Monthly Archives: September 2009the_content
Author: William Henry Bower
Title: The Childhood of Distinguished Women
LoC Class CT: History: Biography
Subject Women — Biography
Copyright Status: Public domain
From: gun: Project Gutenberg
Begin OF the book:
THE PRINCESS ALICE.
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The Princess Alice was the second daughter and third child of our own beloved Queen Victoria and the late Prince Consort, “Albert the Good.”
Our deepest sorrowful interest has recently been excited by the touching and sudden way in which this lovely and gifted woman has been called from her home on earth to her eternal home in heaven.
The Princess was born on April 25th, 1843, and was very gladly welcomed by the warm, true mother’s heart of Her Majesty, who has ever shown and expressed the deepest love for her happy circle of girls and boys.
The first incident in the babyhood of the Princess Alice which attracts attention is the record of her christening. It was a very brilliant one, the Archbishop of Canterbury officiating, on June 2nd. The sponsors were the late King of Hanover, Ernest, the present Duke of Coburg, and the Princesses Sophia, Matilda, and Feodora.
We will give the Queen’s own words about the important choice of the royal infant’s names; Her Majesty thus writes:—”Our little baby is to be called Alice, an old English name, and the other names are to be Maud (another old English name, and the same as Matilda) and Mary, as she was born on Aunt Gloucester’s birthday.” Again, in writing to her uncle, the Queen’s account of the little Princess’s conduct was that “little Alice behaved extremely well.”
When quite a young child, the Princess Alice was remarkably quick, and earnestly enjoyed the acquirement of all the knowledge suitable to her years, and soon displayed intellectual talent of a high order.
Peculiarly sweet and amiable in her disposition, and patient and untiring in her love, the young Princess was a favourite in the royal nursery and schoolroom.
Her illustrious father found her when even a child as to age, quite his companion as to comprehension and mental capacities.
Two very special characteristics place the beloved Princess Alice in the highest range of distinguished women, and call for the deepest regard and respect from all hearts.
From her earliest youth, whatever was learned by her was thoroughly acquired, quietly and completely mastered, definitely and decidedly finished. And with her highly-refined, cultivated, and capacious mind, she also combined every domestic and feminine grace and duty, and was the useful, helpful English maiden, as well as singularly intellectual.
“In her teens,” the Princess was pronounced to be “one of the most accomplished young ladies in England.”
When the Queen visited Scotland in 1844, the Princess was too young to accompany the royal party, and Her Majesty thus writes of the separation. Just when they were ready for the journey, “Alice and the baby (Prince Alfred) were brought in, poor little things, to wish us good-bye.”
But in the course of a few years, all the children were able to participate in the Scotch journeys, and the Princess Alice became the constant companion of the Queen, riding with her over the lovely hills on ponies; visiting the poor women in the cottages, calling at the shop to purchase comforts for them; and at various times climbing the ascents to Feithort, or up Morven, Loch-na-Gar, and Ben Mac Dhui. This latter ascent was made through the dank mountain cloud; but this did not daunt the royal travellers, the Queen recording—”However, I and Alice rode to the very top, which we reached a few minutes past two; and here, at a cairn of stones, we lunched in a piercing cold wind…. Luncheon over, Albert ran off with Alice to the ridge to look at the splendid view, and sent for me to follow.”
In December, 1861, Prince Albert was attacked by the terrible disease which eventually proved fatal. The Princess Alice, although only seventeen, was the constant, unwearied nurse of her well-loved parent, and tended and watched him with the strongest filial love. To the last she kept her post, and when her aid and gentle care were no more needed, for he had passed away, she turned to soothe, comfort, and support her beloved mother with womanly and dutiful affection.
On the 1st of July, 1862, the Princess Alice married Prince Louis of Hesse, and proved a pattern wife and mother. But in 1878, her own little household group was smitten with diphtheria, and in nursing and caressing her darling children, she caught the disease herself. One child preceded her, the Princess Mary, who died November 16th, and on December 14th, the anniversary of her honoured father’s death, she, too, was summoned home.
The changes and sorrows of life, and, perhaps, especially the death, of a darling little one, who fell from a window, in 1873, and was killed by the fall, had been blessed to her by the Holy Spirit of God; and scenes of family sickness and bereavement seem to have led the endeared Princess Alice to that loving and sympathizing Saviour who is ever ready to save the heart that fully trusts in Him.
The whole English nation mourned for her, as for one near and dear to each, and a solemnity pervaded all classes, though Christmas was at hand.
Possibly the anticipation of Christmastide had been bright in her own loving spirit: if so, that anticipation was realized, for the first Christmas in heaven with Jesus Himself must indeed surpass the most joyous and happy one ever spent on earth.