Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Victoria As Mystery

River Dee, The Highlands; by Queen Victoria
Photo Courtesy of Queen Pictoria

I have thoroughly enjoyed this rabbit trail into Queen Victoria's Sketchbook, but I'm feeling it in my gut. This is not the path we're supposed to be on. I'm not writing about jewelry much, and I'm not even really writing about Victoria. I'm just reading about her, and I'm growing tired of the topic. I recently found a boon of research possibilities for our next queen at Simpson University.

They have databases filled with journal articles and shelves filled with books...old articles and old books. Just the mother lode I have been searching for. Furthermore, I am on campus every other week for a women's group I attend, and I can spend a couple of hours each week there. Plus, my friend has borrowing rights and will check out books for me! What a gift!!

Twilight, by Queen Victoria
Photo Courtesy of Queen Pictoria

In light of my feelings, I wanted this to be our final post about Victoria. I had this bright idea to wrap things up with some highlights from Victoria's own words, focusing in on our common love of journaling. Alas, I am disappointed and slightly discouraged that most of her quotes have a sharp edge of self-pity and negativity. I'm not really surprised, as Victoria is definitely one of those "there's always something with you" people, but I'm still bummed to have to change my approach.

Since she was a far better painter than she was a writer, I've decided to push into one more week with a final post next week on highlights of one of her favorite painting subjects, the landscapes of Balmoral. She spent much of her time following Albert's death at Balmoral, and it was at Balmoral where she first met John Brown, her final life companion.

Friday, October 14, 2011

The First Step to Writing

Victorian Era Cameo Brooch
Click here for more info on Victorian Era Cameos.

Reading is the first step to writing, so once again I'm taking you with me into the pages of Ms. Warner's book, Queen Victoria's Sketchbook. I'm currently learning about Victoria's relationship with Lord Melbourne: Mentor, teacher, friend, confidante, and father figure. I've chosen some of my favorite quotes to share with you on this topic. I do hope you like the picture they paint.

"She was down-to-earth, impatient of nonsense, fascinated by unembellished fact, quick to laugh 'till her gums showed', and inclined to gobble her food. But she also had a strong romantic strain, which made her less robust, less humorous, more volatile." (p. 77)

Victorian Era Stick Pin Brooch
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I am completely fascinated by the adjectives Ms. Warner chose to describe our queen. The setup for this quote is a comparison between Victoria and a nightingale. A quick study of this celebrated songbird reveals further insights into Victoria's character. Indeed, Victoria was a mixture of stolid romanticism and playful spunkiness: Strong, yet soft; of easy humor, yet unflinchingly stern; deeply loving, yet stiflingly cloying. I most recognize our queen in the words of Andrew Marvell:

Thou sing'st with so much gravity and ease
And above human flight dost soar aloft
With plume so strong, so equal, and so soft:
The bird named from that paradise you sing
So never flags, but always keeps on wing.

Upon her ascension to the throne, this "very experienced, subtle, discerning man took immense pains to lead Victoria to understand government, and that he was the only person to do so at the time. He undertook her first political education, a duty that he discharged in the main with wisdom, a light touch, inimitable tact and profound responsibility." (p. 80) Under his tutelage, the unfledged princess quickly blossomed into the queen of old we now celebrate.

Victorian Era Blue Sapphire Brooch
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Ms. Warner notes that Victoria's diaries are filled with accounts of her meetings with Melbourne for the next three years: "Melbourne talking, joking, gossiping, instructing, clarifying, helping, reassuring, encouraging, enlivening; a brilliant, droll, individual mind forming that of a simple, ingenuous young woman forty years his junior. Victoria reported his conversation with the fidelity of Boswell, catching his inimitable caustic phrasing with a genuine diarist's gift of recall." (p. 78)

Again, her descriptions are rich with colorful adjectives. I especially love that last phrase about the diarist's gift of recall, given that I'm a true diarist myself. I ache to get my hands on Victoria's diaries, and I am always on the lookout for links to these priceless remnants of our queen. I feel the more I can read her actual words, the better I will know her and the people who inspired her most. It is evident that Ms. Warner had access to these diaries, and I so appreciate her perspective on the inner workings of Victoria's soul and her relationships with these most important people.