older art."
This interest in acting was not mere patronage based on duty. In their home life also, the Queen and the Prince encouraged the children to read and act plays; and Prince Albert Edward told his tutor, in August, 1854, 3 of the celebration of his birthday when Princess Victoria " recited the whole scene of Shylock before the court," followed by the Prince of Wales acting a scene from Henry IV. They also presented essays, with illustrations, and played the pianoforte. Then the Prince of Wales
"recited the monologue from Schiller William Tell ... and offered an English essay on the Tales of Ulysses."Prince Alfred recited the fable of The Fox and the Crow, played on the pianoforte and violin, and gave his father two essays in German. Prince Albert added,
"The little ones did their part likewise, and very well too."
This solemn programme shows that the Court interest in acting did not stop at the footlights. Many years later, Queen Victoria asked Mr. Hare to produce A Pair of Spectacles at Windsor and noted afterwards in her journal that Mr. Hare
"was not only a good actor but a gentleman, as so many actors are nowadays."It was her suggestion, in later years, that plays should be acted during Lent, and, in a lighter moment, that bands should play in the London parks on Sunday.
ON THE way to Scotland in August, the Queen, the Prince, and their children went to Ireland for the first time. Twenty-eight years had passed since a British monarch landed in the nearest overseas possession, a neglect which justified, if it did not explain, some of the discontent in the country. Queen Victoria had never "liked" Ireland or the Irish, but her duty was clear and she had written to her Prime Minister in 1846, before the terrible famine and rebellion, admitting that Ireland represented a journey
"which must one day or other be undertaken."But she added that it was
"not a journey of pleasure"and that the cost should not fall upon the civil list.
The Queen was brave in making the journey so soon after the dark and awful year. Early in 1849 Lord Clarendon had pressed the cause of Ireland in a letter to Lord John Russell:
"Agitation is extinct, Repeal is forgotten — the seditious associations are closed — the priests are frightened and the people are tranquil. "