Page:Cassell's Illustrated History of England vol 9.djvu/17

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A.D. 1861.] DEATH OF THE PRINCE CONSORT. and fathers; and if any one could have pointed out an individual in Her Majesty's dominions as singularly blessed in all the relations of life, and as likely for many years to enjoy his happy lot, he would have named the husband of the Queen. He enjoyed good health; he was in the prime of life, only forty-two years of age: and never perhaps had he enjoyed life with greater zest. But how soon was this bright prospect overcast! Who could have imagined that before the end of the year, that he would be visited by death, and that the Queen, then so happy, should become a heartbroken widow — smitten down by a calamity the shadow of which was to rest upon her spirit throughout the whole of her future life? The Queen left Balmoral on the 22nd of October, and slept that night in tho piilaeo of Holyrood. On tho following day, tho Prince Consort laid the foundation- stone of the Now General Post-offico in Edinburgh, and afterwards performed tho same ceremonial for the In- dustrial Museum of Scotland. On the same evening, the royal party resumed their journey to England, and arrived at Windsor Castle at half-past eight the fol- lowing morning. On the 1st of November, the Queen, as Sovereign of the most exalted Order of the Star of India, held her first investiture in great state. This Order had been instituted a few months before, to provide a means for adequately recognising and iKjuouring ser-ices rendered to the British Crown iu India, whether by native princes or by British subjects. It consists of a Grand Master (who is the Viceroy of India for tho time being), and twenty-five knights, together with such extra and honorary knights as Her Majesty may from time to time see fit to appoint. The Queeu wore the mantle of tho Order, which is of light blue saiin, lined mth white satin, and fastened with a cordon of light silk, with blue and silver tassels. Over tho mantle she wore a collar of gold and enamel, com- posed of the lotus of India, of palm branches, and the united ilnte and red roses. There was an imperial crovn iu the centre of the collar, from which was sus- pended the badge, consisting of an onyx cameo of Her Majesty's effigy, set iu an oval, which contained the motto of the Order — " Heaven's light our guide," sur- moimted by a star, all in diamonds. Tho Prince Consort and the Prince of Wales had been invested as extra knights previous to her entering the throne room. Tho following knights then receivetl the insignia of the Order : Lord Harris, Lord Gough, Maharajah Duleep Singh, Lord Clyde, Sir John Laii-d, Sir Andrew Law- rence, and Sir George Pollock. Nothing unusual was heard of the royal family till the middle of December ; and the heavy toll of the great bell of St. Paul's gave tho first intimation to many of the people of London that the Prince Consort had been suffering from any dangerous illness. On the previous Satiu-day, the Court News had announced that tho Queen had driven out in an open carriage, and that tho Prince had been confined to his apartments during tho week by a feverish cold, attended with paius in the limbs. On tho foUowiug Wednesday, a bulletiu stated that he was suffering from fever unattended by unfavourable symp. toms, but likely from its nature to continue for some tinu^ On Saturday, however, rumours wore abi-oiul at tho West-end that the Prince was ikngerously ill, and that ho was sinking fast. Then it was reported tliat lio had rallied, and that even at the Castle no serious alann existed. Wlien, therefore, tho bell of St. Paul's tolled at midnight over tho hushed city, it inspired a feeling of apjirehension which was too sadly realised next luorning. Tlu! intelligi'uce of tho death of the Prince was theu flashed along every wire throughout tlie United Kingdom and over tho Continent of Europe. It being Sunday, it was not till tho people went to church and noticed tho omission of tho Prince's name in the Liturgy, that tho mournful truth was fully realised. The grief was uni- versal, pervading every household, as if each had lost some dear and honoured relative. Tho death of the Prince was announced in an extraordinary gazette in tho folloang terms : — " On Saturday night, the 14th instant, at ten minutes before eleven o'clock, the Prince Consort departed this life at Windsor Castle, to the inexpressible grief of Her Majesty and of all tho royal family. Tho death of this illustrious Prince will be deeply mourned by all Her Majesty's attached and faitliful subjects, as au irreparable loss to Her Majesty, the royal family, and tho nation." Thex'o is no exaggeration in this language. There were manifestations of sorrow throughout the mition sueh as had never been witnessed since the death of the Princess Charlotte. AU ranks and classes united in one spontaneous expression of sjinpathy with the widowed Queen and the bereaved family, who, without warning or presentiment, had suddenly lost tho manly soul, the ^varm heai't, tho steady judgment, the accom- plished mind, the tender voice, and the firm hand, that had cheered and guided them for twenty-one years. Tho outward symbols of the nation's grief did not wait for the usual formalities. For several days before the funeral, nearly the whole population appeared iu mom-n- ing, not oidy iu London and throughout England, but also in Scotland and IrelaucL Tho appearance of the congregatious on the Sunday before the funeral was most impressive. The pulpits and reading-desks were hung with tho drapery of woe, the worshippers were all dressed in black, and the theme of every sermon on that morning was the death of the Prince. The fimeral took place on the 23rd of December. At the express desire of the departed Prince, it was of a private character ; but all the chief men of the State attended tho obsequies at the Royal Cliapel. Nature seemed to sjTnpathise with the national feehng of de- pression and gloom. The weather was cold and damp, tho sky dull and heavy. There was a procession o.. state cai-riages to St. George's Chapel, at the door of which the Prince of Wales and the other royal mouruerG were assembled to receive the corpse. The grief of tho royal children was very affecting ; little Prince Arthur especially sobbed as if his heart were breaking. "Wlieu all was over, and the last of the long, lingering train of mourners had departed, the attendants descended into tho vault with lights, and moved tho bier and coffia