Queen Victoria: A Personal History

By Christopher Hibbert | Go to book overview

II
A PLEASANT LIFE'

'If Melbourne ever left the room
her eyes followed him, and . . .
she sighed when he was gone.'

FOR ALL VICTORIA'S occasional withering disapproval and what Lady Paget called her 'commanding look, and for all the criticism levelled at her in the immediate aftermath of the Lady Flora Hastings affair, it was generally conceded that the Queen was a young woman of charm and character, self-willed and pertinacious admittedly but determined, as she confided to her journal, to do her utmost to fulfil her duty to her country. 'I am very young,' she wrote with unconscious pietism, 'and perhaps in many, though not in all things, inexperienced, but I am sure, that very few have more real good will and more real desire to do what is fit and right than I have.'

Certainly she was relishing her new role as Queen and was scarcely in need of the sympathy expressed for the 'poor little Queen' by Thomas Carlyle who said that she could hardly be expected to choose a bonnet for herself let alone undertake a task 'from which an archangel might shrink'. 1 She said that sometimes when she woke up in the morning she was 'quite afraid that it should all be a dream'. It was such 'a pleasant life', she said. 'Everybody says that I am quite another person since I came to the throne,' she told Princess Feodora. I look and am so very well . . . I [lead] just the sort of life I like. I have a good deal of business to do, and all that does me a world of good.' 2

She had left Kensington Palace with mixed feelings: she had had days of great unhappiness there; but she had pleasing memories of it too, most

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