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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 262 pages of information about Queen Victoria.

CHAPTER II.  CHILDHOOD

I

The child who, in these not very impressive circumstances, appeared in the world, received but scant attention.  There was small reason to foresee her destiny.  The Duchess of Clarence, two months before, had given birth to a daughter, this infant, indeed, had died almost immediately; but it seemed highly probable that the Duchess would again become a mother; and so it actually fell out.  More than this, the Duchess of Kent was young, and the Duke was strong; there was every likelihood that before long a brother would follow, to snatch her faint chance of the succession from the little princess.

Nevertheless, the Duke had other views:  there were prophecies...  At any rate, he would christen the child Elizabeth, a name of happy augury.  In this, however, he reckoned without the Regent, who, seeing a chance of annoying his brother, suddenly announced that he himself would be present at the baptism, and signified at the same time that one of the godfathers was to be the Emperor Alexander of Russia.  And so when the ceremony took place, and the Archbishop of Canterbury asked by what name he was to baptise the child, the Regent replied “Alexandria.”  At this the Duke ventured to suggest that another name might be added.  “Certainly,” said the Regent; “Georgina?” “Or Elizabeth?” said the Duke.  There was a pause, during which the Archbishop, with the baby in his lawn sleeves, looked with some uneasiness from one Prince to the other.  “Very well, then,” said the Regent at last, “call her after her mother.  But Alexandrina must come first.”  Thus, to the disgust of her father, the child was christened Alexandrina Victoria.

The Duke had other subjects of disgust.  The meagre grant of the Commons had by no means put an end to his financial distresses.  It was to be feared that his services were not appreciated by the nation.  His debts continued to grow.  For many years he had lived upon L7000 a year; but now his expenses were exactly doubled; he could make no further reductions; as it was, there was not a single servant in his meagre grant establishment who was idle for a moment from morning to night.  He poured out his griefs in a long letter to Robert Owen, whose sympathy had the great merit of being practical.  “I now candidly state,” he wrote, “that, after viewing the subject in every possible way, I am satisfied that, to continue to live in England, even in the quiet way in which we are going on, without splendour, and without show, nothing short of doubling the seven thousand pounds will do, Reduction being impossible.”  It was clear that he would be obliged to sell his house for L51,300, if that failed, he would go and live on the Continent.  “If my services are useful to my country, it

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