THE ROYAL BABY
We are betraying a confidential private correspondence in making public the following important event which took place in the royal nursery, and very much fear we shall lose our correspondent at the palace by so doing, but, being in possession of so interesting a fact, we cannot resist the temptation to treat public curiosity with the gossip.
It seems that young Albert had been dining late and sitting long, and as he drained his draughts of Rhenish down, he very innocently became slightly oblivious of sublunary affairs. Paternal fondness induced him to seek the nursery before retiring to rest, where great consternation was occasioned by his unfortunately upsetting the cradle and tumbling the little heiress out upon the floor. There was instantly a great screaming and running about of the maids of honor, and in rushed her Majesty, presenting a picture much like the tragic heroine in the Critic, when she enters raving mad in white satin! Seventeen nurses and nine of the maids of honor were endeavoring to lift the young husband of the Queen onto his legs, while all the rest of the royal household were stuffing towels and various other things into the infant’s mouth to stop its squalling.
“You!” said the Queen, upon seeing the condition of her lord and subject.
“My love!” replied the nice young man, speaking somewhat thickly, while twenty-three ladies were holding him upon his feet.
“Man!” exclaimed Victoria, casting an indignant and withering glance at the unfortunate Albert. BY this time twenty-seven surgeons, the same number of physicians, upwards of seven royal apothecaries, and the whole sixty-nine nurses, all of whom had been summoned in hot haste, had assembled in the nursery. For a long time a breathless and solemn silence prevailed, contrasting awfully with the wild uproar which preceded it, and broken only by the sobs of the infant and the hic-coughs of Prince Albert. The physicians and surgeons deliberated, while the afflicted Queen stood by in anxious solicitude. At length the chief surgeon opened his lips and declared that the child was not dead, upon which the child opened its mouth and gave a lusty squall. Dr. Lacock then proceeded with a prolonged examination of little Regina, giving it at last as his settled opinion that no bones were broken and no internal injury suffered; upon which the three hundred ladies of the royal bed chamber and nursery, lifted their eyes to the ceiling, crossed their hands upon their breasts, and gave a simultaneous aspiration of gratitude. Here was a remarkable instance of the profound skill of the extraordinary Dr. Lacock, as the child had sunk into sweet and placid slumber when his decision of “no bones broken” was made.
The Queen was now leaving the apartment when there was a bustle among the thirty-nine ladies who were holding up Prince Albert. An angry spot appeared in Victoria’s cheek, which it seems the ladies understood, for they all scattered instanter, and the Prince went staggering along after his royal bride. Our informant states that the last thing heard as the royal chamber door closed, was Albert inquiring of the Queen, “How is the blessed baby?” after which sounds followed as of one person beating another with a shoe, but they were so indistinct that none could determine whether or not such an operation did occasion the noise. The whole affair has been hushed up and confined within the palace, so that the London papers have not got hold of the story.
Connecticut Courant [Hartford, CT] 13 February 1841: p. 1
Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: “Dr Lacock” was probably Dr Thomas Laycock, a distinguished brain and nerve specialist. The Critic or The Tragedy Rehearsed was a satirical play by Richard Brinsley Sheridan, first staged in 1779. It ridiculed the exaggerated theatrical conventions of the time.
“Miss Pope, as Tilburina, was hailed with great rapture; every one, in a moment, recognised the heroine they had been accustomed to see whining, raving, and killing herself and her lover, in the last act of every tragedy that had been produced for a quarter of a century. Her entrance in white satin, stark mad, according to custom, was the signal for a loud and long burst of applause; ‘nobody could ever desire to see anybody madder.'” The Dramatic Works of the Right Honourable Richard Brinsley Sheridan, With a Memoir of His Life, G.G.S., 1864