THE bridal journey to Berlin was in the nature of a triumphal
progress, and it was well that the Prince and Princess were both young
and full of healthy vitality. At Brussels they were present at a great
Court ball given in their honour, but early the next morning they were
again on their route, and all the way there were receptions, addresses
of congratulations, &c., to be received and answered.
It was probably at Brussels that the Princess received a touching letter from her father, written on the day after her departure from England:
"My heart was very full when yesterday you leaned your forehead on my breast to give free vent to your tears. I am not of a demonstrative nature, and therefore you can hardly know how dear you have always been to me, and what a void you have left behind in my heart: yet not in my heart, for there assuredly you will abide henceforth, as till now you have done, but in my daily life, which is evermore reminding my heart of your absence."
Three days later Prince Albert again wrote to her:
"Thank God, everything apparently goes on to a wish, and you seem to gain 'golden opinions' in your favour; which naturally gives us extreme pleasure, both because we love you, and because this touches our parental pride. But what has given us most pleasure of all was the letter, so overflowing with affection, which you wrote while yet on board the yacht. Poor child! well did I feel the bitterness of your sorrow, and would so fain have soothed it. But, excepting my own sorrow, I had nothing to give; and that would only have had the effect of augmenting yours."
To Stockmar, whose son, Baron Ernest Stockmar, was appointed Treasurer to the Princess Royal on her marriage, he wrote
"Throughout all this agitated, serious and very trying time, the good child has behaved quite admirably, and to the mingled admiration and surprise of every one. She was so natural, so childlike, so dignified and firm in her whole bearing and demeanour, that one might well believe in a higher inspiration. I shall not forget that your son has proved himself in all ways extremely useful, and takes and holds his ground, which, among the Berliners, is no easy matter."
The progress to Berlin was, at any rate, by no means dull; it was marked by plenty of incident, sometimes not of a pleasant nature. For instance, when the bridal pair were entertained at a great Court banquet at Hanover, whether by malice, or more probably by sheer stupidity, the feast was spread on the very gold dinner-service which had been a subject of dispute between Queen Victoria and King Ernest, a dispute which had been decided by the English law officers of the Crown in favour of Hanover. The Princess Royal, who knew all about the affair, felt deeply hurt, but she did not allow this to be noticed except by her intimate entourage.
In Magdeburg Cathedral the crowd became so obstreperous in their eager desire to see the Princess that shreds of her gown, a dress of tartan velvet, were actually torn off her back.
Just before Potsdam was reached, the famous Field-Marshal Wrangel, who had played so great a part in the Revolution of 1848, jumped into the train. After he had complimented the Royal bride, he sat down on a seat on which had been placed an enormous apple-tart which had just been presented to the Princess at Wittenberg, a town noted for its pastry. Fortunately the old soldier took the accident in good part, and joined in the hearty laughter which accompanied the efforts of the Princess and her ladies to clean his uniform.
The whole of the Prussian Royal family assembled at Potsdam to greet the bride and bridegroom, who made their State entry into Berlin on February 8. It was a fine day, but the cold was of an intensity never before experienced by the Princess. Nevertheless, she and her ladies were all in low Court dresses, and, by her express wish, the windows of the State carriages were kept down, so that the eager populace might be the better able to see inside.
The drive lasted two hours and ended at the Old Schloss, where the Prince and Princess found once more the whole of the Prussian Royal family assembled, headed by the then King and his Queen. As the Queen embraced the bride, she observed coldly : "Are you not frozen?" The Princess replied with a smile: - I have only one warm place, and that is my heart!"
It is a curious fact that on that night of the State entry into Berlin, when every house, and especially every palace and embassy, was brilliantly illuminated, the English Legation alone remained in darkness. This was simply because the gas company had undertaken to do more than it could accomplish, for gas had never been used in Berlin before that night for public illumination. Still, the circumstance was long remembered by the more superstitious of the Berliners.
The youthful bride made a very favourable impression on those who saw her on that first day in Berlin. Her manner was singularly quiet and self-possessed, and she found a kind and suitable word to say to everyone. Yet, even so, feeling ran so high in Prussian society, and especially at the Court, that Lord and Lady Bloomfield, the then English Minister and his wife, made a point of avoiding the Princess Royal, so desirous were they of giving no cause of offence to the King and Queen.
Meanwhile, the loving parents in London were kept busy in reading the accounts, which poured in on them from every quarter, of their daughter's reception in her new home. Thus, Queen Victoria's sister, the Princess of Hohenlohe-Langenburg, writes from Berlin on February 17:
"You know of everything that is going on, and how much she [the Princess Royal] is admired, and deserves so to be. The enthusiasm and interest shown are beyond everything. Never was a Princess in this country received as she is. That shows where the sympathies turn to, certainly not towards the North Pole."
This was perhaps a little too couleur de rose, and when Prince Frederick William telegraphed to his parents-in-law, "The whole Royal family is enchanted with my wife," Prince Albert's dry comment, in writing to his daughter, was that the telegraph must have been amazed at the message. Nor did the anxious father fail to seize the opportunity for a little sermon. In this same letter, dated February 11, he writes to the Princess
"You have now entered upon your new home, and been received and welcomed on all sides with the greatest friendship and cordiality. This kindly and trustful advance of a whole nation towards an entire stranger must have kindled and confirmed within you the determination to show yourself in every way worthy of such feelings, and to reciprocate and requite them by the steadfast resolution to dedicate the whole energies of your life to this people of your new home. And you have received from Heaven the happy task of effecting this object by making your husband truly happy, and of doing him at the same time the best service, by aiding him to maintain and to increase the love of his countrymen.
"That you have everywhere made so favourable an impression has given intense happiness to me as a father. Let me express my fullest admiration of the way in which, possessed exclusively by the duty which you had to fulfil, you have kept down and overcome your own little personal troubles, perhaps also many feelings of sorrow not yet healed. This is the way to success, and the only way. If you have succeeded in winning people's hearts by friendliness, simplicity, and courtesy, the secret lay in this, that you were not thinking of yourself. Hold fast this mystic power; it is a spark from Heaven."
Admirable advice in a sense, but unfortunately too general to be of much service to the warmhearted, impulsive Princess, before whom lay so many unsuspected pitfalls. Prince Albert believed, as he had said to his son-in-law, that his daughter possessed "a man's head and a child's heart," an allusion to the poet's words, "In wit a man, simplicity a child." But Prussia was not Coburg, and even from Coburg Prince Albert had now been away for nearly twenty years. He does not appear at all to have appreciated either the situation which now confronted the Princess Royal, or how little adapted she was by her temperament and her training to meet it.
In the Princess of Prussia (afterwards the Empress Augusta) her English daughter-in-law ever had a true friend and ally, and during the forty years which followed, the two ladies were on far better terms than anyone could have expected, considering how entirely different had been their upbringing and outlook on life.
For example, Princess Augusta had been taught as a child to tenir cercle in the gardens of the Palace at Weimar - that is to say, she had to make the round of the bushes and trees, each of which represented for the moment a lady or gentleman of the Court, and say something pleasant and suitable to each! In this curious but extremely practical fashion was inculcated one of the most fundamentally important duties of Royal personages, and it may be suggested with all respect that the future Empress Frederick would have benefited if she had had some similar training.
The Princess who was to become Queen of Prussia and the first German Empress had been brought up at Goethe's knee. She belonged, in an intellectual sense, to the eighteenth rather than the nineteenth century. She knew French as well as she knew German - indeed, it is said that she often thought in French, and perhaps her chief friend, at the time of her son's marriage to the Princess Royal, was Monsieur de Bacourt, the French diplomatist to whom the Duchesse de Dino's diary-letters were for the most part addressed. Among her intimates were many Catholics, and for many years it was believed in Berlin that she had been secretly received into the Roman Church. As a young woman she was full of heart and warmth of feeling, but she soon learnt, what her daughter-in-law never succeeded in mastering, the wisdom of circumspection and the painful necessity for prudence. She early made up her mind to remain on the whole in shadow. While never concealing her point of view from those about her, she yet never took any public part in the affairs of State.
During the Crimean War, when the whole of the Prussian Court was pro-Russian, the Princess of Prussia had been pro-English - a fact which naturally endeared her to Queen Victoria, but which had made her Prussian relatives very sore and angry. When the Princess Royal arrived in Berlin as the bride of the King of Prussia's heirpresumptive, the Crimean War was already being forgotten. Among the Liberals there was what may be called a pro-English party, and the joyous simplicity and youthful charm of the Princess silenced criticism, at any rate for a time.
It must be remembered that the Princess Royal had left a young Court. At the time of her marriage her parents were still young people - she made them grandparents when they were only thirty-eight. But the Court in which she now became an important personage was composed of middle-aged men and women, with some very old people. There was still living in the Court circle a lady who was said to remember Frederick the Great. This was the Countess Pauline Neale, who had been one of Queen Louise's ladies-in-waiting. She could recollect with vivid intensity every detail and episode associated with Napoleon's treatment of the King and Queen.
Of great age, too, was the gigantic Field-Marshal Wrangel, who had actually carried the colours of his regiment at the battle of Leipzig.
Another interesting personality in the Princess Royal's new family circle was her husband's aunt, Princess Charles, sister of the Princess of Prussia, who afterwards became the grandmother of the Duchess of Connaught. She still bore traces of the wonderful beauty for which she had been famed in the 'twenties, but was, of course, no longer a young woman.
Not long after the Princess Royal's arrival in Berlin, a German observer wrote to the Prince Consort: "She sees more clearly and more correctly than many a man of commanding intellect, because, while possessing an acute mind and the purest heart, she does not know the word 'prejudice.'"
Less than a month after her marriage, on February 17, the Prince Consort sent his daughter a letter full of wise warning:
"Your festival time, if not your honeymoon, comes to an end to-day; and on this I take leave to congratulate you, unfeeling though it may sound, for I wish for you the necessary time and tranquillity to digest the many impressions you have received, and which otherwise, like a wild revel, first inflame, and then stupefy, leaving a dull nerveless lassitude behind. Your exertions, and the demands which have been made upon you, have been quite immense; you have done your best, and have won the hearts, or what is called the hearts, of all. In the nature of things we may now expect a little reaction. The public, just because it was rapturous and enthusiastic, will now become minutely critical and take you to pieces anatomically. This is to be kept in view, although it need cause you no uneasiness, for you have only followed your natural bent, and have made no external demonstration which did not answer to the truth of your inner nature. It is only the man who presents an artificial demeanour to the world, who has to dread being unmasked.
"Your place is that of your husband's wife, and of your mother's daughter. You will desire nothing else, but you will also forego nothing of that which you owe to your husband and to your mother. Ultimately your mind will, from the overexcitement, fall back to a little lassitude and sadness. But this will make you feel a craving for activity, and you have much to do, in studying your new country, its tendencies and its people, and in overlooking your household as a good housewife, with punctuality, method, and vigilant care. To success in the affairs of life, apportionment of time is essential, and I hope you will make this your first care, so that you may always have some time over for the fulfilment of every duty."
Baron Stockmar had also been watching the details of the Princess's reception in her new country with anxious interest. He, too, saw the danger of a reaction, and he wrote a letter to the Prince Consort, in reply to which the father, after commending the Princess's tact, said:
"The enthusiasm with which she seems to have been everywhere received exceeds our utmost calculations and hopes, and proves that the people approved the idea of this alliance, and have found Vicky in herself answer to their expectations. It is only now, indeed, the difficulties of her life will begin, and after the excitement of the festivities a certain melancholy will come over the poor child, however happy she may feel with her husband. With marriage, a new life has opened for her, and you would have marvelled at the sudden change and development which even here became at once apparent.
"We, that is she and I, have, I think, remained, and I believe will remain, the same to one another. She continues to set great store by my advice and my confidence; I do not thrust them upon her, but I am always ready to give them. During this time of troubles she has written less to me, and communicated the details of her life, and what she is doing, more to her mother. I had arranged this with her, but I hold her promise to impart to me faithfully the progress of her inner life, and on the other hand have given her mine, to take a constantly active part in fostering it. You may be sure I will not fail in this, as I see in it merely the fulfilment of a sacred duty.
"What you say about an early visit had already been running in my head, and I will frankly explain what we think on this subject. Victoria and I are both desirous to have a meeting with the young couple, somewhere or other in the course of the year, having moreover given them a promise that we would. This could only be in the autumn. A rendezvous on the Rhine - for example at Coblentz - would probably be the right thing. This does not exclude a flying visit by myself alone, which, if it is to be of any use, must be paid earlier in the year. How and where we could see each other I have naturally weighed, and am myself doubtful whether Berlin is the appropriate place for me. I have therefore come to the conclusion that I might go to Coburg, and give the young people a rendezvous there."
The Princess Royal spent her first winter in Berlin in the Old Schloss. The castle had not been lived in for a considerable time, and to one accustomed to the even then high standard of English living and hygiene, it must have seemed almost mediaeval in its lack of comfort, and of what the Princess had been brought up to regard as the bare necessities of life - light, warmth, and plenty of hot water.
The young couple were allotted a suite of splendidly decorated but very dark and gloomy rooms; and none of the passages or staircases were heated. The Princess, who had always been encouraged to turn her quick mind to practical matters, and who delighted in creating and in making, found her way blocked at every turn owing to the fact that nothing could be done in the Old Schloss without the direct permission of the King. Not only was Frederick William IV in a very bad and mentally peculiar state of health, but to him and to his Queen any attempt to change or modify anything in the ancient pile of buildings where his predecessor had, lived savoured of sacrilege. To give one instance, King Frederick William III had died in the very suite of rooms allotted to the Prince and Princess, and his children had piously preserved the "death-chamber," as it was still called, in exactly the same state as it was on the day of his death. This room was situated next to the Princess's boudoir, and every time she went to her bedroom or dressing-room she was obliged to pass through it.
The Old Schloss was widely believed to be haunted, not only by the "White Lady" but by other ghosts, and the door between the Princess Royal's boudoir and the "death-chamber" would sometimes open by itself. One winter evening, the Princess and one of her ladies were sitting together in the boudoir. The lady, who was reading aloud, raised her eyes and suddenly saw the door of the death-chamber, which was covered, like the walls, with blue silk, open noiselessly, as if pushed by an invisible hand. She stopped reading abruptly. The Princess asked nervously, "What's happened? Do you see anything?" The lady answered, "Nothing, ma'am," and, getting up, shut the door.
But it would be absurd to suppose that the Princess allowed the ungraciousness of the King and the material discomforts which surrounded her at this time to cloud the beginning of a singularly happy married life. She threw herself with eager zest into her husband's interests, and for the time she seemed completely merged in him. Having regard to the mental equipment and demands of the Princess, it is obvious that she found in her husband great intellectual gifts. The theory that the Prince was wholly influenced by his wife, who took the lead in all, cannot be maintained. He was nine years older than the Princess, who was little more than a child when they married, and his character and outlook were formed long before. His uncle, Duke Ernest, testifies, on the contrary, to the influence which the Prince exerted over his wife.
It must, however, be acknowledged that Prince Frederick William, especially in these early days, agreed with the Princess in regarding England as a perfect country with a perfect constitution. He was deeply grateful to her for having left an ideally happy home to become his wife, and his entire devotion was shown in many ways. Indeed, the only thing in which the Prince Frederick William of these days seems to have ever withstood the Princess Royal was in his refusal to give up his solitary evening walk in the streets of Berlin. The Princess used to go to bed quite early, and then the Prince would go out and walk about quite unattended.
Years later, in reference to her domestic happiness, the Empress wrote feelingly to a friend: "The peace and blessed calm that I ever found in my home, by the side of my beloved husband, when powerful influences from outside were first distressing me, are blessings which I cannot describe."
Some of the conditions of the Princess Royal's new life were undoubtedly very irksome to her. The tone of the Prussian Court in matters, not only of religion and politics, but also of etiquette, was very much narrower than that of the English Court. She seems to have found it impossible to guard her tongue, to conceal her convictions, or to hold aloof from political discussion. At "home," as she soon very unwisely began to call England, she had been used to say everything she thought from childhood upwards, sure of not being misunderstood, and reticence would have seemed to her mean, if not absolutely dishonest.
It is difficult to say when the Prussian reactionary party first became aware that in the bride of Prince Frederick William they had a determined and a brilliant opponent. It must, however, have been fairly early, for it is on record that during that first winter in Berlin "the very approach of a Tory or a reactionary seemed to freeze her up."
Nor is it easy to see how much her father, watching anxiously from England, knew of this. She continued with unabated enthusiasm those historical and literary studies to which the Prince Consort had accustomed her, and she wrote him a weekly letter, asking his advice on political questions. She wrote to her mother daily, sometimes twice a day, but it was her father's influence which really counted with her, and that remained quite unimpaired. It is reasonable to suppose that he attributed whatever seemed to annoy and distress her in Prussian public life to the still paramount influence of the dying King. But he evidently did not at any time realise that, though factious persons might be ready enough to use her in their own interests, no one in Prussia really wanted to see a Princess dabbling in politics at all. Thus, we find the Prince writing to Stockmar in March 1858:
"From Berlin the tenor of the news continues excellent. Vicky appears to go on pleasing, and being pleased. She is an extremely fortunate, animating, and tranquillising element in that region of conflict and indecision."
"Brunnow had reckoned upon Moustier from Berlin, whom he would have had in his pocket, and through him Walewski. Now he gets the Duke of Malakoff! He has not yet been able to realise the position, and is by way of being extremely confidential; it is he alone who has made Vicky's marriage popular in Berlin, where it was at first very unpopular, and he weeps tears of emotion when he speaks of her!"
To the Princess herself he wrote also in March:
"You seem to have taken up your position with much tact. The bandage has been torn from your eyes all at once as regards all the greatest mysteries of life, and you stand not only of a sudden before them, but are called upon to deal with them, and that too on the spur of the moment. ' Oh! It is indeed most hard to be a man,' was the constant cry of the old Würtemberg Minister, von Wangenheim, and he was right!"
The Prince was generally philosophising, but even so the following, written a few days later, seems an extraordinary letter for any father to write to a girl not much over seventeen:
"That you should sometimes be oppressed by home-sickness is most natural. This feeling, which I know right well, will be sure to increase with the sadness which the reviving spring, and the quickening of all nature that comes with it, always develop in the heart. It is a painful yearning, which may exist quite independently of, and simultaneously with, complete contentment and complete happiness. I explain this hard-to-be-comprehended mental phenomenon thus. The identity of the individual is, so to speak, interrupted; and a kind of Dualism springs up by reason of this, that the I which has been, with all its impressions, remembrances, experiences, feelings, which were also those of youth, is attached to a particular spot, with its local and personal associations, and appears to what may be called the new I like a vestment of the soul which has been lost, from which nevertheless the new I cannot disconnect itself, because its identity is in fact continuous. Hence the painful struggle, I might almost say the spasm, of the soul."
To the faithful Stockmar the Prince confided his belief: "As to Vicky, unquestionably she will turn out a very distinguished character, whom Prussia will have cause to bless."
The Prince's cherished scheme of a visit to Coburg began to take shape, and he writes:
"My whole stay in Coburg can only be for six days. To see you and Fritz together in a quiet homely way without visits of ceremony, &c. - I dare not picture it to myself too strongly. Talk it over with Fritz, and let me know if I can count on you, but do not let the plan get wind, otherwise people will be paying us visits, and our meeting will lose its pleasant private character."
Another letter, dated April 28, is interesting as showing that the Prince was beginning to perceive some of the difficulties in his daughter's path:
"What you are now living through, observing, and doing, are the most important experiences, impressions and acts of your life, for they are the first of a life independent and responsible to itself. That outside of and in close proximity to your true and tranquillising happiness with dear Fritz your path of life is not wholly smooth, I regard as a most fortunate circumstance for you, inasmuch as it forces you to exercise and strengthen the powers of your mind."
Nothing that concerned her but was of moment to her father:
"I am delighted to see by your letter that you deliberate gravely upon your budget, and I shall be most happy to look through it, if you send it to me; this is the only way to have a clear idea to one's self of what one has, spends, and ought to spend. As this is a business of which I have had long and frequent experience, I will give you one rule for your guidance in it, namely, to set apart a considerable balance pour l'imprévu. This gentleman is the costliest of guests in life, and we shall look very blank if we have nothing to set before him."
During the first summer of their married life, the Prince and Princess set up quite a modest establishment at the Castle of Babelsberg, and this made the Princess very happy.
Seated on a declivity of a richly-wooded hill, about three miles from Potsdam, and looking down upon a fine expanse of water, the little Castle of Babelsberg commands a charming view of the surrounding country. " Everything there," wrote Queen Victoria on her first visit, "is very small, a Gothic bijou, full of furniture, and flowers (creepers), which they arrange very prettily round screens, and lamps, and pictures. There are many irregular turrets and towers and steps."
It was at Babelsberg that the Princess Royal began to try and see something of the intellectual and artistic world of Berlin. Neither the husband nor the wife was under the dominion of the class and caste prejudices which even now are so astonishing a feature of German social life, and which were then even more powerful and far-reaching. That the Prince and Princess should appear actually to enjoy the society of mere painters and writers and scientists, whether they occupied any official positions or not, seemed extraordinary and highly improper to the whole bureaucratic element of Berlin, and must, we can well imagine, have seriously offended the Prince's father.
It is easy to be wise after the event. No one now can help seeing that it would have been the truest wisdom for the young Princess to have rigidly suppressed her natural tastes and intellectual interests, and to have led a life of the narrowly conventional character which Prussian princesses were expected to lead. But she was incapable of such self-suppression, which would have seemed to her deceitful, and the mild cautions and hints at prudence in her father's letters were pathetically inadequate to the needs of her critical position. She was herself still quite unaware of how closely she was being watched and criticised. "I am very happy," she told a guest at one of the Court receptions, "and I am intensely proud of belonging to this country."
The more the Princess's social preferences aroused the suspicion and indignation of the Court world, the more popular she became with the "intellectuals," unfortunately not a profitable exchange for her as she was then situated. We become aware of this by a passage in the Reminiscences of Professor Schellbach, who had been mathematical tutor to Prince Frederick William. He writes:
"The first words which the Princess addressed to me with the greatest kindness were, 'I love mathematics, physics, and chemistry.' I was much pleased, for I saw that the Prince must have given her a pleasant account of me. Under the direction of her highly cultivated father, who had himself studied it, Princess Victoria had become acquainted with natural science, and had even received her first teaching from such famous men as Faraday and Hoffman. Our beloved Princess soon revealed her love for art and science, as well as her pleasure in setting problems of her own. Her Royal Highness at first tried to go on with her studies in physics and mathematics under my direction, but soon her artistic work took up the remainder of time which the requirements of Court life left to her."
Early in June Prince Albert carried out his plan of visiting his daughter and son-in-law, but it was at Babelsberg, not at Coburg, as he had hoped. He was able to report to Queen Victoria: "The relation between the young people is all that can be desired. I have had long talks with them both, singly and together, which gave me the greatest satisfaction."
Prince Albert was, however, shocked to find the King of Prussia in a terrible state:
"The King looks frightfully ill; he was very cordial and friendly, and for the half hour he stayed with us, did not once get confused, but complained greatly about his state of health. He is thin and fallen away over his whole body, with a large stomach, his face grown quite small. He made many attempts at joking in the old way, but with a voice quite broken, and features full of pain. 'Wenn ich einmal fort bin, wieder fort bin,' he said, grasping his forehead and striking it, then the Queen must pay us a visit here, it will make me so happy.' What he meant was, 'Wenn ich wieder wohl bin.' 'It is so tedious,' he murmured; thus it is plainly to be seen that he has not quite given up all thought of getting better. The Prince's whole aim is to be serviceable to his brother. He still walks very lame, but looks well. I kept quietly in the house all day with Vicky, who is very sensible and good."
The Princess had special reasons for being "sensible" at this time, for, to the great joy of the Prussian Royal family, she was enceinte.
In August, Queen Victoria and the Prince Consort paid a visit of some length to their daughter. The Queen herself describes the visit as "quite private and unofficial," although she carried in her train not only Lord Malmesbury, the Foreign Secretary in Lord Derby's Government (which had been formed in February), but also Lord Clarendon, his predecessor, and Lord Granville, who had been Lord President of the Council in Palmerston's Government.
Prince Albert, at any rate, did not neglect the opportunity of studying the political situation. He wrote to Stockmar a letter highly approving the Prince of Prussia's political views, while his son-in-law he described as firm in his constitutional principles and despising the Manteuffel Ministry, the members of which he met with obvious coolness.
The Berliners gave a hearty reception to Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, and the Queen declared to the Burgomaster of Berlin that she felt exceedingly happy there, because she had realised with what love and devotion everyone was attached to the Royal house and to her daughter.
She was delighted with old Wrangel, whom she calls a great character. "He was full of Vicky and the marriage, and said she was an angel." There was a great deal of sight-seeing, mitigated by charming little gemuthlich family dinners, and a grand review at Potsdam.
Prince Albert's birthday occurred during the visit, and one of the Queen's presents to him was "a paper-weight of Balmoral granite and deer's teeth designed by Vicky." " Vicky gave her portrait, a small oil one by Hartmann, very like though not flattered, and a drawing by herself. There were two birthday-cakes. Vicky had ordered one with as many lights as Albert numbered years, which is the Prussian custom."
Her Majesty notes with pleasure the arrival of "our dear, excellent old friend Stockmar," whose presence, however, by no means gave universal satisfaction. Indeed, Sir Theodore Martin says frankly that, although his visit was due solely to his desire to meet the Queen and Prince Consort, it was viewed with rancorous suspicion by the aristocratic party, who held in abhorrence the man whom they knew to be the great advocate for the establishment of constitutional government in Germany. He was even accused of actively intriguing for the downfall of the Manteuffel Administration, having, it was said, "brought in his pocket, all cut and dry from England, the Ministry of the new era."
Stockmar's views of what was needful to raise Germany to her proper place among the nations were unchanged, but age and infirmity had for some time made him a mere looker-on. Nevertheless, it is probable that neither the Queen nor Prince Albert in the least realised how inadvisable, in the interests of the Princess Royal, was the old man's visit.
It must not, however, be thought that the Prussians were indifferent to the Princess Royal's singular personal charm. We have a most interesting glimpse of this in a long letter written to Queen Victoria by the beautiful and brilliant Duchess of Manchester, herself a Hanoverian by birth, who afterwards married the Duke of Devonshire and for many years held a remarkable position in English society.
The Duchess relates how well the Princess Royal was looking during the manoeuvres on the Rhine, and how much she seemed to be beloved, not only by all those who knew her, but also by those who had only seen and heard of her. "The English could not help feeling proud of the way the Princess Royal was spoken of, and the high esteem she is held in. For one so young it is a most flattering position, and certainly, as the Princess's charm of manner and her kind unaffected words had in that short time won her the hearts of all the officers and strangers present, one was not astonished at the praise the Prussians themselves bestow on her Royal Highness. The Prussian Royal Family is so large, and their opinions politically and socially, sometimes so different, that it must have been very difficult indeed at first for the Princess Royal, and people therefore cannot praise enough the high principles, great discretion, sound judgment, and cleverness her Royal Highness has invariably displayed."
And the Duchess adds, on the authority of Field-Marshal Wrangel, that the soldiers were particularly delighted to see the Princess on horseback and without a veil.
The Royal visit to Babelsberg came to an end all too soon, and the leave-taking was tearful and emotional in the extreme. Queen Victoria wrote with natural feeling, "All would be comparatively easy, were it not for the one thought that I cannot be with her at the very critical moment when every other mother goes to her child! "
In the October of that first year of the Princess Royal's married life, her father-in-law became permanent Regent, owing to the continued mental incapacity of King Frederick William IV. This filled the young Princess with intense satisfaction, which was increased when the new Prince Regent declared it to be his intention strictly to adhere to the letter and the spirit of the Constitution of 1850. The great bulk of the nation rallied instantly round him, and it seemed as if the gulf between the House of Hohenzollern and the people of Prussia had been suddenly bridged. The Manteuffel Ministry fell in the following month, a general election produced an enormous Liberal majority, and the hopes of the Constitutionalists ran high. The Manteuffel Ministry was succeeded by one of which Prince Charles Anthony of Hohenzollern was the President. From this time forward Prince Frederick William regularly attended the meetings of the Ministry, and Privy Councillor Brunnemann was assigned to him as a kind of secretary and channel of communication on State affairs.
The Princess Royal imprudently expressed to a gentleman of the Court her satisfaction at the change in the political situation, and her words, being repeated and exaggerated, gave great offence to the Conservative party, which was also the party of the King. The Princess's satisfaction was of course shared by her father, who wrote to the sympathetic Stockmar a letter showing no prevision of that great rock of Army administration on which these high hopes were destined to be wrecked:
"The Regency seems now to have been secured for the Prince. We have only news of this at present by telegrams from our children, but are greatly delighted at this first step towards the reduction to order of a miserable chaos. Will the Prince have the courage to surround himself with honourable and patriotic men? That is the question, and what shape will the new Chamber take, and what will its influence on him be?"
On November 20, 1858, Prince and Princess Frederick William moved into the palace in Unter den Linden which was henceforth to be their residence in Berlin; and on the following day, the Princess's eighteenth birthday, there was a kind of dedicatory service in the palace chapel, which was attended by all the members of the Royal House.
This palace had been the scene of the happy life of the Prince's grandfather, King Frederick William III, and of Queen Louise. The intimate and beautiful family life that had filled these rooms was the best of omens for the young pair, and the Princess Royal was delighted with her new home. But the palace required to be brought up to modern standards of comfort, and it was very difficult to have the alterations approved by the moody and violent King. What he allowed on one day he took back with hasty blame on the morrow. At last Prince: Frederick William obtained the Royal assent to those alterations which were absolutely urgent, together with a grant of 350,000 thalers. Among other improvements was added an eight-cornered "Gedenkhalle" or "Memory-Hall," in which were placed the numerous wedding presents of the young pair, and to these, from time to time, were added other rare and beautiful objects.