Queen Victoria In Ireland

THE Queen paid her first visit to Ireland in the autumn of 1849. She arrived in the " Fairy " at the Cove of Cork whilst bon fires blazed upon the neighbouring hills, and rockets shot up from the ships in the harbour. Next day the " Fairy" steamed round the harbour and then lay beside the pier at Cove to receive various deputations with addresses, " after which," says the Queen, " to give the people the satisfaction of calling the place ' Queenstown,' in honour of its being the first spot on which I set foot upon Irish ground, I stepped on shore amid the roar of cannon (for the artillery was placed so close as quite to shake the temporary room into which we entered) and the enthusiastic shouts of the people."


At Cork itself there were more addresses, and a splendid reception. The Queen rode through Cork in Lord Bandon's carriage, and so many carriages and horsemen joined the procession that it took two hours to pass through the crowded streets. The Queen took much notice of the good-humoured, noisy crowd ; the men, often raggedly dressed in their blue coats and knee-breeches and blue stockings, the women, in their long blue cloaks, and " with such dark eyes and hair, and such fine teeth ; almost every third woman was pretty, and some, remarkably so." The four royal children pleased the Irish people exceedingly. " Oh, Queen dear," one old lady is reported to have shouted, " make one of thim darlints Prince Patrick, and all Ireland will die for ye ! " There was another royal baby born-in May of the following year, and named Arthur Patrick Albert ; but whether or not the Queen took the hint from the old Irishwoman, I really cannot say.


The royal party sailed in the "Fairy" from Cork to Dublin. Here the reception of the Sovereign was really magnificent. There were, of course, triumphal arches, and all sorts of flags and decorations, but the great feature of the scene was the people. "It was a wonderful and exciting scene," says the Queen in her diary, "such masses of human beings, so enthusiastic, so excited, yet such perfect order maintained ; then the number of troops, the different bands stationed at certain distances, the waving of hats and handkerchiefs, the bursts of welcome which rent the air—all made it a never-to-be-forgotten scene, when one reflected how lately the country had been in open revolt and under martial law." As the royal carriage passed under the last triumphal arch, " a poor little dove," says the Queen, "was let down into my lap, with an olive branch around its neck, alive, and very tame."

There were grand reviews and drawing-rooms and so forth in Dublin, and then the Queen went to the Duke of Leinster's place ; here, in the park, she was much amused at seeing the country people dancing Irish jigs.


On leaving Dublin, when the steam-yacht passed the end of Kingstown pier, which was densely packed with spectators, the Queen mounted the paddle-box and stood beside Prince Albert, waving her hand; then, at her command the engines were stopped, and the Royal Standard was three times lowered as a parting salute. Then the yacht sailed through stormy weather to Belfast, where there was another joyful reception, after which the party crossed over to Scotland. The passage across was exceedingly rough. The Queen says, " Poor little Affie was knocked down and sent rolling over the deck, and was completely drenched." " Affie," of course, was Prince Alfred, now Duke of Edinburgh.

Chicken Pox

After her return to London, the Queen was to have gone to open the New Coal Exchange, but she was prevented by an attack of chicken-pox. So Prince Albert went with the Prince of Wales and the Princess Royal in the old Royal Barge, " a gorgeous structure of antique design." The Lord Mayor followed in the City Barge, and other gaily decorated vessels helped to make up a gay river procession.

Fortunately for all concerned in this novel water pageant, the day, although late in October, was fine and bright. The Royal party enjoyed a remarkable spectacle as they were rowed down the stream by twenty-seven watermen in rich liveries, under the command of Lord Adolphus Fitzclarence. All the barges and steamers and lighters on the river were loaded with human beings to their utmost capacity, and the banks were everywhere densely crowded. The very streets running down from the Strand were so thickly packed with spectators, that each one, seen from the water, presented the appearance of a moving mass. It was calculated that to witness the unwonted sight at least half a million of persons were gathered together. Over all the bridges they seemed to be clustered like swarms of flies, and ever and anon the air was rent by the long and far resounding shouts of welcome.

Coal Exchange

The Royal visitors landed at the Custom House Quay, and walked under coloured canvas through crowds of citizens to the Coal Exchange. The Recorder, in his big cloak and wig, read an address in loud tones, and it is said that the Prince of Wales looked " struck and almost awed by his manner," especially when the tall official looked down at that little boy, not quite eight, and called him " Your Royal Highness, the pledge and promise of a long race of kings." Lady Lyttelton says, "Poor Princey did not seem to guess at all what he meant." But the two children evidently enjoyed their first experience of public ceremonials, and after the banquet, as they were returning to the State Barge, Prince Albert said to them, " Remember, you are indebted to the Lord Mayor for one of the happiest days of your lives."

Death of Queen Adelaide

On December 2nd, Queen-Dowager Adelaide died, after many years of suffering. Our young readers will remember that this was the Queen's Aunt Clarence, referred to towards the beginning of this little book. Queen Victoria saw her for the last time a few days before the close. Her Majesty says : " There was death written in that dear face. It was such a picture of misery and of complete prostration, and yet she talked of everything. I could hardly command my feelings when I came in, and when I kissed twice that poor dear thin hand. . . . I love her so dearly ; she has ever been so maternal in her affection to me. She will find peace and a reward for her many sufferings." In accordance with her own wish, Queen Adelaide was " without pomp or state," laid by the side of King William's coffin at Windsor, and ten sailors of the Royal Navy attended to its last resting-place the coffin containing the remains of her who had been the bride of the Sailor-King.