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Queen Victoria, her girlhood and womanhood   By: (1823-1904)

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Permit me, my dear friend, to inscribe to you this very imperfect Life of your beloved Queen, in remembrance of that dear old time when the world was brighter and more beautiful than it is now (or so it seemeth to me) and things in general were pleasanter; when better books were written, especially biographies, and there were fewer of them; when the "gentle reader" and the "indulgent critic" were extant; when Realism had not shouldered his way into Art; when there were great actors and actresses of the fine old school, like Macready and the elder Booth Helen Faucit and Charlotte Cushman; and real orators, like Daniel O'Connell and Daniel Webster; when there was more poetry and more romance in life than now; when it took less silk to make a gown, but when a bonnet was a bonnet; when there was less east wind and fog, more moonlight to the month, and more sunlight to the acre; when the scent of the blossoming hawthorn was sweeter in the morning, and the song of the nightingale more melodious in the twilight; when, in short, you and I, and the glorious Victorian era, were young.



I send this book out to the world with many misgivings, feeling that it is not what I would like it to be not what I could have made it with more time. I have found it especially difficult to procure facts and incidents of the early life of the Queen just that period which I felt was of most interest to my younger readers. So much was I delayed that for the actual arrangement and culling of my material, and the writing of the volume, I have had less than three months, and during that time many interruptions in my work the most discouraging caused by a serious trouble of the eyes.

I am aware that the book is written in a free and easy style, partly natural, and partly formed by many years of journalistic work a style new for the grave business of biographical writing, and which may be startling in a royal biography, to my English readers, at least. I aimed to make a pleasant, simple fireside story of the life and reign of Queen Victoria and I hope I have not altogether failed. Unluckily, I had no friend near the throne to furnish me with reliable, unpublished personal anecdotes of Her Majesty.

I have made use of the labor of several English authors; first, of that of the Queen herself, in the books entitled, "Leaves from the Journal of Our Life in the Highlands," and "The Early Years of His Royal Highness the Prince Consort"; next, of that of Sir Theodore Martin, K.C.B., in his "Life of the Prince Consort." For this last appropriation I have Sir Theodore Martin's gracious permission. I am much indebted to Hon. Justin McCarthy, in his "History of Our Own Times." I have also been aided by various compilations, and by Lord Ronald Gower's "Reminiscences."

I have long felt that the wonderful story of the life of the Queen of England of her example as a daughter, wife and mother, and as the honored head of English society could but have, if told simply, yet sympathetically, a happy and ennobling influence on the hearts and minds of my young countrywomen. I have done my work, if lightly, with entire respect, though always as an American and a republican. I could not do otherwise; for, though it has made me in love with a few royal people, it has not made me in love with royalty. I cannot but think that, so far from its being a condition of itself ennobling to human character, those born into it have often to fight to maintain a native nobility, as Queen Victoria has fought, as Prince Albert fought, for I find the "blameless Prince" saying: "To my mind the exaltation of royalty is only possible through the personal character of the sovereign."

It suits England, however, "excellent well," in its restricted constitutional form; she has all the venerable, splendid accessories and I hope "Albert the Good" may have founded a long race of good kings; but it would not do for us; a race cradled in revolution, and nurtured on irreverence and unbelief, as regards the divine right of kings and the law of primogeniture... Continue reading book >>

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