« PreviousContinue »
On 30th October "Lord Renfrew" reached Washington, and Lord Lyons, the British Minister, introduced him to President Buchanan, and Miss Harriet Lane, the latter's niece and housekeeper. The Prince stayed at the White House, and President James Buchanan, though he could not spare his Royal guest a certain number of levées and receptions, did his best to make his visit to the official centre of the American Republic pleasant. During these five days there occurred a most interesting event-the visit of His Royal Highness to Mount Vernon, and the tomb of Washington. A representative of the Times gave the following eloquent account of the scene :—
"Before this humble tomb the Prince, the President, and all the party stood uncovered. It is easy moralising on this visit, for there is something grandly suggestive of historical retribution in the reverential awe of the Prince of Wales, the great-grandson of George III., standing bareheaded at the foot of the coffin of Washington. For a few moments the party stood mute and motionless, and the Prince then proceeded to plant a chestnut by the side of the tomb. It seemed, when the Royal youth closed in the earth around the little germ, that he was burying the last faint trace of discord between us and our great brethren in the West."
Doubtless the Prince enjoyed these new experiences a good deal more than did his guides, philosophers, and friends. Political feeling ran high, and the pro-slavery leaders were very anxious to influence public sentiment in Great Britain. They formed the project of taking the Prince of Wales through the South to see slavery under its pleasantest aspect as a paternal institution. After a good deal of discussion between the Duke of Newcastle and Lord Lyons, it was felt better to accept the invitation of some representative Southerners, and accordingly the Prince went a short tour to Richmond; but it may be added that a great slave sale which had been widely advertised was postponed so as not to offend British susceptibilities. The Prince does not seem to have been at all impressed by the slave cities, and he flatly refused to leave his carriage to visit the negro quarters at Haxhall's plantation, and so he returned to Washington, having shown a good deal more common sense than had those about him.
The day that the Prince left Washington for Richmond, President Buchanan wrote a charming letter to the Queen, in which he said,
speaking of his
From Washington the Prince proceeded to Philadelphia, and there, for the first time, His Royal Highness heard Adelina Patti. He was so greatly charmed with her marvellous voice and winning personality, that he begged that she might be presented to him.
From the "Illustrated London News"
The Prince's feelings must have been strangely mixed when he stood in Independence Hall, but he does not appear to have revealed them by making any remark, and after staying a few days in Philadelphia he started for New York, where he received a splendid welcome from Father Knickerbocker, being met at the station by the Mayor, and driven through Broadway to the Fifth Avenue Hotel. Half a million spectators saw him arrive, and so great was the anxiety to see Queen Victoria's eldest son at close quarters, that there was no structure in New York large enough to contain those who thought
that they had—and who no doubt had—a right to meet the Prince of Wales at a social function.
At last a building was found capable of containing 6000 people; but, looking to the question of "crinolines and comfort," it was reluctantly decided that not more than 3000 cards of invitation, admitting to the ball and to the supper to follow, should be sent out. Fortunately most of the 3000 guests were important people, and therefore too old to dance. They represented, in both senses of the word, the solid element in New York society, for, as they crowded round the Prince, the floor gave way, and it is a wonder that no serious accident took place. This splendid entertainment, which took place in the old Academy of Music, is still remembered by many elderly Americans. The Prince showed his tact and good taste by frequently changing his partner. For the supper, a special service of china and glass had been manufactured, the Prince's motto, Ich Dien, being emblazoned on every piece.
During the five days that the Prince remained in New York, he was the guest of the Mayor and of the Corporation. He seems to have most enjoyed a parade of the Volunteer Fire Department in his honour. There were 6000 firemen in uniform, and all, save those in charge of the ropes and tillers, bore torches. The scene was quite unique, and the Prince, as he looked at the brilliant display in Madison Square, cried repeatedly, "This is for me, this is all for me!" with unaffected glee.
From New York the Prince went on to Albany and Boston, and at the latter place Longfellow, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Emerson, and a number of other notable Americans were presented to him. He visited Harvard College, spent an hour at Mount Auburn, where he planted two trees, and drove out to Bunker's Hill.
Portland was the last place visited by the Prince in the United States, and on 20th October the Royal party set sail for home on board the Hero, which was escorted by the Ariadne, the Nile, and the Styx. The voyage home was not as uneventful as had been the voyage out. So anxious were they at Court about the fate of the Hero, that two ships of war were sent in search of the frigate and her escort. At last, to every one's great relief, the Hero was sighted, and it was ascertained that a sudden storm had driven the boat back from the
British coast, and the Royal party had been reduced to salt fare, with only a week's provisions in store.
On 9th November the Prince Consort put in his diary: "Bertie's birthday. Unfortunately he is still absent, neither do we hear anything from him.” Great, therefore, was the joy of the Queen and Prince Albert when, on 15th November, they received a telegram from Plymouth announcing the safe arrival of their son. That same evening the Prince of Wales arrived at Windsor Castle, being greeted with the warmest affection by his family and friends.
The Queen showed the most vivid interest in all her eldest son's many and varied adventures. Both Her Majesty and the Prince Consort were very much gratified by the way in which the Duke of Newcastle had performed his arduous and delicate task, and, after some consultation, it was decided that the Queen should publicly mark her satisfaction by conferring upon the Duke the Order of the Garter.
EARLY in 1861 the Prince of Wales became an undergraduate member of Trinity College, Cambridge. Curiously enough, Dr. Whewell, at that time Master of Trinity, did not think it necessary to make a formal entry of the Royal undergraduate, but in 1883, when His Royal Highness was visiting Cambridge in order to enter his son, the late Duke of Clarence, as a student of Trinity, the Prince expressed the opinion that it was a pity that his own entry had not been properly filled up, and he offered to fill in the blank spaces if the book was brought to him. Accordingly the record may now be found at its proper place in His Royal Highness's own handwriting. His entry is as follows: