Page:Dictionary of National Biography, Second Supplement, volume 3.djvu/572

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Victoria
Victoria
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comfort was lower. The princess chafed somewhat under her mother-in-law's strict surveillance, and few sympathised with her unshakeable faith in the beneficence of constitutional government as it was practised in England. She could not conceal her liberal convictions or hold aloof from political discussion. She steadily continued the historical and literary studies to which her father had accustomed her, and she wrote to him a weekly letter, asking his advice on political questions, and enclosing essays on historical subjects. His influence over her was unimpaired till his death. In Oct. 1858 her father-in-law, Prince William, assumed the regency, and his summons of a moderate liberal ministry evoked an expression of her satisfaction which irritated the conservative party at court. In December 1860 she delighted her father with an exhaustive memorandum, whereby she thought to allay the apprehensions of the Prussian court, on the advantages of ministerial responsibility (Martin, Life of the Prince Consort, v. 259). She was outspoken in all her criticism of her environment, and her active interests in art and philanthropy as well as in politics ran counter to Prussian ideas and traditions. She was constantly comparing her life in Germany with the amenities of her English home (Bernhardi, Aus meinem Leben, vi. 116), and she wounded Prussian susceptibilities by pointing out England's social advantages. Over her husband she rapidly acquired a strong influence which increased distrust of her in court circles. Her energy and independence undoubtedly conquered any defect of resolution in him, but his liberal sentiments were deeply rooted. Meanwhile the English press was constantly denouncing the illiberality of Prussian rule, and the unpopularity of the princess, who was freely identified with such attacks, increased. 'This attitude of the EngUsh newspapers,' wrote Lord Clarendon in 1861, 'preys upon the princess royal's spirits, and materially affects her position in Prussia' (Memoirs and Letters of Sir Robert Morier, i. 295).

In Jan. 1861, when King William I succeeded his brother Frederick William IV on the throne of Prussia, the princess and her husband became crown princess and crown prince. On 18 Oct. she attended the coronation of her father-in-law at Konigsberg. Before the close of the year she suffered the shock of her father's premature death (14 Dec. 1861). Her husband represented her at the funeral, which her delicate health prevented her from attending. In her father the princess lost a valued friend and counsellor, while the Prussian king was deprived of an adviser, whose circumspect advice had helped him to reconcile opposing forces in Prussian politics. In March 1862 a breach between the king of Prussia and both the moderate and advanced liberals led him to summon to his aid Bismarck and the conservative (Junker) party. To the new minister constitutional principles had no meaning, and the crown prince and princess made open declaration of hostility. The crown prince absented himself from cabinet meetings, which he had attended since the king's accession, and he and his wife withdrew from court (Bernardi, Aus meinem Leben, v. 8). In October 1862 they left Berlin, and subsequently joined the Prince of Wales, a frequent visitor at his sister's German home, on a cruise in the Mediterranean. Early in 1863 the crown princess with her son and consort was in England, where she filled the place of her widowed mother, Queen Victoria, at a drawing-room at Buckingham Palace (28 Feb.). On 10 March she was present at the Prince of Wales's wedding at Windsor.

The steady growth under Bismarck's ascendancy of absolutist principles of government in Prussia intensified the resentment of the crown princess and her husband. In June 1863 the crown prince made an open protest in a speech at Dantzig. The princess, with characteristic want of discretion, frankly told President Eichmann that her opinions were those of the liberal press (Whitman, Emperor Frederick, p. 162). Bismarck imputed to her a resolve ’to bring her consort more into prominence and to acquaint public opinion with the crown prince's way of thinking' (Busch's Bismarck, iii. 238). The king demanded of the crown prince a recantation of the Dantzig speech. The request was refused, but the prince offered to retire with his family to some place where he could not meddle with politics. In the result Bismarck imposed vexatious restrictions on the heir-apparent's freedom of action. Spies in the guise of aides-de-camp and chamberlains were set over him and his wife at Berlin, and by 1864 the whole of their retinue consisted of Bismarck's followers (Memoirs of Sir Robert Morier, i. 343, 410). The vituperative conservative press assigned the heir-apparent's obduracy to his wife's influence.

The princess met Queen Victoria at Rosenau near Coburg in August 1863, and