Princess Alexandrina Victoria, upon whose young shoulders the weight of the Empire had been laid so suddenly, was the only child of Edward, Duke of Kent, fourth son of George III., by her Serene Highness Victoria Maria Louisa, daughter of the Duke of SaxeCoburg-Saalfeld, and widow of the Prince of Leiningen. William IV., third son of George III.; had left no children born in wedlock ; on his death, therefore, the succession devolved on his niece, who was born on May 24, 1819, and was therefore just over eighteen at her accession. Nothing would have been more natural than that the character of the Princess, as heiress to the Crown, and the qualifications for rule of which she' might have given promise even at that tender age, should have been widely and eagerly discussed, or, at least, that the late King's Ministers should have formed some opinion of them ; but this was not the case. The gossiping Greville repeatedly lays stress on the seclusion in which Her Royal Highness had been brought up, her inexperience, and the complete ignorance of the public about her character and even her appearance ; so much so, that " not one of her acquaintance, none of the attendants at Kensington, not even the Duchess of Northumberland, her governess, have any idea of what she is or promises to be." It may easily be imagined, therefore, how greatly the severity of the sudden ordeal to which the girl-Queen was exposed was intensified by the anxious and curious interest of those who were present at her first Council.

For the seclusion in which the Princess Victoria had been brought up, sufficient cause will be apparent to those who have studied the domestic annals of the Court during the reigns of her uncles George IV. and William IV., which were, in truth, in accord with the worst traditions of Royalty. The Duke of Kent had died shortly after the birth of his daughter, and his widow, over-anxious, perhaps, to screen the young life from contagion of evil, sought to protect the Princess Victoria by a training which, in most modern families, would be regarded as unnecessarily severe. But deep-rooted custom requires drastic treatment to remove it. On weak or light natures such discipline is too often seen to work disastrous reaction ; happily, the young Queen was inspired by an intellect of such fibre, and a spirit of such temper, that she responded to her early training by establishing and maintaining in her Court such a high moral ideal as has never been known since the days of the mythical Round Table.

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