Queen Victoria: A Personal History

By Christopher Hibbert | Go to book overview

63
BOOKMEN

'It is impossible to imagine a politer little woman.'

HAVING READ AND GREATLY ADMIRED Lord Tennyson In Memoriam -- although his Holy Grail had left her 'quite bewildered' 1 -- the Queen asked to meet the poet who lived some fifteen miles from Osborne. Tennyson was reluctant to go, he was shy, he said, and would not know how to conduct himself. But on 14 April 1862, four months after the Prince Consort's death, he did go, taking his two sons and Benjamin Jowett, Fellow of Balliol, with him; and the visit was a success. The Queen described Tennyson as being 'very peculiar looking, tall, dark, with a fine head, long black flowing hair and a beard -- oddly dressed but there is no affectation about him.' They talked about Prince Albert, of course; and Tennyson said he would have made a great king. Tears, gratifyingly, came into his eyes. The Queen asked him if there was anything she could do for him. He said there was nothing; but he would be grateful if she would shake his sons by the hand: the gesture might 'keep them loyal in the troublous times to come'. 2

A meeting with the American poet, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, was not so successful. The Queen made a few complimentary remarks to which Longfellow replied that he was surprised to find himself so well known in England. 'Oh, I assure you, Mr Longfellow,'the Queen said, according to the poet's own account,'you are very well known. All my servants read you. "Sometimes,' said Longfellow, 'I will wake up in the night and wonder if it was a deliberate slight.' Oscar Wilde, to whom Longfellow related this story, observed afterwards that it was 'the rebuke of Majesty to the vanity of the poet'. 3

-481-

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Queen Victoria: A Personal History
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Illustrations xi
  • Author's Note and Acknowledgements xv
  • Queen Victoria's Prime Ministers xviii
  • Part One - 1819-1861 1
  • 1 - The Family 3
  • 2 - The Parents 9
  • 3 - The Child 17
  • 4 - Conroy 25
  • 5 - Progresses 30
  • 6 - Uncles 41
  • 7 - The Young Queen 53
  • 8 - Melbourne 60
  • 9 - Coronation 70
  • 10 - The Hastings Affair 76
  • II - A Pleasant Life' 85
  • 12 - A Headstrong Girl 90
  • 13 - German Cousins 98
  • 14 - Prince Albert 107
  • 15 - The Bridegroom 111
  • 16 - Honeymoon 120
  • 17 - Robert Peel 130
  • 18 - The Prince and the Household 137
  • 19 - Royal Quarrels 148
  • 20 - Osborne 157
  • 21 - Travelling 165
  • 22 - Balmoral 175
  • 23 - The Prince of Wales 183
  • 24 - Palmerston 193
  • 25 - Chartists 199
  • 26 - Pam is Out 204
  • 27 - The Great Exhibition 210
  • 28 - Scenes 216
  • 29 - Crimean War 221
  • 30 - Napoleon III 230
  • 31 - The Princess Royal 238
  • 32 - Indian Mutiny 248
  • 33 - The German Grandson 256
  • 34 - Death of the Duchess 264
  • 35 - The Disappointing Heir 268
  • 36 - Death of the Prince 276
  • Part Two - 1861-1901 283
  • 37 - The Grieving Widow 285
  • 38 - Seances and Services 293
  • 39 - Princess Alexandra 298
  • 40 - The Recluse 307
  • 41 - Disraeli 314
  • 42 - John Brown 321
  • 43 - The Royalty Question 331
  • 44 - The Princely Pauper 338
  • 45 - Typhoid Fever 342
  • 46 - Maids-Of-Honour 349
  • 47 - Secretaries and Ministers 353
  • 48 - Regina Et Imperatrix 360
  • 49 - The Half-Mad Firebrand 367
  • 50 - Golden Jubilee 379
  • 51 - Die Engländerin 384
  • 52 - The Daughters 391
  • 53 - The Sons 396
  • 54 - The Grand Children 414
  • 55 - Would-Be Assassins 420
  • 56 - Holidays Abroad 428
  • 57 - Death of Brown 440
  • 58 - The Munshi 446
  • 59 - Diamond Jubilee 455
  • 60 - Life at Court 461
  • 61 - Dinner Parties 468
  • 62 - Books 477
  • 63 - Bookmen 481
  • 64 - Failing Health 484
  • 65 - Death 492
  • 66 - Funeral and Burial 495
  • References 503
  • Sources 523
  • Index 535
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