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A.D. 1861.] BUSINESS HABITS AND CHARACTER OF THE PRINCE CONSORT.
He had entered into minute calculations as tion with which he listened, and was always ready to to the amount of illness that might be prevented among defer to those of others. He never lost sight of the im. the poorer classes, by a careful selection of the materials provement of the condition of the tenant and labourer. to be used in the building of their dwellings. In a whilst anxiously seeking to restore the property of the word, he was tender, thoughtful, anxious in his efforts duchy to a state of prosperity; and to him, we may truly for the welfare of the labouring man." The Prince was say, it is mainly due that the Prince of Wales will now much attached to agriculture as a science, and was par- enter into the possession of an estate greatly increased ticularly skilful in his appreciation of improvements in in value, free from nearly all disputes with neighbouring management. No farms throughout the kingdom were proprietors and others which at one time prevailed.” more carefully kept, or presented finer examples of The character of the Prince Consort was remarkable economical industry. He was one of the first to appre- for its symmetry, the equal development of all the ciate the advantages of deep drainage, to employ steam faculties, and for complete harmony between the intel. power in cultivation, and to apply the resources of lectual powers and the moral feelings. The portraits of chemistry to practical agriculture. In former reigns it the Prince give a fair idea of his features ; but there is had been the custom for the Sovereign to appropriate to something in the expression, when the face is lit up by himself the whole revenues of the duchy of Cornwall thought, which no portrait can adequately convey. “The during the minority of the Prince of Wales; it had Prince had a noble presence, his carriage was erect, his further been the evil castom to grant leases at nominal figure betokened strength and activity, and his demeanour rents or fines, the whole of which went into the pocket was dignified. He had a staid, earnest, and thoughtful of the recipient for the time being, without any con- look when he was in a grave mood; but when he smiled, sideration for future possessors. Her Majesty, on the his whole countenance vois irradiated with pleasure ; and contrary, deemed this appanage of the Prince of Wales there was a pleasant sound and heartiness about his laugh was equitably his property, and that she was merely which will not soon be forgotten by those who were wont trustee for his benefits On the birth of the Prince of to hear it.” He is said to have been very handsome as a Wales, & council was appointed for the management of young man. His face grew finer as he advanced in years: the duchy property, of which the Prince Consort was and it was remarked that his countenance never assumed president. “The whole aspect of affairs was rapidly / a nobler aspect, nor had more real beauty in it, than in changed. As the leases fell in, the farms were re-lot on the last year or two of his life. It bore none of those terms of years at full rents, responsible and improving fatal lines which indicate craft or insincerity, greed, or tenants were preferred, the lands were drained, enclosed, sensuality; but all was clear, open, pure-minded, and and planted, excellent farmhouses and homesteads were honest. Marks of thought, of care, of studiousness built, roads laid out, quarries opened, and the whole were there ; but they were accompanied by signs of a property showed the unmistakable signs of able adminis- soul at peace with itself, and which was troubled chiefly tration. Moreover, the scattered lands were sold, new by its love for others and its solicitude for their welfare. lands conveniently placed purchased, and plots of ground His mind was in the best sense original; for, while free that had become valuable for building sites were sold for from everything like eccentricity, he thought for himself, large prices. Sites were granted for schools and chapels, and formed his own conclusions on all subjects. He was churches were repaired, and the spiritual and educa- quick in perception, whilo the resources of his well-stored tional welfare of the tenantry cared for in a liberal mind were readily producible on all occasions. Sincere spirit.” The lengthened period of the Prince of Wales' and truth-loving, he delighted in earnest discussion, minority allowed space for this expenditure to prove equally willing either to learn or instruct. He enjoyed wit reproductive. Before the appointment of the council and humour, and had a keen sense of the ludicrous. In the net revenue of the duchy had sunk to £11,000: when relating amusing anecdotes, he threw just so much of the commissioners, on the Prince of Wales attaining his imitation into his manner as to bring the scene vividly majority, presented their final report, the annual gross before the mind, without descending to anything unincome approached £50,000. In addition to this, there graceful. Guided by a strong sense of duty, he was were accumulations, amounting to £54,000, ready for always sure to go through anything he had undertaken transference to the Prince's privy purse. The commis- to do, without regard to self-interest or personal inconsioners remarked, “It is unnecessary to allude to the deop venience-willingly taking the measure of responsibility interest which His Royal Highness took in all that related put upon him, but never assuming more. Unlike many to an improved administration of the duchy possessions; who are actuated by a rigid sense of duty, he was singu. but we should not do justice to our own feelings if we larly free from prejudice, full of candour, and always did not humbly ask leave to record on this occasion our ready to admit new facts, however they might militate sense of the irreparable loss which we sustained by his against old convictions. His habit was to investigate death. To his just mind and clear judgment, his quick carefully, weigh patiently, discuss calmly, and then not perception of what is right, his singular discretion, his swiftly, but after much turning in his mind, to come to a remarkable aptitude for the conduct of affairs, we never decision. He had one characteristic of a rich and noble looked in vain for guidance and advice on any occasion mind which is rare indeed. He had the greatest delight of difficulty. The soundness of his opinions in all our in anybody else saying a fine thing or doing a great deed, deliberations was rendered more apparent by the tolera- and would rejoice over it and talk of it for days. “He
delighted in humanity doing well on any occasion or in the artisan or the statesman. His love of knowledge sly manner. . . . But, indeed, throughout his career, was intense. Being always singularly impressed with the Prince was one of those who threw his life into other intellectual beauty, he remarked on one occasion to the people's lives, and lived in them ;” and, as we are assured Queen, “To me a long, closely-connected train of on the best authority, “there never was an instance of reasoning is like a beautiful strain of music; you can more unselfish and chivalrous devotion than his love to hardly imagine my delight in it.” But he loved knowhis Consort-Sovereign and to his adopted country. That ledge, not merely for its own sake, but for what it could her reign might be great and glorious, that his adopted do for mankind. On the other hand, to him the most country might excel in art, in science, in literature, and — hateful of all deformity was that of falsehood, especially what was dearer still to him—in social well-being, formed when it assumed the form of flattery and of vice, whose ever his chief hope and aim.” Notwithstanding a certain presence depressed, grieved, and horrified him. He had,
constitutional shyness sometimes associated with refined | besides, an unutterable repugnance to what was mean natures, which shrink from the expression of all they and low in human nature. Accordingly, the conditions feel, he was blessed with a buoyant, joyous, happy tem- he drew up for the prize that is given by Her Majesty perament, which made his home and his household glad. at Wellington College are very characteristic. “This Though not subject to sudden elations or depressions, prize is not to be awarded to the most bookish boy, to beneath the joyous current of his feelings,“ deep the least faulty boy, to the boy who should be most predown in the character, there was a vein, not exactly of cise, diligent, and prudent; but to the noblest boy, to the melancholy, but certainly of pensiveness, which grew a boy who should afford most promise of becoming a largelittle more sombre as the years went on. It was a pen-hearted, high-motived man.” siveness bred from much pondering upon the difficulty If those about the Prince could see any fault in his of human affairs, and upon the serious thing that life is.” | character, it was an exaggeration of virtue, an excessive
One of the finest traits in the Prince's character was anxiety that everything he did should be perfect, and his sympathy with earnest workers. He wished for that “he cared too much about too many things.” sticcess for all honest human endeavours, whether by Everything he did must be supremely well done if it was to please and satisfy him. In the choice of a jewel, in remains in more senses than one. They are marked the placing of a statue, in the laying out of a walk, in throughout with the peculiarities necessarily resulting the direction of a party of pleasure, his reasoning mind from his anomalous position. It appears now, from the must be satisfied; and he longed that everything that grateful acknowledgments of the Queen, which she has was to be should be the best of its kind. This anxious missed no opportunity of making in the most emphatic desire for perfection, and perpetual effort to reach its manner, that, in the discharge of her duties as sovereign, summit, put too great a strain upon his energies, which, she was constantly guided and supported by the judgment no doubt, caused his health prematurely to give way, and advice of His Royal Highness, in whom she placed and predisposed him to the disease which terminated his unbounded trust. It follows that he enjoyed the reality of career at the early age of forty-two. It has been well kingly power; yet he was obliged to speak and act as if remarked by the author of the Introduction to his he had no power at all. A position so anomalous imSpeeches, " that if the Prince had lived to attain what posed upon him continual restraint. As has been well re. we now think a good old age, he would have become the marked in the Introduction to his Speeches, in his case most accomplished statesman and the most guiding the principal elements that go to compose a great oration personage in Europe; a man to whose arbítrament fierce had often to be modified largely. “Wit was not to be national quarrels might have been submitted, and by jubilant, passion not predominant, dialectic skill not whose influence calamitous wars might have been triumphant. There remained nothing as the staple of averted.” He was evidently one of those of whom it the speeches but supreme common sense. Looked at has beon said, that their hearts never grow old. He had a in this way, it is wonderful that the Prince contrived peculiarly gentle, tender, and pathetio cast of mind; his to introduce into his speeches so much that was new and nature being of a character more German than English. interesting. It was like the movement of a man in “Though eminently practical, and therefore suited to chain armour, which, even with the strongest and most the people he came to dwell amongst, he had in a high agile person, must ever have been a movement somewhat degree that gentleness, that softness, and that romantic fettered by restraint." The same authority states that nature which belong to his race and his nation, and the leading idea of the speeches is “ the beauty of use. which make them very pleasant to live with, and very fulness.” This is true, and the key-note of them all was terder in all their social and family relations.”
heard in the first sentence of the speech delivered at the The following remarks, taken from the Introduction Lord Mayor's banquet in March, 1850, when the Prince to the Collection of the Prince Consort's Speeches, con- said: "I conceive it to be the duty of every educated sidering the source from which they emanated, are pecu. person closely to watch and study the time in which he liarly interesting :-“The Prince's marriage was singu | lives, and as far as in him lies to add his humble mite larly felicitous; the tastes, the aims, the hopes, the of individual exertion to further the accomplishment of aspirations of the royal pair were the saine ; their mutual | what he believes Providence to have ordained.” It is respect and confidence went on increasing. Their affection impossible to read those speeches without being struck grew, if possible, warmer and more intense as the years with the contrast between the Prince Consort and every of their married life advanced. Companions in their man who had occupied the throne of England from the domestic employments, in their daily labours for the State, time of William III. Compared with him, the Georges and, indeed, in almost every occupation, the burdens and were a narrow-minded, bigoted, ignorant, selfish race. the difficulties of life were thus lessened by more than The times in which they reigned were not enlightened half for each one of the persons thus happily united in times, but the darkest spot in England was that which this true marriage of the soul. When the fatal blow was surrounded the throne; whereas during the reign of struck, and the Prince was removed from this world, it Victoria it might be truly said to be the brightest; and is difficult to conceive a position of greater sorrow, and this was due pre-eminently to the Prince Consort. No one, indeed, more utterly forlorn, than that which became man better understood his epoch, no man gave happier the lot of the survivor-deprived of him whom she her. expression to the spirit of his age, or sympathised more self has described as being the life of her life.' | thoroughly with the best influences of civilisation by
"To follow out his wishes, to realise his hopes, to con. which he was surrounded, and which he so powerfully duct his enterprises to a happy issue, to make his loss as directed. No philosopher or statesman was in advance little felt as possible by a sorrowing country and father of him in any movement that was really beneficial to less children_these are the objects which since his death mankind. If he presided at a meeting for the abolition it has been the chief aim and intent of Her Majesty to of slavery, he denounced "the atrocions traffic in human accomplish. That strength may be given her to fulfil beings as the blackest stain upon civilised Europe ;” and thec a nigh purposes is the constant prayer of her subjects, he trusted that this “great country would not relax in who have not ceased, from the first moment of her its efforts until it had finally and for ever put an end to a bereavement, to feel the tenderest sympathy for her; state of things so repugnant to the spirit of Christianity and who, giving a reality to that which in the caso of and of the best feelings of our nature.” At the meeting most sovereigns is but a phrase, have thus shown that of the Literary Fund ho showed how he could respect the Queen is, indeed, in their hearts, the mother of her the feelings of the man of letters, though struggling people."
with poverty. “The institution," he said, “ought The speeches of the lato Prince Albert are interesting to command our warmest sympathies, as providing for
the exigencies of those who, following the call of genius, his life in which he shares in the luxuries of an opulent and forgetting every other consideration, pursue merely master, and others in which he has not even the means of the cultivation of the human mind and science. What earning sufficient to sustain him through the day. It is can be more proper for us," he asked, “ than gratefully on that account that I rejoice at this meeting, and have to remember the benefits derived from their disinterested gladly consented to take the chair at it, to further the exertions, and cheerfully to contribute to their wants ? " objects of the Servants' Provident and Benevolent The interest which he took in the improvement of the Society. I conceive that this society is founded upon & labouring classes was one of the most admirable features right principle, as it follows out the dictates of a correct in his character. He advocated the establishment of loan appreciation of human nature, which requires every man funds, model lodging-houses, and allotments of ground, by personal exertion, according to his own choice, to work in which he himself set an example of what might be out his own happiness—which prevents his valuing—nay, done by men of property for the working classes. In the even his feeling satisfaction at — the prosperity which counsels which he gave on such subjects to men of rank others have made for him. It is founded upon a right and wealth, he always laid down some great Christian principle, because it endeavours to trace a plan according principle for their guidance. “Depend on it,” he said at to which, by providence, by present self-denial and persethe meeting of the Socioty for the Improvement of the verance, not only will the servant be raised in his physical Labouring Classes, “the interests of classes, too often and moral condition, but the master also will be taught how contrasted, are identical ; and it is only ignorance which to direct his efforts in aiding the servant in his labour to prevents them uniting for each other's advantage. To secure to himself resources in cases of sickness, old ago, dispel that ignorance, to show how man can help man, / and want of employment." * notwithstanding the complicated state of civilised society, The Prince evinced the same kind, genial, sympathetic ought to be the aim of every philanthrophic person; but spirit with reference to the highest order of intellectual it is more peculiarly the duty of those who, under the workers. He said, at the dinner of the Royal Academy, blessing of Divino Providence, enjoy station, wealth, that “the prozluction of all works in art or poetry roand education. Let them be careful, however, to avoid quires in their conception and execution, not only an any dictatorial interference with labour and employment, exercise of the intellect, skill, and patience, but particularly which frightens away capital, destroys that freedom of a concurrent warmth of feeling and a free flow of imagi. thought and independence of action which must remain nation. This renders them most tender plants, which to every one, if he is to work out his own happiness, and will thrive only in an atmosphere calculated to maintain impairs that confidence under which alone engagements that warmth; and that atmosphere is one of kindness for mutual benefit are possible. God has created man kindness towards the artist personally as well as towards imperfect, and left him with many wants, as it were to i his production. An unkind word of criticism passes like stimulate each to individnal exertion, and to make all a cold blast over their tender shoots, and shrivels them feel that it is only by united exertion and combined up, checking the flow of the sap when it was risizg to action that these imperfections can be supplied, and these produce, perhaps, multitudes of flowers and fruit. But wants satisfied. This pre-supposes self-reliance and con- still criticism is absolutely necessary to the development fidence in each other.” *
of art, and the injudicious praise of an inferior work This was not language assumed, like the putting on of becomes an insult to superior genius.” a court dress, for state occasions. It was the sincere Surely, never royal personage was more at home at & expression of honest convictions. The Prince was a literary or scientific meeting. Speaking at the Midland truly conscientious and earnest man, who gave his whole Institute, he gave an admirable exposition of the laws of mind to the solution of social problems, and his whole social advancement, showing that no human pursuits heart to the performance of his duties. What can be make any material progress until science is brought to more beautiful, as an illustration of this habit of mind, bear upon them. “We have seen, accordingly,” he said, than the speech which he made at the Servants' Provi. “ many of them slumbering for centuries and centuries ; dent and Benevolent Society ? “Whose heart,” he but from the moment that Science has touched them with asked, “would fail to sympathiso with those who minister her magic wand, they have sprung forward, and taken to us in all the wants of daily life, attend us in sickness, strides which amaze and almost awe the beholder. Look receive us on our first appearance in this world, and even at the transformation which has gone on around us since extend their cares to our mortal remains—who live under the laws of gravitation, electricity, magnetism, and the our roof, form our household, and are a part of our family? expansive power of heat, have become known to us. It And yot, upon inquiry, we find that in this metropolis has altered our whole state of existence—one might say, the greater part of the inmates of the workhouses are the whole face of the globe. We owe this to Science, domestic servants. I am sure that this startling fact is no and to Science alone ; and she has other treasures in store proof, either of a want of kindness and liberality in masters for us, if we will but call her to our assistance." I towards their servants, or of vice in the latter, but is the With the same comprehensive and enlightened views natural consequence of that peculiar position in which he enlarged on this theme at the meeting of the Britisha the domestic servant is places!, passing periods during Association for the Advancement of Science, of which