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LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS.
14 16 35 40
The Youthful Queen.
Scene in a Chinese Harbor
271 287 301
327 332 332
337 345 364 391
HISTORY OF ENGLAND
DURING THE REIGN OF VICTORIA.
ING WILLIAM IV. was dead (June 20, 1837), and
the Princess Victoria, the only child of the Duke of Kent, fourth son of King George III., became queen of England. This was something more than the close of one royal life and the dawn of a new reign. Without the foundations of society or of the throne being shaken, without the occurrence of any of those dangerous shocks which exhaust and shorten a nation's life, it was the opening of a new era in the career of England. Henceforth the sovereign was to advance freely with the nation in a more liberal and sometimes even a venturesome path. Queen Victoria was to accept simply and frankly the place made for her by her country's progress in consequence of the Reform Bill and the increasing authority of the House of Commons; without relinquishing her rightful share in the government, - a share more real and more important than has often been believed, — she was never to embarrass the truly sovereign action of the country itself in the conduct of its own affairs. She was destined to become, par excellence, that which she to-day is, for the happiness and greatness of England, - the constitutional sovereign of a free country ; unreservedly and avowedly admitting the operation of those parliamentary institutions, the slow product of ages in England's history, which all nations have sought and are still vainly seeking to imitate.
The Princess Victoria was eighteen years of age ; brought up far from the court by her widowed mother, she was almost unknown to those even whose duty it was to announce to the new queen her accession. The Archbishop of Canterbury and the lord chamberlain arrived at five in the morning at Kensington palace, where the Duchess of Kent resided. All the gates were shut, and it was with some difficulty that they obtained admittance to the presence of the princess, awakened suddenly by their message.
At eleven o'clock the Council met, and the young queen presided. Mr. Charles Greville, secretary of the Privy Council, has related, with an amiability unusual to him, this first entrance of the sovereign upon her public duties :
“ The king died at twenty minutes after two, yesterday morning, and the young queen met the council at Kensington Palace, at eleven. Never was anything like the first impression she produced, or the chorus of praise and admiration which is raised about her manner and behavior, and certainly not without justice. It was very extraordinary, and something far beyond what was looked for. Her extreme youth and inexperience, and the ignorance of the world concerning her, naturally excited intense curiosity to see how she would act on this trying occasion, and there was a considerable assemblage at the palace, notwithstanding the short notice which was given. The first thing to be done was to teach her her lesson, which, for this purpose, Melbourne had himself to learn.
. . She bowed to the lords, took her seat, and then read