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Marriages of English History, Some Decisive. By Spencer Walpole ...
National Gallery, British Art in the. By S. J. Viccars
I. By W. E. H. Lecky
Opera in England : Some Notes and Reminiscences. By Sir Augustus Harris 257, 343
Papyri, Further Gleanings from the. By Professor Mahaffy
J. E. C. Welldon
Reminiscences of Carlyle, with some Unpublished Letters. By G. Strachey...
“Saint Izaak.” By Richard Le Gallienne ...
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Wales. The Laboral Party at the Claims of. By S. T. Erens, M.P.
No. 50.- JULY, 1893.
STUDY IN CHARACTER: H.R.H. PRINCESS
VICTORIA MARY OF TECK.
VERY few days after these lines appear in print Princess Victoria
Mary of Teck, better known as Princess May, will become the wise of Prince George of Wales, heir to the throne of Great Britain and Ireland. In every sense of the word the marriage is a popular one. Of this no greater proof can be found than the way in which high and low, rich and poor, in all parts of the Empire, are vying with each other in selecting and presenting wedding gifts to the bride and bridegroom. Concerning Prince George much has been written. But of Princess May the outside world knows very little. This is but natural, seeing the retired life she has always led, and the peculiar sadness attending her first public introduction.
Apart from this, however, the life of a young Princess is so very much more secluded than that of a sailor Prince in the direct line of succession that the difficulty of finding anyone sufficiently well acquainted with it has probably prevented any account of Princess May's girlhood hitherto appearing in print. And if she were to remain Princess May it is probable that these lines would not have been penned. But the fact that the daughter of the Duke and Duchess of Teck is about to occupy a new and more exalted position, the position belonging to the wife of the Prince of Wales' only son, will, I think, be taken as sufficient reason for putting on paper a few conclusions drawn from personal observation of the Princess's every-day life.
Of course it is not intended to go minutely into all the incidents of her girlish days : such a task would fill a book, and probably be little
VOL. IX.-No. 50.
more than a catalogue of what other girls do at the same age. What I propose to do is to try and give a general idea of the Princess's chief characteristics.
A model baby, that is if you mean by that a baby that never cries, Princess May certainly was not. Indeed, if report says truly, the little Princess, although a very pretty baby, was very much given to tears. Doubtless, too, the young nursery governess who looked after her early childhood did not have altogether a very happy time of it, as the little Princess dearly loved her own way, and, like many other children, was seldom happy till she got it.
Princess May lived with her parents at Kensington till she was fifteen years old, and during that time her education was entrusted to foreign resident governesses. It must not, however, be supposed that she was left solely to the care of nursemaids and governesses. Her Royal mother took an active part in her bringing up, and always showed the greatest interest in all her childish amusements. At the age of nine, the nursery governess was succeeded by a German lady, who for two years devoted her time to teaching the Princess the rudiments of elementary booklearning Two years later her education was entrusted to Mdlle. Gutmann, who remained with the Princess until she was fifteen. It was then considered advisable to engage the services of masters. About this time, the Duke and Duchess of Teck left Kensington for Florence, where they passed several winters. During the stay of the family in the northern capital of Italy, Princess May took lessons from Italian professors, and began to cultivate her taste for music, art and literature, a taste which developed very much under the tuition of Mdlle. Bricka, who had succeeded Mdlle. Gutmann, and still remains as companion to her late pupil.
Signor Tosti, at that time a great friend of the late Duchess of Cambridge, was engaged to teach the young Princess music and singing, and under his tuition she proved an apt pupil. The popular composer took a keen interest in the Princess's progress, and devoted much time and attention to her musical studies, with the result that she is now a good musician. The Duchess of Teck always encourages musical people, and of late years the Princess has had every opportunity of meeting the most accomplished artists of the day at White Lodge. She is very fond of singing, and her voice, although not strong or of great volume, is sweet and sympathetic. For the modern love-song the Princess has no fancy, but prefers words more in keeping with her every day thoughts. “ The Lost Chord” and “The Convent Gate” are among her favourite songs. She very often gets up concerts in the surrounding villages, and is exceedingly kind to struggling professionals.
As a child the Princess was extremely sensitive, and although the extra freedom that naturally attaches to Continental life could scarcely fail to lessen the nervousness that of necessity belongs to a highly sensitive temperament, still no amount of contact with the world seemed to remove that love of retirement so noticeable in her as a young girl. But although extreme sensitiveness is still one of her characteristics, only her most intimate friends are able to detect any trace of nervousness underlying her natural charm of manner. Once the ice is broken her easy way of conversing and expression of interest soon puts a stranger at ease, and if the conversation flags it is certainly not the fault of the Princess. She can of course talk about the weather, the last dance, and the general run of drawing-room gossip, if such things please her guests. But it is in her work and in her mother's work that she is really interested. This subject she will discuss with animation and a knowledge seldom to be found in so young a Princess. In State schemes for the poor of the country she is also greatly interested. During the time the House of Lords' Sweating Committee was sitting she carefully read the evidence given, and evinced the greatest sympathy with the hard lives of poor seamstresses and nail and chain workers.
Although a good listener, Princess May never hesitates to ask questions if she does not thoroughly understand the line of argument. She seldom discusses a charity scheme without securing a supporter. No matter whether it be in a country house or at home, if the opportunity offers the wants and wishes of her protégés are always put forward, and the result is generally a cheque or a promise of help. But it must not be supposed that she accepts other people's facts and figures. On the contrary, she makes her own inquiries, and marshals them in a way that would do credit to a financier or a statesman.
Order and regularity are with her principles of life—never is anything out of place, never is an appointment missed. There is a time for getting up in the morning, and, when possible, a time for retiring to rest at night. Part of the day is always set aside for reading and being read to. No matter how distasteful the task, if it be necessary to do it, it is done, and done, too, in time and in proper form and order. In her boudoir you will find the books properly classified. Pens and pencils are neatly arranged on the writing-table. In short, there is a place for everything,