A description of her at this period runs: “She was a beautiful child, with the cherubic form of features, clustered round by glossy, fair ringlets. Her complexion was remarkably transparent, with a soft and often heightening tinge of the sweet blush rose upon her cheeks that imparted a peculiar brilliancy to her clear blue eyes. Whenever she met any strangers in her usual paths she always seemed by the quickness of her glance to inquire who and what they were.”
There was, as was natural, much correspondence between England and Saxe-Coburg, the home of the Duchess, for the second son of the Duke of Coburg, Charles Albert Augustus Emmanuel, was already spoken of as being destined to be Victoria’s husband in the future.
Prince Albert had been born at Rosenau on August 19, 1819, and was thus slightly younger than his cousin. He is spoken of as being a very handsome boy, “like a little angel with his fair curls,” and was for a time much spoilt until his father interfered and superintended the children’s education himself.
Ernest, the elder son, gives us a charming picture of his father:
“We children beheld in him, and justly, our ideal of courtesy, and although he never said a harsh word to us, we bore towards him, through all our love and confidence, a reverence bordering on fear. He never lectured, seldom blamed; praised unwillingly; and yet the effect of his individuality was so powerful that we accomplished more than if we had been praised or blamed. When he was once asked by a relative whether we were industrious and well behaved, he answered: ’My children cannot be naughty, and as they know well that they must learn in order to be worthy men, so I do not trouble myself about it.’”
The Duke liked both his sons to listen to the conversation of their elders and to take an interest in art and literature. Outdoor exercise, riding, fishing, hunting, and driving formed part of their education; they were taught from the first to endure cold and discomfort without complaint or murmur. The religious teaching they received had a deep and lasting influence upon the two boys, both at that time and in later years. But they had a thoroughly happy boyhood and did not suffer from a lack of companions. After their confirmation their father took them on a visit to several Courts in Germany, and also to Vienna—a journey which was intended to open their minds to the great world of which they had learnt so much and seen so little; and it was about this time that King Leopold, the brother of the Duke of Coburg, thought it wise to make a careful inquiry into the life and character of the young Prince.
CHAPTER III: Early Years
God save thee, weeping Queen!
Thou shalt be well beloved!
The tyrant’s sceptre cannot move,
As those pure tears have moved!