Her political economy
Is as true as Deuteronomy;
And the monster of Distress she sticks a dart in, O!
Yet still he stalks about,
And makes a mighty rout,
But that we hope’s my eye and Harry Martineau!
In 1835 she visited the United States, and here she was able to study the question of slavery. She joined the body of the ‘Abolitionists,’ and as a result was attacked from all sides with the utmost fury, for the Northern States stood solid against abolition. But she remained unmoved in her opinion, and when in 1862 the great Civil War broke out, her writings were the means of educating public opinion. It was largely due to her that this country did not foolishly support the secession of the Southern States from the Union.
During a period of five years she was a complete invalid, and some of her best books, including her well-known stories for children, Feats on the Fiord and The Crofton Boys, were written in that time.
After her recovery her life was busier than ever. She wrote articles for the daily papers, but her chief pleasure lay in devising schemes for improving the lot of her poorer neighbours. She organized evening lectures for the people, and founded a Mechanics’ Institute and a building society.
During her life-time she was the acknowledged leader on all moral questions, especially those which affected the lives of women.
“It has always been esteemed our special function as women,” she said, “to mount guard over society and social life—the spring of national existence.”
It was in Balmoral Castle that the husband and wife most loved to be with their children. Here they could lead a simple life free from all restraints, “small house, small rooms, small establishment. . . . There are no soldiers, and the whole guard of the Sovereign consists of a single policeman, who walks about the grounds to keep off impertinent intruders and improper characters. . . . The Prince shoots every morning, returns to luncheon, and then they walk or drive. The Queen is running in and out of the house all day long, and often goes about alone, walks into the cottages, and chats with the old women.”
The Queen loved her life here even more than the Prince, and every year she yearned for it more and more. “It is not alone the pure air, the quiet and beautiful scenery, which makes it so delightful,” she wrote; “it is the atmosphere of loving affection, and the hearty attachment of the people around Balmoral which warms the heart and does one good.”
It was during the year 1848 that the royal couple paid their first visit to Balmoral. The Queen had long wished to possess a home of her own in the Highlands where her husband could indulge in some outdoor sport, and where they both could enjoy a brief rest, from time to time, from the anxiety and care of State affairs.